Friday, May 20, 2022

Friends

 I have a friend, an old friend. We met on the first day of seventh grade when we were both lost and looking for the same classroom in the huge (well, it seemed like it at the time) highschool. 

We have been through a lot together, but we have drifted apart. One of the big divisions, to be honest, is her religious convictions. Even when I believed, my faith took a far different path than hers. I don't debate faith. To each their own and I'm fine with it, but she kept trying to pin me down on various points of faith, things that she felt were unarguable points. 

Like, you must believe that Jesus Christ is the only way. 

I didn't. 

She got quite emotional and told me then that my beliefs made her see me differently and that there were things that she could not discuss with me. Broke my heart to hear it, really, because I really felt that if she would stop discussing those things, we'd be fine, and we had plenty of other things that we did agree on. 

The presidency of he who shall not be named drove an even deeper wedge. There were plenty of things that she didn't believe in that her president was fighting against. 

So here we are. I think about her a lot, and I miss her a lot, but now I am turning 65 in a couple days and I have no faith at all. I could use a friend, but I know that she would be appalled. 

I tell this old, old story because I know a batch of elders. They all are approaching 80 and they are childhood friends. Their roots go way back to a small town that no longer even exists. 

They are as diverse a group as you'd ever want to meet. Two of them are tenants in two different houses on the bank of the river, and the third one is upriver just a little. The three women are the key members. There is a couple of ex-husbands thrown into the mix. They garden. They kayak, They migrate from deck to deck in the summer, to watch the river go by and to talk and laugh together on their comfortable back decks. 

I envy them, really. Sometimes walking past their homes, I'll hear laughter from out back, and I'll go to the gate and call 'Halloooooooo the house!' and they'll invite me back and my voice joins theirs for a while. When I leave, they always say, "We need to do this more often."

What I like about this group the most is that they know each other, really know each other.  They know that one of them is impractical, but they love her anyway. One of them follows no faith. One has (like me) recently fallen away from her church. Two are readers. One is vegan. One wants to catch one of the bass that lives under an old log 'snag' outside her back door. Their differences go on and on. 

If you throw ex-husbands in the mix, well,..they acknowledge their flaws too. The one with a temper. The needy one who left to travel, telling his wife that she was not invited. He's back now. He got tired of traveling. By the time he had decided that, she'd decided that she really liked living alone. Despite all the baggage, those ex's are still part of the circle too. 

I envy them, really. Their roots bind them together. As much as they have in common, they are all remarkably different, but the differences are acknowledged and accepted with grace. 

It's a rare thing in these days. 

I think of my own old friend, and feel sad. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Home Again

What a wonderful five days I have had! Well. Other than the cold. It seemed like a minor cold. It hit hard the night I got there. I  also managed to give that cold to my grandaughter. My daughter-in-law was coming down with it when I left. It is only a matter of time, I expect, before poor Dylan gets it too, and he is traveling next week.

So. I do feel badly about that. All I could offer was a weak "well...it's not covid. I checked." And buy the good tissues...the ones with lotion. Those two things. (Before I am chastised, let me be clear that I had dutifully notified them that I had the cold to give them the option of rescheduling. I also tested for covid.)

But we had a nice weekend. Dad and mom got date nights. Grandma got date nights with a little charmer. 

It's late. I made good time coming home. I got home in time to eat, run out and vote, get a haircut, and fix our hacked netflix account, but I will leave you with grand daughter stories. 

Story 1: 

One of her favorite things is getting ready with me in the morning. She picks out my earrings, and she likes to watch me put whipped cream in my hair. I give her the tiniest dab for her hair too. We brush our teeth together. The little pipsqueak got a mischievous look on her face as she was playing with the door knob. She turned the lock and then walked out into the hall and shut the door, thinking she had locked me in the bathroom. I laughed out loud and waited for her to figure out that I was not locked in the bathroom...she was locked out of it. There was a 30 second pause. The door knob wiggled a bit. Then came a polite knock. "Ama? Could you let me in?"

Story 2:

This morning, she was snuffling and cantankerous. She disassembled something and then gave it to her mother to fix. Unfortunately, it was not a fixable disassembly. 

She was upset by this. Her mother explained it to her in a very patient voice, that she had broken it and now she must throw it in the garbage. 

Whining ensued. She is not normally a whiner, so I listened to this exchange. 

Her poor mother was coming down with the cold, so I took the liberty of saying, "Hey, can you pick that up and throw it away in the garbage, and while you're at it, could you throw away your bad mood?" She pondered this with a delighted look on her face, and immediately went to the trash can to throw away the damaged toy. She put a little hand to her face, made a grabbing motion and tossed that invisible bad mood into the trash.

 "Quick!" I said. "Shut the lid! We don't need that getting loose again." 

I am happy to report that the bad mood stayed right in the trash where it belonged. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

This and That

 Well, we've had William for a couple days now. We'll pick him up from school one more day and then he'll be picked up and taken home tonight.

We got the bathtub installed. What a struggle that was! It was a tight fit, and it actually got stuck a couple times. It is a steel tub and so it didn't have any flex to it at all. We both are so very glad we didn't try to stuff that 350 pound cast iron one in there. Either the tub would have killed us, or we would have killed each other. Frustrations were high. 

Tim is a great one for just muscling something into a place until he gets it into that place. Which is all well and good, but when you are muscling something in, getting it stuck and then muscling it back out again (x2) it makes me grumpy. "Tim, stop, stop. Let's just think about this a little first." It was a combination of brawn and brain that got that tub where it belonged. 

