Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tantrum Over

I can pitch a fit. I don't often do it, because I am a champion at backing quickly away from situations that will make me mad. I don't like being angry, and I just tend to avoid volatile situations, volatile people. I figure that I've got an awful lot to be grateful for, so I try to keep my focus there, and generally, I do a decent job of that.

I was sad about Kathy. Cancer robbed her, you know. She had just retired; she was going to do things, and travel and spend time with her children and grandchildren. That didn't happen. She loved to talk. And listen. The surgery damaged her speech center, and robbed her of her words. You just hope against hope that there will be a miracle...and then there is not one. So, I was shocked, and upset, and sad, and...well...I was mad. No other word for it. I was mad.

I went to my last literature class. I came home. I went down to the new house and I scrubbed like crazy, and I was mad at God. It's a good combination, cleaning and being mad. I get a lot accomplished when I'm mad. As I wore myself out, I began to feel better, and the radio played a song:

It started then. I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I sat right down in the middle of the room, and I cried for my friend. I know that she is in better hands now. I understand that I'm not in charge of the universe. That's Somebody Else's job. So, in the end, I came to the same conclusion that I've been coming to for the past 30+ years: I have to trust that He knows what He's doing.

I got up and scrubbed some more, but it was different. I wasn't mad anymore. Still sad. An Amish buggy clip-clopped down the brick street in front of the house. I wondered how many times the house had beheld that's a hundred years old. And then I wondered how many times it had surrounded a person while she cried. And what happens to laughter? Are there a hundred years of laughter held in the sturdy walls? The neat thing about old houses is that you can bet that babies were born in those rooms. You can bet that people died there too. It's stood fast in countless storms. I began to feel that this house was very wise, standing in silent witness to all these things, all these occasions.

Maybe it will happen to me, too. I smiled a little to think of it.

When I moved from the room that I'd just cleaned to the next room, I dragged the ladder to the adjoining room. I picked up all the cleaning supplies. I gave the room one final sweeping, and then I shut the door behind me. I had my back turned to the door and was reaching in the bucket for my rag to start cleaning when suddenly, there was a very loud thump on the door behind me, the door I just closed. It scared the mess right out of me. I stood looking at the door, shocked. There was no other noise. I slowly opened the door. The room was completely empty, just as I'd expected it to be. Just as I'd left it, just moments before.

I'm a rational person. I don't know what that noise was, but I figured that the house couldn't possibly be mad at me. I'm doing a heck of a nice cleaning job. So I closed the door once again, and I went back to work.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last Night.

Last year, I walked with my friends. I wrote about it. I remember it fondly. I wondered why I don't do things like this more often. I mean to, but people are busy. I'm busy. They're busy. It's always some damn thing.

Today, I was working. A woman from church came in. We talked. She matter of factly said something about Kathy's death, assuming I knew. I did not. I didn't know, and the news hit me right square between the eyes. I couldn't breathe for a second. I remembered a hot summer night, and how we all walked that night giggling like school girls. And now, impossibly, my friend has died. My friend died last night.

The woman left, and I stood there, still in shock. Still. In shock.

An acquaintance came up and slapped a bag of feed on the counter. He said something. I don't even know what, and I looked at him, and he asked me if I was alright at precisely the same time that I burst into tears. He stood there, looking around wildly, saying, "Uh oh," not quite sure what to do.

I gathered my wits, and I stopped crying. I took a deep breath, and I ducked my head, and went back to work.

It seemed like a long night, longer than usual, and I did my work with girlish giggles echoing in my mind.

It was less than a year ago. Almost a year. Not quite. Not long, though. Not a long time ago at all, and it all changed so suddenly, and excuse my french, but it's so fucking just not fair.

Excuse me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anyone know of a way that an American girl in Daegu could get medical assistance from an American (or at least English speaking) doctor?

Kate Chopin

I have a lovely afternoon arranged. I am curled up with a biography of Kate Chopin, and her novel "The Awakening". I'm doing a presentation on her Thursday morning. It is raining outside, and it is peaceful and quiet inside the house. There is nothing more wonderful than having an assignment which requires you to sit down and read. I love this class.

Kate Chopin wrote "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe . . . ?"

I find that I am excited to delve into her story. I'm thinking that I will find that I have a lot in common with a woman who's been gone for over a hundred years...and that excites me.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I like to talk. I visit with all my customers. It's just how I am. I am not a flirter. I don't speak with any sort of sexual innuendos. I'm not interested in that. I'd never do that to Tim. I don't believe in it. A hundred different reasons. I'm just friendly, and I like to talk. So yesterday, I'm at the store. I'm not feeling well, but I'm there, because we don't have extra staff to be filling in the spaces when someone's sick. A regular customer comes in, but I've got a line, and so Ike hops on the other register and begins to wait on customers too, bless his heart. I finally catch up, and the regular customer is standing next to me and Ike's waiting on him. So, I said, "Well! Way to hurt my feelings, there. You can't wait just for a minute to me to catch defect to Ike's line."

You know. Just horsing around.

And the guy leans over close and tell me that I need to pipe down or he'd turn me over his knee and give me a good spanking.

