Sunday, October 17, 2021

Rainy Weekend

 It has been a dull, gray, rain filled weekend. The temperatures are dropping down. We are in autumn. 

There is something wonderful about sleeping until you are ready to wake up, and moving about in the quiet morning dimness. 

I've got a lot done this weekend. I am bringing my indoor plants back from the unheated greenhouse for the winter, and putting them in the library, the livingroom, the office. I've been cleaning and rearranging furniture. There's something very satisfying about that as well, at least to me. 

I've been studying the avocado tree situation. I need to rehome 4 or 5 of them. I've got three neighbors in mind. It will be a nice chance to visit with them, and something to do while Tim is watching football.

I'm reading Virgil and Beatrice by Yann Martel, and I'm not sure why I am so intrigued by it. If I tried to tell you what it is about, you'd think it was the craziest idea for a story yet. But...oddly...it is not.  

There was a long phone call with far away Cara. 

It's been a soul satisfying weekend. 



Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Fall Garden

The garden is winding down to a close. At the end of the season, it is always nice to look back and decide what needs tweaking for next year, and what did well. 

Pumpkins did great. I had pumpkins all over the place. I also had pumpkin vines all over the place. They wanted to take over the entire garden. I was hacking back the vines and tossing them over the fence where they took root and continued producing more pumpkins. It was interesting to me that these pumpkin farms just let the pumpkins sit in the fields, and families pay money to wander through said fields and pick the pumpkin of their dreams. In my garden, pumpkins had a tendency to rot. We set them on a pallet, but still we lost about half of them.

I was discussing this situation with my daughter in law who reminisced about the time they went to one of these pumpkin farms. It was warm, and the pumpkins were literally exploding in the field. So...I guess we were lucky. Nothing exploded. 

We did have one not so funny experience with the pumpkins. Tim was headed up to the retirement property to do some recon work (deer season is coming). I asked if he would mind picking up a few pumpkins for me to deliver to my grand daughter. Later, when he was home, he said, "I got three nice pumpkins for them." I asked him where he put them, and he said that they were in the car. I said, "Let me grab those out of there." He said that he would take care of it. I thought no more about it. 

(Morgan Freeman voice-over: "But he did not take care of it." ) 

Three hot days later, the pumpkins had baked nicely, and let me tell you, the car did NOT smell like pumpkin pie. Tim was outraged. I was bewildered. "I thought you said you'd take them out of the car." and he replied, "I didn't think that it would get that hot." 

I swear. 

Anyways, carpet cleaner and febreze finally took care of the awful smell, although it took days. 

So pumpkins were a success. Well. At least the growing of them. Take-away lesson number one: figure out how to store pumpkins. Also maybe give them their own designated pumpkin patch and let them go nuts away from everything else. 

The tomatoes were a success as well, although we know now that we need to build wooden cages. The wire cages are just not sturdy enough to hold them up once they become heavy with fruit. So that's take-away number two. I found some simple ones that we can build using one bys from the Amish. They fold up for the winter, which will be very nice. 

This should at the very least, double our tomato harvest. Another thing I learned? More beefsteak tomatoes.  And...ain't NOBODY needs as many cherry tomatoes as I planted. 

I planted navy and black beans for the first time. They went nuts as well. They were fun. William enjoyed shelling them. Take away, quadruple the black beans, double the navy. 

Potatoes. For the past two years we have been planting in tires. Our friends swear by this method. They just flip the tires, harvest the potatoes, reset the tire, and shovel the dirt back in. This has not been a successful thing for us. Next year, we go back to planting them the old fashion way. We are also going to try planting our potatoes in the fall, as well as planting our onions then as well (thanks for that tip, Northsider.  It would not have occurred to me.) 

Cabbages are the unexpected success. I had planted two cabbage plants last year, but they were nibbled down. I planted two more, but they were also nibbled down. This year I planted two more, without any real hope. Quite amazingly, we did not have a problem with groundhogs this year, and the cabbages grew. So did the other cabbage plants. I had cabbage everywhere. I harvested my first one, and it was wonderful. It was amazing to me that you can leave the roots winter, and they will set up for next year all by themselves, so we will be planting them near the place where we planted 18 asparagus roots in the spring of 2020. (I am keeping the faith, Ed.) They will be part of the permanent garden. 

The pepper plants continue to produce abundantly. Chiles, jalapenos, and sweet bell peppers. The bell peppers grew chest high, which I have never seen before. They were from seeds I got from an Amish pepper, and I have more. I picked half a bushel of peppers yesterday, and as long as it doesn't frost, I will have that many again next week. 

Zucchinis were great. I think we'll plant one summer squash plant next year instead of multiples, and plant more zucchini. 

Corn was, once again, an abysmal failure. We cannot grow sweet corn to save our souls. Next year I'm going to try planting it in a square patch instead of 3 or 4 rows. 

The great vegetable harvest is winding down and the great meat harvest is gearing up. I'm pleased with the garden progress.  

Any gardening suggestions for next year? Leave a comment!



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Final Countdown

 When I arrived back at work on Tuesday morning, the supervisor said, "Did you hear about Friday's announcement?" 

I told her that I hadn't. 

She said that the company had offered an extension, a new end date of January 14th. The bad news is that they wanted my answer by the end of the day.

I didn't really need to talk to Tim about it. We both saw this train 'a-coming down the tracks'. I said right along that the job would not be done in November. 

Also, Tim has not received his 90 day lay-off notice yet from his company. When he gets that, he's guaranteed 90 more days, and the company can lay him off at any time after that period. He'll be working right up until mid-January at a minimum. 

It seemed sensible for me to accept the extension until January 14th. She looked a little surprised when I said that I would accept it. 

Later, I reprogrammed the countdown app I had going for my last day. I'm a practical person, but despite all that practicality, it was hard to watch the countdown go from 29 days to 94 days. 

More traveling money, I tell myself.


Conversation with a three year old

 My grand daughter is at a very fun age. 

Her parents went out for a brief date night, meeting up with another couple for dinner. Date night with 'ama is pretty special too, though, and we were looking forward to our time, just as much as they were looking forward to their time. 

But by the end of the day, though, tots begin to wind down. For those of you not familiar with three year olds, when they wind down, they are prone to move quickly between laughing and having a fine time, and sobbing over some minor inconvenience as if their tiny sweet little hearts have been well and truly broken. 

'Ama tries very hard to avoid tears. 

So we did calm activities, She loves to be a helper, and so when I switched the laundry from the washer to the dryer, she helped. We took the laundry basket of clothes we had taken out of the dryer into the livingroom, and sat on the floor together sorting laundry. She looked for washcloths to fold. Without warning, she laid down on the floor and began rolling in the laundry, screaming joyously. 

I observed that she was a screaming mimi. She had never heard that term before and she sat up straight to consider it, and in the considering, decided she did NOT like being called a screaming mimi. Forthrightly, she told me this.

"Oh, no," I said. "Am I in time out?" 

Delightedly, she told me I was. Furthermore, I was required to get off the floor and go to the time out place, which is the bottom stair step. She led me tenderly down the hall, explaining about three minutes I was required to sit there. 

Once I was properly seated, she went back down the hall. For effect, I threw a fit while I was sitting there, wailing that I did not want to be in time out. Patiently she reinforced the three minute time frame. Once I was quiet, she came briskly back down the hall. to kneel in front of me. 

Sweetly, she said, "Do you understand why you are sitting here." 

I said, "Because I called you a screaming mimi." 

In a very patient and rational voice, she explained that calling people names could hurt their feelings and that we don't call people names. 

I nodded and she said, "Okay, let's hug it out," and she gave me a big hug and led me back to the laundry in the living room. 

As I folded laundry, she suddenly dropped back down on the pile and began rolling around and screaming joyfully. I laughed. She said, "Call me a screaming mimi again."

"I am not doing that! I don't want to go in time out again."

She considered this, obviously disappointed. "Weeeeeeelll," she said, "we could be-tend that you called me screaming mimi." 

"As long as we are pretending, I guess that would be okay." 

So once again, she began rolling in the laundry and screaming and I dutifully called her a screaming mimi. 

She popped up and said, "Time out for you, ama!" She led me down the hall, explaining gently that I must listen when I am told not to do something. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Generations

 I was loading a child's school desk to take to a professional to be refinished when I heard it, a low anguished, "Moooooommmm..." 

