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!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

There but for the grace of God

I was in the church office doing the bulletins for our churches. We have a Wednesday night service at 5:30 and I heard the people coming in, but to be perfectly frank, I was hungry. I had come straight from work at 3:30 and was just finishing up at 5:30. I hadn't had supper yet, and I've been known to get 'hangry' from time to time, so I figured to finish up and head for home and supper.

A friend's husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer today. They are no older than Tim and I.  The awful news flew through the church and straight into the church office where I was closing up. By the time that I got to the lobby, the doors to the church were closed, the service had started, and through the glass, I could see her sitting quietly with a bowed head.

Indecisively, I stood at the door a moment. The service is for contemplatives, and although I consider myself to be one, I felt it was not wise to interrupt it.

I headed outside, and headed for the car. Quite suddenly, the last thing on my mind was my empty stomach.

No Posts Because...

10 hour work days for the foreseeable future.

Fair week.

Part time office work. 

Leaving for Iris' first birthday celebration in two days. 


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Rocking Chair

A long time ago, when I was three, I had gone to my grandparents' house, and they had a big rocking chair that I fell in love with. I rocked and rocked in that chair. I rocked so contentedly, people remarked on it.

When we returned home, to the house of no rocking chairs, I must have missed it something awful. I don't remember being put down for my nap, creeping out of bed to my bank, getting two pennies, and heading off down the middle of a busy street to look for a store where I could buy a rocking chair.

I don't remember being picked up by the police who were trying to figure out what to do with me when my frantic mother came around the corner to claim me. She marched me back home, spanking me every step of the way.

What I do remember is a huge box arriving at our house. It contained two child sized rockers, one for me and one for my sister.

I've had that chair for nearly 60 years now. All my children rocked in it. William rocked in it. He would have had first dibs on it, but he and his mother lived with us for a while, and by the time they left, he'd outgrown it.

But now we have Iris. Her first birthday is coming up next weekend, and we were hardpressed on what to get her. She has about every toy known to mankind and if she collects too much more, Dylan and Brittani will have to move out. We decided that the most practical thing was to just give money for her college fund.

But. It's her first birthday.

I wanted to do something special. Last night, laying in bed pondering things, I thought about that rocker. She lives across the state and traveling with her is hard. I know how quickly children grow.

I also know that as much as I love my old things, my children do NOT love my old things. I sent a cautious message to see if it would okay for Iris to have that little rocking chair. I sent a picture. I waited.

They said yes, I could give her the chair.

I'm so happy.

So I made sure that Brittani knew the story, so that Iris will know the story too. Next week, I will give her a chair that was bought by her great-great-grandparents. I will give her the chair that her grandmother loved, and that her father rocked in when he was a little boy.

Who knows? Maybe she'll grow up to love the marble topped dresser and the high victorian bed upstairs too.


Friday, August 2, 2019

Waking up.

I get up at 4 in the morning. That is because I don't fall out of bed all wide awake and bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. I am bleary eyed, I head for the coffee pot, pack my lunch, a sit down at the computer to wake up slowly. By the time that my cup of coffee is finished, I'm usually perked up enough to head to the shower. By the time that I leave the house at 5:30, I'm pretty much awake, but I'm not sure the phrase 'bright eyed' will ever actually apply to me. Open-eyed will have to do. 

Anyways, just a little thing that I noticed: I am rarely asleep when the alarm goes off. I tend to wake up about 10 minutes before. I lay in the dark for a few minutes waiting for the alarm. On the days that I don't go to work, I often (but not always) wake up at 4. 

We are in the middle of a big project at work. I got pulled from my regular department to QC about a month ago, and we are working 10 hour days at this point. This is something that will go on for weeks. I now have to be to work at 5 am, so I set the alarm for 3. What I noticed is right from the beginning, I began to wake up a few minutes before 3. 

The only thing that I can think of is that I have a bunch of weighted or keywound clocks that chime. I wonder if subconsciously I'm hearing and registering that? I just think it's interesting. Anybody else like that?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Shoes

I listened to a discussion. One person was exclaiming over the fact that she knew of children who had never been outside the county. 

I said, "Look around. Do you realize how many children are growing up in families who don't even own a CAR?" 

Silence as everyone digested this. It was obvious that they didn't. 

I'm a pretty lucky woman, but life used to be quite a struggle. As much as people want to claim that poverty is solely the fault of poor decision making, I can tell you that this is not always the case, from personal experience. 

I carried the two shoeboxes into church today, remembering the time when my own Dylan was young, back in the days when life was a struggle. I remember him saying that his shoes hurt his feet. That payday, I took him to get new shoes and I was shocked to discover that his feet had grown two sizes since I'd bought his last shoes for him. The shoes had obviously been pinching his feet for some time. 

I remember the shame I felt that day, just a sick shame that I could not afford shoes for my children.

Today, I set my shoe boxes in the collection box, thinking of two little boys who will receive of those shoes. I hope they are as tickled with them as William was with his new sneakers. 


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Be kind.

Tim and I were headed down a side street when we noticed an elderly man struggling to get a wooden sofa frame onto a dolly. He looked about done in and his wife was sitting on the steps looking just as beat. It was a hot humid day. We had been dodging the threat of thunderstorms for most of it.

"We need to stop and give them a hand," I said. Without one word, Tim swung the car to the curb and we got out.

"Hey," I said, "Looks like you could use a hand!"

He answered, "On a day like today, if you're fool enough to offer, I'm fool enough to take you up on it."

We all laughed, and I said, "Well, there's never been a situation that I couldn't make worse."

He said, "Yeah. I've got friends just like you."

More laughter.

We got to it. Tim said, "It would go a lot easier if you unstrap the dolly, now that we're all here," and he quickly agreed. And one, two, three, just like that we finagled it into their home.

That humble little home was freshly painted, but still smelled highly of long gone cats. We didn't get the grand tour, but there was no flooring, just a subfloor. The windows were old and dry rotted.

They said, "We really can't thank you enough," and we said, "well, we really can't say 'you're welcome' enough either, so lets just call it a draw."

Recently, it has been brought to my attention, again and again, the small stories of this world, the tiny dramas that play out all around us, the ones that give us an opportunity to act, or not act. The choice is ours. All I know is that no act of kindness goes to waste in this big sad world


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cara and Colin

I happened to be on my computer at the same time Cara was. Cara and Colin spent the last couple months traveling around Spain. They even walked into a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere (these little cafes provide internet connection with their coffee) and were shocked out of their socks to meet a colleague from Afghanistan. Hard to believe that this is their second year gone from there.

Anyways, they were in Spain, as far as I knew, but she mentioned that she'd taken Mack to a Spanish vet who gave them a calming spray to make journeying with him in a car a bit easier.

I said, "So where are you headed?" and that was all she wrote...the dicey internet had failed again.

The next time we were on at the same time, probably a week ago, I asked where they were and she said Paris. They'd gone to Lourdes and took some very cool tours around the city. I asked if the calming spray had helped the traveling cat and she allowed that it had, which was very good news indeed.

We chatted for a while but I was at work, and my break was over in 15 minutes.

