Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Update:

In yet another change, the house closes on Friday, the day we leave for Blandon, all of us, this time, to see Cara and Colin and Dylan and Brittani and our darling Iris.

Trying to finish out the work week, pack, get all the last minute preparations done, meet with our friend who's taking care of the cat, fitting in the appointments with the lawyers, plus we've still got one truck, an air compresser and a rollaround tool box to get out of the garage before they take possession on Friday.

Feeling a tiny bit harried.

We won't be back until the 22nd, so happy Easter everyone!!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Funny Story

Tim and I had a house on the market now since last fall. It's a very nice house, and I've posted pictures of it before, but it didn't sell. Winter is not a good time to sell a house.

The septic system needed replaced. We knew that. We had an inspector come out and tell us that we needed not just a septic system but a sewage treatment plant, since there was a small creek (with a stone bridge) in the side yard. We winced a little but set the $18,000 aside for the project. Permits take a long time in coming and the federal government shutdown in the early part of the year delayed DEP even more.

The realtor came to us and wanted us to lower the price. (His contract was half over.) Tim looked at the number of showings and said no. We had a steady stream of people looking at the place. He felt quite strongly that the right person would eventually look at it once the weather got nicer, despite the septic issues. After all, we had the designing of the system done. We had a contractor lined up to do the work and we had the money to pay for the project. It was just a matter of time.

I became aware of a pretty big need in our community, something that was kind of eating at me. I felt like I wanted to help. I'd been praying about it earnestly but in truth, I didn't feel like I could talk to Tim about it, Money was tight. We had money that we didn't dare touch and he was already at work on the sweet Craftsman bungalow, something which was going to require money to continue. In my prayings, I said, "You know, if this house sold, I could talk to Tim about that money without feeling bad, God."

Three days later, I came home from work. The realtor had called Tim. We had a couple who wanted the house. The realtor said, "Well, this has certainly come out of left field."

We were both a bit shocked, me, because I had prayed a prayer, him because we weren't expecting it.

The dicey bit is that they had a federal loan which required the septic to be complete before they would finalize the mortgage. We still had not received the first permit (three are required). We didn't hold out a lot of hope on this deal to be sure.

The next day, the first permit arrived.

The people contacted the realtor and said that they could get the loan BEFORE the septic was done.
The closing was set for April 7th.

Sunday morning, before church, I sat down with Tim and told him what I'd done, about my prayer and my promise. To his credit he wrote out the check on the spot.

By Wednesday, that deal imploded.

The buyers explained that they'd have to get a construction loan from the bank to get the mortgage before the septic was done. They gave two options: that, number one, we'd allow them to rent the house until the septic was done (something that could take months), or number two, pay them $3000 to get the place remortgaged after the septic was installed, to take that mortgage from a construction loan (higher interest) to a conventional mortgage.

Tim found that the people were being sued by their previous landlord and had just settled last month. (Tim is a man who dots all his i's and crosses all his t's). He also thought it was a bit demanding that they wanted us to pay for their refinance. He said no. The realtor tried to argue with him. Tim decided the realtor was not on our side, not really. I mean, say that the house deal (for whatever reason) fell through. We'd have people in our house that we could not get out. Furthermore, if they were not nice people, they could do quite a bit of damage to the place. We'd be stuck.

Tim said no, multiple times. By Friday, he was telling the realtor to put the house back on the market after the April 7th deadline. When I got home from work, he said fiercely, "The deal is done! It's fallen through!"

God confuses me sometimes. I mean, I prayed. I thought we had an answer. We gave in good faith. I drove to my son's and DIL's house alone, wondering about things. At the end of the five hour trip, I'd decided that, simply put,  if that door was closed, there was no sense worrying about it. I took a deep breath and refused to worry about it.

Next morning, in the middle of my getting acquainted with my youngest daughter's significant other, in the middle of admiring my grandaughter who was in the throes of teething, but still gorgeous to behold, I got a phone call from Tim. The people, deciding that Tim had been pushed too far, decided to go for the construction loan after all, which meant that they could move in right away. We'd simply reduce the price of the house by $18,000 and they'd get a construction loan. When the work was done, they'd pay to remortgage the house themselves.

Shocked, I said, "I thought the deal was done." He said, "I did too."  I guess the buyers were pushing to get whatever they could. When they realized that Tim wasn't going to blink, they backed down.

So that's where we stand now. The house closes at the end of the month, when we get back from another trip, as a family, to Dylan and Brittani's to see Cara and Colin once again before they head back over to the UK. They are spending the summer traveling through Spain this year.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

How Did We Get Here?

Tim went up to see an estate sale. Remember Roger, the story teller? He's quite a tinkerer (like Tim) and Tim was interested to see what kind of things Roger's family had for sale as they prepare to put his log cabin on the market.