As any mother can attest, it doesn't matter how old your children are, when someone calls "Mom!" you automatically look. I looked. 

It turned out that a girl was standing near the bushes at the end of our driveway talking on her cell, evidently to her mother. 

"Are you okay?" I asked. 

"Yes," she answered. 

"I just heard the 'mom!' and wanted to make sure. It's the mom in me, I suppose.' I continued loading the desk and the little wooden chair.

"I was just walking to work and talking to my mom. She's not very helpful sometimes."

Curiously, I said, "Where do you work?" She told me. It was a couple miles down the road. 

"That's a bit of a hike," I said. I told her that after I dropped off the desk and chair at the refinishers, I needed to get a few groceries for the week. "I can give you a ride up there if you don't mind the detour," I said. 

She didn't have to be to work until 5:30. It was not yet 4. She agreed. So I got everything in the back seat and we headed off. 

She was a talker. She was a mother herself, getting pregnant when she was 17. The baby lived with her ex and his new girlfriend, and the new girlfriend was teaching him to call her 'mama' and that bothered her something awful. 

I remembered my ex-son-in-law doing that with William and his new flame. It was terribly hurtful and it was meant to be hurtful. I offered up the same advice I had given to my own daughter: This won't last. Be bigger than the hurt. Don't fall into the trap of arguing about it and showing him your hurt, because that's where his power comes from. You just focus on being the best mom you can be and let the crap fall to the side."

She said, "It's hard." 

I said, "Sure. This is a hard time. But hard times pass."

She was quiet, and then changed the subject. She thanked me for the ride. "I don't have a driver's license," she said. "My mom never taught me." 

I said, "That's the wonderful thing about being an adult. You have the power to change that."

She was quiet again. She didn't seem to know what to say. She expected sympathy, someone to say that her boyfriend was a shit, and that her mother had really been derelict in her role. 

She talked about her son, who is two. He will turn 3 just as she turns 21. We got to our destination and walked through the parking lot together. She was very early for work but at least she wasn't walking in the rain. 

When I headed out, later, I heard her on the phone with her mother. "I'm doing the best I can!" she snapped. 

That girl's got a rough row to hoe. By extension, so does her mother. I wish them well.


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Death

 We had to give notice to a tenant at the beginning of last month. There was a lot of suspicious activity going on. It was a shame, because she was a really hard working girl, but she seems to have had a pretty big problem. 

In any case, Tim took a day off work to put the finishing touches on the apartment, and he put a notice in the paper. We had a surprising number of responses to the ad, and made a decision on Friday. We rented to an elderly couple. He has terminal cancer. 

What is sweet about this is that he seems to be very much about making sure she is taken care of when he is gone. They sold their house in the country once he was unable to take care of the upkeep. The housing market is 'hot' now, and the house went much more quickly than they expected. The closing date is not yet determined, but they know they need to get their things moved out. 

She came alone to look at the apartment, a very tiny, spunky sort of woman whose life revolves around her dying husband. The whole situation is so very touching, his thoughts being all about her, her thoughts being all about him. 

What is also touching is that Tim knows the man, having become acquainted with him long ago, when he was in his 20s. Tim feels a responsibility to make things easier for the both of them and so we went over to the apartment to decide what adaptations would be needed to help the two of them.  

Yesterday, driving to pick up our stove, Tim said, "It's so strange. I never would have imagined all those years ago that I would be renting a place to him in his final days." 

Our lives have certainly changed over the course of these past 25 years. 

"I wonder how we will be, when we are of an age, when we are looking at the end," I wondered out loud. 

We drove in silence pondering. One of us will be first. One of us will be left behind. 

It is a sobering thought, but a fact of life. In the end, death comes for us all. Let there be love. 


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Nice

 Turns out, Gary was 'a nice bloke' (as Andrew put it) after all. After he collected the bids and called me, one of the people who had declined to bid higher than my bid changed her mind. She called to tell Gary that she had changed her mind and was willing to pay $100 more than his highest bid. Gary said, "I can't do that. I already told them they have it." 

The woman wanted it badly and tried to debate. Gary told her that he had been very clear when he spoke to her the previous day. It was too late to change her mind.

If he had changed his mind, it would have broken my heart. I told him so. 

"I knew it," he said.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

eek.

 I have scheduled an appointment for a professional haircut for the first time in a couple years. 


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The stove (again).

 

Last night, it was left that someone was coming to look at that stove this evening, and that if they didn't take it, I would get a call. 

This morning, I got a call on my cell. 'Gary' got two more calls from anxious buyers. He asked if I thought he had underpriced it. I answered honestly that I thought so. I gave him some specifics on the stove and we discussed it. 

After pondering it over, he decided the best way to handle it was to ask for bids on it, so he called back and got mine.$750 was as high as I would bid, sight unseen. He said that he'd talk to all of the callers, and let me know that evening. 

....and the stove is mine. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Stove

Remember how I was telling you that I wanted this stove. 

And then Steve asked if it was pricey? 

And I said yes (stove above can cost you between $7000-$10000, actually.) But then I told you how we roll. We look for used. And being that we had plenty of time to look for the stove (the retirement house is not built yet) I was pretty sure we'd be able to locate something, although it would probably not be that beautiful blue color.

Looky here. 

                                           

It is about an hour and a half from us, The seller wants $500. 

We've told the guy we want it. Not sure how many people are interested. 

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Woot!

 

When suddenly I wound up with six avocado trees (or was it seven? I forget) avocado trees growing all willy-nilly in one pot, I had no choice but to repot them. And like the avocado tree before them, they promptly showed their gratitude by dying. (Well all but two of them...) and I was really upset by this, and wondered what on earth I was doing wrong. And Steve Reed, the owner of an eight foot avocado tree, suggested waiting to see what happened. He claimed that they were a pretty resilient plant. I did not believe him, since my experience seemed to be that if you replant them, they will immediately die. But I left my pathetic waist high plant and watched it turn black, the leaves dead and drooping. The other plants...well...they didn't die completely, but they were pretty sad looking. 

Anyway, we went up to the garden today, and I picked more tomatoes, and more peppers, sweet, jalapeno and chillies, and dug the last of the carrots and grabbed my first home grown cabbage. I loaded up the car with my bounty and went to the greenhouse. I was bringing the hibiscus tree back home. Over the next couple weeks, I figured to make a decision on the sad corner of the avocado trees. Much to my shock, the deadest of the dead trees has new growth the complete length of its stalk. A little amazed, I looked carefully at all of the other potted trees and....every last one of them show signs of growth. 

So...thanks, Steve. I was on the verge of tossing the lot of them last spring!


However, ain't nobody needs that many avocado trees, so I will be looking for people to foist them on gift them to. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Eleanor Rigby, revisited

My co-worker that died was a very nervous woman. I actually met her when I passed her walking on the road. It was one of those days when the sky was threatening heavy rain at any moment, and so I stopped to give her a ride. I was a bit surprised to find out how far a walk she had in front of her. 

I took her home that day, and she was very grateful. I saw her plenty of other times, and picked her up then, too. She always tried to pay me, and I always refused it. I didn't know much of her personal story, but like I said before, you could tell that life was hard for her. I'm not going to take money from someone who is walking back and forth to work from her rundown trailer in a equally run down mobile home park.

It was a couple of years ago, probably, when I met her, and I finally convinced her to just come over to my building after work and wait for me in the cafeteria if she needed a ride, and sometimes she did that. When I was permanently laid off, I wondered about her, whether she had found someone else to ride with. 

In any case, when my 'permanent' layoff was interrupted, I was glad to see her there too. She was driving a car, a shiny red one, and I was glad for that too. 

She's very quiet and nervous and spoke to no one. I spoke to her a couple times at lunch, but she always seemed in a hurry to end the conversation and retreat to 'her' table by herself. 

For a woman that has gone largely unnoticed, she is now noticed a lot. I listened to people talk about her. Apparently, she was known around her building because she cried a lot, silently, as she worked. She didn't talk, but people were concerned for her and wondered about mental problems. 

People talk about seeing her walking with her dog, a scruffy looking boxer-pit mix that she seemed very fond of. They wondered if the dog had gone to a good home. They knew that Jean had a brother, but there were problems there. Her mother died last year. 

In any case, I'd kind of made up my mind to go to the funeral home and pay my respects just because I figured that it would be sparsely attended. Much to my surprise, there is no visitation, no funeral, not even an obituary in the paper. 