I wasn't sure quite how to respond. I mean, our conversations have never gone in that direction before, and he was really quite 'in my space'. Usually, we have a counter between us. So I must have stood there stupidly long enough for him to either think that I hadn't heard him, or that perhaps (God forbid) I was titillated at the thought of it. So he repeated himself.

A regular customer.

I looked at him, and said, very carefully, "No. I don't think so. That's a good way for someone to get hurt. Namely, you."

He said, "You wouldn't like that, then?"

I said, "No. I would not."

Why does it have to be like that? I was really disappointed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The weather has been pretty crazy here. I feel ashamed to say that actually...compared to what other parts of the country are getting, I guess that I have to admit that we're having only mildly crazy weather. I love clouds, but I don't consider myself any sort of an expert on them. I'm more the gawking "ooooooh....look....pretty" sort of cloud observer. However, last month, I saw a cloud formation that caught my eye. I'd never seen anything like it. Turns out that it is a shelf cloud formation and they are considered rare. This is what they look like, and no, it's not my picture, because, truth be told, whenever I see something really cool, you can bet your bippy that I don't have a camera anywhere close by. But isn't it cool? Here's another example:
Strange thing was that just a couple weeks later, I saw the same cloud formation. So that was cool.

I have just two more days in my English literature class. I will really miss it. It was nice to get back to enjoying my classroom experience. Some of the students were good naturedly complaining about the amount of reading the class required. I had to own up to the fact that I am one of those people who regularly peruse the text book table, where people set their textbooks that they no longer want. Whenever I see an textbooks with short stories, or literature books, I always pick them up. I have three of them on my nightstand, and it is nice to read a short story at night before I fall asleep. I really do enjoy reading. Another woman in the class said, "You're such a literary geek." I had to admit that it was the truth. The teacher seems to think that I will be an English teacher. I'd surely love to teach, and I certainly enjoy reading and books, and writing, but I explained to her that I am in this for job security. In my county, they've cut 91 teaching positions. I'm not sure of how many teachers we actually have, but I'll bet that's roughly a third to one fourth of the teachers we have. An English teaching degree seems like another fast track to unemployment.

Everyone enjoyed their cinnamon rolls, although the teacher did take great pains to point out that she had a "Not For Sale" sign on her forehead. Translation: "Thanks for the cinnamon roll, but it's not helping your grade, sistah!"


Got home from school early. Cara called. She's having adventures, trying to fit as much adventure in to her last 5 weeks in Korea. I said that I'd bake cinnamon rolls for her when she came home (using her artificial sweetner, of course). She told me that she had a list of foods she wanted me to make in quantities. Including, of all things, goulash. "Goulash?I didn't know you loved goulash" She said she didn't realize it either, until she dreamt about eating a huge bowl of goulash, and it was just about all she could think about.

That's about it, really. I'm way tired, and I am going to bed early. I'll read myself to sleep.

The bewitching hour.

My paper is written. It is probably the worst paper I've ever written in my life. At this point, I don't care.
However, in an attempt to curry favor, I have baked and glazed cinnamon rolls for the teacher and for rest of the class.
I also made a homemade pizza for Tim. Poor guy. I needed to curry some favor there too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Last night, I was sitting at my computer trying to come up with research material for a paper I am writing. no. I did not wait until the last minute. It is not due until Thursday. It was not going very well. Since the repairs on my computer, the darn thing has begun to block all pop-ups, even the ones from the college library's databases. I was getting pretty fed up, because I still had a column to write. Deadline: Wednesday. I am not a proscrastinator. ~ sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what I'm going to write about.

So I was getting a little wound up, like I do when I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.

The phone rang, and it was an elderly couple I know and have not heard from in a long time. He is in his nineties and a rough old charactor, a Pearl Harbor veteran, chock full of interesting stories. She is a petite and dainty lady. When I first met them, I wondered how they fit together. Him, so rough, her...well...lets just say that when you look ladylike up in the dictionary, you see a picture of her. But they do get along, beautifully, and I love the two of them.

Marion explained in her sweet voice that she'd just had major surgery, and Larry had just had a bout with his heart, and that they were both back home, but that they needed dog food, and would I mind... and I said, no, of course not. I'd be delighted...and out the door I went. I needed a break from the stinking writing stuff anyway.

So I went to the store, and I bought a 35 pound bag of dog food, and 14 cans of dog food, and a box of the special biscuits, and another bag of beef basted treats, and I ran it up to them, and even as I was emptying the bag into the bin they store their dog food in, Larry was bellowing, "Come on in here!" even as I bellowed back, "You just hold your horses there, buster!" And we sat around the kitchen and visited back and forth. Larry said, "Man. It's hell getting old. I think the war was easier than this," and I said, "Well, least ways, nobody is shooting at you, " and he said, wistfully, "at least I had a chance to fight back against an enemy I could see." They both look rough. Marion looks as if she's lost a lot of weight off a frame so tiny that I couldn't see how she found the weight to lose to begin with, Larry's tattooed arms covered with black and blue.

It is hard, I imagine, trying to hold your own against something that will, in the end, anyway, win. Kind of put my own frustrations into perspective.