He came back with quite a collection of stuff. One of our first projects at the retirement property is to build a garage with an attached equipment shed for the tractors and the dump truck. I successfully lobbied for a greenhouse to come off the side of it. Roger had a very nice greenhouse, and Tim came home with some triple walled poly carbonate panels.

He also got some very nice tongue and groove panels for interior walls of the house itself. He's on his way back up with the truck to load up. He talked about some bead board. All these things are new and unused and going for practically nothing. I told him that he might as well pick it up. We've got storage for the items and we'll certainly be using them.

It's funny to consider it. Retirement has always seemed like a far horizon. Now all of a sudden, we're actively working on it. We've got the land. We've got the producing well, which will provide us with free heat and a small quarterly stipend.  The garage work will begin this summer.

We're looking at a time line of 3-5 years.

It's a bit of a jolt to put the numbers to it.







Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Lottery Winner

I'm tired. Just got home from a trip to see Cara and Colin who are staying with Dylan and Brittani. Bonus is that I got to play with the baby. Oh my goodness, she is adorable, for all that she's teething and miserable.

The trip home was long and tedious. Wind gusts coming from the west at 50 miles an hour. Once I hit the interstate, those gusts nearly blew me off the highway. The tractor trailers were swaying in the wind. It was a tense hour and a half portion of the trip as my car rocked and veered.

When I finally got off the highway, my shoulders and arms were tense and tight. My back was killing me. I stopped at a convenience store to get an iced tea.

I pulled in about the same time that an elderly lady pulled in next to me. She got out of her car with a fist full of scratched lottery tickets, presumably winners, to take into the store. The wind gusted and lottery tickets were everywhere. She screamed.

I helped her chase down her tickets. I fished one out from beneath my car. She wasn't sure how many she had started out with. Even after I handed her the ones that I had found, she was scanning the parking lot for others.

I went inside and got my tea. She came in as I was headed to the register and she thanked me again. "No problem, I said, "but if I were you, I'd cash those in and not bother buying any more today. Just doesn't seem like your lucky day!"

She agreed with me.

I walked out to my car and backed out. She came to the door to make sure no other tickets were hiding beneath my car, and then waved gaily as I pulled away.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Working

I've been training in quality control. I like it, but although it is the same company, things are quite different in that department.

Thursday afternoon, I got quite a complicated pallet of work, and since I am new, I try hard to be careful. I went to the woman who trained me, and explained what I was doing and that it was likely to take me a while. She said told me not to worry about it, but she also told me to make sure that I put myself in off-standard work.

Off-standard means that they will not calculate your efficiencies using that time frame. In my last department, putting yourself in off standard was a big no-no. That was called 'cheating', pure and simple.

I met, and exceeded, the standards in my previous department but I always thought it was unfair that they calculated the time spent on replacing the labels in your printer, or having difficulty with the computer, or having any problem that required you to find someone to ask questions. It really rankled me to hear the word 'cheater' bandied about so freely.

I consider myself a person of integrity. That is not to say that I'm perfect, but it does mean that I try my best and that I don't think there is any reason that my honesty should be in doubt. I don't believe that I've given them any reason to doubt it. I was plain spoken about this, something which did not endear me to the supervisors there.

I worked away at my new job, patiently, carefully, working as quickly as I could, but still, I still had another pallet of mixed cases the next morning. I worried about that,  so when my supervisor came around, I explained to her that I would have a lot of off-standard time, and why.

She assured me that I had nothing to worry about. She said that if she saw I was in the same case for hours, she'd have questions for me, but she didn't see that as something that would ever be an issue with me.

It was a little shocking to hear that. She was saying, in effect, "I trust you. I trust your judgement."

Those are important words for an employee to hear.

I went back to work, and eventually I got through those cases and on to less challenging stuff. I flew through that.

Here's the rub. I'm not meeting standard there, and I do not understand why. It is frustrating to me. I'm not even in the ballpark. I've been asked several times if I plan to transfer to the department. I tell them, "I would love to, but I will not until I know for a fact that I can meet the efficiencies of this department." (Plainly and simply put, at this company, if you do not meet efficiencies, you will be fired.)

The supervisor in this department has taken it upon herself to insure that I meet efficiencies, extra work for her, and I appreciate it very much.

The first time that she watched me work, she gave me some suggestions. I spent the next couple days working more slowly but using that time to instill a slightly different procedure that incorporated her suggestions. She watched me again yesterday, and actually stopped me to tell me how pleased she was.

Later when we were talking, she told me that I worked at 105% efficiency while she watched me. She also wondered why I wasted time double checking myself. I blinked a little at that. She said, "You don't need to." We talked for a while, she answered a couple questions.  I thanked her. She said, "My job is to make sure all my people succeed."

I went back to my desk and went to work.

It is a huge difference to work in a department where you are treated with dignity and where your questions are not immediately perceived as challenging authority.  Seems like a small thing, maybe, but it's a big deal to me. I really would like to stay in this department.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Passing the Peace

I'm doing a Lenten study at my church. It's a small group and the discussion is good. This week's topic was prayer, and a very tiny elderly lady talked about her best prayer time is in the morning, in her silent house. I could imagine her sitting quietly, feeling close to God. 

