Wednesday, January 30, 2019

It's so cold...

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

And then he went in and turned it on.

The end. 

Friday, January 25, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Putterer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He laughs. 

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Winter Storm Harper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And God bless electric blankets.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Generation Gap

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 14, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning, we all packed up and headed home. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 6, 2019


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

She also hadn't found her feet.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I gaped. So did Tim.

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

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

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


What is WRONG with people?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Things

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