Monday, December 31, 2018

Mr. D.

When we go to the nursing home to visit our friend who is convalescing from his terrible accident there, we always pass by a room when an old man sits in the dark.

My husband recognized the name right away. When he graduated from highschool 43 years ago, he began his machinist career at a small shop. An elderly man was retiring from there. It was the old man in the room.

So we stopped in, and the man remembered Tim right away. His mind is still sharp and active. He is surrounded by the birthday balloons he got for his 100th birthday.

He's a lonely soul. His wife just died in the bed next to him. "I don't know how you get over something like that," he said to us. I answered that when someone has been such a big part of your life for such a very long time, it leaves a big hole in your life when they are gone. He nodded in agreement.

He tells us that he has lost two of his sons. One died in a fiery truck crash years ago. Another died in his sleep a couple years back. He didn't see his 100th birthday as anything to celebrate, really.

We visited a bit, and when we left, he said, "Come back anytime. It gets lonely here."

I think we will.


You know what scares me? There's a man in our town who's mentally ill. As in, he has no control over his temper. When he's mad, he's enraged. I've seen him actually cut off cars in a drive through because the line was too long for him to wait in. I've seen him screaming at staff through the drive through window.

I know his ex-wife. She left him years ago because of that temper. There was no compromise, no way to make him happy. It had to be his way. Always.

The man used to be a teacher, and when he got mad at the kids, he would throw desks. I flatly told the principal that no child of mine was to be in his classroom, that if one was, she could expect trouble, because I wasn't going to stand by as a grown man threw a tantrum that would not be tolerated if any of the second graders in his classroom were throwing it.  She respected that. It did not happen.  She was a new principal there, and for the record, she believed that kids were exaggerating. There were so many stories that most parents did not. I have a notion it was figured out in short order. He retired early.

I witnessed his tantrums at a local pharmacy. The pharmacist always had to deal with him personally because he was always irate.

He's not a stable person.

He also is a huge Trump supporter. Huge. As in, he believes God sent him to us. He writes long, enraged letters to the editor which they publish. He uses lots of capital letters and lots of exclamation points. Democrats are the BLM, the Big Lie Machine, and Trump is a hero. There is no middle ground. The letters go on and on, and rarely make sense.

The thing is this: if Trump wasn't president, he'd find something else to be hugely unhappy about. He would rant about that. But Trump IS the president. I live in a red county. This man has an audience because there are minds who agree with him 100%. It seems as if I'm watching my corner of the world tilt towards irrationality, and this is a sobering thing to watch.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


We went to see Danny today, our friend who had been so badly hurt in the accident. The last time that we saw him was a shock. He was in pain, frail and weak. 

Danny is a popular person, hilarious, all around good guy, but we knew that as sociable as he is, constant company was taking a toll on him, so we have been infrequent visitors, although we check in by phone. 

Today we went for a visit and were greeted by a sign on his door that read that his visitors needed to check in with the nurse, and that visits were being limited to 20 minutes. We followed the directions, understanding completely how badly injured he was. 

We were surprised to see him looking so improved. His voice was strong and his laugh was back. He's working hard in therapy. He wants to be home for Mary's birthday, 4 weeks away. 

I still find it hard to believe, but I am so grateful for this miracle. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Purses and Left Over Ham.

At an interesting point in my life, I find myself pondering things. A woman that I work with got very excited about a purse, a Coach bag.

Now, I know that purses are a big deal and I know that Coach bags are a prize. There are fundraisers around here, Bingo Bags, and the like where people spend money for chances to win purses. I understand the concept, but I don't understand the desire. 

I'm not saying that this is good or bad. It doesn't make me a better person or a worse person than anyone else. Name brands are just not my 'thing'. I don't covet shoes, or purses, or designer clothing. 

I could, I guess. Tim would want his old wife back, for sure. 

I listened to my work partner go on about the purses that she has. "MK," she says, looking at me. "Michael Kors. Do you know who that is?" I can't help laughing a little. She seems so amazed. I tell her that I don't know him personally, but I know that he is a designer. "Gucci?" she asked. "Yes. I tell her. "Vuitton?" she continues. I smile at her honest disbelief.

"I love purses," she tells me matter of factly. "I have a closet of shoes and purses." If I told her that I had a purse too, she'd probably laugh her head off at me.

She's not a young kid. She's probably 20 years younger than me, but she likes her stuff. 

She's a friendly woman and talks a lot. I listen to her and respond when appropriate. We share other interests. Flowers, for instance. I dug her up a bunch of my lily of the valley last summer. She's a friend with one of my nieces so we have that in common. Her husband is a contractor so we have the DIY husbands in common. So we talk back and forth in a friendly way. 

This day, however, I shocked her. She really thought I was teasing her. In her deeply accented English, she asked me a lot of questions. Surely, surely, there was something that I was crazy about. 

