Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Final Countdown

 


Happy New Year. 
I'm glad for all of you. 
I've enjoyed your blogs and learned a lot. 
I hope that 2023 is a great year for all of us.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Counting my Blessings.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. 2022 ended with a bit of heart break and tomorrow Colin and Cara will be headed home and I did not get to see them, but 2022 started with a trip to England to visit them. I can't really complain now, can I? I spent a whole month with the two of them, a perfect blend of extraordinary and ordinary days. 

I retired in 2022, and that has been wonderful. I was able to take regular trips to see my grandaughter, which was wonderful, and I got to stay with her while her mother and father brought the new grandaughter in to the world. The time was just perfect. So was the brand grandaughter.  

William lives much closer, and we have had more perfect days with him that most any grandparents I know. 

It all balances out, really. I've been pretty blessed this year. 


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Break Through

 Today, I ran out to get some sausage to make calzones. I had a lot of stuff left over from making a lasagna that needed to be used up and I figured that making dough was easy enough. 

So, William and I took a run to the local big box store. He wanted to take a look around and see if there was anything he wanted to buy. So...he wandered off to the toy section, and I wandered off to the grocery aisle, with the agreement to meet up front. 

Anyways, he was waiting for me. His hands were empty. 

"Didn't see anything you wanted?" 

"No," he said. "The shelves are pretty bare. You should have seen the Lego aisle." 

"Well, it is just a few days past Christmas, and anyway, you have a lego set upstairs on your desk that you're in the middle of."

"I know," he said. 

And we headed to the check out. 

This might seem like a very unimportant conversation, but I'm here to tell you that inside, I was flipping cartwheels. Know why? If William has a dollar, he spends a dollar. The idea of just hanging on to your money, that you don't need to spend it as soon as it crosses your palm is an idea we have tried to get across to him for months now. Just last fall, we set him up with a bank account. When he earns money, he has to put some of it in his savings account. He gets to choose how much. It's a personal choice, but whatever he puts in, we match, which is quite an incentrive for him. 

We've really hammered hard on financial responsibility, the importance of being sensible with your money, how to be thrifty, all of that, and sometimes it feels as if it is falling on deaf ears. Still. We feel like it is important to say it, important to model the behavior. 

Today, William went to the store and could not find anything he wanted. He walked out of the store with the same $12 he walked in with. It is a first. 

When we got to the car, I commented on it. "You know, just a few months ago, you'd have bought something, anything, just because you had money." 

"Yeah," he said, "but if I don't spend it, I'll have more to spend next week." 

I started the car. "I'm really proud of you. That was a mature thought process. Make sure you tell Grandpa, okay?" 



Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Turning a corner.

A batch of small miracles today, really. 

I have been sleeping poorly at night between Tim's coughing and my coughing. We are a pair. Last night, I went to bed and I fell asleep, and I was surprised to wake up to hear the clock chiming seven. I had slept all night. I got up and took another dose of mucinex. I was still tired, so I thought I would go back to bed until the rest of the house started waking up. 

When I woke up again, it was to hear the clock chiming ten, and boy, did I feel great!  

Poor Tim did not sleep hardly at all last night. (Being sound asleep, I missed that...) However, he also thinks that he feels like he has turned a corner in this whole thing, which is good news. It does seem as if he coughed much less today, at least while he was around me. 

Just to prove things to himself, he went down to the retirement property. The Amish are out cutting ice for their ice houses today. After the deep freeze, the ice was seven inches thick. It will be cut into huge slabs and pulled into a super insulated building. (Mattie says that the ice house still has ice in it from last winter, unbelievably). 

That really caught Tim's attention. If the ice was that thick, he could walk the little creek that runs along side the property and trim the brush back with a chain saw. He felt that this would be much easier than trying to trim the brush away from the creekside by fighting through the brush to get to the creekside. Never mind the fact that walking along on ice with a running chainsaw sounded a bit tricky to me.

