Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I love that the world  has begun to speak up.

I love this too, for completely different reasons.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I don't drink green beer, but I DO like bad puns: What is an Irish furniture that stays out all night? Paddy O'Furniture.


(And you are not the first people to suggest that I take up drinking).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Falling into Bad Habits.

Habits are a funny easy to slip back into, right? It's very easy to neglect the blog.

We've been (predictably) busy here. A woman at work was having a lot of trouble with her landlord. Her apartment is all utilities included, however the landlord doesn't pay the utilities. She's come home and discovered that her electricity is out. She just got a shutoff for the water. Frustrating when you've got a small child.

I pick her up for work.

I was appalled at some of the things that she said. Landlords amaze me. When I hear a landlord complaining about being regularly ripped off by his/her tenants, I always wonder why. Tim and I have been blessed with tenants, long term tenants. We've had some problems, but those folks are an exception to the rule. I questioned one angry ripped off landlord and was shocked when he said that one of his apartments did not have heat. He also baldly proclaimed that he was not going to fix that. He looked shocked when I said that the reason he was being ripped off regularly was because HE was ripping people off.

Anyway, Tim and I talked about my rider. She's really in kind of a desperate situation. We bought another house.

I took vacation, and we have gutted the house in record time (NOTE: just say no to wallpaper. My gosh. The bathroom upstairs was so very heavily layers. The CEILING had cut out designs from the last wallpaper snaking across it, with stenciled leaves to make the flowers more realistic I guess. Ye GODS! Dylan commented that when you remove that much wallpaper you're actually adding square footage to the room. Funny boy, my Dylan!)

The big accomplishment was heat. It had been improperly winterized and the pipes for the hot water heat had burst in a hundred different places. The refrain rang out again and again from the basement: "Okay, I am turning on the water!" Which has answered again and again from various points through the house: "Turn it off, turn it off! We've got a leak." Finally, yesterday, at last, the call came up from the basement, and there was no answering cry. Tim cautiously asked, "No leaks?" and I said in hushed tones: "There doesn't seem to be." There weren't. The next step was firing up the boiler, which had not been used for at least a year and a half. We expected problems. The thing rumbled to life, and within minutes, the pipes began to feel warm...and then hot...and then the house began to heat up. It was a great moment.

Tim is cutting out the stairway today. An open stairwell will make moving easier and minimize the risk of damage to the walls.

Next week, we will put in the new kitchen and backsplash and stainless steel appliances. We will begin painting. The bathrooms will go back in. It will be a little bit harder because I go back to work tonight.

There's a change there at work as well. The first night of my vacation was also the beginning of the scourge. My department was eliminated on third shift. We were the lucky ones. We kept our jobs. The firings continued on for 3 more days, and there are ominous rumblings on the horizon about what happens next.

Tim and I are lucky. We do not financially depend on any company. We do, however, need the health benefits that come with my job. To that end, I will continue to be flexible and do my best to meet the needs of my company as I use them to meet the needs of my family. I'm very grateful to look at this situation squarely, without fear. It's not like that for everyone. No one had any idea of what was coming and there are a lot of people who were taken by surprise, and have no clue what they will do next.

Monday, I'll begin my new shift. Day shift is a different animal. The women are sharp and mean, watching each other closely for signs of 'cheating'. We did not have that on nights. We were a small group and got along. I'll take a book for lunch and break and wait for kindred spirits. I'm sure they are there...just need to find them.

Head over to Bob's. He's found out his grandbaby will be a boy.

Head over to Mrs. Spit's . She could use an encouraging word as she grapples with a new treatment for her MS.

Head over to Amanda's to give her your best wishes. She's celebrating her 50th birthday this weekend. May you ALWAYS sparkle, my friend!

Me? I reckon I'll get back to work now. Tim and William have gone on an adventure to watch the trout stocking and I've got a house to set to rights.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


William is the little boy in the front left of the picture. He is now six, and this is his birthday party with four of the 8 cousins who were there. The party was held in a place called The Treehouse. It is very hard to plan birthday parties in February because you can never be quite sure of the weather, but it was a beautiful day, and 9 kids ran their hearts out climbing and crashing and generally whooping it up.
 There's never a bad excuse for a good time with your cousins.
Pictures courtesy of my niece Kellie who was there with her three children, Rachel, Chance, and Greyson. There was also Brady and Brandon and Abby, Danny, and Caleb. 

It was a great day and a lot of fun. William chose to go out for 'China food' for supper. We met his mother there after her work day. By then, William was tired and managed to fall out of the car backwards in the parking lot. Never fear. He was not so tired that he could not tell everyone there it was his birthday and 'Now I am six'. He was so vocal about it that people from the next table came over to wish him happy birthday. 

He has grown into a happy child who does well in school. He has begun to read and he's good at math. He is the joy of his grandparents hearts and the apple of his mother's eye. 

Today he's going to see a play with his mother. "Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale." He is pretty excited about that as well. 

One of the greatest feelings in the world is watching that little boy grow. 

He generally sleeps over at our house Friday nights when his mother works late and then gets up early to open the store on Saturday. It is just much easier to have him where he needs to be. He loves a bath, and will beg for the chance to be in a warm bathroom soaking in the clawfoot tub full of bubbles and toys. 

He also loves lotion, and is quite a fan of the scent of vanilla. ("I smell good enough to eat!") I got some Gold Bond Men's lotion for him. He read the label carefully and then said, in a shocked voice, "But Grandma, I am not a man!" I told him that he was growing into one every single day. He was surprised at this and asked Grandpa for verification. Grandpa assured him it was true, that it was happening right in front of our very eyes. This has set him off on a tangent, where he will have long discussions with himself about what kind life he intends to have. 

One of his announcements: "...and when I see a house with a sign in front of it, well, I will tell grandpa and he will buy it and then we will fix it up and we will sell it." 

Speaking of that, we did buy another house. Work is slow for me right now (a blessed relief after the 66 hour weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas), and so we intend on getting in there, ripping it apart and putting it back together at a record pace.  

That's it, really. 

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 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!