Saturday, October 31, 2020

Lost and Found

On a hot summer day, I was part of a play in Seneca Falls, NY. to mark the 170th anniversary of the first women's rights convention.  Tim came along and we wandered the streets of that quaint little town, absorbing the history of it.

We found ourselves in front a small framing shop there and we went in. I spied the tiniest little thing, a perfect Christmas gift for someone far away. Tim and I studied it, and in agreement, we bought it. The artist carefully wrapped it, handing us a brown paper package all tied up in string,  I expected Julie Andrews to burst through a door singing about it.

I really was pleased with that little gift. 

I think it's probably because I'm getting Christmas put all together, but last night I dreamed about that little package and I woke up with it still in my mind. Today I went to retrieve it and take it upstairs to the 'Christmas' bedroom. 

EXCEPT...

It's not where I thought it was and I've got no earthly idea where I've put it. 

In my searching, I did unearth three gifts that I meant to give last year, but evidently forgot that I had.

I guess you could say that I'm ahead of the game. 

Late Edit: Two days later, I have found where I stashed it. 


Friday, October 30, 2020

Wild Life

Tim found our retirement property about 4 years ago. It is across the road from my brother in law and sister's pasture that hooks around behind the local cemetery. It is a sad and neglected place, with years of rubbish dumped. It had a huge beaver dam in the little stream that runs through it, which kept probably 1/3 of the property wet and poorly drained. The beaver also damaged a great many trees, and some of them were what Tim would call 'good ones'. That was the first order of business, taking care of them. We did. They moved across the road and built another huge dam (it makes me laugh a little that I am always adding an 'n' to 'beaver dam'. In thinking about it, I've decided that is actually not incorrect.) That damn flooded the entire western end of my BIL and sister's pasture before they were able to get that cleared out. 

So beaver are incredibly destructive. They have their place, I suppose. The only thing that I know for sure is that their place and our place need to be two different places.

We had bunnies, and Tim liked that. Their numbers were not excessive, and there was one who used to come to the edge of the brush line to watch us sitting around the fire. With a little work, I think that he would have become tamed. 

But, nature being nature, and the circle of life, etc. the rabbit population took a big hit. There were at least three dens of foxes across the road. That was a fun summer though, watching those kits grow. 
We have the occasional visits from the local bear. When we walked into the land previously known as 'the swamp', we saw a young apple tree, spindly and struggling. Now that the land is drying out, it should do better, poor thing. I looked at it and said, "Something has visited," and it had. Something had circled around the base of that little tree, something that laid down to eat its fill. Tim said, "Huh. That's bear." 

I sense yet another game camera in the our future. 

The game cameras we do have pick up all sorts of critters. Tim was sure that we had a coyote. They are very wary critters, but he saw signs. His major clue was scat that had the dirt scuffed up around it. That is the behavior of a member of the dog family: they do their business and then briskly 'wipe their  back feet'. Sure enough, the game camera caught a large coyote walking up the driveway as if he owned the place. The everlasting disappointment to me is that they didn't handle the woodchuck population, which was totally out of control on that poor neglected land.

We are of a live and let live philosophy (unless we are stocking the freezer), but the woodchucks had to go. I was using a livetrap and relocating them. Tim was less patient, and shot them, one after another, five of them in one notable afternoon alone. He put the carcasses in a clearing, and they were always cleared away by one predator or another before our next visit to the property.


While fun to watch, these creatures are a problem as well. We really have too many of them at this point. It's hard to plant when they are hard at work undoing everything that you are trying to do. 

My cousin had been severely injured in a car accident. A deer leaped in front of him and came right through his windshield. He has some physical limitations due to the accident. He's always been an outdoorsman. He had made his peace with the fact that he'd never trek out into the woods to hunt again. 

That story bothered Tim. We had the perfect set up for a hunter of limited mobility, and he opened the property up for cousin Tim to hunt on. I made a family joke. My Tim is Tim Buck One. My cousin Tim is Tim Buck Two. Tim Buck Two was able to pull his vehicle right up to a shooting shed. Last year Tim Buck Two got a small buck and was over the moon. 

This year Tim Buck One spent a lot of time and money improving the land to include Tim Buck Two's hunting area.  He was able to brush hog it, and to remove yet more of the two generations of junk left by the previous owner. He took down some dead trees. He had a small pond put in  that serves two purposes: it drained a wet area below the garden, and it also made a nice place for the deer to drink when they cross the stream to help themselves to the windfall apples from the trees. 

Tim Buck Two got another buck this year and it was a nice one. He has told us over and over again how grateful he is. Over and over again, we tell him that we're grateful for the help. We really have too many deer and they are a problem. 

Last weekend, Tim's game camera caught a good look at what we thought was a feral cat. We were a little confused. Our feral cat, 'Get Along', is black and white. This cat was black, solid black. A long hair. We thought perhaps we had another feral cat, but the camera caught it clearly. We have a fisher! Tim is delighted. 

We have a nice property that we are taking back from nature. It has been used as a junkyard for many years. The plants have grown wild.  We are trying to clear the land, and to make a garden and to establish berry plots. We are building the equipment shed needed to house the tractors we use to achieve our ends. 

Next will be the green house. We know where it will be, and the roof run off from the garage will provide an onsite water source for the plants we grow. 

After that, we will begin on our house. The ramshackle little house on the property now has snakes in the walls, probably drawn by the abundance of field mice. There are two raccoons living under the porch. (They never miss an opportunity to sneak inside dilapidated house if they are given a chance.) An unknown creature lives in the basement and we hear it scrabbling away from us when we go down into the semidark.  

My poor husband also has a wife who  (at 63) has lost a great deal of her adventurous spirit. We've got enough trouble to make our peace with the creatures outside, let alone do battle with them inside the house too. The unreasonable woman has demanded a new house, and refuses to budge on her demands.

Tim stayed late last week to work on the property. I had a lot of stuff to get done and none of it was at the property. I took my car and left. He was going to drive the truck home later. 

On his way home, from the side of the road came a hawk on a dive bomb. Sure it would hit the windshield, Tim flinched.  It ended up colliding with the truck grill and made an astonishingly loud  bang. Tim pulled off as soon as it was safe, and checked. It had taken a chunk right out of his grill. 

He turned around and headed back. He wanted to get a closer look at the hawk because it was huge. He thought it was a red tail. You never have an opportunity to see a bird of prey close up like that. He was sad that he would be looking at a dead bird.

Much to his surprise, the hawk was standing there in the middle of the road.

 He was relieved to see that it wasn't dead, but that's also a bit of a problem. He didn't have any way to gather up an injured hawk for transport to the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. You can't just pick up an injured hawk, sit him on your front seat and drive off. They're not amenable creatures.

He pulled his truck to the side of the road to ponder the situation. 

Glaring at him with his fierce hawk eyes, the hawk turned, spread its wings and lifted to the sky, 

When Tim told me about it later, he was still awestruck. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Easy as Pie

 I didn't fall asleep last night until well after 3 AM. Out of relief for my daughter and her husband, I suppose. My mind was racing off in a million directions as my mind tends to do when something that has been preoccupying my thoughts for an inordinate length of time simply resolves itself. Deprived of that line of thinking, my mind begins to cast about for a new preoccupation. I imagine it will be like that once the election is done too. It took me forever to fall asleep.

I figured that I would sleep late, but I did not. I seem to wake up between 7:30 and 8:00 no matter what. After years of getting up at 4:30, I guess that is sleeping in.

I was up. I had my cappuccino. Despite the caffeine, I was no ball of energy though. It was going to be a long day. 

As I took my cup back to the kitchen, my eye fell on a bag of apples that Tim brought from the retirement property. They were small and not very impressive looking, but Tim loved their flavor. Baking is a good low energy activity. I began to peel those little apples, thinking that I'd have enough to make an apple crisp. But as I pared, it became evident that I would have enough to make an apple pie. 

