Monday, May 31, 2021

The Little Stories

 I see people as stories I don't know, which sounds like a strange thing, doesn't it? But everybody has a story, and that story is who they are. 

Next to our house there is a small apartment building. There are probably four or five apartments in it. It used to be owned by a friend, but he and his wife gave up on the rental business, sold out, and moved to Michigan. They offered their buildings to us and they are on the right street, but they did business differently than we did, which is they paid big money for their buildings (compared to us, I suppose). We buy run down things at low price and then reconstruct them to something that suits us. We avoid going into debt. In his mind, he was selling us buildings that were fixed up, which would command a higher price.  In our mind, he was selling us buildings that needed work, which meant we were unwilling to pay those prices. 

I'm not saying these were bad landlords. It's just a different way of doing business. Poorly fixed up places are cheaper. They also draw different tenants. These people are not bad tenants either. They are just struggling people who are doing the best they can. They rent what they can afford. 

So today, in front of the building next door, there was a very beat up minivan, a lot of body damage. They were loading a full size sofa and a matching chair on top, both in very poor condition, that fake leather stuff with the vinyl coating peeling off. It was also a very unstable load. They were also packing that van full of things. 

It is the end of the month. I'm going to guess that they couldn't make rent and were ducking out before the landlord came looking for it. It happens. 

Backing out of my own driveway, I noticed they were stacking things on the porch to be loaded. 

The little car seat broke my heart. 

Later, coming home from church, I stopped to let a young man cross in front of me. He was wearing a hoody and he gave me a strange look. Angry, very stern. I wondered why at about the same time that I caught  movement in my peripheral vision. A young woman with tears running down her face, wrapped in a blanket was running at my car, which scared me a bit...until she passed behind me, and I saw that she was running after the young man. 

She pulled at him and he pulled away and kept on walking, and she kept following along, pleading with him and pulling at his arm, while he shook her off repeatedly and walked on without looking at her. 

If I could give that young girl any advice, it would be this: let him go. Any relationship is going to have hard times. If one partner is not committed enough to talk it through, it's not going to work. She might get it fixed this time, but the next disagreement is inevitable.  

I turned down my street and the van next door was just pulling away. The furniture overhung the car roof front, sides and back. and it rocked side to side in a jerky way. The van was traveling very slowly, but it was headed for the New York state line. They had a stretch of highway to negotiate. I doubt very much they were going to make it.

Ed? The tiniest of tiny stories here: I was working in the garden and I am pretty sure that I am seeing asparagus, teeny tiny asparagus. I am afraid to get too excited about it. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Ms. Moon

Well, Ms, Moon I am nearly halfway done with Miss Benson's Beetle, and I must say I love it, so very much. It strikes me as forever since I read a book for nothing but the pure pleasure of reading it. 

It strikes me that the three main characters are really all driven by the same thing: fear. And that their ways of coping with their disparate fears is as different as night and day. 

I was reading in bed tonight and burst out laughing at the police stop as Marjory discovers that Enid has stolen the jeep they are in. Tim asked me what was so funny and I read it aloud to him, and we laughed together, 

Thank you for your book suggestion. 

PS: When I am done with this, I have The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry as well as The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy. What a luxury!



Saturday, May 29, 2021

Catching Up!

 Yesterday was rainy and cold. It was the last day of work before my big three day weekend, and believe me, Tim and I had plans

It rained steadily all day Friday, and all Friday night as well, but it was okay. because we definitely needed the rain. Both of us were ready for a relaxing night in. Being complete and utter heathens, we bought ourselves salads (we could have just bought the makings, but nooooooo....) Since we did not have to worry about the alarm in the morning, Tim commented, "We don't even need to go to bed at 9 if we don't want to!"

It's the little things, isn't it? 

So we ate our salad watching the news. Tim dozed off on the couch and left the remote unattended, I turned on Netflix and began to watch The Zookeeper's Wife. Tim woke up at the sound of planes and bombs, and became quite caught up in the story. Although I had a vague idea of the story line, having read the book some years back, I was just as caught up in the movie. Like 'The Dig', I became mildly obsessed with separating fact from fiction, and spent a great deal of time reading, sounding a lot like my grandson, William, prefacing sentences with "Did you know..." 

We did stay up until 10. I was up at 8 after a leisurely half hour of dozing off and on, and got up to clean the kitchen, and get laundry started. It is still raining and cold and it will stay raining and cold for the rest of the day, which was a disappointment. 

The garden will be tractor tilled tomorrow. It will be cool but not raining.  I will give it a good shake up with a hand tiller and then we will get the planting done, including the passive hydroponics for the cucumbers. I'm very excited for this, and we've got two leisurely days to get it done. 

Cara and Colin have put an offer in on a house and messaged me pictures and information from the realtor site. I called them during their car ride back. It was a joy to hear the excitement in their voices and they should know by midweek whether their offer has been accepted. 

It's a quiet day at home for me, getting caught up on the things that I've fallen behind on. The job is an amazing opportunity, but I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that it makes a grueling schedule. After a year of being used to doing things on my schedule, getting things done when I got around to it, ordering my life in a way that was pleasing to me, suddenly, once again, I am struggling to keep up with it all. If I have any comfort, it is that after a year of getting things done (and keeping things done) setting things to rights is not nearly as difficult as it used to be. 

I also ended up with some kidney issues directly related to not keeping up with my water drinking. That kicked my behind for a while, but I've finally got that back on track. I have a tankard that I can fill with ice water in the morning and keep at my desk to sip on, refill it with more water at lunch time and sip on cold water all afternoon as well, so that ought to keep things at bay. 