But later during the discussion, we talked about the parts of our own church service, and her response was poignant. She loves passing the peace. She loves the hugs. 

She is a widow. The mother of six children grown and gone. She lives independently in her own home. 

Passing the peace can be controversial. I tend to stay in my pew and shake the hands (or hug) the people around me. Others roam the aisles. I think of this lady, tiny and frail. If she's in my vicinity, I do leave my pew to give her a hug. She always approaches me with outstretched arms and when I hug her, she says, "Oh Debby!" in such a glad way that always makes me feel as if I am, at that moment, the most important person to her. It's sweet, and it always touches my heart. 

Some folks cannot stand the wanderers. They consider it a disruption. One woman even sneeringly referred to it as 'Howdy Doody Time' (which did make me laugh). 

It doesn't matter to me, really. I like my church and the people in it. I'm also reserved, so I see both sides of the controversy. Last night, I realized how important those hugs can be.

Her children live far away. Those hugs my friend gets on Sunday are likely the only hugs she receives regularly, so they have to last her the week.

 I made sure to gently hug her before I left, one of those big enveloping hugs. She hugged me back, and she said, with her usual gladness, "Oh Debby!" 




Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hallelujah!

It was the first day of spring. Even better it FELT like it!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Answer Me This...

Why is it that I can fall asleep soundly on the sofa and not hear a single thing? Not the news, not Wheel of Fortune, slept through a full half of Jeopardy.

It was a sound sleep, the kind of sleeping that you wake up from wondering, "What time is it?" "Where am I?" "What day is it?" 

I watched the second half of Jeopardy, trying to figure out just why the current champion annoys me so much. She won again. The woman played well and she certainly deserved to win, but gads....there's something about her. 

I blearily drag myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I nestle under my cozy electric blanket in my favorite flannel gown. I read a chapter of Howard's End (which I am enjoying as much as I did the first time I read it). I close the book, and shut off the light and stretch out luxuriously...

....and I am wide awake. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Iris and Izzy

My son and daughter-in-law have a little dog named Izzy. They got her as a puppy, and she was quite ill for a time with parvo, or something like it. She had terrible, terrible diarrhea and they were not sure that she would live.

But she did, and fast forward, Izzy is now a chipper little dog, a lot of fun. However, canine PTSD is real, because all these years later, the sound of a fart, or someone making a raspberry, will trigger Izzy to leap to her feet, sniff at her nether region, and run upstairs to her safe place beneath their bed.

Iris is 7 months old. Guess what new sound she's learned?

The dog may never come out from under the bed again.

Strange Thing

Today, we had a small party for a woman who is quitting to take a new position. I'd heard that she was frustrated with a personnel situation and I felt sorry for her, even though it is hard for me to imagine the woman she was having difficulty with as 'a bully'. I was shocked when I heard it. The woman in question talks a lot and it is plainly evident that she is not very bright. In truth, I feel a little sorry for her.

But the woman who is leaving is a nice person and I'll miss her, and so I told her that. 

She said, "It was a bunch of things, really, but the straw that broke the camel's back was when they raised the starting wage." 

I blinked. Of all the things to quit a job over! 

I listened to her vent about her 10 years with the company and her disappointment to see the new people rewarded. While the people who were there for years were given a raise, it wasn't equal to the raise in the starting pay. 

I remembered that day. We were all called in to an all associate's meeting. We were told that starting wage was going to be raised by $1.50 and that everyone there was going to get a raise as well. 

Dead silence. People were shocked. 

You could tell that the raise meant a lot to a lot of people who were struggling to make ends meet. I was very happy for everyone. So happy that I even dropped an anonymous note into the suggestion box thanking our general manager, and telling him that the raise would make a big difference for virtually everyone there. 

Not once did it ever occur to me to compare my raise with the new people. It surprises me that anyone would. 

I wish her well. It's not an easy place to work sometimes. I get frustrated too. But the company has been good to me personally, and I don't take that kindness for granted. I get 5 weeks of vacation a year. I have a very nice 401K and it provides Tim and I with the health benefits we need. I don't begrudge anyone the same. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

In which Tim sells a house and finds another...

We sold a house.

I got home and Tim said, "I want to take you out for supper."

I said suspiciously, "Why?"

He said, "I don't want you to cook."

I studied him. Something was up. He said, "I want you to come look at a house with me."

Me: "No. You've got Wayne St. waiting to be fixed up."

Tim: "This is a two unit duplex, a rental."

Me: (glowering) "No."

Tim, smoothly, and not missing a beat: "I want you to tell me why we shouldn't get it."

That shouldn't be a problem.