Jim, the new tenant, stopped by with a tablet to take some measurements for curtains and furniture. I was relieved to see that he fits through the door frames to the bedrooms. It was also good that he arrived within minutes after the tub was set. Any earlier, and he would have heard two people really snapping at each other. 

When we stopped for lunch, I saw an unexpected message from a familiar face with an unfamiliar name. She is a beautiful girl, hard worker, has a good job. She and her husband rented from us for a while after they got out of the military. They had one son and a baby on the way. We couldn't help but be happy for them when they got their own place. 

Anyway, she wanted to know if we had any rentals. We don't. I asked, a little cautiously, how she'd been doing. "Not good," she said. She had just found out that her husband of 13+ years was having an affair. I was surprised by that. I mean, she is really a beautiful girl, and she is so very nice. He's got three beautiful kids. Why on earth would a man just toss that all up to the four winds? 

(And yes...I understand that there are plenty of women who are no different.)

Yesterday, I had a sore throat, and I began to get a little uneasy about it. Last night, I woke up with a headache and chills. I am supposed to head east tomorrow morning for time with my son and his family. Today, Tim took William to school and stopped to pick up a covid test. 

While I waited, I messaged my daughter in law that I seemed to have picked up a cold, and that out an abundance of caution, I was taking a covid test. We all held our collective breath. It was negative. I told them my symptoms and they decided that the scheduled visit was still a 'go'. 

*whew!*

Tim's been talking about a little motorcycle he's found for William, a little 50cc for him to putter around the retirement property on. He had a honda atv that he was going to swap for it. (We don't need two of them). I tend to stay out of the world of Tim and his wheeling and dealing, but I was being regularly updated. 

Anyway, I was on the computer when a question came in from the man who owned the dirt bike. He had a question about the ATV. I told him that Tim had taken our grandson out for ice cream and provided his cell number. A reply came in: "Do you know if he is buying this bike for a kid?" I answered that he was buying it for an 11 year old boy. He told me that it was a 125cc motorcycle with a clutch that went 60 mph and it was not a kid's machine. I took the liberty of calling the deal off on the spot. 

Tim and William came in with their ice cream and one of them got jerked aside for a very stern talking to. (Hint: it was the tall kid.)  

Anyways, I'm all packed and ready to leave tomorrow. However, before I can do that, I've got another day of work in front of me. 




Tuesday, May 10, 2022

I Screw Up Big Time

 William has been staying with us for the past couple days. His mother's S.O. had a death in the family and it was felt that it would probably be better if William just spent a couple days here with us. We are never going to turn down time with a grandson.  Since William goes to school right around the corner from where we live, I just walk over to the school to pick him up, waiting for him at the end of the bridge. 

Yesterday we walked home and William decided to just go to our house rather than accompany me to the renovation, so he went one way, and I continued down the street. I noticed a boy about William's age, 11 or 12, walking alone. The thing about him was that he noticed me and gave a friendly wave and said hello. As he continued down the street, he greeted Tim and our tenant Paula who were visiting in front of one of the rentals as well. 

I thought to myself, "He seems like an awfully nice kid, and he's probably new to the area." 

Today, I saw him again, and once again, he said hi and waved. So I talked with him, asking him if he were new. He said he was, and gave his name as 'Dante'.  I said, "I have a grandson named William. He's not always at our house but" - and I told him where we live - "you're welcome to stop by and see if he's there. He likes to bike ride, and the bike trail is a fun ride." He said "Okay," in a cheerful voice and continued on. 

I waited for William who takes his time. When we finally met up, I told him about the new kid. 

Later, I saw Dante walking as I was pulling into the renovation. William was in the passenger seat of the car, and I thought to introduce the two boys. 

"Dante," I called.

He looked back, broke into a dead run, and disappeared around the corner. 

In these days of stranger-danger, you cannot call to a kid from a car. Big no-no. I probably scared him to death. 

I feel awful. I wish that I knew where he lived so I could explain to his parents. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Horrifying

 A friend posted this horrifying story

A missing family member would be tough to deal with, but the back story is even tougher. 

I need help Facebook! This is my cousins fianc├ęs son. LE and detective’s are treating this as a missing persons case when there’s been possible evidence that he fell into the machine. The detective called the family this morning and they were told that HR is responsible for inspecting the machine. No one is wanting to help.
A missing 20 year old male named Duncan Alexander Burrell Gordon, works night shift at a warehouse in the Greer/Duncan area. His father also works at the same place on the same shift. He was last seen at 2am on May 5th on top of a machine that his father believes he fell into. The machine is capable of shredding metal. They found a substance shortly after that looked like grounded up flesh/meat. Law enforcement and detectives have been notified but the machine hasn’t been tested with luminol or any confirmation that that’s what happened. The machine was still used on Thursday and Friday.
His bank card hasn’t been used since 11pm on May 4th when he went on lunch break and his phone hasn’t been used since around the same time as well. It’s going straight to voicemail now. His hat was found near the area he was last seen. Cameras have been checked and no evidence of him ever leaving the building. He was still clocked in. His family is broken for answers. I just feel no evidence will be left if they continue to wait around. The machine currently runs fabric through it, the father believes the machine could’ve instantly dried any blood due to high temperatures or the fabric could’ve soaked up any blood.
UPDATE as of 9:10am today - the investigation is ongoing at the company now. The father is assisting. Please pray for the family until we hear their findings.
Please share and please keep this family in your prayers as they search for answers.