So now you're all caught up, and it's time for me to do a bit more catching up on this house. 

I have really enjoyed reading your blogs on my breaks. I'm glad for each one of you! I think that I'd better just give up on commenting, however. Tapping things into my phone leads me to sound a bit more idiotic than usual! 

(Oh dear: the mailman's just stopped, and dropped off Miss Benson's Beetle!)

Friday, May 28, 2021

BFFs

I heard my phone signal a text message coming in so I went to the kitchen to retrieve it from my bag. It was a message from Dylan, a short little six second video. 

Iris was sitting on the floor and my son asked her, "Who's YOUR best friend?" Iris did a little gymnastics piece while considering it, but replied, "Grandma." 

Dylan said "Grandma is your best friend?" 

And Iris said, "Mmm-hmmmmmmm!"

And my grandma heart nearly burst out of my chest. 

Misunderstood

 Everyone has been waiting to hear what the work schedule is for this weekend. If we were working, I'd have gone in. I keep telling myself that this boom time will not last, so I am 'making my hay while the sun shines' as the saying goes. But I would be a liar if I didn't admit that a very big part of me was hoping that they were not working this weekend, because I really need to get the garden in. 

There was due to be a big meeting at 2. The Powers-That-Be were going to decide then. 

About 3 o'clock, we were all called to the center of the room and it was announced that they were pleased with our work and that they decided to give us the three day Memorial weekend. 

I was relieved. I've been working some long hours. 

One of the college kids was leaving at 3:30, which is our regular quitting time. I always stay for the couple hours of over time. The young man called out cheerfully, "I hope you have a great weekend, Debby!" 

I looked at him, a little surprised. "You've got tomorrow off then?" 

He looked at me. "Tomorrow's Friday," I said. 

And he said, "Didn't you hear? We got a three day weekend because we are working so hard!"

I looked at his happy face, and I hated to break it to him, but somebody needed to. "Um. The three day weekend is for Memorial Day. We have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off."

He looked a little stunned as he stared at me. "Oh...okay. That makes sense. I'm glad you told me. I would have looked pretty dumb."


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Life Savor

 Long work days make for short, rushed evenings. We had to do a plumbing repair at a tenant's house so as soon as I came home at 5:30, I got supper going while I washed the dishes from the previous evening and that morning. I left the water up so that we could put our dirty dishes right into the sink for a quick scrub up. Then we headed down to Deb's house to fix a leak under her kitchen sink.

Deb loves her little house. She says so every time we see her. "When I leave this little house, it will be feet first!" she is fond of saying. Tim brought his tools inside and set to work. I'm his assistant, my specialty being 'hold this right there like that'. 

So while I was holding things right there like that and admiring Tim's bottom sticking out from the kitchen cupboard under the sink, I also listened to Deb talking about the latest marvel from the creek. There are bald eagles a-plenty, but for the first time, one flew at eye level straight towards her, swooping between her house and the neighbor's. "It happened so quickly, I didn't even think to grab my phone!" But she did have a picture of the Canadian geese followed by their line of fuzzy little goslings and a deer that had gone wading out into the stream. 

When I was done with my task, I settled on her porch to blab and watch the water roll by. While we visited, I saw probably 4 fish leap out of the water and splash back in. 

"I'm all done," Tim said and he gathered up his tools as I went back inside to help him. We headed for the door still talking. She's done a lot of yard and garden work, and so I stopped to compliment her work on the way to the car

It was only 15 minutes or so, but it was certainly the pause that refreshed. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Shocked

 I was working away today, lost in my own little dreams about cruising that Atlantic Ocean, volcanoes in Iceland, etc. Being a daydreamer really makes the day go more quickly.  The young man working across from me said, "Hey, Debby, can I ask a question?" 

"Sure," I said. 

He handed me a note, and said, "What does this say?"

I was a little dumbfounded. He's about to begin his last year of college. I knew that he wasn't illiterate. My mind quickly went to dyslexia or any number of reading problems. I took the customer's note and began to read it. As I was reading, he said, "I don't know cursive." 

I've seen that all around social media, the posts about kids not being taught cursive in school. I thought it was hyperbole, a manufactured outrage about yet another thing that doesn't amount to a hill of beans, but today I met a college senior who cannot read cursive. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Another Heaping Helping of Serendipity

 While we were out for dinner, Tim said, "While I was over at the Wayne Street house, I saw the neighbor...what's his name?...he's out watering his grass. He said that he's going to have grass growing there if it kills him. He's replanted four times."

I said, "Dick?"

And Tim said, "Yes. That's it."

We both agreed that we like Dick and Mary quite a bit.

I said, "I was thinking about getting hold of them. Dick posted that he's looking for a thick plank about 71 inches long for a fireplace mantel. Maybe the next time you go up to Levi and Mattie's, you could take Dick along. I think that Levi could saw something up for him." (They are renovating their house as well.)

Tim said, "Well, I got a fireplace mantel. We took it out of the Pleasant township house."

Thinking about it, I did vaguely remember it. I said, "Do you even know where it is?" 

Tim thought for a minute. "Yes, I do."

So after we finished eating, we took a run over to that garage. I got a tape measure out of the toolbox in the trunk, and we climbed up into the attic of that garage. Tim pulled the mantel out and we measured it. 71 1/4 inches. We laughed. 

So we headed over to Dick and Mary's. When we got there, Dick was once again watering his straw covered grass seed with a determined look on his face. 

