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.