"I like clocks," I offered up. "But I like the old ones. I buy them second hand." (Isn't that a great pun?) 

She looked at me. 

I'm a strange person in this world. I realize that. I don't compete, because I don't care to. 

That's the simple truth of it. 

Today, I finished off the Christmas ham.  The night before last, I put it in the crock pot to simmer for 24 hours. Then I set it to cool in my new pantry last night. The fat solidifies, and this morning, I scooped it off and what is left is a good rich broth with chunks of ham, celery, and onions. I put this in freezer bags and to be tucked away for a soup base later.

It's soul satisfying to me to put these carefully labeled bags into the freezer next to the bags containing the turkey broth with chunks of turkey celery and onion I put there after Thanksgiving. 

I don't know why I thought of my friend from work, but she popped into my mind. 

Happy New Year.

Here I am at the beginning of another 4 day weekend. Being a creature of habit, I woke up at 4 AM like usual. I lazily listened to the clocks chiming from the library, from the livingroom, from the front hall...and realized that the one outside our bedroom door hadn't. In the dark, I went to it, felt gently. It stopped at 1. I moved the hands ahead 3 hours until it chimed 4, and then wound it. I lifted one side and set it back down and listened to the ticking for a moment. And then I returned to my bed, and turned my side of the electric blanket on, wiggled down into the warmth and fell back asleep for 4 more hours.

Because I COULD.


Today, I'll spend the day getting my house in order. I will reluctantly put Christmas away for another year.

It was a wonderful Christmas. Money was tighter than usual, because I wasn't working. The gifts were smaller and less but a lot more thoughtful, because I had time to browse and shop on line. It just seemed like that part of things was far more intentional than it has been for a long time. I liked that. It was fun to see the kids opening their presents.

We had plans to skype with Cara and Colin on Christmas Day and this did not happen. We had plans to skype with Dylan and Brittani, and this did not happen either. Christmas did not work out according to plan, but it worked out just as it was meant to. We communicated the old fashioned way and passed the phone around.

I got two new pyrex measuring cups. :) Brianna amazingly found two loved books from my childhood to give me. Tim's daughter made us a handcrafted 'this is us' photo display. I got a gift card that I've spent a hundred times in my mind, but have yet to get to the store to spend.

We have plans to visit with a friend tomorrow, and we'll spend New Year's eve with my sister and her husband. We've not exchanged gifts with them and we are very excited about ours to them. Her son is home on Army leave with his wife and son. I'm making two pots of soup, and my sister is making the bread to go with them. We'll watch one year slide into the next with full stomachs and contented conversation and laughter.

I can't think of any better way to celebrate.

For all the kvetching of my previous post, it looks like the job will get finished in a timely manner. I now have a mudroom with a pantry. The additional storage has magically decluttered my small kitchen. Last night I picked out the cabinets I wanted, and Tim found the window he wanted for the kitchen. I'll have a work center on that torn up wall, a place to knead dough and to plug in small appliances like the crock pot or mixer, use them and when they are cleaned and ready to be put back, each appliance will have its own place in the tall cabinet to the left of the work center. It will make the kitchen much more functional. (Just to have a kitchen with more than 2 outlets will be a luxury.) The kitchen will be half way remodeled, and I am content to wait for the rest of it to happen.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Celebration for Two

Getting ready for Christmas is a big deal around here. It takes time, and I never seem to find enough of it. Plus Tim's always busy as he can possibly make himself (I keep telling myself that this is not intentional, but sometimes I wonder....)

In any case, the tree is up. The gifts are wrapped beneath it. There are cookies made. I'll buy the ham today for a meal that is already planned.

Now that the dust has settled, it occurred to me, yesterday, that for the first time, Tim and I will be by ourselves for Christmas morning.

Dylan and Brittani are in Blandon, Brianna and William have a friend coming to their house to share Christmas morning, and Cara and Colin are having their Christmas in UK with Colin's family. Tim's daughter has her two boys to make Christmas morning for, and his son likes to sleep in.

It will be Tim and I until in the afternoon.

I'm not sorry about it. It's the natural way of life. I knew that this day was coming, but it will sure be different.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

They Shall Not Grow Old

Kelly asked about the movie. It was powerful. I suggest that whoever has an opportunity to see it should.

It is from the point of view of the British, and the footage is documents their involvement almost exclusively, which can be forgiven, since they bankrolled the movie. It focused on the battle of Somme

It took you into the world of the soldier in the trenches, and it was horrible. The mud in the trenches, graphic photos of trenchfoot, of the dead mates tossed to the back of the trenches because no one could stop to bury them, the rats who fed on them, and then came into the trenches with the survivors. The attacks, the NCO shouting "By God if I see one man turn back, I will shoot him!" The story of the young soldier that saw a man with unutterable injuries crying for his mother...and all those years later, when he said, "I shot him. I couldn't bear to watch him suffer," his voice still broke.

