Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Christmas shopping

I do my Christmas shopping early. It's peak season for my company. The first year that I worked there, I was working 5 10 hour days a week, and 2 8 hour days on weekends. That year I did not get a tree up. Christmas shopping was a marathon 'get it done' completely lacking in joy. I vowed to never have another year like that.

So, I do my Christmas shopping early.

This year, the perfect gifts just seem to be jumping out at me.

The other day, I was talking to a friend on the phone. She was telling me about a snowman she saw at the local animal shelter thrift shop. She said that it was about 16 inches tall, glass. She fell in love with it as soon as she saw it, but it was $24.99.

"Mary!" I exclaimed.

But I couldn't blame her. It's been a rough year for her. Her husband was the one so badly injured when a truck lost control on an icy curve, swung into his lane and hit him head on as he was coming around that same curve in the other direction. There have been a lot of bills, the driver of the other vehicle was very under insured and that insurance didn't even cover the first week in ICU.

Danny operates heavy equipment, and his job won't take him back. His leg damage makes him a potential liability and they don't want the risk.

Lots of financial insecurity that is slowly sorting itself out, but still, I can understand why she wasn't going to pay $24.99 for a snowman.

The next day, I headed over right after work to see if I could find that snowman. Much to my horror, I walked in there to discover that the store was almost nothing BUT Christmas. Table after table after table. I died a little.

There were a LOT of snowmen mixed in there.

Resolutely, I began walking along each table, one at a time, scanning the displays when I came to this. I knew as soon as I saw him that this was what she'd seen. I picked him up and sure enough, he was $24.99.



I carefully picked him up and headed to the register. Mary and I have been friends for 50 years. I know a lot about her, but I didn't realize that I knew her tastes in snowmen too until that very moment. 

Remember the old mercury glass ornaments? This is glass and designed to look like that, but he's pretty heavy. He's also a collectible. 

I honestly haven't been so excited about a Christmas gift in a long time. I can't wait for her to unwrap it.




Sunday, November 10, 2019

Kansas

The concert was great. It wasn't really what you'd call a mega concert, being held in a gorgeous historic theater in the town of Erie, which is roughly an hour and a half from here.

We got there a half hour early and were ushered to our seats. It was a lot of fun to watch everyone coming in. Most of us were (ahem) pretty mature. Lots of bald or gray heads, wheelchairs. There was one bald head with a very large tattoo right in the middle of his forehead. I have no idea what is was. He didn't look like a dangerous sort...more like a harmless goofball sort. A bunch of people were standing there talking in the aisle not far from us, and one very overweight fellow lifted his arms high as he talked animatedly, his saggy jeans exposing a bright red thong to the crowd behind him. We watched a couple with their four kids come in and head right up front. The seats up there were $125 each, and there was no discount for children. That was $750 for that family, which I found fascinating. (They all left as soon as they heard Dust in the Wind) Mostly though, the folks filing in were plain ol' oldies, the sort of people you'd find at your high school reunion.

Tim and I were sitting comfortably in our comfortable seats, people watching, one of our favorite activities. The concert was well attended, but there were plenty of empty seats,

At the last moment, the people sitting on the other side of Tim were ushered in. I thought it was another mother/daughter duo (plenty of parents introducing their kids to the classics last night), but lo, I was wrong. The younger girl was in a very short skirt, very high heels, and a faux leopard print coat. Her seat mate was very stylishly dressed. She could barely talk, but the younger girl was pretty manic. She struck up a cheerful conversation with Tim right away at the top of her lungs.

Tim, who is very shy, looked as if bolting might be an option.

The music started, and it was great. Tim got a very pained expression on his face as the screamer screamed. Over and over and over. She was very excited about the music, she was very excited about her 'beautiful high'. Tim said that her seatmate said that she had washed her pills down with alcohol.

We figured out that this was not a mother/daughter duo when the girl began gyrating in front of the older woman who  grabbed her and stroked her.  We briefly discussed moving to some of the empty seats, but we were in the middle and couldn't figure out how to do that in the middle of the concert without disrupting everyone in the row.

"Oh, boy," Tim said a couple of times in my ear. "Oh boy."

She attracted quite a bit of attention and every time that the lights swooped over the crowd, she was up and screaming and gyrating around to the pleasure of a row of fellows behind her.

In the end, their 'highs' must have worn off simultaneously. The older woman sat slumped in her seat looking sick (which was a bit worrisome). The younger woman slouched over her phone on facebook.

The music was great. It really was, and we enjoyed it very much. We're not sorry we went.

At the end, the band thanked us and left the stage. Like a flash, leopard coat girl flung her coat on and began to complain about how hungry she was and how she wanted a hamburger. With cheese. And a tomato. She was starving. The older woman still looked as if eating something, ANYTHING, might not be a good idea. They left.

Tim stood and reached behind him for his coat. "It's not over yet," I said. Tim looked surprised. "They have not played "Wayward Son" and they won't get away with that."

The applause went on until the band did return. They said they had one more song, and that the crowd probably knew what it was.

We did.

It was worth waiting for.

At the end, they thanked us for 46 years of support and begged us not to die on them.

We all laughed.

A highlight for me was those 'aha - I remember THAT! - moments when they played some of their songs that do not get a lot of airplay, like this, a song I'd forgotten completely, but remembered just as soon as the introduction began.


We both enjoyed ourselves.






Friday, November 8, 2019

Silver lining

It's snowing.

Meh.

It was snowing when I headed out for work.

Sigh.

Leaf collection was not finished, so the roads are a mess.

Boo.

Was offered the option to leave work early since a truck did not make it in.

Yay.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Revisited

Tim and I were watching Jeopardy. A commercial came on for the Warner Theater in Erie. Kansas is playing there Saturday night.

Tim's a pretty low key type fellow, but right away he sat straight up and said, "I want to see that." I've never seen him get excited about a concert before. It's always me. I got very excited to see Jethro Tull. I got excited to see Christopher Cross. He generally tags along because he is a good sport.

Anyhow, he was excited. I went into the office and brought up the ticket information. He said, "I don't know. Those are pretty pricey..." and he stood there undecided.

I said, "Do you want to see them?"

He said that he did.

I pointed out that we had the money.

He stood quietly staring over my shoulder at the computer screen.

I waited.

"Let's do it!" he said.

And so we are.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Contractor.

Our new roofer guy just got back from Virginia. He called Tim yesterday and asked him if he's got any work for him. He lives across the street from the Wayne St house, and is hoping that Tim picks him up to help with that project. Tim said, "Well...there's this roof..." and told him about the leak discovered in the rental down the street.

The guy showed up yesterday morning to look at the roof. It's a matter of  taking out a chimney, and sealing a vent. He's also replacing the back half of the roof, just to be on the safe side. Discovering the problem has not adequately been addressed in the dead of winter makes an even BIGGER problem. Tim left it as, "Get an estimate to me when you have a minute."

The guy came back at lunchtime with an estimate. Tim wrote him a check for half the job, and told him to start when he was ready.

He'll be here today.

He was such a lucky find for us.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The phone rang early this morning, and Tim answered it. "Good morning, sunshine!" the big voice boomed. I would have recognized it, but Tim hasn't listened to my cousin enough to know that's one of his trademark salutations.

"Pardon?" Tim said.

The voice thundered out laughter.

It was my cousin, Tim. He's the one we gave permission to hunt on our property. After a bad car wreck, he thought his hunting days were over. He got a 7 point buck this morning and was thrilled.


"Tis the season!

 
'Tis the season


Hunting season


Our county got its first snow the day after Halloween (trick or treat!). 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

When it rains....

It's raining like crazy here. We got that roof on just in the nick of time, I'm telling you.

Tonight, setting up for the trick or treaters, a tenant called. She noticed a small leak.

Thank goodness we know a roofer....

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Books.

I was reading a book that I really enjoyed. The ending suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckked. Illogical and weak. The killer killed because she didn't want people to speak ill of her long dead grandmother (who people already spoke ill of, as far as I could tell from my reading.) 

Am now reading Prairie Fires as per Ed's suggestion. Engrossed. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Yay!

Roof is done. Hallelujah. I honestly did not think that we'd find someone before winter set in. I posted a request on facebook. A guy responded from his son's graduation from boot camp in NC, and said he'd be out to give us an estimate Tuesday morning. He showed up, gave his price, Tim hired him on the spot, and he started work the very next day.

