Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Keeping busy

At work, people have begun to trickle back in from lay-off. Since we are not busy, I couldn't understand it, really. One of the girls stopped me to talk as I headed for my desk. She explained what I didn't know. For the first two months of a lay off, employees can pay for their company insurance out of pocket. After two months, however, they have to purchase COBRA insurance from the state. Her share would have been $1400 a month, a 4 fold increase to what we pay as our share of the company insurance.  Who can afford that? Honestly? She provides the benefits for her husband and herself and she could not.

She is not the only one in that boat. The lay off was only supposed to last a month and a half, but in that time, we've declared bankruptcy. Now there's this virus thing. Their return to work dates were pushed back. And then pushed back again. Some people don't care...they have spouses with insurance. Some though, they do care. They need that insurance, and suddenly they were faced with insurance that they couldn't possibly afford.

As far as I can tell, the company offered to bring back those people so that they would not lose their insurance. I'm not sure if they can stay, but what will happen is that even if they work just a short while, it 'resets' their insurance. If they are laid off again, they can resume paying their portion of company insurance out of pocket, a much, much, MUCH better deal.

In the craziness of these days, I cannot tell you how encouraging it was to hear about this simple act of decency.

We were low on work and were asked first thing this morning if we wanted to leave at 11:30. I said yes, but it just seemed like we were awfully low on work.

Before long, they were coming around telling us we could leave at 10 if we wanted to, and take the rest of the week off. I took the time off. If the company could do the decent thing for these employees, it seems like I could do the decent thing and make sure that there was enough work for them to get their time in to restart their insurance.

Dylan, Brittani, and Iris are all showing mild symptoms now. It doesn't seem to slow Iris down. Dylan is an engineer and he is able to work from home, which is nice. It is an uncertain time, but none of them have underlying health conditions, so their risk is low.

I repeat that to myself multiple times a day.

I've got two days off, and  ever helpful Tim has begun lining up projects at the little house for me to get done. I'm sure he wants to keep me occupied so that I don't worry about the kids.


That must be it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

All In the Family

My daughter in law has begun to show symptoms of Covid 19 after coming in contact with a patient who later began to display symptoms. The patient was finally tested, but due to the back-log of tests, the test results are not in yet.

Brittani's symptoms are mild. She is waiting on test results and cannot return to work at this point. Dylan has begun to also feel a tightness in his chest. He's been set up to work at home until Brittani's test results come back to protect HIS coworkers.

Iris is not currently displaying symptoms.

They live on the other side of the state, which has been very hard hit. 

I worry, of course, but my main prayer is that if this is the corona virus, their mild symptoms will lead to immunity for all of them. 

Monday, March 30, 2020


The spring flowers are beginning. Snowdrops have been out for a while, and then came the crocuses, the forsythia. I saw primrose growing along side a fence, four different plants, in four different colors.

Tim picked me some daffodils from the house we're renovating. I put them in a vase. They are such a happy little reminder that hard seasons do not last forever. This season will change.

"This too shall pass."

"The storm doesn't last forever." 

"Fear not." 

"Tough times don't last but tough people do." 

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." 
(That's Helen Keller, btw.)

So...I ask you...what are the words you whisper to yourself in the dark?


I currently have a dozen caterpillars eating heartily in my living room.

The only difference between them and me is that they are in a jar.


And they'll eventually turn into butterflies.

Sunday, March 29, 2020


The Art of Small Bites

When I was a child, I heard it said: "Slow down. Take small bites. Don't gobble your food." In the middle of my chocolate pudding, I did not get it.

When I was a single mother struggling through tough days, I heard it again: "Savor these days. When they are gone, you will miss these times terribly." In the middle of my worries, I didn't have time to really take that advice to heart. I was just too busy. 

When I was a cancer patient, I discovered the lesson again: "Don't look too far ahead. Just take it one day at a time. If you don't, it gets overwhelming. That time I DID learn the lesson. I was isolated, because I had no choice. I was taking afternoon naps because I was tired. I was taking life one chemo at a time. One radiation at a time. One day at a time.

Then, treatment ends. The fear of recurrence fades. You get sucked back into the current of life. The daily grind. Keeping up. Doing the best you can for those around you. Living your purpose. 

Suddenly. It. Stops. 

Yesterday was a rough day. As per usual, I was trying to cram all my housework into one day and that's damn well enough without washing the same load of clothes twice, or spot cleaning cat barf off the carpet (and WHY is it ALWAYS the CARPET??!!!) I was worrying about my job. How long will this virus thing go on? 

One think led to another. 

And all those thinks got to be too much thinking. 

This morning, Tim and I talked lazily in bed for an hour. We had no place to be.

He went to Grand Valley to play with tractors and to brush hog. 

I tuned in to Zoom to listen to the Bishop's sermon about Martha and Mary and the raising of Lazarus. I listened to this sermon while I cleaned the bathroom and scrubbed the fixtures. I realized that I had unconsciously reprised the role of Martha from an earlier parable and was a little ashamed of myself.

I baked cookies. I didn't double the batch. 36 cookies is enough. As each tray baked, I filled in the time by cleaning the kitchen. In an hour, my cookies were baked and the kitchen was back to rights. 

Our house is a hundred years old. Like all old houses, it is the opposite of the open concept that is so popular these days. Every room has doors. 

Every room can be blocked off and heated on its own, a wise thing for old houses with radiator heat. Alas, the radiators are gone. Due to the improper winterization of a foreclosed property, the piping all froze and burst and destroyed those lovely radiators. 

But the doors remained: four rooms with french doors. Heavy 4 panel doors in the bathroom and the kitchen. They were dusty. And so I got the polish and sprayed them down an polished them. 

I thought about the people who made those doors. Craftsmen from another time. They had seen WWI. the Spanish Flu Epidemic. WWII. Mrs. Brown was the wife of the business man who had this house built so long ago. Her father is listed on the monument in the center of town, one of our Civil War heroes.

The hands that touched those doors had gone through tough times of their own, and without the luxury of keeping in touch through the internet. The same internet that I cursed yesterday, sick of the foolishness of it. Without the luxury of a freezer of food, of central heat, the entertainment of 3 dozen channels on a television set.

I polished those doors and I really took that time to admire them, paying homage to those who had been here and gone ahead.

I put my cleaning stuff away, and I came into my comfortable livingroom and put my laundry away. Small things. Small bites. But I chewed slowly, and I savored my day. 

I feel better today and I apologize for yesterday's cranky nature. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020


Today was not a great day.

I went out early this morning to get laundry soap. I also picked up a few other necessities while I was there.

I came home and started my laundry. In switching out the wet laundry to the dryer, I managed to knock an entire bottle of softener into the washer. Murphy's law being what it is, I discovered that I'd not screwed the cap on tightly after measuring it out previously. Which meant that I had to rewash the load. (But boy, the basement smells wonderful.)

I came upstairs in an unhappy mood and managed to drop my very favorite cup. Glass went flying everywhere, and a large chunk of it skimmed across the top of my little little piggy that had roast beef. I squealed a little.

I cleaned that mess up and bandaged my toe.

Inexplicably, the cat began to yack.

I cleaned that mess up. Three times.

William has a new friend with an x-box and minecraft and decided that he'd rather be at home. I think that I needed the break too. It also gave me an excuse not to bake today.

I am getting awfully tired of being cooped up in the house and I'm tired of doing house-y things. I think also that the work situation is starting to grate as well. I guess that I was kind of expecting to see how things were going to play out in rather short order. Were we being bought out? Were we going to navigate this tricky time? But now, there is this corona virus thing, and I think that it will be quite a while before we know how this is all going to shake out.

So. I was not perky today, and as a result, I spent too much time on social media and am impatient with people and their wacky ideas about what we're dealing with.

 I got pictures of Iris today, and found myself wondering how long it is going to be before I am able to smooch that baby again.

Tim spent a lot of time watching HGTV. I'm about sick of HGTV.

It is time for bed. Tomorrow is another day. The laundry is done, and it's been quite a while since the cat barfed. I'll stay off facebook. I'll settle in with my book. Maybe I'll even do some baking.

