Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Pride Month

 John (Going Gently) posted a little video that I found very touching in honor of Pride Month. 

Our town hosted a Pride Day Celebration. Our church was heavily invested in this. My oldest daughter was part of the planning. I did not go, since I worked that day, but my thoughts were with this group. We live in a very conservative area, and this is controversial in some circles. My friend and I disagree on it. I believe that my job is to treat everyone as human beings, to love my neighbor as myself, and to not judge others. She responded that she doesn't judge. "I hate the sin, but love the sinner."

(There's no point in debating with her, but if I was to debate, I'd point out that calling a person a sinner means you've already judged him.)

In any case, the second annual Pride celebration attracted at least 800 people from three states. (Compare that to the first annual Pride celebration which attracted 70.) There were guest speakers. Our Lieutenant Governor came with his family. and Malcolm Kenyatta came from Philadelphia. There were local speakers as well. 

A lot of flash for my small town, but the story that moved me the most is the story of two elderly folks who came. These two people had lived as room mates for most of their adult lives. At least that's what they told anyone who wondered: they were 'room mates.' As they walked around the grounds, taking in all that was unfolding, it happened. The momentous moment was probably unnoticed by anyone but the two "room mates" themselves. In all that noise, in all that color, in all that joy, two hands reached out, and two very elderly people walked hand in hand in public for the first time in their lives. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

My Cucumbers

Woodchucks have been a big problem for me and my cucumbers, so when I read about growing cucumbers using the Kratky method, my first thought was "hey! If I got two barrels and grew four plants hydroponically, I would be able to keep the vines from the ground and out of reach of the darned woodchucks!" And as stupid as it sounds that was my primary reason for trying this method out. The secondary reason was that they are claiming 60 cucumbers or more per plant. 

We started out with two barrels. Make sure that you use food grade barrels. We bought them for $20 a piece. The most important thing is to get the barrels level. We used a level and concrete blocks. Once the vines take off, we have reinforced trellis to span the barrels like a bridge, and we will try to keep the majority of the vines on top of the barrels. 
Using a hole saw attachment to his drill, Tim made four holes (two in each barrel).
                                                                    1/3 cup of this.
                                                                       1/3 cup of this

                 1/3 cup of this. 
Add the nutrients to the barrel and then fill the barrel with water. The water from the hose will mix the nutrients well. You want the water to reach the bottom of the cup that holds your seedling, The bottom should sit no more than 1/8th inch deep in water. 
Tim bought these instead of the net cups recommended, which were pretty flimsy. They are strainers designed to go into flexible drainage pipe to strain debris from the water being drained. They were almost $7 each, which horrified me, but he is right. We'll be growing cucumbers for the rest of our lives with this equipment. 
This is the strainer set into the 4 inch hole. See my pathetic cucumbers? The bucket for the drip irrigation system in the green house managed to tip over and crush my cucumbers. What was left was tiny and I was not at all sure that they would survive. 
This is after a week. They look a bit more promising, but to be honest, I was still not at all sure that they were going to do anything. 

This is after three weeks (I forgot my phone last weekend) They are looking a lot better. We did lose one of the plants, but to be honest, they had been badly crushed and I think it is kind of miraculous that we only lost the one. 

 This is the root system. The roots are seeking the water, and will eventually take over the barrel. 

So that is my experiment so far. I let you know more, but I do think that things look promising at this point. Northsider, I want to point out that they grow cucumbers like this in polytunnels, so you might be able to have cucumbers all winter long with this method. I'd be interested to hear if you try it. 

This is the start of an avocado jungle. I had one avocado tree and was very excited. Suddenly, there were two. I took them up to the greenhouse for the summer, and when I went up the following week, there were three. Now there are four. They are growing like crazy. I thought I had taken a picture of the biggest one. It is up to my waist at this point. I am excited about these as well. 

This weekend, I'll get pictures of the innoculated logs for the shiitake and oyster mushrooms. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Day Off

 It is my day off. When I got home from work yesterday, I talked to Cara for over an hour, and then I did three loads of laundry. While that was going, I whizzed through the house getting everything tidy. I folded laundry watching an episode of Downton Abbey. 

Tim had spent the day putting in an outside faucet for one of the tenants. The gypsy moths are awful this year and everything is covered with a fine layer of moth poop. She needs the tap to keep her deck clean, as well as to water her garden. 

When he was done, he began another job, shingling a garage. He did the tear off yesterday and put the tarpaper down. When he was done with that, he stopped, cleaned up and went to my nephews birthday party. His company has shut down this week, and so he's got a week off work to finish up all the odds and ends. I said, "You don't need to get it ALL done on your first day off." 

For me, Saturday work is less of a grind. For one thing, we are doing different work, which makes time go a little more quickly. For another, it is only an 8 hour day, and that helps too. 