That bothers me to think of, that one person should have been that solitary.






Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Heating Things Up

Tim and I are planning our house, our last move. I have wanted a vintage stove for a long time, but the problem is that the ovens on most antique stoves are pretty small. Mine has to be big enough to hold my turkey roaster. This is so important, I measure. 

Tim found a company that makes stoves that look vintage, but are not. 

That oven is standard size. 

I am in love. 



 

Jean

 A coworker died suddenly on Sunday. 

There is a woman at work who has a son who is an EMS, and she is forever blabbing information that she shouldn't be blabbing, to include names. One day she will cost her son a job if she doesn't learn to keep her mouth shut. But she says that our co-worker died of covid. 

There has been no official verification of that, although because of the hubbub, a meeting was held to tell us that we would be notified if she was a covid death. 

It's a bit of a shock. 

She was a quiet soul, a nervous person. You could tell that her life was not easy. 

Now it is done. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Signs

 "I hate to be the bearer of bad news..." 

I was working at my desk, and looked over to see two supervisors. Turns out they were there with a written warning due to my two missed days of work last week. 

I said, "I was sick." (I've still got the cough, even.) 

They said sympathetically that they knew. 

They explained the policy. 

I pointed out that we had a sign on the door. I pointed out that I had some of those symptoms. I pointed out that I'd sought medical treatment and had brought proof of that. 


It's a strange thing, but I was dead calm. 

The paper was set in front of me. I said, "I'm not signing that. I was sick. I sought medical attention and provided you with the documentation. I was following the directions that we have on the doors." 

The attendance policy was explained to me once again. 

I explained that I understood the attendance policy, but I had been sick. The signs on our doors list symptoms. If we have them, we are not to come inside. I followed those instructions, and provided documentation. The paper remained on my desk. I made no move to pick up my pen. 

In the end, they took their paper and left. I went back to work. Understand that they had not been mean, either one of them.  It wasn't personal, it was just that rules are rules and the company I work for has a reputation as being pretty brutal about the rules. 

Later, the supervisor came back and said, "I have forwarded your concerns."

I'd been thinking too. I said, "Listen, I'm not trying to be a pisser about the whole thing, but I believe that I behaved responsibly, and if this is going to become a big deal, I'll just quit." 

And here's the weird thing. These words were calm, and they were true. I guess that being at the end of your work life makes choices like these a little easier. I can't imagine that I'd have been so fearless when my kids were young, or in college, or when Tim and I had bills, or the one hundred and seventy-eleven other reasons that I always had for working as hard as I could, as fast as I could, as long as I could. 

But  that's done now. There's a certain power that comes from that knowledge. So I said what I said, and I meant it. "If this is going to turn into a big deal, I'll just quit." And we both looked at each other matter of factly. 

"Don't do that!" she said, and she left. 

It's a strange feeling, to be at the end of your work life. Today, though, it felt good.


Monday, September 20, 2021

Lost and Found

 William favors the elastic waisted long and loose fitting athletic shorts. He's been here for the weekend, and he loves working with his grandfather and earning some pocket money. 

This weekend, they hauled some firewood to the retirement property and did some work on the garage. Then they went walking through the woods looking for squirrels and deer trails. He was wearing long pants for his day, but when he got home last night, he switched into a pair of his comfortable shorts. He and Grandpa had a serious discussion about payment, and William earned a princely $5. which was quickly stuffed into the pocket of his shorts. 

This morning, he got up and showered. but he chose the same shorts that he wore the previous night while lounging around watching television.  He really loves those shorts and the other shorts he brought are not nearly as comfortable. Midway through the morning, he suddenly said, "I lost my five dollars!" with a wide eyed, panicked look. 

Tim said calmly, "You haven't gone anywhere yet, so it is in the house somewhere. Where'd you put it?"

And William said, "I put in right in my pocket," and patted the side of his shorts. He looked a bit teary.

There ensued a brief and frantic search for that $5 bill. Until William realized he'd put his shorts on backwards and the money was in his other pocket. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Nosy Nellies


 I was peeling the tomatoes at the kitchen table when William came flying in the back door. 

"Hi, Grandma! You'll never guess what happened!" This as he flew out of the kitchen.

I laughed to myself a little, thinking that he needed to use the bathroom.

But hot on his heels was Grandpa, and I said, "What's up?" as he, too, flew out of the kitchen.

Hmmmm. This required further investigation, to be sure. I set my knife down and walked into the foyer. I heard Grandpa saying, "Turn off the light!" 

I walked through the living room and into the office to see two heads side by side, peering out the window to across the street where the police stood talking to the people from the upstairs apartment. 

William breathlessly said, "We heard sirens, and we saw the flashing lights, and I said, 'I wonder where they are going,' and then THEY. TURNED. ONTO. OUR. STREET!'



I laughed at the two of them, and went back to my tomatoes. 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Getting Back Into It

Today, finally, this cold/flu/plague has started to ease. I guess the flu is going around. Hopefully no one else will catch it. 

A tenant stopped in to pay rent with her little dog. We visited a while. Tim was eating his supper, stuffed zucchini. This one was stuffed with ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella and spinach, and baked wrapped in bacon. The little dog was much interested in Tim's supper which made us laugh. I asked her if RB could have a bite of bacon. She answered firmly that he could not, that he was on a serious diet. 

"Poor RB," I said, sympathetically. He never took his gaze from Tim's plate. 

"I know," she sighed. "He hasn't spoken to me since this all started." 

It made me laugh, and when they left, she had to pull him from the house. 

After two days home, I went back to work with my negative covid test in hand, but volunteered to take my breaks after everyone else had come back from theirs in a vector control attempt. (Our desks are six feet apart with shields between them.) They jumped right on that idea.

We have hired new people and our backlog has shrunk dramatically. They canceled overtime for Thursday and Friday, for which I am more grateful than you can guess. 

It allowed me to duck out and get to the garden and pick yet another basket of tomatoes last night. So you know what I'm up to tonight. 

TGIF anyway!

I got home from work today. and sat in my car a minute with the door open, checking for texts. A small cat appeared at the side of the car and looked at me. I've been worried about this cat. It was a young cat with a collar, but somebody must have moved out and left it behind. It is so thin. It is skittish enough that you can't get near it, but I've been worried about that collar. I was relieved that someone had gotten ahold of him and removed the collar. 

I got out of the car, talking to him. He watched me warily from under a truck. I got him some food for the little dish I keep outside. He waited for me to return to the house, before making a beeline to it. Poor thing.

William is coming to spend the weekend. It is his mother's 40th birthday tomorrow, and they have  plans. We have plans too. We are going to bake a birthday cake and have a special dinner for them on Sunday. 

It seems a bit unfair. I just got used to the fact that all my children are in their 30s...and now I've got a 40 year old! Tempus is fugiting all over the place, isn't it? (Note: please don't feel the need for a latin lesson. It's one of my corny expressions, and meant as a joke. Have a good weekend.)


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 I've managed to catch something. The rapid test is negative for covid, but I'm pretty miserable right now. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Serenity

Exhausted from the chaos and 'stupid' in this world, I have narrowed my focus. I am up to my armpits in tomatoes. They cannot be ignored. 

First there is the gathering. The very saddest part is that at this stage of the game, I need to be picking them every single day. I can't, because I am working 10 hour days. The garden is a half hour away. Last weekend, I got four bags of them, and this weekend, I got another large basket of them. 

I bring them home and wash them, and then dunk them in boiling water to make them easy to skin. Then I simmer them in a large pot. Last week, I did them plain, this week, I did them with peppers, onions, and garlic. 

Since it is just Tim and I, our large freezer has plenty of room. We're in a race to clear out the last of the venison in preparation for this year's venison, and the 80 lbs of chicken I bought last January is quite nearly used up. 

So I put the pureed tomatoes into ziplocks and put them away in the freezer on a cookie sheet so that they freeze flat and can be stacked. They can be added to soups and recipes all winter long. They join the bags of grated zucchini which will be brought out in their turn to be turned into zucchini bread (and muffins, thanks to Kelly). There's also sliced carrots in there and grated carrot, celery, and onion mixes to add to soups. 

Focusing on the little tasks makes my mind easier, and to be honest, I think the world would be better off right now if everyone was trying to keep up with their garden produce. 

I've got pumpkins galore. The vines have been dying off and I've enough to give away. I have never had such a year for pumpkins. William has his pumpkins picked. 