The Media

I think that as this whole thing wears on, I'm becoming increasingly impatient with people who post breathless announcements:

"The experts do not want you to know that drinking lots of water will kill the corona virus by flushing it to your stomach, where it is destroyed by gastric acid."

(easily debunked over and over again by simply typing it in your search engine)

or this little gem:

"Biological warfare! Do you wonder why Russia does not have the corona virus?"

(Um...they probably do, but there is no free press to report this news)

People are really bashing 'the media' right now, but I have got to say it...all those breathless FB posters? You are the media too.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


After taking Monday off to save the company money, I've worked 3 full days. I am currently out of my own department. We are pretty busy where I am, at least for the moment.

But it has been a rough week.  There has been another round of layoffs. People are also being fired, which is a little scary. I don't know why, I'm not part of the big picture. People are scared, and I can see that too.

Tim and I talked. The next layoff? I'm volunteering for it. 

No new cases of covid in the county, but I heard that two people from the cancer center are presumed to be positive. That's frightening. That would mean that the staff and a large very vulnerable population has been exposed. But again, that is something that I heard. I hope that I have heard wrong. 

It was a beautiful day today. We needed milk. Tim needed to pay the Lowes bill. I was actually a little surprised at how many people were out and about. I passed a man who was coughing violently. He did not cover his mouth. 


We scooted back home to our house.

I watched the world news tonight. The scenes from Queens are horrifying. The large refrigerated semi-truck pulled up to the hospital doors to collect the dead really kind of stopped me in my tracks.

This is real. This is now. It is happening right here.

I don't consider myself a fearful person, but today was scary. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Another positive post

.........and the county has gone positive.

I know that the speed that this virus seems to be spreading is partially due to the fact that testing has not wide spread in the rural areas. Our hospital just announced that they have test kits. One day later we are positive. I don't think it is a coincidence.

But it's a time to be careful, to be sure.

Both of us are still working. Tim got a flurry of notifications that there was a positive at the hospital. He was unsure of a time line. My sister had just spent the night here two nights ago because she was on call. Since elective surgeries have been canceled, she's currently back in her old job in the ER. The patient came to the ER for treatment.

Tim explained the situation to his boss who sent him home. After speaking with my sister, the positive came in after she spent the night, and while she was not exposed as far as she knows, she has suggested that we stay away from our upstairs for 72 hours. She sleeps in one of the bedrooms upstairs, and uses the upstairs bathroom. Our bedroom is downstairs, and we have our own bath.

Tim called his boss and said he'd be back at work tomorrow. The boss said he was grateful that Tim took it seriously and got it all sorted out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Did You Know...

...that in Pennsylvania, beer distributors are considered essential businesses?

Monday, March 23, 2020

What Makes You Laugh?

Today I did not work, so it was a wonderful day to catch up on things. I cooked a ham yesterday, and then spent today slicing and dicing it. I got 7 packages of diced ham and one meaty hambone for soup.

I got the basement cleaned.

Laundry done.

Kitchen cleaned, a nice pot of bean soup simmering to use up the ham broth from yesterday.

I kept a nice fire going in the library, and it was pleasant way to spend a dark and rainy day. Even Mother Nature is conspiring to keep us off the streets.

I'm reading The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. I've read two of his books, 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet' and 'Shalimar the Clown', both of which I very much enjoyed. His books are not an easy read, but wonderfully, perfectly detailed. I've never had books that take me 2 or 3 weeks to read, but his always do. This one shows no signs of being any different from the other ones I've read. I've had to jot notes to myself to keep the unfamiliar names straight.

I happened to see 'The Satanic Verses' on the shelf of the library, and it stopped me dead in my tracks. How could I have not read the book which got a death sentence imposed on him in Iran? So I got it, and have bravely waded in. I must say it wins the prize for the most spellbinding opening to a novel that I have ever read.

Now the library is closed and for who knows how long? I find myself wondering whether I'll have the book finished before the library opens?

Schools have been closed for an additional two weeks, The earliest kids will return is April 9th. William is busily memorizing his multiplication tables and he loves to read.

I ordered caterpillars for him and for Tim's two grandsons to watch grow and turn into butterflies. They should arrive this week. As the weather gets nicer, we'll go hunting for frog eggs. The hike will do us all good.

The news continues to be dire, with the virus moving closer (half of Pennsylvania's counties have positives at this point) and like Bob, I have learned that I have to limit my news.

In the midst of all of this, I would ask you what is something that makes you laugh? I'll go first. "The IT Crowd."

What makes you laugh?

For Laughs.

Sunday, March 22, 2020


Since school is canceled, it's been apparent that a lot of people are stumped about how to keep their kids occupied.

I guess that I'll never understand that.

It's spring! So much to study in the spring. We're forcing a couple of branches of forsythia. We'll start looking for frog eggs and watch them hatch out, and then watch the tadpoles grow. William's already got a butterfly enclosure. I ordered a jar of caterpillars.

Today we made a cartesian diver. William was fascinated by the science behind that. We decided that water pressure is greater than air pressure, and he was able to prove this to himself by taking a very long, deep bath. (It was harder to take a deep breath when your little body is fully submerged in the water.) We talked about water pressure increases as the deeper you go in the water. He was fascinated by the idea that some fish get so use to that kind of pressure that they actually explode when brought to the surface. He had quite a number of observations that brought us right back to one of his favorite topics, the Titanic.

This afternoon, we're going to take grandpa's tape measure and mark off 883 feet in increments, just to visualize how long the ship was.

Entertaining a kid is easy. Just open the door to questions and then allow him to find the answers to those questions.

We also will work on a very top secret plan that will go into place this week. I think it is a scary time to be a kid. Allowing him to make a difference in our community will be (in my opinion) a way to learn to deal with those fears in a positive way.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Social Distancing

This morning, I chatted with my daughter in law on line. She sent me some photos in messenger. She's so good about that, and as a long distance grandma, I appreciate that more than she could ever know.

One of the pictures simply took my breath away. It was just her and Iris sitting together. Iris is looking up at her with the sweetest look on her face. Brittani's face is so joyous, Her hair is all windblown but the look in her eyes is just perfect.

I went to get it printed off and ended up with a collage. I never did that before, and it was great fun to go through all my favorite pictures and pick the three that I loved the very most.

This social distancing thing is allowing me to learn new tricks!

At work yesterday, they announced first thing that being primarily a mail order business, we were exempt from Pennsylvania's mandate to close all non-essential businesses. There was applause. It comes as a relief to a lot of people.

One look at the unemployment picture shows that we've got a pretty rough road ahead of us though, and we were asked to choose days next week if we wanted time off. We've had three layoffs and we're still not able to maintain full time hours. It's one of those times to simply grit your teeth and go forward. No idea how it's going to play out, but life is like that, I think. You play the best game you can with the hand you've been dealt. 

Tim received good news at his job, which is over the state line in New York. His company received an exemption from their state's governor. They are in the middle of a multibillion dollar contract with the UAE shipping compressors for the pipelines there. They have built their 8th one. A shut down there would have destroyed the company. Tim was relieved.

In all the job uncertainty, our prospective client for the little house received bad news. Her house deal fell through. We are not sure whether it was due to nervousness from the bank, or job uncertainty for the buyer, but the buyer backed out. Deb called to tell us and she was heartbroken. She had been visualizing herself on the back deck relaxing, watching the river roll by.

"Listen, I said. "it's a bad time and there is nothing anyone can do about it. So let's just look on the bright side: It allows us to stop working at breakneck speed. We can slow down and breathe. We don't have to work on it every day after work. We have time to do other things on the weekends too. We'll just be patient, and the day will come when you are sitting on that back deck watching the river roll by."

She said, "I am so grateful that I'm sitting across the table from you and Tim." She was very emotional.

Truth be told, we're grateful for HER. She's a retired woman with a good pension. She's looking for a place long term. These are the kind of stable tenants that are a blessing to landlords everywhere. They are always worth the wait. Always.

So that's life here. What will happen, we don't know.