I am not much of a talker at work, but I do listen, and little stories come out that sort of reaffirm my faith in humanity. 

There is a hulking tall guy behind me. He is quite a talker. Most of his talk is about silly things like if Megatron met --------, he would destroy him, and he and the kid sitting across the aisle talk a great deal about reality shows and super hero movies. But yesterday, there was a discussion about this paycheck coming. It will be a big one with 20 hours of time and a half and 16 hours of double time in addition to 80 hours of straight time, if you worked it all. Both of the chatterers did. One was holding forth on his big plans, and the big guy said, "Not me." 

Like me, he'd been 'permanently' laid off from the company before they got themselves in this pickle and scrambled around trying to hire us all back. His job hunting made it clear that he'd be earning less, working unpredictable hours, and suddenly insurance was an issue (it still is, actually. We are considered temporary employees. I get my benefits through Tim's job, but not everyone is that lucky). The outlook was pretty grim. I think that it frightened him a little. 

In any case. he left a job making $9 to come back to work temporarily for this company. Like I said, the money is good. I refer to us as mercenaries, 'soldiers of fortune', so to speak. He looked at the guy across the aisle who had been talking about his big plans for his big paycheck.  He said, "Not me. I am $6300 away from owning my house free and clear. I am all caught up on my bills, and I don't owe anybody anything, and it is the best feeling in the world." 

It made me smile. 

There's another guy, big burly fellow, bearded, tattooed, rides a motorcycle, wears a do-rag. He kind of looked like the stereotypical wild man. He knows this job is temporary, and he sucks up all the overtime he can without complaint. Saturday is the double time day. His friend asked him, "You working Saturday?" and he said shortly, "Nope." 

His friend was a bit astonished, and pointed out that he would be missing both Saturdays on our bi-weekly paycheck. Our biker man looked at him and said, "I've got my son this weekend." His friend said, "You had him last weekend." 

"I know it," said the biker guy. "His mother wanted to change weekends, so we did, but now she has something going on this weekend too, so I'll have him again and I'll never complain about that." 

That was a nice thing to over hear too.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Keeping Up

We've been working some pretty long hours. I keep telling myself, 'make your hay while the sun shines...' but it's getting exhausting. 

Day by day, we're chipping away at it, though. Today was a neat day for two reasons: This morning we had a meeting, and it was announced that the mask mandate has been dropped. People were excited. 

This afternoon, I discovered that we have Monday, the fifth of July off. I was excited enough about the two day weekend. Imagine my joy at discovering that they are trying to finangle the Saturday off as well. Everyone is tired and three day weekend will do us a world of good. 

I came home tonight and told Tim that I wanted to devote a few hours to kayaking over the holiday weekend...and that I wanted him to come with me. He was agreeable to it. I really think he will love it once he actually tries it. 

I've been day dreaming about far off goals for some time now - going to see Cara and Colin, once they are settled, a transatlantic cruise, the luxury of not having to count days, the freedom to go where we want for as long as we feel like going (retirement is going to be so great!) We have a lot to look forward to, that's for sure, but it feels awfully nice to be looking forward to something in the not-so-distant future too. 

I'm keeping up with blogs...just not a lot of time for commenting on them all. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021


 I listened to two of the older women talking. They have opinions on everything, and their opinions are always the 'right' opinions. One of them said, "I wonder who drives the Mercedes out in the parking lot?" The other answered in a very sarcastic tone, "One of these young kids. Mommy and Daddy bought it for them," and then they went on at great length at how spoiled kids are these days. This conversation went neatly into the first cars their parents had bought them, and they didn't seem to recognize the irony of that.

(I said nothing, but in case you are interested, it was a 1969 Volkswagon Kharmann Ghia and I bought it myself.)

Anyways, I'd seen that car in the parking lot. I also knew who drove it. 

The first thing that I noticed is that it is a pretty old Mercedes. I also noted that the 'kid' who drove it is a bit older than most kids that Mommies and Daddies are buying cars for. The clincher came on the day that I was parked nose to nose with him. We both got into our cars at the same time, and I watched him as he started that old diesel.  His head was cocked, as if he was listening to the engine as he started it. I am married to my mechanic, and I know that look. 

I decided that the kid was a mechanic and given the pristine, well cared for condition of the car, I was betting that he fixed up that car himself, and that it was his 'baby'. 

Maybe a couple weeks later, I happened to be walking into the cafeteria, and he was alongside. So I asked the question that I'd been wondering. "You're the one that drives the Mercedes, right? What year IS that?" 

He told me that it was a 1981. I told him it was a beauty. He told me that he was restoring another from was the same year. We got into a discussion about Mercedes', being that my husband the mechanic has one in our garage as well. He took down Tim's number and asked for a good time to call. 

I like figuring people out.