I pulled in our driveway, and there was a pigeon. We don't have pigeons in the woods. We have mourning doves. No pigeons though. He was brown and white, and picked listlessly at the stones in the driveway. I talked with him a moment, and then he flew to the roof of our house to study me. I gave him some food and went back to work. I typed my column out, and made up my mind to just get up and go to the campus library to do my research. At midnight, I lay in bed and watched the lightning flash all around me, and the thunder rumble from one side of the horizon to the other, and I thought about what it means to be married for years upon years, and to be old, and to be looking squarely at death. And then I fell soundly asleep.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tribute to Tim

I have an idea about gardens. I am a firm believer that whatever you plant should have the common decency to come up year after year so that you don't have to replant it. So today I was planting my flowers, the stuff that I got for a quarter some time back, and haven't had time to get in the ground. All I can say is that I must have been blinded by the price. I got three six packs of annuals. That made me pretty disgusted with myself. But we got another load of leaves out of there, and I got my plants planted.

I saw my cat, but he did not come, although he watched me closely from the next yard over. No, Mikey, I'm not feeding him. Tim would kill me. (so I'll do this when he's not looking

Tim got steak and parsleyed potatoes and strawberry shortcake for Father's day. And a new shirt. He's a good father. He had two of his own, but took on three of mine without blinking an eye. He encouraged them all to go to college, and four out of five of them went. He's still got high hopes for the fifth one. Then he sent me. He's generous, and he's hardworking, and if he doesn't know what to do, he prays about it. I have a good husband. Today was his special day. I'm thinking that he probably deserves more than one of them a year.

Of gardens, a cat, and the man who could not sing.

After work, yesterday, we spent the evening at the new house raking several years of autumn leaves, uncovering the gardens. Tim scythed some weeds down at the back of the lot, being careful to avoid the bleeding heart. He even found some things that he felt were probably a lily of some sort, and carefully detoured all around them. He's not usually mindful like that. While we were working, one of our neighbors came out and said cheerfully that we had a lot of work to do. And we agreed with her, even offered her the opportunity to jump right in and help. But she just laughed and said no. Still, it was pleasant standing in the yard visiting with her, listening to the history of the house. It's always the same. The house was beautiful, but then the last people moved in, and just trashed it, never mowing or raking, just flinging trash in the back yard. Poor house. While we visited, a cat began to wind itself around her legs. "Is that your cat?" I asked. We've seen him regularly at our house, and I wondered where he belonged. "No," she answered looking down in disgust. She is allergic to cats. I asked her if she knew where he belonged, and she answered once again, no. She thought he might be a stray.

We got back to work, talking quietly. I daydreamed while I worked, about how I was going to do the gardens, about what plants I was bringing down from my own house here. This is going to be a different kind of gardening though, because the yard does not get a lot of sun.

Once truck was loaded up, I emptied the dehumidiers on some of the planters outside. When I came back in, there was that long haired cat at the door, looking in. He usually runs when I call to him. But not this time. He stood at the open door looking inside and I talked to him quietly. His ears flicked. This time, when I reached out my hand to pet him, he let me. He even layed down and rolled as I petted him.

Don't tell Tim. I think the cat comes with the house.

Oh. Another neat thing happened at the store today. Years ago, I knew a little boy. He is all grown up and married now, middle aged himself. I saw him in the store regularly, and we always talk. He is a musician, a teacher, and he gives private lessons on the side. He told me that he'd had the best teaching day of his life, and tells me the story of a grown man who always wanted to sing. He'd been admonished by a elementary school teacher who told him that his voice was so terrible that he should not sing at all. The poor man endured music classes not singing, ashamed of his voice, and himself. As a full grown man, the longing became so intense that he came to my friend. Andrew's face was lovely in its delight. He said, "This man has a lovely voice. Really." I listened to his story and loved it. I said, "Oh, it must have been beautiful to be a part of such a discovery. I'm glad for you." As Andrew turned to go to the door, he suddenly stopped. He turned to me and said, "You know, whenever I see you, we have the nicest talks. I really love talking to you. You're very special to me." I stood there still in my shock. There's something you don't hear every day. He swept me off my feet in a huge hug and gave me a kiss on my cheek and then set me back on the floor. Out the door Andrew went, pushing his cart. Like the man who discovered he could sing, I felt like I'd discovered something about myself.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Last Night at the Tractor Supply.

I was working last night when a man comes up and says that his daughter needs a cowboy hat and cannot find one that fits. He wants to know if any of our other stores might have the size we need. He's obviously willing to take the trip. Now, there's a number of things going on: the hospital is having their 'Hoedown' (a fundraiser). People have been coming in and buying western gear for that, people that you know are not going to probably ever wear the stuff again, and it amazes me, a little, that people would spend money like that. Another thing going on is that we have various 'camp' programs going on, a great many of them also with a western theme and counselers have been coming in for western gear. So we've been selling a lot of western clothes. I'd stocked hats though, and I thought we had pretty much most every size, so I walked over with him. We figured out what size the girl wore, and I found the hat she needed. The father said, "We want to buy a pair of boots too, but the only pair that you have that she likes are the display boots. I told him that we'd give him a 'distressed merchandise' discount. He was happy about that, and the last that I saw them, they were headed over to look at western belts.