Yesterday, once again, in a moment of glorious synchronicity, we were on at the same time again. I asked where she was, and the answer came out of left field. They're in Georgia. The country, not the state.

Now Tim's cousin, David Mack, is a comic book illustrator. He actually was teaching art at a university over there during June's civil unrest. It got a little dicey for him, but he showed up at the family bread baking, albeit late,  and was none the worse for wear. Furthermore, he claims to have enjoyed his experiences there for the most part.

But back to Cara and Colin:

Me: *blink* "What are you doing there?"

Cara: We've never been here before, and the ballets and symphonies are supposed to be amazing, and it is only a hop, skip, and a jump to Istanbul."

Me: "Whoa."

Cara: What?

Me: You need to get some sort of directional signals or something. I never quite know what direction you both are headed in next.

She said that they wanted to get their fill of traveling, and I said that I was glad that they are living the life of their own choosing. Not many get to do that.

And then lunch was over. I gathered up my hummus and headed back to work.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Coming home from work, I saw a man pulling a pedal car, pushing his bike, with a small boy, maybe 3-4 running along ahead. There was quite a bit of traffic.

I pulled my car over, put on the four ways and walked back to him.

"Do you need help?" He assured me that he was nearly home, gesturing to a trailer park.

"Is anyone at your house, because if you put the car and the bike down behind the guard rail, I can give you both a ride home, and then you can come back and get them."

"No, he assured me, "we're fine."

I tried to puzzle out ways to help him, but I couldn't. He obviously isn't going to send the little boy home with me. The pedal car and his bike aren't going to fit in my car. "I feel terrible leaving you."

Once again, he assured me that they were nearly home and he thanked me for stopping.

Reluctantly, I walked back to the car, wishing that I had my cell phone. (Still safely plugged in at home...) I knew that Tim would have zipped over with the truck.

I put on my signal and waited for traffic to clear. I was halfway home when it occurred to me.

I should have taken the bike, or the pedal car so that he could hold his little boy's hand. I could have walked with them.

I turned around at my first chance and made my way back, but they were gone.

The answer was so simple that I drove home feeling very ashamed.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

My Tim

The play is over, and I am glad for it. It was a crazy amount of rehearsals. I enjoyed very much researching my character, Martha Coffin Wright. It was an astounding thing to read the thoughts of a very contemporary mind who was born in 1806.

What I did not expect was walking into the Seneca Wesleyan Chapel for the first time and finding myself with tears in my eyes.

It was very hot, 93 degrees in an unairconditioned building. I made up my mind to not do the corset. I did not buy a corset for a one time event, but I did drag out the spanx, the modern day version of the corset. It was too hot and I left the garment in my suitcase.

Tim and I did a lot of walking, and he was just as interested in the history as I was, and lord knows, he's been hearing a lot about Martha for several weeks now. He was interested in the history of the town, and Seneca Falls is also the mythical Bedford Falls of "It's a Wonderful Life". He was also quite interested in the industry there. It is also  situated on the Erie Canal, so there was a lot of things to learn. We tried to cram it all in between performances.

We were at the Women's Rights National Park which was in high gear for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. Lots of events, of which my group was one, lots of presentations, lots of activities.

There was an activity going on at the museum. They were making old fashioned commemorative buttons. "Give Women the Vote" and things of that nature. They also permitted the kids to make their own buttons if they wanted. Tim wanted me to make one for William. I didn't have the time and suggested he do it.

So he did.

The man made a button that says "William RULES!" right there in the middle of the Woman's Rights Museum. He showed it to me later. Shocked, I said, "Tim, for pete's sake...." and he said, "I was going to make one that said 'Boys Rule!' but I knew that would be wrong.

My Tim.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Uncle Hermie

Tim's Uncle Hermie has been gone for probably 4 years now. Still, during the family reunion, his name invariably comes up. He was the master of the outdoor brick oven and he taught Tim. So now Tim goes early to get the oven ready for the bread making for the family reunion.

I sat listening to Dave and Gene swapping Uncle Hermie stories and this one made me laugh:

Uncle Hermie was a pilot. He had a little airplane he flew all over the place from a little airport across the road from where his brother's farm with the brick oven still stands, now in the reliable hands of a younger generation of his bloodline.

Gene lived on that little farm and was Uncle Herman's nephew, the son of Herman's brother Harold. Now when Gene was young, he would play baseball with his friend across the road at the airport. They knew to get out of the way when a plane flew in. It wasn't anything fancy, just a mowed strip where a plane could land, just perfect for boys honing their baseball skills.

They heard a plane coming in and scooted out of the way. The plane landed and taxied right up to them. Two men got out, and the older one said, "Do you know Herman __________? Gene allowed that it was his uncle who lived about 8 miles away. In those days, getting there would have been a problem and not everyone had a phone.

The man asked them if they wanted to go for a ride before he left and they certainly did. They clambered aboard, and they flew, and Gene said that you could tell this man knew his stuff. He didn't razzle dazzle them with tricks like Uncle Hermie, but he was a darn good pilot. When they commented on this, he said that it was his nephew's plane and that his nephew (in the copilot's seat) was the one flying the plane.

As young as they were, they knew that this was not true. They could tell who was flying that plane.

After a nice ride, he brought them back to the landing strip, and dropped them off. "Don't forget!" he called out. "Tell Herman that Floyd W----------- came looking for him." He took off.

The next time that Gene saw his uncle, he told him that Floyd had flown in and gave him a ride. Uncle Herman looked incredulous. "Are you sure?" he wanted to know. "Because Floyd hasn't had a pilot's license since they put him in the mental hospital."

70 years later, we laughed ourselves silly over it.

I cannot remember whether it was his mother or his wife, but that woman did not like Floyd. He scared her. But Uncle Herman didn't mind him. They traveled all over the country in their little plane.

I miss that man.

Happiness

Very exciting news. Tim has had a truck that he's worked on, off and on (mostly off) for several years now. It was moved from our house in Scandia. It was moved from the house in Pleasant Township, and now it is moved to our house.

Today it runs.

He's a happy man.

We have 3 rehearsals left. I have studied hard, but during rehearsal tonight, I fumbled a line, an easy one, it struck me: "What in God's name was I thinking???!!"

I have no answer to that.

When this thing is done, I'll be a happy woman.






Baby Talk

Very curious about this:

I listened to some chatter today. The two women were talking in 'baby voices'. I was kind of surprised ~ I mean who DOES this? I've heard them talk before, and I guess that I wouldn't call this their normal voices. I listened, and kind of marveled at it, even as I thought that it might be something that could get annoying after a while.

I honestly don't think I've heard this before, but as the conversation grew to include more people, 3 other women began to respond in 'baby voices'.

Is this a 'thing' now?


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Work

Today, I was working in a different department. They have a huge number of fans, big industrial ones. They oscillate, but I had two of them blowing directly on my desk at regular intervals from opposite sides of my table. My hair was in my face, I was having trouble keeping my papers in place. I was freezing, having dressed in a teeshirt for my regular desk.

I asked and got a clip board for my papers and made up my mind to head directly to the car on first break and grab the light jacket I had on the back seat. Then I settled in to work.