When I got home that night, I said to Tim, "I may have sold the Mercedes." He looked a little shocked.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

I Swear

 A few days ago, Weaver asked about swearing. As in, how many of her readers swear. 

Reluctantly, I raised my hand and was counted in with those people, but I also explained that I don't swear a lot these days. Now that I'm older, I guess I find a lot less things to be really upset about.  I also have a reduced need to vent when I do get upset about something. So...I don't swear like I used to. I'm mellowing in my old age, I guess. 

Today, we had to move a bad refrigerator out of an apartment and move the replacement in. It was (of course) a bigger job than expected. In the doing of that job, I mashed my pinky finger between the door frame and the fridge. 

Weaver, I have a confession. Today, I cussed like a sailor. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

In the Garden

 On Sunday, we went up to the retirement property. I took a spider plant to put in the greenhouse with the hibiscus tree which is growing at a phenomenal rate and the avocado tree which has grown another three inches. Further more, we have a fourth tree sprouted in the pot! At this rate, I will have an avocado jungle before it is all said and done. It amazes me, but thinking about it, I guess the trees thrive in hot places, so the greenhouse is a perfect place for them. 

I meant to take pictures, but unfortunately, I forgot my phone. 

Which is a shame, because I really wanted to get pictures of the mushroom logs. The garden is looking great. The heavy storms of this past week have really made things pop. My cucumber project? I was afraid to look, but they are growing well, and when I pulled the pots out of the barrels to check, the roots were growing right out of the pot like they were supposed to. I really wanted to get pictures of that for Northsider, but it will have to wait another week. 

I got the the tomatoes and peppers hoed, and I got to work tilling around the squash. Then the tiller died and would not stay running. Tim will have to take a look at that. Figures, though, doesn't it. When you're trying your best to get the most done in the small bit of time you've got to call your own, there's always some darn thing to hold up progress. 

The peas are coming up. The zucchini and the summer squash, the cantelope and the pumpkins are all coming up. My little tomato plants that I started from my very own saved seeds look very nice. The pepper plants, also from my own saved seeds, are small but healthy looking. The corn is up, the potatoes look great, I've got volunteer potatoes coming up from previous years all over the place. My onions look nice. Carrots and cabbages too. For whatever reason, I'll have to replant the beans, it looks like, but over all, I'm happy.

It was a departure from the norm for me. Usually, I plant what I think I'll need. This year, I planted everything and lots of it. I figure that whatever I don't need I can give away. Abundance is never a problem, right? 

As we pulled in the driveway, I saw a groundhog running from the garden, up towards the berry patch. I pointed him out to Tim. He said, "I was watching the one that was running this way," pointing in the opposite direction. 

I said, "You need to bring your gun next time we come." He agreed. 

Why do critters have to be so pesky? They can have anything they want outside the fence, but they are bound and determined to work their way under that garden fence! 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Our Differences

 Tim said, "Hey, did you happen to see two keys on a ring?" 

I asked a few questions and determined that in fact I had not happened to see them. 

Tim said, "I know I put them someplace. I just can't remember where." He got a pondering look on his face. 

I said, "What did they go to?" and he answered "The garage." 

I was aghast. If we can't get into the garage at the retirement property that's a bit of a pickle. He just installed new latches so that the garage doors can only be opened from the inside. The keys were to the man door. The only way into the garage from the outside.

It it were me, I'd have been upset and trying to retrace my steps and searching the pockets of everything I had worn. I said, "When did you have them last?"

He said, "Oh, a week or so."

A week or so?!!!! My gosh, they could be well and truly lost. I started listing places they could be. He said, "I checked there" and "I already thought of that". 

I began hunting around, and the longer that I didn't find them, the more concerned I got. 

Tim, on the other hand, was completely calm. "They'll turn up," he said, unperturbed. "I know I put them someplace. I just can't remember where." 

The man is unflappable, really. Stuff like that bothers me. I hate to feel stupid and misplacing things makes me feel stupid. (Side note: I often feel stupid.)

Today, we went up to the retirement property. We worked independently on our different projects: I was nurturing plants in the garden, and he was hacking down brush behind the old house. I finished with my stuff first, and began to look around for those keys. We've been married for long enough that I know this fact about him...when he says that he looked in a specific place, this does not necessarily mean that what he's looking for isn't there. So I looked around and lo, I found the keys. 

Later, when we were closing up to come home, he came walking up the driveway. I walked down to meet him and held up the keys. He grinned. "Where'd you find those?" he asked. I told him. 

"Huh. I don't remember putting them there," he said. 

So he put them in a new place and I made him tell me where they were. Between the two of us, we'll probably be able to remember. If, perchance, we forget, the one thing I know is that I'll be fussing as I hunt. He'll be cool as a cucumber, and assuring me that they'll turn up. 