Tim got out of the car and said, "Debby saw you were looking for a plank for your fireplace. I don't have a plank, but I do have a fireplace mantel." 

Dick said, "Are you joking?" and set down his hose right away. I helped Tim lift it out of the car. I told Dick that it was a quarter inch too long, that he might not want it. We handed it to him, and he said, "This looks perfect!" and headed inside with our find. "Mary!" he called, and she came from the kitchen. He walked over to his fireplace and set it on top and it was a perfect fit. Mary marveled, "It's as if it was made for our fireplace!"

And we had iced tea together and visited as a summer breeze ruffled the curtains in the living room. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Serendipity


Remember I found these little shoes for Iris?

Today, I found this: 
 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

This Week

 It felt like a big step towards 'normal' that we went out to eat and that the salad bar was once again in use. I probably ate a week's worth of vegetables in one sitting. 

Tim and I both are working at companies set to close up. We probably will be finished at about the same time. We are planning for a trip at some point after that and have discovered the most luxurious part of things is that we can go as long as we want. No jobs to return to. No vacation days trickling through our fingers. The only thing determining the length of that trip is us. That is an amazing thought. Instead of flying back after visiting with Cara and Colin, we have found that Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a transatlantic cruise, leaving from London, stopping in Scotland, Iceland, Nova Scotia, and then New York. I think it would be an amazing thing to be surrounded by ocean for 12 days. Certainly something we are interested in trying. 


Today, I worked for 8 hours, earning double time. This morning before we started, people were discussing how they were going to spend this big money. One fellow was going to pay off his mortgage. Another person was going to pay off her car. Someone was going to buy a car. Someone else started talking about the tattoo they were going to get. There are college kids agog at the fact that they are earning more this summer than they ever could have dreamed of.

When they asked for Saturday, and told us they would pay us double time, one of those kids said, "Let me check with my mom first." He came back after lunch and said that his mother told him she would kick his ass if he didn't work. It made me laugh.

Brianna and Don came over today. After some time, William suddenly asked "Where's Paddy?" His grandfather broke the news. William disappeared into the office and didn't come out for some time. When he did, his eyes were very red. At 10, he doesn't like people to see him cry. I felt as bad today as I did last Saturday. 

Much to my shock, when I got home today, there was a mountain of clothes on the couch. I said, "You did the laundry???" and Tim said he had. I marveled over that. Unnecessarily, he added, "I didn't fold anything though." I don't think Tim has done laundry since we got married, so this was quite an anniversary present. 

That's about it really. Life has gotten very focused and small, but I know when it is done, it'll be our turn. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

*waves*

 Still here. 

Nothing new to report. It's just a matter of keeping one foot in front of the other. 

Hopefully, I'll have time to get a post together this weekend. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Adventure.

 Northsider did a post about songs that 'follow' us. I've been thinking about it. I really don't have a song that's followed me, but the Doobie Brothers really could provide a sound track for my life. It doesn't seem to matter what song I hear, it always seems to unpack a memory. 

His post got me wondering about the band and so I did some checking and discovered that they are playing outside Pittsburgh in September. I made a mental note to talk to Tim about that.

Like a great many of my mental notes, I promptly forgot about it.

Tonight Tim was fretting about our anniversary. "I don't even know what to do about that."

It's a busy time. I've got a 55 hour work week this week. We've got a garden to start getting in. We've got another project to finish up. By the end of the day, the very last thing we'll feel like doing is getting gussied up to go out and celebrate. 

I said, "Hey. Do you like the Doobie Brothers?" (He did.)

I brought up the website and showed him. He read up on things and said, "Go ahead and get the tickets."

Things should be a lot less hectic in September, and by the fall, we should have a clear idea of how this covid thing is going to shake out. It feels like forever since we had an adventure. 


Monday, May 17, 2021

Bob Dylan, revisited


My son Dylan asked once, back when he was in college: "So how did you come up with my name?" I laughed, because if he asked his father the same question, he'd get a whole 'nuther answer. 

So I explained that his father loved Dylan Thomas, and suggested the name Dylan. His mother agreed, because she loved Bob Dylan. (She was wise enough not to mention the difference. Even at that point, she knew that she was not so refined as her husband thought she should be). 

So Dylan was born, and Dylan he was, named after a drunken Welsh poet or a drug addled American poet/folk singer, depending on who you were speaking to. Since Dylan was speaking to me, he got my version and since Dylan was going through a classic rock phase, he thought it was cool to be named after a singer.

"So where did 'Christopher' come from?"

"Since your father thought he picked the first name, I got to pick your second. It's from Winnie the Pooh. You were named after Christopher Robin. 'But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.' "

Long pause, and then Dylan said, "Okay...so let's just keep that little story between the two of us." 

And I never told a soul.

Don't you, either. 




Saturday, May 15, 2021

Changes

This morning Tim and I inoculated the iron wood logs. I meant to get a picture, Northsider, but I did not. I will get some pictures together and do a post on it. 

Tim buried Paddy on the far side of the bridge. He even put a little stone up. That was nice. I couldn't bring myself to go look. I just didn't have the heart for it. 

We worked in the greenhouse for a while. Tim put together an irrigation system for the plants inside. I took trays of seedlings up. I also took my avocado tree and my hibiscus tree up.  W got everything set up and hauled water from the creek for the five gallon bucket which provides the water source. As per usual, we 'just happened' to have a drip hose. Tim had got it in a box of stuff years back and it has been hanging in the old house on the property waiting to be used. 

It works like a charm. 