Wasn't long and they were back up to the counter with a couple hundred dollars of western clothing for the girl. There was a problem though. The young girl had sent (via cell phone) a picture of the boots to her friend, who had declared them 'ugly'. She was not sure that she wanted the boots. The father stood by patiently as she texted her friends to do an informal poll. He explained that she was headed to Pittsburgh this weekend to see Taylor Swift in concert.


After some texting and agonizing, the father said to me, "These boots? Are they the sort of boots that anyone wears?" I laughed a little. "These are Ariat boots and they are the nicest boots we have. These are what the horsewomen wear." He said, "Okay..." and turned back to his daughter who was standing by her brother, still texting wildly about the boots. They all were such a unlikely trio. The father looked like Sgt. Carter from Gomer Pyle, with the buzz cut. The boy had long hair and a double lip piercing. The girl looked like a blonde rodeo queen. After about five minutes, her friends decided that the boots were acceptable after all, and so they came to the register and paid for their purchases. The girl explained what sort of shirt she'd need to go with the everything, and her father said, "Well, we'll hurry up and go to the mall."

I've been thinking on this. You know, the concert tickets weren't cheap, I imagine, and they've still got to get that girl to Pittsburgh, food and lodging on top of all the clothing. I wondered what it would be like just to do this sort of thing, just give a night like this to your children without thinking twice about it. Suddenly, I found myself wishing I could have been generous and openhanded like this with my kids, even as I thought, "No. It's not good for a child to be given everything that they want." Wanting stuff is a powerful motivator. Kids will work like crazy if they want something.

I don't know. I watched them walk out the door, the three of them deep in conversation. They seemed like a close family. And I found myself torn between wishing it would have been different for my own kids, and knowing that it worked out perfectly fine anyway.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Yesterday was kind of stressful. I did not know what 'Wit' was about. Had I known just what I was walking into, I'd have probably sent the teacher a polite e-mail and spent that hour or so studying for the exam. I'm sure she'd have not minded. But I didn't know, and by the time that I figured it out, I was embarrassed to leave, feeling like I'd be making a spectacle of myself. So I stayed, and you all are right. I probably should not have. That was one intense movie. I cannot imagine anything worse that dying alone and frightened and with regrets. Like I said, it was as if my deepest fears were playing there for the whole class to see.

I was drained when I came home, and so I made up my mind to have an evening to myself. Tim was at work, and I was home alone, and so I curled up with my book. I heard a knock on the door. Scared me so badly, I jumped. I wasn't expecting anyone. I opened the door, a little cautiously, and a woman stood there. Her horse trailer and truck were parked in front of the house. The poor woman was soaking wet, her hair dripping. She'd been camping across the road on the horse club property. She was packing up to go when the thunderstorm hit, and her Australian Shepherd had run off. She was beside herself. I brought her in and took her phone number, and promised her that I'd look and if I found 'Shelby,' that I'd bring her in with me, and call them right away. I gave her our phone number too, so that she could call if (when?) they found the dog. I don't like to think of an animal alone and scared in the woods. She thanked me profusely, and headed out the door. Within an hour, she called me to tell me that they'd taken one last sweep of the nearby woods after the worst of the storm had passed, calling their dog, when suddenly, she burst from the woods, from our side of the road, and raced to them, wriggling and wagging in her relief. Although I could not see the owner, her relief was obvious in her voice. I said, "Oh, I'm SO glad, I'm so very happy for you," and she was nearly crying when she hung up.

I feel better today. I went to bed shortly after that exchange and I read for a while. I slept soundly. I don't believe that I even woke up when Tim came home. I was tired, and we both slept in until about 7:30

We went down to the house to work. This is the first day this week that I put any serious work into it. I said , to Tim, that I hadn't been doing him any good. He looked at me seriously, and he said, "I think you're the one who needs the time." I think that he's right. I do feel better after putzing around for a few hours cleaning and scrubbing and the like. So I scrubbed. The downstairs walls are completely done. I need to scrub the floors, and then I will move upstairs to begin the second floor walls, tomorrow, I guess, while Tim's at work. Some people might whistle while they work. Me? I daydream while I work. About practically everything.

Other than that, no much to report. It's about time to head out the door and see what adventures that I can have at work.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Home alone in the thunderstorm...

Today, my friend and her five teenagers left to go home. Goodness, the house seems empty. And quiet. I really miss the hubbub. I tried, twice, to upload pictures, but flipping blogger is making me crazy. I can't even comment on Cara's blog anymore.

Today, I went to my class, like always, and we watched a play. "Wit". It was about a woman dying of cancer. The loss of her hair. Her attempts to keep her own fear at bay with her sardonic wit. When she reported to the hospital with chills and shaking, I thought, 'neutropenia', in a sort of third person sort of way. The story went on, and I continued to recognize small moments. There are some things which are common to all of us, I suppose, and then suddenly, she was dying, and it was graphic, and she was afraid, and it was as if I were watching my own worst fears played out for the class to see. It was exhausting keeping my own emotions to myself, and when the movie was blessedly over, I went to the restroom, and was exhausted in privacy.