Driving home, hot and sweaty and grimey, Tim said, "We'll just stop for a pizza," which was fine by me. My plan was to head directly for a shower. Feeling magnanimous, I say, "I won't make you watch an episode of Downton Abbey, how's that?" 

And Tim shrugged, "I just wouldn't watch it. But it is a little more interesting now that the war has started."

I sighed. We have our differences. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Strange Sight.

 I was changing out of my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes (jeans and a nice blouse) and putting on my Sunday-got-to-garden clothes (denim cutoffs and a tank top). I was holding my shorts in my hand when I heard a strange noise at the side of the house, and then two teenagers came sneaking up the little alley between our house and the next and crept past the sliding glass doors (blinds). It was their posture that caught my attention. They were crouched and sneaking and trying not to be seen. 

Had I been wearing pants, I'd have gone out to see what they were up to. By the time that I got my pants on, they were gone, and I did not see where they went. 

Very peculiar and something you generally don't see. 

We had a bit of an incident. Tim used to store a ladder in that little space, against the fence that divides our property from the house next door, but one day, we discovered it up against a window of the house next door. Tim is a studier, and he studied the situation carefully. Why was the ladder there?  He discovered a little nest in the eaves, and decided that they were watching the baby birds. It tickled him, so he left the ladder there.

Except the very next night, he heard a noise, and got up to look out the bathroom window. There was someone on the ladder at that window, and someone in the house was handing something out of the window. 

Our immediate thought was drugs. Mind you, my son pooh-poohed that. He felt like it was too obvious and in his mind there was 'no plausible reason' for something so obvious as using a neighbor's ladder to lean up against a drug dealer's window. 

Except if the drug dealer had been reported by other tenants of the house and did not want them to see continued drug traffic.

I dunno. In any case, we moved the ladder from the alleyway to a place by the garage. 

The neighbor in question was evicted from his apartment the week after we moved the ladder. The landlord said that he was a known drug dealer and he couldn't have that going on in his house. 

It makes me feel strange to know people are sneaking around, and I walked through the back yard. Nothing appeared to be tampered with, but I saw that (once again), Tim had left the shed hanging wide open with the padlock and the key hanging off the clasp. 

That man. 

I locked it up and walked back to the house. We probably should begin locking the cars, the trucks and the house as well.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bear Story

I was a little surprised to read that a black bear attacked a girl in the Great Smokey Mountains, which admittedly is some distance from us. 

When we lived in the woods, black bears were not an uncommon. They even make their way into town sometimes. They are generally not aggressive, and easily scared off by a dog or a loud woman brandishing a broom. 

(Yes. I have a broom. Why do you ask?)

Once did I come across one that I did not want to tangle with. I was doing homework for a course I was taking, and I heard the garbage can rattle outside the sliding glass door. I got up from the computer and switched on the light and was greeted by a large head over my trash can. Usual protocol for me would be to go outside, yelling loudly. The usual protocol for the bear would be to go gallumping off into the jing weeds to watch from the brush line while I carried the garbage can into the basement and locked the door. Disappointed, he'd shuffle off to visit another house. 

But this bear looked up at me on the deck and growled, which had never happened before. 

I decided not to bicker with him. Easier to clean up the garbage the next morning. 

But that kind of behavior is not characteristic of our bears. Despite their size, they are generally mild mannered. They have very poor eyesight, and we've had them cross right in front of us and never realize that we were there. When they lose their fear of humans and become bold, that is generally when the problems start. 

It also occurs to me that when humans lose their fear of bears...

Loud women with brooms may not be the brightest crayons in the box. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Pits

 Remember how I told you that I'd tried to grow an avocado tree for years, suspending the pits over water with toothpicks. Never got anything. A while back, I was eating my avocado toast for breakfast and pondering things, and finally reached the conclusion that Mother Nature did not get out the toothpicks and a glass of water when she wanted to start an avocado tree...the avocados fall on the ground and they grow. Or they don't. 

So I began pushing my avocado pits down into a pot of soil that once held a plant which had met an untimely end. (Disclaimer: I am not Mother Nature. Things sometimes don't make it at my house.) 

I got an avocado tree and I was thrilled with it. I got a nice pot for it, and I transplanted it when it was about a foot tall. It promptly died. I took its passing pretty hard. The pot was a nice one, dammit. 

Anyways, I kept shoving avocado pits deep into the soil of that empty pot, and lo...another avocado sprouted up. I'm kind of running out of room at the office, so I hauled it up to the greenhouse for the summer. It seems to like that environment very much. It is over waist high and covered with leaves. But here's the crazy thing: tonight when we went up to check on the garden, I watered my plants in the greenhouse. I now have 3 avocado trees!

