Sunday, February 5, 2017

Love Letters

A few years back, I met Mr. R, a lovely man who was beloved by all. Plans for his 100th birthday party were unfolding. I was looking forward to it very much, but three months before the big day, Mr. R. died.

He was a wonderful person who loved his life. He loved his job. He loved his friends. He loved books. Words, Art, He was a widower that cried when he thought of his wife. He talked about how they were avid ballroom dancers. He talked about how they read to each other every day, and when she grew to weak to read, he sat at her bedside and read to her still. It was so sweet, so touching.

When Mr. R passed, there was a massive estate sale. I wanted something to remind me of my friend and so Tim and I went. One of the things that I bought was a small vase. As we were leaving, I ran into a mutual friend. Seeing that vase, he said, "You know something neat about Mr and Mrs. R? Every night they sat down to supper. There were always flowers and there were always candles.

Every. Single. Night.

I wrote a Valentine column about that a few years back.

Last week, there was a message on the answering machine. I did not recognize the name. He spoke of his grandfather.

It was Mr. R's grandson. Mr. R was a WWII soldier. He wrote faithfully to his wife. She wrote faithfully back. The entire correspondence was saved, as I understand it, treasured by both parties. He's sending me a flashdrive.

He thinks it would make a lovely book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bob

Bob has been gently nudging me to return to blogging. I should. It was something that I truly enjoyed.

2016 was a year old long hours at work. I worked 56 hours a week, every week for months at a company that dangled the promise of a full time job (I was only a part time employee. I did not have benefits. As a part time employee, that meant that I worked all holidays, since the full timers were given those days off as part of their employment/benefit package). Since I loved the job, I accepted thing, and waited for the promises to be honored. They were not. Despite being short 6 full time positions, they decided after months, to replace only two of them...and that the employees who wanted them would have to compete with each other to convince the company who deserved the positions the most. I left that job, and I still miss it, but the company policies were unbearably unfair.

Tim was also being laid off, and so we needed those benefits. He's spent most of the year working on a house. He claims that I helped design it, which I don't think that I had such a great hand in that. After a year of working on that house, it was put on the market. Like the previous house that he'd done, it sold the very first week. Turns out the people live right down the street from us and are familiar with Tim's work. They'd been waiting for the house to go on the market. It was a cash offer for the full asking amount.

Ironic side note: My former employer tried to buy the house as another home for more clients. Call me petty, but I sent them a letter through the realtor that briefly stated that due to their unfair business practices that were not good for the employees or the clients they serve, we decided not to accept their offer. We also hoped that they'd use the experience to reconsider how they run their business. Petty? Perhaps. But it was a fine moment for me, and my former co-workers were thrilled. Most of them have left as well, with the the same mixed emotions at leaving our clients.

I'm working at a job that I don't love, but one that provides me with benefits and some very generous vacation. The company likes me just fine, and have been very kind to me. 2016 brought some heartbreak. Dylan and Brittani had a baby boy who died shortly after birth. A grandchild was born, and gone before I ever got a chance to hold him. It was a heartbreaking time, but with one phone call, I was enroute, given a week of bereavement to be with my children. The general manager came out to tell me how sorry he was after my return.

We worked some awful overtime during our 'peak season' right before the holidays - 6 weeks of 66 hour/7 days weeks, mandatory - but at the end of it, Cara was home for her annual Christmas break. Vacation had been closed - our allotted personnel had already scheduled their Christmas off long before I even began the job, but once again, the company stepped up and gave me my week due to the circumstances and told me that if I wanted more time, I needed only to call and it would be approved. I was grateful for their kindness once again.

It's not an easy company to work for. They expect performance, and you are required to meet efficiencies. I'm able to do that, but many are not. It is hard to see people coming and going at such a rate. I try to pay back their kindness to me by being a flexible employee. That means volunteering to train in other departments and helping out when needed. I like mixing it up a bit and not doing the same thing every day. I'm also finding that I'm at a stage of life where a five day work week/with weekends off (when it is not peak season) appeals to me very much.