I do know that today, William will come and as usual, he and grandma will bake cookies.

Friday, March 20, 2020

It matters.

Today I left work at 10 am. They were asking volunteers to take time off next week. Any day. As much time as you wanted. Unpaid, of course. I volunteered for Monday. I can do my part during hard times.

I left work and headed to the bank to cash a check. No chance of that happening. The lobby was closed and the line for drive-thru was so long that cars were backed up out into the street.

I headed to the store. I needed a bit of groceries. I wanted to buy a ham. For Tim and I, a ham is a good investment. You have a ham dinner. Then you make scalloped potatoes, a couple quiches, a nice pot of potato soup, bean get my drift. For the two of us, one ham will provide a weeks' worth of meals. Man does not live by venison alone.

The store was packed. PAAAAAAAAAAAAACKED. I picked up a gallon of milk, the things I need to bake cookies with William this week, a loaf of bread, a bag of potatoes. I turned a corner just as a woman was backing away from a shelf. I put out my hand, and said, "I'm right behind you." She started and apologized. "No worries, I said. "I just didn't want to run you over!" She said she surely appreciated that. We both laughed.

The lines were long at the checkout. I waited, right along with everyone else. Over and over, the same debate was taking place at the register. "I'm sorry. Only two loaves of bread (or whatever the customer had a pile of on the counter) per customer.." And a surprising number of people were very upset by this. They took it out on the cashier. The man in front of me said, "If you don't ring me up, I'll just come back and go through your line as many times as I need to!" in a very belligerent way. The cashier said, "I understand."

When it was my turn, she rang up my things. I said, "This has to be a difficult time for everyone working here," and she answered, "It's been like this for days. We come in and people are waiting in lines that run along the side of the building."

I didn't know.

I pushed my $50 of groceries out. As I was going out, the man who vowed to come through the line as many times as he needed to get everything that he wanted came storming back in. He was MAD.

It's interesting to me. Hard times bring out both the best and the worst in people.

Kindness matters. In these times, it matter more than ever.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Girl.

The oddest thing happened today.

I came home from work, and there was a letter for me from the County's Youth and Children's services. As the relative of a young woman, they were sending me this letter in an attempt to draw together a supportive group of people as she works her way through therapy as an inpatient.

I didn't recognize the names of her parents, either one of them. I didn't recognize her name. I was about to throw the letter away, but it bothered me to think of a kid, in an institution, with so little family support that her caseworker was reaching out to people. Shoot. I can write a letter.

So I called the caseworker's office.

While the phone was ringing, I studied the letter. wondering how on earth my name had been drawn into it. As the woman answered, it clicked.

Very cautiously, I explained about the letter and asked about the girl's mother. "I'm not sure what you can tell me, but was she killed in a car accident? Quite a while ago?"

The woman said, "Yes. Actually, she was."

And I asked, "Okay, is this young woman her daughter? I mean, she must be..." and I tried to run through the math in my head. It happened while my children attended highschool. Since Cara has turned 30 this year, well...we're talking some time back.

The caseworker said that the girl was 14.

A bit shocked, I said, "My gosh. I AM a relative. I'm her 2nd cousin. I never met her mother, but her grandfather is my mother's youngest brother."

Remembering back, I said, "Actually, the girl was in the car with her mother. She was taking her to a appointment for her one month checkup. The weather was horrible. She lost control of the car. It was bad. But she was safe in her little car seat."

The caseworker said, "I did not know that."

"I went to the funeral. My uncle was devastated. It was awful."

We talked. I made it clear that I was not volunteering to foster. I can't do that. But I would be perfectly willing to write letters. Send care packages. Provide emotional support.

The caseworker said, "That's exactly what we are looking for."

Today, I wrote her a little card and introduced myself. I sent it in an open envelope to her case worker who will read it and pass it along.

So many sad stories in this world. Maybe I can help make this one a bit nicer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Win for the Optimist

I heard from my daughter in law last night. Iris has been teething and they've been giving her tylenol when she wakes up in the night howling. She decided that she'd better get more to have on hand, what with all the stores being rushed and a pandemic in the making. Except she couldn't find infant Tylenol.

She messaged me to find out if we had it here.

I'd just returned from trying to pick up a gallon of milk, and lo, there was no milk. After a few stops, I ended I up buying some pretty pricey organic stuff in the only size they had: A quart.

 I couldn't bear to go out again that night. It was unseasonably people-y.

I told her I'd check when I got off work the next day.

Today once again, we ran out of work and I left early. I headed out of town to check for infant tylenol. One the way, I messaged Brittani: "Is there anything else you need while I'm out and about?" She said that diapers might become a problem. She ordered some using her Amazon prime to avoid taking Iris out in the packed stores. They were back ordered until Saturday. "I wouldn't complain if we had an extra box of diapers."

I walked into the store and bought the last box of tylenol, and then not only managed to find the diapers she wanted, but to find them on clearance. 76 diapers for $12.80. It was the only box in her size that they had, darn it.

Anyhow, I was driving home and thought to stop into another store in our town, to see if they had more of those diapers in Iris' size. They did, but theirs were not on clearance. Out of curiosity, I checked their stash of tylenol.. They were out. I also checked the toilet paper, just because...well...I got this husband who I have irritated mightily by my freehanded nature. There was none.

I headed out the door and a man stopped by his truck. "Were you looking for toilet paper?"

I laughed. "Isn't everyone? No, not really. But I've gotten into a habit of checking when I go into a store."

He said, "Well, go to Dollar General. They've got carts of it, and they haven't even bothered to put it away. It's piled on carts right at the front of the store."

I thanked him and headed out. I figured I better stop in replace that 12 pack to placate that husband of mine.

The parking lot was full. The store was packed. And there it was. Toilet paper. I picked up a 12 pack and thought to check for milk while I was there. Got a gallon of milk too.

I felt like I hit the lottery. 

Monday, March 16, 2020


Bob made me think yesterday. He thanked me for a positive post.

I want to make something really clear here, in case the message has been lost. There's a lot of people totally over reacting to this corona virus thing. Let me make it perfectly clear that I am not one of those people.

I believe that it is something that we have to be mindful of but I don't see it as anything to be fearful of.

I went shopping after I returned from my vacation. We have a freezer full of venison and vegetables. I stocked up on some staples, beans, pasta, etc. I've got 9 1/2 rolls of T.P. left. I will never hear the end of it if we run out before we can get more and thats hilarious to me. (Mostly because I think we will be fine.)

It's Lent, and we're dealing with a pandemic, which may be something or it may be nothing, depending on who's doing the talking. I cannot read the future. So I'm waiting.

So...for Lent, we speak of sacrifice, giving to others, growing our faith, putting ourselves second to the needs of others. As ridiculous as it sounds, we have the opportunity to do all those things as we socially isolate ourselves in a modern day version of a desert. Our faith can grow in amazing ways by losing 'self' in favor of doing for others. It's an opportunity. As odd as it sounds, it is what I believe.

"Fear Not." Most often repeated words in the Bible.

I'm fearing not. I hope you are too.

I leave you with a poem by Kitty O'Meara:

~• And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

I believe that hard times change us and if we are brave enough to look those hard times square in the eye, we will be the better for them.

I guess that makes me an optimist.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Miracle

This afternoon, Tim took a run to the retirement property to do some weedwhacking.

He discovered that the beaver have been hard at work on an oak tree, which made him unhappy.

Something else that he noticed: last fall, his brother brush hogged down Tim's mother's elderberry patch. Tim was dismayed by this, but dragged a batch of them to the retirement property to replant. We did not hold out a lot of hope really. It was the wrong time of the year to transplant them. They were too big. They were damaged by the brush hog.

But one has begun budding out.

Sounds stupid how happy we are to see this little miracle.

Oh, and P.S. I fixed my cuckoo clock. All by myself. It had a habit of cuckooing inappropriately. Today, I listened to it cuckoo twice at one. I got an idea, tried it, and at 3, my cuckoo sounded three times, just like a good cuckoo would.
William just headed home with 5 dozen cookies.