About a half hour into things, a woman stood up and said, "Is anyone else cold? I'm FREEZING!" and I said I was. A half dozen people (out of probably 8 or 9) said they were cold.

At that point, the fecal material hit the rotary oscillator.

Two women who have a lot of years in the company and consider themselves part of the management team began to yell, and I do mean yell. They said that the fans could not be shut off.

The woman who brought the subject up said, "Listen, we're all cold, all of us..." and they said, "Then you should have dressed warmly. You can always put more clothes on. We cannot take them off."

I'm not from the department, and someday I'd like to work there, so figuring out the dynamics of the place interests me. I could have pointed out that I came to work that morning with no idea that I would be working in a different department, but I didn't. I aggravate people enough as it is, so I just kept quiet, kept on working and listening. It continued to get heated, and then some taunts were exchanged.

The woman who initiated the complaint turned her music up and said, "You know, I'm not even listening to you anymore. You're selfish. Most of the people here are cold, but you only care about yourself."

The two old timers complained back and forth for some time. "It's MY body. I'm HOT!" and "If they turn off the fans, I'm leaving early". etc. etc. etc.

They got no further argument from the music lady. She just listened to her music and ignored them.

That made them mad, and before long they were bellowing, "Turn down your radio!" and they followed it up with "You're not the only one working in this department!!!!"

Irony.

The opposite of wrinkly.


Monday, July 8, 2019

The Answer Comes

You know, I'm a person that feels like everything is my responsibility. No matter what it is, I feel like I have to fix it, make it right. Except in the real world, I can't. It doesn't come right, and there's not one goddamn thing that I can do to fix it.

It doesn't stop me from trying though. I guess that I've been tilting at windmills for all of my 62 years.  I've spent my life trying to make things right. I don't know why I'm like this but it has always been this way. I remember that awful sense of responsibility even as a very young child.

This past weekend, I ran smack up against something that shocked me wordless. I drove a couple hundred miles playing the thing over and over in my mind. What should I have done? What should I have said? I mean it's not a good situation and any fool with eyes can see it and this fool surely did.

What is my responsibility? What should I do? How can I fix it? The questions created quite a ruckus in my mind as I played various scenarios over and over in my mind.

And then it happened, For the first time in my 62 years of beating myself up looking for answers, I finally saw the answer to these questions clearly. 

Nothing.

There was a quietness in my mind as I pondered this answer.

I think that is exactly what I shall do.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Nurse Talk

Tim came to me, flexing his arm, pointing to a bright red bulleye on his bicep.

I gasped out loud. "Did you have a tick?" He didn't think so. He remembered a funny sensation from the previous day, He scratched it absentmindedly, didn't give it a second thought until he was drying off after a shower and noticed the big bullseye.

We had a mild winter here, and the ticks are bad. I have quiet but paranoid hissy fits every time that we go to the camp, feeling like something is crawling on me. I use Cutters and I never go into the woods without blousing my pant legs. Tim just crashes through like he always does.

I said, "Tim, you need to call the doctor tomorrow. I'm going to guess that you had a tick and that's a dangerous thing to ignore, especially with that rash. That's exactly what they tell you to be looking for."

He said, "Do you really think I should?"

Me: "Yes. I really think you should."

Conversation next day: "Did you call?"

"Well, I was going to, but I got busy."

"TIM!"

"The redness is going away. Look."

That's pretty much the way it goes. I remember one time, coming home from work to discover that he'd fallen off a ladder. His arm hung limply. He could not lift it.

I flipped out. Tried to drag him to the emergency room. He wouldn't go. We argued. He assured me that he'd go to the doctor the very next morning, but he wasn't wasting money on an ER visit. I didn't trust him because I had to go to work and he works for himself, and I knew he'd find some damn reason not to go.

So I called my sister the nurse. She was horrified and demanded I give him the phone. I'll never know what she said to him, but he had his skinny butt off the couch when the conversation was over. We went to the ER. It was serious, and required surgery.

My sister stopped by to see the progress on the Wayne St. house and to give him holy hannah about the untreated tick bite.

He closed up shop early and called the doctor.

Is that a class nurses take? Or is it a super power? I don't know, but I need me some of that.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Margie.

I went to a party yesterday to celebrate a friend's citizenship. I knew some of the people there from work, but there were a lot of her friends there who were also immigrants. I met her husband who adores her. My nephew's stepmother was there, so I got to catch up on them, since we don't see them often. They both are working 9 hours a day, six days a week so they were unable to make the hour and a half trip.

Margie started the 'program' by singing the Philippine national anthem, and soft voices joined hers. She hung the Filipino flag. We all sang our national anthem, and she hung an American flag right next to it.

Then there was food, lots and lots of food. Things that I'd never had before. Things that I need to learn the names of so I can make at home.

In the middle of this, in walked a man and his Filipino wife. He was wearing a MAGA hat and he was brash and loud. His wife sat quietly next to him except when she was bringing him food. 

What I noticed is that they pretty much were alone. My husband sat with the other husbands. The women mingled, everyone admiring Pita's brand new grandson, taking pictures, talking. I sat with other women, talking about family and work, and laughing.

I was astonished to find that most of them worked two jobs. Our work lets out at 2:30, and they go to another factory and punch in at 3:15. They work until 8, and they work Saturdays too.

One of them was getting her master's degree, and because she is working part time, she is replacing the windows in her house.

When we were leaving, my friend pressed us to take food. "It's what we do," she said, "Everybody make the food, and we all take home." And they did. She had an entire garbage bag full of plastic food ware so that people could take containers of food when they left. I left my humble texas sheet cake to be divided up too.

Tim and I walked across the perfectly kept yard on the way to our car. "That was fun," we agreed.

Make America Great Again.




Sunday, June 30, 2019

I got to skype with Cara and Colin who are on their third BNB as they roam in Spain. It was wonderful to see their faces. It was like sitting across from them over a hot cuppa...but at the same time it wasn't like that at all.

We talked for nearly two hours as they sat on one of their house's three balconies. I could hear the children running and screaming and setting off fire crackers, but what was neatest thing is watching the light slowly fade as the day slowly ended.

Their battery finally began to fade too, and they gave me one last view from their corner of the world...the view of their night sky.

I'm not sure why that felt so meaningful to me, but it took my breath away.

Still does.

Martha

Martha Coffin Wright was a Quaker. As a Quaker, she was a peacemaker. She was also an ardent feminist and women's right activist, and an abolitionist who counted Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass as close friends. 

After the play, the cast will be asked to mingle with the audience and be prepared to answer their questions, so I've been reading about Martha.

Things got heated during an antislavery convention/discussion and she said, sweetly, "Do you know the difference between a bird with one wing and a bird with two wings? It is the matter of a pinion." 

Awesome. 

The woman loved puns, just like me! You can believe that line will be worked in. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Grandpa and William

William earned his cub scout pocket knife, and he's plenty excited about that, but since it's part of his cub scout uniform, his mom doesn't want him to carry full time until he's a little older, because...well...the kid loses stuff.

He was at our house complaining bitterly about this.