I'm going to tell you a shocking secret about me. I use premade pie crusts. I have to. I can't make pie crust. 

It was not always like this. 

My first Thanksgiving away from home, I showed up to the family dinner with two pies. My mother was tickled pink because in all her years, she was never happy with her pie crusts. In her mind, they were tough. My pie crusts were flakey. She couldn't stop marveling over them. For the next couple years, I was the designated pie maker, because I "had the knack". 

Then I joined the army, and was away for 7 years. When I returned home, I made my first pies for some holiday, and...they were 'tough'. They were not flakey. Everyone agreed. Seems like you can lose your knack if you don't use your knack, and, knick knack paddy whack, my knack was a thing of the past. 

I was a little disappointed about that, but I accepted this new knowledge, and from then on I bought frozen pie crusts. Kept them in the freezer. If I needed a pie, it was easy enough to put one together. 

Today, I had grabbed my mom's old bowl out of the cupboard. I didn't even think of it. It was a homely thing, chipped and crazed, FireKing.  She used it to bake rice pudding in. She used it for raising her bread dough. Now it was filled with apples and there was plenty in there for a pie. 

Except... I had no pie crust in the freezer. 

Tim's pretty easy going and he doesn't criticize my cooking. He loved those apples so much, he'd be pleased to see them used. And...he does love pie. The pie might not be perfect, but he would not complain. 

I got out my books and I began to make the pie crust from scratch. I cut the shortening into the flour with the old wooden handled pastry blender. I knew exactly when it was time to begin adding  the cold water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and once again, I knew exactly when I'd added enough water.  I divided the pastry into two balls. I deftly rolled out one of them. I folded it over the rolling pin and lifted it over to the pie pan, tucking the pastry down inside the pan. I could tell that it was right, but I can't tell you what is was that made me so sure. I turned the apples into the pie crust, heavy with cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla. I rolled out the second ball of dough and laid it across the pie. 

I picked up the pie pan and the knife and trimmed that pastry,  rolled the bottom and top crusts together and then pinched the edges of the crust all around the pie in the decorative way my mother had showed me all those years ago. I picked up the sharp knife once again, and pierced the same leaf design in the top of the pie to vent the steam from the cooking apples. 

It was done. I put the pie in the preheated oven and cleaned up my mess. I put the flour and sugar canisters back into the Hoosier and rolled down the top. My mom had a hoosier cabinet. I'd forgotten. Hers was white. It makes me laugh to remember: It was a point of pride for them to get rid of their old furniture. Now there's me, on the lookout for the same old stuff that they were so glad to be rid of. The old painted banjo clock sweetly tinged the hour. My orange cat watched me quietly from the rug in front of the door. 

My mom has been gone for 11 years now. Things were not good between us. I guess I lost the knack of that, as well. But for an hour, on a cold, gray, drizzling afternoon, I worked side by side with her once again, using the old tools that she had used throughout her own years.

When the pie came out of the oven, I could tell that my knack was back.

Approved

Visa was approved. 

This is such a relief I cannot even begin to tell you. I'm headed to bed, and I know I'll be able to sleep now.

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sleepless in Pennsylvania

Sunday night, I had a pretty sleepless night due to the heebie jeebies (also known as the great American Tick fit). 

Monday night, I was awfully tired. Tim said he was headed for bed. I said I'd be right there. I was collecting some stuff to send off in an e-mail. 

I made the unfortunate mistake of thinking, "Let me check in on facebook..." and...well...(*mumble, shuffle*)

I saw a saw a funny picture, one that I quickly sent off to my youngest daughter. I knew that she'd be in bed, but it would be a laugh for her when she woke up. Lord knows, she needs a laugh. She's a newly-wed stranded in a foreign country alone, waiting for visa approval so that she can rejoin her husband who has returned to his home country after receiving a job there. 

Covid has made it even worse. He cannot leave country. As an American, she is a modern day leper, unwelcome in most of Europe, even though her passport plainly shows that she hasn't been in country for over a year and a half.  She's stuck. He's stuck. It stinks.

So...I sent her a laugh. 

Except that she answered right away. 

After three months of waiting, she's been told she may pick up her passport. She doesn't know if her spousal visa has been approved and she won't know until her appointment Thursday morning 9 AM, which is 1AM our time.

By the time that you read this, in less that 24 hours she'll finally know whether she can rejoin her husband.

There was an excited flurry of messages back and forth between us. I made her promise to call as soon as she could and never mind the time. I know that her husband will receive the first phone call, but I needed to be the second phone call. She agreed. We messaged a bit longer, but she had a lot to get done and so we cut it short. 

I pushed away from the computer and finally headed to bed, clocks all joining forces to signal midnight. I brushed my teeth and climbed into bed...and once again, I couldn't sleep.   I lay in the dark, praying prayers, hoping hopes and wishing wishes. I tossed and turned so much that I was afraid I was disturbing Tim who had to get up in the morning. 

I finally got up and headed for the living room with my pillow. I curled up with an afghan and I watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It was well after 3 AM. when I finally fell asleep. 

I was up early (though not so early as Tim). The coffee was savored more than usual. I headed to my sister's house to keep her company on a road trip.  Then I returned to stand in a cold drizzle to unload  another load of rough cut lumber,

I'm home now, and I'm tired, and I absolutely have to get to bed early tonight, because I tell you true: although I had told  her that I'd sleep with the phone right by the bed Wednesday night, I lied. I probably won't sleep at all. I'll be sitting by the phone in the middle of the night, willing it to ring.

I haven't been this short of sleep since I had babies to tend. If you've got a moment, think good thoughts for my girl today.



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE!

Since we removed a beaver dam on our property, it's dried out a great deal of land and made it usable once again. Tim built a bridge across the little stream  so that he can drive the tractors out into that mess. He got himself stuck a couple times, but  as things dry out, he has been able to brush hog deeper and deeper into that once wet land. He was careful to leave a lot of brush and growth so that the deer still have a place to hide and feed, but there is a great deal of land that has dried out now. 

He wants to build a permanent tree stand in there. Tonight we walked back in to see what he has planned. 

There have been warnings all summer long about ticks and how bad this year has been for them. When I was in the army, part of my job was surveying for ticks. So I'm mindful. They creep me out. I use tick spray normally, but we've had multiple frosts and today was cold and in the 40s drizzling and well...when we walked in, I did not bother with tick spray.

I should have.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Sad Day

 I was on the other side of the house when I heard Tim. He was yelling, and he's not by nature a yeller. 

I yelled back, "What?????!!!!!!" because it's my nature to be a yeller when the situation calls for it. 

Out of the yelling, I picked out the words "Get out here" and "Quick" 

So I charged out thinking that something was terribly wrong. 


He had a facebook picture up: 


I recognized him right away. This is from one of our game cameras. See how he has a drop tine that comes down low in front of his face? That's not common. 

Tim saw him last year and was delighted to see that he was still in the area this year and carrying an even bigger rack. 

I know that some people don't agree with hunting, but the deer population is huge here. The roads are littered with the carcasses of deer that have been hit by cars. Don't even talk to me about what they did to my raspberry runners that I was so proud of. They do tremendous crop damage on farms. In the end, when the numbers get out of control, you have a die off during a hard winter. Food is so scarce that they simply starve to death. Nature will control those numbers, but starving to death is a cruel and slow way to die, 

In any case, Tim is a hunter. Venison makes up the bulk of the red meat we consume. We process the meat ourselves. Usually one deer goes straight to hamburger. The other goes to steaks and chops and roasts. Sometimes there are three deer, and we are generous in our giving to others. 