We worked on the garage too. We put the window on the northside. We have a robin's nest in the rafters. The robins were outside as we worked and they were quite upset. As soon as we left the upstairs of the garage, they flew back in to tend to their young. As soon as work resumed, they flew back out and scolded us from the trees outside. We both agree, there's no reason that we need to close the loft off immediately. We'll hold off until the youngsters have fledged. 

Once upon a time, there was a elderly white haired ferocious soul that I thought the world of. We are both history buffs and I could listen to his stories forever. Then there came politics. He came physically to our house to try to make me see the error of my ways. I said, plainly, bluntly, "Jim, you can believe what you want to believe, but I will always believe that there is no excuse for cruelty. I will always speak out against it, and I will always do what I can to fight against it." He shook his old white head ruefully, and got back into his car without another word. He began to mock me on facebook, and put out an announcement that I was his 'former friend'. 

Broke my heart, but you know, he was standing his ground just like I was standing mine. 

Today, I was working with Tim. I heard a car and came out and there was my old friend. "You gonna stay mad forever?" 

I looked at him. "I never was mad, Jim. I was sad. I thought you were mad."

He denied this. I could have picked it apart, but I didn't bother. We looked at each other. 

He said, "I'd love to talk to you again."

I said, "I'd like that too."

So we showed him around. He said, "I'd set up a gravity feed irrigation for that greenhouse." We said, "We did that," and we showed him. He nodded approvingly. "Is that your stable?" he wanted to know, gesturing to the garage. I told him it was a stable for the tractors. He laughed in the jolly way that always tickled me. 

We talked for a bit, catching up. It's been awhile. 

It wasn't a long visit, but it was so wonderful to see him again. We hugged good bye and he got in his car and left. 

I cried. I live in a very angry corner of the world, but for a moment I got a glimpse of that anger beginning to die down, about old friends looking at each other and wondering what the fuss was about. It felt like a chokehold beginning to loosen. I shed a few tears after he left, a quiet joy in my heart.





 Tim and I worked for a bit longer, and then we put our stuff away, turning the garage loft back over to the anxious robins. I got in my car and left first because I knew that I would cry as soon as I walked in the kitchen door with no big orange cat running to greet me. We'll be married for 23 years next week. The poor man still doesn't know what to do with a crying wife. 

Where'd I go? Where'd YOU go?

 Yesterday, I tried to put up a quick blog post, but was amazed to find that when I tried to go to my blog, I got a warning that it was a dangerous site and that hackers were trying to steal my personal information. I got the same message when I tried to access your blogs, every last one of you. I could click on a link to report a site that I knew to be safe. Perhaps it was incorrectly labeled. I decided not to click on the link. I didn't know who I was communicating with, even though they were supposed to be from Chrome. 

Anyone else get this or was it just me? 

I shut everything down, and ran updates. I tried later to bring some blogs up on my kindle and got the same message. I woke up at o'dark-thirty and lay in bed thinking about things and finally got out of bed to see what happened once the updating was complete. There I was! There you were! All is well in blogland!

(I blame the Russians.)

Now a smart person would have gone straight back to bed, but here I am shivering in my flannel night gown (in MAY!!!!) tapping out a post when I should be sleeping. 

It's been a long week of 10 hour days. I was supposed to work today, but they abruptly canceled it. They are bringing in more people to get this work done. Our work area needs to be reconfigured, desks and computers added. I have two days off and I am not sorry about that. 

Today we are having our old cat put down. That's always a sad thing. I've been waffling around on it for the past few months, but it is time. 

At the end of 2019, I had a crazy idea that I wanted to spend Cara's 30th birthday with her. I had not spent a birthday with her since she left for Afghanistan when she was 24. She and Colin were living in Batumi, Georgia at the time. We began to make plans. She wanted to show us her favorite country (Romania) and she thought perhaps it would be more sensible to wait a couple months, since her birthday is in January, and it is not exactly the nicest time to go touring. 

I will always regret being sensible, but nobody could have foreseen a pandemic. 

Next week, we will resume the 10 hour days. We will be working Saturday. I can endure just about anything for six months and I'm sure things will start settling down after the initial 'catch up' period. Right now, though, there's work to be done, and Lord knows, the pay is unheard of for this corner of the world. 

And on November 10th, work will be done. I will be officially retired, and there will be scads of money in our travel kitty. 

Instead of traveling the world on my computer, Tim and I will be seeing it in person. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Pet Peeve

Whenever I'm at a thrift store, I always take a gander at their books. I knew that I was headed back to work. I always try to have a good book on me so that I have something to read on breaks and at lunch. When I saw a book by Amy Tan, I picked up and flipped through it, and then bought it. 

So on first break Monday, I grabbed my book and prepared to lose myself. By the time I was a few pages in, I realized that I had already read it. 

Gah! I hate that. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Fer sure.

 Still chilly outside. 

Work is going okay. We have been told both days how pleased they are at our work. It amazes me that the number they were so excited about yesterday would be considered a low number with the old company. Today, the supervisor came around and started collecting our work. She told us to stop work and start cleaning up. At 8 minutes before quitting time! Unheard of. You didn't want to be caught cleaning up until 5 minutes before you left. I was also chastised for not getting out the door quickly enough to suit that supervisor, which surprised me. I was punched out. I didn't know it mattered. 

So the pressure is greatly reduced. You do not have to worry about standards. You just go in there and get it done. They've got a month's backlog of work and they need to get all this stuff done before they can shut the doors. We're working 10 hour days. 