It's been a hard time. An acquaintance died last month, and her husband wants to talk about her last days. Changing her diapers. Her realization in the night that she was dying. Hospice. I listen because it seems the kind thing to do for his sake, but I don't want to know these things. I don't want to hear these stories.

Ann discovered yesterday that she is metatastic. I read, and I'm shaken by her news.

I don't know why I am affected by these things, but I am, and I feel ridiculous. I sit and listen to the thunder and the rain outside and I feel sapped. Just tired. So I am going to curl up on the sofa and finish "Into the Wild" for my class. And if I fall asleep, this will not be a bad thing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Must Love Cats

Wonder if she found her soulmate?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More coffee, please.

Take five kids, an old school pal, freight night at the store, and a woman who wanted to get home early. Add to that mix the news that our assistant manager's last day is tomorrow, one pizza party, 101 pages of reading that I was trying to finish, and what have you got?
You've got a woman that worked like crazy stocking and putting freight away. She is so sore that she can barely walk. The reading assignment that she meant to do on break did not get done, because she was joining her voice to the many praises of said assistant manager. I got off work at 10 PM, came home to an excited house of teenagers sprawled watching Mrs. Doubtfire, and then stayed up too late. Then and only then did that woman go to bed to read her assignment.
1 AM is way too late when the alarm goes off at 6.
Moral of the story: There is not enough coffee in the world. Gads. I think that I am going to die.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Hey, Josh, need to bounce something off you. Please call or send e-mail. I haven't got a current one.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

parallels? maybe...or not...

I have a friend who I went to school with. She is one of those larger than life people, joined the Peace Corp after college, went back to school for her second degree in nursing, joined the Army, where our paths crossed again...she was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and I was stationed at Ft. Belvoir. Our paths diverged again, for a time, but they crossed again when I moved back home. When she came back for family visits, we tried to see each other. Her family grew to include four children, 3 adopted from China. She is a matter of fact woman, very sensible. Homeschools her children. She is still a nurse, divorced now. She is coming back home to visit her family. We have a large home, a place for all of her family to sprawl and relax. I am very much looking forward to the time with her.

She asked if it would be a bother if she brought along an extra child. "No," I said, "no problem at all." Like I said, we've got a big house. She is bringing along a child from a foreign country, one of those places where guerilla violence lashes out at women and children. His story is horrific. I find myself thinking about his mother, so very badly injured, brought here for medical treatment. Yet my friend describes her as the most cheerful woman imaginable. When my friend invited this young man to travel with her and her family, the mother was not fearful. She was overjoyed that her son have this opportunity.


I keep thinking that this is perhaps the most courageous thing a mother can do. She turns her back on the violence and horror of her past and looks to the future, and sees opportunity there. Instead of clinging to her fearfulness, she has let it go, and embraces life.

Her courage makes me feel small and weak.

While I was working at the store today, a woman came in looking for fertilizer. I showed her where it was, and told her where to find cucumber seeds. She thanked me and looked at me in a considering way. "Do you write for the paper?" she asked. I told her that I did. She continued to look at me. "You had breast cancer, right?" I told her that I did. So had she. Ironically, although I did not get dates, it seems that we were diagnosed at about the same time. It turns out that she lives just around the corner from me. We'd spoken before although we were not friends. She went to the big city for treatment. I stayed here, so our paths had not really crossed before while we received treatment. We asked how the other was doing. She is upset at how long it has taken her to spring back to what she considers 'normal'. Bone pain is a problem for her. I have not spoken of it, but after the initial improvement, after stopping tamoxifen, my bone pain has returned although it is not as bad as it was. Still, I find myself wondering if I should just suck it up and go back on the tamoxifen, now that the pain is back and the improvement is only marginal. It is a discouraging time, and I had some additional surgery last week. I am having second thoughts about a lot of things. My neighbor is angry though, and she spoke candidly about her feelings on cancer and cancer treatment. I listened. I don't know. I think about things, and I don't know. I have questions, tons of them, and I don't know how to get answers.

I think of my friend, and of the woman that she knows, and I know that anger isn't right for me. I'm not criticizing my neighbor, but I am not angry. I think that we choose our response. I think that most courageous thing that I can do is to look to the future, and see the opportunity there. Instead of clinging to fearfulness, I need to let it go, and embrace life. There are people in this world who deal with far more uncertainty than I have ever dealt with. It simply cannot be that hard to do. Yet I struggle sometimes. And I feel small and weak.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random, for Bush Babe

This is the side walk that goes between the big maples (to the left) and the poor overgrown gardens, to the right.
Remember the roses that I told you about, that were so heavenly smelling. Really. I want to pick them all and dry the petals, like they did in the old days.
Here's a lock on a huge glass fronted cabinet thing in the house. Tim wants to throw it out. I'm trying to figure out what we could use it for. It is just so heavy I can't even slide it by myself. But the lock is a clever little thing, and I've never seen anything like it. The little lever on the left flips up so that the whole thing swivels up and down. Have you ever met someone who would try to keep a cabinet because she likes the lock on it? Now you have. Hi. I'm Debby.
This is the light in the foyer. It's broken. It will have to be replaced. I'm so glad about that, because really, it saves me from having to break it myself, some day.
That is one ugly light.