On Pat's suggestion, I bought 'My Father's Glory, My Mother's Castle'. It arrived today. Perfect timing, since I finished 'Perfect' yesterday. (Side note: I'm ready to take a break from Rachel Joyce. I enjoyed 'Miss Benson's Beetle'. I enjoyed 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' although i must admit that it got kind of tedious by the end. 'The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy' dragged on and on...I was quite ready to see the end of that book. 'Perfect' had already been ordered so I read that. I noticed that the last of it began to drag too, but she did throw in quite a plot twist that made you sit straight up. They were good 'work books' because they were light reading, but heavens, I am tired of people's lives ruined by their consciences. Especially when it seems like they're feeling awfully guilty about things they had no real control over. (Oi, Jeanie, save the lecture sistah!)


 Last fall, I planted some raspberry canes, and they did remarkably well...until they were nibbled down by deer. With a field of tender grass near, they chose to eat raspberry canes. Go figure. But of the 12 plants, it looks as if one may do something. 

Last night, Tim came into the house all excited. He had discovered it while I was gone, and couldn't wait to show me. I went outside with him and looked. There in my very own back yard there is a raspberry growing. It is covered with not ready to be eaten fruit, and one of the canes is as big around as my thumb. What a find! We don't even know how it got there. But after the berries are done, it will be making a move. 

The clever man also discovered black berries at a rental!

They will join the blueberries and the elderberries already there. My dreams of a berry patch are slowly coming true!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Talk


When I got home Monday, I hit the ground running. I was running the washing machine, and then got the idea to run over to the laundromat to wash our comforter. My idea was that we were not going to need it anymore this season. (Which is why it is why it got down to the 40s last night.) It's been a long time since I'd used a laundromat, but the comforter was too big and heavy for my washer. 

I also ran to the store and bought new bathroom rugs and a new mattress pad. 

Tim took me out for supper. A strange thing happened. Someone we used to know was behind us. She's not a nice person, although people seem to think she is. She's a malicious gossip, one of those people who seem to thrive on making trouble. The first thing that I thought, is 'It figures!' The day when I'm especially untidy and windblown and tired and looking my very worst, we run into someone like her. 

Tim placed his order and we got our drinks. He was waiting for his meal. I was not hungry. As we sat at the table, he gave a quick look around.

"What's wrong?" I asked. 

He said that he was looking for the woman. 

I told him that she was sitting at a table behind us, but it surprised me that he was looking for her. 

The next day as I worked, it kept coming back to me, the look on his face. 

Neither one of us are especially well endowed with self esteem. He is a quiet man who had a pretty rough upbringing. A bad marriage and the ensuing bitterness made things worse. He never learned to stand up for himself, and if he did, he was swiftly slapped back down. 

We've been married 23 years now, and I feel like I know him better than anyone else, and I kept thinking about that look on his face. I felt like there was something that I'd missed. That night, when I came home, we ate our salads. 

"Tim, we need to talk." 

He looked at me nervously. If there's anything he hates, it's being told we need to talk. It's guaranteed to clam him up like nothing else. 

I asked him why it bothered him so much to see the woman in the restaurant. 

He chewed thoughtfully. "I just don't like people like that. I don't want to be around them." 

I said, "Tim, has anybody ever told you that you have won that?"

"What do you mean?"

"All the things that she ran her mouth about, that her husband ran his mouth about, you've put all that to rest. You have a good job. You make good money. You built a business with your own two hands, and it is a successful business that has opened a lot of doors to us. You are a generous man. You have never taken from others. You have never asked anything from anyone. You're taught yourself how to do almost anything. You've done right by our children. You are a good person. She can say all she wants, and truth be told, if she's running around saying anything at all, it's that your wife is ugly." 

He sat listening carefully, looking at me, his face very still. It was obvious that he did not know.

I felt ashamed that it has just now occurred to me to say it out loud. 

I'm back to work and we're working mandatory 10 hour days and Saturdays. I sure am glad that I came home and went into a cleaning frenzy. Lord knows when I will get my next chance to get the house in order. 

I am reading 'Perfect'. It is one of those uncomplicated books that I can read on work breaks, and I am really intrigued by it. 

As I walked in the door tonight, the weatherman was talking about frost warnings. In June. Honestly! If my tomatoes and peppers freeze, I'm going to be upset. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Home Again, Home Again

 It was a far different trip than we planned for. I got up early Thursday morning and hit the road. I go on Thursdays so that Dylan and Brittani can go play Trivia at the local bar. It is something that they both enjoy but rarely get a chance to do. They were made it to the semifinals. (Question: What is Barbie's full name? Answer: Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you know. They did not.)

Poor Iris had a bad cold when I got there. She was sick enough that she took afternoon naps. So we stuck close to home. By the time she was feeling better, Brittani was coming down with it. By Sunday, Dylan was sleeping on the couch with a fever. 