The remainder of the company will relocate to Georgia, where the minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, $2.10 less that my state's minimum wage. Privately, I believe that this is the reason for the shift, although I cannot say that for sure. All I know is that I don't understand how anyone can live on such a small amount of money. 

Today the woman behind me went on and on about the south. She believes the company will be sorry they decided to downsize and relocate the smaller operation. Everyone who lives down south is lazy, according to her. It doesn't matter what their race is, they are all lazy people who don't want to work and will do anything to avoid it. She went on and on and on about how they all take advantage of the system and that there should be no such thing as unemployment. 

I was tempted to say something, but there's no sense to it. None. She drives to Florida regularly, and will only stop to eat at Waffle Houses. (What that has to do with anything, I couldn't tell you.) She rambled on and on, and she was very certain of her opinions BECAUSE SHE HAS SEEN IT WITH HER OWN TWO EYES. She knows

I found myself wondering if I had ever been as sure of anything in my life as this woman is.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Weekend

Honestly, will this weather ever end???

Saturday we went to watch a grandson play soccer in a gym. He is only 5 and he is fun to watch. He certainly enjoys being active. Afterwards, we picked up breakfast and brought it home and had a nice visit. 

Later in the afternoon, we tried to go down to work on the garage, but it was cold and wet and raining. Before we got out of town, it was hailing. It wasn't a passing thing either. 

Tim was not dissuaded. We continued on our way. The wind gusted like crazy and it was cold and wet. It sucked the will to work right out of us. Tim cut down an iron wood trees for the mushroom experiment (you start the spawn in freshly cut hardwood trees).  It looks  as if the violets and the for-get-me-nots have taken in my little wildflower garden, and the hostas seem do be doing what hostas do on the north side of the greenhouse, which were pretty much the only cheerful things about the afternoon. I planted some more seeds and puttered around a bit. 

Before long, Tim was loading three logs in the truck, putting the fourwheeler and the chainsaw away, and we turned around and headed home. 

It was a lazy night and I was okay with that, because I'm going to tell  you a secret. I think I had a reaction to the second covid shot. 

Serves me right, really. I've been quite vocal about the fact that I believe that most of the reactions that everyone complains about are exaggerated. I had no ill effects from the first shot, but there were people going on and on about their "terrible reactions". I always cringe a bit when I hear stuff like this. I wonder if they stop to think how many people are being scared away from the vaccine by their foolishness?

So when we went in to get our second shots, they asked if I had a reaction to the first shot. 

"No," I said. 

"Maybe you'll be just as lucky this time," they said. 

Internally I thought 'That's some real PR there..." but I kept my snarkiness to myself and simply said, "I fully expect to be." 

Friday night, we went out. Tim was going to buy me some new hanging plant containers. I'd bought two hanging plants. They looked a little bedraggled and so I set in the grass along side the house to get some rain before I hung them off the porch. Tim ran over them with his truck. So we were in the store looking at wire baskets and coconut liners, and much to my surprise, I felt faint. I had felt headachy and tired all day. I was suddenly too tired to carry the planters and the potting soil and so I handed off to Tim. We came home and I replanted my poor plants while Tim watched another couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. 

My head began to ache in earnest, so I just went to bed. My legs ached something awful. I dozed off and I slept very soundly all night long. I felt much better when I woke up, but I was no ball of energy.

So it was a quiet weekend. I went to church for the first time in a year. It was amazing to me to see how the kids have grown. 

William and Brianna came to celebrate dinner. They brought me a new coffee mug which I love, and filled it full of wildflower seeds. All sorts, designed to attract bees, butterflies and humming birds. I plan to plant them behind the little pond Tim had dug for me. William was especially pleased to have found a packet of Sweet William seeds. "Iris and me both have the same names as flowers." Made me laugh. 

William had brought Brave for us to watch. I am woefully not up to date on the whole world of Disney. My experience ended pretty much with Beauty and the Beast. It was a nice afternoon. 

I spoke with Iris and Brittani. Dylan's engineering some new system for Samuel Adams and needed to go to the plant to prepare for the week's work. Iris is potty trained and quite proud of herself. We had a nice visit, and then I called Cara. She and Colin are worn out after spending the last two weekends house hunting. They've put in three offers this weekend and will hopefully hear some good news sometime at the beginning of this week.

It snowed here today. We also lost power. This weather really, really sucks. 




Saturday, May 8, 2021

A 'Me' Day.

Friday was my last day on my own. Tim and I would have the weekend, and then Monday, we both head off to work. 

There wasn't really a lot to do because I expected to be in Pittsburgh for Thursday and Friday. Since the surgery was postponed, I had an extra day, with little to do, because I'd done it all before I left. 

I made up my mind to have a 'me' day. So I headed out the door for my errands. 

On the way to get some things that Tim needed, I saw some kitchen rugs. My kitchen rugs are perfectly fine cotton rag rugs that I bought from Ikea probably 8 years ago. They wash nicely, and are easy to toss back down on the floor. My kitchen is yellow with splashes of red. Very 1950s, actually, except you wouldn't ever find a red microwave or a red toaster in one. But my kitchen is a quaint thing with a ticking clock and a cosco step stool and a round wooden table with a bright red table cloth. 

I studied these kitchen rugs, and realized that they would fit right in with what I already had. 
They would be a nice change. And I was having a 'me' day. 
So I bought three of them, 
one for in front of the sink, 
one for in front of the stove,
and one more for in front of the door. 

I felt quite daring. 
I happened to notice that they had a black table cloth, 
It really would set off the mondrian squares. 