Although I understand that venison must be harvested, I harbored a secret hope. This fellow was an old deer, and he was wise. He had escaped the hunters last year. I was kind of hoping he would outwit them this year as well. I wasn't trying to curse Tim or anything. After all, there are plenty of other deer in the woods. He was welcome to any one (or two, or even three) of those.  

After two years of knowing he was out there, I knew that he was out there no more. Looking at the pictures, made me a little sad.

Tim studied the pictures of the other hunter with his prize. He's a simple man, but he was wallowing around in some very deep covetousness. He was sad too.

Two completely different sads though. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Happy

A lot of people are concerned about what kind of Christmas this will be, what with Covid and all. Reading blogs from around the world (a new hobby of late), I can tell you that many countries are taking this virus a lot more seriously than we are. They have reason to be concerned about their Christmas. Some places are in lockdown which means that they cannot travel. 

It's not like this here in the land of the free. 

Read that how you want. 

But in my house, Christmas preparation is already under way. 

I have my Christmas list, and I have begun shopping in earnest. I know what I'm looking for, and as I see the items on sale, I buy them. I bring them home. I take them upstairs to one of the spare bedrooms. 

It helps. 

And when I find myself feeling overwhelmed about the state of the world, I go upstairs and I wrap something with great care. I put a ribbon on it. I label it. As I do these things, I imagine, for example, how excited Iris will be to see her dollhouse on Christmas morning (after her father assembles it, of course).  Whatever gift I am carefully wrapping, I consider the recipient receiving it. And it makes me happy to think on these pleasant things. 

And then I go downstairs, taking that 'happy' with me even after I pull the door shut at the top of the stairs


My happy place. 

Excuse the lousy picture. The downfall of a cheap phone. 

PS: the truck grill is Tim's. He wanted it something awful. I don't know why. 
However, it is his 'happy', and I don't begrudge him.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Summer's last hurrah?

Friday was supposed to be a very nice day, in the 70s and sunny.  Soooo....it was a perfect day to shingle the garage. 

Tim took the day off, because 'we don't know if we'll have any more days like this before winter hits.'

My sister came across the road to help and we spent the day working hard and laughing in the sun. The sky was a brilliant blue. Just a perfect day. We remarked through the day how wonderful it was to have just one more day like this. 

I have a wonky knee, one that is prone to give way without warning when I'm not standing on level ground. That rules out standing on a pitched roof.  I was the designated shingle cutter. Tim and Anna were up on the roof. I went up and down the ladder with cut shingles. Anna brought the tractor up with the front tines on so that we could lift two pallets of shingles to the roof. Incredibly time and labor saving, not having to haul bundles of shingles up a ladder. 

Between the three of us, we got the job probably 3/4 of the way done before my brother in law got home from work. He had kindly made a side trip for us to pick up another piece of drip edge.

Tim has a very bad habit of carefully figuring just how much of everything he needs. He was about 4 feet short on the drip edge. Further more, to be perfectly honest, we were not sure until the very last 10 minutes whether we even had enough shingles to complete the job or not. For the 100th time of our marriage, I said, "Why can't you just buy extra? If we don't use it, we can always take it back!" But he answered just like he always does. "We'll be fine." 

My nephew and his daughter stopped in and he is a jokester. A good dollop of nonsense really makes a job go easier. Time flew and the shingles went down, and Tim followed along with the air nailer.

Finally, we were done. There was not a shingle to spare. Five damaged shingles were cut to make end pieces and we were lucky we had them, or we'd have been short.

The wind was picking up a bit. My nephew headed to his house. My brother in law drove their tractor home. My sister and her granddaughter helped us gather up the scrap wood and shingle wrappers and the rest of the construction rubble and we started a fire. Then they too were off and it was just Tim and I once again. 

We were both tired. We had an odd supper of leftovers, spicy black bean soup, microwave quiche, naan washed down with ice water, watching night fall. The wind got a bit wilder, but it was still warm.  We could see distant lightning in the dark sky and hear the grumbles of thunder. I love thunder and lightning storms and this looked like it was going to be a dandy. 

We sprawled lazily, Tim in his rocking chair so that he could watch for deer, me on the couch. We watched Green Book which we both enjoyed. When the movie was done, I washed the dishes up and put things to rights. 

Tim said, "I'm beat. I'm headed to bed." 

But I could see distant lightning in the dark sky and hear the grumbles of thunder. The storm moving in looked like it was going to be a dandy and I couldn't bring myself to miss it. I shut off the lights and sat in the dark in Tim's comfortable chair watching the storm move in through the west facing screen door. The wind blew my night gown and ruffled my hair. 

The rain came in, and the storm blew over like all storms do and I fell asleep to the sound of the rain on the roof.

Late Edit: I am so glad that I took the time to savor that breeze last night. Today it has been cold and drizzly and gray. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Day in the Life

My phone card needed replacing. I have straight talk, which we like, mostly because we have the option of discontinuing it if we become dissatisfied with it. I buy the $35 card which gives me unlimited data, minutes, and texts. 

Since I was going to make a trip out, I made a note to get toilet paper. Since I'm a person who lives life on the edge, I had waited until I hung the second to the last roll before buying a new 12 pack. Tim was starting to get a little anxious...here we are being warned about the second wave, before he'd recuperated fully from the stress of the great TP shortage of the first wave.

I've also been watching the prices on two particular small appliances that will be Christmas gifts, so I figured to check those while I was out. Added those to my list. 

While I was getting ready to go out, I managed to break a stud earring. That hasn't happened before. Usually I lose them long before they wear out. This was an old one though, the original stud used to pierce my helix (sounds very shocking, but it is not) back when Cara and I had an adventure long ago while she was still in high school. Now she's in her 30s, married, and a world away. I made my mind up to replace the earring as well and jotted another helpful little reminder to myself 

Considering my list, I narrowed my trip down to just two stores and headed out. 

The first store was a bust. What I wanted wasn't on sale. They didn't have anything else that I remembered from that list conveniently left on the kitchen table. 

The second store, I got my monthly phone card, was delighted to see one of the items on my Christmas list on sale at a very nice price, headed over to get toilet paper, stopped to grab a dessert for supper, (William's favorite. They were coming over to eat the spicy black bean soup and to do some pumpkin carving). I picked up my toilet paper (no shortage, but I was surprised to see that the prices had gone up quite a bit since my last purchase.) I headed to the jewelry counter for my last stop. 

I picked out a pair of studs and waited. When no one came, I asked an employee passing by. She said they'd page for assistance. I went back to the jewelry counter and waited with my cart. 

I was surprised to see that the employee who arrived was an old coworker. She was not someone I knew well. I was always a bit put off by her dramatics. She exaggerates situations horribly and she angers very easily. She is perpetually disgusted by everyone around her. We weren't friends, really, but we greeted each other at work. 

She wanted to know why I left. (A rumor had gone round that I had cancer again).  I said told her that I'd volunteered for lay-off, but that I hadn't realized it would be permanent. But I allowed that I was happy enough with the way it turned out. I asked her when she left, and she explained that she'd left the job after the new owners of company stated that they'd only be working through the Christmas peak and then they were closing up shop. 

That announcement had never been made.

She bitterly began to go on with all sorts of 'inside information' about the company and its incipient demise, and I saw how it was going to go. I began to make noises about how good it was to see her again and make motions to head off with my cart.  She handed me my earrings before saying, "Oh, I can't do that! I need to walk them to the register with you." 

Understandable. 

So I picked my lane. I set my phone card on the conveyor, the small appliance, the dessert, and my toilet paper. She handed the earrings across the conveyor to the cashier. 

The cashier rang me up and she was a talker too. Never one to let a conversation go one sided, I efficiently picked up my end of it as she  quickly rang up my things. I thought the total was low, but aware of the person waiting 6 feet behind me, I used my card as the cashier loaded my cart. 

