Monday, November 29, 2021

Frugalista Note

 We were walking through the toy section of Walmart. I saw something that I knew that William would really, REALLY get excited about. It was a good price, and so it wound up in our cart in pretty short order. I suggested that we get one for another one of the boys. 

Tim made a noncommital noise. He is an exasperating person to Christmas shop with. I suggested he make a phone call. 

He left his phone at home. Of course, I don't have the number. 

I made grumpy noises as I finished up and we left the store. It just seems to me that he could be a bit more proactive about getting ideas at Christmas time. 

When I got home, I reached out on facebook, and in fairly short order, I had the Christmas idea list. One boy would love the thing that I got for William. The other wanted something pretty badly as well. By then, Tim was heavily involved in a football game. We had just gotten home. I didn't want to go back out so I went to the Walmart website. They offer free shipping, so...why not? It would save a trip back to a crowded store. Except the toy that I'd just paid $20 for at the store was $42 online, much to my surprise. The other gift was $5 more online than the price I'd been quoted from the store. 

Faced with the decision between paying $72 dollars for toys that I could get for $45 if I went back to the store, I resolutely put my coat on and went back out. 

At that price difference, they surely should be offering free shipping. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Cider with Rosie

 A couple weeks ago, Northsider discussed an author I had never heard of. I googled Laurie Lee and ultimately ended up ordering a book, a one volume collection of his autobiographical trilogy. 

I am currently immersed in 'Cider with Rosie', and it is beautiful, a perfect book for winter evenings. 

The Little Happies

Last year, we got our granddaughter a little dollhouse for Christmas. During my last trip there, I noticed she was much excited about Halloween, and there was nothing more thrilling than playing 'trick or treat'. So I got the idea to let her play Christmas with her 'guys', which is her collective name for the array of little people who live in her dollhouse.
Santa is coming to the dollhouse, and he has tiny little stockings to be hung on the stairwell. 
(They are on a sparkly pipecleaner to make it easier to attach them).'The Guys' have the little tree up and ready for the tiny gifts Santa is bringing to go beneath it.
It looks as if 'The Guys' have been very good this year, doesn't it? 
They have a mailbox filled with tiny little cards in tiny little envelopes from familiar people.

Outside the dollhouse, it has snowed. (Two packages of flocking will make that magic.) The guys can go sled riding. They can build a snowman. If the snowman wants to come to life and play with 'The Guys', that's perfectly acceptable as well. Anything can happen when you live in a dollhouse and are loved by a 3 year old with a wonderful imagination. 

There are other things: a wreath for the front door. A string of battery operated lights to go across the roof. Today I will work on the cookie sheets to slide in and out of the little oven. I could go nuts here, but it is time to get it all packed up and on its way. 

As always, I have a cheap phone, and I am not a photographer, so my apologies to the people who are. You will have to use your imaginations, I guess. 


LATE EDIT: I don't want to mislead everyone and have you thinking that everything is handcrafted. It's not. I'm not especially clever at things like that. Santa is a tree ornament. So is the snowman and the sled. The tree is a premade thing for a Christmas village with glittery foam decorations. The wreath is actually a rolled up bit of trim with tiny fake berries that I did not unroll...I simply added a ribbon. The lights, a dollar store find. I'm not a crafter, but I have an eye for seeing things and seeing how they could be used in the narrative. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021


 It is Thanksgiving morning, the turkey is in, the cranberry sauce done, the relish trays and dip made, and two loaves of bread (one pumpkin, one zucchini - both from the garden) ready to be sliced and placed on the platter. These things are my contribution to my sister's family Thanksgiving. She always makes a ham, a veritable mountain of mashed potatoes, and a few pies. My brother in law usually puts together his special bean recipe. Everyone else who comes brings a dish to pass. Blessing is said at one, and then people eat, moving along the tables as if they are at the world's most spectacular all-you-can-eat buffet. 

I'm looking forward to it. We missed it last year. I guess that I don't have to explain why. 

Last night was a flurry of activity. I got off work at 5, and I was just tired, but I couldn't stop. I had work to be done. My daughter and Don came, and I groaned a little, because I had so much to do, but I set them down at the table with knives and set them to work, and they did so cheerfully. The relish trays were made up, and the stuffing was diced up. I focused on making the bread. Don simmered the celery and onions together in the butter, and made the cranberry sauce. By the time that the breads went into the oven, every thing was in place to stuff the turkey. Everyone was washing dishes as they were dirtied, so once that turkey was stuffed and in its roaster ready to be popped in the oven at 6:30, all that was left was to whisk off the old table cloth, shake it out, and throw it in the hamper and replace it with a new one. 

By then William was hungry again, so he had a turkey sandwich as we sat around the table and visited. 

That's something to be thankful for there...I was done by 8:30. Working alone, I'd have been working until midnight. 