I cannot tell you what a relief this is for both of us. Tim had done some repair work. The leaking had stopped, but he wasn't at all confident that his repairs would get us through the winter.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Tantrum

Tim and I did some running around after church today and it involved stopping at multiple stores. We were standing at the checkout in one of the stores and behind us stood a woman with a screaming little boy. He wanted something and his mother had told him no. He screamed and kicked and raged with all the rage that could be contained in his three year old person. His mother was very patient, reasoning with him in a gentle voice. It did no good. He began to kick and she cradled him, continuing to speak in soothing tones.

Tim looked at her and grinned. "They all do it," he said.

She said, "He's three and he wants everything he sees."

I said, "Our grandson is 8 and he STILL wants everything he sees. The difference is that he no longer throws screaming fits when he doesn't get it. This too shall pass, mama."

The little boy screamed on and on and I must say there was no mom shaming from anyone in that long line. Everyone was very patient about it. All the same, the boy soon began to choke and cough as he screamed and his mother began to look a bit stressed.

I looked at the mom. "Do you mind if I speak with him?" She said that she did not.

I bent down to eye level and said to him in a very calm voice, "You're not allowed to scream like that in here." He stopped screaming and stared at me in shock. "It's against the rules," I said. Dead silence as he stared at me with his teary eyes and snotty nose.

I stood up. His mother stared at me in astonishment. "How did you do that?" she wanted to know.

"That's easy," I said. "I'm not his mother." The child snuffled quietly at his mother's side.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A Cat's Life

Long ago, there was a girl who left for Afghanistan. While she worked at the university there, she met a cat, Maki, a large Afghan street cat who had been picked up so many times by the Nowzad animal shelter for getting his butt kicked by other Afghan street cats that the shelter finally did not return him to the street. 

When Cara went to the shelter, Maki saw her from across a crowded room, marched square over to her and climbed up next to her. She felt that the cat had chosen her. She decided to choose him. 

When Cara and I were in New Orleans about six years ago, we stayed in an artist's home, and she had a portrait of her golden retriever painted in the manner of a religious icon. Cara thought it was hilarious.

When I came back, I contacted an artist that I know and commissioned a portrait of Mack for Cara's Christmas gift. 

                                              I'd found a portrait of the Emir of Caubal
and had Mack painted in the same manner. 
Ellen, being a gentle soul fell in love with the story of Maki, and to this day says that he is one of her top selling prints. A percentage of her Maki sales goes back to the Nowzad animal shelter.

It is a funny thing to think of Mack these days. He is actually a citizen of Great Britain now and is currently wintering in Tlibisi, Georgia...this after summering in Spain, which happened after a year in the UK with stops along the way in France and Switzerland.  He has learned to unzip tents in Italy, and sometimes the campers there left notes and gifts for them when they decamped. His picture hangs in the homes of people we will never know.

Ellen published a book, and I bought an autographed copy for each of the grandchildren, Much to my surprise, Mack was in it.

He's come a very long way from the war torn violence of Kabul's streets, hasn't he?

PS: That blue bird in the background? It represents a toy I bought him for his first Christmas, a blue bird that 'chitters' when it is batted about. I didn't realize that he still had that toy after all these years, but lo, he does and he has managed to lose it in Tlibisi. Cara says that his catnip mice and his little balls are no replacement for that silly bird. I have looked for them and cannot find replacements locally. If anyone happens to see one while they are out and about, I'd gladly pay for a couple of them (good to have a spare).

Titanic

Tim went hunting last night. Brianna, William and I went to see Titanic: the Musical.

William's never seen a full on musical before, and so I was wondering how he would do. He shocks me at how quickly he catches on to things though. When the cart slowly rolled from stage left to stage right as the shocked first class passengers stood silently watching it, William turned to me wide eyed. "Oh NO! The boat is starting to lean!" 

He was mesmerized when the house lights began to flicker and the third class passengers ran through the aisles and pounded on the exit doors frantically. He didn't quite get that until I explained that they were trying to show us what it felt like to be in the belly of the great ship as the water rushed in. 

I didn't think he was listening to the words, but he turned to me and said, "It's a 300 foot gash!" Or when Captain Smith, the Titanic's architect, Thomas Andrews and the business man Bruce Ismay got into an sing off about who was to blame for the disaster even as the ship was sinking, his little mind was busily deciding who was really to blame. 

He skipped out of there at nearly 11 PM, chattering away.

Safe to say, he liked it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Book Worms

We finished up 'On The Banks of Plum Creek' and now we're reading 'By The Shores of Silver Lake'. I'd forgotten that the book gets off to a pretty sad start. At one point, Laura's grieving the loss of her dog, Jack. That chapter made me cry when I was 8. I reread those books every fall for my elementary school years, and I'm willing to bet the farm that I cried every time that I got to that chapter. 54 years later, reading it out loud to my grandson, I cried again.

That's the magic of a book, I guess. William was intrigued by this, that I would cry for a dog that's been dead probably 150 years. That's how I've always been, even from a young child. It really did make folks wonder about me.

The adult book on my bedside table is Finding Dorothy, by Elizabeth Letts. It's about Maud Baum, who was the wife of L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wizard of Oz. She's also the daughter of famous suffragette and human rights advocate, Matilda Gage.

I was captivated by the book right away, probably because I have spent much of the summer and part of the fall doing an historical play about the first Women's Rights Convention, which was held in Seneca Falls in 1848, so some of the people are familiar to me. I also lived in the Watertown/Syracuse area for quite a while, so the places that they talk about in the book are familiar to me too. I've always loved The Wizard of Oz (after I got over my childhood fears of the Wicked Witch of the West and those darned flying monkeys), so reading about the book and then MGM's adaptation and Maud's intense desire to insure that the movie retained her husband's vision is interesting.

There are so many threads of the story which weave together so perfectly, it is just an lovely, lovely read. It's been a long time since I've read a book that I simply did not want to end.

William feels the same way about the Laura Ingalls Wilder series.

Two peas in a pod, no matter how many years are between us.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Going batty

Tim was yelling his head off. "Help, help, get out here...."

A bat was circling. Honestly, I've never see a man get more upset about a bat than Tim. I can't say much, because a couple weeks ago, I was flipping out over fruit flies.

Room by room, we began to shut doors until he was circling in the bedroom. Exhausted, he landed on the curtain. I reached for him with a broom. He climbed on and held on. Tim opened the French doors in the bedroom, and I carefully carried him outside. After a bit of recuperation, he finally fluttered off.

The only way he could have gotten in was through the chimney in the library. That's never happened before.

We got a roofer. Starts tomorrow AM. That's a relief. We probably should have him put some screening over the chimney while he's up there.

The house we are buying? The power of attorney is in the daughter's name. She needed to provide the hospital with a copy of that so that they had the proof that she was empowered to make medical decisions for her mother. The hospital copied it and then gave her the copy, keeping the original. Seems easy enough to go to the hospital to get your original back. Except the hospital has gone paperless, which means that they scanned the document into the system and then shredded the original.

Unfortunately, you can only submit an original to the court house to sell the property. A copy is not acceptable.There's another way to accomplish it, but it costs $5000. Where it stands now is that we cannot buy the house until her mother passes away and the house goes to the daughter in the will.

Word to the wise, from the lawyer: "You don't EVER give up the original paperwork unless you are filing it at the Court House.

Probably, the very saddest part of this is that the daughter would see nothing from the sale of the house. It all goes to the state because her mother is in the nursing home.

We've got plenty to keep us busy and we don't mind waiting to get the house.  It is far more difficult for them. They've got their own affairs to keep in order, plus now they're responsible for the utilities and the maintenance on another house.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tamagotchi

When my kids were younger, they had tamagotchis. It was a fad. They all had their virtual pet to take care of. Like all fads, they wound up in a drawer in their bedrooms after a few months.

It was like a blast of deja vu when William started talking about tamagotchis. He wanted one. He wanted one very badly.

Now, I can't remember what I paid for the ones my kids had but much to my surprise, these days, they can be bought for less than $2 on line. Free shipping. Bad news? They shipped from China.

We ordered one and were told it would be here by December 11th. William was initially upset by this but took a deep breath and decided he'd lived this long without one...he'd be fine for another couple of months.

William and Brianna stopped in last night to get something and I had two packages on my doorstep, a largish one, and another tiny one that had Chinese characters on it. William examined it and just knew that it was his tamagotchi. He had a chance to talk to his aunt Cara and he told her about this package. He wanted very much to open it. Cara explained about the mail laws. He countered with 'Grandma wouldn't care!' Cara explained that opening mail that didn't have your name on it was a federal crime.

In the end, William decided not to risk it. I wasn't home and so he'd wait until I gave it to him.

I gave him his tamagotchi this morning. He had trouble with it. I showed him the battery tab. When we pulled it out, it began working, but I couldn't get it programmed. It was not for lack of trying, either.  I also did not have a whole lot of time to mess with it. We were at church.