When she handed me my receipt, I scanned it quickly. I said, "You didn't charge me for the earrings." She said, "What earrings?" I said, "The earrings that Carrie brought up to you," and she looked embarrassed. They were sitting there on her register.

So she rang up my earrings and I paid for them by running my card yet again. I had just finished when the woman behind me spoke up. "This isn't my toilet paper."

 I stopped and looked back. Sure enough.  "Yeah...that toilet paper's mine." 

The cashier looked embarrassed once again.

While I was running my card yet again, I did a mental inventory. I had five items to pay for and I now had them all. 

I put my earrings in my pocket, and the toilet paper in the cart along with everything else and headed out the door. 

I got home and put the finishing touches on the soup in the crockpot. I put my stuff away. I sat down to check the computer. 

Bush Babe had one of those jokey little memes: Your last name, followed by the year, followed by the last thing you said." It made me laugh when I linked it all together. My motto? "-------, 2020: 'Yeah, that toilet paper's mine.' 

Strangely fitting, isn't it?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Pumpkin Post

 William came over to carve his pumpkin. We discussed the usual faces, but I said, "You know when your mom was little we always used to make a ghost pumpkin..." and I drew a picture. 

He looked at it. He said, "Grandma, I'm not sure you're artistic." 

Fair enough. I'm not. 

He took the innards out of his pumpkin, thinking about it. 

"We better do a face," he decided. 

"Okay," I said. 

He worked. I separated the seeds from the pulp and set them aside to dry. 

When he was finished, we got a marker to plan the face. He stood there with an agonized look on his face. "I like the idea of the ghost though."


TA-DA!

This pumpkin has been approved by William. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Another Day

 New day.

I had a pot of what would become spicy black bean soup. I simmered a chicken breast with onion and garlic in the crock pot. Shred the chicken, add tomato puree and chiles, simmer on low overnight. In the morning, I will throw in some frozen corn, green onion and simmer some more. The last step is throwing in the rinsed black beans that have been soaking all night. 

I logged in for my class. I am the only year one student. I began my portion with the honest admission that I had really struggled with the lessons of the week. My biggest aggravation is that the author made some pretty broad statements in the face of evidence that disputed those assertions. In my mind, he was turning the subject into  a controversy. I announced that I was sick of controversy, and that one issue alone turned me completely off the lesson.

I was amazed when everyone laughed. "That's Collins..." every one agreed. The discussion that followed was very comfortable. Even enlightening.

Last night, I woke up. There was no restlessness or sense of foreboding. The smell of that good soup filled the house. There were no questions niggling at my mind from those frustrating lessons. Tim mumbled something in his sleep and rolled over to throw an arm over me. In the basket at the foot of the bed, Paddy stirred too, purring. 

I have no control over the chaos in this world. We have a mad man in charge. I can only take that conviction to the courthouse on November 3rd.

Sometimes, I think the only thing I can do is step away from it all. Focus on the details of my good life, draw a deep breath of gratitude. Eat a savory soup. Draw strength from conversations with others. Rest. 

The chaos will hold until the morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thanks

 Life has changed rather dramatically for me in the last few months. I've gone from working to not working. While I volunteered for the layoffs, in the hopes of 'saving' someone else, it still came as a shock to hear the words that all of us in the room were considered permanent layoffs and would not be coming back. 

Right on the heels of that, was covid, and my time at home became official as everything not considered 'essential' shut their doors and closed up shop. Almost simultaneously, schools closed and my daughter was called back to work. I became William's caregiver. It was also about the same time that the renovation on the little house kicked into manic high gear. 

Between that renovation, and the garden, and William, I was just as busy as ever. Those empty hours were filled.

Now it is fall, and after a failed attempt at homeschooling (when a little boy wants to be with his friends, he can be pretty resistant to learning), I have more free time on my hands than I've ever had before. 

We have an election coming up. Everybody seems to feel very strongly about it here in my little town. Today, there was a big article about the slashing of a trump sign in our very red town. There was another article, a very small one, with no particulars or details.  about a burglary. What was not mentioned was that 'the burgler' went to a man's flagpole, took down his Biden flag and ran up a trump flag. The clever owner expected pushback and he had a game camera set up and took picture after picture of the man doing it. He put the pictures out on facebook and the man was ID'ed by name in the matter of minutes. I recognized the man by name, even though the newspaper did not speak of what he had done. When two men in silver truck were driving around in the dead of night stealing Biden signs, it was reported only as 'theft of political signs'. Entire streets of signs were taken, one right after another. It stopped right after a local elderly, very well to do woman (and a very vocal trump supporter) was charged with receiving stolen property. 

Coincidence? We shall never know for sure.

Everything is a controversy about this election, and I am everlastingly tired of it. When the phone rings, its generally a robocall from a candidate. When I collect the mail, it's usually just a collection of brochures from all the candidates running for office, state and federal level, Yesterday there were six. You turn on the news, and it's the election news.

 If it's not the election, it's covid and the dire warnings about a second wave. My state is included in this mix. Our county remains low although the cases have more than doubled since September 1st. We now have 59 cases. But the very advice we are being given to protect ourselves, information that should be so cut and dry has also become controversial. There are the deniers. They refuse to wear masks, run around screaming 'hoax' and 'fake news!' The next county over has been much harder hit. A funeral director was featured on the evening news, proclaiming that most of the 'covid deaths' he sees are not covid deaths at all. My immediate question: how on earth does he come to that conclusion? He embalms people and arranges them in a casket. What is his proof for such an assertion? His words were disseminated, falling on the ears of people eager to hear that validation from 'an expert'. 

A recent letter to the editor claimed that there have only been 9000 cases of actual covid. Everyone else has died from some other cause, but the numbers are inflated as part of some national conspiracy. . I responded quickly it. A letter filled with such lies and misinformation should have never seen the light of day. I suggested that letter writers should be held to the same standards of truth that a reporter would be, especially about a critical issue like covid. I ended it with:  'If a someone living with cancer is struck by a car, they have have not died of their 'underlying condition', but from injuries incurred from being hit by that car.' My letter was published. Anxious to clear his name, the letter writer shot back with a lie claiming his numbers were taken directly from the CDC website, misinformation that was once again published.

In disbelief, I sent off another letter highlighting the CDC's figures and that he was simply reinterpreting those numbers to fit in with his own biases. This is, by definition, the 'fake news' that he was railing against. We are living in strange days: 'fake news' has become the actual facts. The 'truth' has become those facts reworked to fit a preconceived notions. 

The editor's response came back refusing to publish my letter because only one letter per month was allowed. That rule was ignored for the original letter writer.

So there you have it. People very often don't mask here, and it has become very political. Say what you will, argue how you want, but these folks are almost without exception the same people who idolize our president. 

I have my signs, and I have a private group where local like-minded folks come to vent and despair and to find encouragement, It has picked up more and more members. The uptick is encouraging. I find myself clinging to the belief that we are not so far gone as a nation that we would reelect trump. However, back in 2016, I was just as firm in my belief that he would not be elected in the first place. 

So...there's that.

I find that I wake up in the night sometimes with such a feeling of dread, a crushing sense of impending doom. That is not my nature. I lay there in the middle of the night, analyzing the whys and trying to logic my way out of these feelings. Sometimes, if I cannot, I get up and come to the computer for a while, to have a cold drink of water and to roam on line. 

I have rediscovered blog reading. The blog of a weaver lead me to a blog of an elderly widow, which led me to a Welsh hospice worker, which led me to a gentleman who lives in France, and on and on ad infinitum. 

I couldn't tell you where all I have been, but what a breath of fresh air it is to get these tiny glimpses of life beyond the controversies, these brief assurances that others out there are dealing with these strange days in their own resolute ways. They are humans being, that's all, but their little stories make me smile. I try leave encouraging comments and click on another blog chosen from their blog list and continue on my way. 