End of post.

Now, I know that you cannot believe everything you read on facebook. One thing that I am suspicious of is that they were told 'by a detective' that "HR is responsible for inspecting the machine". That is absolutely not within the scope of HR responsibilities.

But I know that as soon as someone said, "I think he fell in," the machine should have stopped, and an investigation done. The people responsible for tear down of the machine would be the maintenance crew with a OSHA team attending.

The company is Industrial Recovery and Recycling in Greer, SC. As of right now, there is no mention of the company or any possible connection to the missing man in the news.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Day

 I keep a bag of cat food in the mudroom. From time to time, I'll see one of the strays outside, and I like to set food out with a friendly word. But they are very wary creatures, and will watch until I go back inside before they slowly make their way to the bowl to eat. 

I feel sorry for them. 

I came home from working down the street, and one of my 'regulars' a sleek black cat was in the driveway.

"Hello," I said. "Would you like something to eat?" I went inside to get the bowl and to fill it. Much to my surprise, he came right to the door and sat down to wait for me. When I walked back outside, he was still sitting there although he backed away while I set the dish down. "There you go," I said, and he came over slowly. When I reached out my hand, he came in to be petted. 

For such a small thing, that made me happy. 

Something else that is making me happy is that after some warm days, and a good rain, suddenly everything is bursting into bloom. It smells like spring, finally. 

In just five more days, I am headed out to see my son and his family. It will give Dylan and Brittani a chance to celebrate her birthday, while I celebrate my grand daughter. We're going to make and mold stepping stones. Brittani and I will be building tomato cages. 

Three happies is quite a lot, and I am lucky. 


Friday, May 6, 2022

On Fire


What a strange picture. 

But if you notice the sign to the left, it says 'Pudding Lane'. 

Pudding Lane was the site of Thomas Farynor's bakery where the Great Fire of London supposedly began September 2nd, 1666, burning until September 4th and totally destroying most of 'old' London. There were rumors that 'foreigners' had started the fire, which resulted in street violence against this population. If you care to read more about it, here's a link


 This is the memorial to the disaster. 



This is another short post. We are still hard at work. 

Thank you 'Anonymous/Paranormal John'. After reading some links in your comments, I bought the book 'The Lives They Left Behind'. Heartbreaking and engrossing. While I am not familiar with Willard, I have worked with former residents of Willowbrook, It really is heartbreaking to consider how few options these people had. 




Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Tower Bridge

This is the Tower Bridge.

In the late 1800s, ship traffic up and down the Thames was very heavy. The population had grown to such an extent that a bridge was required in the area. A regular bridge could not be used, because it would impede the tall ships traveling up and down the river. Designers were encouraged to submit their plans for a bridge that would allow for the ship traffic but also allow for uninterrupted foot traffic back and forth. After 8 years, a design was finally picked that suited everyone. The tower in the foreground was a house for the Bridge Master and his family. There was also a kitchen there to feed the men who worked in the lower levels of the bridge, operating the massive coal fired steam engines that that raised the bascules of drawbridge, an operation that took five minutes. 


A glimpse of some of that machinery. It was kept spic and span by the team of men who worked there under the direction of the Bridge Master. When they weren't raising and lowering the bridge and keeping the coal ovens stoked, they were polishing and cleaning. 


This is a glimpse of the approach on the bottom level. 

When the drawbridge is raised, people have the option of walking up the stairs in both the towers... 



...to access the sky bridge, which now has transparent panels to walk across and look at the traffic below. 


It also gave an amazing view of the city.


The bridge took 8 years to build by a team of 432 men. The two piers that the 60 foot tall towers are built on contain 70,000 cubic yards of cement and go 21 feet into the river bed of the Thames.  In the eight years of construction, 10 men died, which was amazing considering they were climbing all over the high girders with no safety gear.

The construction of it was an amazing feat for its time. 
I bought a book, but if you wish to learn more about it, here's a link.

Sorry so short. There are probably a million errors in this which I'll discover after I hit publish but we are quite busy here. We're knocking out some big projects at the renovation because next week I'm headed east to behold my darling grand-daughter and my son and pregnant daughter in law. It will be the first time that I've seen them since January. 

Accomplishing some of the big projects before I go provides Tim with plenty of small work to keep him occupied while I'm occupied somewhere else. We look to be finished by the end of May. 

Tim said, "When we are done with this, we're taking some time off." 

I said, "We've still got the garden..." 

He laughed, but he didn't sound like he thought it was funny. 
We both agree, however. With this inflation, a garden is mandatory.


 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Tower of London, Part 2

 Remember the elephant, shown in my last batch of pictures from the Tower of London? It used to be a custom of kings to have a royal menagerie as far back as the 1200s. So there was at least one elephant kept there. Because these animals were 'exotic', they often did not live long due to the ignorance of the people who were caring for them. The elephant, for instance, lived only two years before dying. Later reading explained that his keepers thought he was a carnivore and were offering him only meat. 


The lions were rather an exception to the rule, breeding well in captivity. 
There was a tragedy when two tigers were accidently released into a cage with a lion. 
They killed the lion. 


There was a polar bear, a gift from the king of Norway, who lived on the outer wall of the fortress and fished in the Thames. There was a sculpture of him as well, and I thought that I had taken a picture of it. If I did, I cannot find it. 