Still have 10+ rolls of toilet paper between me and Never. Hearing. The. End. Of. It. 

Have beans soaking for bean burritos for supper. 

Will spend the afternoon leisurely working on the little house. 

Quiet evening getting ready for the work week. 

This is pretty much the norm for us, but now we can call it self quarantining.

Friday, March 13, 2020

My Corner of the World.

Last week, while I was gone, our church began to pass the peace without shaking hands. To me, it seems prudent. I think of the frail elders in our church, about the chemo patient. It seems like an act of consideration. While some people claim that it is an over reaction to nothing more than the flu, I see the faces of those lovely people and think that an over reaction is preferable to an under reaction.

When I left for Dylan and Brittani's house in eastern PA, there were no positives in Pennsylvania at all. By the time that I came home Wednesday, there were 20, all on the eastern side of the state. Today, the first positives hit their county. 

Knowing the there can be a 2 week incubation period, a time in which you show no symptoms but can pass the virus, I found myself really thinking about things at work today. Should I go to church on Sunday? Should I play it safe? I've always considered myself a practical person, but this was a toughy. 

We ran out of work again in what seems to be the new normal. I left work at 11:45 staying a bit later to finish up some q/c work, but I walked out of there still undecided on what to do about church on Sunday. 

I stopped to get toilet paper. I'd bought two 12 packs before I took my little vacation. Much to Tim's consternation, I'd given a 12 pack away after I came back. I thought he was being ridiculous. We had an unopened package of 12 rolls of toilet paper for pete's sake. I stopped to pick up another 12 pack on the way home from work, just to placate him. 3 stores. None of them had toilet paper. 

(Side note: If we run out of t.p. before more is available, I will NEVER hear the end of this.)

I headed home and did my Saturday laundry on Friday. We will be able to work on the little house tomorrow all day. We have a tenant, a good friend who is selling her house and wants to live forever in a little house along the river that allows her to stop worrying about upkeep and repairs. She's excited about renting our house and we are able to finish it to her personal tastes. We're hitting that little house hard.  

While I was waiting for the first load of laundry to dry, I checked e-mails, and saw one from the vicar. Our bishop has suggested holding off worship for two weeks. The priest made it official. The decision was made for me, I guess. Now we have two days to work like crazy on that house.

Yesterday, my county shut down all afterschool activities. Today they closed the schools themselves for two weeks. 

Back in Blandon, my daughter in law told me that she decided to stock up on a few groceries. Much to her surprise (we had just been there on Monday), there were a lot of bare shelves. No bread. No milk. 

Her hospital had a special meeting about the threat tonight. 

It's kind of stupifying how quickly things are changing. What's it like in your corner of the world?

Friday the 13th.

Tim raised his eyebrows and said in an ominous voice, "It's Friday the 13th."

I said, "Seems like it has been Friday the 13th for a week now."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Free Fall

My plan was to leave after work on Friday and immediately head out to Blandon. If I left at the end of the day, I'd get there after Iris had gone to bed for the night, but, hey, that's the breaks.

Except that it turned out to be another early day. I left at 10. 

The cell phone is still a new thing to me. I wouldn't dream of messing with it while I was driving, so I missed Brittani's message when it came in: "Call me as soon as you get this." 

I stopped to fuel up before getting on the interstate. When I was done getting gas, I got a megacup of unsweetened iced tea (double lemon) and finally got that message when I checked my phone. Brittani wondered if I'd left. I cheerfully explained I was about 1/3 of the way there. She said, "Well, Dylan just got word that the business trip was canceled due to the corona virus concerns." She went on to tell me that I was certainly welcome but that if I was coming because they needed me to babysit, they no longer needed me. They'd be happy with whatever choice I decided to make, but didn't want me to feel like I had to use up vacation days. 

My response: "I think it's cute how you think I'm coming because you need me...I'm actually coming to spend time with Iris." 

We both laughed and I hit the road once again. 

I had such a lovely time. 

While I was there, the word came: my company has declared bankruptcy. 

While I was there, the corona virus hit eastern Pennsylvania for the first time, with positives in Philadelphia. 

While I was there, we watched the stock market plummet. Dylan lost $20,000 in one day, on paper, anyway.

While I was there. I changed the baby's diaper at one point, using up the last of the hand sanitizer on her changing table. When I went for a quiet visit to the cemetery, I stopped in to pick up more. The store was out. I stopped at another store. They were out. They had posted a sign, though: 'Due to concerns about the corona virus, hand sanitizer purchases are limited to four.' 

That's the first I knew that this was a 'thing'. 

I went to several more stores. Nada. At one point, I walked into a store and asked an employee 'Just off the top of your head, do you know if you are out of hand sanitzer?' She laughed. She also explained that they've been told that the companies that make the hand sanitizers have prioritized the needs: that hospitals, nursing homes, daycares, etc. will be receiving them first. It's a logical step I think. The woman said that they have no idea when they will once again have hand sanitizer. 

I walked back to my car thoughtfully. Later that night, I read a friend's facebook comment. He lives in Washington state, the hardest hit state in the US so far. He's diabetic. He cannot get alcohol for his insulin injections.

Troubling signs, all of them. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

I Got Questions.

I had an office visit to renew my prescriptions.


Still got high blood pressure.

So I walked out of there and headed for the pharmacy to pick up atenolol and chlorothiazide. And got quite a surprise. Last year, the copay on the cholorthiazide was nothing. This year, it was $30. I asked a lot of questions at the pharmacy. I asked a lot of questions in a call to the doctor's office.

I finally called the insurance company. According to them, the FDA has reclassified the drug from a maintenance drug to a generic. That's it. Same drug. Same company. But this year, it costs $30.

That does not make sense to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Darn phone.

When I go to work, we have to shut off our cellphones. It is not enough to silence them. They have to be off. And yes, they check.

So...I've managed to remember my phone two days in a row, but I got a problem. I shut it off repeatedly, but the next thing I know, it's making some crazy alert noise. I shut it off again...and then there's another alert.

This fellow that had my phone number before gets a crazy amount of spam messages, so that phone is making a lot of noise. I put it on silent, but it needs to be off and stay off.

It won't.

I am not sure I like this gadget.


There are some pretty strange people in this world. With all the Corona Virus alerts and alarms and 'OMG! This is IT, we're all going to die' stuff going on, I tend to take a pretty pragmatic view. Wash your hands, nod politely to people who look unwell (and keep on going), and avoid crowds (unless it is the Pinewood Derby and you're stuck in a corner with some woman who can't stop coughing and talking about how sick she was last weekend.)

My list of precautions for the Corona Virus is the same precautions I use for just about any bug that happens to be going around. Since there are no known cases of the Corona Virus in Pennsylvania, I feel that my precautions are adequate.

That's why it shocked me that a person at work has started a facebook page to keep her coworkers 'in the loop'. Two people out of work from the shipping department. They've got the Corona Virus. Our company's keeping it all hush hush, etc. etc. etc.

Stuff like that really angers me.

Number one, if anyone tested positive for the virus, the information would be sent to the CDC from the medical facility. The CDC would issue a public announcement. No names would be published (Can you say HIPAA violation?) Our company doesn't have access to that information and couldn't shut it down even if they did.

Number two: Again, NO cases of Corona Virus reported in PA. At all.

Am I concerned about this? Sure. It's a little shocking that the death toll has gone from one to nine in two days. Could it turn into a really big deal? Sure. I've been reading about the Spanish Influenza out break of 1918, and that's sobering.

But the thing is, it is NOT a big deal at this time. Be prudent and sensible. If things change, maybe I'll need to step up the precautions, but we're not there yet, not in my opinion.

So you've got this woman who has put herself out there, by name, spouting all this crazy stuff, trying to start a big uproar. Even more outrageous? She's laid off. She has no idea what is going on inside the plant, because she's spent the last month outside of it.

I have little patience for stupidity, even less for lies, but  other people are eating it up. Another coworker told me that we had a case right over at the hospital. I told her that we didn't. She told me that's what 'she heard'.