His grandpa explained that he couldn't carry all the time. He goes to a STEM program for 1/2 day, and carrying it inside a public school would get him in VERY. BIG. TROUBLE.

It did not matter to William. He's a working man. For the second half of the day, he works with his grandpa, something that requires work boots and earns him the princely sum of a $1 a day. He gets the added bonus of being able to take a break whenever he feels like it. Yesterday, he worked on priming the porch and he was very proud of that.

Anyway, he continued to argue with his grandpa. As a working man, a pocket knife is nearly a requirement to his way of thinking. Grandpa is never without a pocket knife and he uses it frequently through the day.

Tim has a collection of pocket knives, so he sorted through and came up with a small pen knife that would be suitable for William. There was a long talk about this. As in: it doesn't go to school. At the end of the day, it is stored *right here* and it will be ready and waiting when he gets his work boots on after school.

So William was quite excited. He really does want to be like his grandpa and in my mind, he could choose to emulate worse people.

Today after work, I stopped in at the Wayne St. house. William was hugging his mother when I pulled up. When he saw me, he came over and brandished a bandaged finger. "I cut myself," he announced.

"On what?" I wanted to know right away. There are plenty of things there that would require a tetanus shot, just to be on the safe side.

"With my knife," he said airily. "I was whittling."

"Jees," I said to Tim. "Maybe this knife thing isn't such a good idea..." William looked outraged and began to protest right away.

Mildly, Tim said, "It's fine. That's how he learns. It's not a bad cut at all," and then he said to William, "You need to watch what you're doing when you use a knife."

William said, "Yep."


Monday, June 24, 2019

Marital Conversations

I've got a cousin who was injured pretty badly probably 8 years ago, when a deer leaped in front of his truck and came through the windshield. He wasn't supposed to make it, but he did, but life is much different for him now.

One of the things that he had been privately grieving about was that he could no longer hunt. We were talking one day and he mentioned it. "Even if I did find a place to hunt, if I shot anything, I'd never be able to drag it out."

I listened to him talking. I've been married to a deer hunter long enough to know that I should never speak for him on the matter, but I did come home and talk to him about my cousin (also named Tim). The camp has a shooting shanty that Cousin Tim would be able to drive right up to. He'd be able to sit. If he got a deer, he'd have a batch of relatives within shouting distance to help him drag it, load it, etc. Before I asked, my Tim said, "Well, we could set him right up in Grand Valley..." and so it was done.

My cousin has been beside himself with delight. He graduated from seminary (funny side story: my cousin is Father Tim at our church) last month, and he received a cash prize for his sermons at his graduation for seminary. (He was ordained a couple years back, but was finishing up his schooling.) His wife urged him to take the prize money and buy himself a bow. He needs a special bow, because he had a bone removed from his wrist as they pieced him back together and there is some nerve damage, so he can't pull back on a regular crossbow. He wanted to get a cranking one.

I stopped in at church to drop off something and he hailed me from his office. He got his bow. He got his hunting license. He was unbelievably excited about it. He was in the middle of writing his sermon but wanted to run out to the car and tell Tim all about it.

We had a cookout Saturday, and Cousin Tim and his wife Noreen came. There was lots of other family there and so we suggested that My Tim be Tim 1 and Cousin Tim be Tim 2. And if he got a buck, he could be Tim Buck 2. Crazy talk, the talk of family. We thought we were hilarious.

Tim 2's bow is a dandy. It cost $1500. We were flabbergasted. I noted that he paid quite a bit more per pound for his venison than we did, and he goodnaturedly observed that if he didn't get a deer, that Noreen would shoot HIM with the bow.  They had some target shooting.  My Tim shot it and got a perfect bulleye which raised a hullaballoo. I saw the two Tims' heads together as they examined the bow and discussed it.

Afterwards, when everyone had left and we were closing up shop to leave too, Tim said, wistfully, "That really is the nicest bow I've ever seen..." and I answered, "You're Tim and he's Tim, but I'm not Noreen."

He laughed, and said, "Oh, I don't need anything that fancy."

Today he told me he found that bow for $1200.

Me: (examining myself) "I'm still not Noreen."

That woman has set the bar pretty high.


Low Tech.

I am a pretty sad case, really. Tim and I share a cell phone. It's not much of an issue. We're usually together, but if I go far from home, I borrow the cell phone. If there's an emergency, I just have to hope that he's home to take the call. We've never actually HAD an emergency, so it's a moot point.

Anyways, this last trip to Blandon was for 5 days and I was taking the cell phone. Tim suggested that he buy one for himself, because he was not happy with the fact that he did not get cell phone reception at the camp with the phone that I was borrowing. He also didn't like to be out of reach from the tenants, and a couple people that are working for him.

After some discussion, we decided to go ahead and do it, so now that we've both got cell phones, say that I'm stopping in at the grocery store to pick something up, I can let him know that I'll be a little late from work. Or ask him what I was going to pick up. So much more convenient to have two phones.

Except that I've never actually remembered to unplug the cell phone from its charger and take it with me.  Not. One. Time.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Weather and kitchens.

After the flooding, a transformer damaged by the weather blew downtown. Since the brains to our computers are located downtown, we ended up leaving work Friday on a half day. I headed home, but stopped at the house renovation to see if the power outage extended to there. Tim's new helper was working on the exterior of the garage, Tim was roughing in a window for the kitchen, Debbie was stripping wallpaper from the dining room (a pity it couldn't be saved, because I liked it, but years of cigarette smoke in an old house nixed that.) 

I spent an cheerful afternoon stripping wall paper and blabbing. It was fun. An old buffet, which is beyond repair will be burned, but Tim was looking at the legs on it, elegantly turned legs. 4 of them. Not broken. He believes he can mend the secretary desk. 

We've been debating the kitchen for some time time now. It is very small, but there is an old floor to ceiling cupboard. Imagine this, without the glass fronts. It's along this line and a gorgeous focal point, however,  it takes up a lot of room but provides no counter space. By the time that you add the other kitchen appliances, you've got a tiny kitchen with very little work space. 

We've been debating this for some time. 
Behind this cupboard is a wall behind which is a second set of stairs leading to the second floor. Last night we decided that the second flight of stairs to the landing was not needed and that it would add a good deal of space to that kitchen. We're going to try to move that old cupboard to a new wall and knock out the wall to make additional kitchen space. 

The rain has stopped and given the water some time to go down, which is good, because the rain will begin again Monday morning. 

Making our hay while the sun shines, we've got a family picnic at the camp this afternoon. 

Have a good weekend everyone. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

This and That

I've always wanted a secretary desk. You know the old tall ones, with the book shelves, glass fronted, drop down desk door. Well, there's one at the hoarder's house, and I was very excited when I saw this. I claimed it for my own, and plotted the perfect place for it. Well, we finally got enough stuff out of the house that we could move that desk out of there and to that special spot I had picked for it on the second floor of the house.

It somehow managed to get dropped. Twice. It now is a secretary desk with (!!!!!) three broken legs. The glass did not break, but I think my heart has, a little. 

Another thing that I've noticed. We spent hours yesterday on act one of the play, coordinating our movements about the stage with the script. Moving naturally around the stage looks effortless. It is not. Who knew?