Brittani was holding a feverish Iris the afternoon I arrived. She was lathered up with a chest rub and had a decongestant and she dozed off.  Brittani picked up the remote and said, "Is there anything that you're interested in watching on Netflix?"  I said, "Well, I just started Downton Abbey." Amazed she said, "So did I!" I said that I had just begun the second episode, but that Tim hated the program, so I didn't get a chance to watch it much. She said that Dylan hated it too. So that was our secret addiction. Each afternoon that Iris fell asleep, we turned on Downton Abbey. (Is there anyone who can look as affronted as Maggie Smith?) We're ready to start episode 7.

We were able to do some things between people succumbing left and right to Iris' virus. (I was sneezing my head off Friday night, but started taking zinc right away. So far, so good.) 

We got Brittani's garden weeded. Iris was so tickled with her little fairy garden. I took glass pebbles to make a walkway, and we planted small flowers around the little house. We picked fairy bouquets and put them in the little vase, and we made a little pool for her. On a rainy day, I showed her how to make an umbrella for the bench so little fairy girl would not get wet. I think that little activity will keep her busy while her mom works in the garden. She's very imaginative.

Dylan made a seafood smorgasbord, and we had a pleasant evening, cracking crab and drinking a very nice wine to wash down the very spicy cajun shrimp. I never had mussels before, but the shells made a very nice addition to the fairy garden. Later we had a fire, and sat around the fire talking into the night and watching fireflies. Dylan commented that the best conversations happen around a fire. I think that he is right. 

We went to the zoo. I saw a young girl with her family wearing a sweatshirt that said, "Virginity Rocks".  I don't get that. If ever was something that caused someone to view a young girl in a sexual way, it seems like it would be a shirt like that. Her sex life (or not) is no one else's business. Maybe it's just me. I don't know. I'm often out of step with this world. 

I gave Iris a bath the first night I was there, and when she was done, I rubbed her all over with some of my lavender shea butter lotion. She did love that. When her mother got her out of the bathtub the next night, she explained that she needed Ama's "special lotion". She got such obvious pleasure from the smell of it that I left the bottle with her when I left. 

There were books to be read, and cuddles to be had. There were trips to the playground, dogs to be walked. We went out for ice cream. Iris does love ice cream, and when she's done, she drinks ice cream soup from the bottom of her bowl. 

It's hard to say goodbye, but knowing that I'll be back in August makes things easier. We packed up my car, and Iris carried my hat for me. She waved from the side walk. Her goodbye was made easier by the fact that she was wearing a tutu and going to the park for story hour, followed by a trip to the library. 

Driving towards home, the sky grew darker and darker. I love watching the distant lightning. It was moving east as I drove west, and it was inevitable that we would meet. We finally did on Boot Jack Hill. The rain pelted down hard enough that people were pulling to the side of the road. I contemplated doing that myself. My wipers were on high, and still were barely able to keep the windshield clear. Just as I made up my mind to stop, the rain eased back just enough to keep me keeping on. 

Almost exactly five hours after I left, I was pulling in my own driveway. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Rudy Update

 Rudy is doing well, sleeping. 

According to his father, he was ornery, but he'd rather see him like that than quiet and sick. 

I said, "It's to be expected, he gets his ornery from you." Quick as a wink, Levi snapped back with, "He didn't get it from me. I still got mine." 

I'm glad he's okay. The little guy has been on my mind all day. 

We've had some serious rain moving through. We got two inches (5 cm) of rain in a hour. Flash flooding north and west of us. 


My cell rang and I answered it and it was Mattie. 

"Mattie!" I said. 

"What?" she said. 

I said, "Gees, now that I'm back to work, I can't keep my cell phone on me. I saw an unfamiliar number, and it finally dawned on me that it was probably you. I've been trying to call, but the phone just rings."

The Amish are allowed to have phones for emergency use. Since they have a sick child, they have permission to have a phone. I'm not sure exactly where it is, but I would not be surprised to find it attached to a pole in a field somewhere near to the house. 

Little Rudy's surgery is today. They got a ride to Pittsburgh, but they didn't find a way home on Thursday and they were getting a little concerned. 

I will be on my way to Blandon. 

I turned to Tim. "Do you want to do a good deed?"

In pretty short order, we got it all worked out. Tim will drive to Pittsburgh and bring them all home on Thursday. 

Mattie sighed in relief. "Wednesday is going to be a long day. His surgery is not until noon, and he's not allowed to eat after midnight. He's not going to understand that."

Her husband had gotten pretty 'hangry' in the back seat coming home the last time we went down. I said "If Rudy takes after his father, it will be a rough morning." 

She giggled and said, "I'm going straight home and tell him what you said."

"I'm not afraid of Levi. I just know to keep a couple cheeseburgers in my pocket to throw at him if he starts getting ornery." 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Tom Stephenson had a nice post which brought back memories. I did not discover the Wind in the Willows until I was long past childhood, but I loved them, just as I loved Winnie the Pooh, and Anne of Avonlea and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series (which I did discover as a child). 

