Thursday, October 31, 2019

When it rains....

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

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

Thank goodness we know a roofer....

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


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

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


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

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Tantrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A Cat's Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Safe to say, he liked it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Book Worms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Going batty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Improvement?

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

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

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

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

And the problem seemed to be getting worse. 

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

Still fruit flies. 

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

It didn't help. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 19, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

Right on Cue

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

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


Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Ay yi yi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim called him.

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

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Party time

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

Family party today!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

In the Dark

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


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

Fall is here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Solitary Life

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

He died in his little apartment and no one knew.

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

Sunday, October 6, 2019


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

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


Friday, October 4, 2019

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019


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

It's pretty exciting.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


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

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

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

I reminded her that she comes from hardy stock.


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

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

Felt like an idiot.