Remember the stairs were covered with Berber carpet? Filthy dirty berber carpet that we had to throw out. This is what's under the berber carpet on the stairs. It made us feel better about ripping out the carpet. Yep. I got to get to work on the tack strips. I removed tack strips from five rooms and the hall upstairs.
I am excited about this clawfoot tub. I have not even thought of bathing in it yet. Tim has the ceiling ripped out of the bathroom and is replacing plumbing and wiring. That is why there is a roll of pex (plex? eh. I'm the cleaner not the plumber) tubing on the floor. I suppose that this shot would have looked better had I removed the toilet brush from the front of the tub. But have you ever seen a toilet that has set full of water for a couple years. Yeah. I did not take a picture of that, but had I done so, you'd know exactly why there was a toilet brush hanging in the bathtub. I must have a functional toilet. But back to the tub. I love this tub.
I probably should have taken a picture of the floor before I cleaned it. Someone had looked at this house before the city came in a removed the junk. They said there were just piles of garbage bags everwhere you looked. Waist deep. He said the house was so full of garbage on the first and second floors that he just walked out. He was amazed that we had bought it. The first floor has glass doorknobs and brass fittings on every single door.
Close up of the french doors that the living room from the foyer. It is interesting to note that there were 9 wooden doors with glass panes on the first floor. Out of all of them, only 1 window pane was broken. That on the french door that opens into the bedroom.
This is a detail from the lightin the livingroom. I removed one of the crystal thingamabobbies so that you could see the detail on it. Well, as best you can with someone who is not a photographer, anyway.
This is that cute little stone walkway that I unburied I still have about 14 million little maple trees to get out of there, but I think that it is really sweet. It goes to the side of the carriage house.
Just a few pictures to get Bush Babe of my back.
Photographers always want more pictures!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I had the very nicest day. I scrubbed walls. I scrubbed the bedroom, the foyer, the livingroom, and half the library. I polished the wood on four sets of french doors. I loved watching the grain of the wood emerge as I polished, and I saw the old tool marks and wondered about the hands of the craftsman. What was he like? Who was he? I cleaned the small panes of glass. They are still pretty streaked though...I discovered that using cheap paper towels for cleaning glass is a false economy. The glass doorknobs really cleaned up beautfully and are a nice touch. I walked around just opening and closing the doors and admiring the way everything gleamed and sparkled in the sun.

I scraped old wall paper too. Each place where the broken radiators had been pulled left a patch of old and peeling layers of wallpaper. I scrubbed and then scraped the paper, looking at the old patterns and day dreaming about the people who loved the house before me, even dreaming about the people who will love it when I am gone.

I also scrubbed two of the hardwood floors on my hands and knees. It is just the first scrubbing, but still so much grime came off the floor that it really was remarkable, and I found myself sitting in the foyer admiring the wet and shiny floor. I got a glimpse of what the floors will look like when they are sanded and refinished. The dark wood will shine once again. I cannot wait.

I removed all the curtains from the first floor and brought them home to be washed. I'm not sure that I will keep all of them, but at least they will be clean. I took down the broken shades and threw them on the truck. I scrubbed down scores of spider nests. I swept and scrubbed and plainly wore myself out, but what a difference! I stepped outside to through some things on the truck and came back in the foyer. I sniffed the air, the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap mingling with the smell of the cleaner. I actually went back out the door and entered again just to sniff the air again.

Tim worked along side of me this morning. He was doing some wiring, little plumbing. He cleaned some gutters that he believes are directing water into the basement when it rains. He had to go to work and went home to lunch and get ready. I stayed until five, scrubbing and emptying buckets of black soapy water, refilling and scrubbing some more. I got home just before his break, and waited for his call. He was amazed at what I had gotten done. We'd planned to spend our first night in the new house on the 4th of July, but were not sure if that was realistic. We've still got plenty to do, but it is possible. It is completely possible.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Our teacher bounded into class today, and cheerfully asked us how our weekend had been. I said that it had been a good weekend despite the dark readings. I put the question to her. "Are there no cheerful examples of great literature?" She said, "Can you name one?" I offered up that Winnie the Pooh was a cheerful book, both innocent and wise. It had certainly withstood the test of time. She suggested a children's literature class. I suggested "The Tao of Pooh", but I can see that I am getting nowhere with her. She will teach us to read great literature even if it kills us.

We began our class as we do every class. We had our quiz. We do a lot of reading and the teacher makes sure that we are doing the reading by quizzing us each day. I do my reading, but when you are reading three or four stories for each class (held twice a week), along with the assigned book, not to mention my pleasure reading: my upstairs book (0n the bedside table) and my downstairs book (tossed on the coffee table), well, covering that amount of reading, sometimes you might get a detail mixed up or forget something. I cruised along doing well until I reached the last question: 'What is the significance of 'bees?'


I pondered it, and for the life of me, I could not remember bees in the story. So I wrote that bees could certainly be found in Winnie the Pooh, that they made hunny, and so could be considered significant in that context.

It wasn't until we handed our tests in that I suddenly remembered the answer that she probably was hoping for. The character's ex-wife was allergic to bees, and he contemplated putting a hive of bees in the house some day. Still, though, my answer wasn't wrong

Monday, June 6, 2011

Been to my thinking spot...