It is meant to be a book for children, but the post about Pan was very evocative and put me to remembering all the times that I have stood in awe of something much larger and more primal than myself. Probably everyone has has those moments. I hope so, because those are the small moments that make life worth living. 

I had an experience yesterday that was kind of like that. Sort of, but not quite the same. 

It had nothing to do with Pan, but it had a lot to do with pants. I'm getting ready to leave and it just so happened that I found myself in need of a pair of jeans, nice ones that could be matched up with a dressy shirt in case we go someplace nice, or worn with a teeshirt for just slobbing around like I do. Since I've been losing weight, I have noticed that my jeans are getting baggy in the behind. 

I hied myself off to the thrift store. I always look there first before buying new, and I have pretty good luck, and once again, my luck was holding out. I immediately found a pair of jeans that actually looked unworn. 

They were my size. 

They were ankle pants. 

They were NOT low rise.

I brought them home and I tried them on and lo, they fit. Perfectly. There was no pinching. They fit smoothly, and the waist rode at my waist. They were not too long. They might have been made for me. I looked in the mirror, and it was such a perfect moment that it took my breath away. I do believe that I heard Pan. Perhaps it was the singing of angels. I don't know, but what a hallelujah moment!

I am home for work and the thunder is rumbling. I have my windows thrown open to better hear it. I do love thunderstorms. Almost as much as finding perfect pants.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Leaving My Comfort Zone

 When I received the call to ask if I was willing to consider going back to work for six months, one of the things I said (before saying yes), was that I had some plans set up for June 10-15th. The plans were made, and I couldn't back out of them. It is Dylan and Brittani's anniversary and it has become important to me to make the trip there so that they can celebrate themselves. The company scheduled me for those days off without hesitation, making them a condition of employment. 

So I have five whole days to spend with my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. There will be cribbage or rummy games after that girl goes to bed, and we will call out music for Alexa to find as the cards are shuffled. I always go with clothes for Iris, and some crafts and activities. I've got a little fairy scene for her to set up in her mother's flowers, and I've got a thimble that we will fill with teeny tiny 'fairy flowers' in the yard and leave them for the little fairy girl at the front door of her little fairy house. We will have a grand time like we always do.

Brittani also mentioned that they had gotten a family pool pass to the local pool and said that I should bring my suit. 

'Bring my suit.'  

So offhandedly mentioned, but I haven't had a bathing suit for 30 years. 

It's hard to pinpoint if there was an actual beginning.  My dad had strong feelings on girls being obsessed with their looks. We weren't allowed to shave our legs. We weren't allowed to wear nylons. We weren't allowed to wear make up. Perfume made us smell like whores. Our skirts were to our knees. We were only allowed to wash our hair once a week. A boy called once. My mother shouted that he was never to call the house again, and she hung up the phone. My father ran a very tight ship, and he would not tolerate whores for daughters. My mother paid a heavy price if things did not meet his standards, so being a popular girl was a dangerous thing.  My mother's words of wisdom, given to me on a regular basis were, "People just don't like you, and one of these days, you'll figure out that it is you." 

There was the husband who thought that after he had gotten his master's degree, he deserved better.  Privately, I believed him and I knew in my heart of hearts that he was looking for that woman.

In the intervening years, that husband left, and despite the vow that I'd never marry again, there is Tim and we have been married for 23 years now.  There has been cancer, and a lopsidedness that embarrasses me, both in public and in private.  I also jiggle more than I did all those years ago. My hair is thin and gray and I've given up trying to find a style for it.  I pin it away from my face and let it tumble to my shoulders.   I've got a bulgy vein in my left leg, and my right knee is wonky. I'm not smooth and polished, and all of those things that women seem to spend a lot of time on. Sometimes, my children were ashamed of me. I'm awkward and self conscious and feel like a weirdo most of the time.  I hate to have my picture taken. first thought when Brittani said, "Bring you suit..." was "I'll watch from the side of the pool. That will be fun to watch Iris play in the water." I never once hesitated. It never once entered my mind to get a suit. 

Except that last week, I had a short conversation with a friend. She is a free spirit, and already she is deeply tanned, with rosy cheeks. Her gray hair is always in an untidy bob, and tucked carelessly behind her ears. The woman's got things to do, and those things are mostly outside. She's has really done a lot of gardening around the property. She sits on her porch and listens to NPR in the evening, or hangs out with her friends. I don't even know what we were talking about honestly, but I said something about dieting, and she looked at me with the most astonished look on her face. "Why does it even matter?" I didn't know what to say to that. She is the most unselfconscious person I've ever met in my life, just as free as an person can be. I admire her.

I've been thinking about her words. 