The rehearsal dragged past nine. I finally said, "Listen, my alarm goes off at 4 am. I really cannot stay any longer," and I headed home. 

It had been a beautiful day, no rain. By the time I got home, thunder was rumbling off in the distance. I fell asleep to a thunder storm, which is one of my favorite ways to fall asleep. The rain was coming down. I woke up to the sound of my cell phone screaming a flash flood alert, which is not my favorite way to wake up. Tim happened to be awake in the other room and came out to shut off the alert (the screaming just continues on until you actually open the message and read it). 

I fell back asleep and the alarm went off at 4. The alarm going off at 4 is also not my favorite way to wake up, but that's a story for another day. 

And it is raining still.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Man Brains

Tim's been working on his Cub Cadet. It's an old garden tractor and for some reason, he's intent on getting it up and running. Packages arrive from all over the place and he heads out to the tractor with them, dead certain that this is the part he needs to finally get that tractor up and running.  So far, it's still not running.

I don't really understand what the big deal is. We don't need a lawn tractor in town and at the camp, he has a brush hog and two full size tractors. We do the trim with a hand mower, and there is really not a lot of it.

But he's keen to get that lawn tractor up and running. Tonight he was explaining that he hadn't understood that the magneto needed to turn around and that's what made the spark that started the engine. He's been doing a lot of on line reading, so he expounded at great length. There's really no reason why the thing shouldn't start up, as far as he can see.

I said, "That's interesting," even though it wasn't, not really, and I've been listening to tractor talk for a couple weeks now. He continued to talk on for some time.

He said, "I saw online that some guy has an engine for this out near where Dylan and Brittani live. He wants $300. for it."

I'm headed back out there in four weeks, so I said, "Well, if you want it, I'm willing to pick it up while I'm out there."

He looks at me. "I could have bought the whole tractor from a local guy for $350 a few weeks ago!"

I said, "Tim, was that tractor running?"

He grinned. "No. It wasn't." I open my mouth to tell him that I cannot see why on earth we need two of the same tractors in non-running condition, but he said, "The guy told me that there was no reason why the thing shouldn't start up, as far as he can see."

Man brains.

Late Edit: He's excited. He knows what the problem is THIS time: It's got the wrong coil. He just needs to order a part...






Monday, June 17, 2019

Cheese

William and I read before bed. Although he is a very good reader, he likes to be read to. We're currently reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my very favorite series from when I was a child. William loves hearing about 'the olden days'. I think in his mind, Laura Ingalls and I grew up together.

William is amazed by the thought that Laura and her family don't run to the store when they need something. We've made butter before, so he knows how that works. He helps in the garden, so he knows about how things grow. His grandpa is a hunter, so he knows that you bring home meat when you shoot a deer. At the family bread baking last year, Tim's cousin Carol gave him a piece of honey comb which sparked a real curiosity about bees, and so he understood the story about Pa and the Bee Tree. We pick berries. We bake. He knows from whence his food does come.

What dumbfounded him was cheese making. He had a thousand questions about cheese, and cheese curds and whey.

I explained. Back in the day, when the kids were little and I was a stay at home mom, we made cheese and yogurt. William listened in fascination. He'd be interested in making cheese except Laura's mother used the stomach lining of a calf for rennet. He loves the calf at his Aunt Anna's. I explained about vegetable rennet.

I think that we'll be making cheese soon.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Diocesan Picnic

Today was the diocesan picnic for our church. The tickets were bought long before we knew the weather report. It was 67 degrees and raining when we set out. By the time we reached Waldameer Park, which is about an hour and a half west of us, it was 54 and raining harder.

We had an outdoor church service in a covered pavilion lead by our bishop, but for me, what made it all worth the price of admission was the words of the 85 year old owner of the park. He welcomed us all to the park, and reminded us that our church (the Episcopal Church) played a pretty big role in the founding of our nation. Without condemning anyone, he managed to make it clear what our responsibilities are in these times. His speech could not have lasted more than three minutes, but it was impressive. He spoke of gratitude, of his good fortune, and of his responsibility to others. He donated the ticket money back to the church to be used to benefit youth programs.

We had a good hot meal, and set out to ride the rides. The good news is that because it was 54 degrees and raining, there were no lines at any of the rides. The bad news is that it was 54 and raining.

William lasted all of an hour and a half before he allowed that he was cold and wet and ready to head home. Nobody argued with him at all.

On the way home he chattered away in the back seat to his mother. "It was a good day! I had fun today!"

His happy chatter warmed my heart, but I still needed that heated seat for the rest of me.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Weather

We've got it set up for our house to get a new roof this summer.

If it ever stops raining. 

What's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Motivation

I am in an historical play, about the first Women's Convention, which was held in Seneca Falls, NY. (Read more here).

I just happened to be scooting out of a store at the same time that the director was scooting in, and she said, "Hey, we were talking about you last night."

I'd done this play with her and some of the others several years ago, locally, but this year the play has been picked up by the Park Service. We will be putting it on IN Seneca Falls, at the very church where it was held in 1848, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. There is a lot of attention paid to historical accuracy and costuming and the like.

It's a far bigger deal than it was the last time I did it.

Anyways, I'm not a professional. I did it last time, because I was on this kick that I should do stuff for no other reason than I'd never done it before. I never had been in a play before. A coworker talked to me about it, and so I did it.

Last time, it was a group of friends, some with more experience than others, but it was sort of laid back. We did wear costumes. I thought they were historically accurate, but what do I know? The first time that I sat down in my hoop skirt, it popped up and smacked me in the face. There was an art to being a woman back in the day.

Anyhow.

At one of the first rehearsals, I did my line, and the question came, "What is your motivation?"

I looked at the director. I sensed immediately that the right answer was NOT "well, my motivation is that it says that right here on page 4 that my character says this, and so I said it..."

I just listened. 'What was my motivation?' It actually sounded kind of pretentious. But I tried to give it serious consideration. But in being asked this question over and over, in hearing others being asked this question, over and over, I find that now, I am sort of applying that question to real life.

"What is my motivation?"

Sometimes I surprise myself with my answers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Keegan

I stood before the stone. It's a nice one. It gives his name, Keegan Joseph, a big name for a tiny boy, and the day of his birth, August 17th. The date of his death, August 18th.

The inscription reads, "If ever comes the time we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever." Three years ago, in the middle of the night, I found those words and knew that they were right. The next morning, when I showed them to my grieving children, they knew that they were right too. 

When I go to visit that little grave, I usually do it by myself so that when I cry, no one sees. Dylan and Brittani have had all they can do to handle their own grief. 

Everytime I get out of that car, I stand before that little stone. I usually get as far as a wistful, "oh I wish..." and it gets no further than that. Because the memories rush back. There are things that I will carry with me forever: the sound of my daughter in law's crying, the look on my son's face as he carried his own son's tiny coffin to a tiny hole. I will never forget the helplessness of those days, the heartbreaking desire to fix it, to make it right, to DO something, ANYTHING...even as I knew nothing I could do would help.

A lot of marriages do not survive the death of a child, but they have weathered it. They almost seem stronger for it. 