I had been planning to get back out to Dylan and Brittani's house in early October to get one last visit in before the weather makes planning these trips trickier. The last time I went out for an extended visit was in June. Dylan and Brittani were supposed to go away for their anniversary, but everyone was succumbing to a bug and so no one went anywhere at all. We still had an awfully nice time. I'd like to give them a chance to go away again. It will also be an opportunity to deliver a half dozen pumpkins for Iris. 

One of Iris' and my 'traditions' is the pineapple bag. It is just a reusable shopping bag with pineapples on it, but it sits in a quiet corner of my bedroom and 'collects' stuff. I dressed my children on a single mother's wage by using thrift stores and consignment shops. Brittani became intrigued by that, but out there on the more populous side of the state, thrift stores are much higher priced. I can buy them much cheaper here, and I do. Those things are washed and tossed in the pineapple bag. Books. stickers, new items for her dress-up box... As I see little things that would appeal to her, I buy them and toss them in too. 

When I visit, I always call ahead. This gives Brittani time to let the dogs out if Iris is sleeping, or if Dylan is working from home. It also guarantees that Iris and Brittani are on the steps to greet me, Iris calls 'ama, ama, ama!!' I call, "Iris, Iris, Iris!!!" When I open the trunk, she is looking for that pineapple bag, and it is always very exciting. She loves trying on her new clothes and the little surprises always tickle her. 

The pineapple bag is getting full once again. One of the things in it is a book about the Five Little Pumpkins. I am excited to teach her that little counting song, just as I taught it to her father and her aunts. In turn, I remember learning it in kindergarten and loving it. 

You know, I thought that Google had the answer to every question I had, but they don't. I was trying to google to see how old that song was. I believe that my mother was tickled when she heard five year old me singing that song, because she had sung it herself as a child. I got page after page of activities and crafts and pumpkin games (useful, and some of these things will be used to entertain little Iris), but was unable to discover the origins of the song. 

If you don't mind, did you sing that song in school? How long ago was that? 

I've got my produce taken care of, save some peppers that need chopped for the freezer. I will do that this afternoon, dreaming of a trip east that may or may not happen, I will think on days gone, and days to come. As much as possible, I will avoid thinking of things that I can't change. 


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Weak

 In local news, the anti masking parents have been protesting vigorously. Their gripe is that no doctor was willing to sign any paperwork that would allow their child(ren) to attend school unmasked. 

The school board has made a decision that a doctor's input is not necessary. They helpfully provided the paperwork to print off. If your child does not want to wear a mask, sign the paper and send it to school.

What a horrible, weak thing to do. They've totally ignored the input of the whole medical community to make people happy. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Free-dumb

Today, I am staying off social media. Mostly. I'm pretty sure blogging counts as social media, but here I am, staying off social media. 

It's awful out there right now, at least in my area. Parents are lashing back at this mandatory masking in schools. There is one woman (who I actually know) who's taken this on in a big way. Every time that she sees a post about our duty, about our responsibility, she wades in to post her antimasking point of view. 

(Her reason for fighting? The masks give her daughter a headache and she doesn't like them. Sum total reason. Let it sink in.) 

Yesterday, a group of friends and I were having a discussion about what we feel our responsibilities are during this pandemic. Teachers were weighing in. People with immune disorders. A mother with two kids with asthma who is also the aunt of a severely handicapped little girl. 

The woman waded into this full bore and began to post things like: 'Masks don't work'. ' 'the vaccine obviously doesn't work since vaccinated are getting covid.' Finally, she said that the vaccinated are the carriers of covid, not the unvaccinated.' 

At this point, I said, "Where are you even getting your 'facts'?' 

She began the taunting, which is the way of these people. "My God, do you do any research at all or do you just live in your little bubble?'

Someone else challenged her to post her sources.

*crickets*

So I posted with my own sources: the CDC, the AMA, the AAP, the local hospital. I pointed out that unlike these sources were good because they updated as new information came in which allowed us to receive and process new data and to change our minds. I pointed out that the disease was mutating, and that another word for that was changing, which was why the information from medical experts was changing as well. As the disease changed, so does the treatment. The changes do not mean that the experts don't know what they are talking about.

She never responded, but I see that she's gone on to other posts, continuing her claims and rhetoric.

These people consider themselves to be patriots. Freedom fighters. It is bad in my little county and there are divisions in our family. 

It's not just here. I watched a boy address the school board on the subject of masks, and he spoke movingly of the death of his grandmother, a teacher. Grown adults mocked and laughed at him while holding signs that read 'Let them smile!' 

They all talk about how 'they' are coming to take our freedom away. They will not take this lying down, by God. They will fight. This message is, in some cases, coming from the pulpit, as these 'men of God' talk about 'demoncrats' and how their country is being destroyed

Yesterday, our president announced mandatory vaccinations or negative weekly covid tests. 

It's going to get ugly. 

Meanwhile, every school in our county has children sent home to quarantine with covid. William came home from school because his very best friend, Gabe, has covid and they sit together at lunch. His mother comforted him with the fact that they've all come in contact with covid, but no one has gotten it so far, that everything will be alright. 

Free-dumb. 



Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Frustrated

 The mask mandate continues to heat up. Parents picketed. "My child, my choice", one sign read. A local lawyer/oilman has gotten involved, representing a teacher. His wife is the school superintendent, by the way. (Late Edit: Anonymous has pointed out that the lawyer is not the husband of the school superintendent. My apologies for taking that claim at face value).  The local newspaper ran a poll. 222 votes against masks. 85 for. 

I hope every picketing parent has a plan for when the schools close their doors again. 

At work, the girl one desk in front of me has covid. The young man two desks behind hasn't been there for two weeks. Today, someone else pointed out another guy who has not been here since last week. The three of them are smokers, and take breaks together. But if you ask the bosses if they have covid, they say, "We can not tell you that." (The only reason that we know for sure one person has it it that someone she carpools with said that she'd tested positive.) 

I think we should be officially informed if we have covid spreading. They don't have to say names, even though the group is small enough that we'd probably be able to figure it out in short order. 

I've been accused of being afraid of covid. I'm not, but I also think that you're a fool if you cannot see the need for commonsense protective measures. 





Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A bloody miracle.

One of the things about Friday's finger fiasco was the amount of blood. Yet, for all the blood everywhere, what was most notable was where it wasn't. Tim had selected white rugs for the bathroom when we replaced them a couple months ago, and on the drive back home, once the panic had settled (and before I realized I'd left a pot on the stove), I was dreading the sight of those rugs. 

Not a single drop. 




Sunday, September 5, 2021

I despair

A group of local parents have taken up the fight against the mask mandate in schools. They plan to sue the school district to prevent this. 

I don't understand it. I really don't understand it at all. Our William wears a mask to school, even before the mandate kicked in. It just seemed prudent to do so since covid cases were once again on the rise. He is only 10 and cannot be vaccinated and the delta variant does affect children. He's a sensible kid. His mother explained why he was wearing a mask when others did not. It made sense to him, and he does it without complaint. 

The mandate kicked in the second week of school and the fit hit the shan. A friend posted her thoughts on it, decrying the uproar. She felt that kids were learning to view the schools and the authorities in them with distrust. 

My point is simple. Our schools are in enough trouble financially, and now we're going to spend precious money on legal battles? 

One mother's outraged response was that masks do nothing, and her daughter complains that they give her a headache. 

I responded that the masks DO work, not just for covid but for all flus and colds and their related complications as well. That's documented. 

It slipped quickly into "that's not what I'm reading," as if her faithbased sources are more reliable than science. 

In any other disease you can name, treatments have changed over the years as we learn more about the disease process itself. Take breast cancer for instance. New discoveries led to changes in treatment and these breakthroughs are lauded and reported in the news. We can now even predict who is at risk for the disease, something that is important for my own children (my son is at a higher risk for reproductive cancer as well.) 

Yet this is never the case with covid. Every new discovery is greeted as proof of government conspiracy and every change in treatment is seen as evidence of ineptitude.

Tomorrow night, we will receive a phone call to let us know whether we have computers and are returning to work. Tuesday morning, we were also told that masks were once again mandatory. I'm not arguing. Last week the girl at the desk in front of me tested positive for covid. 