I woke up at 4:30, as usual, but I willed myself back to sleep. Finally, in the end, I was sleeping so soundly that when 6:30 rolled around, it was Tim who got up and put the turkey in the oven. 

When I finally did get around to getting up, it was nearly 8:30. It felt good to sleep in, and it feels good to be sitting in front of the computer leisurely drinking my coffee while turkey roasts in the oven. 

Another thing: my hibiscus is blooming again. It has been putting on quite a show. Nearly every week or so, I come out to another showy salmon colored bloom. It lasts for a day, and then drops, but the thing is covered with buds all of them seeming to be queued up and waiting for their chance to shine. My begonia is blooming, and the Thanksgiving cactus that belonged to my great grandmother is putting on its own show. In the livingroom, the African violets and the cyclamen sit on the antique treadle sewing machine, putting on their display for their corner of that room. After a summer in the green house, my plants are crazy, vines vining, spiderplants spidering, and every green thing showing exuberant new growth. I think that I will have flowers all winter long! 

That's it really, just a quiet morning, appreciating every good thing that I've got to be thankful for. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Even if you're not eating turkey, I hope you take a moment to count your blessings. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Decorating for Christmas

 This weekend, I got a Christmas project for my grand-daughter almost completed. It was so much fun. 

Last year for Christmas, I got her a dollhouse which she loves. So...I have been making Christmas decorations for it: A Christmas tree, a wreath for the little door door, A little mailbox with tiny little Christmas cards in their own tiny envelopes to open, stockings to hang, even a set of battery operated lights for the roof. A couple trays of 'cookies' to slide in and out of the tiny oven.  A snowman to sit on the sparkly blanket of 'snow' that will drape under the house, and even a sled for 'the guys' (that's what she calls the residents of her dollhouse). Even a Santa Claus and a small pile of gifts for him to put beneath the tree.

She's got such a wonderful imagination and the best part of it is that her little imagination has re-sparked my own. Every time that I think that I'm done, I think of something else to add to the little collection!

Monday, November 22, 2021


It was a bit of a shock to hear that a coworker had died of covid. He was a good person, a burly, bearded guy. When I worked down at the other building, I usually assisted his team. So... I knew him. I thought he was a very nice person, a devoted dad, and husband. 

A current coworker also worked with him, so this morning, I said, "It was sad to hear about Josh." 

Another person said, "Josh who? What happened?" 

And my coworker said, "A guy we used to work with in the North Building. He supposedly died of covid." His fingers made air quotes and his eyes rolled. 

I do not understand this world. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Love and Plague

 My county has the third highest death rate (per capita) in the state of Pennsylvania. It's a little  sobering to me to see that while we are losing a great many of our elderly, covid has also begun to affect the younger people. A couple weeks ago, two mothers in their forties were lost. In the past three days, a old coworker lost her younger brother, and yesterday, a fellow that I used to work with died of it. 

I wonder how much longer people can continue to argue against masks and vaccines? 

This was on facebook. I usually find my own stories, but this one boggled my mind. I hope I don't get in trouble for retelling it:

A couple walking through the Walmart saw an old classmate, and stopped to visit. His wife was not with him, so they asked after her. Turned out she had died of covid last month. 

They had not heard this and were terribly embarrassed to have brought it up, but the man launched into such a matter of fact retelling of the events that led to her death that at some point, they felt comfortable enough to ask if she had been vaccinated. 

"Nope," the man replied, explaining that they did not believe in that.

"You're not vaccinated either? After all of that?" they asked a little incredulously. 

"Nope," said the man, and went on to tell them that he'd had covid "many times" and that it wasn't a big deal. 

The couple stood gaping and unsure what to say next. 

A woman walked up to the man and stood next to him. "Oh hey, he said, "let me introduce you to my girlfriend."

I read the thing to Tim and he laughed a little at the craziness of our world. 

"Listen," I said, "If I die, Imma need you to fake cry for a bit longer than a month before you take up with your new woman." 

He laughed out loud. 

"I'll haunt you," I said. 


 Our newest tenants came to us under pretty tough circumstances. He has terminal cancer. He was so very concerned about making sure that his wife was taken care of once he was gone, and that tenderness was really touching to see. Over and over, he matter of factly stressed that everything was to be in her name because he wasn't going to be here long. 

She stopped in to settle up with rent, and sign the lease. She looked tired. Moving is a hard job. Caregiving is a hard job, but she's a plucky little thing. 

It was shocking to that she'd been hospitalized.

More shocking to hear that she'd been transported to a big hospital. 

Absolutely stunned to find out that she has died. 