There were also baboons. They roamed freely and sometimes attacked people, even killing them sometimes. 

A later elephant attacked a guard and was killed by cannonfire.

The public was admitted to view the menagerie for a fee, but if they came with a cat or dog, they were given free entrance, and the animal fed to the carnivores. 

Now there are only the ravens. 

Thank heavens.



Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, Britain and the monarchy will fall, so one of the Yeoman Warders is appointed 'Raven Master', and tends to the birds. The flight feathers on    one wing are clipped to prevent them from flying away, but they are well tended birds who did not complain within my earshot. 

(Funny note: Some of the ravens do talk and in 2003, Vladimir Putin was said to have been very uneasy when one of them wished him 'good morning!')

This is the building that houses the crown jewels. Photography is not permitted inside, so you will have to content yourself with a photo of the outside. We bought the book, but you can view a partial collection here. One of the duties of the yeoman warders is to guard these jewels. 


 As befitting a castle, there are knights. There was a little suit of armor made for a prince. That made me sad to see, actually. Such a tiny little thing, and it must have been horribly uncomfortable for a toddler. I found myself hoping that it had never actually been worn. 


There was armor for the horses. 


Probably had to fight dragons. (I joke, I joke)


This lance was about 16 feet long, if memory serves me. I always wondered how a knight managed to hold on to one of these, let alone knock someone off their horse with it. 
I found the answer. They're hollow. 


There were cannons all over the place as well. This was an especially ornate one. 


Also inside the 'white tower' as the castle proper is known, 

you viewed the bedchamber of King Richard I


and the chapel just off his bedroom.


For every story that I can tell you, there are scores more that I don't know.  

Two that I do know:

Two little boys, heirs to a kingdom, were taken by their uncle to the Tower of London where they were never seen alive again. In the room where they were held, they have piped in very soft whispering, almost inaudible. Walking into the rude and empty stone room and hearing that whispering gave me the shivers. Although it is assumed that they were murdered, there is no direct evidence to prove this, but we do know their uncle ascended the throne as King Richard III.

Sir Walter Raleigh was also imprisoned there for years before he was finally executed. His head was presented to his wife in a velvet bag and she kept it at her side for all her days. After her death it went to a cupboard under the stairs at his son's home. It was finally buried with the bodies of three of his grandchildren who died in an epidemic. 

Standing there in the middle of hundreds of years of history and mystery, where a chapel stood watch over the site where hundreds were brutally murdered by rulers who prayed devoutly in little antechambers off their grand bedrooms, where ravens stand watch to preserve that monarchy and guards stand watch over its treasures, I have to admit to awed goosebumps. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Tomatoes

 You know that tomato that I bought last week? The one I paid 53 cents for and was shocked?

Well, as previously noted, I quit cooking at lunch time. It's just too rushed to come home, clean up, cook lunch, eat, clean up and then head back out the door. So now we have sandwiches. Last week, it was roast beef with swiss cheese, and a good crunchy layer of lettuce. Tim hates tomatoes, I love them, so I top my sandwich with a slice of tomato. He puts catsup on his sandwich. I use mayo liberally coated with fresh black pepper. 

Last week's sandwiches were good enough that Tim wanted roast beef and swiss cheese again. I picked up the makings, some nice wheat bread, and found myself standing in front of the tomatoes once again.

 You know my 53 cent tomato from last week? Using a slice a day on my sandwich, that tomato did last me a week. A dime a day. That's not such a big deal, is it? 

Except they've gone up 40 cents a pound. IN ONE WEEK. This week's tomato cost $1.01. 

It was a bit of a jolt, but in the end, I decided that I'm worth it. 

I cannot wait for tomatoes from the garden.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Fishing

 A nice weekend. I went to a community yard sale with an Amish friend. Probably 3 times, she said, "I really like this. I don't suppose we can fit it in your car." 

Yes. Yes we can. 

It did get to the point where I had to call Tim to bring the truck, before it was all said and done, but that was okay too, because I had found some barnboard sheeting that I knew that he'd want. (I was right, too.) The sheeting is normally nearly $30 a sheet, and this person was selling 3 sheets of it for $30. I called Tim on to tell him. He was dropping William off at an activity, but came right over in the truck. 

While I was waiting, I listened to two old guys talking about the price of lumber. It IS high, and it has been high for months now. The pandemic squeezed production at the same time that storms and natural disasters ramped up demand. It hasn't evened out yet, and it looks like demand is going to continue to be high this summer. The two old experts blamed it all on "Biden's war". 

It's the first time that I heard anyone calling it that

He and William spent the day fishing. They had gone Friday night to a fishing hole that Tim suddenly remembered from when he was a kid. They hiked out to it and discovered that no one else had discovered it. What a hot spot it was! 

They went to the same place Saturday, and it was even hotter. They caught a half dozen rainbow trout, which were released, but what an exciting day! All of them were at least 12 inches long. and put up some amount of resistance. Tim snagged one that jumped out of the water twice, which tickled William to bits. 

It is more fun for Tim this year, because William baits his own hook now, and casts without help. One of William's fishing stories from last night: "I casted my line out, but it wasn't a good cast, so I started to reel it in, but there was a tug on my line. I caught another fish! I couldn't even believe it. It was not a good cast!" 

This means that Tim is actually able to get some fishing time in himself instead of babysitting an up-and-coming fisherman. Neither one of them could stop talking about their three fishing trips. Later that night in bed, Tim was still talking about how excited William got. I listened in the dark and smiled, because I know that William was not the only excited one. 