And so, I thank you all, both my 'old' blog friends, and the new.  You are a welcome distraction to me and respite in these trying times. I am grateful.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Just Do It

It has been a busy week, and I did not have as much time to devote to my books as usual. So I got up with Tim this morning at 5AM with every good intention really hitting those books hard. 

What I have discovered is that I can find an awful lot of things that I should be doing when there is something that needs doing that I don't want to do. Finally, I reached the point where there was nothing left that needed doing but the thing that I didn't want to do, not really, but with great resolve I sat down and did it. 



Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Day I Died.

 I was driving down the highway, minding my own. I saw a police car passing me...slow down...pull behind me. 

I stopped breathing. 

The lights came on. 

My heart was pounding. I pulled over to the side with no idea what I had done. The car with the flashing lights pulled right in behind me. 

Mentally, I said a bad word. I started pulling the registration and insurance information out of the glovebox.

From the back seat, William stopped eating his 'Happy Meal'. Maybe I should have bought myself a happy meal, because at that particular moment, I needed some happy. I said in a very calm voice, "Grandma has been pulled over by the police. It's okay. Don't worry." His eyes grew wide, and he unsnapped his seat belt to pop his head out the back window for a better look.

The trooper asked for my paperwork. It was in my hand, so I handed it out the window. She didn't give me any clue what was going on, and I sat there quietly dying. I was surely not speeding. 



She carried my papers back to her car. William bounced around craning his neck to get a better look. He had a lot of questions. Me? I had zero answers.

When she returned, she said, "Are you aware that the paper is loose from your license plate?" 

I felt a flood of relief. "Yes, I was. I didn't know what to do about it though." 

"Do you know where the trooper barracks are?" 

"Yes," I said.

She said, "Stop in there and get the officer on duty to sign a paper for you. The state will replace it free. I'm not sure what the deal was, but there was a couple years when that was a real problem with the plates." 

And she headed back to her car.

Happiness is seeing the backside of a police officer in your rearview mirror. She was nothing but nice, don't get me wrong, but Oh. My. Heavens...that scared the mess out of me. 

I told William to buckle up. He wanted to know if I got a ticket. I told him no. He seemed disappointed. He picked up his happy meal and resumed eating.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Pick Up Day

 Tim took a day of vacation so that we could get our butcher block picked up. 

Ed's comment made me laugh. He suggested that he would never have bought that, choosing to make it instead. While we were measuring it and plotting how to come back and move it the following day, a man walked by. He said, "I wouldn't pay money for something that I could build myself." When I read Ed's comment, I wondered if maybe he'd made a trip in for the sale. He would have been disappointed. His desk was sold.

I suppose that building a butcher block isn't hard to do, as far as that goes. Tim has a lot of tools, but I am going to say that he would need to purchase some tools for a job like that, clamps and planers and the like. We have none of that. He also doesn't have a workspace. Building something like that in our basement would be a big problem wrestling it back up the stairs. 

I guess that woodblock says a lot about the type of people we are. We are the sort of people who save a hand hewn beam from a house built in the 1840s because:

1) the beam was repurposed, probably from an old barn. You could see where it had been notched and pegged for use in its previous incarnation. 

2) guessing that even if the barn stood for even 20 years or 30 years, you're taking it back to 1810-1820. Maybe further. Our town was founded in 1795. 

3) the beam is maaaaaassssive. Huge. We figure that a tree that size was growing during before the Revolutionary war. 

4) and the idea of touching the wood from something growing in that time frame was a marvel to us. We saved that beam, and lord knows what we're going to do with it, but...

In any case, that's the kind of people we are. 

I loved the butcher block right away, and so did Tim. Simple. Sturdy. Here long before us. Will last long after we are gone. And that's the sort of stuff that catches our eye, usually. 

This morning, we got up and headed out to load up our treasure. We were loading it onto our appliance dolly. A friend of Tim's hailed him and headed over, offering to lend his big burly self to the task. And the two wrangled the dolly out the front door as people stepped out of the way. Once out to our old blue truck, Tim began lifting the ramps out of the bed. A man walking by stopped to marvel at our purchase. He said, "You know, I'll bet we could just lean that dolly back against the tail gate and then lift the bottom right up. It has wheels on the back of the dolly. We could just slide it right in." 

And three men stood there in the parking lot circling around. 

They put their backs to it, lifted it in just like they'd been moving butcher blocks all their lives. It went up and in. 

Today things were marked 30% off, which we didn't expect. I bought an old rolling pin. Tim found some corbels, 8 of them, unpainted, which he thinks would be interesting to hold up shelves. As we were carrying out the corbels, we passed by a little table several times. It had caught my eyes multiple times the first day. I was a little surprised it was still there. It sat quietly in its dusty old corner with a $45 price tag. It was surrounded by tables that were hundreds of dollars, and a great many of them had sold. It hadn't, and now it was 30% off. 



"Tim," I started, and he stopped with his armload of corbels. 

"I was looking at that yesterday, he said, "I think we should get it."

 And so we did. I also picked up a brand new cappuccino machine still in the box. I'll take the old one to the camp, and use the new one at home. We got off lightly. $58.10 for our purchases today. 

Loading the last of the purchases on the truck two ladies walked by. I heard one of them say to the other, "I wonder if they have anything good left." I said, "Oh, there's plenty of stuff in there. We didn't take it all." 

And we all laughed together. 

"That was very thoughtful of you," they said. And watching us put the table on the truck, one of them said, "That cutting block is something, isn't it?" Her friend agreed. 

Feeling quite happy with our truckload, we headed for home. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Got It.

 

Ellie K! You give yourself a pat on the back! You correctly named that piece! 


I was up and ready to go by 8:30. I got there and there was a line. A long line. Only 125 people could be in the place at a time. I waited, and I was getting a little anxious, but I made the first cut. 

Not exactly knowing the layout of the building, I didn't have a clear idea of where I was headed, but I dumbed around and eventually found it. I tried to call Tim to give him one last chance to just say no, but he did not answer. I thought maybe I should wait about a half hour and try again. He would be on break and sure to answer the phone. So, I sort of looked around a bit, found a strainer that we needed for the camp...but then I noticed two guys looking at my butcher block. They were lifting the slicer and examining the top. 

Afraid that I was about to miss out, I got a slip from the aproned woman walking around, headed straight for the checkout and bought it. 

Quite happy, I came back to get a picture. My phone rang and it was Tim. As I discussed it with him standing close to the window. I heard someone say, "Oh no. It's sold already." That made me doubly glad I bought it. 

After my phone call, I took pictures and stopped to look at a double boiler that I had not noticed. A young couple came in. The man said, "Oh look at this!" and they stopped to look at my butcher block. The woman thought it was "amazing". 

Sometimes you go to these sales and it is the big ticket items that simply don't sell, but that was not the case today. The big stuff was selling like hotcakes and people seemed to be coming for specific things. A lot of the restaurant equipment was sold immediately. The leaded glass cabinets were gone. Tables were gone. 

The sale started at 9. I had made my purchase by 9:15. I was out the door by 9:45.  (It was just too crowded. In these strange days, it makes me feel nervous to be around a lot of people.) Tim and I are pleased. 

Sale Day

This woman is headed to the sale, and she's armed with a checkbook. 

Look out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Coffee and Conversation

Today, I met up with a old friend. 

She used to be a tenant. Tim got such a kick out her and her ways, although I don't believe he ever learned to say her name properly. In fairly short order, she came to us. She wanted to leave. She was a friendly Indian girl, definitely her own person, open minded, big ideas, big energy, a bohemian. Her unusual nature had caused her to be rejected by her family. We knew that it was a struggle for her here. She simply didn't 'fit' in our small town. You could tell that she was meant to be somewhere else. 