After almost two years to the day, along came Iris, their rainbow baby. 

Last weekend, I sat rocking her in the rocker Tim and I bought for them when they decorated that nursery for Keegan. The pictures that Brittani and I found frames and mats for hang on the wall above the toybox. The hunny pot lamp sits on the bookshelf we bought. So many memories. We helped them put that nursery together 3 summers ago, and it was such a precious time, the calm before the most terrible of terrible storms. 

The robin egg blue curtains has been replaced by pink curtains. The changing table now has a pink pad. These small changes make the nursery just as perfect for Iris as it would have been for her brother. 

Iris and I had a beautiful weekend, our first weekend together, filled with rocking, and stories, and playing together, stroller walks around the neighborhood, splashing in the new water table I had shipped ahead. Dylan and Brittani had a beautiful weekend, but I enjoyed my time, learning my beautiful grand daughter. It really was perfect.

I stopped by the cemetery on the way home. It was raining and as I studied the stone, interestingly, I didn't cry this time. My heart was so filled with gratitude, gratitude for Iris. Gratitude for the joy she's brought to her besotted parents. Gratitude that Brittani's eyes are happy, that her old giggle is back. Gratitude for Dylan's obvious pleasure in his little daughter. 

I studied that stone. I realized that for the past 3 years, as Dylan and Brittani grieved for their child, I was grieving for my own children and their pain.  I never got to meet him. I never got to hold him. In a strange way, it suddenly felt as if I'd never really grieved for Keegan himself.

What would he have been? I know that he looked like his father from the few pictures that they have of him. I know that he would be turning three. I imagine that he'd be all about super heroes and running and jumping. I know that he would have loved books. He couldn't have helped it, being read to every day. He would have been beloved. I can tell you that for a fact. Never was a little boy wanted so very much. 

I stood there in the rain and thought of these things. When it was time, I walked back to the car. I drove out of the cemetery. As I waited for traffic to clear so that I could pull out, I caught sight of the balloon that I left behind, one of those big vinyl ones like I got his sister. It bobbed and bounced in the rain. My heart said good bye and once again, I began the 5 hour trip home. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ellie K.

Ellie K.? Just checking in. Please drop me a message. I'm concerned about you.

Iris

Back from my trip to Dylan and Brittani's. The last time I saw Iris, she was a pretty fussy child and to be honest, I went there expecting that she'd be the same little girl I saw the last time.

Surprise!

Dylan left for work the first morning, and Brittani had not arrived home from night shift. When I heard her on the baby monitor, I went into her room expecting the worst. Iris looked through her bed rails at me, a bit surprised but perfectly content to be lifted out of bed and cuddled on the way to the changing table.

We had breakfast and playtime, and it was wonderful fun. Such fun that the following night, I dropkicked Dylan and Brittani out the door for a bonus date night. It's been a long time since they went to see a movie. Their theater has reclining leather seats, beer and appetizers. Quite honestly, if I went to a theater like that, I'd never see an entire movie to save my soul. I'd be snoozing in a half hour. But anyways, Aquaman got two thumbs down, although the time together got an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

I spent a lot of time playing with Iris. When I went to see her the first week of April, I bought her first balloon. I got a vinyl one. The thing lasted until the first week of June and she loved her balloon. I even got a darling picture of the time she took it to breakfast with her, sitting in her highchair clutching the string in her little hand. What's a grandma to do? I replaced that balloon for her. When we walked into the store and she saw the net 'cage' full of helium balloons, her eyes got wide with the wonder of it all. We also bought her a water table, which kept her well and truly entertained.

Her parents had their first overnighter Saturday night at a resort about a half hour from home. We sent them off with a good bottle of champagne and our very best wishes for a very good time. I rocked Iris contentedly, remembering once again how a baby fits perfectly into the curve of your arms, against your shoulder. It was beautiful. I rocked her long after she fell asleep, simply because I could.

It was such a successful weekend, we're going to do a repeat in July. I'm looking forward to it already.



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Iris

Tomorrow, right after work, I head off for Blandon for 5 days. It is Dylan and Brittani's fifth anniversary. Grandma will babysit while they go out for their first overnighter.


Grandma's pretty excited about all of this. 




Sunday, June 2, 2019

Stand Up at the Dollar General

We've seen him before. Come to think of it, most of the time we see him, it's at the Dollar General. We stopped in to pick up some kitty litter, and there he was with his patter, handing out hard candy to everyone.

His shtick is basically runs along the lines  of "If a woman's sucking on a piece of hard candy, well, she's less liable to be nagging at you."

He is tall and rail thin, white haired, with brilliant blue eyes. He loves it when you rise up and meet his prattle with a line of your own. He laughs as loud as anyone and explains, "Don't mind me, I just love to have fun."

Yesterday, there was a long line. We had yet another string of bad storms with heavy rains and thunder and lightning come through and they were having trouble running their credit card transactions. A friend from work was standing behind us in line. Our chatty friend moved down the line handing out candy and blabbing on. An elderly woman showed up and insulted him in mock disgust.

He looked astonished and whispered, "It's HER again! I don't know who she is, but everywhere I go, she's there too."

My friend's husband said, "I think that's your boss right there..." The man clutched his face in mock horror as the elderly woman said, "You got that right!"

I leaned forward to the woman and in my most comforting voice said, "Oh, HONEY, you have everyone's deepest sympathy..."

Everyone laughed, the man the very loudest of all, as he gave me an extra peppermint.

I love uncomplicated souls like the two of them.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

I Stand Corrected

We have most of the garden in. We had to take a run into town to get tomato cages. Honestly, where do those things GO? We always seem to lose a number of them from year to year. The problem was that when we went into town, nobody had them. Sold out.

Finally, we ended up at the Tractor Supply. They were sold out as well, but we decided to buy a cattle panel, and some t-posts and made a 'wall' for tying up our plants. That 16 foot long cattle panel should be a bit easier to keep track of.

While we were there, browsing (Seresto collar for the cat, and what do they have for deer forage seed? and oh, yeah, we need to get some diatomaceous earth for some ant hills, and hey, they have wonderful geranium baskets for $4.99 and so on and so forth)

William darted over and grabbed his grandpa's hand and said urgently, "I need to show you something," and dragged Tim over to a display of kids cowboy boots. He wanted those boots in the worst kind of way. I could tell right away that Tim was not going to tell him no, either. They discussed things as William tried boots on. "These fit perfectly," he said, and his grandpa answered back, "The way you grow in the summer, these boots will be outgrown by the time school starts. I think we need to buy a size larger," but lo, they did not have the size we needed.

William was very disappointed, but his grandpa said to the manager, "Call the Warren store and see if they have the size we need." She did, and they did, and a pair was put back under the counter for us to pick up the following day.

William marched into the Tractor Supply wearing sneakers and boot socks under his shorts. He walked out wearing his new boots and he was very excited. He liked the way they tapped when he walked. He couldn't stop admiring his feet. He suddenly gave a jump and clicked his heels together and said, "I did that just like a real cowboy, didn't I?"

You learn something new every day, don't you?  I guess I never thought of cowboys as heel clicking fools before. Evidently, I was wrong.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Summer Begins

We went to the camp to open it for the season. I was pleased that our rodent proofing was mostly successful, which saved a lot of time cleaning.