So that's the job.

We bought our retirement home, a small cabin just across the road from my sister and her husband's property, so the neighbors are fine. Tim wanted property for hunting. Now he has it.  He took an 8 point buck there. The land has it's own oil well (free heat), and the deer are very attracted to the brine well, which is like a giant salt lick. It needs some extensive repairs. I like the little house, but Tim is not sure if it is worth fixing. It is old, and we've found some very neat things. Tim bought a tractor. He wants to put in a food plot, and we need to keep it brush hogged. I am excited to have a garden this year. Despite my best efforts, a garden in town did not work out. Our yard is shaded by two huge old maple trees.

In the meantime, we still live in our big home in town. I still love that house. We've spent a lot of time this year buying antique furniture. Two antique bedroom sets, one massive set with a marble topped dresser from the 1800s, the other only about 100 years old. We've got some cool guest bedrooms! It's been a fun time doing the estate sales, and we've found some great things.

William is the light of our hearts. He will be six very shortly and he is beginning to read, which is very exciting. We've begun the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and he loves to hear those stories, one chapter at a time, There is nothing more soul satisfying to me than one freshly bathed little boy curled up with his head on my shoulder as we read.

There's more. So much more. It's been a big year for us. But I need to get back to bed. The recent elections have shocked me mightily. I marched locally, and found the experience very moving. I've become a lot more openly political. I call my my representatives regularly. My column has become more political as well, and despite the fact that our newspaper backed our president, they've not tried to stop me. It's opened the door to some new friendships.

Tim and I continue to plod along. There will be pictures later, but for right now...I just wanted to post something because Bob missed me. You all should head on over to Bob's right now. He's just discovered that he's going to be a grandpa. Congratulate him, and tell him Debby sent you!



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring has sprung.

Oh my goodness, the weather has been gorgeous. Our winter has been a very mild one, although we've had a couple bad storms. But NOW...oh heavens...the redwing blackbirds are back and calling cheerfully. We've got snowdrops and crocuses out, with new shoots pushing forward with promises of yet more flowers to come.

William was full of beans yesterday when he came over, and he wanted to be outside, outside, OUTSIDE. And so we were. We built a volcano. We planned a picnic supper with a volcanic eruption for entertainment. We walked to the library. He danced along with his cricket clicker  wondering aloud if the sound of it would wake the other crickets up from their winter sleep. He explained to me when it was safe to cross the street. He was interested in berries and drains and stones. He was excited to see a motorcycle cruise by. He selected his book and then we headed home again.

We had our picnic and we made the volcano erupt which was fascinating to him, and then he and his mama left. Grandpa and I had work to do at the new house.

We are working on the drains there that catch the run off from the roof. The water is not draining away from the basement as it should be, and so Tim has them dug up and we are redoing them. I noticed the neighbor standing at the corner of his garage with a very angry look on his face. I looked back and he shook his head and went away.

Tim went to mix up some mortar in the garage, and I applied a coat of water proofing to the foundation as a precaution. Laying flat on my stomach, I was surprised to hear the voice of my angry neighbor right at my side. "What seems to be the problem?" he demanded.

I sat up. "What problem?"

He demanded to know what the hole was all about. Cautiously, I said, "Well, we've got a drainage problem that we are fixing." He snarled, "...and you've got every drain in my house backing up!"

I said, "That's impossible..." and he snapped back, "I never had a problem until I saw you digging over here."

I looked at him patiently. "Your house is on the other side of that garage, right?" (and about 80 feet away, and catty cornered at that...) and he said, very aggressively, "That's right, and you've screwed up my drains."

I said, "Well, you'll have to get yourself a lawyer, because this is impossible."

He didn't know what to make of that, but it did not stop him. He blustered on.