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Emergency


The flooding out east has impacted work. Our external computer system's server is in Philadelphia, smack in the middle of the flooding. So we're working still. Our internal programs still work, We can adjust accounts as usual, but we cannot look up things outside of our internal programs because we do not have access to the internet. (I am pretty good at sorting things out and it's one of the things that I enjoy about the job. It's like doing detective work although, unlike Midsommer, no dead bodies at every turn.) 

Anyway, Connor, the kid who works in front of me shot back to hiss "Debby, we're going home!" 

I said, "Yes. At 3:30. Back to work, Grasshopper!"

"No," he insisted. "Right now! They're coming around!" I looked and sure enough, the supervisors were working around the room having small group discussions. 

Turns out that they needed to take our computers completely off line so they could begin to get the system linked back in with our server. We were being sent home early, with the last two hours of our day being paid. My mind translated to "That's the most money I have ever been paid for cleaning my house!" and I shot home, a happy little vegemite. 

Brianna and Don were at the house. Tim had taken the day off and one of his projects was to do a repair on their car. I came in and put a pot of water on. I had tomatoes to process and I could do that as I cleaned the kitchen. I had barely gotten started when I heard a quiet exclamation from the back door and I heard somebody say, "Oh my God." Tim was rolling out from under the car and I asked 'what's happened?' as he shot past me into the house. 

When Tim is moving at high speed, I know something is wrong, so I followed along. He put his hand in the sink, and turned on the water, and it ran red. "Let me see!" I said, and the problem was you couldn't see because it was bleeding so heavily. I said, "Cripes. You will need stitches for that. We're going to the Emergency Room." 

Out the door we shot, leaving Don and Brianna to take their car off the jack. 

The ER was packed, but active blood flow gets you seen pretty quickly. 4 stitches and an hour and a half later we were on our way home. I said, "How lucky it was that work let out early!" Tim agreed. 

Perhaps not all that lucky though. If I had not have come home from work early, there would not have been a pot of water for the tomatoes boiling away on the stove. The last of the water was disappearing from the bottom of the pot as we walked in the door. 

I kept telling myself all night long, "All's well that end's well." It's true. Tim has all ten fingers and the house did not burn down. 

I still cannot believe that I was so stupid. 



Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Disappointed

 It has been a working summer, really, with little time for pleasure, especially for Tim and I on our own. Last spring, we saw that the Doobie Brothers were playing outside of Pittsburgh. We talked about covid, but things were so hopeful then, with the vaccine coming out. It just seemed like we were on the edge of coming out the other side of that time. 

So we bought tickets. It was an outdoor concert at an arena, and we opted for lawn seating which would allow us to socially distance ourselves. 

The concert was on September 4th, and we've been looking forward to it very much. 

And now there's the delta variant and we've been waffling back and forth on whether we should go or not. It's three hours away near Pittsburgh, and being an urban area, it's getting harder hit than we are here in podunk. Last night, we finally decided to do it. We'd be sitting outside. We're vaccinated. We decided to wear N95 masks and we would discard them into a zip lock bag to burn when we got home. We could pack a supper picnic. 

At breaktime today, I saw an e-mail. The concert is postponed due to a case of covid in their tour personnel. 

Disappointing, but sensible. 

I texted Tim to let him know, and then I thought about last spring, and how optimistic I was. 

In the background, the news reported on the devastation of Hurricane Ida. Made my disappointment seem very small in comparison. 





 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Disorientation

 William went to an orientation today. He got his schedule, and he and his mother walked the halls to his various classrooms. 

He threw up in the hall.

Middle School

 William is headed to middle school this year. The school is over the bridge from our house, on the other side of the Conewango Creek. To put it mildly, William is concerned about this change, because this year, WILLIAM. HAS. TO. CHANGE. CLASSROOMS. 


The school was built in during the Great Depression, with a government grant for the school. It provided local craftsmen with paying jobs. and it is as amazing inside as it is outside. We've been using the school's appearance in our encouraging talks with William. "I'll bet you feel just as nervous as Harry Potter did on his first day at Hogwarts!" Which led us off on a whole 'nuther tangent: 'Do you suppose there are ghosts there? That would be cool if it were haunted!' 

He looked quite cheered at the thought. 

We buy William a pair of sneakers every year at the beginning of the the school year. It's a tradition, I guess. So after church, I took him to our house and we waited for Grandpa to get home. 

"I wish summer wasn't over," he mourned. 

I told him I remembered feeling the exact same way. I didn't mention that I felt that way because I always forgot how to do division, and I was terrified that of walking into a classroom and having my secret discovered. What if that was written down on my PERMANENT RECORD???

We went out to lunch together and ate in a completely empty dining room. We had tacos and William was proving his manhood by dumping hot sauce on his. He ate two of them while sneering, "This isn't even HOT!!!" 

(He drank two lemonades for no particular reason, I guess.)

He said, "I can even eat a jalapeno!" in a nonchalant way. 

That's quite a man being sent off to middle school. I certainly hope they're ready for him.

After some amount of waffling, these are the sneakers he selected.  
His does not have a velcro strap. That would be baby-ish, and we surely can't have that. As it went from the children's sizes to youth sizes, the strap just disappeared, luckily. 

It's hard to believe he's so grown up. 


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Jury Duty

I was surprised that so many of you hated the thought of jury duty.  I have only had jury duty one time before, but I actually found it very interesting. 

It was a federal case, and required me to drive an hour and a half to get there. I could have been put up in a hotel, There was a lot of discussion about sequestering us, but in the end, they decided that it wasn't necessary. I like my own comfortable bed and my own husband in it, so I made the drive to and from each day. 

You can read about the case here

The most interesting thing about the case was that Buwlis was serving as his own lawyer. During the opening statements, he said, speaking of himself in the third person, "You must decide if Mr. Mohammad is guilty of a crime, or if he is guilty of civil disobedience." 

My eyes bugged a little when he said that, because he was wrong. Our decision was to decide if he was guilty, and he had just said that he was before the trial even started. (Abraham Lincoln made the statement that a man who represented himself in court had a fool for a client. His point was valid.)

Mr. Mohammad seemed to think that he was a very clever man, but he wasn't. His cross examinations lacked direction and sometimes even a point. The witness would make a statement and he would stop and turn to the jury triumphantly. 12 of us, and 2 alternates looked back and tried to understand what he felt had been proven by his questioning. 

Probably the most difficult thing for me was that at lunch time, I went out for a walk. That first day, one of the other jurors walked with me. There was some sort of festival going on. The woman I was with began to rant about how things like this drew black people to her beautiful town and she hated that. She didn't stop. She went on a great length about her feelings about black people. 

Our man on trial was black. 

I cut my part of the walk short and headed back to the jury room. She went to have a cigarette. 

On the way up to the jury room, I thought about our conversation. My biggest fear was that this was a big trial in our neck of the woods, and there were lots of reporters there. If a reporter had heard any part of this conversation, it could have turned into a criticism that the judgement was biased due to prejudiced jurors. I was also very nervous about the fact that I had been so dumbstruck and said nothing at all. I was afraid my silence would be interpreted as agreement. 

"Listen," I said, and I told the two other jurors about my walk with the little Italian woman. One juror said, "We were asked specifically whether we had any prejudices that would preclude a fair judgement. She should have said she did. She would have been excused." The other juror said, "Keep your mouth shut. We all know that he is guilty. It doesn't matter." 

The case continued after lunch, and I couldn't stop worrying about the possibility that our discussion had been overheard. I drove home that night fretting about it. I discussed it with Tim who helpfully said, "You know what needs to be done." 

So the next day, I left a half hour early. I got to the court house and spoke the man who seemed to be in charge of the jurors and the jury room, and getting our lunches and the like. I waited to see what he would say. Immediately, he said, "The judge will need to speak with you. This is the basis for a mistrial." 

I waited miserably to speak with the judge. He was very kind, and he said, "Well, you were right to report this. I'll need to speak with the prosecuting attorney and Mr. Mohammad . If he wants a mistrial declared, he's got the grounds to do it." 

I waited in the jury room with the other jurors, not saying a word. In the end, the court official came in and called two names, the name of the lady I had been walking with, and the name of the woman who had advised me to keep my mouth shut. They did not return. 

The court official came back in and announced that the two alternates were now official jurors, and the case went on. I don't know why Mr. Mohammad did not request a mistrial. Maybe by that point, he knew that it didn't matter. The trial went on into the second day. The evidence was really pretty conclusive. The prosecutor had his ducks in a row. He rested his case late that afternoon. Much to our surprise, Mr Mohammad stood up and told the judge that the defense rested as well. 