Update: We went to look at the house. I kept quiet. It had new windows, and was well insulated. It was also a work in progress. We went out to eat. Tim said, "Order anything you want. We'll save the coupons for another day." (The man was working it.) He discussed the house. I said, "I'm not going to advise you on this, because it is your business, and you make good business decisions." And I ate quietly.

Inside, I was doing math. We've got a renovation waiting. After a year or so, when that sells, we'll be able to begin on our retirement house. After a year or so, then we'll begin to ready our current house for sale. This takes us neatly into 2023. I want to retire. I want to see grandbabies grow. I want to go to Australia. I've been waiting ever so patiently....

This morning Tim woke up. Lying lazily in bed, he suddenly said, "I'm not sure I want to get tangled up in another house. It's a big chunk of money to commit.

I said, "You know, Tim...we've got the money to commit. I just am not sure that we have the time..."





Friday, March 1, 2019

Looking Ahead

March 1st. It actually came as a shock to realize that. Although the calendar indicates that spring is just around the corner, the weather doesn't. Single digit cold for the beginning of the week.

Cara will be coming home at the end of the month, and we will be meeting Colin in person for the first time (although we have skyped).

We plan to spend part of their visit in Washington DC. By then, it should actually BE spring, and there should be cherry blossoms.

I'm looking forward to every last bit of it.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

This is Roger, our 97 year old friend, with his wife, Agnes. 
The picture is from Agnes' facebook page. 



This is Iris. She's just discovered she has a tongue. 
William found his tongue a long time ago, and it hasn't stopped waggling since. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Roger

We have a friend who is 97 years old and Tim and I both love his stories. His father was a logger who cut logs downriver from where they lived, at a place called Althom. Back in the day, a train ran through there, and the men would catch a ride up river, disembarking across the river from Grundeville Road.

They crossed the river by firing a shotgun up into the air. An old man who lived on the opposite side of the river would come in his boat to ferry them across, and they would begin the walk up Grundeville Road to their homes in Heart's Content.

One of loggers was a singer and he would walk along the road singing. His wife and small son would listen for the singing getting louder and louder the closer he got to home.

Roger has his father's pocket watch hanging on the wall. His father was taking a load of logs down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh. The large raft hit a bridge and split in pieces, tossing the crew into the icy water. Amazingly for a boat man, his father did not know how to swim but managed to make it to shore, as did the rest of the men. Later, at the boarding house, his father shook the water from his pocket watch and set it on the radiator. It began to run once again.

The stories pour from Roger, and I love the look on his face when he tells them. He always seems amazed when we return to spend our Sunday afternoons with him. After our visits, he always sits in his little room and wonders if we'll come again.

We showed up Sunday with an armload of Fortune magazines from 1935, which he dearly loves to read. "I'm glad you're here! I wondered if maybe I hadn't talked too much last time," and he looks unbelieving when I tell him that his stories are what keeps us coming back.

We prime the pump by asking a question, and he's off and yarning once again. We listen intently, trying our best to gather all these details, asking questions.

After a couple hours, he leaned back in his chair. "Isn't memory a strange, strange thing? I could not tell you what happened yesterday, but I can remember a rhyme my father taught me when I was young," and he recited:

He stood upon a burning deck
His feet were covered in blisters
He had no trousers of his own,
that's why he wore his sister's.

He shook his head. "Now why would I remember such a thing? Why do you suppose all these stories just come to my mind one right after another?"

I don't know, but I'm glad for those stories and for the old man that tells them to us. 




Sunday, February 24, 2019

Avocado

You know, I have tried to sprout an avocado for years. YEARS. I cannot tell you the number of times that I carefully started this:

It never worked. Ever. Not once. 


So, I bought a special sprouting vase. 

That didn't work either. 

I don't even know how long ago, but I was making my avocado toast and impatiently thought, "Mother Nature does not stick a pit with toothpicks and suspend it over water. The dang avocado falls on the ground and it either grows or it doesn't." With that, I stuck the pit in a large pot and because I am senile, I promptly never thought about it again. 

Until today,  I noticed a 15 inch tall tree in a large pot and did an little gentle exploring. Much to my surprise, after 40 years of failures, I finally managed to grow an avocado tree. 

Sneaky

A couple years ago, Tim and I signed up for an Amazon credit card, enticed by a hefty discount on an order we were placing.  We signed up for it, and were approved immediately and upon checking out, we were offered free express shipping. We took it.

Big mistake.

We found ourselves signed up for Amazon Prime, with a hefty (to us) yearly charge plus a monthly charge. I called immediately to dispute the charge, and was told that I'd authorized the charge when I accepted the free shipping.

That irked me because no where, to my recollection was it explained that by signing up for the free express shipping you were enrolling in the "Prime" program. They removed us from the program, and they removed the charges from our account.

Tim and I do not do a large amount of on line shopping, so the card languished, unused. I'm guessing after a period of no account activity, they canceled it because at Christmas time, when we were once again doing the online shopping thing, it popped up again that we could have an Amazon credit card. Again, they offered us a hefty discount on an order (in this case we saved $25 on a $60 order). So we took it.