Her husband told Tim about it on the phone. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

56 More Days

I stewed about the work situation all night. I gave myself time to get over my 'mad', and to look at it rationally. What it came down to was what we receive in on a daily basis is roughly what we get done. We are keeping up. It is correct that we are not working on Thanksgiving, but we also will not be getting a delivery on Thanksgiving. There will be no one there to meet the truck. Yes. That might mean we get a bigger volume of work on Friday, but if we do, we would be able to catch up that work the week after Thanksgiving, working overtime then, if necessary. People plan for holidays ahead of time, and travel plans are made, festivities are planned. Announcing 10 hour days and Saturday in the midst of the planning requires changes of plans. 

It could have been done another way, one that showed a bit more consideration of the employees. 

So we had our morning meeting which basically is what we are getting in vs what we got finished. After that, the question is asked, "So, do you have anything for us?"

I said "Yes," and began carefully thought out comments about the overtime. 

One supervisor leaned in to the other and said, "Oh, boy...." 

I said, "Don't do that. I'm trying to be respectful and reasonable here. You cheerfully announce it's Friday, it's payday, everybody is supposed to be happy about that, but really, if you are concerned about morale, I think it's not about being a cheerleader. It's about being considerate of the employees."

Her eyes got wide. 

I went on with my talking, pointing out that we were moving into a holiday season next month, and that I hoped that the company would be a bit more aware of their employees. 

In the end, it was said, in words to this effect: "the decisions made are what is best for the company and that we were welcome to put in for days off if we needed them" (note that they already announced that they were limiting employee time off during this season to meet company needs.) 

When we went to our desks, I got a bunch of 'you're rights', thumbs up, nods of assents, one high five and even a salute.

I also got called to the conference room. 

The manager said, "I hope you are settled down." 

Me: "I'm not angry. I was angry yesterday, but that's why I kept silent yesterday. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to handle this last night."

Turns out they were mad, though. mostly about the fact that I had "mocked leadership", ridiculing the supervisor as being a cheerleader. They also felt quite strongly that the next time I had a complaint I needed to use proper channels, speaking to them privately, not in a group.

I said, "It was a group concern." 

They denied it. 

I said, "Well, there are quite a number of people who were pleased to see the issue brought up." 

They said they had been approached by many people who thought I was completely out of line. I sat there listing them in my head. In any job, there will be those who focus on currying favor with management. I said, "If offense was taken, that was not my intent. I apologize." 

They said that HR was aware of my behavior and they weren't going to write me up 'this time'. 

They can't. Employees have a federally protected right to discuss grievances and to bring them to the attention of management without fear of reprisal. 

The supervisor said in a very stern tone that I was not 'the voice of the people'.

I went back to my desk, and people began to come over to see if I got in trouble. "They're not happy," I said. "They feel that it was brought to their attention via the wrong way." A supervisor watched us from across the room. 

Management's complaint is how I handled my complaint. What is very clear is that they are not receptive to actually addressing my complaint. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Putting on my Grumpy Pants.

 I knew that today was going to be a tough day. It was scan day, and anyone who has ever dealt with cancer, knows about 'scanxiety'. It became a real problem for me right off the bat, when I'd go to get the scan, and they'd be unsure about things, so I had to travel to Pittsburgh for a followup. It was always an agonizing, worrisome wait. Finally after a couple times of this, I decided to skip the first step and just go to the big hospital, and for about five years that worked. Then they stopped doing the preventative stuff and wanted me to begin going back to the local hospital. 

Me, being me, simply ignored everything for about four years until my GP got so vocal about it that I just let them set up the appointment and went, like a good little soldier. When I got there, the technician got quite upset because I had a cancer history, and I should have told them. I said, "I didn't make the appointment. Isn't right there in your records?" She was upset, and I was upset because I didn't even want to be there to begin with, and she couldn't understand that either. I said, "Well, it is a scary thing to have things get done here only to be sent somewhere else for a second opinion..." 

She looked at me and said, "That has never happened."

I was a bit gobsmacked. "It certainly least twice..."

She brusquely said, "I've been here a long time, and we've never referred anyone to Pittsburgh."

She was calling me a liar, without saying the word, and it made me mad. She kept saying, "Listen, I don't know what the problem is..." 

By that point, I was done talking, I just wanted the stupid test completed and I wanted to leave. 

Fast forward:

Because I am a butt head, I delayed this scan by a few months too. My GP is pretty persistent, and so once again, the appointment was made. 

I get to the hospital today in all my anxious glory, and the receptionist looked at the paperwork I handed her. "'ve had cancer?" 

Inwardly, I groaned. "Yes." 

She told me that she needed to talk to the technician, and I saw the whole thing playing out again. "We do screenings for people with a history of cancer in the afternoons..." 

Thank god for masks. I said, "Why don't we just reschedule this to a time that works for you?" 

I think she was a little surprised at my graciousness. I was glad that she couldn't read my mind. It was not her fault. I don't even know where the communication breakdown IS, but I simply was not going to do a replay of my previous experience. 

I walked back out to my car in the rain with my new appointment.

I was supposed to go back to work, but I was about fed up with that place too. This morning, they announced that we would be working 10 hour days next week. We are also working Saturday. 