The following morning, we returned for closing arguments and Mr. Mohammad's closing argument was just as rambling as his opening statement. The jury received some careful instructions, and we recessed with lunch to deliberate. 

I had wondered if anyone else had caught the 'guilty of a crime or guilty of civil disobedience' remark in the opening statement. The answer to that was 'yes'. Everyone had. There was very little debate about the charges. The evidence was very well presented, and left few questions in our minds. The fact that it was so clear cut meant that my conscience was not troubled I stood to say, "Guilty, your honor". 

So...no, I don't mind that I got called for jury duty again. It is not a federal case, but I expect that it will still be interesting to see our legal system at work. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

On line.

 An online acquaintance was talking about the texts and e-mails he gets from "lonely women" looking for a guy just like him, and thanks be, they have finally found the answer to their prayers, and so to him, and only him, they send him provocative photos, as praying women (preying women? women?) tend to do. 

Anyhow, he got yet another racy picture. This was a little different. The leader of the lonely hearts club wanted him to download an app. He was invited to an exclusive group. "Lonely women looking for good sex." 

Hal, being a bit of a wag, sent an e-mail with his hopeful query. "Might there be a few there looking for bad sex?" 

He's received no answer as of yet.

I remember another on-line friend, a white haired bearded fellow. We were discussing a political thing, going back and forth in a group. Suddenly there popped in a beautiful stranger. She had seen Bud's profile picture and was taken by it. He had a lovely smile. (His profile picture is a serious looking bearded Bud. You cannot see his smile at all, actually.) She asked him to send her a friend request. Bud responded, "Oh, that's very nice of you to say. I will send you a friend request." Much to the horror of everyone else in the group. 

I shot off a quick response. "BUD. DO NOT SEND A FRIEND REQUEST!"

He responded with "Why?"

So as a group, we educated him. The 'woman' was horribly affronted and kept telling us all to mind our own business, and we kept up our education of Bud, and finally she got very vulgar and sent out an all caps response about what we could all do with ourselves, and we responded with a half dozen laughing emojis. 

Most fun any of us had had online in some time. I said, "Gees, Bud, aren't you glad you didn't get tangled up with that? She's got quite a temper on her."

And then we settled down to the business at hand. 

Yesterday, I got home from work to find some official looking papers spread out on the table. "What's that?" I said, setting down my work bag and headed to the fridge to begin supper. 

I've been summoned for jury duty.;



Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Work

 Today, I was working. My desk tends to get pretty cluttered with work debris during the day. At the end of the day, I tidy up, but during the 10 hours at work, it accumulates stuff. Anyways, I noticed a large dark object. I happened to be wearing dangly earrings with beads of brown and amber on black wires and so my first thought was 'How on earth did my earring get way back there?!!' and I grabbed it up, except that it wasn't rigid like you'd expect....

...and then I realized that I was holding a very large, very dead spider. 

To my credit there were no shrieks, but I did think of Weaver's post about a spider in her toilet paper roll. 

Ten hour days...and today they announced mandated overtime on Saturday as well. The good news is that they finally have gotten permission to hire some more people.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Pointing the Finger.

 Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani is vowing to return to Afghanistan. 

Ghani was elected president in 2014. He quietly began to fill his cabinet with Taliban figures, to include the Butcher of Kabul, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who vowed to stop fighting and to work with the new government. He said to Ghani,  "Let's end the war, live together as brothers, and then ask foreigners to leave our country." 

For his part, Ghani said that to unify his country, the Taliban had to be included in the new government.

Now the Taliban is in the presidential palace and Ghani has fled the country. 

Interestingly, Ghani's brother has pledged to support the Taliban government. 

I say this: If Ashraf Ghani returns to Afghanistan and is not killed immediately by the Taliban, the one thing that we can know for sure is that he was part of it from the beginning.

Who's to blame for this debacle? The bipartisan finger pointing has begun. Here are the facts.

There's enough blame to go around, but I think we would be wise to stop fighting with each other and pay close attention. Before it is all said and done, I believe that the finger will be pointing at the shadowy Afghan government as well.

I have a feeling that we've been scammed. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Weekend

 It has been such a strange weekend. It doesn't help that I'm just so sad about this world. I imagine that a big part of it is that I'm simply tired. Working mandated long hours has me to a frazzle. We have 10 hour days again this week. Catching cold in the middle of it didn't help either. 

It has been raining heavily. The water is high here. Our little creek is twice as high as normal here, and the Kinzua Dam output normally ranges from 1800-2000 cubic feet per second. Due to the rain and the heavy rains coming down the mountains and into the reservoir, the output has been increased to as high as 9850 cubic feet per second. That water has raised the river level by two feet and the current is fast, the water brown. 

Yesterday, Tim left camp early to go up to Levi's. One of Levi's hobbies is that he rescues old horse drawn haycutters from their quiet rusting away and restores them to working order for his Amish community. Tim found one down the road from camp and went to ask the property owner if he was willing to sell it. He was willing, and Tim was anxious to tell Levi the news. I knew that Maddie would be up to her ears in garden produce, and so for a special surprise, he was picking up five pizzas. He wanted me to go, but I was reading a book, nearly done with it, and to be honest, I just wanted the quiet. 

Tim took the dump truck and left, and I sat quietly finishing my book. The thunder rumbled getting closer and closer and the breeze felt soothing. Once again, the rain came. I waited it out, sitting inside. When it tapered off, I collected my vegetables and headed home for a date with my food processer. 10 miles down the road, I was astonished to see that it hadn't rained at all. 

On his drive, Tim discovered that it hadn't rained at all until he got to the bottom of the dirt road that takes you up the hill to the dirt road that Levi and Maddie live on. It poured down rain the whole way up that hill, until just before the intersection. Then, inexplicably, it stopped just as suddenly as it began.

 Levi and his sons were pulling benches into his house. They were having church services at his house Sunday morning. They were tickled to death at the pizzas. Tim and Levi sat and talked business on the front porch for a half hour and then Tim headed back home with a loaf of bread from Maddie. That intersection I referenced earlier? It is in plain sight of Levi's porch. Tim reached it and headed back down the hill and was shocked to run into the same deluge he had come up the hill in. Yet not a drop had fallen at Levi's.

Tim got home as I was shredding zucchini. It is too hot for baking bread right now (unless you're Amish, I guess), so I shred the zucchini, set it to drain for an hour or so, and then I measure it out in two cup increments for the freezer. When it gets cold, it is nice to have the oven going. I can pull out a bag of premeasured zucchini and throw together a batch of zucchini bread in no time. 

A two year old girl was swept away by that high and raging river Saturday. They searched for her all day Saturday, finally finding her body today.

Cara and Colin are fielding phone calls from frantic colleagues trying to get out of Afghanistan. One of the teachers at the university was trying to get to the airport with his wife and child. He was teargassed with his toddler in his arms. He and his wife returned to their home. They expect to be killed when the Taliban finds them. Colin and Cara are making calls on their behalf, as well fielding phone calls from the others still trapped. I told her that I am grateful they are in a position to try to help. I, myself, can do nothing but throw money at the problem. 

Today, I stuffed zucchini and got it prepared for tomorrow's supper. I got the house to rights. I got my laundry done. Tomorrow I will work 10 hours. I'm the top performer in my group, my scores 20 points or more ahead of anyone else's. 

The world is full of sad, sad stories right now, but unfortunately, I'm only good at the things that make no difference at all. 



Saturday, August 21, 2021

Losing My Religion

 I've been watching the world around me this week, and witnessing the anguish of so many people, in so many places has been difficult for me. 

I've always been like this. I don't know why. I'm rarely in a position to make a difference to anyone, but I grieve terribly. 

In the midst of all of this, I suddenly realize that I don't believe in God anymore. I'm not sure what has happened. I just don't. 


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thank you, Thelma

Here's an important little post from a fellow blogger

Thank you, Thelma. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hump Day

Send zucchini recipes, stat! 

You know what's worse than working mandatory 10 hour days? Catching your second cold in 3 weeks in the middle of the week. 

It's raining like crazy right now. Tim's out buying himself new underwear. Our basement flooded. He doesn't want the washer running right now. He's out of underwear. 