Being wise to the ways of Amazon, we ignored the free express shipping.

Long story short, I placed an order last month and we received our bill. We were charged for Amazon prime.

I disputed it. We do not do enough on line ordering to justify $13.77 a month charge, plus the annual fee. I had not authorized the charge, and we had accepted no free express shipping offers.

'Mira' explained to me that this was an automatic offer. I explained to her that I did not WANT an automatic offer that was going to cost us nearly $300 a year. She cheerfully told me that she would refund the charges and 'turn off the automatic offer' (whatever that means...)

I find it annoying that a multi-billion dollar company would resort to sneaking in extra charges. How many people don't catch this? Or think they have no choice but to pay it?


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Spring Time

It hasn't been an awful winter. It just seems like it's been a long one. The storms come with long advance notice, dire forebodings. When they come, we wind up invariably saying, "Well, that certainly wasn't as bad as they were predicting..." But the storms come. We had a couple of warm days, which really honed my appetite for spring.

I'm restless. Spring fever. 

Friday night, Tim and I went out for dinner. We stopped at the Goodwill. I was delighted to find a cast iron fairy. She was leaning back studying a bird on her outstretched foot. 

I picked it up. 

It will look great hidden away in the garden, come springtime.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Cupcake

We had bad colds going around.  Tim missed Iris' baptism because of it. I've been dealing with it since the last week of January.

I picked William up from school Friday, for the first time in a long time. His mother is working a job now that generally allows her to be home before he gets out of school, a nice change for both of them. She meets the bus, but this day, she had plans for the evening, and so we agreed to pick up William and keep him for the night.

I stood in the cold wind, excited to see how his day had gone. He took cupcakes for his birthday, Mario Brothers cupcakes, half with red frosting and half with green frosting, each one with a Mario or Luigi ring perched on top. These cupcakes were a big deal to him and he couldn't wait to share them with his classmates.

When I finally saw him coming out of school, his face was dead white, and his eyes had dark circles. I said, "Hey, are you okay?" He handed me the tray containing the four remaining cupcakes. "Can you carry these? They are so heavy." He looked ready to cry.

I took the cupcakes and we headed for the car. "Are you sick?" I asked. "I don't know," he said listlessly. But when we got home, he shed his coat and boots and hat and headed straight to the couch where he slept for 3 hours. He was running a fever.

Tim came home and said that he was headed to his son's house to do some renovating with him. He called out from the kitchen, "Hey do you care if I take a cupcake for Mike and me?" I told him to go ahead.

When William woke up, he was flushed and querulous. He came into the kitchen for some orange juice and noticed that his cupcakes were gone. He was plenty upset. Turns out he had been feeling so badly at school that when it came time to hand out the cupcakes, he didn't eat one. He told me that he put his head down on his desk and had a nap.

I was very relieved when Tim came home with the plastic tray, with the two remaining cupcakes. William wasn't though. "Where's the red ones?" he asked. "I ate one and Mike ate one," Tim said. "There are two green ones. They won't taste any different."

William wailed. "One of the red ones was MINE!"

Tim patiently explained, "The green frosting tastes the same as the red frosting. There's no difference."

William was not consoled. "They ARE different," he cried. "The red one was MINE. I licked the ring and put it back on my cupcake."

"Oh NO!" I gasped. Tim about fell on the floor laughing.






Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Guest

For this winter, when Paddy goes down to the basement to use her litter box, she generally comes tearing back up the stairs like something is chasing her.

When doing the laundry or cleaning aforementioned litter box, I've taken to casting wary glances around me. We have a big old coal room that has no light and it creeps me out. Whatever could be in there? Spooks? Rats? Boogey men?

After one of Paddy's recent screaming tears up the basement steps, I said to Tim, "I'd sure like to know what it is that scares her down there."

Tim says, "Well there is something down there. I've heard a chipmunk scolding me when I work down there. I never have seen him and I can't tell where the noise is coming from, but he's hanging out down there."

We don't know how he's getting in and out. We're not sure what he's eating. We're not sure if he's coming upstairs (we have to leave the door open for Paddy.) I suppose this is better than a spook.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

It's so cold...

...that Tim said, "Hey, is my side of the electric blanket hooked up?"

And then he went in and turned it on.

The end. 


Friday, January 25, 2019

Cleaning

This is kind of an embarrassing thing to admit, but I have a big house. Seriously, there are rooms that I don't have much to do with. The library has sort of been one of those rooms. It's a nice room, but it tends to collect stuff. William likes to do his legos and crafts in there in front of the fire. There was a new light fixture for my kitchen laying across the big couch. There are three of my unfinished crafts in there. Tim has a collection of fans in there that he's been experimenting with to circulate heat from the wood fire through the house.

It has nice furniture, but it's not a room we spend a lot of time in, but with all of Tim's puttering, that room now has a fireplace insert and has seen more traffic than it has seen for a while.