I had nursery duty and spent a delightful hour playing with a friend's grandson.

After church, William came up to me with the instructions in one hand, his virtual pet in the other. My heart sank a little. I was going to have to sit down and figure this out. I had a sinking feeling that the thing was broken.

But no. "I got it working, Grandma. I read the directions. They've got 168 different animals to pick from. I got a panda. His name is Lee...."

Seriously. Are kids today BORN knowing how to operate electronics?


Home Improvement?

Tim has taken a break from the Wayne St house and done some 'buttoning up' on our own house before winter sets in. One long over due project was to replace the basement windows. They were old and some of them needed to be propped shut. In one instance, in the night, we had a stray cat enter the house twice through one of those windows. Paddy had a hissy fit. It is a very rude way to wake up in the middle of the night.

So Tim got at and replaced the basement windows in August. He used a combination of glass block windows and casement windows so that we still had ventilation to the basement if we needed it. I cannot believe how bright the basement is with those glass block windows. It seems to magnify the light and there are no more dark and gloomy corners. 

We were busy doing other things - insulation on our house, putting a new kitchen into a rental down the street, and a multitude of other small projects in our life - long story short: I began to notice fruit flies in my kitchen. 

It's not like this has never happened in my life before. I began to look for some forgotten vegetable. Usually, it's a potato that's dropped out of the bag and under the Hoosier cabinet or some damn thing like that. But nothing.

And the problem seemed to be getting worse. 

The garbage went out nightly. I was pouring a tea kettle of boiling water down all the drains each and every night. 

Still fruit flies. 

I set out my trusty fruit fly trap. A jar partially filled with apple cider vinegar, with a drop of dish soap added, a piece of plastic cling wrap sealed over top of it, with some small tooth pick holes. The flies are attracted to the vinegar, crawl inside but cannot fly out. 

It didn't help. 


That is when the great hoe out began. I went through all my kitchen cupboards and cleaned them all out. I got rid of a bunch of clutter. I scrubbed and cleaned, moved appliances, looked under appliances, cleaned under appliances...

End result? The kitchen was immaculate, but I still had fruit flies. A lot of fruit flies. And they began to migrate to other rooms.

I don't like to spray, especially in a kitchen, but I finally reached that point. It was a relief when the population dwindled...and for a couple days, I wasn't troubled by fruit flies, but then...once again...they began to stage a comeback.

I know that it sounds babyish but if there's something I cannot abide, it is bugs in the house, and I began to tell Tim that I thought we should call in the exterminators. Tim is a do it yourself kind of guy and this expense rubbed against the grain for him. It began to get testy between us. Amazing how such tiny things could cause such a big uproar, but they surely did.

I was carrying the laundry to the basement when I noticed some fruit flies in the stairwell and I began to wonder. 

"Tim," I asked, do you think it is possible that the fruit flies are coming from the basement?"

He considered this. "It's possible," he decided. Our house is 100 years old almost to the year. The washer and dryer are in the basement, and the washer drains into a big metal funnel about 18 inches square in the floor that feeds the water into the sewer. Fruit flies will breed in drains, which we both already knew. That's why we were pouring boiling water down the drains in the kitchen and bathrooms. 

Tim wondered why, after living in this house for 10 years, we would be just now having problems. We pondered this and I said, "It's probably because you put in the new windows in the basement. Before, when they hatched, they went to the nearest light source, which was the old windows and harmlessly escaped outside. They can't do that now." 

We looked at each other and felt like we were on the right track. 

So we got some hot shot bombs and bombed the basement. One in the coal room, and 3 more in the remaining corners of the basement. We screened the funnel leading to the drain. Every day, I spray a good dose of fly spray on the screening. 

I am happy to say that our problem is solved. Finally. 

This is the first time that a home improvement has made my life miserable. 


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Pumpkin

We met our friends for dinner a couple Fridays ago. One of Danny's hobbies is growing giant pumpkins, and William is generally a recipient of one of those behemoths. They take two people to maneuver, hollowing them out is a major production (especially if you are a little boy) and a grandpa is generally required to use his sawsall to cut the face out.

The year before last, I got the idea to save some seeds to plant our own giant pumpkins, but alas. Due to the fact that I did not allow them to dry out enough, they molded in the pill bottle we were storing them in, and would not grow. Last October, a bit wiser, I left them to dry for a much longer period of time before storing them.

We planted them this spring and the vines threatened to take over the whole end of the garden. They spread the entire width of it. While there were some blossoms, we really didn't see any pumpkins. I thought it would be another disappointment for William.

Except, late in the season, in amongst all the huge green leaves, we saw the start of a pumpkin. August is pretty late for a pumpkin to start. We weren't expecting much, but still, William would get a pumpkin out of the deal and so we were happy for him. He was plenty happy for himself.

Except....this thing began to grow. Since we only go up there on the weekends, it was a bit shocking to see that it seemed to double in size each and every time we went up there. I mean, pumpkins grow, but this was phenomenal growth. 

Anyhow, we met up with Danny and Mary for dinner a couple weeks ago and Mary said, suddenly, "Oh, we wanted to let William know that there probably won't be any pumpkin for him this year. The deer got into ours. That's never happened before. They smashed them with their hooves and they ate them up."

Tim and I laughed out loud as we told them that William wouldn't need a giant pumpkin this year. He'd grown his own from the seeds of the pumpkin they'd gifted him last year. 

They were delighted, and tomorrow, we are wrestling that bad boy into the back of the truck and bringing him home. We'll make one stop, however. We'll circle around the long way home and make a stop in Sugar Grove so that Farmer William can show his pumpkin to Farmer Danny.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Right on Cue

I am in a play, and it happens Saturday. I'll be glad to see it done. It's a lot of busy-ness at a time when I did not have the time to be busy. One last rehearsal tonight, and then we do the play and we are done.

I've been running with a wickedly sore throat all week. This morning I woke up with a headache and fever.

Yeesh.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Contractor

Ay yi yi.

We called a roofer who had worked for us before. Whenever someone asked us for the name of a reliable roofer, we gave them Brian's name and phone number.

This time around, we needed a new roof on our house. We called him last spring. He came out and gave us an estimate. We agreed to it, and told him to go ahead.

We didn't see him in June. When Tim called, he said that due to the rainy weather, he'd taken another job, but assured him that as soon as it was finished, he'd do our roof.

During the summer, I prodded Tim a couple times to call Brian, but he didn't. The man had worked for us before. He had done a good job every time. Tim had every confidence that he'd make good on his promises.

Tim contacted him again last month, and was assured that he was going to 'get out to our place'.

We're getting new windows put in, we've done a lot of insulation. Last night, I said to Tim, "You really need to call him and try to pin him down to a time frame."

Tim called him.

The guy said that he wasn't going to be able to get to it.

Sure would have made life a lot easier if he'd have said that over the summer.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Party time

I'm having such a wonderful weekend. I have both grandkids in the same room and could not be happier.

Family party today!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

In the Dark

Dylan and Brittani are currently headed home with Iris and the dogs. We haven't told William because the plan is that tomorrow, after school, Dylan will be waiting for him instead of his mother or one of us. They are going to spirit him away for a couple of nights. Dylan and he will have a man's day out, and Brittani, Brianna, and I will have a girl's day. Supper together and then we're all going to meet up for a family party on the 25th. So far is looks like about 30 people are coming.

So the house has been bursting with plans and keeping William in the dark is no small task.

I checked facebook last night before bed. William had IMed his aunt Cara. We never expected a response, but lo, she was up. Another message popped up. Brittani had sent a picture of Iris happily sitting in a suitcase.

I clicked off it right away, but William was all over that. "What was Iris doing? Where are they going?" Thinking quickly, I said, "I think they are spending the weekend on the boat."

William said, wistfully, "I wish I could go."

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fall

We had our first frost out of town last 5 days ago, and just like that, the leaves have begun to show their colors on the mountain sides. A couple days ago, I studied them. The sky was heavily clouded and those clouds threw their shadows carelessly across those mountains. The contrast of light and dark and green and gold was beautiful.

Fall is here.







Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Solitary Life

It turned out that one of the fellows in the apartment next door died. I went to school with him long ago. We exchanged pleasantries when we saw each other. He was a gentle soul, a musician.

He died in his little apartment and no one knew.

There are a lot of solitary souls in this world. Dave was one of them.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Mystery

William was beside himself with excitement. At the Dinner Theater with Nearly Headless Nick, he solved the mystery, the only person there to do it. He was shouting into the phone in his excitement.