 Brush cutting is awfully important because we have a good sized beaver population which has moved down river and begun to build dams, which was putting a great deal of our property under water. It also backs water up into our brother in laws pasture across the road.  Tim and Dave have been fighting the beaver since they moved in, and it is a tough struggle. You can rip out a beaver dam one night, and return to find it rebuilt the next. Keeping the brush cut away from the creek would make finding material for their building endeavors a bit more inconvenient. 

Once William saw his grandpa test the ice with a couple good thwacks of the pick axe, he got confident enough to give it a try. He had great fun while Tim ruthlessly chopped the brush and willows away from creek banks. William hauled the brush away. 

Being outside in the cold did not trigger Tim's cough. Everyone came back with all their pieces and parts. More good news. 

Houdini came out twice today to nibble on cat food. Taking a cue from (I think Bovey Belle), I've been heating his soft cat food in the microwave (poppity ping) for 10 seconds. He doesn't seem to be able to resist that smell. He has been out feeding a couple of times today. I also had a long feather boa type cat toy that I'd bought to entice him from beneath the hoosier cabinet. He ignored it. I put the handle in the drawer of the cabinet, and let it hang down. William caught him playing with it a couple times this evening. 

Seems like everyone is turning a corner here, and it is very happy news. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Good Sign

 Houdini was eating supper when Tim walked into the kitchen today. A first. Usually, he waits until the middle of the night.  Later Tim was polishing a board. Houdini watched him curiously from under the Hoosier, his little head peering out. 


Irksome

The doctor's wife called yesterday that the doctor would have to speak with Tim about his results. He was out of office at a local nursing home doing his rounds. 

Last night was another sleepless night. I've got the cough now, and I am going to assume it is the same thing, but being a practical idiot, I was waiting to hear what Tim was dealing with to see if I needed to make an appointment with my own doctor. I was up until one. Tim didn't come to bed until after three. Lying down aggravates the coughing. 

We did not hear from the doctor this morning. Just before lunch time, once again, I called the office. I was told that she herself had spoken with my husband about his test results yesterday. "You did," I said, but I pointed out that the only information that he'd received was that she said the doctor would have to speak with him. 

*Long pause.* "Did I? Well, let me check. I just told the doctor that I'd taken care of the call." I went on hold and she came back and said, "Well the results are kind of confusing." And she mde made impatient sounds about the lab. She said she would call them to straighten it out. "What's a good number to reach ou at?"

My snarky self did not reply, "Just use the number that you haven't been calling since last week." I gave her the number which I know they have right on the form she was looking at. 

The doctor did call back and said that there was some abnormality. Indicative of upper respiratory infection. Keep on keeping on.

I said to Tim, "Really, you should think about getting a different doctor." He snapped at me, and I dropped the subject. Again. 

(He is a old school doctor who objects to the local medical group, operates independently, and as such does not have access to the on-line medical portal.)

Monday, December 26, 2022

Trivia

 It was a good Christmas. I expected today to be a bit sad. I should have been somewhere else, surrounded by my children and grandchildren and I would be a liar if I said that I wasn't just the tiniest bit sad. But...I had a great Christmas eve. We enjoyed our Christmas day. Quiet. Low key. 

William received some posters for Christmas that he wanted to hang in his room. We helped him. Two of them were from "Stranger Things". 

I said, "Do you like that show?" He said that he'd never seen it but that he'd heard about it from his friends and that he'd always wanted to see it. 

This morning, I slept in. I had an upset stomach in the middle of the night and could not get warm to save my soul. I finally fell asleep quite late. Tim was helping his son with a home repair this morning and had already left. William was making his breakfast. 

We worked together, doing our morning things, and then doing our chores. After lunch, I casually turned on Netflix and cued up Stranger Things. 

The look on that boy's face! 

It is cold outside. He watched two episodes this afternoon. He watched two more episodes this evening. 

Tim's still coughing up a lung. He called his doctor's office on Thursday, before lunch to check on his lab work. He knew that the office is closed on Fridays. He was assured that the biller was working Friday, and that she would call him with his lab results. 

I said to him, "They will not call. Bet me." 

They didn't. 