I scrubbed and vacuumed and Tim mowed. He has built a patio area on the front, and we had our first cookout, and my sister and brother in law walked over to help us eat a watermelon that I did not have room in the fridge for.

We watched our grandsons play together, and walked down to the bridge Tim built across the creek. The boys played in a pine tree and scampered on ahead, stopping to blast shrieks from blades of grass held between their two thumbs, a new trick that my sister taught them that very day.

William said to Danny, "Hey did you know you can chew on grass?" and he reached down to pluck a piece hay which he promptly stuck in his mouth like any ol' country boy would. It made us all laugh.

When they left, we went inside, and William got ready for bed. We tucked him in and went to bed ourselves, and much to our amazement, given the cold spring and the unpromising start to summer, we saw a goodly number of fireflies blinking in the woods at the edge of the freshly mowed grass.

And that is the view I drifted off to sleep with.

Tomorrow we will begin to plant our garden.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 62nd birthday. My sister and brother-in-law kidnapped Tim and I and took us out for our birthdays. We came home and had cake and ice cream with Brianna and William. 

It was a fun celebration of a day, but the icing on the cake was this: 
Tim bought me a banjo clock I had seen last year at my favorite clock place. I admired it, but it was more than I could see my way to paying. It's not the best picture because it was getting dark outside, and I haven't had time to rearrange the pictures on that wall, but I was anxious to get the clock hung and hear it chime. 

I think it might be my favorite clock. 

Disclaimer: I say that every time I get another one. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Customer Service

I went into a beauty salon to pick up a hair product. It was something that I'd been using, and I liked it. I was about to run out, happened to be in the area and so I stopped in. I was looking at the rack of products to find what I was looking for.

One of the beauticians hovered.

I found what I needed and turned to go to the register. The beautician said, "Wait a minute," and took my product from my hand. "That won't work. With your hair type, you need this," and handed me another product from the same line.

A little flummoxed, I said, "Actually, I've used that (indicating what she'd put back on the shelf) before. It was recommended. I tried it and liked it so I'm back for more."

She said, "You'll like this better."

Me, a little firmly, "Listen, I'm not trying to be ungracious here, and thanks for your help, but I really do like the product I selected."

She rolled her eyes, tossed her perfectly coiffed head. and headed for the register.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Abby

I was doing a favor for an old friend. Her youngest girl, Sarah, and my Cara were good friends all through school. It was nice to catch up with Sue again. It's been a while since we've seen each other.

It left me thinking about when the girls were young. Sarah spent so much time at our house that she had her own room. Other members of the marching band marched in an out of our house on a regular basis. I miss all those exuberant teenagers, and it was fun to sift through the memories.

I always check facebook before I go to bed, just in case one of the kids has messaged, and the first thing that popped up on my feed was a post: "My Abby died. My life will never be the same." Abby was one of those who marched in and out of the house regularly. Her mother's post practically dripped pain.

I contacted Sarah, now a teacher in NY and Cara, in Spain.

I still can't believe it. Abby had the very best giggle, and it doesn't seem possible that it is gone from this world.

I'm so glad that I had a chance to hug my Cara last month.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

In Which I have a Close Call

I've been putting in my time at work and then working on clearing out the hoarder's house in the evening. I'm beat, but we have gotten so much done. Tim hauled a dump truck load to the transfer station yesterday, and we filled that dump truck again today. But today, for the first time, I feel like we're making headway.

My friend, Deb and I worked hard today. We were on the second floor, and she began tossing old mouse damaged suitcases out the front window so that Tim could load them on the truck. We noticed neighbors watching in interest, so she bellowed out, "AND DON'T YOU COME BACK, EITHER!" Tim looked shocked, and I about fell on the floor laughing. Before it was done, Tim was laughing too.

We took up the carpets upstairs, and tossed them out the window too. The dust. Oh my gosh, you cannot imagine the dust. Years and years of dust. But now that those nasty carpets are out of there, I think the house will smell much better.

That's about all I got. I'm beat.

Funny/not funny story, on the way home from work yesterday, sitting at a red light, I caught a sudden glimpse of movement in the side mirror. A large branch fell from a tree, onto the car behind me, and blocked two lanes of traffic.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Those neighbors

One of the kits.

 Another one of the kits.
As they get older, they are increasingly nocturnal. Here, mama has just delivered a meal. My sister is missing a chicken. Coincidence? Who knows. She's not too upset about that because she understands the circle of life, but I imagine that if chickens begin to make a habit out of coming up gone, there might be repercussions. 

Goosebumps

This will sound horrible. 

You know how you have friends on facebook that you don't actually know all that well? This person is the daughter of friends that I haven't seen in years. I'm sure she must have sent me the friend request, because I usually don't do that sort of thing, and, well, she's the daughter of some casual acquaintances. 

Anyways, I went scrolling through my facebook, and I saw a picture that was posted on her timeline, from a guy. An older guy. And not the young man that she was engaged to. 

I clicked on his name, and there it was, immediately, an announcement that he and his wife were separating, posted not long before the cozy picture he posted on that young girl's time line, the one labeled "Just want all the light that the universe has to offer!"

He was married, with teenagers. She was engaged to a very nice young man, one that I do know, and think very highly of. 

I know, I know. The only two people that know what's happening in a relationship are the two people involved. There are plenty of reasons that a marriage breaks up, or engagements are broken. Good reasons. I know all that, but the suddenness of it all was kind of mind boggling. 

In his announcement that he and his wife were separating, he mentioned that wife by name, and I clicked on her name. (I know, I know how horrible that sounds) I was astonished to see a woman that was an older version of my young 'friend'. They had the same hobbies. They were both nature girls. They were both beautiful with long blonde hair. You might have mistaken them for mother and daughter.  The similarities just gave me goosebumps.

I don't have the inside scoop, and I hate nosy people, and I'm not judging, but I can tell you, I'm really praying for this girl. 


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mack Goes to Spain

Cara has flown back to Paris, met up with Colin who flew into London a couple weeks ago to pick up their things, their car and Mack.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, Maki is an Afghan street cat that Cara found in Kabul at the Nowzad animal shelter five years ago.

He's living a charmed life these days and is now visiting his eighth country.


Tornado

A tornado went through while we were gone.

We couldn't believe it really. I mean, we think of all the times that there were tornado warnings and tornado sirens...and it all came to naught. A little random damage, somebody's shed got knocked over, a few trees downed...but this was different.

Houses badly damaged, a local business destroyed, the sign for that business found 4 miles away, across the river from us, where trees were downed. Our priest lost his garage, his truck and his camper. A lot of people on his quiet corner had some serious home damage.

When we got back, I went up to Terry to find out if he was okay, if he and his beloved dog had a place to stay. I reminded him that Tim and I are pretty handy at this sort of thing, and to yell when he's ready to begin work.

He's got his house tarped off and he's waiting for insurance to settle with him. Everyone got to work removing the debris and stuff, but everything else is at a stand still, while they wait for the insurance to come through. It's been nearly a month. I guess I never thought of that.