I have a question.

Are there no great works of literature that are not deep, black, filled with angst or horrible occurrences?

Are all great works of literature depressing?

I've a notion that people seem to think so. I like "The Wind in the Willows", and I consider "Winnie the Pooh" to be a very wise charactor. So why do they never assign these books in a literature class? I could be happy reading those sorts of books.

Gotta go. Yet another story about a person grappling with his dark side awaits.

Stuffed bears do not have a dark side.

Just something I noticed.

You're welcome.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Best Day Ever!

I had the weekend off, and it was nice. Yesterday we worked on the house. Today, well, we got up, we went to church, and then after church stopped and bought a sandwich and sat in the middle of a local arboretum to eat them and visit. We went to see my sister. She took her state nursing boards and is certain that she failed. We are certain that she did not, and so we placed a bet with her. She took it. We'll win. Find out more about this wager on Tuesday. I mean, it's a pretty safe bet. She graduated magna cum laude. She said, "I didn't even know, and then I didn't know how to pronounce it..." She's smart, don't let her fool you. She passed those boards just fine.

Then we went up to visit my mom for a while. She left the nursing home and came back home, and she is glad to be there.

Wrangling back through, we stopped at Danny and Mary's, but they were not home, and so we headed back to our own place. Tim repaired a car, and then we took it for a test drive. Naturally, we wound up at the new house. Tim was curious. I'd taken all the dangling drop things from the chandelier, and soaked them in cleaner, and they sparked beautifully. It is an old brass light fixture, and he wanted to know if the baubles were cut glass or crystal. He'd read up on this, and found out that if these were crystals, they would throw rainbows all around. So I was out in the garden with a bucket of fertilizer, and he was standing outside staring through the droplet at the sun. "No," I said, "like this..." and I turned the crystal towards the sun and held it just inside of the bucket. Immediately the bucket was filled with rainbows. "Crystal," he said happily, and carried the prize back to the house. This particular light has 60 of these baubles.

I went on with my fertilizing, and found a rose bush. The buds had opened and it was full of pink roses. The smell? Oh, my gosh, just heavenly. "Come smell these," I said when Tim came back outside. And he did. And we exchanged happy smiles in the middle of that poor overgrown garden.

We headed back home, and on the way, I saw a big wooden door, the old fashion kind. It had a sign on it: 'Free!' I said to Tim, "They're giving away a door you'd want back there," and Tim said, "I don't need another door. "It's an old one," I said, "the heavy wood door with the brass fixtures, takes a skeleton key..." and the truck was turning left and going around the block before I could even finish. Now get this: As we are going around the block, we see another sign. It also says 'Free' and this sign is hanging off a set of wicker furniture. REAL WICKER FURNITURE! 'Oh, Tim,' I breathed. "Loooooooook! Wicker..." He's so great. He stopped the car with a sigh. "Go look at it," he said. And so I did. And it was wicker. Real wicker furniture painted stinking black for heaven's sake! Right away, I know where this is going to go...there's a little cubby, and I wanted to put a little love seat there, and a book shelf, but this little set would fit perfectly there in that quiet little corner with the window at the entrance to the third floor. I turned to Tim, and he knew. Before I said a word, he was climbing out of the car. We loaded up the chair and the table. We'd come back for the loveseat after we went home to get the truck. He stopped and looked at the door, and looking at the art deco lock on the door, and the heavy dark wood, he said to the lady that we would be back to pick that up just as soon as we went home and got our truck.

And that's exactly what we did.

And so endeth the best day ever!

Empty nest

I went to bed early last night, read a class assignment, and then fell asleep. I woke up this morning all tangled up in the sheets. Tim slept soundly on the other side of the bed with the blankets that he'd managed to keep hold of. We were lazy and talked. Dozed off. Talked some more. Finally got up about 7-ish.

Much to our surprise, the robins are gone. Tim talked to them last night, and knows that they were still there. Early this morning, they apparently took off and the little nest sits empty.

No pictures.

Darn it.

Yesterday was a working day. Tim did some replumbing (figures that it is something to get done before we get in there...) and I spent the afternoon tearing up tack strips from the second floor. The house was not quiet. A radio played. We were tracking the weather. Violent storms had gone through the area, and a tree had fallen across the street within sight of the house. So I worked and the radio crackled with further weather alerts.

I heard voices. I thought the sound was coming from outside, where city workers worked to remove the tree and untangle electric lines. I worked on. I caught Tim's voice, and I realized that he was talking to someone. I got myself to my feet, and went down. We had our first company. Mike and Bethany came to look at it. It seemed only right that it should be one of the kids. Bethany said, "Oh. I love the library." By the time we got to the second floor, Mike said, "Wait. I'm lost." On the third floor, I showed them little William's playroom. I commented that the other room would be a playroom too, more set up for future granddaughters (although I realize full well that toys are not gender specific and that there will be playing back and forth between the two rooms...) Mike said, firmly, "There will be no grandbabies from me." The other day, on the phone, Cara said, "I don't know where you're planning to get all these grandbabies from. I'm not having any." I smile each time I hear it. There will be more.