Meanwhile, next door, the police were swarming all over the place. They stayed for hours. I happened to be walking to the computer when they lifted a body down the steps.

*blink*

Friday, October 4, 2019

Finally got the payment for the tires. It took three e-mails and a phone call before  it finally happened. Dealing with large anonymous companies is never as easy as you think it is going to be. The man showed up with cash. Which I find suspicious. Anyone else?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Hogwarts

Our little town is having an Alohomora Festival. A street is going to be set up a la Harry Potter, with venders and activities for kids. Costumed characters from the series will be walking up and down the street interacting with the kids. The Audubon will be doing a show with owls. There's music. A scavenger hunt. Food.

It's pretty exciting.

The capper of the event is a Murder Mystery Dinner for kids. Headless Nick, one of the Hogwart haunters, will take the children back to 1493. Food true to the time will be served. While the kids are eating, the mystery will play out before them thanks to the local actors. Who beheaded Headless Nick, and why?

This had caught William's imagination something fierce. He's seen the first two movies and has become captivated. (This pleases his aunties and his mother very much. They are all fans.) I made up my mind to buy tickets to the event, but when I went on line, much to my shock, they were sold out. I could have gotten a ticket for William, but if I couldn't get an adult ticket, it was not going to do him much good. He's too young to go alone.

I put myself on a waiting list, and said nothing. This morning, I was able to buy both an adult and child ticket. I cannot wait to see the look on his face.

PS. Tim was asked to buy a house, and after discussion, agreed to do so. Deja vu.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Travels

Cara and Colin are wintering in Tbilsk, Georgia. Cara's 30th birthday is coming up in January, and at work it suddenly occurred to me that I cannot remember the last birthday we celebrated with her. It's got to be at least 7 years. Probably longer. That was bothering me quite a bit, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than to spend her birthday with her.

So....since Mohammed shows no sign of coming to the mountain, the mountain is headed for Mohammed. Cara was gratifyingly happy to hear this news.

Initially, she thought we should meet in London and go to Cyprus. I was more inclined towards Spain, something that we could hop in a car and drive to. But then when she realized that Tim was coming, she remembered that he hates beaches....so for now, the plan is Romania. It's one of her favorite countries and there is plenty to see and do. It will be cold, but not as cold as Pennsylvania.

I reminded her that she comes from hardy stock.



Scammed

I consider myself pretty savvy. Not an expert, but I am careful on line. Today I got scammed. With my debit card. On a website that appeared to be a government website, but was, in fact, NOT a government website.

Long story short: it was not a pleasant afternoon, but it is evidently all taken care of. The bank will dispute the charges, and we will get our money back.

Felt like an idiot.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Happy ending

When I drive down the brick street that intersects my brick street, at the stop sign, on the opposite side of the intersection was a big neon sign. LOST: ORANGE CAT NAMED RUSTY. NO MARKINGS. REWARD. Beneath that was a phone number.

Since that house is about 4 houses away from mine, on the opposite side of the street, I did keep an eye out for that cat. I checked our garage to make sure he hadn't got himself shut up there. I looked for him every time that I drove home from work. Every time that I saw that bright neon pink sign, I said a little prayer for that orange cat with no markings. As the owner of an orange cat with plenty of markings, I knew how badly they must feel about their cat.

Monday, coming home from work there at the intersection was another neon pink sign: WE HAVE THE BEST NEIGHBORS! RUSTY IS HOME! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CALLS OF CONCERN.

Made me smile.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Blue

I got some of those tank tablets that you drop in the toilet tank. Usually, if I'm using them, I buy the bleach ones. I never really thought much about it when I grabbed the blue ones.

Later that day, I heard the toilet flush. It flushed again. It flushed again. "William," I called, are you having trouble in there?"

"No matter how many times I flush the toilet, the water is still blue!" he shouted back.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Little Boy

I ran into the Dollar General Store to pick up some cat food and a card. One the way back to the cat food, a little fellow stood holding a stick horse, one with a plush head and reins. It whinnied when you squeezed its ear.

He was enthralled with it. His mother stood in front of him with a shopping cart filled with staples: toilet paper, soap. some basic food items. She was telling him to put it back. He stood there clutching it to him, telling her firmly, "No." He reminded me of Iris right away. She's such an independent little gal. But this fellow was a couple of years older than Iris, about the same age that her brother would have been.

I got that familiar little clutch in my heart that I get when I think of Keegan.

His mother stood firm. "No. You can't have that. Maybe next time."

I listened to the little drama playing out as I got Paddy the next cat food she would hate. When I came out of the aisle, Mother and son were headed down another aisle and the stubborn little guy was debating the issue the best he could with his limited vocabulary.

On the spur of the moment, I picked up the stick horse, and took it up front to check out. I said to the cashier that a little boy with a cartoon t-shirt was headed up with his mother. He would not be happy when he got there, but he would be very happy when the cashier gave him the stick horse.

At that moment, mother and son came around the corner heading to the counter. "That little guy right there," I said as I grabbed my little bag and headed out the door.

I walked to my car and sat there for a minute or two. I just wanted to see the look on his face.

It was worth the wait.

I put the car in gear and headed home.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Messes

One of the biggest problems with heavy duty cleaning/clearing out is that as I move from one room to the next, I get irritated when clutter begins to encroach on my newly cleaned rooms.

I go to bed early because I get up at o'dark-thirty. William and Tim follow along later. I know that it is ridiculous but William had his blocks and action figures strewn across the living room one morning. I'd asked Tim to have him put his things away before he went to bed. There was also a glass and a plate on the coffee table.

It irked me. It also made me feel stupid to be irked by it. I gathered up the dishes and took them to the kitchen. I noticed that Tim had a pile of his things by the door. I suppose they were a reminder to him not to forget them when he headed out the following morning.

But, despite my best uncaffeinated efforts, I was irked. Even after I had my coffee, I was still a little irritated. That night, after work, I took a deep breath and I said to Tim, "Listen, I'm really working hard on the house when I get off work. I know that I'm being stupid about it, but it would make me feel a lot better if you would have William pick up before he goes to bed. And if you could run the dirty dishes out to the sink. Or if you could maybe just take the things you need straight out to the truck instead of piling them at the door."

He listened in a non-committal way.

He's been doing a little better and I've been working steadily. The library was a big job and I'm putting it back together now.

Tim spent a lot of time doing some rewiring on the first and second floors and once that job was completed he decided to blow in some insulation. Our office was actually the old front porch of the house and in desperate need of extra insulation. Tim got the insulation in the front the house on his own, and when I got home from work, I got supper in the oven.

 He needed help to do the attic/crawl space above the office, so while I was getting supper in the oven, he loaded the machine up with insulation. He fed the hose in through the front window. He climbed into the crawl space holding the hose and sealed it up. By then I was standing at the front window, and my job was to turn the machine on and watch through the window to make sure that the insulation wasn't blowing down into the office.

It wasn't.

I stood at the machine, pushing the insulation down. It didn't seem to be using very much insulation, but I stood there, pushing the insulation down. Next thing I know, Tim comes bursting out of the house. Nothing was coming into the attic but air. He was hot and cranky and said, "You need to push the insulation down!"

I said, "I am! It doesn't seem to be doing anything, though."

Tim shut the machine off, and looked down. "The hopper is empty!"

I said, "Well, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I was pushing the insulation down. I can't see down into the hopper. You have the thing so full I can't see where the moving parts are..."

You get the picture.

Tim figured out that he needed to open the chute a bit more. Mollified, he pushed the insulation down and turned the machine back on. I heard a clunk from inside the house and headed for the window to see what it was.

You guessed it. The hose fell from the attic and insulation was blowing all over the office.

On the up side, the insulation was shooting out well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Still at it.

There's a lot of stuff in the library. Books have a lot of memories. I got about halfway through. Will forge on tomorrow.

Tim has been busily replacing all the windows in the basement, and a window in the livingroom, in addition to doing some rewiring.  A company is coming in to replace 16 windows all in one day. Tim and I are blowing in some extra insulation this weekend. We hope to see some savings in our energy bill this winter.

Tim also cleaned out the attics today.

Guess I'm not the only one who's been bit by the cleaning bug.

Another load of stuff to the Goodwill.



Onward...

Got the livingroom done last night. The library tonight. Which will involve getting rid of books.

*deep breaths*

Monday, September 23, 2019

De-Cluttering

I have an awful tendency. I see things and sometimes I want them. Bad. I'm a sucker for things for the house.

We have a big house, and it has not been an issue, really. I felt like I was making progress when some of my purchases began to find homes on the second floor. As the second floor was decorated, well...