I had an extra day off work this week, so I spent some time pondering this room today. Tim and I came to an agreement about his fan collection (one fan migrated to each spare bedroom upstairs, where they will come in handy in the summer). Since William wasn't here today, I just moved all his stuff back into his playroom.

I studied the room and got the idea to do some rearranging. Tim was a pretty good sport about it, even though I know he'd rather do just about anything than move furniture.

One of the things in that room is a curved front glass curio cabinet, like this. Oak China Cabinet, ca. 1905"
So I got this idea that instead sitting back in the corner, I wanted it centered between the two windows, which required emptying the stuff out of it. It's not jam packed by any means, but I forgot how much stuff was actually in the thing.

The wine glasses that I plan to take with me to Australia to toast Amanda and Sophie and her mother, four wine glasses that I got years ago on a shopping trip with Cara when she first moved to Indiana PA to get her master's degree. I remembered that day so long ago even as I anticipated a day that is long overdue, a trip to Australia. It'll happen.

I carefully lifted out my little collection of china and pressed glass critters. There was one that I meant to send to Pam. If I don't do things right away, I forget. Is this senility? I carefully set the little glass squirrel aside. I have a box to mail it out.

Cara's cup 'I love Afghanistan' I didn't, not so much, but I knew that she felt like she was making a difference. Everyone should know that feeling. A cup that Tim and I got on a trip to Dylan and Brittani's house. A little crystal salt cellar, It's a swan. It's silver wings fold back so that you can scoop out the salt with a tiny spoon. A hinged china egg, beautifully painted and hinged.

And vases. Honestly. I can't tell you the number of times I've muttered 'I know there's a vase in this house...' The tiny little crystal one from a dear friend's house, the beautifully shaped clear glass urn with the cobalt neck, the delicate glass one that a friend filled with flowers from her garden for my 60th birthday. A couple more.

The little tiny tea set for dolls. I'd found at an antique store, and bought it with a mind to building a fairy garden, which I didn't quite get around to.  At the back, tucked away for safe keeping, the bubble lights that Tim had thrilled to find. He was even more thrilled to find that they worked.

Two musical figurines, one that, as a child, I had wrapped for my father. He gave it to my mother for Christmas. Years later, as left her bedside as she lay dying, something (the vibration of my feet maybe)  set it off and it played, one slow note after another, 'let......me.......call..... ..you.... sweetheart...' and then it whirred slowly to a stop. I remembered turning to look at it on her dresser and I was comforted. All these years later, it is a comfort still.

 There's another music box too. It's a testament to the love of a 100 year old man and his beloved wife. I never met her, but he was a treasure. I'm sure he was right when he called his wife a treasure too.

So many precious things, and it was a little bit shocking that there was so much that I'd flatly forgotten about.

I cleaned everything, and I replaced it carefully, smiling at a thousand different memories of other times, dear faces of friends, some of whom are no longer here.

The library is done now. The couch and the love seat look nice in their L shape.  The arm chair is tucked into a corner with a reading lamp. I changed out tables, moving one upstairs to a spare bedroom, swapping other tables from the library and the livingroom. I vacuumed and dusted and polished, and when I was done, switched off the light and stood watching the flickering fire reflecting in the glass, in the gleaming wood.

It's good to take stock from time to time. I am a very blessed woman.



The Putterer

Tim is between houses right now, so he's got a lot of time on his hands. To make matters worse, he's been hanging close to home because the weather has been pretty bad.

He decided that we shouldn't finish the kitchen until we know exactly how much the sewage treatment operation is going to cost at the house we are trying to sell. He's right, of course, but, maybe, just MAYBE, he should be thinking about these things before he rips out half the kitchen. 

He, on the other hand, feels completely justified in the ripping out procedure because, as he points out, the window was a major source of heat loss. Plus I have a mudroom with a pantry. Which I noticed, the other day, stepping into my pantry, that I can't. Because there's an upright air compressor in there. And a shop vac....but I digress.

During this cold snap, Tim's been walking around the house with a temperature gun, shooting temps here, comparing temps, studying things, pondering things. I came home and there was a new vent between the kitchen and our bedroom. He explained it is for air circulation. 

"Tim. We have an electric blanket in the bedroom. The bedroom is not a problem."

He tells me once again that he doesn't like electric blankets. 

Two days ago, I came home and there's a hole in the wall between the library and the foyer. A ladder. A sheet thoughtfully covers the sideboard and the pictures and the antique clock.

 Last night I came home, and there was a new gangbox, with an outlet and two switches. He tells me that we need more outlets in that particular spot, which is actually true. He also flicks a switch and like magic, two wall sconces that I'd picked out years ago came to life. I was well and truly happy to see that. The back of the foyer is dark and those lights are just as gorgeous as I thought they'd be. 