The supervisor said, "That will give you all a chance to make up for losing Thursday." (We do not get holiday pay for Thanksgiving.) She sounded thrilled for us. The reason is that they are afraid that we will get behind. 

So...we will be working long days right up to Thanksgiving, and then working Friday and Saturday on top of it. On a holiday weekend. People travel. Family comes in. People have plans. 

It's bullshit. It's all bullshit. The thing is, we are not behind. If we get one day behind, we can work the over time the following week AFTER the holiday, but to screw up everyone's holiday because we might have a problem? That's bullshit. 

I was not the only angry person there. The place was buzzing. 

So walking through the rain, I was mad about the confusion about the scan. I was mad about my lost holiday weekend. I was just mad. 

I should have gone back to work, but you know what? I took me to Tim Horton's and I got a large vanilla ice capp. I sat in my car and drank caffeine while I watched it rain. And when I was done feeling like I wanted to yell at someone, me and my grumpy pants went back to work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

All is calm...

 Today, I came home from work to an empty house. It has been a while since that has happened. I started supper. 

I decided to soak some beans for supper and got my little canister of dried navy beans from the garden. Disappointingly, they were moldy. Note to self: read more about drying beans before next year. 

I dumped the beans into the garbage, and then carried the bag out to the bin. The little cat sat quietly watching me. It has been a while since I saw him. I asked him if he was hungry and he did not say no, so I went inside and got him a dish of kitty kibble. He was waiting patiently, right where I left him. I set his bowl down and talked to him, but he would not come close until I went back inside. I watched him eating from the window in the door.

Tim got home about an hour after I did. His first day back was okay. It seems like they are beginning to run out of work. They handed out more 90 day notices while he was gone. Those people will be gone probably some time in January. His department will be one of the last to go, so no notice for Tim. 

That's it, really. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mothers and Daughters

 After three weeks off to nurse his elbow, Tim texted me after his doctor's appointment to tell me that he was headed back to work tomorrow morning. He was on his way to work to drop the clearance paperwork off with his supervisor. He said that he wanted to head out after that and do a bit of hunting this afternoon. 

"I'll go ahead and run to the store and get you lunch makings right after work then," I replied. 

Usually the place is packed but it wasn't. When I got to the deli, I was the only customer, which was very nice. There was no one at the counter, but I waited, and it wasn't long before a woman came bustling by. "I'll be right with you. We're short handed, and I'm doing the deli and the bakery. " 

"You're fine. I don't mind waiting." And that was the truth, too. Everyone is short handed these days and the people who are there don't need a bunch of guff from the customers. 

The woman bustled back over and said, "What can I do for you?" 

I asked for two pounds of the turkey, sandwich sliced, and divided between two bags. "I hope I don't sound like one of those customers..." and she laughed. "No, you don't," she said. "That's a pretty common request."

And so we chit chatted while she sliced my turkey, and then while she sliced the cheese. She said that she really enjoyed being busy. "What else have I got to do? My kids are both in college. They need the money." 

She mentioned that her daughter had decided on a school in Connecticut. You could tell she was struggling with that. She said "If I want to go visit her, it's three days of travel time added on to the length of the visit, and that's a lot of work to miss."

Wistfully, she said, "She's not so good at communication," and trailed off. 

I recognized that. Those are hard years to be a parent. Your kids are running full tilt to claim their independence and the last thing they want is their parents. So I said, "It's a tough time. You just have to keep reminding yourself that you raised them to be independent, and now it's time to watch them fly." 

She said, "You're right."

I said, "If it is any consolation, my youngest lives overseas, and I haven't seen her for nearly 3 years. I know that she's happy. That helps, but still..." 

We talked about our girls a bit, and when she handed me the packages of meat and cheese, she said, "Thank you." 

I knew she wasn't talking about my purchase. 

"Good luck to you," I said, 

I finished my shopping and I was glad for that little conversation. I've been missing my daughter a lot. 

"You just have to keep reminding yourself that you raised them to be independent, and now it's time to watch them fly." 

 Sometimes I need to hear me say those words out loud too. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Haves and the Have Nots

 Today, I overheard a conversation between two friends.  The speaker is not from our country originally, and her family is still 'back there'. Her nephew was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease. The next step is taking him to a hospital, something the family is struggling with. The father works, but the mother's job is still shut down due to covid. 

I listened to her talking to her friend across the aisle, about how she could send some money, but it's a bad time for her as well, with the holidays coming and two kids of her own, and she already is sending money to her parents... She finished up, "I really hope we get overtime."

I guess what will always astound me is the differences in wealth. Something that we consider a small amount is lifechanging in a third world country. 

Made anything that I had to complain about seem very trivial. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

A Letter to Wales

 I have been reading "Counting Steps", Mark Charlton's tribute to the footsteps of life, and what I see, in a life so very different from my own is the similarities of it.