I felt like that would be a nice switch from the red ones. 

So. I bought that too.

I was feeling pretty happy with myself. 

I got my grocery shopping done, and saw that they had hanging baskets down to $3.99
(they are preparing to close the store for 3 weeks of renovations and there was quite a bit of discounted things.)

I treated myself to one of those too. 

Want to see what else I found? 
The cutest little shoes ever.
Iris will love them. 

I came home and put groceries away. I made a strawberry/rhubarb cobbler. I spiffed my kitchen up while it baked. Funny how different a few small changes can brighten up a space. Funny how a few small purchases can brighten up a day. 

I took a picture of the shoes and sent it to Iris' mama.
That brightened my day too.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Trip

I was up at 3:30, out the door by 4:30, and keeping a watchful eye out for deer, made my way to the hilltop Amish farm. 

Their house was dark. Completely dark. It was five am, and I thought to myself, "I know I haven't made a mistake on the day," followed quickly by, "....have I?" 

I saw a small light coming, and the "mem" appeared with a car seat. We got it strapped in as she explained that her husband was having a quick bite of cereal and they would be right out. It wasn't long before 'det' appeared drinking his coffee. They don't eat and drink on the trip down because Rudy, of course, cannot have anything. 

Now in my experience, children get mighty ornery when they are hungry and so I had packed a small box of entertainments, old toys that the grandkids had no use for now. Something new can be a wonderful distraction. 

It wasn't long mem appeared and the boy was buckled in. I expected him to be sleepy and cross, but he was not. He was bright eyed and curious and beneath his straw hat, he was taking everything in. Something new can be a wonderful distraction, and it hadn't occurred to me that everything was new. Me. The car. Everyone moving around in the dark.

I petted their sweet old dog as Rudy was settled in. 

We headed off. 

We made the trip in perfect time. Rudy played happily in the back seat chattering away to his mem. He had found the jack in the box and I could hear him singing along with 'pop goes the weasel'. As strange as it sounds, I hadn't made that connection until that trip. Whenever we go to buy lumber, Levi is surrounded by his sons, and a quieter bunch you have never seen. They stare seriously and they do not smile. When the car or truck pulls in, they always appear from all corners of the house, barn and yard, and they watch. 

I said to Levi once, "You've got the quietest kids I've ever met." He laughed and said, "They can get pretty loud." On the trip down, I realized why they don't speak when spoken to. They don't speak English. They have no clue what I'm saying. 

We got to the hospital 20 minutes before their appointment and said our 'goodbyes' and I said, "Good luck!"

I couldn't sign into my guest room until one, so I sat in the lobby and read. ('This Is How It Always Is' ~ Frankel) After a couple hours of that, I wandered around blog land and did some people watching as I drank a coffee.

There were so many babies, some of them very sick, hooked up to IVs, flaccid limbs moving a little as their parents wheeled them by in special strollers. I saw one mom with an obviously ill baby, but a lively toddler. However did she manage? But she was cheerful with the toddler, as they explored the activities in the lobby, something specially designed for situations just like theirs, it seemed. There were computers that allowed the kids to interact with images on the wall, a perpetual motion machine fed balls down a complicated series of slides and ramps and tracks providing lights and noise and motion. While he played, the mother played with the infant. 

I found myself wondering what my grandson would have been, had he been given the chance to grow up? We only had Keegan long enough to know what was wrong, not how that would have affected him in the long term. 

I was using up a great deal of power on the phone cruising around blog land, and I realized that I'd left the charger in the car. I headed back down to the garage to get it. In the end, I decided to sit in the car for a while and wait. It was dark and quieter, and my seats are a lot more comfortable than the chairs in the lobby. I plugged in my phone and a couple minutes later, I received a call. 

It was Levi, and without preamble he said, "We're ready to go." 

It had only been a couple hours, and I couldn't believe they'd done the surgery that quickly and were sending him home. The surgery involved removing a portion of his skull. "Are they done already?" I asked incredulously.

"No," he answered. "They are not going to do it today, he has an ear infection." 

I told him that I was in the car reading, and he was glad. When they came down, Mattie asked for my parking ticket and left abruptly. 

Levi said, "She's mad. But if it is not safe, I side with the doctor."

Making the arrangements for things like this is very hard for them. The pre-surgery stuff is done locally, but it is still a lot of traveling here and there and back and forth. Phone calls are relayed. Travel arrangements aren't easy, especially for the long trips. Their regular driver had a death in the family, and that could have derailed everything if they hadn't found a replacement driver. 

To get down there and to find out that you'd have to start the process all over again was frustrating, especially when I found out on the trip home that they were concerned about his runny nose and had taken him to the pediatrician for the express purpose of finding out if they should cancel the trip to Pittsburgh. The pediatrician had told them that he was fine, just a little allergy thing, that his ears were clear and there was no sign of infection. So they went ahead with the planned surgery.

'Det' sat in the back with the baby and let 'Mem' ride up front. By the time we were out of Pittsburgh, the grim line of her mouth had relaxed and we were all once again bantering back and forth. It really was a very merry ride. We found a lot to laugh about there and back. For a little boy who had not yet had breakfast, our little fellow played happily with his jack in the box, singing little songs and being entertained by the reading lights in the back seat. 

Levi began to get hungry himself and was not nearly so good natured. They had never heard the word 'hangry' before, but both thought it was hilarious. I threatened to stop the car and put him in the trunk. 