Brittani sent me a picture of Iris this morning. "Tea party breakfast! Still a hit!" There was Iris standing next to her little folding table, nicely set for a breakfast tea party.  You can't even guess how happy that picture made me.

The news is breaking my heart. 

I haven't seen my garden for 1 1/2 weeks. I could have gone tonight with Tim, but I decided to go to bed instead. 




Monday, August 16, 2021

Home Again, Home Again

I had such a wonderful time. Iris met me on the steps calling, " 'Ama, 'ama, ama!!!" She was shy with Tim but warmed up quickly. She knew William from his pictures. 

She loved her picnic basket. The tea party things were a hit. We got her little folding table out and set the table for tea. The silver plastic carafe was a good call. It will be awhile before she masters the pour. We picked a bouquet of wildflowers for her little vase, and she set it carefully in the middle of the table. We had cheese crackers and ice water (easier to clean up in case of spills, and it was so hot out that it was the drink of choice anyway). We washed our dishes when we were done and packed them carefully back into the basket, tucking it away in the corner of the dining room. There were two more tea parties before I left. 

Her party was a great success. Her mother's hobby is cake decorating, so the cake was a mermaid/under the sea theme. Her father's hobby is smoking meat, so he made a brisket and a pile of ribs. Add a fruit salad, a tossed salad from the garden, and a pasta salad, 30 people and a gaggle of kids and you've got a birthday party! 

Her parents got her a bright red Mustang convertible to drive around the backyard and her little mind was blown. 

As much fun as the birthday party was, my favorite parts were the before and the after  the tea parties, and her big blue eyes fixed on me as she asked me to read (yet again) "Ittle Ickle" (Little Pickle)  We strung beads. William taught her about Pop-Its which she had never seen before. She examined the little tissue wad in her hand curiously, and when William threw his on the ground and it made its 'snap', she couldn't stop laughing. We finally got her to throw hers and she laughed even more when hers cracked. We went through a box and left three more boxes behind for another day. We talked and drew pictures. She was pleased with the clip on earrings I found for her dress up box. 

I had an entire weekend with both of my grandkids in the same place and I thought my grandma heart would burst. 

Sunday morning, we went out for brunch, and then there was the obligatory stop at Cabela's, and then it was done. We were headed home. 

This week is mandatory 10 hour days at work, but back in Blandon, there is a brand new three year old who was taking her brand new umbrella out into the rain. There was very likely another tea party. I'm sure that she made another necklace. 

I worked steadily, and wished I were there. 


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Grandma's Tripping

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGESTTTTTTTT work day everrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. But, I made it. (I skipped out on the two hours of overtime and left at regular time. I have a load of laundry in the washer, and when that is dried, the suitcase will be packed. William has the back seat all loaded up with his entertainment for the trip: the portable DVD player, two books, a tablet, and an entire bag of snacks. 

I've got the gifts all packed up and the Iris bag that she has begun to look for as soon as I get there. It has activities and books and clothes and things that I pick up for her and add to the bag as I see them between visits. I've got her tea party picnic basket all packed and ready to go. Her birthday gifts are wrapped and ready too. 

Her mama commented, "Boy, is she ever excited for you to get here!" 

Can there be anything more wonderful than that? 

I will be able to hug both my grandchildren at the same time, for a whole weekend. 

I'm sort of glad that I slept so poorly last night. It just about guarantees that I will fall asleep quickly tonight. 


 It's midnight. The alarm will be going off in less than five hours. I'm wide awake. I lay there in bed for a couple hours with my mind running off on a mess of tangents. Finally, I got up to read some blogs for a while. 

Over at Gnat-Bottomed Towers, Aril wondered about "Mayday!" How did a spring day turn into a call for help? Turns out it is from the French 'm'aidez'.

Interesting. 

And I wondered why I never wondered about that before. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

One Less Thing on The List

 This week is a four day work week for Tim and I. I took Friday off and we will be traveling out to Iris' 3rd birthday celebration. 

I've been packing and getting things set up for the trip, because I don't have a lot of time to get things accomplished. One of the things on my to-do list was to swap reader/prayer leader duties since I would be gone next Sunday. 

I'm sitting there in church looking around me, and realize that there is no one to ask. There isn't a single reader in church. Not one. Dang it. That meant calling around, which added to that to-do list...

I turned my attention to the service, and the priest said, "Please be seated for the readings." 

So I sat down along with everyone else. 

John, down the pew from me, looked at me and cocked an eyebrow. I looked back at him. He made a motion with his hand. 

Hell's bells! I suddenly got it. I was the reader! I got my Sundays mixed up!

And I headed up front grateful that I didn't have to call around trying to find someone to swap Sundays with me. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Messing

I saw that I had an e-mail from a casual friend. It was short. She wanted to know if I had an Amazon account. Signed it, "Blessings" and her first name.  She's a minister, so that part fit. 

Interesting side note. I know that she has an Amazon account, because she had just posted a picture of her new canopy cover that took her three exchanges to finally get the correct size on. 

Just to be sure, I instant messaged her. She apologized and said she'd been hacked. 

I responded with "I'm not sure why YOU'RE apologizing..." 

She replied that an elderly friend had lost $200 in the scam, and could not get it back. 

I answered that spoof e-mail. I said, "Why don't you stop by and we can talk about it." I hit send.

I received a reply. Unfortunately, she was unable to stop in. She was in Panama for the funeral of a dear friend who had died of covid, but she had promised a woman dying of cancer that she'd buy $200 of google play. She was unable to do that from Panama, and she closed begging me for my help to get this sorted out. She would pay me back immediately upon her return.

(Because people on their death beds long for google play, I guess.)

I replied, "Well, you are a slyboots. You didn't mention Panama at all. You simply ran on about some poor elderly man getting scammed by some e-mail thing. Sure am glad I do not fall for that kind of thing. How's the weather, there?" 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Town Sale Days

Last Sunday, we went to look at a trunk on an online market place. It is covered with pressed tin in different patterns. The wood strapping is all intact. I need to polish up the hardware on it. I want to line it with a pretty paper. Tim is having a fit because he believes that will reduce the value. I want it to be pretty. I have a plan for it. I'm going to consolidate all my Christmas decorations into place. It will fit nicely under the clock in the upstairs hallway. For $25, it was a bargain. 

The guy was a pretty interesting fellow and he had a shed full of interesting things. Northsider? He had one of those teapots that your wife collects. He wanted $8 and I was sorely tempted, but studying, I noticed that it was pretty plain. Just a little thatched roof cottage. Not knowing her tastes, I decided against it, but I could be persuaded to run back and pick it up...just say the word! 

Tim spied something tucked away in a corner that caught his eye. "What's that?" he wanted to know, and the man said, "Well that's a lightning rod. He pulled it out of its corner, went to a box, unwrapped a glass ball which dropped over top of the rod. He said, "The special thing about this is that I've got the weather vane as well," and he went to another box to retrieve it. 

From the look on Tim's face, I knew that weather vane was coming home with us. I also knew he'd be putting it on his garage. 

After 25 years, I can read the man like a book. 

I could tell the man was pleased to discover a pair of customers(suckers) like us, alright. He let us know that the local town was having a sale day the following weekend, and that he'd be setting up outside with a lot more things. 

This morning, Tim got up and said, "I want to go back to see what he has..." 

And so we did. 

Tim spied, with his little eye, another lightning rod/weather vane combo. 
This one was smaller, 

Just the right size for a green house. 

I caught sight of a brass clock. I know that I take crap pictures, but this was very hard to take a picture of because the glass in the front is convex, but it is a brass General Electric Telechron clock. I guessed from the thirties. (I was incorrect. It's a Debutant model that was produced between 1944 and 1949). 

 I have another General Electric Telechron in my collection with a bakelite case (see above, not my picture so you can better see the details of the face), so I recognized what the brass clock was as soon as I saw the red dot on the face of it (before the days of battery back up, this was used to let the owner know that there had been a power outage and the clock would likely need reset). I grabbed that heavy clock up and said, "Does this work?" And the man said, "Bring it over and plug it in." 

I did.

 It did.

Five dollars!

Tim knew right away that clock was coming home with us. 

After 25 years, he can read me like a book.

There were other small things that we picked up stopping at the different sales. 