As the kids left, they left stuff behind. Dylan said firmly, "I don't want it, just get rid of it." But his wrestling trophies...his newspapers write-ups...his letterman's jacket...all those memories of his growing up years, I packed carefully away, because I have this feeling some day he MIGHT want them. Cara? Jees. Cara bleeds stuff. She started out in a dorm. Every year she came home and packed stuff away in the attic. It's a huge attic, and we've got two of them, so it wasn't a big deal. But when she went off to Penn State to get her master's degree, she got an apartment. But the time she was done with that, she brought everything home and took off to Afghanistan. When she got left Afghanistan, she shipped three large boxes to our house. We've never opened them. They went up to the third floor.

Everything was fine...until the roof started to leak on one side. All that stuff was pulled out into the hall. We contacted a guy who said he would do it in June. We're still waiting. He'll do it before winter. He promises.

We were pushed over the brink when we bought a hoarder's house and a house that people had simply walked out on, locking the door that final day and leaving everything in it. Then we began to have problems. Tim finds stuff and brings it home because he's sure are worth money. A crap ton of record albums for instance. Until I pointed out that even if I researched every stinking record, I still have to play those records to see what condition they are in...and I don't have a phonograph. Or the time. Or the desire. There were three pieces of furniture I wanted from the hoarder's house. A secretary which got dropped twice going upstairs. Now it's a secretary that needs fixing. There was also an interesting side table and a Lane cedar chest, both of which I had a mind to put in one of the spare bedrooms.

Tim brought home a stove he wanted, and it wound up in the foyer until it goes where he needs it. And he brought home the china closet, which I didn't want, but he didn't know what to do with, and he parked that next to the stove. Every day, some new curiosity came home to be marveled over, appraised and then set down in the office.

This past weekend, I walked upstairs. It was the first time I'd been up there in a while. My knee is pretty bad. I discovered that he's been bringing stuff home and stashing it up there.

The scales tipped.

I started the great hoe out this past weekend.

I did the kitchen and moved stuff immediately to the goodwill before I had a chance to think about it. I did the foyer. The china closet I didn't want has become William's 'curiosity cabinet' a place for his collection of interesting things he discovers. Rocks that sparkle, or that the iron or copper in them has oxidized, bird eggs, mushroom prints, pressed leaves, the crystals we've grown. (I guess pack rats are not born...their grandparents help them become that way)...Tim and I hauled that upstairs, one painful step at a time. The stove? I helped him move that out of the house and onto his truck (that was a killer).

I cleaned and dusted and decluttered two rooms so far and it is wonderfully cathartic. I've got a 13 room house, so I've got a ways to go, but it is exciting to reclaim my house.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

How to Feed a Cat

Paddy has always preferred dry cat food. It's odd, but she has. As she's getting older though, she's having some digestive issues, and so we are supplementing her diet with canned catfood.

I found a brand of cat food that she seemed to tolerate. In an amazing coincidence, the following week, I was able to buy a case of that cat food on sale.

She decided in pretty short order that she no longer liked that catfood.

One of our tenants has a new kitten and so we handed off nearly all of the case to Maisie, who was delighted with HER dinner options.

We experimented around again. After several failed attempts, we once again found something that she liked. After a couple weeks with no feline fussing, I found a store having a sale on the brand of cat food. My mama didn't raise no fools. I didn't buy a case, but I did buy 9 cans.

Just like that, Paddington PawCat began to turn up her nose at dinner time, which was pretty darned aggravating.

Maisie benefited once again and Maisie, being an easy going sort of critter, had no complaints.

I started over with my cat. One again, I found a cat food that she seemed to eat well. This time, I did it differently. Instead of feeding her half a can a day to supplement her kibble, I feed her a quarter can a day, twice a day.

Paddy is a very dramatic cat. When she glimpses the bottom of her kibble bowl, she goes after you, patting your ankles and trying to herd you to the bag of cat food, even though there is a couple more meals in that dish. I guess the little china dish of wet food has the same effect; she is certain that starvation is imminent.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Stories

I had a newspaper column for 14 years and one of the most common questions was "How do you find stuff to write about?" The quick answer was "It just happens before my very eyes..." 

So Tim and I were up at the camp. We were headed into Titusville (home of the world's first oil well, if you're interested) for a bite to eat, but we wanted to stop in an pay our property taxes. The tax collector collects at her house during evening hours. 

There were two people ahead of us. An elderly woman was chatting away, while another man sat on the wicker settee. When Tim and I walked in, the woman jumped up and said, "Here's more people! I'm holding you up!" 

Tim said, "Hello, Mrs. W-----, and she looked surprised. Tim said, "I worked with you at Rexnord years ago." She was enthused to see him, and she 'knew' me from the newspaper.

She asked Tim what he was doing, and Tim said, "Buying houses, fixing them up, and selling them. I have some rentals." She thought that was interesting. She wondered where our property was in Grand Valley. Tim said, "It's right there on 27, at the curve across from the Newton Cemetery. 

She said, "Oh, I researched that cemetery! Some of the old graves aren't marked. We mapped it all out, wrote down names from tombstones and then went through old records to get some of the names from unmarked graves." That was her third cemetery. She was hoping to get to the Loomis cemetery but didn't know if she'd have time. (She appeared to be in her 70s.)

I said, "Well, when we get moved down here, maybe I can help you out. I like cemeteries." She was delighted to hear that.

She said, "I'll teach you how to use the wires!" I envisioned stabbing wire down into the ground looking to a casket or whatever, which sounded kind of ghoulish. "No, no," she explained, making motions as if she were holding two stiff wires in each hand.

My grandfather was a dowser, a water witch. and he held his hands like she was holding hers. I said, laughingly, "So you dowse for dead?" and she said, "EXACTLY!" in a satisfied tone. "And if you know what you're doing, you can tell whether the person is a woman or a man. I've never been able to test myself though. I'd have to be with someone who knew the sex of the person, and could hide it from me and let me try to figure it out." 

Me? I just stood there a little dumbfounded. 

She said, "Well, it's like the old way of telling if you were going to have a boy or a girl...you'd hang a pencil from a string and suspend it over your wrist...."

I looked at the tax collector who was probably in her 60s, as am I, and back to the white haired lady in front of me. "Which one of us is going to get pregnant so we can give that a try?" And we all laughed.

Where do I find the stuff to write about? I'm telling you. It just comes to me.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

New Shoes

The area that I live in is a hard place to live. 23% of our children are growing up in poverty. The local churches try to deal with this, providing new sneakers and school supplies for kids. The local Eagles Club provided back packs to any child that showed up to get one. Enough children qualify for free lunches at the elementary school that the school qualified for a state program that provides free lunches to any child who asks.  Some kids get bags of food to take home over the weekends.

Comparatively speaking, William's a very lucky little boy. As the son of a single mother, his situation would be much more dire if he didn't have other adults ready, willing, and able to step in. He's living below the poverty line, technically, but he doesn't have a clue.

In any case, a local mother was upset that her child had gone to school in his new Walmart sneakers only to be mocked by some kids on the bus for not having 'name brand sneakers.' She vented on facebook.

It reminded me of last year. William saw some sneakers that he wanted very badly. Sooooo badly. They were at Walmart. They lit up. They not only lit up, but they could be changed to different colored lights. The lights could be blinking, chasing, or just a steady light. They came with a remote control, for goodness sakes, and they charged with a USB.

He was wild to have those shoes for school and because he has suckers for grandparents, he got them.

There was an open house at the school and he begged to wear his new shoes. He couldn't wait to show his friends. We agreed and walked over to the school. William was so intent on what was happening with his feet, I thought for sure he'd wind up tripping over those fancy shoes and damaging himself.

We managed to get him into the school all in one piece and he was showing his friends his new shoes. The remote was passed around so that other kids could do magic with his shoes. He was the center of attention and he loved it.

We were in a hall. Tim and I were leaning on one wall. Across the hall, a boy watched William and his friends. His mother asked him, "Do you like those shoes?" The boy looked in a considering way and said, "No. Those look pretty cheap."

His mom looked at me and gave a smile, while shaking her head.

Personally, I thought it was a waste of a teachable moment. The boy was maybe a year or two older than William, old enough to know that he was pretty lucky, and that not all children are as lucky as he is. His mom could have used that moment to remind him of that.

William never heard a thing and I was glad for that. All kids deserve to be excited about their new shoes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Credit where Credit is Due

Remember my flat tire? I took that piece of reinforcing wire to the Municipal Building. They took a picture of it, contacted PennDot who said that they would fill out a 430 Claim.