Today he posted Letter To America, Thank you, Mark for your kind thoughts, and for putting words to exactly why it is that I read blogs. 

Kindness is in rather short order in my corner of the world. Pick a topic, any topic, and you've got people who are screaming mad about it. Politics. Covid. Poverty. Education. God. Afghanistan. No matter what the topic, it will be debated hotly. Usually rudely. 

I am not averse to discussion. I think when you put your thoughts out there, you have to be prepared that there will be those who disagree with you and that is okay. Different points of view can be debated respectfully. Too often, it is not. It seems particularly bad where I live and I have lost friends (and family) over some issues. The issues will not be resolved. I don't understand rudeness. I don't understand why they believe that they deserve every blessing, while also believing that others should be deprived of the smallest of blessings. It is unjust and it is heartbreaking. 

And so I withdraw into my world of blogs and bloggers. 

There is unkindness there too. I don't understand commenters totally ignoring the blog post to snipe at each other. I don't understand people who blog controversial ideas and name call those people with different opinions or tell them to 'bugger off'. And trolls...what joy is there in attacking others for the sheer pleasure of causing hurt?

But in the end, I read stories about persistence, about staying the course, about the joys of life, about the things that they question. Some posts are funny. Some quite serious. Some are ordinary. Some are extraordinary (imagine hearing that someone was married right after John and Yoko!)  Some are as well written as any philosophy, some are more like mine, ideas and glimpses and events all cobbled together in a post. 

All of them share one thing: they are a record of your own footsteps through turbulent and difficult times, and I am grateful for them. In a very real way, you are my 'letters' and you come from all the corners of the world. I enjoy you with my morning coffee and I begin my day knowing full well that I have kindred spirits all over. That knowledge alone, makes the world seem a kinder place.

Thank you. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021


 Today, William and I spent a pleasant day making a special supper. We baked a cake, made two quiches. We chopped things for an Italian salad. He's pretty cheerful about helping out. He enjoys cooking a lot. He has his own apron. He fried the bacon and sauteed the onions, and boiled the spinach. He sliced the cheese and arranged it at around the bottom of the crust. He decided that he liked the smokey gruyere, so he nibbled while he sliced, and he ate olives and artichoke hearts while we were chopping things for the salad. 

Unfortunately, by dinner time, he didn't like any of it and wouldn't eat, which meant that he did not get his strawberry shortcake for dessert which led to an epic tantrum, something kind of unusual for him. The night was cut short and he was whisked home to soak in a lavender scented bubble bath. He then had the beginnings of another meltdown over a book, and was sent to bed before 7PM. The fact that he didn't argue about it and was asleep almost immediately is a bit suspicious.  Hopefully he's not coming down with something. 

On a recommendation from Northsider, I began looking at the author Laurie Lee. I ordered the book from my favorite place. I got an e-mail today that it's been dropped in the mail from Dunfermline, Scotland. The internet is a wonder, isn't it? 

That's all really. It's cold here and snowing. We're supposed to have 4 inches by tomorrow morning. 

The Garden

 I've got a lot of cabbage from the garden. If you remember, I planted 3 this year. Last year I planted cabbages which were eaten by groundhogs pushing under the fence. Much to my surprise, they came up this year along with the 3 cabbages that were intentionally planted. 

A lot of cabbage for two people, one of whom is pretty sure that he doesn't like cabbage. (Except that when I cook it, he does eat it and pronounces it 'delicious'. I think he means that he doesn't like sauerkraut, which is a whole 'nuther thing). 

When cold weather hits, we eat a lot of soup in this house. I throw the ingredients into the crock pot, let it simmer all day, and get home to supper pretty much ready to put on the table. Just out of curiosity, I googled 'cabbage soup', and found a recipe for a cabbage vegetable soup. It called for a rotisserie chicken, shredded, and chicken broth, which is strange to me.  I just  simmered a chicken breast over night to make my own good broth, chopping the chicken while I waited for my morning coffee to brew. The recipe called for celery, onions, carrots, navy beans, tomatoes, and cabbage along with the seasonings and I had them all in a bowl that I pulled from the fridge, and dumped in with the chicken broth and chicken. 

With the exception of celery, I'd grown every one of those things in the garden, and it was an amazing thing to assemble a meal from the labor of our own hands. 

When I came home from work, the house smelled wonderful. Simmering soup is all the air freshener a house needs, I think. 

Tim walked in from the living room. "I had a bowl of that soup for lunch, Man. It is delicious." 

As we ate supper, I had to agree with him. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veteran's Day

I was walking into the cafeteria with my cup of soup. A woman came walking out. She said, "Thank you Debby." 