The building debris from the business still hangs from the trees and power lines, and the traffic light is still out.

Small potatoes really, compared to the tornado damage you see on the evening news, but it affected the area in a big way.

It never ceases to amaze me, the randomness of nature. That storm came down the river, bypassed two mobile home parks full of mobile homes. Things could have been disasterous. But they were not.

Our house lies between Starbrick, where the storm touched down, and across the river where it touched down again. We were unscathed. Since we're re-roofing this summer, Tim was hopeful of some small damages that could be turned into the insurance. No such luck.

William has long been mesmerized by tornados. That day, had he been home, he could have looked out his playroom window and seen one with his very own eyes.





Thursday, May 9, 2019

Gone Girl

When we were in Washington DC last month (how does that HAPPEN? Time just flies...), there was one night that two of my kids, Dylan and Brianna, took William to China Town to meet up with their uncle.

That left Tim and I and Cara and Colin with a couple hours to ourselves. We took ourselves to a great eatery and there was wine. Walking back towards DC, on quiet dusky streets, I caught a glimpse from the corner of my eye of a man with a woman pushed up against the door of a closed store (it was recessed, set back a bit from the side walk). She was saying "Let me go, let me GO!" in a quiet voice, and he had her backed up, with her shirt bunched up in his hand. I could not hear what he was saying, but it was obvious that whatever was happening was not what should be happening at all.

We were a group of four.

My surprised mind formulated the plan to stop right there, to not take one step. I thought that I was witnessing a sexual assault, and to my thinking, by standing there, we would stop it from going any further.

Before my mind could get any further with my plan, there was a blur that was Cara. She darted in there and pushed the man back. In a very loud voice, she began to upbraid him. He did not let go of the woman, and he was not embarrassed. He began to argue with her. Cara did not back down. She said, "You're not a man if you put your hands on a woman."

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit....

At that point, I knew neither one of them were going to back down. I asked a passerby to call 911. In my shock, all I knew was that neither Colin or Cara's phones worked in country. In my shock, I forgot completely that WE had a cell phone. The passerby hesitated and then kept on walking.

I saw a police car a block a way and I ran. (When an old fat lady runs, you KNOW she's scared.) I got the police officer and explained what was going on as we jogged back. Cara and the man were still going at it. The man had the woman's purse and was explaining that he owned everything in it, and had spent a great deal of money on the lady. Cara was pointing out that 'he had NO right', etc. etc.

The officer asked for the purse, the young man did not release his hold on it, although he did let go of the woman. The request for the purse was repeated. The man ignored it and found himself in cuffs. At that point, Cara was deep in conversation with the woman. "You don't put up with this. Do you have a place to go?"

Before we knew it, there were four police cars pulling up from all directions. We filled out reports, and the officer thanked me for stopping. "Most people wouldn't have," he said.

I said, honestly, "I wasn't quite sure what to do, but once Cara went nose to nose with him, I knew we all were kind of committed to stay."

Later, Cara was telling Dylan in her riotous way. "Mom was standing there gawping like she does when she's in a big city..." and they laughed.

I explained my thinking. I didn't know it was a robbery, immediately. I thought it was a sexual assault. I stopped to prevent it from going any further. Once a 911 call was made, we could leave when the police showed up to take over. People carry knives and guns. I had no desire to confront him physically, but every desire to assist the woman.

They laughed like fools and it was plain that they didn't believe me.

I've been thinking about it. I used to be every bit as bold as Cara. When I was very pregnant, with her, actually, I confronted a man who had just bashed a man over the head with a chair. at the place that I worked. (Sounds like a rough place, doesn't it...it was a bowling alley.) I backed him up and refused to let him go, and (probably because I was pregnant) he didn't fight. The police arrived. Turned out the man had a gun.

So, yeah, I had my moments.

Now I'm 60. I guess I still have my moments. The kids would call them 'senior moments'. We live in a rough world, and I'm more cautious.

Sometimes I wonder where that 'young me' went though.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Unsung

Choosing to discontinue treatment, to wait for your life to wind down...that takes courage

Endorsing your wife's decision to discontinue treatment, to watch her life wind down, putting your grief on hold to be present for her...that takes courage too. 

Many years after two lives were knit together, the threads of that life are separating, 

In the midst of all the stories you hear about heroes today, take a moment to reflect on the quiet courage of people whose stories are never told. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Beautiful Day

Conversation:

Me: (brightly) "Gosh it's a beautiful day today, isn't it?"

Response: "I hate warm weather. The hoes come out with their short shorts and bare midriffs, showing everything they got...it's DISGUSTING!"

Me: (smile fades...)

I swear. I don't understand people sometimes...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

New Car

I have a new car (new to me, anyway). It was an incredibly good deal. It is also a luxury car, which I have never owned in my life, all the bells and whistles.

Now I'm not a person who cares a lot about what she's driving. I drove my little Versa around with no complaints at all. But what I will allow to is that for the first time in, like, probably forever, there isn't an idiot light blazing on my dashboard. I like that. A lot. I was surprised how much I liked that, actually. 

And I drove my new-to-me car around happily for a week.

The battery light is on. 

Tim just came rushing in to tell me that I can't drive it until he figures out what the problem is. 

I'm starting to think that it might be ME....

Late Edit: battery cable was damaged, which led to the cable getting hot. It melted the protective cover. Tim replaced the whole thing, says if it wasn't for that little light, we wouldn't have known anything was wrong and that the car would have surely caught fire.

I drove it, cautiously. No idiot lights. For now.

*watches warily*

The neighbors on the other side


We do need to move the new game camera. We got some pretty nice shots, but they are too far away. The camera will be moved to the tree in front, facing this burrow, which seems to be the site of the most activity for this family. There appears to be 3 kits in this particular group. Here are two of them.



Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Neighbors

We went to check the game camera. A fox stood very still watching us. He zipped into a burrow and disappeared when we spotted him. We didn't bother them. There are three different burrow systems. We didn't check the new game camera set to capture pictures of the foxes, so as not to make them nervous, but across the road, one of the cameras there got a shot of this visitor at the cabin.

Tim can't wait to get back to the woods.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Two Cans of Hairspray

Tim is a quiet kind of guy. Not really demonstrative. I know that he loves me, but he's not the hearts and flowers sort of guy. It used to bother me, but now I just take it as part of the package. He's a good man. Not perfect, but a very good man. The sort of person that you can be certain of.

Last night, I was cooking supper. He'd run to the Walmart to pick up an SD card for his new Browning Special Ops game camera. Across the road from our retirement property, there's a den of foxes with 7 kits. Cute as anything. Just watching them was enough to convince Tim that we needed a good trail cam to get pictures of them.

He came walking in the door, reading the package from his SD card and said, "I got you something," and casually tossed a bag with two cans of my hairspray on the table.

I was a bit gobsmacked. He's never done that in his life. I didn't even know that he knew what kind of hairspray I use. "What's that for?" and he said that they were having a sale. Buy one $19. can of hairspray and get the second can for $2. He headed for the livingroom to set up his trail cam.

I stared after him.

It's a strange thing how two cans of hairspray can make you feel so very loved.