This is graphic powerful stuff. I think the thing that stuck with me is that there were a couple of times that they posted pictures of a group of men. This was intentionally done, because when the action began to unfold, they wanted you to recognize them, to know that they were real men, to want to know their fate.  Two young men in that photo sat wide-eyed, and I thought to myself, "Ah, the poor boys...they're afraid..." and the mother in me hoped that they made it through. At the end of the movie, they showed the picture once again, and said that virtually none of the men in this particular footage had survived. It brought tears to my eyes to see those two boys with their wide eyed fear once again.

The movie is being used in our country to call attention to the fact that the only war without a memorial in Washington, DC is WWI.

In any case, when the movie ended, and the lights came on, everyone there filed out in total silence. There was no talking. It was if we were leaving a holy place. I've never seen anything like that. You have one more chance to see it, on the 27th. If you can, you should.

Friday, December 21, 2018

I love my husband. Really, I do. But he's a busy fella. He also likes being busy.

He's finished one house and it is on the market. It's attracted a great deal of attention. It also requires, sadly, a new septic put in. This is fine, but the permits take time. Weeks. We've got the designer set up and hard at work. We've got the man with the backhoe set up. We know where we are purchasing our supplies.

Nothing to do but wait while everything is processed.

Nothing to do.

Which is why my husband began to walk around out house with a heat sensor gun looking for cold spots. He's just installed a woodburning insert into the fireplace, which is lovely, but now he is obsessed with heat loss and cold spots and heat circulation, etc.

He's going to drive me crazy, really.

So I came home from work and discovered that the window of the kitchen was taken out and plywooded over. I walked inside. Tim stood there happily, explaining that he'd removed a major heat loss spot.

Me: (Looking around) "Tim. It is the week before Christmas. Whatever you're doing here, I need it to be done by Christmas...." and he said, "I've got a whole week!" in a dismissive sort of way.

Of course, it was right after he ripped out the window that we received word we had to replace the septic system.

I came home for work the next day and discovered that he'd ripped the drywall completely off that wall. He's going to put some insulation in and he's trying to decide on a replacement window. Plaster dust is a P.I.T.A.  He had thoughtfully mopped the floor.

We had a discussion. Tim explained that he wanted to install a LED light in the center of the kitchen, rather a necessity now that the picture window has been removed. The room is much darker.  He said that he was going to replace the wiring to the existing lights and do some work on the ceiling.

Me: "This isn't going to be done by Christmas, is it?"

He smiled.

It's not.

Tyler, at work, likes to hear about Tim's misadventures. It gives him a good laugh. He's one of Tim's helpers, when his schedule permits. Today he asked me what Tim was getting for Christmas. I said, "You know what he gets? He gets to live." Tyler laughed and laughed.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

William Gets the Right Answer

We watch Jeopardy pretty much every night, and we shout out answers from our couch. Last night, we watched it and one of the answers was: A mythical octopus-like creature. 

William looked up immediately with an interested look. "That's got to be the Kraken~" he said, and immediately, someone rang in. "What is the Kraken?" and Alex Trebek told him he was correct.

William is still excited about "his first time getting an answer right on Jeopardy." 

Friday, December 14, 2018

What Tim Does

                                                 The house that Tim just finished.
The great room

Office or another bedroom



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Guess what I'm Getting For Christmas?

I can hardly believe my good fortune! I got tickets to see They Shall Not Grow Old. It has a very limited screening in the United States, just two days, the 17th and the 27th, in select theaters only. It is playing an hour and 20 minutes from here, but for only one day, the 17th. A Monday. I have to work that day, so I cannot make the 4PM showing, leaving me only the 7PM showing. I'll be exhausted when I get up at 3AM on Tuesday for work, but it will be totally worth it. 

Monday, December 10, 2018


You know, you don't think about it, about how quickly life can change, and then one day, the husband of your oldest friend gets into his truck to go to work. He'd taken the first week of deer season off, but the weather was bad, and he works for the state highway department. He made the decision to go into work because the weather was bad, and 'the guys would need help'.

Less than a mile from the equipment barn, a truck coming the other way lost control on a curve and hit him head on. 

To me, the miracle will always be that as badly smashed as his vehicle was, he was able to open the door and get out. It was at that moment he realized how badly he was hurt. Crushed ankle, broken hip, nerve damage, 10 broken ribs, and some devastating facial damage (no one will ever have to remind him to wear a seatbelt again, I imagine). 

After three separate surgeries, he finally got out of ICU. After another week, he's being released to a nursing home for rehabilitation. It'll take months before their lives return to any semblance of normal. 

In the end, what matters is friends. It's a powerfully beautiful thing to watch so many people working together to meet the needs of our friends at this difficult time.