I also see that he has a 'booster' fan to install in the vent he's making. The fan will pull heat from the library fireplace/woodstove insert and circulate it to our bedroom. He feels that the vent between our bedroom and the kitchen will be allow for better air movement.

He's very excited about this. He tells me that all we have to do is shut the french doors in the library at night before we go to bed, allowing the heat to build up. We'll turn on the fan in the foyer, and it will move the warm air directly into the bedroom.

I tell him I will still be using my side of the electric blanket. 

He laughs. 

That night, as we're getting ready for bed, he shuts of the foyer lights. 

"Um. Tim? The bathroom lights went off." 

I heard him laugh. "They must be on the same circuit as the foyer lights. I can fix that." 

The man is entertaining alright. I'll let you know how his theory works out next week when we get our -13 degree weather. In the meantime, any suggestions on how to keep Tim busy would be much appreciated. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Winter Storm Harper

The eastern United State got hard hit by winter storm Harper. In my little area, we got a foot of snow over night. Outlying areas had more. Tim got up twice in the night to shovel the driveway. I feel terrible, because, quite honestly, I never heard/felt him leave the bed.

Anyway, we got up this morning and both of us hit it hard.

The neighbor was trying to get his truck out without shoveling. We helped push him.

We met a girl from across the street. She didn't have a snow shovel to dig out her car, so we showed her where our stack was (we buy them in bulk at the end of season and keep them on hand for the rentals), and invited her to grab one whenever she needed it. We helped her dig out her little car and as we dug, we talked.

Her name is Kathleen, and she is from Williamsport, which we know, because both boys went to Penn College of Technology. She said that she has lived in her little apartment since August, but we're the first people she's met on the street.

I hate to say it but we know who lives where, but we don't really know people that well. A lot of the houses on our block are rentals and people come and go. We try to be good neighbors, but it is not always possible.

Mentally, I began to make a list. When the weather turns, I'll take her for a walk and introduce her to the folks I do know.

For now, however, it is cold. Bitterly, wickedly cold. I had high hopes of watching the eclipse with William tonight, but it's way too cold for that. The house is cold, even with a wood fire. The floors are just awful. The warning says that windchill will be -30.

We were set pretty well for it. I got groceries Friday evening after work so that we didn't need to go anywhere if things were difficult.

Whenever we needed to go outdoors today, there was a pot of hot homemade soup waiting when we got back inside.

Yesterday, before he went home, William and I baked a coconut cake. Winter storms are easier to take with cake.

And God bless electric blankets.







Thursday, January 17, 2019

Generation Gap

We went out for a quick shopping trip to get some books to send to Iris. Tim spontaneously decided to take William out for supper at Burger King.

While I was waiting for someone to give me my unsweetened iced tea with double lemon, I listened to the elderly man talking to the young man at the register. The young man asked him if he wanted his receipt. The old man humorously replied, "Not unless I can spend it." The young man stared at him, unsure what to say next. He flipped the receipt over to show the man that he could get a free something or another if he did an online survey. The old fellow shook his head and moved down the counter to wait for his meal.

I said to the old man, "Do you ever notice the older you get, the harder it is for the young folks to understand your humor? I think I'm pretty funny stuff, until I'm talking to teenagers. They all look at me like I've grown an extra head or begun speaking a foreign language." He said, "I've noticed the same thing." So we talked while we waited, and laughed at each other's jokes.

After we ate, on the way out the door, I passed his table, and I said, "Hey, don't take any wooden nickels now!" and he laughed and said, "I won't!" and I leaned in to say, "See there? We're funny as heck. But try that line on anyone under 30..." and he said, "They'd have no idea what you're talking about."






Monday, January 14, 2019

Understanding

I had to work until 11:30 at work on Friday. When my day was finally over, I got out of there quickly, and hightailed it for home where Brianna and William and Tim were waiting for me. The car was packed and ready to go to Dylan and Brittani's house for Iris' baptism.

The first surprise was hearing Tim's voice when I walked in the door. He was raspy and hoarse. I looked at him in horror. "Are you SICK?" He had awakened with a sore throat, and his chest was feeling tight. Tim was staying home.

The bad part of it was that I'd been so excited about going that the previous night, I'd been tossing and turning until after 11. I had to get up at 3 AM to go to work. I was extremely short sleeped, but had comforted myself with the thought that I could get five hours of sleep on the drive to Blandon. Suddenly, now, I was driving there. 

I took a deep breath, bought a large unsweetened ice tea with lots of ice and headed out. We made it by 6PM. I guess the excitement of seeing Iris and hugging my kids was enough to counterbalance the exhaustion. I'm certain that the caffeine did not hurt either.

It was wonderful. Iris laughs now and I am happy to report that she finds her grandmother pretty funny stuff. I had her squealing with laughter by singing "the baby on the bus goes wah, wah, wah!" I can also induce delight by crinkling a crouton bag. We all cooked together making meatballs for the the spaghetti sauce for the baptism dinner. It was a wonderful evening. 