We finally got to a fast food place and empty stomachs were filled. All was well. As we ate, we decided to stop at several thrift stores on the way home, and we continued on talking about this and that, and making jokes at the expense of each other. Rudy sang to his jack in the box. 

We made one last stop at the pharmacy where they picked up over $200 worth of prescriptions for the baby. We pulled into the driveway and kids came from every direction once again, surprised to see us back so soon, but anxious to tell their mother some good news. 

Mattie's face shown happily lost in a sea of  children and she looked up at Levi who was unbuckling Rudy. "There is a new colt," she said, They chattered together. I knew deep in the recesses of the house their grandmother watched us. They had other company too. The wagon was in the yard, the horses put to pasture with their own. 

Rudy clutched his jack in the box, and the others gathered around him excited to see what he had. In the end, we worked a trade. I got some rhubarb, Rudy got a new toy, and while they were distracted I set the rest of the toys on the porch. 

It was a long day, but it was a enjoyable one. I didn't have much energy to accomplish anything other than to google a recipe for a rhubarb cobbler. 



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Getting it Done

Tomorrow is food pantry day. 

Going back to work is going to put a crimp in that, but my daughter works at the same company at a different job. Her department is not part of the six month extension so she will be done on the 17th. She is going to take over the running the food pantry in my stead. We have a pretty decent little system set out, and she understands it. 

Tomorrow, I will go there for my last stint at the pantry for 6 months. The company called and is ready to start workers on the 10th (as opposed to the 17th). They increased the starting wages substantially as well. 

I had questions and so I asked them, being the no nonsense person I am. 

The woman seemed to like that a lot. "Since you spoke plainly to me, I will speak plainly to you," and she answered my questions. I listened carefully and read between the lines. 

The company that I worked for had been very demanding and very competitive. They had 'standards' and if you did not meet the standards, you would lose your job. Period. That's how it was. However, if you were a person that the supervisors liked, they had a lot of latitude. They could do little things to tweak your scores and help you keep your job. If the supervisors did not care for you, they didn't help you. You sank or you swam, and many people were 'walked out' (fired). 

This created a pretty tough work environment, a lot of back stabbing and jealousy and trickery. I hated it, really, and I am pretty vocal when things are not fair. None of these things endeared me to anyone, but there are not a lot of job options and I liked my weekends off and my regular shifts, and because I was a hard worker, I could easily make standard and collect performance bonuses every week. So I stuck it out. 

Now that company is 'gone', bought out. The decision has been made by the new owners to shut the place down. There is a lot of anger there from the present employees of my old department, most of whom were laid off on April 5th. There is a small skeleton crew left, but apparently, they can't keep up with the closing work. 

So...they are looking to hire former employees back but a lot of those employees are disgruntled employees, people who are very bitter about their time there. Add that to the fact that most of them have gone on to other jobs...well...it sounds like people are not chomping at the bit to come in and help the new company out of a tight spot so they can close the place up and the high wages are a desperate attempt to get people who know the job to do the job.

The HR person explained it to me in HR terms and I listened and translated it in my head. 

When she was done, she stopped. 

I cleared my throat. "I understand the bitterness, but in the end, I have always thought that working at the company was a symbiotic relationship. Right now, you will be using me, which I understand. I also understand that when you no longer need me, I'm done. But I'm also using you. The extra money will be a nice thing, and when this is done, I'll be ready to retire. I guess I'm a pragmatist."

She said, "I wish I could find more of you."

I've been thinking of this all afternoon. It's a big loss for our little county to lose one of its major employers, but it's happened before. I'm not minimizing the pinch to others. Our population has steadily declined since the 1970s, and it is directly due to business closures and declines. People leave to find work elsewhere and it is sad. However, I have no power to change what is happening. All I can do is position myself to best meet whatever comes next. 

So Monday, I'll go back to work. 

Until then, I've got stuff to do. The food pantry tomorrow. I'll also be waiting for a call. 

On Thursday, I'm running an Amish family and their child to Pittsburgh Children's Hospital for some pretty serious surgery. 

Friday, I'll transport everyone 3 hours back home as soon as the baby is released. I honestly don't ever think I'll get over the fact that brain surgery can be done as an overnight surgery.

Some time on Wednesday, their neighbor will get the call about the surgery time. She'll come down to tell them, they'll go up to her house to call me and let me know what time I need to pick the three of them up.  

Between dropping my family off at the hospital and picking them up the next day, I will have an evening in the big city all by myself. 

The gentleman taking my room reservation was proud of his city. He was quite a talkative soul (like me). I think that he thought that I was a country bumpkin, afraid to go out into the city. I assured him that while I wasn't wild about driving in the city, I was planning to get out and do some exploring on foot. I also said that I planned to scope out ethnic restaurants.  This delighted him. He asked questions and provided suggestions for tours of some old homes and buildings nearby. He also had quite a list of suggestions for restaurants.  Indian, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Mideastern...it's been a long time since I had such a variety of cuisines to pick from. It feels luxurious. 

When the baby is released Friday, I will be waiting there to bring them all back home where seven brothers and sisters and their anxious grandma wait for them. Once we are all unloaded, and the baby tucked back into the life he knows, I'll head back into to the life that I know. 

Tim and I will spend the weekend putting the finishing touches on the the garage. 

We'll make the cut on the left doors so that they will now swing open so that we will pull the old Farmall out and drive it down the road to my sister's place to hook up the rototiller and get our garden tilled and the dump truck of mushroom mulch worked in. I didn't get to plant my potatoes last week, so I will get them done this weekend. 