He called and left a message for the biller, that he had been told she would call.

Today, he got a call from the office, assuring him that his labs were there, but the doctor needed to discuss them with him. He was working at a local nursing home.

I said, "He will not call. Bet me." 

He didn't. 

This is getting frustrating. We need to find out what is going on. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas

We woke up this morning and were surprised that the forecasted winter storm had already started. Things were not predicted to get ugly until the afternoon. 

It is windy and snowy and dark. The wind kicks up the snow, making visibility an issue. The temperatures are in the single digits. They claim that with the windchill the temperature was -27F, which is -32C. Nothing at all to folks like Red or Anvil Cloud, living up there in the great white north. To us, it's pretty extreme stuff. It's supposed to be even colder tomorrow. 

It is two days before Christmas.By the time that you read this, it will be Christmas eve.  My daughter and son and their spouses called today to chat with William. He opened their presents. I'm grateful for the video chat, but it is certainly not the holiday that I've been planning in my mind for months. We were to leave the day after Christmas to travel east, to be with all of my kids and their families, everyone under the same roof for the first time in years. We bought a smoked ham from a traditional old time butcher. I have made Grandma Violet's fruitcake. We're all being practical and we're all being sensible, but it is not what a one of us wanted, not at all, and I've been really down in the dumps about it. 

I had a hairdresser's appointment today at 4. I'd scheduled it back at the beginning of the month. We were going to have family pictures done to celebrate us all together for the holiday, and I wanted my hair to look nice. In the hubbub of the unraveling of all those plans, I forgot about it. She called to let me know that she'd had many cancellations and my appointment could be moved ahead if I was interested. She's not more than five minutes from the house, and I wavered a bit, but decided to get the hair cut. I needed it. At least I'd look nice for the video chat. 

I started out. Traffic was sparse, and the snow was blowing badly on one stretch past the river. On a slight bend, I felt the rear of my car slide. I was going very slowly, the car took corrective action and I steered slightly into it. The car straightened out quickly. A big rush of gratitude and relief washed over me. 

In that moment, I realized that things could be so much worse. Disappointment can be borne. Plans change on a dime all the time. It happens to everyone, everywhere. We will all be having another video chat Christmas afternoon. I have all the makings for a very nice dinner. We have company coming Christmas eve and then another round of activity again on Christmas day. Tim is about nuts to give William his Christmas present and I think that we've got a nice batch of gifts for his kids and grands. 

It didn't come out exactly how we planned, but plenty of people would be happy with this. I can be happy with this too. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Amish Christmas

Tonight, we went up to have a Christmas celebration with Mattie and Levi and the kids. We wanted to pick up some gifts for the children, and we were in a quandry about what to get. Finally, we decided on games.  Tim was holding a game of monopoly. "What about this?" he asked.  

I looked at it doubtfully. "Do you think that Amish children play Monopoly? It seems kind of counter to their lifestyle."

Tim said, "I don't know. Why don't you ask her?"

I turned around and not 4 feet away was an Amish woman. I laughed out loud. I said, "Well, you're certainly my miracle of the day!" and asked her my question. 

"Sure," she said. "I always liked Monopoly when I was a kid. " She looked at us curiously. "I wonder what Amish you know?" 

I said their last name, which is very common. I laughed and said, "That probably narrows it down quite a bit, doesn't it?" I said it was Levi and Mattie and told her where they lived.

"Oh, sure!" she said, "Levi's my cousin!" 

Later, when I told Levi about it, he laughed and then he said, "So, I wonder which cousin you met?" 

I couldnt' help him out there. 

Anywasys, Tim and I picked out our games. The Monopoly. Barrel of Monkeys, Perfection, Trouble, and a big jigsaw puzzle. One of the boxes  contained cocoa bombs for them, a box of candy, a handful of candy canes. We didn't know what games they had, so we figured that if we got multiple games, if we were lucky they'd include a couple they didn't already have. 

I was giving Mattie a break from cooking, so I made a lasagna. They were making home made ice cream and a special desert. 