You know what travels faster than the flu? Bullshit.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Phone numbers

That new phone? I've got a slew of texts coming in. I knew that the phone belonged to someone named James. However, today, someone texted him, calling him by his last name, in the manner of dudes everywhere.

I recognized the name immediately. It's a one of a kind Slavic name. I knew Jim from work. We sold him a car once, way under book, because the family needed help pretty badly. Jim had not yet lost his leg, but he was in pretty poor health and he and his wife were raising two sons.

A few years later, his wife died in a house fire. Reading the story in the paper, I turned to Tim and said, "The fire started in the house, and only one son was home...I've got an awful feeling about this." Unfortunately, I was right, and his youngest son confessed to setting the fire, and was removed to a juvenile detention facility.

I saw Jim in the store not long after. I walked by him initially, not even recognizing him because of the change in his appearance.  Something clicked and I turned. "Jim?" I asked. He quietly replied. We talked for a while. He got very teary. I gave him a hug.

Not long after that meeting, I was reading Jim's obituary. Although diabetes was blamed, I can't help but believe the man died of a broken heart.

Off and on, I'd wonder about his other son. His namesake. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, he turned 18 and was on his own.

And now I've got that boy's old phone number.

Friday, February 28, 2020


I don't have a cellphone. I mean, I've had them, but never remembered to carry it. It always seemed superfluous. Tim has his cellphone and I'm usually with him, so I never needed mine. Then, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I didn't have a cellphone again. (My fault really. I didn't want one, so I bought the cheapest one, and they didn't last.)

But I'm headed to Dylan and Brittani's by myself. Tim and I have been tossing around the idea of getting a smart phone for a while. We took a deep breath and yesterday, I did it. I bought myself a smart phone. 

Which had the immediate effect of making me feel very dumb. Be interesting to see how this goes. 

William was here and finally got the kindle we had bought him for his birthday. I was trying to download Math Vs. Zombies and having a bit of trouble setting it up, so hauled it in to our computer guru for guidance. He's a patient guy. He has to be with the likes of me. But I got it set up.

William is thrilled with the game and we have also have it set up so he can read books from the library. He ambled around on his kindle, showing me what it could do. "Look it has a map. I can go anywhere in the world!"  "It has a calculator!" Every discovery led to more excitement. 

He played his game for a couple hours and had a great time with it. When his mom and Don came, I cautioned him that I wasn't sure if he could play the game at home since they do not have the internet. 

He looked at me. "Yes, you can. I found that out. Let me show you..." And he did. 

If I have any questions about my new phone, I can probably ask him.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Iris' New Shoes

You know the part that I love best? "Can you tell Grandma thank you?" and she looks towards the hall.

Next week I'll be walking down that hall. Looking very forward to my five days!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Pinewood Derby

Oh my gosh, it was so crowded, you could barely move, so noisy you couldn't have a conversation across the table. The woman next to us coughed and coughed and coughed, while telling everyone how sick she'd been all last week. There was no place to move to and even if there was, there was no way to get to it. 

After 65 heats, William did not place. His response was "That's okay. I already got my trophy." (From placing first in his pack.)

I'm glad that he was so cheerful and cheering on his friends.

Now...if only we have not all picked up the Corona virus...

Friday, February 21, 2020

Harry Potter's Birthday.

William's birthday party is ready. He will be wearing his Harry Potter costume that his aunt Brittani gave him last fall, meeting his guests at the door and escorting them downstairs to the classroom at Hogwarts, which will be held in a properly dungeon like room in the basement of our church.

His mother will be dressed as Mrs. McGonigle.  We have a talking Sorting Hat to sort them into their houses.

The wands are done, and ready to be wrapped in kraft paper, tied with raffia. and labeled with the official Olivander Wands labels. Once they are sorted, each child will be presented with one custom made wand designed to their own special powers.

There will be a Spells Class where they will use their wands to do 'magic'. Waving their wands and yelling 'Nox!' will result in the room going dark. The light switch is outside of the room which makes it just about perfect. The lights will come on again when the wands are waved and they yell 'Lumos!'A remote controlled spider will wander in to disrupt the proceedings. They will use their wands to send him packing.

The Herbology class has them planting mandrakes, There will be quite a bit of screaming babies in the hall before the mandrakes get settled down enough to be brought into the classroom and gently planted in their little pots.

There is a game of quidditch to be played and the winner will take home a real Harry Potter trophy.

The Ministry of Magic has given unprecedented permission for muggles to have dragon eggs. (The dragons were a wonderful find!)

After an exciting time in the classroom, everyone will gather to celebrate Harry's birthday.  We will play Pin the Pig's Tail on Dudley and then do another spate of magic with their wands. Drinks will magically change colors and the candle flames will burn in color too.

At the end, everyone takes home their mandrakes, a dragon egg, a wand, a golden snitch and a box of Bertie Botts beans.

William has been purposely kept in the dark about most of the goings on. He has just enough hints to pique his curiosity.

I'm not sure he's going to make it until Sunday afternoon. We've still got the pinewood derby going on tomorrow, and a Dimache Gras party Sunday morning.

It's a big weekend.

Monday, February 17, 2020

JoJo Rabbit

I've got to find a place that is airing this movie: JoJo Rabbit. A friend went to see it, and was stunned. He said that when it ended, the theater erupted in applause. It received a spontaneous standing ovation. He said it was the most impossibly wise and wonderful movie he'd ever seen in his life.

Sunday, February 16, 2020


Tim is pretty excited. We're going to see Journey this summer. It's his favorite group. They're touring with the Pretenders, and that band is neither of our favorite groups. but seeing Journey will be exciting. Cool thing? Steve Perry is supposed to be the lead singer for this tour. Things change quickly in the world of rock and roll, but what an amazing thing that would be.

We're up to our armpits in putting together a Harry Potter birthday party, but will be back soon.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Pinewood Derby

Listening to his grandfather explain the principles of aerodynamics, William came up with a car design. It was very sleek, and it was cut out at a work shop. He brought it home to show his grandfather. Together they painted it metallic gold and they worked on getting the wheels just so. The final touch was borrowing the weights from his last year's car.

'Golden Speed' won each time it was raced. In the finals, the car came in first for all three heats, the speed coming in at slightly over 190 mph.

He's chuffed.

Two weeks from now, he and Golden Speed race outside the pack.

William Spends the Night

Since his mother has been laid off, it's been a couple of weeks now since William has slept over. I offered him an 'over-nighter' last night, and he was quite excited about it.

We ordered pizza, and had a lazy night watching him assemble a new Lego kit he'd been quite excited to get his hands on.

Tired from his first week back at a normal job, Tim went to bed early.  William and I found "Nanny McPhee". I'd never seen the movie. Neither had he.  It really was lovely. We both enjoyed it very much. As I tucked him into bed, I told him how much we had missed him. It was long past his bedtime and he was nearly asleep as soon as he became horizontal. He mumbled, rolled over and was out like a light.

We've woke up to quite a white world, a thick fluffy blanket of snow covering everything. Tim got up and shoveled out our driveway, and then got the walks at the rentals. William and I baked cookies. Sugar cookies which we used a glass to cut, and then turned them into yellow emoji cookies. We made a batch of peanut butter cookies and a batch of brownies. We arranged half of them on a platter for him to take home and share with his mother and Don, and half to stay here.

He's soaking in a bathtub of bubbles right now. He said, thoughtfully, "I missed you too."

We'll all meet up at the pinewood derby. He's very excited about his car design. We will see how it goes this year.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Anxious times

Today, a woman asked a question at work. I'm not sure what it was, but another woman came to help her. Before we knew what was happening, the questioner was yelling, really yelling.

She stormed across the room, raising her fists and yelling, and then, gritting her teeth, she marched back to her desk. 

The woman being screamed at demanded to know what the hell that was all about. 

She got no answer. 

We continued on working.

The woman works half days, and after she left, the woman shouted at said, "Did you SEE that?!" We all allowed that it was rather hard to miss. We all agreed she's an unhappy soul. I think that she's also afraid of losing her job. She's a widow, nearly ready to retire but not quite there yet.  It is a stressful time as we wait to see what happens next. 