"Could you ever have imagined bringing your grandson to your childhood fishing hole after all these years?" 

"Nope," he said, contentedly. 

It felt good to take the weekend off. We've been hitting it hard, but making good progress. Tomorrow we will get back to it, but tonight there is a thunderstorm and I'm sitting in the dark listening to the rumbling thunder. 

Nice.

Friday, April 29, 2022

O-M-G-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


 Yesterday, as I was scraping wallpaper, Tim began yelling. He's not a yeller by nature, so I knew it was a big deal, so I came out to see what all the hullaballoo was about. 

What kind of idiot thinks that mowing their lawn with a gasoline powered push mower WITH A TWO YEAR OLD BOY SITTING ON TOP OF THE MOWER HOUSING is acceptable. 

Gasoline engine. + Whirling blades. + Little boy. 

Tim said, "Oh my God. That is so dangerous, I can't even watch it."

It was reported. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tower of London, 1

 To be honest, in my ignorance I pictured the Tower of London as...well...a tower. 

It's not. This cool picture was taken by my daughter after we got off the subway in the dark. My contribution was tripping over a curb I didn't even see and falling on the ground. Luckily, there were no witnesses. (Thank goodness it was dark.)

The Thames came right up to those walls at one time, but now the river keeps its distance. 

But many an unfortunate soul was brought by boat to Traiter's Gate...


...and held prisoner, sometimes for years. This is graffiti from some of those prisoners. There were an awful lot of religious prisoners. When a new ruler came in, they brought their faith with them. Refusing to switch to Catholicism if your Queen was Catholic (or vice versa) could find you carving your name on to a wall in the Tower of London, 


until your fate was decided. 


This is the site on the Tower Green where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard (two of Henry the VIII's castoffs), and Lady Jane Grey. There were many others, not nearly as well known. 

The words around the monument reads:

Gentle Visitor, pause awhile: 
Where you stand death cut away the light of many days:
Here jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life: 
May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage:
Under there restless skies.

There are a number of these 'enemies of the state' who were trundled right in to the Tower of London's St Peter's Chapel and buried without their heads or ceremony. 

\
I'm disappointed that I've forgotten who this is, but it is a man, a wife, and the wife's sister. 
They were executed for refusing to change their faith. 

The outer walls of the Tower of London were topped by walk ways.


And the top of the walkways were guarded, of course



 
By the royal archers. 



There were towers on each of the four corners that were also well guarded. 

There was another wall inside that one. This now provides housing for the  32 yeoman warders and their families who work there now. 

These yeoman lead tours. Ours was hilarious. He said to be selected a yeoman must have 22 years of experience with no black marks on his record (in an aside, he said that this doesn't mean he never did anything wrong...it meant that he hadn't been caught). He also stated that yeoman must be devastatingly handsome (and he struck a noble pose) and grow a magnificent beard (stroked his fondly)

That's part one, but...

...you ain't seen nothing yet


You might notice an elephant's head peeping out of the wall. We'll save that story for next time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Amazing Day.

 Monday, I cleaned the apartment and readied it for the new tenant. Tim worked down at the renovation. The kitchen has a bank of five windows, side by side, facing the river and I threw them open to the river breeze blowing in. It made the scrubbing and polishing far more pleasant, that is for sure. It is a pretty kitchen, and I rehung the clean cafe curtains and enjoyed watching them fluttering. A storm was approaching. 

That was then. This is now. Today, 48 hours later, it's snowing. Amazing. (There may or may not have been unfortunate words uttered). 

Yesterday, I painted at the renovation, and today, I was back at the apartment I was cleaning. I had a carpet to shampoo. I thought that I had enough shampoo, but it turned out that I did not, so I ran to a local big box store to get it. While there, I decided to get the makings for sandwiches for lunch. It is unnecessary to rush home to cook at noon when we are so busy . I had a craving for a tomato for my noon sandwich, and so I picked one up. Imagine my amazement to get to the register and discover that one lone tomato cost 53 cents. It wasn't even a large one! 

Something else happened. 

When Tim and I were first married, things were quite rough, financially. We both worked multiple jobs to keep five children fed and clothed. One of the jobs that I had was cleaning at a local resort owned by a well-to-do woman. We went to the same church, and she thought she was doing me a great charity. She was. I worked hard. I cleaned not only their huge house but the resort rentals as needed. 

One of the things that became very evident was that she had a problem with addicted to opiates. It was my first experience with an addict, and sometimes it was scary. Once I was certain she was going to die. She had laid on the couch for 6 hours while I cleaned, never waking, never moving. Before I left, I called her husband at the office to tell him that I was leaving but was worried about his wife. He told me that he knew she had a problem but he couldn't do anything about it. 

Long story short, it got very uncomfortable. She felt strongly that her husband was having an affair with another one of the women who worked for the business and pumped me for information. I honestly did not believe it and never saw anything to indicate that this was happening, and told her so, again and again, believing that her drug problem was causing her to be paranoid. Then her husband began to pump me for information as well. I began to get suspicious, but the alleged mistress was a friend, and she assured me that there was no affair. 

Foolishly, I simply believed my friend. 

When the affair finally was exposed, the well to do woman assumed that I had been lying to her right along. Her husband's mistress lost her job. I lost mine because she refused to have a liar in her house. Moreover, she was a big shot at the church and she took her story there.  The church gossips in her circle were horrified at my alleged dishonesty.  