We released her from her lease with our blessings and best wishes.

 She headed off to the big city, moving to Philadelphia, where she became quickly involved in the local community tending to the 'fringe people', the marginalized people who needed help. We've always kept in touch in these five years or more that she's been moved away, and I've been very proud of her and her generous and loving soul and the good that she does in her community. 

She messaged me and told me she was in town to visit, asked me if I wanted to join her for coffee. I did want to, very much. I was a bit bleary from a morning with  my books and from trying to write a short presentation which did not flow easily for me. I felt dumb and bleary and brain dead. 

 It was a beautiful sunshiny day. I suppose we looked like an odd pair, her a bohemian still,  with back pack, her lively chatter. Contrast that with me, gray haired and staid, and in most desperate need of that coffee in my hand. We sat across from each other at a table on the sidewalk, properly socially distanced and talked intently, nonstop, for over an hour, ideas and revelations flowing back and forth freely. 

Quite oddly enough, something she said triggered something that fit in with one of the points from my book. 

"You know," I said, "I just read something this morning..." and she listened and she nodded in her excited way. "Yes!" she exclaimed, and in the ensuing discussion I felt like the points that I struggled with that morning were being rehashed in a way that made perfect sense. 

It was so wonderful to catch up, and when I got up to head back to my car, I felt alert and refreshed. Not brain dead at all.

I don't think it was just because of the coffee. 

Side note: once home, pondering our conversations as I cooked supper, it came to me, the format and how to organize my thoughts for that paper. This morning, I got up, sat down and typed it out. In less than an hour, I'd printed it out. That was a relief.

Tis the Season

It's been so dry that our foliage has not been so brilliantly colored as usual. 
The changing season always carries that quiet whisper. 
The little reminders. 
The hints.

That knowledge that this season is no more permanent than the season before it. 

Lookie here. We had a visitor. It's an atypical buck. 

The photo is blurry, but it's at least a 14 point. 

     Tim thinks he might be this one from last year. 

Older. 
Wiser. 
Wilier. 

The old man of the woods.



Monday, October 12, 2020

2AM

 Sweet merciful heavens. Is there anything worse than being still awake at 2AM?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

What Passes for Excitement at our House

 Out of the blue, Tim said, "Hey, what are you doing Thursday?" 

I said, "Nothing that can't be moved around. Why?" 

And he said, "Hallenbeck is doing an estate liquidation at the Oakview Tavern. I want you to go find something nice there and buy it." 

The Oakview used to be the fine dining establishment in our town. It originally opened in the late 20s or early 30s. I'd never been there. Money was tight in my family growing up. Tim's a preacher's kid whose parents were pinched even tighter than mine. 

I said, "Why?" 

"Because I want something from there."

We like our furniture to have stories. The bedroom furniture upstairs is from the furniture company my grandfather worked at. In another bedroom there is a Victorian bedroom set with a matching marble top dresser. It's from the 1860s. The curio cabinet from the funeral home in Youngsville, the hoosier cabinet in the kitchen came from the Hull family who owned that funeral home before the present owners. The list goes on and on. 

We have accumulated a lot of furniture and that is mostly my fault. I see beautiful furniture and I want it. My dream is to have a used furniture store. I even have a name for it: 'Begin Again'. I envision it as a place where people can come and buy good furniture inexpensively. It will never cease to amaze me the furniture people just get rid of for no reason other than they are tired of it.  And for a pittance too. I think everyone deserves a pretty house, no matter whether they are starting over, or starting out. 

It's just a dream I've always had. 

But, as usual, I have wandered off topic. Back to the story at hand.

 I reminded Tim that we are going to be downsizing. We will be building a house. 

He said, "Just go and find us something from there." He thought. "Let's set a limit," and he gave me a number that made my eyes bug. He wasn't talking about a table cloth. 

I said, "Tim. Why? What should I buy? I mean, what on earth do we NEED?" And he said, "You'll know it when you see it. Just go and look."

Today, they began advertising that sale on line. I clicked through the pictures and I saw it. I saw the thing that we absolutely would need for the new house, and I wanted it something awful. I clicked through the pictures and found a second thing that would be great to have. I began to feel that old familiar feeling. 

While he was waiting for the roof to dry so that we could continue working on the garage, Tim had taken a walk to look for deer. He returned at exactly the right moment. From my perch on the sofa, I said, "Well, I found what we're going for at the Oakview."

He took off his boots and dropped into the rocking chair. "They've got pictures?!!" and he eagerly reached for my phone. 

"Yep," I said, "and this is what I am going to try to get." I passed him my phone. He looked at it. "I knew that you'd find just the right thing!" 

And we talked about the new kitchen and how that would go perfectly with everything we've already collected. He even found another piece to go with it that he thought I should try to get too. I studied it and agreed that it was a very practical. We would still be under our agreed upon limit. 

I showed him the back up plan. 

"That's very cool. I like that too." He studied it, and I could tell that he was getting excited too. He zoomed for a closer look. "There's a lot of different places that something like that would fit. 

I am playing my cards close to my chest. I don't want to jinx it. Why don't you flip through the pictures and see if you can guess? 


Back to Basics

 One thing good that has happened this summer is that with all of the remodel work, and Tim working full time (and me NOT working full time), we have once again returned to the days when he once again trusts my judgement and skills.

When we started out, we were a pretty good team. We worked together. Our ideas carried the same weight. Well, except for the time he asked what color to paint a kiitchen. I said 'something neutral' and returned home to discover he had painted it an ungodly shade of tropicana orange.

Working on the business full time while I worked full time, that dynamic changed. He made the decisions. If he asked my opinions, very often he just disregarded them altogether. The business became 'his'.

I didn't mind it. It prospered. We did okay. But what I did mind was that we got to a point where I couldn't do anything without being second guessed. Nothing annoys me more than feeling as if I can't wipe my...um...nose without being second guessed.

This summer, he had no choice. We would have never got that job done if he hadn't unclipped that leash. The other thing that made quite a difference was that the house  was tiny. Our renovation was focused around the most efficient use of space. I am very good at that. He began to once again ask for input but he stopped second guessing. He even admitted that my instincts in that respect were better than his own.

Now we are working on the garage. He was calling down board lengths. I squared off the boards and cut them to length. I pushed the boards up the ladder and he pulled them into place. 

We worked in this way all day. When we finally dropped into bed, we lay in the dark for a while talking. "It feels like we are a team again. I like that."

And the answer came back. "I do too."

Friday, October 9, 2020

Potty Talk

 Isn't it funny?

We've got big dramas playing out all around us, clamboring for our attention, and yet today, the chaos stopped dead in its tracks, just for a small blessed moment because on the other side of the state, one small pigtailed girl peed in her potty, leapt to her feet and shouted 'hurray!' as she clapped her little hands. 

And what I hope for you all is this: that you find that one small thing that allows you, even for a moment, to turn your attention to far less exhausting news. 

Speaking of that, you might want to head over to Bob's blog. He's had that one small thing happen in his own life. Stop over to congratulate him!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Bated Breath

I feel like the whole world is holding its breath right now, waiting for whatever it is that will come next. 

We wait for this pandemic to be done. It will be. It will end just as the last pandemic ended, but we cannot be sure when that will be. We can only do our part. We can only wait it out being mindful to do everything within our power not to be a part of the spread. 

Is it inconvenient? Sure. 

Am I sick and tired of it? Yes. 

But the truth of it is that the pandemic is not over. This is a plain and simple fact. Throwing up my hands and shouting that I'm tired of all this and I'm not going to do 'it' anymore (whether 'it' be social distancing, not eating out, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, or any other common sense rule) would be simply childish. 