I was a bit startled. She is not a woman that I interact with. As a matter of fact, I avoid her. She's a gossip. Moreover, she's a malicious gossip. She knows everyone, and her mind is a file of data on all of them.  She's got the kind of mind that connects people, and her favorite tactic is to talk about mutual acquaintances within earshot of you. She is waiting for you to join in the conversation, all the better to collect more information. Her son works on the ambulance crew, and the woman is a walking, talking HIPPAA violation, spewing personal information and names. She also catastrophizes everything. There is nothing so bad that she can't turn it into something worse. More often than not, it not even true. 

Those kind of people? I stay the heck away from them. I know that she'll talk non-stop, her sly little eyes darting left and right as she talks about people. 

Yet here we were. "Thank you, Debby." 

I stopped in my tracks and looked at her. 

She made a prompting motion "You're WELCOME?", staring at me, making it clear that I was extraordinarily rude. 

"What did I do?" I asked her. 

"You're a veteran, right? And it's veteran's day, right? So happy veteran's day!" 

"Thanks," I said, 

Nothing says gratitude like someone trying to make you feel like the bad guy. 

She didn't. 

I wasn't. 

I always wonder what makes a person be like that?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Me and my back went to bed early last night. I read the first chapter of "Counting Steps" by Mark Charlton. After turning off the light, I lay very still in bed, and pondered the sweetness of his recounting of his hike with his son. I found it very moving, and I fell asleep pondering how different things would be if I had been able to see what I was doing wrong (or maybe what I could have done better) while my kids were still kids, before it was too late to set things right. 

Hindsight is always 20/20. Mark seems to have had the gift of seeing these things in real time, as life unfolded. 

 I woke up this morning just before the alarm, as usual. I moved my legs experimentally, and there was no back pain. I got out of bed and reached for my robe. There were no spasms. Hallelujah. 

I had my morning coffee, and I headed for the shower, and when it came time to dress, I looked suspiciously at my sock drawer before deciding to go with slip on shoes and skip the socks all together. Not taking any chances. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

True Story


Back spasms!

I was coming down the dark hall when Tim came out of the living room, scared the wits out of me, since I had not heard him come in the door. Of course, when I jumped, it set off my back yet again. 

"Don't do that...." I said, stiff and gasping. He stared at me dumbfounded. 

What did I do to myself?  I had bent down to put on a pair of slipper pathetic is that?

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Post Office

 I stood in line waiting my turn. The elderly man behind me was using a walker, and got it tangled up in the rug. The woman behind him got the rug straightened out. I said, "Why don't you go ahead?  I've just got an aggravation that will be quick enough to sort out." 

"No," he said, "I'm fine, I'll wait my turn," and so we got into a discussion about how beautiful the weather was today (both of us in our shirt sleeves), and how we haven't got many days like this left before winter, and why was I irritated anyway...the sort of stuff you talk about while waiting in line. 

So I showed him the Halloween card I'd sent to my grandson. It was going from one end of town to another, but I mailed it because kids like mail. It went to the other end of town by way of Pittsburgh, which is about 3 hours away, and then it came back to my little town. It was labeled with a bright yellow sticker that said, No Such Address - Return to sender.

Which is how it came back to me on the 8th of November. 

When I saw it on the kitchen table, I was a little surprised, but automatically assumed that I'd done some stupid thing, but the address was correct. The city was correct. The zip code was correct. I sent a quick text to my daughter to make sure his Amazon package got there safely. It had. 

So I went headed for the post office, where I was standing in line and chatting to a very nice man. Turns out his wife is from Perth, Scotland, and he had a funny story about how his wife has sent her sister a letter, but neglected to put the country on it. The letter returned to them with a bunch of stickers. It was noted that this wasn't a valid American address, and to "try Australia". It went to Australia and traveled around a bit before being returned to sender. 

My letter didn't travel around the world, so I guess I'm lucky for that. 

When it was my turn at the window, I said, pointing to my mask, "I know you cannot see it, but this is my irked face," and I explained the situation. She examined the address and agreed that it was valid. She pulled the sticker off, apologized, and said it would be there tomorrow. 

I took my irked face out the door where I realized that I'd forgotten to put money in the meter in my haste to get inside before the windows closed. I did not get a ticket, but I saw the meter man down the street. 

I drove away feeling like a lucky woman. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Good Book

 I finished Watership Down. What a wonderful, richly detailed book! It has been such a long time since I read a story that I simply didn't want to end. 

Dam It

Last night I could not sleep. I finally got up and wrote Cara and Colin their weekly letter. That's important to me, the idea that they are curled up with their hot cup and reading a letter from home. It makes a nice picture in my mind, and so it is what I do. 

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 again. (!!!!!) I tried to go back to sleep, but could not, so I got up and folded the week's laundry. 

This is getting a bit aggravating, and I made up my mind to keep myself busy today and try to get to bed early tonight. If I do not, I will be very tired, and this is not a good way to start a work week. (Good news? 8 hour days, at least for the beginning of the week. Doable). 