Losing the extra income provided by the job made life difficult, but even more difficult was the fact that I was a pariah in the church. I lost my job as a Sunday school teacher. My reputation took quite a beating and it was a humiliating time. I tried to talk to the pastor who took the woman's side and said maybe this church was not a good fit for me.

Months later, that well-to-do woman was in the newspaper. She had been caught at another well-to-do friend's house stealing the woman's opioids. She was arrested. The pastor stopped in that day.  I was trying to catch up on laundry. He never said why he was there, but he was very pleasant and kind. 

Later when I read the paper, I figured out why. I didn't blame him. He was a young pastor. He had been duped. I sure knew how that felt, but I never did go back to that church. 

Anyways, the point of this rambling story is that a few years back, I saw this woman and she was so pleased to see me. She wanted to chatter on. I was not interested in chit chatting with her, so I made my excuses. As I was pushing my cart away, she said, affronted, "I don't know why you are so short with me," and I turned to her and said exactly what I meant to say. "I had no idea about your husband. Not one clue. I was minding my own business and working, and when it all came out, you lied about me. You forced your husband to fire me at a time when I needed the money. You got me drummed out of the church. You made my life miserable for a couple of years over this." 

And she said, "Well, you have to understand. I had a serious drug problem. I couldn't help it." She added a little reminder that, as a Christian, I was required to be forgiving. 

I was amazed. I turned to my cart and left her in mid-lecture. 

Today, as I was being amazed by the price of a greenhouse tomato, I heard a cheerful "Hi Debby!" I looked up, and there she was, looking much older, and not at all like the well to do woman of 25 years ago. She smiled beatifically at me. 

I said hello. Nothing more. I turned back to my groceries as they were rung up. 

But inside my own thoughts, once again, I was amazed. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Two Questions Answered.

 Replying to comments is fun. 

Margaret said she'd like to see the tub. Well. It's packed away in storage, but if you google Kohler cast iron Mendota 60 x 32, you'll see the tub. 

Anonymous had a question: "With all your home renovations of older homes, have you ever experienced anything 'paranormal'? I guess if you don't believe in it, it's a moot point. I've talked with flippers and people that renovate older homes who didn't believe...until things happened they couldn't explain. I guess we're all looking for that rational thought."

It is an interesting question. I am of the opinion that there are things that I don't understand. I'm also completely comfortable accepting that I don't understand. I have no curiosity to be poking around in the paranormal. 

That being said, there are three instances in my life that stand out to me. The first time I was walking out of Gunston Hall in Virginia, which was the home of George Mason, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I love historical homes. I did the home tour. I headed out the back to see the gardens, and there was the strangest feeling: I just felt very strongly that I knew this place. I felt like I belonged. I actually felt dizzy. 

It was shocking, and...

...that was it. I continued on my merry way wondering what that was all about. (Years later, I was talking to an old man who'd spent his life in the Merchant Marines and he had gone vacation and did a tour of Dodge City, Kansas, and described suddenly feeling as if he knew the place, as if he belonged there. I recognized the feeling he was trying to describe right away.) 

The next time, was early morning, and it was at the Chippewa Nature Center. By that time I was the mother of three children. I was taking one of them to Nature Camp. They had to be dropped off early in the morning, and I had to drive down a dirt road to the camper drop off. You went through an area that had an old log cabin school house that had been dismantled, the logs numbered, and brought back and reassembled at the CNC. As I came upon this building, approaching it from the end, I caught a glimpse of a woman in the window. The glass was the old very wavy distorting sort of glass, but as I glanced over, I saw a woman in the window. The nature center proper was not yet open and wouldn't be for another couple of hours, so there were no volunteers. The buildings would have been locked. But I caught that glimpse of a woman, and the only thing that I remember plainly was that she wore her hair up, and her blouse had a high collar. I hit the brakes in surprise and she just wasn't there when I looked again. 

The final thing happened in my own house, the house in the header. 

I was getting ready for work. I worked third shift in a group setting for developmentally disabled adults. My work partner watched a ghost hunter show. I will admit that those things bother me because I do believe that there are things I don't understand, and I would like to keep it that way. But I'd be folding laundry and she'd be watching her show, and I'd always try to logic through what was happening.

On one very dumb episode, a woman hired ghost hunters. She felt uneasy in her house. She didn't know why. The ghost hunters came in, went to a local library, and found a newspaper clipping that told the story of a death in her house. Triumphantly, they took that to her. The death happened in the room she claimed she felt uneasy in, and she exclaimed. 'I knew it! I could feel it.' 

So I was brushing my teeth and walking between the bathroom and the front of the foyer to the french doors where Tim sat on the couch as I got ready for work. I was telling him how stupid the show was. "It proved nothing!" I said. "We know of at least four deaths in this house, so based on that, OUR house is haunted." As soon as I uttered the words there was a thud. Standing in the foyer, I felt that thud in my feet. 

Tim leaped of the couch, blew by me and headed up stairs saying "What was that?" 

I said, "Where are you going?" 

He said, "Upstairs to see what that was." 

I said, "But it came from the basement," and I stood there holding my toothbrush quite sure that I was not going to the basement. I felt like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, wringing my tail and repeating 'I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I DO.' 