At some point between the building, and the tilling, and the planting, I'll get a chance to talk with the kids for mother's day.

It will be a busy weekend, a lot of loose ends to tie up. On Monday morning, both Tim and I will head out the door to work.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Murphy's Law

 Do you ever just have a day when you feel like being lazy? Tim did not have to work today. We slept in. When you get up at 4, sleeping in until 6:30 is a big deal. He was up and out mowing the lawn by 7. I looked at the clock and put a pillow over my face. I got up at 7:30. 

I made my coffee, and putzed around the kitchen. Then I lazily ambled in to travel around the world on the computer. Rain was on its way and so we weren't headed out. Just a putzing-around-the-house day.

You can putz in your nightgown. Did you know? 

Tim had a question to ask at the electric company, so he ducked out. I putzed. doing those little jobs that I mean to do but never quite get to, and then Tim was walking back in the door, and it was 11 o'clock. He was hungry so he fixed himself some lunch and I fixed myself lunch, and then we headed into the livingroom. He wanted to watch another episode of his latest addiction, 'Breaking Bad'. 

So I sipped my soup and he ate his sandwich, and we chatted comfortably from our respective sofas, while watching his program. It really is well written. The story line is solid and there are never loose ends. It all ties together. But...it is gruesome...just...SO...gruesome.  Yet somehow it manages to be funny too. I'm not sure how they managed to pull that off, but they did. 

Did I mention that I was still in my nightgown?

Yeah. I was.

Next thing I know, we've got company, and while that company was here, a tenant stopped in. Everyone wanted to talk.

And there I was, still in my nightgown. I was embarrassed to death. 

No sooner than the house got empty, my mortified self was heading to the shower. When the phone rang, I answered it.  A friend wanted to drop something off. She was on her way. I tried to delay her, but she was headed off on vacation (lucky girl!) and wouldn't be back for two weeks...and it had to be done that very minute. 

I confessed. "Terry, I'm still in my nightgown. I had a lazy morning." She said, don't worry. I'll hand it to Tim..." 

For pete's sake! The one day that I'm slacking off! At that point, I ran for the bathroom and jumped in the shower. I really had to get out of that nightgown.

Terry was gone before I finished, but I knew she'd understand. Tim handed me the card and headed off. I finished getting dressed. When the phone rang, I wasn't quite dressed to run down the hall and out to the living room, so I let the machine get it. Once I was dressed, I went out to play the message. It was the library, calling to tell me that the book I'd requested from another branch was in. 

I blow dried my hair, and slapped on some mascara. No need for make up when you mask up.

I was there 15 minutes after I received the call. 

It was nice to see the friendly librarian in person again. "You must have been sitting by the phone ready to go!"

I just nodded and tried to look like a woman who had not spent half the day in her nightwear. 

(Don't rat me out!)


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sunday.

 This morning, we got up early and headed off to Corry to get our second covid shot. It is a relief to have them done. The guy giving my shot was hilarious. Everything went smoothly until it was time to put on my bandage. He hesitated for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time. I looked at him. He looked sheepish. 

"I got up this morning and I have no idea why, but I couldn't find my glasses. So I'm wearing my old ones and the needle is so small that I've been having an awful time putting the bandage on. I can't see the mark."

I laughed and pointed it out to him as he apologized. 

"No problem," I said. "Now if you would have missed my arm, I'd have been a little concerned."

We went to Walmart to pick up Tim's lunch meat and cheese for this week. He also needed Cheerios. 

Then we went up to work on the green house. The exterior is finished now. It just needs to have benches installed. Since it is really too late to be of much use this year, it can wait. I think it turned out great. I have flag stone to make a little walk way to it. The pots to the right of it are herbs. 


The little stone ringed flower garden to the left of the building. 
While we were at Walmart, I saw a hydrangea being clearanced out. I had a friend, some years back. She was the funniest person, and she really had the best laugh. Hydrangeas were her favorite flower. She died quite a while ago.  
I always think of Kathy when I see hydrangeas. 
So I picked this one up and planted it out front. 
She really would have gotten a kick out of this project.
This is my little gentleman rabbit. He's concrete. 
We go way back.

It was a beautiful day for working, but by the end of it, the wind really began to pick up. 
Rain is blowing in. Tim has tomorrow off. His company gives everyone the day after their second covid shot off with pay. We will probably just work in town tomorrow.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Work Day

 I am as tired as I've ever been. I set rocks against the side of the greenhouse today. The heavy work did me good. 

I shoveled a dumptruck of mushroom mulch. Some of it went in to the new garden today, the little flower bed set next to the greenhouse. I planted hostas on the north side of the greenhouse. I filled pots with chives, oregano, basil, dill, cilantro, and rosemary and set them on wooden shelves out front of the greenhouse. I brought my concrete gentleman rabbit from my garden here and stood him grandly in front of the greenhouse. 

I shoveled the rest of the mulch into the vegetable garden where it will be tilled into the soil. I once again looked for signs of asparagus, and woe is me, there was none. (No comments from the peanut gallery, Ed.)

The exterior of the greenhouse is done. That's what Tim worked on while I did my own work. 

I came home tired to the bone. 

The answering machine was blinking, and I hit the button absentmindedly. 

It was my old job. They want me to come back to work for six months, under some very attractive terms. 

Totally out of left field. 

I said yes. 

It comes with an end date, and the extra money will come in handy.


Music to our Ears.

 Well, the concert was good fun. It was not nearly as loud as the last event we went to, which was a bit of a relief to my poor ears. Tim en...