I finally got a chance to explain it to him. I pointed. "The drainage we're addressing is the run-off from the roof. This has nothing to do with the drains inside the house at all." I didn't bother to explain that all three bathrooms and the kitchen in our house have been gutted. We have no running water inside the house and won't until we reinstall the new fixtures.

He knows we're not the problem, but he saw a chance to bluster and threaten. He's going to have to pay a plumber to come in a cut the tree roots away like everyone else in the area. He scowled at me. "That's all I needed to know!" and he stormed off just as angrily as he had approached. I watched him go.

Later he sat in his garage gunning his motorcycle engine. Guess he showed us.

Some people bring joy when they come. Others bring it when they leave.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

What I could have written about.

Well, there's so many things that I could have written about:

The big full moon in a dark cloudy sky, and how it reminded me of The Highway Man from highschool..."The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas." and I smiled to myself on the way home from a job that satisfies my heart.

I could have written about William turning five...

Or the snowstorm that dropped a foot of snow on us over night. Grandpa and William and I enjoyed our snow day.

Or about walking across a pedestrian walk with Tim and waving in a friendly way to the car that had stopped to let us cross...just as she was t-boned by a car coming out of a parking lot.

I could have told you about a new grand nephew, and my youngest sister, a grandma four times over.

Dylan and Brittani are coming home in two weeks.

I could have told you about the secret joy of folding laundry in my own comfortable living room while watching 'Still Alice' while crying buckets. I could not have done such a thing if I hadn't been home by myself.

There's that little marmalade cat of mine who knows that Tim does not like her on the bed. So she waits until she hears him snoring (which is pretty quick ~ I've never understood how he can fall asleep so quickly) and then Paddy will come quietly to my side of the bed, and I move my feet to make room for her to curl up on the electric blanket and she arranges herself purring contently.

I built a robot with William. We are growing crystals too.

I got roses for Valentine's Day. I got a sweet card from William that thanked me for our 'mugwump adventures'.

I could tell you about watching a daughter heal.

I could tell you about working with Tim on a house again.

There's always some book that I could tell you about...

...or some interesting person that I've met here or there or where ever...

About hugs from strangers. About hugs from old friends.

Maybe I could write about why I suddenly feel the need to wear colors instead of my customary neutral earth tones, and to wrap myself up in scarves from Afghanistan or Australia...or why my hair is growing long and unkempt, and why I like that

About dreams of unfed birds drowning, so vivid that I came from bed to read about dreams and decide why it had affected me so much that I woke up with tears in my eyes.

I could tell you about a meeting where I felt a strong urge to speak and so I did...and when I did, I caught a startled look from someone across the table and knew that I had spoken his mind as well.

I could tell you all sorts of things, and I am not sure why I don't. Just know in the absence of posts, life continues on, and it is filled with all sorts of small and wonderful joys.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Books.

I love books. One of my favorite things is to go to a used bookstore and browse the titles, picking and choosing, looking, leafing, shelving again, or clutching them in a silent joy, glad for my discovery.

What moves me the most, sometimes, is the inscriptions

In a copy of "A Child's Garden of Verse," Rachel and Abby's grandmother wrote that she thought the book with all its beautiful pictures would be perfect for Mommy and Daddy to read to them, and that she knew that soon Rachel would be reading them to Abby. Mostly, though, Grandma just wanted to be there to read the book to them herself.

In another book of poetry about mothers and daughters, a mother wrote, "This book says everything. I love you, beautiful daughter."

How do those books, with their beautiful inscriptions, wind up in a thrift store? How do you discard tangible evidence that you are beloved? I wonder about Rachel and Abby and their grandmother. I wonder about the beautiful daughter and her mother as I continue to browse through the books.

I take my small pile of books to the counter, and I pay for them, and I walk out into a gray snowy day. I will take my 'new' books home where they will join the ones already on my shelf. The ones with no inscriptions.