And then this week was the work 'thing'. I always was an outsider at work. Always. I just didn't fit. I'm not even sure why. I'm just an odd duck. This week demonstrated plainly that I'm still the odd duck. Part of it is that I don't try very hard these days. I will never understand people who need to say ugly things about others, and I give them wide berth.  I don't expect to be liked. I just accept it how it is, because. well, it is always how it is. 

But I  do have friends and I love them and am grateful for them. We can talk easily about big things. I'm not self conscious around them. I feel them as 'kindred'. We swap books back and forth and we talk about everything under the sun. We listen to each other's stories with love. I love the time that I have with those folks in my life. 

Tim and I have a nice life. He loves me, and sure there are those days when we plainly piss each other off, but in the end, we know that we are very blessed people. We are fortunate souls who try to share our good fortune with a free hand. I don't want to be with anybody else, and he's never given me the slightest sign that he wants anything different than what he's got. 

In short, I seem to fit where I fit, but there seems to be a lot more places where I don't fit than where I do. I see my flaws and shortcomings better than any person on this earth and know that I am far short of perfect. 

Friday at work, I really began to think about this whole sitting on the side watching Iris and Brittani splash in the pool and it struck me that it was really a metaphor of my life. I'd spent a lot of it watching from the side. 

I'm not a huge woman, and plenty of gray haired women with a lot more jiggle than I have wear bathing suits and are diving right in. And worrying about lopsidedness? 12 years ago, if you would have asked me about that, I'd have told you it was a small price to pay for living. 

I worked away and I pondered these things as I worked. 

My husband loves me, and he doesn't understand this self consciousness. If he tells me I look nice, I automatically tell him that I know that I don't. 

Why is that? 

By the time that I walked out of work, I had made up my mind. I did not go home. I went to the store and I studied bathing suits. I picked one out and when I got home I stood in front of a full length mirror and studied myself for a long time, wondering about what other people would think. 

I noticed that the brightly colored tropical flowers on the top sort of disguise the lopsidedness, and that the scars were mostly covered by the strap. The black swim skirt looked cute. I really need to do something about those pasty white legs, but over all, it wasn't horrible, The realization surprised me. 

It will be fun to be in the pool with Iris and Brittani and have little Iris paddling back and forth between us. A lot more fun than watching from the side. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

My Secret Happy

 One of my 'happies' is that every payday, I find the perfect Christmas gift for someone. 

I found what I was looking for, and ordered it.

When it arrives, I will carefully wrap it, and label it and make a fancy bow. 

Here is a collection of amazing memories:    

Thursday, June 3, 2021

It's Not Easy to Be Me

I wish that I knew why these things matter so much to me. Life would be much easier if they didn't. 

I work in front of a woman who is a true xenophobe. In the three weeks that I have worked there, she has held forth on her opinions of people from the south (pointing out that she's not racist because she's talking about all of them regardless of race), about Mexicans, about Puerto Ricans. A couple days ago, she was tittering about a gay man. She says it right out loud. 'I hate diversity.' 

I went to the supervisor and said, "I know that she's not a bright woman. This has nothing to do with politics at all, but this is an EEO worksite, and she cannot talk like this on the job." 

The supervisor said, "I know. It is on my radar, and it is going to be addressed."

Today there was a meeting, and the announcement came. "This is an office space. There is talk going on that is not appropriate to work. Watch what you're saying, because people are getting hurt feelings."

And like that, it was clear. The problem is not the woman doing the talking. It is about the woman who insists that she can't. 

I spent most of the morning listening to loud conversation from her. She feels that if she is having a private conversation, people should not be eavesdropping and if they are that rude, it's their own damn fault if they get their feelings hurt, etc. etc. etc. 

I didn't bother to point out that private conversations should not be held in public places. It has been made clear who the problem is. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Heebie Jeebies.

In the garden, a huge carpenter bee landed on my sleeve. I kept on working as he walked around on my arm.  I felt quite kindly towards him. He seemed in no hurry to leave. I was planting corn, and I moved carefully so as not to have him fly off. Sounds silly to say, but I was enjoying his company. It seemed almost like he was supervising my work.

At some point, he did fly off though, and I didn't even notice for a time. I looked around for him, but I did not see where he went. 

I offer this up to let you know that I am not afraid of bugs. I find them interesting. 


...this morning, I was getting ready for work. Toweling off after my shower, I noticed something. For the second time this year, I found a tick. Embedded. I had a quiet tizzy fit, pulled said tick, examined my person for more ticks and found none. I treated my tick bite with antiseptic. As quickly as I tried to hurry, I was running late, and wouldn't you know it, THIS was the morning that I hit every red light between my house and work. 

Although I got to work with one minute to spare, my computer ran so slowly that by the time I clocked in, I was four minutes late. 

The worst part was all day long, I felt like things were crawling on me.

The Lawyer.

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