I was coming up with all these little projects to keep myself moving today, but we got a message from my sister. Once again the beaver have clogged the tunnel under the abandoned railroad grade on their property, which is across the road from our property. Tim removed another dam from behind the old house on our property last weekend. While he was hunting on Wednesday, he was surprised to see how quickly the beaver had come back to begin the rebuild. 

There is a massive beaver dam up stream from us, where the stream travels through the woods. There are literally acres under water. Removing a dam that size is dangerous. The release of that much water could sweep you away in the current, fill your hip waders and drown you. It's also not our property. However, there are now so many beaver there that they've moved down river, and now it is affecting our properties. 

'We could use your help,' my sister's message said. Tim could use theirs as well. They've got a lot more experience ripping out these dams than we do, and we've got to figure out how to keep our property above water. We'll work together, and maybe get this problem solved.  

Sadly, though, there are just too many beaver and the damage is too much to ignore at this point, between the downed trees and the flooded property. Our weekly work to remove their weekly work has become too big a job. 

I'll bet I sleep well tonight. 

Saturday, November 6, 2021


Yesterday morning, I woke up at 4:45 (five minutes before the alarm) and sighed luxuriously. I said, "Oh, I'm so glad I don't have to go to work today. I love Saturday." 

From the other side of the bed, Tim said, "'s Friday."

I guess that I was dreaming something but crushing disappointment is not the best way to start a day. 

But, yesterday passed, and Friday night came. A chicken breast had been simmering in the crockpot all day with celery and onion and seasoning. I cut up potatoes, leaving the skins on, boiled them and then mashed them with butter and cream. I thickened the simmering chicken to make a good gravy, added some peas, and dinner was ready. 

I went to bed Friday night with the heady knowledge that I could sleep as long as I felt like sleeping. Saturday morning I slept in until 5:30. I tried to fall back asleep but could not. (I HATE that) Finally at 6, I got up and began cutting and seeding my pumpkins to roast in the oven for pumpkin puree. 

The first load of laundry is in the washer. An ambitious person would be switching the loads instead of drinking coffee at the computer. (Can't wait until she shows up.)

We had our first snow on Wednesday. It really was the most peculiar day. It snowed big fat flakes that caused us all to marvel as we worked away. Then it would stop, and the sun shone brilliantly. The sky would darken. Some rain would happen along, and then it would turn to sleet and then once again, it was snowing those big fat flakes. We watched the four seasons during our half hour lunch break, and the cycle repeated itself for the entire day, probably 7 or 8 times. There was, of course, no accumulation. The ground is too wet and warm for that, but it made for an interesting day, watching the weather change outside. We all couldn't stop commenting on those changes. 

My first pumpkin is out of the oven, and ready to be skinned and cut up and simmered. We are having a nice pumpkin soup for supper tonight, and I will have the makings for some pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

That was Then, This is Now

 A comment that AC made really got me thinking. "On the whole, you both seem very patient with each other." 

We are. 

We weren't always, but you learn things as you go along. I came into this marriage and I will admit that I was a broken person. What I did not expect to find was that my husband was a broken person too. 

He was quiet, so it took me a while to figure this out, and I only was able to do so by looking at his life and relationships outside our marriage as we went along, but I realized that a quiet, competent, hard working, smart man had gotten accustomed to being disrespected. Sometimes that disrespect amounted to verbal or emotional abuse. 

He's not like that any more. I'm glad. When someone can't stand up for himself, he sure as heck can't stand up for his wife. We had some pretty tough times. I have a pretty low threshold for crap, and a personality like mine can run roughshod over a passive man. A few years into our marriage, I had to make a conscious decision that I couldn't do that to him. I haven't always been perfect, I admit it.  As time went on, he became stronger. I also tempered my expectations. He is what he is. A good man, honest, hardworking, and happy with a truck that he can fix, no matter what is wrong with it. (Probably happy with his wife for the same reason...)

Yesterday, I needed a crochet hook and he went along for the ride. In the store, I was talking to a friend, and suddenly my quiet husband bristled beside me. He never said a word, but I felt it. I looked at him surprised. His placid face gave nothing away. I could feel it though. I did a quick look around and that's when I saw him. 

When Tim and I met, he worked in a machine shop. I worked there too, on third shift. After we got married, Tim continued to work there on third shift. It wasn't a good job, but machinist jobs were getting hard to come by in the area, thanks to President Reagan's NAFTA deal. 

I was looking at his old night shift supervisor a couple aisles over. Tim did not like him and that dislike stemmed from a 20 year old incident. Tim had received a raise, and in those days, life was a struggle so he was plenty grateful for that raise. I was already working somewhere else, but I was grateful too. 

Except that the raise didn't come. Tim talked to his supervisor about it, but got no where. After several pays of trusting that it was in process, he finally just stayed over at the end of his shift after clocking out. He waited for the supervisor's boss to come in, and when Tim went into the manager's office, Ed laughed at him and said that he had decided not to give him that pay raise until Tim was "man enough to come in and ask for it." Ed also told Tim that he'd never have a day shift job as long as he was manager. 