We had so much fun, and it was great fun to hear the kids talking quietly back and forth in their tongue as they ate. I heard someone say 'games' and I knew they were excited about the presents. After supper, the table was cleared, The kids tore into those gifts. Even the oldest ones were quite excited. Best of all, it worked out that they had none of the games. 

The oldest ones grabbed Monopoly and sat down with the rules to try to figure out how it was played. I said, "Some things are just easier to learn by doing." The oldest girl was the banker, and we settled in  to play a game. They all listened intently, sucking on candy canes. We played about an hour, until they all got the hang of it.  

William sat there playing his puzzle game they'd gotten him. The youngest boy happily played Barrel of Monkeys with his mother. Perfection proved a bit too exciting, and there were tears, but Trouble worked well for the younger girls. 

They sent us off with a a lot of baked goods, two dozen eggs,  Levi, ever the joker, sent me off with Chicken Poop lip balm, which actually had a sweet story:

'Born and raised in Kansas, Jamie Tabor is the chick behind the lip balm. She decided to call it 'Chicken Poop' after her grandpa's sense of humor. If one complained about dry lips, he'd say, "Put some chicken poop on your lips so you won't lick 'em." ' William thought this was hysterical.

Levi thinks he's pretty funny stuff, but I've already got a plan for the next time I'm up there: I am sneaking 2 or 3 cans of flarp for the kids. 

We still haven't heard back on the results of Tim's culture. The office is closed tomorrow, but they guaranteed that the person who does their billing for them, will call him tomorrow with the results. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

In Sickness and In Health

 Tim has been sick with some respiratory thing since just before Thanksgiving. The coughing pretty much did his hunting season in before it even started. We argued about it, and finally, I argued hard enough to get him in to see his doctor. 

He was presribed an antibiotic. He took every last dose, but the cough was still there. The coughing started about as soon as he laid down and no one was sleeping well, that's for sure. He was up and down all night. I was up and down all night. I cannot tell you the number of times I woke up to a not fully awake man coughing a lung up directly in my face. 

ACK.

I went out and bought a vaporiser. Didn't help. Vicks didn't help. Mucinex helped a lot, but he still will have a couple coughing fits in the night. 

I noticed wheezing and started getting alarmed. He ignored me. Last night, he coughed for 20 minutes straight. It was a productive cough. 

This morning, he was exhausted and slept in. I got up early to do the school stuff. When I returned, he was still asleep.  I made my coffee and carried it out to the office. I am worried about things. I honestly think this is the sickest that Tim's ever been. It certainly is the longest he's ever been sick. 

Reaching a decision, I called his doctor's office. I explained the situation. 

"Do you want us to call in another prescription?"  

"No," I said. "I really think he needs to be seen." I explained about the rales and the wheezing. 

"Can he be here at 9:45?" she asked.

I looked at the clock. It was 8:55. "Yes, he can."

I hung up the phone and went upstairs. "Hey!" I said. 

"What?" he mumbled. 

"Get up! You've got a doctor's appointment at 9:45. He looked over at the clock and sat up abruptly. I left the room before he woke up enough to speak coherently. 

He came down the stairs shortly after me. Bless his heart, he did not argue with me. 

He has a stronger antibiotic and a bottle of Tessalon Pearls (which unfortunately do not work for him). Most importantly, he has lab work ordered to figure out exactly what they are dealing with. We should have some answers by the end of the day tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

'Twas six days before Christmas...

William has always slept over at our house on a regular basis. When he was small, he was afraid to sleep alone. Our house is big and he worried about fires and people coming to get him in the night. 

As he got older, the rollaway bed in the corner of our bedroom was done away with. We have plenty of bedrooms upstairs, but he wanted to be on the same floor as we were, so he slept on the couch in the living room. 

Upstairs, there is a guest room that is set up with Cara's bedroom furniture, a sturdy wooden loft bed, matching dresser and desk. William knows that is 'his' room. His 'cabinet of curiosities' is up there, an old ornate china closet. He goes up there sometimes, with his latest find to tuck in his cabinet, but he's not really much on spending any amount of time up there. 