The source of the noise was not discovered. Our house is a friendly place, and no one has ever claimed to feel uncomfortable in it. including me. Well. Once one of William's toys started by itself and shut off when I walked into the living room. It was not a wind up toy, it was battery operated. It was in the middle of the livingroom rug and William was still sound asleep on the couch having his afternoon nap.

11 years later, I can tell you one thing that I understand the least about that thud. Tim does not remember it. We talked about it, because I can assure you that it absolutely did happen, and I could not believe that he didn't remember it. All I can tell you is that he is a very practical man. If he doesn't understand something that he feels uncomfortable with, he tucks it away and never thinks on it again. A preacher's kid, he does not care to look through that mirror darkly. 




Monday, April 25, 2022

Jim

Another warm day today, in the mid seventies. I spent the day cleaning an apartment from tippy top to tippy bottom. Tomorrow, I'll finish. I only have to shampoo the carpet and mop my way out the door. George, our new tenant, will begin moving in next week. 

I am finishing up just in time. Tim was working at the other apartment. He walked home for lunch and on his way back, he saw a vehicle in the driveway. He was quite curious. It was our old friend Jim. 

Jim had looked at both apartments last week. I thought that he'd decided against them. It's a hard move for him. He lives in the one room schoolhouse he went to as a young boy, alone since his wife died.  He's lived in the country most of his life. Moving into town is going to be a big change for him. Moving away from his own history is going to be hard too. He's been waffling about it, but had a scary situation this winter which forced him to face the fact that he needs to make some changes. 

So, he's been having yard sales. He's got a huge stash of historical stuff, muzzle loading stuff, books, deerskin clothing, all sorts of historical things. He knows he's going to have to downsize. Tim helped him out buying a brass train whistle, his collection of oil cans, a titanium crowbar and a railroad crossing sign. (I thought we were downsizing too. I guess that I was wrong.) 

Anyways, after pondering things for a week, Jim was back. He decided to take the apartment. We were a bit surprised. 

There's no real rush as of yet, since his house has not sold, so we are not in a crunch. The two bedrooms are ready to be primed and painted. The bathroom is pretty much deconstructed and ready to put back together. The kitchen is done. The laundry room could use a coat of paint. The dining room  is a cosmetic fix. The deck over looking the river is being refreshed. Maybe a month of work, mostly focused in the livingroom. 

I love old Jim, and I am glad that he's taking that apartment. On one side of him lives a librarian, and he's done a lot of library work putting together a local history section. In the other half of the building, there's our Paula, who is active in a local history group for an area that was lost when the Kinzua Dam was built. A big part of the Seneca reservation was taken from the Indians

Johnny Cash sang about it:


Paula is one of the former residents of the town of Kinzua. Another of our tenants, exactly one block away, is another. They are connected to a whole group of former Kinzua residents who lost everything when the government bought them out and forced them to move right along with the Seneca. 

They are excited to have Jim moving in. He's well known in their circle. The bridge crossing the reservoir is named after his great-grandfather, so he has strong ties to the area as well.

Yep. Jim will have no shortage of people to talk about local history with. 

Change is always frightening when it looms ahead, but once he's made the change, I fully expect that he'll be content in his new home. 

Weekend

 I think everyone has been complaining about the snow, but this weekend, the temperatures went up a bit. 

Friday night, we had to run up to Levi and Mattie's to pick up some posts. On the way up, I said, "You know what we should do? Pick up slushes for everyone!" 

Tim agreed. Since Amish don't have freezers, this would be a nice treat. We started calculating: 8 kids. 2 adults. We can't forget grandma. Tim mentioned that Levi had taken on a hired man. That is how I found myself bouncing up a hill, balancing 12 slushes in my lap. 

We made it. 

We pulled in the driveway. Mattie and Grandma were planting trees with a crew of children. The youngers were playing with the dog. The sawmill was running full bore. Tim called out the truck window: "We're going to need a few kids over here!" They came running from all directions. They carefully carried the box of 8, and another carried a car carrier with 4 more. Mattie sent one down to the sawmill to find out what flavors they wanted, while the others waited for permission to take make their own choices. When it finally came, eager hands went to work.

I said, "Come on, Grandma, there's one for you in here." 

She explained that Levi had a hired man. 

I explained we'd bought one for him too. 

They were suitably impressed by my math skills. 

Saturday, we did some work on the renovation, and Sunday, I did nothing. I purposely did not one thing. 

Well, besides help Tim. We bought a cast iron bathtub. The seller had left one little factoid out of his online description. We were not aware that it was cast iron, until we got there to pick it up and realized the blessed thing weighed 350 pounds. 

The bathroom it was intended for is tiny, and trying to get a bathtub that weighs that much, into a space that tight was asking for trouble. I know this because maybe 10 years ago, we actually got a cast iron bathtub stuck in a stairwell. Wrestling it out of there, I threw my back out, and discovered the amazing world of muscle relaxers. 

Neither one of us was anxious to have that experience again. We had driven quite a way though, and it was a beautiful tub, a Kohler. So we wrestled it on the truck with the idea that it will go into the new build. It can be put in place and the bathroom built around it. 

Once home, Tim discovered it was a $1300 tub that we'd gotten for $100, so he's quite thrilled with life and Sunday, we drove that tub up to the retirement property to be stored until such a time that we begin building a house worthy of such a bathtub. 

Helping him with the bathtub was the only useful thing I did Sunday besides cooking dinner and washing the dishes. 

The temperatures reached 81 degrees, and it was glorious. When we went to bed that night, for the first time this year, we slept with our bedroom windows open. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Explained.