Two books, two DVDs, a collection of burlap sacks, a new camo coat, a pair of brand name sunglasses. some saucepans for the camp, a cast iron nutcracker, a tiny little brass bird to hang on the wall, a clock from a school building for Tim's garage, a old traffic sign (also for his garage) and miniature porcelain copy of my gentleman rabbit that stands on the steps of the greenhouse. 

We came home, happy with our finds. We did some finishing up work on the garage. We are a half dozen battens away from being done. Well. That and installing a lightning rod. 

I spent just long enough in the garden to pick cucumbers and squashes, but there was no time for any other work, I am sad to report. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Biker Chick

 Tim and I have gotten into a bit of a habit. We generally eat out on Fridays after I get out of work. Tim likes a small little restaurant about 20 minutes from the retirement property. It is also a pretty busy place so it is fun to people watch.

Tonight we saw something we have never seen before. A Mennonite woman with a sweet face came walking in. Her headcovering and long dress gave her away.  

Mennonites are different than the Amish. They have electric and indoor plumbing. They have cars. Most sects require the cars be black.

This couple carried their motorcycle helmets. 

I wonder how she managed her skirts? And yes, the motorcycle was black.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Better Get Your Skates On

A friend said something that I can't quite get out of my mind. 'Better get your skates on.' 

Bush Babe came to the States with her family just after Christmas, back in 2010. It was a surprise. She'd contacted my kids and pulled it all together. 

It was lovely, even though I was so shocked by it all, and then got awkward and didn't know what to say, and, well, *mumble, mumble* by the time that I recovered, the day was over. 

I felt as if I'd missed an opportunity. A big one. 

Some friends of mine are moving. Mark gave one of his paintings to Tim. Karen gave me a still life of lemons that she had painted, because, she said, 'you always turn lemons into lemonade.'

Do I? 

In exchange, we gave them a nice bottle of champagne to open in their new home, and as we chatted, once again there was that feeling that I'd missed an opportunity. 

I guess that I find myself always believing that nothing is going to change, that yes, I'm busy now, but there will be time to catch up when the busyness is done. Except that it doesn't. At least not in my life. Tim was building a business, and there was always another renovation. 

Surely, once we got that done...

But then came another house. 

And now I'm working long days, but it's only a temporary job, and retirement's just next spring, and surely things will settle down. 

Well, just as soon as we knock out this one last renovation,..

Then, of course we will begin building our own retirement house ..

Amanda was talking about her mother who's been having some difficulties. I said, "Well, I haven't met her yet! She has to stay put until I get there..." And Amanda said, "Well, you better get your skates on. She's 83." 

Amanda's mother has had two bouts with breast cancer and was a great help to me when I was dealing with my own hard time. I have wine glasses. Amanda, her sister Sophie, their mother and me were supposed to share a bottle of wine when I got there. 

Except that I haven't. 

I feel like there is another opportunity trickling through my fingers. 

Our first priority, when we are once again free to travel, is to see Cara, who I have not seen in 2 1/2 years, but I think that instead of that 12 day transatlantic cruise, we need to continue on to Australia when we are done. 

I just need to finish this temporary job.

And I can't tell you how much I hated typing that. 


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Tea Party!

 Iris is going to be 3. 

Whenever I go there, one of her favorite thing is to play tea party. She rushes to get a tiny little tea set that I gave her last year at some time to play with. She gets her little dolls (she calls them 'guys') and we play tea party for ever. Tea party amounts to: "I will fix you some tea, Ama!" and I say, "Thank you Iris!" and then I ask for cream and/sugar. She loves that and will pour tea over and over again and giggles every time I drink the tea with much smacking of lips and a hearty, "Iris, you make the very best tea!"

Her mother sent a picture of little Miss Iris chugging her tea out of one of the black stone ware mugs. They were having a tea party. The ordinary mugs were understandable. Her mother has a lovely set of china that was a wedding gift to her mother and father some 35 years ago, and they are much too treasured to have tea parties with her three year old. 

I was looking around Goodwill and I saw a sweet set of china cups with matching saucers. I even got the matching dessert plates, I found a red table cloth that matched. I got white napkins embroidered with red hearts in the corner. I even found a pressed glass vase that had a heart design on it. The tea pot was a bit of a predicament. That's the thing that will cause the problem, being too heavy for little hands to manage. I could see the top falling off, or the spout crashing into the cups and chipping them which would upset her, but I found a silver colored plastic carafe that will work nicely. It still looks fancy but is likely to do less damage. Plus the top screws on. 

The set is sweet and everything goes together so nicely. The beauty of it is that it is that even if she does drop something, it doesn't matter. Another matching cup and saucer can be found in a pretty pattern. It won't matter a bit. 

The last thing I needed was a picnic basket for these treasures. I put an ad on line, and within five minutes I had a lidded picnic basket! 

I cannot wait for her to see them! On her birthday morning, we can get out her little card table and put on the table cloth, and set the china and pick a bouquet of wildflowers for the vase on the table. I know that she will be tickled pink with a tea party breakfast!



Plodding on.

 Two things: I don't believe that my aunt's idea about the scammers using a group directory to engage people to get a conversation that they can splice together to use in other scams holds water. In my case, there is not a lot to be gained from a short conversation that basically amounted to "who the hell is this? You're either fucking nuts or this is a scam. In any case, take your proof to the police. I'd sure as shit be interested to hear what they have to say about it." 

Another member of my group got "I have a security system on my house, and you need to stop drinking from my water hose." She does walk a lot. She also is a nurse who wouldn't dream of drinking from water hoses. But what frightened her is that when she hung up the landline, her cell immediately rang from the same number. 

When we reported it (for informational purposes only), the police officer asked if we knew a lady by the name of '------'. I told him no because I didn't recognize the name. 

Another member of the group said he got a call from someone pooping in his yard, and apologized saying next time he'd use the bathroom before leaving the house. 

At that point, I realized we belonged to the same group. I got out the directory and there was the name that the police officer had asked me about. I called him back to let him know the link. 

A friend contacted me because he'd been badly upset by his phone call. He did not tell me what was said but he was disturbed because they knew his area. His long time partner died and I think that things are tough for him right now. The phone call seemed to upset him. 

Another friend said she'd gotten a call that the government was changing her birthday because too many people were born on the same day. 

Soooooo....It seems as if they were trying to engage you in conversation, they would not be using such ridiculous lead ins (although three of the conversations did make people nervous.) 

What exactly is going on remains to be seen. 

Thelma. Your clock is now two chimes ahead. If I'm understanding you it is now ringing 10 times at eight o'clock. So. What you want to do is stop your pendulum and move the hour hand to whatever hour the chimes just rang. Set your cell phone or a timer to remind you to start the pendulum again two hours later. I must not have understood what you were saying or your mechanism is different (I can't believe that would be the case.) Let me know how that works though. You've got me intrigued. 

We spent a very nice day yesterday. I dug all the volunteer potatoes, the stray things that pop up all over the place from a potato that got picked up and moved, probably chopped up too by the big tractor tiller in the spring. My cucumbers are going great guns, and I spent a lot of time in my tomatoes which are heavy with green tomatoes. Nothing red yet. I've got two different patches of them. My peppers are just beginning to produce peppers (except for the chile and the jalapenos). I'm going to have some nice canteloupe and the carrots, onions, and cabbages are doing their thing. 

I'm up to my ears in squashes. I was at my sister's and I asked my niece if she needed a couple zucchini. She  said she would love some. Right away, my sister said, "Hey, I've got plenty of zucchini!" I said, "I asked her first, so she's taking mine!" I still came home with five large ones. Tim is quite happy and wants me to make stuffed zucchini again this week. I'll probably make some zucchini bread today, and grate some extra to throw into the freezer in 2 cup packages to make zucchini bread after the season. My daughter-in-law has begun dehydrating hers and storing them a large jar. She'll scoop them out and add them to soup come this winter. 

Another thing that I've got is pumpkins. My gosh. They keep climbing out of their patch and into everything else. I hacked some back from the peppers last week, and was surprised to see that the pieces of vine had continued to grow. They rooted where they were thrown and this week were covered in blooms and even one small pumpkin! 

We spent the rest of the day finishing the work on the front of the garage. We'll have it buttoned up for winter by next weekend...weather permitting of course. 

Today is the day of housework, laundry, picking up the groceries we need for the week. Basically getting ready for the work week. Another week of 10 hour days. 

(plus there may or may not be a little side trip to pick up a dome topped antique steamer trunk that someone is selling for $25.)

But other than that, life plods on as usual.