In the meantime, I couldn't keep drive back and forth to work on a 'donut' so we replaced the tire. We actually ended up getting two tires replaced so they matched. We hung on to that bill. We hung on to that wire. I'm still driving that trashed tire around in my trunk.

After 3 weeks, I called PennDot. The nice woman said that the college intern must have submitted the paperwork to the contractor incorrectly. She'd do it again.

After another 2 weeks, I called back. I try hard to be a nice person, but I was getting irritated.

The nice lady at PennDot told me that I should talk directly to the man in charge of the contractors. She gave me a number.

That man said that I needed to be speaking with the contractors. I said, "Well, a 430 claim has been filed twice. Seems like they should be speaking to ME!"

He explained that 430 Claims are filed when a car is damaged by PennDot road work. Contractors do not receive 430 claims.

By the time that I finally got a hold of the person that I needed to be speaking with, I was prepared for battle. I explained my situation, the fact that this had happened on August 15th, that I had the wire, the tire, and the bill. I said that I didn't want to be nasty about it, but I was a little grumpy about the fact that something so straight forward should take so long to sort out.

He agreed. He said, "Do you have an estimate?"

"No. I've got a bill. We had to get a new tire. We actually ended up getting two tires because the damaged one was an expensive tire, and we didn't want to pay for two of them. So we opted to replace both tires." I told him that while the bill would be for two tires, we only expected payment for one.

I was a little gobsmacked when he said, "No. We'll pay for both of them. It's only fair. You wouldn't have had to buy two tires if our roadwork had not damaged the one. E-mail me the bills and I'll have payment on its way to you within two days."

I e-mailed him the bill along with the proof that we had paid it. He replied back that he'd received it and that it would be taken care of for us.

Nicest surprise I've had in a while.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Autumn, take two.

There's a quiet guy at church. Don't get me wrong. He's pleasant, but he's just a quiet person.

This past week, he posted that his partner of 17 years was very ill. I messaged my condolences and prayers to him.

At church this morning, he was talking to the priest. I was talking nearby with Diane and our ears pricked up. He was talking about driving over an hour to get to the hospital every night after work. Since he had already posted the facts on facebook, we felt comfortable to approach and ask to listen in, saving him the necessity of repeating himself when we asked him later.

So we listened to him talk in his quiet way, giving us all updates and much to our shock, he said, "It's not likely he's going to recover this time." And one tear slid down his cheek.

Yesterday, I was thinking about life, with all its seasons, about the sweetness of a ripened, rich life. Today, I realize again that the season can be all too short.

I need to savor it. Every day of it.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Autumn

This morning, I got up and headed for the coffee pot as usual. Paddington PawCat waited at the heavy oak door to be let out. I let her out and was amazed at all the colored leaves on the ground.

We noticed that the weather changed abruptly about the same time that we changed the page on Bush Babe's calendar.  They are moving into spring there as we are moving into autumn, but here, the nights got cool very suddenly and when we set on the deck of our camper in the evening, the little fire is nice. The surrounding hills show wispy shades of yellow and orange and red.

We are also in the midst of a dragon fly invasion which is also pretty mesmerizing. At any given time, you can stop and almost be guaranteed of seeing them around you.

Tim is buttoning up the Wayne St house for winter. It's been a productive year. New windows, partially sided, most of the rewiring done, wall paper stripped. There will be a break for hunting season, and then, once the heating system is installed, Tim will continue to work on the house later in winter after the freezer is stocked. The exciting part begins: we restore the interior of that lovely, lovely home. We see our ideas becoming reality.

Yesterday, we went up to his parents' home to remove the three furniture pieces that Tim had requested. We wrestled them onto the pick up, and took them to store down in the house on the retirement property.  We've got one more trip back to that old house, to pick up two sets of very old stacking barrister bookshelves.

It seemed a little sad to me coming down that hill knowing that we had little reason to ever drive back up. I asked Tim if it made him sad too. "No, he answered. "I never felt like it was my home."

As a son of a Methodist preacher, they moved a lot. We didn't move a lot, but my family was a pretty volatile one. When I left it, I did not look back. I never really thought much about that fact until I was coming down that hill with my husband in his beloved 37 year old Chevy truck with a load of old furniture.

Autumn comes every year to our little corner of the world, but Tim and I are in the autumn of our lives. With any luck it will last a good long time. We've carved out our own comfortable place.  and discovered that home is not where we have been. Home is where we are.




Sunday, September 15, 2019

Break up.

It was a Friday the final day of a week of 10 hour days. Everyone was about done in. On top of tired, my knee is now making a grinding noise. So yeah. Long week.

We were all standing at morning meeting. The question came at the end of the meeting, as it always does: "Anyone got anything for us?" Usually nobody has anything, but this time, a voice rose up: "Yeah. If anyone wants to buy wedding stuff, I have a lot."

Everyone looked. The comment came from a girl who's been joyously planning a wedding for quite a while now. She wanted it perfect. She works two jobs, and she works every bit of overtime that she can get at work. She is trained in virtually every job, so she just signs up for the overtime no matter what department it is in.

I felt terrible for her standing there with her red eyes.

Walking back to the room we work out of, I said, "I'm so sorry..." and she answered, "His drugs meant a lot more to him than I did.."

I tossed an arm over her shoulder and said, "Well, if he had a drug problem, he was certainly someone you didn't want to be married to anyway. It will take your heart a while to come in line with what your brain already knows."

"Yeah," she said.

What I noticed is that during the course of the day, she came to me several times to discuss the matter.
I'm guessing that it is because she worked such long hours that he was able to fly under her radar for the length of time that he did, but she found out that he was trafficking, and it scared her. Visions of ruthless drug lords from a thousand scary television shows danced in her head. She demanded he stop. He decided he wouldn't.

I told her again, "You dodged a bullet, really. If you had not discovered this until after you were married, you would have had a choice: turn a blind eye to it, or not to turn a blind eye to it. Either way, you would have been paying a lot of money to a lawyer. If you ignored it, you would have been at some point considered an accomplice and you would have to hire a lawyer to defend yourself. If you didn't turn a blind eye to it, you'd have been hiring a lawyer for your divorce. You dodged a bullet."

Every time she came to me, I repeated some version of the same thing.

Every time, she looked grateful for the words.




Saturday, September 7, 2019

Souvenirs

My husband's mother was known for her elderberries. She took them to the farmer's market. A friend of mine was a regular customer, turning them into jam.

When Tim's mom entered a nursing home, Karen asked me about those elderberries. By then the property belonged to his brother and it is a strange family dynamic. His sister once told me that they liked Tim's first wife better. (What a strange thing to say!) His father had dementia at the end, and Tim and I wondered, once he was in the nursing home, if he hadn't been suffering from it for years, which would account for a lot of his angry  and irrational behavior.

Tim and I have been together for 20 years now and we've done that by simply making a pact to keep the chaos outside our home, not inside. People are what they are. So no. I wasn't asking anyone for elderberries.

Tim's parents are gone now and his sister contacted him. The siblings were all getting together to go through the old family home. I told Tim to get himself something that reminded him of his mom and something that reminded him of his dad. I also reminded him that it might well be the last time that the six of the kids were all together.

So he went up there yesterday. He thought that the only thing he really wanted was his father's tool box full of hand tools. He really didn't know what he wanted to remember his mother by, but he felt like it would come to him.


They sorted through the house and his brother brought over his skid steer to pull some cars out of some out-buildings. He had to plow a way through to them, going right directly through the elderberry patch. Tim set the bushes carefully aside and went up with his dump truck today to get a truck load of them to take to our retirement property and plant.

Hopefully they will produce for us just as prolifically as they produced for her.

He got that toolbox he hoped for and with any luck, those elderberries will remind him of his mother for years to come.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Perfect Moment

Is there anything more perfect than being curled up in bed with the one you love best beside you, listening the the wind blowing in the grumbling of distant thunder in the night? Watching the trees silhouetted over and over in the flash of the lightning?

If so, I really cannot think of it. 

At least, I couldn't until he started snoring. 

Loudly. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Soup

I was invited to a benefit put on by the Phillipino women at work for one of their own. Tim and I decided to attend.

This time it was a soup that caught my taste buds. I thought it was pork, in a deliciously flavored broth. I caught sight of two very large poblano peppers in that pot and something else that I couldn't identify. Not to find myself in the same situation as last time, I made sure to ask my questions while I was standing at the pot.

I said to Christine, "What is this?"

Her teenage daughter popped in with "Soup."

Christine chided her as I laughed. "Right. I figured out that much, but does the soup have a name?"

Christine said, "Pork soup."

Hm.