The first post is the second house we bought. The second post is our own aka 'the house in the header', when we first started renovating. The third post is our own again, just starting to turn it into a home. It was big and there was a lot of empty places to be filled. The fourth post is an example of Tim's methodology. This was like probably the 5 or 6th house we bought. This was my Australia trip money. He bought the house for $25,000. Many hours of work later, we sold it for $115,000. We are doing an apartment renovation right now. When that is done, we have a Craftsman to do and get on the market. Then we will be free to focus on our own life after retirement.

Economy - Good News or Bad?

This post was originally from 2008. We had just bought our first house to renovate. I was beyond pissed when Tim decided he wanted this one too. He pushed hard. He wanted it. Our agreement was that we would fix up a place, and then use the money to buy our next place, get that on line, and on and on. Yet there was Tim, pushing and pushing. 

The day that we were to sign the final papers, I had just discovered I had cancer. I was sick about it. Whatever were we going to do? Tim was laid off for the first time. We did not realize that this was the first layoff in a long string of layoffs, due to the NAFTA agreement. Good paying machinist jobs left the country as companies could now get the work done for cheaper using foreign labor. 

As it turned out, this house saved our bacon. It was already divided into three apartments, one efficiency and two regular apartments. It was in good shape (as opposed to the first house we bought, which took two years to get up and running). We got a call from a woman who wanted to rent the evening that very first evening we had it. He went down to see what would be involved in getting it ready for her to take. As he was unlocking the door, he heard a cheerful, "Hey, Tim. I didn't know you lived here." It was someone he'd gone to school with years back. Tim explained that this was a rental. The man said that HE was looking for a rental. He came in and looked and took the upstairs apartment on the spot. It was an unbelievable happening. The rents from those tenants paid for the repairs to the other house and generated an income during a pretty grim time. 

Anyways, the post from 2008:

You know, all this talk about the economy, and the trouble that the banks are having. Really, they've brought it on themselves. Now that they've gotten themselves into this mess, we're going to have to save them. That provokes me to no end. Our bank called us a couple days ago to see if we wanted more credit. No, we told them. Isn't that what got us all into this pickle? Too much credit? But I'm starting to rant.

This is our latest acquistion. It's old.Big.

It has three very cool bathrooms. Ignore the green stickers. That just indicates that the place has been winterized, so that water will not freeze in the pipes and explode if the place stood empty and unheated over the winter.

The place has all sorts of built in cupboards and cubbies, and neat things, as old historic homes are wont to have. We even found a secret compartment behind the fireplace.

It was empty. No treasure.

Damn.

Unlike most repos, someone loved this house a lot. It is very well cared for, but dated. It needs new appliances, and it needs some updating, new wallpaper, kitchen countertops, etc, but all in all, this is a beautiful home, and is two separate rental units. Each apartment has one bedroom and an office/den, as well as the bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and dining room, so they are spacious units.
*********************
Tim thinks that the fact that you can buy homes like this for $20,000 is just excellent. I think that the fact that you can buy homes like this for $20,000 is kind of scary.

The First Floor of the House.

This is our house, as it was when we bought it. It is the house in the header. We bought it back in 2010 or 11. Tim bought it before I'd seen it, and the realtor was sure that he was going to be in big trouble once I actually laid eyes on the place. 
This is the house that everyone is dying to see pictures of. Tim has already hacked away the bushes in front of the house. This is what Tims do. The bushes were overgrown, way to close to the house, and we discovered rhododendrens and azaleas and interesting flowery stuff choked beneath the overgrowth. So hacking away the bushes from in front of the house was a very good thing. Please excuse the picture taking skills. We will try again when we have more time. Welcome to the foyer. The picture doesn't show this, but you enter from the side of the house climbing a big broad porch. The door is heavy wood with full length glass. It opens with a skeleton key, believe it or not. Yes. We do have the original skeleton keys and the brass locks. The foyer is actually open in the front. It is probably 15 feet from front to back. This is the living room, to the right of the foyer. If you open these doors, you would be going back to the foyer.
On the other side of the living room is yet another set of french doors. These open into the library. The fireplace is rigged with a gas log. It works. It made it all quite cozy. There is another room off the living room with its own glass paned door. It opens up into what will probably be an office. This is the view from our downstairs bedroom. It's a horrible shot of the bedroom, which is actually quite nice. There is a narrow long window which will be above the bed. Do you see the hard wood floors here? We will be renting a sander and redoing all the floors, and then sealing them. We won't do that, however, until we get all the painting done. Which we won't do until we get all the cleaning done. Which we won't do until we get the water leak situation all straightened out. Yep. This is not going to happen over night. I'll remember to take lots of pictures, but remember, this are the 'before' pictures! The bedroom also has its own glass door. It matches the doors in the livingroom and library and office. This is the downstairs bathroom. It does not have glass doors. It is right next to the bedroom. You would reach these two rooms by going back to the foyer, and then walking back past the stairs.
If you go back through the foyer, and walk in front of the stairs, you would be walking into the kitchen. In front of the island is a picture window that overlooks the back yard, and we are uncovering some wonderful stuff back there. In front of the picture window is a comfortable place for the dining room table to go.
So these are the seven rooms on the first floor. The kitchen has a covered back porch. There is a nice storage space for our freezer there as well.
This sneak peak of the second floor is for Bob. It's the guest room-to-be. We understand if you want to hold off on your visit.