After lunch, I was told that I could leave for the day, that there was no work.  So I did. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020


I find it interesting to listen to people talk at work. Today, a woman was talking about her new 'boyfriend'. She was pretty upset that he can't spell.

I listened as she went on. She wasn't trying to be snobby, but it really, REALLY bothered her to get a text from him. She related the discussion that they'd had about this topic. It seemed that he didn't take the criticism well.

I listened along with the rest of the room while she talked. I'm mean, this is a hard working girl. She always has more than one job. She likes nice things and she's willing to work for them.

Finally, I got nosy enough to ask the question, "How old is this guy?"

"42," she answered.

I said, "Well, I doubt he's going back to school..." and she agreed with me and reiterated that she's not trying to be a snob.

Someone pointed out that spelling is an issue with many people.

I pointed out that there are different kinds of intelligence, that I myself am a good speller. Tim, now, the man is NOT a speller. His brother explained it like so: "None of the H------- boys are good spellers.  That's why you see us pulling out our drivers licenses when we sign stuff. We want to make sure that we're spelling our names right."

The room laughed.

I continued. "Tim asks me how to spell stuff all the time. He doesn't read a thing unless it's a technical manual that teaches him how to do something he wants to know how to do. But really, the man is a genius. He's the kind of man who will invent a tool to test something on a car. He knows how to do just about everything and he's learned it by asking questions, watching videos, or reading. Spelling is not the only measure of intelligence.

The room agreed.

The girl pondered that, and then slowly agreed also.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


We have never bought a new car. We consider them a waste of money. We look for good low mileage used cars. Tim is quite a mechanic and he keep cars running. In the case of his car, he's kept it running a lot longer than I actually believe it should be.

Now that he is back to work, I worry. He drives an hour and 15 minutes to work every morning, and then back home at night. The worst part it that some of it is through some pretty remote area, along and through the Seneca nation, where there is often no cellphone service.

Driving home from work last night, I saw a car with a 'For Sale' sign on it. It was a Cadillac. He likes the old Cadillac he has now. I went home and waited for him, and when he came in, I pounced on him, dragging him right back out the door. He put up a bit of a fuss, but went. Probably curious to see what I found.

Anyways, when we pulled up, and read the sign, all protestations stopped. It was a very good price.  It was a very nice car. He got out and gave it a good going over. The guy explained that it would need new brakes and rotors to pass inspection. His mother just really didn't need to be driving any more.

They stood in the drizzle talking about the car. I heard Tim say, "Yeah. I'll buy it."

Never in our marriage have we BOTH had nice cars at the same time. We always have a 'good' car and the 'beater' or (as Tim calls it) "his work car". Now we both have 'good' cars.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hard Times

One of the benefits of 'hard times' is that sometimes you get a glimpse of a person's true nature.

One of my coworkers received bad news at the end of last week. She's a quiet person someone who does not talk a lot. She was demoted and took a pay cut. She was given the choice to take it or leave.

It's a hard decision. I understand that there will be job cuts. I have watched people come back from receiving the news that they are laid off. Some are pretty upset. I am married. I have someone to help me shoulder the burden. Between the two of us we have been very adept at navigating hard times. Not everyone has that safe place to fall back into.

In any case, my coworker took the news of her demotion with quiet dignity. Yesterday, it was announced. She now will work one of the same jobs that I do. She stood quietly with a calm face as the news was announced.

At the end of the day, I saw her walking out with a grim look, carrying a box of desk things. I stopped and waited for her. She looked quizzically at me. She's not a person that I talk to a lot. We don't travel in overlapping circles most of the time.

I said, "I just wanted to tell you that I really think you are a class act. I know this is tough."

She looked at me surprised. Then her face crumpled a little. "Thank you for saying that. It means a lot. This is awful." We walked across a virtually empty parking lot talking quietly. 

Sunday, February 2, 2020


Stupor Bowl Sunday...and I was able to miss most of it. If anybody wants to talk about who won the game, I'm claiming a win here.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Spice of Life

Our new keyboard came today. Tim helpfully pointed out that it has drain holes in the bottom. In 20+ years, I've never spilled anything on the keyboard. I don't plan on putting those helpful drain holes to any sort of a test. I'm still kind of surprised at my carelessness.

Oh. PS despite my avowals not to buy anything old unless I absolutely needed it, I did decide that I absolutely needed these:
I fell in love with them as soon as I saw them. You can't really tell from the picture, but the bottles are milk glass, art deco styled. The plastic tray had me a little concerned (as to properly ascertaining their age) but I really wanted them. They match perfectly with my kitchen. 

So I bought 'em. And drove an hour to get them. And paid $20 for them. 

I couldn't wait to show my sister, so we stopped in on the way back home. She guessed them from the '50s. I felt they were late 30s. We started googling our little hearts out in a sisterly competitive sort of way. 

Here's the down-low. They are Griffith spice bottles. The company began selling spices in fancy bottles in 1939. The racks were made of plastic until 1942, when the war started. At that point, they began to make the racks out of wood. I can even buy replacement labels for them. For all Tim's initial grumbling, they are a popular little item and $20 was a good deal. 

But, nothing else. I absolutely don't need anything else. I just got this house hoed out and I don't need to start accumulating again. 

Except when I find my dream stove. 

Friday, January 31, 2020

At work yesterday, a woman came out of a side office. There was a lot of concerned whispering. I heard the word 'Bloomberg' and then 'That can't be good'.

Later, I looked up the Bloomberg report and discovered that the company has a $400 million loan and another $200 million loan. They went on to say that the company does not seem to have a clear plan to meet these responsibilities. They gave our company a 'distressed' rating and forecast massive reorganization.

I did a little more looking. Our stock has not paid shareholders dividends for over a year.

S & P has issued a report downgrading our credit ratings.

We've had a second series of layoffs.

Nothing to do but wait and see what happens next.

Dumb Stuff

I've been really dragging behind lately. Exhausted. Yesterday morning I got up at 4 AM, brewed my coffee, and wandered out to the computer for my normal ease-into-the-day routine.

And dumped a whole cup of cappuccino into the keyboard.

I proved to myself I don't need to drink coffee to wake up.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Grandma Stuff

Being a grandmother to Iris is different from being a grandmother to William. William is local, and I see him pretty much daily. We talk about what is on his mind. He shows me his art. I know what he likes, what he doesn't like, his quirks, and his sense of humor. I KNOW him.

Iris is far away. I don't see her regularly, although her lovely mama is very good about sending me videos and pictures.

We saw her in early November. We had five precious days with her last week.

I got to 'learn' her. She loves to color. We took her an easel. She communicates easily, although she is signing for most of it. There are signs for 'more', for 'please', for 'stop', for 'color', 'hungry', etc. She takes people by the hand and leads them around, showing them the things that matter to her. She loves to be read to and is at the stage that the pictures matter. If there is a picture of a cat, she knows it's a cat. She recognized a rubber ducky and knows she has one in the bathroom upstairs. If you say 'nice and cozy', she picks up her soft blanky and gets a pillow from the couch and tucks herself in. She likes to tumble and she likes to move. She loves to play "Where's my eye?" or "Where's my nose?" Her baby shark puzzle is a big favorite. She likes to sing. She loves her dogs. She loves routine.

She also has a wonderful sense of humor. I screwed up my face at her, and she stared in amazement. Then she screwed up her little face. We both laughed. I stuck out my tongue. She stuck out hers. I blinked my eyes, I'm sure you get the picture. She thought this was the funniest thing ever. The following night at the dinner table, we were all talking and Iris was happily feeding herself. (She's surprisingly adept with her little fork.) I happened to catch of glimpse of Iris trying to catch my eye around the side of a large table centerpiece. When I looked at her, she made a face. I made one back. We both laughed.

5 precious days. I came away feeling like I got a chance to get to know her. My grandma heart is full and happy.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Strange Stuff.

Some very troubling signs that things are going very wrong at work. I've been transferred to another department, and am glad for it. My own department is so slow that nobody had to report Friday or this week. More layoffs are scheduled.