Christine began fishing around in the pot. "It has ginger," and she pulled up a very large piece of ginger with the ladle.

I said, "Those are poblanos, but what is that, and pointed to an herb that was twisted together in a bunch as thick as my wrist.

She said, "That is lemon grass. That's all it is. The longer you simmer, the spicier it gets."

Sounds like another recipe for the crock pot to me.



Monday, September 2, 2019

Youngsters

At camp, William and I were setting up to prank his grandfather, like this. I purposely do night time activities with him because he is a bit afraid of the dark. He's much better than he was but he still is not a fan of the dark.

In any case, I'd forgotten the scissors in the car, so I walked out to the deck with him and sent him off to the car. He stopped to ask a question and when he turned towards me, his eyes suddenly went very wide in the dim dusk night and his arm raised up and pointed. I thought, "Oh Lord, what has scared him now", but when I turned, there was a young fawn standing about 20 yards from him, in the lawn out of the brush. 

William said not one word. He had frozen stock still with his arm extended. The fawn looked at him with twitching ears and extended its neck, sniffing. We all held our breath in wonder as the fawn took a step towards him. 

Behind him in the brush, there was a wild series of snorts, mama doe's way of saying, "DON'T YOU DARE! I MEAN IT! DO NOT MAKE ME COME OUT THERE!"

For probably 30 seconds, the two youngsters stared at each other, neither making a sound. I imagine that if William's ears could twitch, they would be twitching just as wildly as the fawn's. 

In the end, the fawn listened to its mama, as all good youngsters do, and darted into the brush.

William could not stop replaying that over in his head. As I was tucking him in on the sofa bed, he said "I think that little fawn was curious." 

I said, "Yes. I saw two curious creatures out there in the yard tonight." 

William got big eyes again. "Who was the other curious creature?" he asked curiously. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Random

It's a blustery sort of day today, and I was driving home from work, happy in my heart because it is a long weekend, etc.

I was waiting at a stop light when I saw something spinning and rolling in the street. I thought at first it was a mouse, the way it was flipping around, but you know what it was? A CHILE pepper. I'm not sure why it was leaping all around like that, or how it got there or anything really, but there it was spinning in the street.

The sight was funny enough on it's own, but when I immediately thought, "Oh, look, it's doing a litte salsa dance...." I burst out laughing right there in the car.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

History

William and I are reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. We are on the second book, Little House on the Prairie.

The family has settled in Indian country. (a place where "there are no people, only Indians.") There is an Indian camp nearby. At several points in the book, there are hints of the danger.

Ma hushes a distant neighbor who has come to visit and begins to speak of a massacre.

Jack the bulldog has to be chained up because if he bites an Indian "there will be trouble". When Indians come to the house, the girls are so afraid that for a moment they consider loosing the dog. Pa's stern talking about what would have happened if they'd have done that made William sit straight up, wide eyed.

Laura has a question: "What's a stockade, Ma?" (Answer: it is something to make little girls ask questions.)

Pa spends one night using all the lead he has to make bullets as the Indians group, and the jamboree lasts for many nights with screaming war cries that wake the girls up in the night in terror. Soldat du Chene speaks against killing the white people and convinces his people, the Osage to side with him. They tell the other tribes that they will fight the Osage if they decide to kill. In the end, the Indians decide not to fight them and go away in their different directions.

William had an awful lot of questions about these anecdotes. In one of the chapters, Laura begins to ask the same questions.

You know, I loved these books as a child, and every fall, I would go to our school library and get them out, one at a time, and re-read them. Now, all these years later, I am reading them again.

They are a lot more controversial than they were when I was a child. Some school districts have banned them. I'm not a fan of banning books. When my own kids were growing up, I simply read the books along with them and anything that bore discussion got discussed.

Now there's William and we are discussing what needs to be discussed.

He can talk quite knowledgeably about our western states being opened to settlers. He can tell you how the Indians got moved farther and farther west, or settled on reservations. He also knows that what happened to the Indians was wrong, and that they fought injustice sometimes in truly awful ways (although he knows no details, just that anger begets anger, that cruelty begets cruelty, and that when people don't treat each other with respect, terrible things happen.)

I don't understand banning books. It seems far wiser to me that our children be fully aware of the mistakes we have made as a nation, in an effort to prevent those mistakes from happening again.

William's First Day.

William's first day of school was today. I've been blessed to have a lot of time off work recently, so we've really been able to make the last weeks of summer pretty special.

Yesterday, when I got off work, I delivered some plants that I'd gotten for a young lady who has just begun to be interested in house plants. I bought a birthday gift and card and I took William to get his hair cut.

For whatever reason, the boy wanted red tips on his hair. He wanted them pretty badly. He has a lot of things that he is anxious about and so I thought maybe the red tips would give him an extra jolt of confidence. Armed with his mother's permission, we went in to get his hair cut. I talked to the woman about those tips. William was very disappointed to find out that her schedule was way too crowded for a color job.

We did a little school shopping. I've been picking him up stuff all summer, as has his mother, so  there wasn't a whole lot to be done, but there was a sale, and...well... In any case, while he was picking out the four shirts he wanted, I got to thinking along the lines of 'just how hard can it be to tip hair? I dye my own hair...'

That dangerous thinking led me down the aisle to hair color and William immediately found just the shade of red that he wanted.

How hard can it be? Let me tell you: my bathroom looked like a slaughter house. The sink. The tub. The shower curtain. The floor. 8 year old boys lack a capacity to sit still while the dye takes. He was bored, he wanted to watch television, and couldn't he sit VERY CAREFULLY on the sofa? (NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Long story short. The hair is done, and it is interesting. It looks normal until he gets in the light and then it has a red sheen to it. The bathroom is clean. (The bathroom sink was scary. It stayed pink for several scrubbings.)

Next time, a professional does this.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

InTent

As I was leaving work today, a young man darted across the hall in front of me. He waved in a friendly way and kept on going.

I thought, "Gees...do I KNOW him from somewhere?" but the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that I didn't. I decided he was just a friendly fellow. 

I walked across the parking lot to my car and then headed towards the highway. I saw that same young man walking the way that I was headed.

It was a hot and humid day and the skies looked as if they might open up any minute, so I pulled alongside and rolled down the window. "Hey, do you need a ride? It's a miserable day for walking."  He replied, "It's not as bad today as it was yesterday. Yesterday was AWFUL."

He asked where I was going, and I asked him where HE was headed. He said "Irvine," a little map dot probably a mile down the road. 

I told him I would take him home.

He hopped in and lord, but he was a talker. He'd gotten himself into a financial jam. He went to truck driving school, got a job driving truck for a company. They offered him a deal to buy a semi and take the payments out of his check. He took that deal. 

Long story short, he worked for them for 8 months. He paid them $13,000 during that time. He made a total of $109. He ended up losing the truck when they cut his workload and he couldn't make the payments. They took the truck back. 

I listened. I'm old enough to know that you can't believe everything you hear. If it was true, the company got a truck driver for 8 months paying him virtually nothing. 

He said that the company had done that to enough people that there was a class action lawsuit. He was hoping to get something out it, but until then, he had to do something, so he took a job where I work. He'd been there two weeks. 

He was cheerful and talkative and we covered quite a bit of verbal territory. His family comes from the same area as Tim's family, so he recognized my name. I recognized his.

Suddenly, he said, "Right here's good. Just pull over here. That's my tent."

The guy is living in a tent at the side of the road. 

"Thanks for the ride!" he said, grinning broadly and sticking out his hand. I shook it and told him good luck. 




Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Smurfs

My friend collects, of all things, Smurf figurines. When her mother died, she inherited the whole collection. She got some mushroom shaped shelves and displays part of her collection. It's just something that makes her remember her mom, a Polish woman who, for whatever reason, loved that cartoon.

Anyways, the last time we were at Dylan and Brittani's house, we hit up the antique barn near them. We usually do. This time we found a very cool lamp post for our retirement property. Tim found a huge chrome grill to a 1929 Chevrolet sedan. It has the radiator and the hole where the crank went. It's shiiiiiiiny, and he wanted it something awful, but talked himself out of it. And then into it. And then out of it. I went up to the front and told the people at the desk that we'd take it, and to hold it at the counter. We'd be up when we were finished shopping. (With all the breakables in that crowded barn, I wasn't taking the chance of breaking them). We ambled through and found some sort of emergency lantern made in England Tim wanted. William was looking through the toys and said, "Look! Smurfs!"

There they were. A whole bag of them. We bought them for Mary, and told William she had first dibs on any of the figures that she didn't already have. I hoped that she'd find one or two out of the bag of about 20.