Interesting thing: We were at an estate sale, and in the attic, there was a wicker doll carriage. Tim was quite taken with that. He did not buy it, but then fretted about it. He thought that it would go nicely with the antique crib and the doll furniture that we already have. He thought it would look nice in playroom. He actually went back to get it, but it was gone. It tickles me though, that he has the same vision of the house as I do. He sees grandchildren not yet here, just like I do. He's a quiet man and doesn't speak of these things, but they are there.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Robins

This picture was taken May 29th.
This picture taken today, June 4th. Quite a difference, hey? The little boogers are standing in their nest and flapping their little wings. However, when I try to duck out there to get a picture of that, why they ease back down into that nest and peer over the edge. Probably thinking, "Momma? Momma? We need you, Momma!"
Momma was down in the yard scrounging worms for her brood. By this time, she takes no note of me. Tim is her special buddy. Last week, as Tim worked on the wood, whenever he moved the wood, he'd throw any worms he found to her. She began to hang close and watch what he was doing, waiting for him to toss her another earthworm.

I will try to get a picture of our little fledglings before they light off. If the last two years are any indication, we will have another nest of robins on the back porch before summer is over.

Late edit: Much to my surprise, I walked out on the back deck and one of the babies flew away before my very eyes. Now there are only two in the nest.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


A few weeks back, Tim crushed his finger ripping the radiators out of the new house. I said, "You need to go to a doctor." He did not wanna. He's been soaking his finger in epsom salts. It makes me a little squeamish to look at it. You know, the nail's all lose, etc.
But he did not wanna go to the doctor.
Actual conversation this morning: Tim gets this confused look on his face. I wait. He says, "You know, my finger is beginning to smell bad."
He did not wanna go to the doctor, but he did, anyway. And then to the hospital for x-rays to see if the infection is in the bone. The technician said, "Well. You did quite a job on that finger. Expect to hear from your doctor." (What the flip does that mean? I'll bet it is not good news...) When we were done at the hospital, we went to the Walmart to pick up some antibiotics in the handy horse size.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Last night, I had the 'pucky doo' (as my sister would say) scared out of me. I went to bed. I had fallen asleep. All I know is that at 12:30, I leapt out of bed and ran for the window to make sure of what I somehow already knew. Tim had not gotten home.This has always been a fear of mine, because he travels an hour each way from work, and he travels through some desolate area. Still, work was done at 11. He should have been home at midnight. I reached for the phone, and I quickly called him. There was no answer. I found it hard to breathe, but I am sensible. For half the trip home, he moves through a heavily wooded area in the Seneca Nation. There is no phone reception there. So I sat there trying to be sensible, but afraid that something awful had happened. My imagination was just beginning to run away with me when the phone rang. It was Tim, and he was grumpy. The heavy rains we have had caused a road to collapse, and he had to detour. He was taking the long way home, and he was late. "I thought you'd be asleep," he said, "so I did not call."

I went back to bed, but I was very wide awake at that point.

This morning, I got up early, and snuck out of the house so that I would not wake Tim up. I had some stuff to take care of at the hospital. The EKG lady came and got me from where I was waiting. I had been up late, had not slept well, and had not been allowed coffee, so suffice it to say, I was not all that chipper. However, the EKG lady was, by golly. Perky. Caffeinated. We walked side by side, and she chattered while flipping through my paperwork. "Gees, I think that I'm more excited about this that you are."

'No fooling,' I thought to myself in my grumpy, uncaffeinated way. "I guess that I'm not a person who gets real excited about medical stuff. No offense, but I'd just as soon be someplace else." ('...drinking coffee,' I thought)

She wasn't offended. "What are you going to do with the rest of your day?" I said, "Well, we're rehabbing a house." She said, "I KNOW! I read your article in the paper!" It's always a bit jarring to meet readers. They know me, but I don't know them. But we talked about houses. She's selling hers, up in New York State. She's moved here and is staying with her sister. She told me that her husband had recently died. They'd had no children, and... Next thing you know, her eyes are teary. I'm a boob of the finest caliber, so right away, I start feeling emotional, remembering how awful it had been to lose Tim the previous night, even for 45 minutes. She was embarrassed at her tears and told me not to pay any attention to her. "Listen," I said, "you're dealing with an awful lot of changes. Your husband has died, you're selling your home, you've moved to an new place...that's a lot! You have a right to cry."

EKGs don't take long, and before I knew it we were chattering away, both of us, like we'd known each other for a hundred years. "Hey, if you ever find yourself feeling blue, like you'd like to visit, you can come over to the new house and keep me company while I work. I'm a terrible blabber..." I gave her the address. Shocked, she said, "I know exactly where that is. My in-laws remodeled 418, right across the street from you."

This town is a small town. One of our new neighbors turned out to be an old friend from my childhood church. Our back yards ajoin. People are always out walking their dogs, or chatting in their yard, or sitting on their porch. We'll be living very close to the bike/hike trail. I am already seeing a lot of opportunities to socialize. As much as I fretted about moving into town, I have to admit, it's been lonely in the woods, and it will be fun to have people to talk to.

Aren't these clouds cool?

Now, let me get myself to bed. I've got class tomorrow. My reading is done. I've written my two papers. Good night!