Tim was enraged. Ed was a prick, a pompous prick, plain and simple, but Tim also felt his supervisor and Ed had talked, and that the supervisor knew the score, and they were both being asses. 

So, Tim picked up his rage and went to another company. He was laughed at for leaving, because the company he was leaving never had a layoff. The company that he was going to was known for them. 

But Tim was really, really mad. He wanted a job in a unionized company, and he found one. He never looked back.

The joke was on all the people who laughed him out the door, because the company that never laid off ended up declaring bankruptcy and going out of business, as poorly managed businesses are wont to do. 

Meanwhile, we struggled for a while, and Tim made up his mind that our living would never be dependent on a company again. 

We got through those lean times, and Tim has done well for himself. He's careful with his money and would never throw it around on exotic cars. It is hard work, but we have created a good life for ourselves, and we are looking forward to some pretty golden 'golden years'. 

Tim runs into people from those old days, and they ask how he's doing and he asks how they're doing, and in the conversation, people always wind up saying words to the effect of "wow...things have worked out for you, haven't they?" He likes that. He likes it a lot. Sometimes he likes it so much it makes me a little nervous, in a 'pride goeth before a fall' sort of way.

So now it is a quarter of a century later, and I'm standing beside my husband who is staring at his old nemesis. I see that man catch sight of Tim and I saw the recognition...and then he dropped his eyes and passed by without a word.

A few seconds. That's all. The friend I was talking to probably never noticed a thing, but when I glanced quickly at Tim, there was a triumphant gleam in his eye. 

Happy As A Pig in Mud

Tim's shiny new truck is sitting in the driveway. It's up on jacks, and he's waiting for some parts. 

Truth be told, it kind of pissed me off to see it when I pulled in the driveway after work a couple days ago. We've got an old truck already. Two of them, actually. Three if you want to count the one he's got stored in the garage of... 

Okay. We will stop counting because it really does irk me. 

Anyways, I got out of the car and said to Tim, "What's wrong with the truck?"

He began to list parts that are on the way. 

Using the severe tones of a wife who has tried to make this point for going on 24 years now, I said, "Tim, why do you get things that need to be repaired? Honestly, we spent a lot of money on a truck that you were so tickled with. You loved this truck. This was your retirement truck. Now I've got another truck ripped apart in the driveway." 

He stood there with the look of a man who has heard this for 24 years and still doesn't understand. "But I  do love this truck."

"But TIM...." I said with an impatient wave of my hand in the general direction of the torn apart truck.

He spoke in the exaggeratedly patient tones of a husband who's been trying to explain this point for going on 24 years now. "This truck is perfect. The bodywork has all been done, and it will last forever. Mechanically, it needs some tweaking, the clutch and there is something wrong with the steering, but this truck was made before they computerized everything. There is not one thing that can go wrong on this truck that I can't fix myself."

To be fair, I have heard that before. 

I stopped complaining and went into the house and started supper. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


 Well, the good news is that today was not Monday. Things went much easier. I don't know what my problem was yesterday. 

The phone has stopped ringing, so that's happy news. Today, at work, it struck me that I should have asked the two nice people what the scam was. I'm curious what could have gotten people so riled. 

I got through the day with some semblance of grace (getting a video of my grand daughter at gymnastics was a wonderful pick me up)  and then I hied myself on over to the court house to vote on my way home. 

They have a weather alert up. We are supposed to get three inches of lake effect snow tonight, our first snow of the year. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Stupid Day

My gosh what a day! To make matters worse, it was a ten hour day. It was one never ending brain cramp.  I was forever climbing under my desk to pick up dropped stuff. Repeatedly. I mislaid papers, lost my scissors. For whatever reason, every account seemed to take twice as long. My numbers are going to be abysmal today. 

Finally, it was done. I walked out of work and I was more than a little glad to be walking out of work. On the way to the car, I dropped my name badge 3 (count 'em!) times. 

Tomorrow's another ten hour day. 


Late Edit: And just because it was not done 'mondaying', I came home to just a flurry of spam calls. I hung up on them without comment. Next thing I know I'm getting another round of phone calls, this from folks in Mississippi of all places. Seems MY number has been showing up in their caller ID multiple times through out the night. 

The first woman shrieked, "WHO IS THIS?" 

Me: (a bit taken back) "You called me. I don't have any idea who I'm talking to, and I don't give out any information over the phone." 

Her: "Oh yeah???!!!! Well, you've been calling me all night long and I've reported you to the police, so you have a good. f***ing day!" 


Sometimes I couldn't even understand them, given the amount of mad side by side with that deep southern accent. 

Not every Mississippi caller was bad news, though. I talked to two very nice people. 

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...