Tim dropped them off Sunday night. I had a meeting, and I had to wash and deliver some eggs before that.

Mary called. Out of the 20 figures in that bag, there were 6 of them that she had never seen before. She's tickled pink and so am I!

Monday, August 19, 2019

When the Moon Hits your Eye

It's a funny old world that we live in, isn't it. Small dramas play out before our very eyes, so small that sometimes they are missed. Take the story of the 'card board guy'. He comes around to collect recyclable cardboard twice a day. A good fellow, extremely polite. Quiet. He scarcely spoke when he first started work but now he does. He even asked me my name last month. I think he's pretty shy.

I was working in front of a girl who has a terrible crush on him. She even asked him out. I know this, because I heard another girl who works beside her saying, "I give you a lot of credit. You found the nerve, and you asked him out. Kudos to you!"

I gathered that he said no. I kind of get it. The girl is pretty immature. I pegged her for someone in her 20s, but she's in her 40s. She used up her vacation very early in the year and now takes a lot of days without pay, because her parents give her money. Her efficiencies are low because she talks too much, and she's generally talking about how she can't make the efficiencies and it's not fair. I tried to help her long ago, but I quickly saw that she doesn't want help so much as she wants someone to step in there and simply do it for her. Sounds harsh, I know. She's nice, but she's never quite learned to stand on her own two feet.

So she watches the cardboard guy go by with big moon-y eyes.

The thing is the cardboard guy has a terrible crush on another girl. That one is bold and brash and flashy. She talks quite nicely to the cardboard guy, but as soon as he's gone, she begins to make terrible fun of him to everyone around her. He's asked her out multiple times, and she's turned him down every time. making sure that everyone knows how indignant she is that cardboard man would ask HER out.

So every day, the cardboard guy goes by her with big moon-y eyes.

No one tells the cardboard man, "I give you a lot of credit. You found the nerve and you asked her out. Kudos to you."

It's a funny old world we live in, isn't it?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Grandma

I skyped with Cara again. It's always so nice to hear from her. They're in Georgia now after a stay in Turkey. I asked about their lodging, and she showed me their small and neat BnB. They've got it for a couple weeks and don't know where they're headed next. 

She noted that the living quarters came with a Georgian grandma next door who brings her cookies and fruit and special coffee, kisses her on both cheeks and was currently in the garden with Mack the cat settled comfortably on her lap. 

That's a quite a nice feature for a BnB. I hope they feature it in their advertising.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Cast Iron Memory

The property that came we bought 3 years ago to build our retirement home came with a ramshackle little house chockablock full of contents. The woman walked out and sold it to her grandson. He walked out and we bought it.

I knew the owner, and I contacted her to let her know that she was certainly welcome to come and go through the house and take anything that she wanted. I also contacted her son, a kid that I'd graduated with and offered the same thing to him and his siblings. Both Mary and Dave thanked me, but never came to clear out. 

Out of the blue, I received a message on facebook. The person asked if we were the ones who had bought the property. I advised her that we were. She said "I know it's a long shot, but there's a cast iron frying pan...." I read the message to Tim and he immediately said, "Yeah. That's in the stove." 

Now her aunt and uncle live across the road, so when we went to camp yesterday, I ducked across the road with that frying pan. Pat didn't recognize me at first, and her eyes went wide as they went from my face to the frying pan in my hand. I said, "It's me, Debby, Anna's sister. I heard Junior was giving you lip and so I brought you something to straighten him out with." She recognized me then, and laughed out loud. 

I told her the story of the frying pan and told her that she had a niece who would be stopping by for it. She studied it a bit incredulously. "Why would she want this old thing?" 

Funny, isn't it? The things that evoke the most powerful memories can be the most ordinary things. 






Something that makes me smile!

Iris in the rocking chair her great-great grandparents bought for her grandma nearly 60 years back.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Not Tired

Tim made an early appointment to have the new tires put on the car. (TireS because the tires on it were very expensive ~ they came on the car when we bought it ~ and Tim didn't want to replace the one expensive tire with another expensive tire, so he bought two new front tires).

Anyhoo.

Tim made the appointment at 7, which meant that he and William had to be up and moving much earlier than usual. When he told William about the appointment, and what time they would be getting up,

William looked at him and said, "That's WAY early."

Tim said, "Yes. That's why you're going to bed early."

William was not happy about this and protested. Tim stood firm.

William headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth with one last parting shot. "You're a barbarian."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Flat Tire, revisited

When we went back and found the wire, something else we noticed is that where they had 'skimmed' the road, they had laid that wire grid work open, torn some of it free. In one place, there was even a foot long section standing loose and facing into oncoming traffic. 

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that the situation needed to be addressed. So I went to the court house with my piece of wire. They sent me to the municipal building. The folks at the municipal building in turn called PennDot who said that it was a contractor doing the road work there.

They took the information for me and filed a 430 claim.

In the meantime, I told each stop about the wires poking up in the road at the intersection of North Parker and Pennsylvania Ave. At each telling, people seemed shocked to hear this, and acted as if they personally were going to rectify the situation.

Long story short: they haven't. But I am grateful that it appears that we will recoup at least part of the cost.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It Finally Happened

So...you all know how I have a cell phone but I never remember to take it with me. I mean, I can't have it at work. I worry about leaving it in a hot car all the time, so I think, well, I'll carry it with me when I travel, just in case of emergency....except that I never remember to grab it. 

I've often said that I have a cell phone in case of emergencies, and I don't carry it because I'm afraid if I do, I'll have one of those emergencies. 

I crack myself up. 

Anyways, William and I went to RimRock to do some hiking today. He did some rock climbing. We went down into tunnels. It was all very exciting, especially for a grandma with a bum knee. At one point, we did get in to a spot that I did not think I was going to be able to get out of, but I struggled my way out of that, climbed through the tunnel, and clambered up the other side. That could have been an emergency, but it wasn't. 

Driving home, we came through a construction zone. There was a mild thump from the front of the car, nothing alarming at all. I was watching the flagman and following the cars in front of me. Suddenly, the idiot light that shows a tire with an exclamation mark, lit up. At precisely the same moment, from the rear seat, a little voice says, "You got a flat tire." 

I was a bit astonished that the car and the boy realized this great news at the exact same moment. "How do you know?" I asked, and he said, "Can't you hear it?" and he demonstrated, "PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS" from the back seat. 

Now, William and I had been talking, and I'd shut the radio off to hear him better, so I couldn't even use that as an excuse. "No. I can't hear that," I said, guiding the car through the construction and looking for a place to pull off. William offered the comforting observation that 'young hearing is better than old hearing'. 

I could tell it was bad, because that tire went from a flashing light to the 'flubbity flubbity flubbity" stage in a matter of seconds. I pulled into the first parking lot, a graveled lot next to a tattoo parlor.

Wunnerful.

I locked the car and William and I began the trek home. William offered up, helpfully, "Grandma, if you had your cell phone, we could call grandpa." 

Yes. Yes, we could. 




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Planning

Tim wanted me to help him plan out the bathroom at the Wayne St. house. It had been my idea to turn a large closet in the bathroom into a designated shower area so that we could keep the clawfoot tub. Our bathroom has a shower head and a wrap around shower curtain for our clawfoot tub, and I'm not a fan of that set up.

After thinking about it, Tim decided I was right about the separate shower. I suggested putting a glass block window vertically to make the area brighter. Tim decided to put another glass block window the same size, but horizontally over the clawfoot tub. It has made the whole area amazingly bright, and he's happy with our decision.

He wants to keep the old fashioned sink as well as the clawfoot tub. They are both in great shape. We decided to tile in the old fashioned white tile with black trim, something that would be true to the fixtures in the bathroom.

We walked around figuring the layout, came up with a plan that both of us liked a lot, and then closed up the house and headed home.

As we headed down a little alley to the main road, we saw a white haired, bearded soul struggling with a cast iron parlor stove. He had part of it set at the end of his driveway. It was such a beautiful thing that both of us went, "Ohhhhhhhh...." at the same time.

We stopped the car and walked back. The guy had bought it at an auction, but never got around to hooking it up. Now he was getting his house ready for market and just wanted it gone. If we wanted it, it was free.

I didn't even have to look at Tim to know that we DID want it, and we wanted it something awful.
It's heavy as heck, but it will be a fine little stove 
for our enclosed porch on our retirement home. 

Iris is one

Sometimes, you gotta pick yourself up....
Give your tutu a fluff

and keep right on going!

Iris' actual birthday is not until tomorrow, but there was a swell party this weekend, and we all enjoyed ourselves very much. Happy birthday, sweet girl!