I keep my head down and I work, but it is hard not to feel like these events are very bad omens.

Thursday was the day that they told people that more layoffs were scheduled. They also said that no one can request vacation time on the days that people are sent home due to lack of work.  I left work at the end of the day. The place seemed eerily empty.

When I got home, Tim was not there, but it is sometimes like that. He's rewiring the house we just got. I started preparing supper and when I heard him coming in, I said, "Hey, things are looking a lot more dicey at work..." and began to tell him the details.

He said, "Take the layoff. If you get a chance, take the layoff." I turned to him in surprise. He stood there holding a piece of paper with a strange look on his face.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing, he answered. "I went to the post office to pick up a registered letter. Dresser-Rand has called me back to work."

The man took a voluntary lay-off over four years ago, to see how we would fare on one paycheck. He's wanted to go back and get another year under his belt before retirement, because it will boost his pension, but when he's bid on jobs, he hasn't gotten them. We just took it as a sign that God wanted him doing what he was doing.

Evidently, God wants him to do something else right now.

In talking about it, I won't take a voluntary layoff. I'll ride this horse until it drops. Then I'll decide what to do. It will be very nice to have extra money to tuck away while we wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Good Stuff

When you don't see a 17 month old for two months, it's like you're meeting a whole new kid. We're headed to Blandon for 5 days and I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tough Stuff

William has a little friend at church. Her name is Clarabella.  Clarabella sits with us pretty regularly since both her parents are involved in the music program during the services. She and William send each other little notes. They share their toys. They whisper back and forth. She is a year younger than William, but she's no shrinking violet, this gal. Clarabella explained to William that he is her boyfriend and that this means he can't have any other girlfriend but her. 

He didn't seem to have a problem with that. 

She's a fourth generation church member. Her great grandmother's handwriting still appears on the organizational cards in the church kitchen. Her grandparents are members. So are her parents. 

Her grandfather has been ill for some time now, very ill. He's an extremely quiet man. He dealt with his illness in a very quiet way. He worked for the same company I did. Not long ago, I was shocked to make a call and find myself speaking with him. I'd have never guessed he was still working. 

As time passed, he seemed to get even quieter. I'd see him at coffee hour nursing his cup of coffee and looking exhausted, though he always was able to muster a cheerful word. 

William has had her Christmas gifts, but Clarabella has not been in church. Her father ducks out after the service. I haven't seen her grandparents since Christmas. 

Last Sunday, while peace was passed, I finally got up the nerve to ask the woman in the pew behind me if she'd had any word on the old gentleman. She said that she'd seen them at the hospital. She looked at me and said, "I wouldn't have recognized him if his wife hadn't been there. He's lost so much weight." 

The man has been stick thin for months now. I honestly couldn't imagine him any skinnier. 

During the prayers of the people, I offered up a silent prayer in my heart for Kurt and his family. At the end of the litany, the priest stepped forward to tell us that Kurt was dying. There was an audible gasp from us all as he offered up the prayer for the dying. 

By the end of our service, he was gone from this world. 

We got a little card for William to send to Clarabella. When we gave it to him, he signed it without comment. We addressed it for him. He stuck the stamp on. 

"Thank you, William, I said. "I'm sure that she'll be glad to get this." He looked at me with a very solemn face. "Can we stop talking about this?" he said, and he quickly left the room to scramble up on the couch next to his own grandpa. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Men Stuff

Saturday, Tim said, "Let's go to Kane after lunch. I want to show you an antique store."

I'm always game for a trip. I like browsing. Since hoeing out the house, really, I don't feel the need to buy as often as I used to, but it's still fun to look.

It was a pretty day for a drive, and I drank my iced tea and watched the scenery going by, while visiting with Tim. I'll never quite understand why it is so hard to make the time to relax and talk, but when we get the moments, I savor them.

The store is my favorite kind of antique store, a place where people stop in just to hang out and talk. The owner was repairing some veneer. I watched him carefully. I've got a dresser I need to work on. Another man stood talking with him about WWII. Every now and again, one or the other of them would stop to settle an argument by looking something up on their phones.

At one point, one of them stopped to marvel that it was 2020. The guy said, "My wife is telling people we've been married for 50 years. We haven't. We've got a couple years to go."

The other said, "I'm right behind you. I've been married for 35 now."

The response came back, "Well, you'll always be behind me. You're not going to catch up." And he made a joking comment about wives.

The younger man laughed and quickly agreed, but followed it up with, "But don't you DARE tell her I said that, because I need that woman to stick around."

I burst out laughing right along with them.

As I wandered through the store, I found a set of moon glow dishes. I'd never seen them before. They really were gorgeous. But I have a set of peach luster dishes that are pretty too, so I decided to keep on moving. I saw a table I wanted, but couldn't figure out where I'd put it.  I'm really trying to be mindful about what I haul into the house.

Next thing I know, Tim's found a five gallon Quaker State Oil can, and just that quick, he's got that down and in heavy conversation with the two fellows in front of the store, about the fact that it is in excellent condition for an old oil can and some debate back and forth as they tried to figure out a general age for the item. It had a plastic cap, but Tim was convinced it was a replacement cap. He thought the can was much older. It went on for some time. Everyone had an opinion.

I don't think I'll ever understand men. The last time that we went to a store, Tim fell in love with the grill of an old Chevy truck, heavily chromed, with a spot where you fit the crank. He dragged that thing home too.  (It's huge) And now it is another oil can. So I asked him the same question that I ask myself every time I see something.

"So what are you going to do with that?"

The answer came back: "I'm putting it in my man cave."

That's one room I'll never have to worry about hoeing out, so I shut up and kept on browsing.

Tim's drawer

Tim has a drawer. It is the place where he tosses all his receipts. He writes on the back of them what it was for, and then, every year, just for grins and chuckles, he pull the drawer our, sits down on the sofa with the thing across his lap and begins to sort them, each on having it's own bag. Then I generally sit down at the computer and make a list for each category. Each category is clipped together and put in a gallon size zip lock, which then goes upstairs to the plastic tub which has been labeled for the year.

Every year we do this, right about this time.

This year, as Tim was going through the drawer, he pulled out a wedding shower card. He handed it to me.

It had been opened. It was signed "Mom and Tim" which narrows it down to one of my three. It had a $50 Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift card in it.

Tim goes through that drawer ever single year. How he came to find a nearly 6 year old card in there this year I couldn't tell you.

A half hour later, he found a bank envelope with $60 in it.

I said, "Whatever you do, don't stop going through that drawer. It might be the answer to William's missing socks."

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Scenes from a Marriage

The cat and I were having a bit of a spat when Tim walked into the kitchen. He listened a minute and said, "So tell me again why we have a cat?"

I looked at him.

"You know, sometimes at 5:30 in the morning, I have the same question about husbands when I'm trying to get out the door to work and find that mine has taken my car keys...AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!"

Tim laughed and laughed.

The Alcoholic

Many years ago, I went to school with a girl whose parents were extremely well to do. She was in some of my classes, but she was certainly not in my circle. She was shipped off to a private school abruptly.

Later, I had cause to run across her father, old and frail by this time, in a nursing home. Talking to him was interesting. He was a drinker and could not drink in the nursing home. He was stubborn and non-compliant, but took a liking to me because I liked listening to his stories. (Disclaimer: I like listening to everyone's stories)

He told me about the company he owned and how his best workers were the 'pollacks and dagos'. They were craftsmen he told me, the backbone of his company. My own grandfather was one of his craftsman. That I know.

He talked about things that had no relevance to my own life, the social circles he moved in, name dropping and waiting for me to be impressed by that. I usually had to google these people when I got home, because, again, these people had no relevance to my life, but it was interesting. He told stories of his life at the country club, and various organizations that he had belonged to, about his work.

He was especially proud that his daughter had been sent to the same boarding school that Jane Fonda attended. His daughter had been sent there after she developed an unhealthy interest in a boy deemed unsuitable by her mother.  I was always curious what made him unsuitable. Her older brothers were very wild in the school stories. I was cautioned against mingling with them. MY parents had found them unsuitable. I wanted to ask, but didn't. I may be nosy, but I try not to be rude.