Sunday was her baptism. She was perfectly behaved. When she heard the splashing of the water, she wriggled in the pastor's arm, trying desperately to get her little hand in the baptismal font. She came home and was passed around the room without a word of complaint. I had her cackling hysterically once again by kissing her noisily over and over again. 

Brianna and I chased Dylan and Brittani out the door for a date night. It was only their second one since Iris was born. Worn out by her big day, Iris slept the whole time they were gone. 

This morning, we all packed up and headed home. 

William cried and cried. He adores Dylan and they played nintendo together and talked a lot. William fell asleep in the back seat for a couple hours and when he woke up, we were almost home. A quick glance into the back seat showed us that the tears were silently rolling again. He's old enough to be embarrassed to be caught crying. 

When we got home, I suggested calling Dylan and Brittani on skype to say that we had arrived home. William quietly agreed, his lip quivering once again. Dylan said, "William, can you do one more magic trick for me?" William got his black suitcase labeled "William's Life Thrilling Magic" and opened it up. There, tucked in at the side was the nintendo console and game controllers. 

William gaped and stared at his uncle on the computer. "How did THAT get in there?" he asked. Dylan thought perhaps it was because William really WAS magic after all. William disputed this. Dylan explained that he'd enjoyed his time playing nintendo with William and that he wanted him to have it. 

William stared incredulously and then burst into tears. He cried hard. He finally remembered to thank Dylan. After we hung up, William kept looking at the nintendo. Every time that he tried to talk about it, he'd start crying again. He cried so hard that I cried too, He looked at me in surprise and then threw himself into my shoulder and cried very hard for quite a while. 

"Here, here," I said, "For pete's sake, are you happy or sad? I'm having a hard time telling for sure." I rubbed the back of his head.

He stood back from me and said, "I am both." He brought one hand up, and said, "One one side, I'm happy." He brought up the other hand. "On the other side, I'm sad." He clasped them both together and said, "It's all mixed up together and that's what makes it beautiful." 

It was a profound moment. I looked at his tear streaked face and his earnest desire for me to understand, and I did understand. I understood perfectly. 


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Librivox

We're heading off to eastern PA on Friday. Iris is being baptized on the 13th, which is, incidently, her 5 month birthday. My lovely daughter in law was concerned that I'd be disappointed, because since we saw her last, Iris has become much more wary of strangers. I'm okay with that, really, and was quick to point out that if all that I got to do was sit across the room and make faces at her while she giggled, well, I'm good with that. The last time we were there, she wasn't giggling.

She also hadn't found her feet.



It's a long trip out there and Brianna and William will be carpooling with us. It's always a challenge to find something that will keep William entertained, because, really a car ride that lasts almost six hours is a hard thing for a little boy to tolerate.

William loves to read and he loves to be read to. Unfortunately, I get carsick when I read in a car, and a portion of our trip will be made in the dark, so reading out loud to him is ruled out. I've been looking at audiobooks for him, but they are pretty pricey.

I planned to see what they had at our library, but in browsing on line, I discovered Librivox. William loves to hear stories from my childhood. I love reading them to him. I discovered that at Librivox, they have quite a selection of old books narrated out loud. I downloaded three books for him. I'll upload them on my MP3 player. Most amazing? Totally free.

I've downloaded Beatrix Potter. William loves those books. He's heard some of the stories from Wind in the Willows, but now he has them all. I also downloaded a book by Thornton Burgess which I'm sure he's never heard before, but he so loved hearing the stories of Uncle Wiggily Longears that he'll get a kick out these stories as well.

I'll give him the MP3 player when we're on our way. I'm betting the trip will be a lot quieter than usual.

Speechless

Today, Tim went to church with me. I counted, and after dropping off the deposit, we popped into the antique store across the street. We roamed around discussing our finds. I found a plate that needed to hang in my hallway. I found a pair of earrings that I needed badly. I got a chance to hug my friend Dan and to wish him a happy New Year. We left our e-mail for them to contact a vender to get a price on a painted cedar chest.

When we came out into the cold wind, Tim said, "What should we do now?" So we took ourselves out for a leisurely lunch out.

In the middle of our meal, we were shocked to see a couple lay their baby on the table and change her messy diaper. They stood her up to get the mess that had gone up her back. This was not even a quick change. This was a drawn out process that involved multiple wipes, standing up, clothes removal, and cream.

I gaped. So did Tim.

The waitress happened by, and she gaped as well. "We have a changing table in the bathroom," she noted.

The people finally finished and left. I've never seen anything like that in my life.

The waitress apologized that we had to see that while we were eating. Me? I've got to say I was more inclined to be very concerned about sanitation. About the condiments on the table, and the decorations, about how that table would be sanitized, and about immediately discarding those cleaning towels to be washed separately.

*gag*

What is WRONG with people?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Things

I did something that I have not done in years. I bought myself a new pair of jeans.