We're also waiting for this election to be over. The rhetoric is high, and the divisions very real. I live in a red county. There are divisions within the community I live in. The divide is very wide even within my own family. Signs. Letters to the editor. Graffiti. Flags flapping in the wind: "TRUMP 2020 FUCK YOUR FEELINGS" or  the yellow "DON'T TREAD ON ME", the ubiquitous confederate flags. I know that I will be accused of being one sided, but the signs that are being stolen are almost always NOT the Trump signs. The signs being spray painted with the florescent pink words "nigger lover" are not red, they are blue. 

I have always felt that this is not a time to be silent, and I am not. I am one of those letter writers. I debate online. My family knows who I am and what I think, and in some cases, I pay a price for that. A heavy one. I make it a point to never discuss politics in a family setting, and sometimes it is hard, especially when someone else initiates it. I try to find a dish that needs washing. (As opposed to a pot that needs stirring, I guess.)

I am not working right now. I am not sure that the company I work for will survive this. I've got family who work there still, and if this plant closes, it will affect my community in a very big way. By extension, it will affect our apartment rentals. In the end, it will ultimately affect Tim and I financially. I try not to think that far ahead, because as they say, 'the worries of the day are sufficient'. 

I rarely go out. Just quick jaunts out to get groceries. Trips to the retirement property to tend to chores there. But mostly, I am home and tending to the chores here (while I was working, housework was very hit and miss). In between, I do my cyptic puzzle. I study my history books. I write letters to people I don't see much of.

I am on the inside looking out these days. Along with the rest of the world, I wait for these strange days to end. 

Lately another question has been troubling my mind. In addition to "When will this be over?" I find myself really pondering "What will we be when this is done?" 

Will life go back to what it was? 

Can it? 

Should it? 

I don't know. 

I think about my childhood friend. Our relationship is awkward right now. We've always talked freely and now we do not. We guard our words. Another friend that I've always held in high esteem publicly announced that I was a "former friend". 

What will we be when this is done?

And I think about Rumi's words: "Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. 



Wednesday, October 7, 2020

On Our Own Again

 I fixed one last big meal for everyone, and then the company departed. It is just me and Tim rattling around our house again. 

My weekly class met tonight using zoom. That class is a lot of reading and it requires me to read with my kindle in one hand to look up unfamiliar terms or to get an historical reference. I discovered tonight that most folks hate the book that I have to read. But, strangely, I like it. I've always liked history, and this is a part of history that I'm unfamiliar with. 

When current events become too much to be borne, I can lose myself in a book with maps and names and conquests. The distraction is nice. Sometimes the distraction is required.

But I watched the debate anyway and kept up with the commentary in a local 'live watch' group. 

Another headache. 

To bed. 

Good night.


Far Away

 I was talking to Cara on speaker phone on Saturday. It was a pretty lengthy conversation, I admit it. I was getting the upstairs ready for company, dusting and vacuuming and putting fresh sheets on beds in two of the guest rooms. I got the bathroom freshened, and set out a stack of towels. It was nice to be bustling around getting things done while talking with her. 

It felt like she wasn't alone and a world away, a newly-wed waiting for permission to join her husband in his home country. He had to return to begin his new job just a few days after their wedding. They've  been apart for weeks. It could take weeks more. It could happen tomorrow. There have been horror stories from people who waited for months. There really is no way to know for sure how long this separation will last. 

This covid stuff has added an extra layer of confusion to everything. Once she gets that visa, she's got 30 days to get herself and her cat to the new place that she will belong. There can be no stops. Being an American, she is not welcome in virtually any country despite the fact that her passport clearly shows that she hasn't been in her home country for over a year and a half. 

She is being quite brave, but I know it must be lonely. 

I remember what it was like to be far from home, back in the day when the only way to keep in contact was by good old US mail. There was no internet. There was no skype. A phone call crossing the ocean was very expensive, and there was an annoying echo that made it difficult to hear clearly. I called home twice in the year that I was away.

I'm not the most technologically proficient gal in the world, to be sure, but let me tell you that I am very grateful for the technology that allows me to dial a local number to talk with her. We can hear each other plainly, and see each other too, if we want to do a video chat.

I cannot wait for the day when I can once again call that number, and see Cara and Colin sitting side by side once again. My fondest, fondest prayer is that they are together by Christmas. 

Late Edit: Last night, in what is increasingly becoming part of my routine, I woke up. I lay in the dark for a while, and then got up to get a long drink of nice cold water. 

I sat down at the computer to check things while I was drinking that water, and I began to look at blogs. I have found a kindred soul from God knows where that led me to a blog in Adelaide, which led me to a sweet blog from Wales, and it led me to another blog in Melbourne. You know how these things go, and once again, I did all this traveling in my night gown and fuzzy robe. 

Anyways, I laughed a little when I got to the blog from Melbourne. He had taken some pictures of a church in his area. One of those pictures was of a detail. He noted that the symbol looked meaningful. 

I recognized it right away. It was the Divine Sign of Constantine. Several years back, in an IM conversation with Cara, she sent me a tiny little picture of that symbol. Very tiny. And she told me the story of that symbol, that Constantine saw it in the sky in a vision and heard the words, "By this sign you will conquer". His vision came to pass, and the Chi Rho became his military ensignia, emblazoned on the helmets and shields and banners of his armies. 

"Isn't that a cool story?" she asked me

"Yes." I answered.

"Isn't that symbol neat looking?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. 

"I mean if you look at it very closely..." and obediently I enlarged the picture to listen to her next little historical nugget...

...and stopped. "Wait a minute," I said. "Did you get a tattoo?" and she laughed and laughed. 

All these years later, I'd forgotten that tattoo. It's a tiny tattoo and it is something that no one would know was even there unless she was in a swim suit. The picture on the blog allowed me to smile in the dark, remembering a time when my itchy footed daughter was always just a car ride away. 

I wrote a comment explaining the symbol and moved on to another blog, just a random click. 

I ended up reading a photography blog about the nearly abandoned mining town of Chiatura, Georgia. 

As Cara and Colin endure the wait to be reunited, they find themselves looking for signs and omens, portents of luck. I think it is sweet. Before I went back to bed, I sent an IM to Cara telling her that I had my own portent: I had seen a divine sign, and had a vision of a city abandoned in Georgia. 

I left the office, closing the door behind me and as I walked into the dark hall, I prayed that prayer once again, the exact same prayer that I've been praying for the last two months. 



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Time Out!

 Armed with two of Susan's 'stuffies', I headed due east to spend some time with darling Iris. 

She is two now, and she is really beginning to express herself. She's a good natured child for the most part. Her mother and father are two very patient people who reason with her very well. When Iris becomes upset and begins lapsing into a tantrum, her very patient mama says in a very quiet voice, "Iris Lynn, do you need a time out?"

This made me laugh the four or five times that it happened. I was able to hold it together until I was out of her sight line, but it delighted me every. single. time. 

I will set the stage for one of these scenes.

Iris and I were having a tea party for her little bears and her mama said, "Iris, it is time to pick up now. It is time for bed..." and Iris, who dearly loved our little game, leapt to her feet and let out a very uncommon scream of pure two year old temper. I believe a foot stomp was involved. 

Brittani looked down and her and quietly said, "Iris Lynn. Do you need a time out?" 

And Iris stopped screaming immediately to ponder this. The answer came: "Yes," and with no further discussion, she marched herself off to the bottom step of the stairs to ponder things as her mother said, "Alexa, set timer for two minutes." 

After two minutes, I heard the quiet murmur of her mama's quiet voice as they discussed why we don't scream when we are told it is time for bed. They hugged it out, and Iris cheerfully returned to help me put her toys away while her mama heated some milk for her bedtime.

I imagine that it doesn't work all the time and I suppose the day will come when it doesn't work in a very big way, but for right now, it worked every single time. Iris always stopped immediately to ponder whether she needed that time out. If she decided that a time out was in order, she put herself in it. Her mother had only to set the time and wait it out.