 But I listened to those stories as I went about my work.

One day he asked me to come in and shut the door. He wanted me to come work for him in his home. He wanted out of the nursing home. He offered me $10 an hour, in a whisper, and cautioned me not to tell anyone else. He didn't want them to know how much I would be making.

I didn't laugh. I was making more than that already but in his mind he was offering me big bucks. I didn't take the job, because I couldn't imagine anything worse than being trapped in a work situation with a non-compliant alcoholic who would doubtless expect everything to be done as he wanted, not as he needed.

But it struck me as sad. This man has a fortune to his name and he was very proud of that and of his big home and of this things, but the reality of the situation was that he was in a nursing home and he couldn't come home because his wife could no longer handle his needs and, moreover, did not seem to want to. His family visited him every Sunday and every Sunday he tried to talk them into his plans. Every Sunday evening, he was very grumpy.

This frail old man still saw himself as a man to be reckoned with, a powerhouse, influential, a boss man. I thought it sad that he didn't seem to realize that times had changed.

Anyways, reading the paper, I saw that his son had received another DUI, after a life time of DUIs. At 64, he was finally given jail time.

I was actually present at one of his early DUIs. He was coming the wrong way down a four lane and hit a car filled with kids.  It was a bad accident, but luckily the injuries were minor. Still there were several children crying very hard and a pretty pissed off father, He strode over to where the driver was slumped behind the wheel, uninjured and not speaking coherently. It was a summer night and the guy was jerking on the car door trying to get it opened while he bellowed profanities. The police physically restrained him and threatened him with arrest. I was only 20 or so, but I couldn't help noticing their gentle handling of the drunk driver and I remembered thinking then, that 'this is what money gets you in this county'.

In the intervening 40 years, I've had no reason to see it otherwise. I've seen that man plenty of times. He always has money. He always knew me and greeted me like an old friend. I have no idea how this came to be. I was always cordial, but I never would have considered him a friend. I think it was more of a collector's instinct. Like his father before him, he was a name dropper. I was a writer for the local newspaper and so I made the cut, another name to be dropped.

In today's paper, I saw the name yet again and read what the judge had to say, about how his whole life had been one offense after another, multiple rehabs, multiple programs, multiple breaks given by the system, about the money the country had spent on him, about his own money spent on his rehab (it was his father's money. The old man had told me that himself.) After all these years, finally, the man is going to serve jail time.

An ordinary citizen of this town would have seen jail time by now, but at 64, this man is headed there for the first time.

I feel bad for him in a way.  Like his father before him, he lived his life not noticing that the world around him had changed. The heavy drinking and partying may have worked for the wealthy folks at the country club when his father was in his prime. It may have been accepted when he was a teenager in high school, but he didn't seem to notice that times had changed.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Just a Thing I Noticed

I think that there are two types of women in this world: Those who can artfully swing a wrap around themselves and cut quite a stylish figure. Then there are the folks like me who look like they stumbled out of bed wrapped in a blanket because they couldn't find their bathrobe.

...and another thing...

You know, long ago I heard the song Solsbury Hill, and I loved the lyrics of it. I always have.

Now, I don't want you to think that I spend a lot of time pondering this, but it occurred to me early on that this was the song I wanted playing at my funeral. Some day. Some far off day. WAAAAAAYYY off in the future.

The television was talking to itself the other day, and as I passed by, I heard it in perfect horror. MY. SONG. It is now a coffee commercial.


And now when I shuffle off this mortal coil, if my wishes are honored, those in attendance will smile and say, "Yeah. That woman did love her coffee."

Which of course would be true, but it wasn't what I was going for here.

But while we're on the subject, here's another one of those commercials. 

I've never seen this one before, but really, it feeds quite nicely into my funeral idea. People will envision me showing up to meet St. Peter with a coffee maker. They'll laugh and laugh.

Which is another thing I wasn't going for.


My sister gave me a tiny planner book. I've never actually kept one before but decided it would be a very good thing for keeping track of things at church. Meetings. Stuff like that.

So today, flush with the resolution of a New Year, I went into church. I carefully wrote down when I was on to type the bulletins, when I was reading, when I was counting, when the annual meeting was. Etc.

And I was very proud of my organizational skills.

When I went to leave, I gathered up my things, but could not find that little planner book. It really is a little thing. Handy sized.

I looked all over. Under the pew. Around the pew. Behind the cushions. No sign of it.

I finally found it. I'd put the hymnal away with the tiny planner in it.

This does not bode well for my resolution, does it?

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Tim's Retirement Plans.

One of the drawbacks of being married to Tim is that he listens to the ideas of other people and ponders them in his own mind.

After the doctor's wife approached him with the offer to buy the house we just bought telling him she wanted it for her kids and for an Air BnB when they weren't there.  Tim has been mulling it over.

After a long day at work, I was sitting curled up with a book in my newly undecorated house when Tim said, "I'm thinking of turning that house into an air BnB."

Me; (looking up from my book, surprised) "Why?"

"It's in a good location and it's right on the creek, and it's a cute little place and people pay more for renting one of these places than we'd make just charging monthly rent."

Me: "But you'd also have it setting empty during the time when no one was there. You'd also have to clean it every time a guest left, clean it from top to bottom."

Tim: "Yes."

Me: (knowing full well Tim's domestic inclinations) "I'm not doing it. I've got a full time job. I don't need another part time job. I'm also not interested in keeping the listing up and and scheduling."

Tim: "You spend a lot of time on the internet."

Me: "I'm not doing it, Tim. If you want to try it, it is on you. I'm 62 years old, and I want to retire. When I retire, I don't want to be tied down to an Air BnB."

Tim looks grumpy.

Me: "I have spent my whole life doing what I have had to do. I have worked hard, I have put off doing a lot of things that I've wanted to do because I felt like I owed it to you to let you grow your business. I'm tired of that life. When I am ready to retire, I want to be able to go to Dylan and Brittani's to spend time with Iris, or go to see Cara and Colin, where ever they are. I've been waiting to go to Australia forever.  I want to be able to do what I want to do instead of what I have to do."

I've got 2 years, 4 months and 17 days until retirement. I've got plans. Tim left his job over 3 years ago and has been (very successfully) working for himself. I have this idea that he's not ready to retire. He's got his own plans.

What happens next will be interesting.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Little House.

This last house we bought is kind of interesting. in the matter of days, someone asked him about buying the house. As is. That very minute. Tim didn't think he was serious, and he hasn't followed up, but his story was that his wife has a degenerative illness, the house is her mothers, and that they'd been waiting for it to go on the market so they could get it. It was important to him not only for the sentimental reasons, but because his wife can not longer go up and down stairs. They need a small house on one floor.

We discussed it. I try to stay out of Tim's business, because really, I make decisions based on emotion. This generally does not make good business sense.

The woman with the degenerative muscle issues is the sister of the person who sold us the house. We knew that they did not speak. We don't judge that. We've both got odd family situations of our own. But still. Since the money went to the state, it would have cost the power of attorney sister nothing at all to let it go to her sister. It actually seems sort of mean. However we understand that there are two sides to every story. Who even knows if the man's story is true?


So anyway, we've kept that in our hearts, making sure we are listening to God on this one. We haven't heard any more from the fellow who stopped in just a few days before Christmas. He told Tim they'd talk after Christmas.

This morning, Tim was walking down the street to the new house for a couple hours of work.

Two women were out walking and they stopped him. The doctor's wife wants to buy the house. They own a little house in the same block. Her plan was to purchase it for when her children came to stay and to use it as a B and B when the children are not there.

Interesting that the little house would attract so much attention.

Tim is rewiring it. They want it as is, but agree it would be great if the rewiring was completed. They have, however, their own ideas on remodeling so they want to purchase as is.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. If Tim didn't have this house to remodel, he could resume work on the Wayne St house. It would put building our retirement home that much closer.

The Truth Does Not Get Old.

"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace."
―Alfred, Lord Tennyson