I watch the president in his 'battle' with corona virus, a virus that thousands of Americans have died from. I witnessed his dramatic mask removal. I read the tweet about 'Don't be afraid of the virus! Why I feel better than I have in 20 years!' as if catching the virus might just be the cure for aging. (Ironic, isn't it, that in a way it IS, but not the way he is trying to portray it.)

I am everlastingly tired of hearing him say irresponsible things that downplay a virus that is, once again on the rise,  He's supposed to be thinking about protecting others. He's supposed to be following the rules. He's supposed to be quarantining.

I think he needs a time out. Unlike my beloved little grand daughter, he will not stop what he's doing to seriously ponder the suggestion. He will not decide his actions were in need of correction. 

Little Iris has a cookie monster mask, and when she puts it on, as adorable as she is, it breaks my heart a little to see her. But she wears that little mask without complaint. Seems like the least the president could do.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Another Find

My sister found a grinding stone. The thumb divot. 
The finger divots.  
The stone fits her hand as if that long ago tool was made just for her. 
Side note: She doesn't believe me that it is an artifact. 
She thinks it's just an interestingly shaped rock. 

I said, "Things like that don't just happen. It's shaped. It's been shaped for a purpose."

She counters with her theory that gases made bubbles in the wet stone. 
She does think it would be amazing if the stone had been discovered 
by someone who needed to pound something. 

Redneck Geologist? You feel free to weigh in here.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

2020

We have not had a lot of rain this summer. The rain that we  have  had is interesting...it seems like very spotty showers. Earlier, I told you about the isolated storms we've had, how one town can get a deluge, but where you're at gets nothing. I was driving down the road watching a wall of rain coming down in the field next to me. It was a strange situation. That storm did hit eventually and the winds were devastating, doing a lot of damage. The rain was wicked, but the whole storm dashed through without any real accumulation. 

The creek that runs along my quiet brick street has been very low for most of the summer, which made it a great place for William to play while we were working like gang busters trying to get the little house done for a new tenant. He was able to wade quite a distance out to catch crayfish and clams to film them with his tablet. 

Despite all this evidence smack in front of our faces, it still came as a shock to be watching the news a couple weeks ago, to hear it said that we are officially in a moderate drought

Since then, we've been mindful of the weather although it is hard to gauge. We have had very over cast days, and we've had some spritzing sorts of rain, a light drizzle that moves quickly through without any real accumulation. Although the retirement property is maybe 20 miles from here, the picture there could be completely different. We check in with my sister regularly.

Last weekend, when I went up to water the new raspberries, I gave them a good soaking, I also reluctantly lay them down and covered them with a good thick blanket of mulch and wet that too. I didn't feel as if I had a choice really. Not happy with the apples from several trees, the deer have been nibbling on those shoots. I was afraid if I left them upright, the deer would destroy them completely. It's what I would have done with them once it got good and cold anyway, but we've had multiple frosts and it has been in the forties at night. 

In any case, when I was done with the work, I went inside to start dinner. Except that when I tried to wash my hands, there was no water. That is the first time that has happened in the three years that we've had the property. Tim went to the breaker box outside on the pole and shut off the power to the pump to avoid burning it up. 

The well recovered within an hour and he was able to turn the pump back on, but that was a bit of a surprise. I decided not to shower there, but to wait until I was home. 

Today, in the local paper, they asked everyone in town to voluntarily cut back on water usage. 

Tim and I shook our heads and made uneasy jokes about 2020. Really, It has been a heck of a year. Pandemic. School closing. Windstorms. Crazy politics. Now a drought. 

I wondered aloud whether we were going to expect some awful winter coming up. Just a couple winters ago, we wound up with more than 200 inches of snow falling in nearby Erie. "It would be about right," I said, 'if on top of everything else that's going on we have another record breaking winter."

Tim looked at me in his quiet Tim way. "That won't happen," he said. "The ground needs to be saturated for snow to fall and accumulate. If we're still in a drought, the water table will be too low."

2020 has been a year hasn't it? When New Year's Eve rolls around, I vote we all stay up. We need to make sure that 2020 actually leaves. Drag in 2021 by force if necessary. 


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Honestly...

 Last night as I headed to bed, I had a headache. I took some Excedrin PM before I layed me down to sleep. I woke up about 5ish, and lay there in the dark. I still had that darned headache. I got up and took a couple aspirin and headed back to bed in hopes that when it was time to get up and get moving, the headache would be gone. 

The next time that I woke up, it was 9:30. I stared at the clock in shock. I can't remember the last time I slept past 8. Tim came in, dressed and ready for the day. I groggily assured him that I never sleep in this late. and I headed for the bathroom. I blearily thought  'well, at least that headache is gone....' before it hit me. 

I glanced over on the sink and there it was. At 5AM, I'd taken another dose of Excedrin PM. 

Despite the rough start to the day, I got quite a bit accomplished. 




Friday, October 2, 2020

It's Official

 Conversation with husband: "I need to get your lunch packed."

Reply: "I'm not going to work tomorrow." 

Me: "You're not?!!!"

Him: "Nope."

Me: "Why?" 

Him: "Because it's Friday." 

Me: "Right....but, why aren't you going to work?" 

Him: "Because it's Friday." 

Me: "What's going on though?"

Him: (very patiently) "Today is Friday and I don't work tomorrow."

Me: (dumbfounded) " No...today is Thursday...."

Him: "It better be Friday because I'm not going to work tomorrow."

And turns out that he's right. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

'Going Feral'

 We tend to set our lives up around a framework, don't we? My framework has been my job for most of my life. 

And now I don't have a job.

I've been feeling quite guilty about the fact that I run around the house in my pajamas for a great part of the day. I rarely go anywhere. I cook, I clean. I am taking a challenging course which I'm enjoying very much and allows amazing revelations such as: the epic of Gilgamesh and Enkidu perfectly demonstrates the Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief, which sounds very high faluting as you read it, but in reality, well...I'm hunkered over my books wearing pajamas. 

And at some point during the early afternoon, I amble into the bathroom and take a shower. Since making the decision to simply stop cutting my hair, I just blow dry it, pin it up into a messy bun. I took a pair of scissors and lopped off my bangs a bit earlier in the week. They were annoying me, and I didn't want to bother my sister. 

Side note: I think it looks okay.

I used to wear makeup every day. Now I rarely wear it. Maybe a little mascara, but I'm wearing a mask, so it seems like of pointless to gussy up. 

My newly discovered 'inner slob' makes me a bit uncomfortable. She has discovered yoga pants and we fight a little every time I decide that I need to wear a pair of pants with pockets. 

One of my treats to myself is that I wander over to some blogs in the morning as I drink my morning coffee (in my pajamas). See what's shaking at Ed's place or what's happening with Mrs. Spit, Checking in to see what is new with Bob. Kelly. Jeanie, Bush Babe, Brightened Boy.  

I do quite a bit of traveling for a woman in her pajamas. 

Over at Susan's blog, she posted about going feral and it was really entertaining. 

To that end, I have decided to make my peace with my inner slob. I will pick my battles. My inner slob needs to get out of bed by 7. She needs to brush her teeth and use her waterpik second thing in the morning. (We have no disagreement on what needs to be taken care of first). In return, I will not nag at her about pajamas and the lack of make up, as long as she lets me have the study time. She can have her blog time. We both agree on the coffee thing. My inner slob has decided we can forgo lunch as long as she gets her banana and peanut butter toast in the morning with that coffee. (It used to be tomatoes on toast, but that season is sadly done.)

I've given up, and have gone to the wild side. Sort of.


The Lawyer.

 Remember how I told you that we'd talked to another local government person? We thought that if more people were aware of what had happ...