Tim and I got to thinking that perhaps if we slept up there as well, he might be more comfortable. The room we moved into has a door between the two rooms if he needs us in a hurry. 

We tried it out, and it was successful, so today Tim and I decided to make over the room that would be his. It was just small things, really. His curtains are made out of the same material as his curtains at his house, for a touch of the familiar. Tim installed a gas heater in the fireplace to make the room nice and cozy. We mounted a large mirror above it. I set framed family pictures across the top of it, on top of his bookshelf, on his dresser. Cara had a shelf she hung on the wall beside her bed, We pulled that out and mounted it on the wall. We fit it with a reading light, and set up a charging station for his tablet and phone. We tossed a nice rug on the floor. I dusted and polished and vacuumed while Tim did his things. William had picked out a floor lamp the day before. We set it up along side the desk and Tim stocked the desk with a pack of printer paper and pencils and black ink pens. William likes to cartoon. 

I went through the book shelf removing all the books that were too young for him and pulled out some of young adult mysteries and fantasies that Cara had loved. We hung a ticking clock over the book shelf and set a chair beside it to hold his back pack. Tim hung the posters he had picked out. 

Most of the things were just moved from one place in the house to another, with a smattering of new things ~ posters, the lamp he picked out, things to stuff his desk drawers with. 

I picked him up from school today. He asked what Grandpa and I did that day. "Oh, we've been pretty busy," I said. 

When we got home, he started divesting himself of his things. "There's a new place for your backpack and your laptop case. Go upstairs and put in on the chair in your room." He looked confused. "I have a chair in my room?" But he went upstairs. Tim jumped right up to follow. So did I. 

He walked in the door and stopped right there. He said, "Wow." That's all. He walked into the middle of the room and stood there, holding his backpack and turned around slowly taking it all in. His grandfather had bought a magazine that he loved and set it on the tidy desk. He noticed that right away, when he turned on the floor lamp. "Thank you for the magazine." He looked at the Regulator on the wall. "I have my own clock." Tim showed him the charging station. He immediately took two books from his back pack and set them on that shelf by the bed. He switched on the reading light. "This is sure a bright light." 

These comments were all quietly said in a very matter of fact voice. He set his back pack and laptop on the chair, still quietly taking it all in. 

Suddenly, he threw out both arms and twirled in a circle in the middle of the room. "This is my new happy place!" he declared. "I love it!" 

And all three of us stood in that happy place, just being happy.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Cell phone

Almost every younger person I know travels with a cell phone on their person. It is like an extension of their body. Being without it would be just as unthinkable as leaving your fingers at home. It is easy to see why, really. They have never known a time without them.

Then there are people of my own generation. We grew up with our phones plugged directly into our walls during our childhoods. . The big innovation was cordless phones when we were adults. . Now suddenly, our phones can go anywhere.  I have a cell phone. I've had my smart phone for 3 or 4 years now. I am pleased that most of the time, when I go anywhere, I do remember it. (I would caution you not to put money on it though.) 

So who calls you the most? I was deleting call logs the other day and was a little surprised to discover that most of my calls are from me.  They all last just a few seconds, and I can tell you what is happening: I'm using my landline to  try to locate my cell phone. 



Saturday, December 17, 2022

The Small Miracle

 We had to get Houdini, the feral cat, out of the basement. That was simply a must. Tim and I tried to capture him gently, but it was not to be done. In the end, in fear, he dashed up the stairs to the kitchen. We came upstairs and closed the door to the basement. That was that. He was upstairs. 

He had shot out of the kitchen and gone to God knows where, but after two days of not eating, we found him tucked up behind the antique floor model radio. (Still works, if you're curious). We herded him to the kitchen where his food was and his litter pan tucked away. 

He stayed hidden. He ignored the chicken which was simmered until it fell off the bone and was turned in tortilla soup.  He ignored his spoonful of beef cutlets in gravy. He ignored the tuna fish oil water which he normally laps right up. He did pick at his dry food and drank half a bowl of water, waiting of course until after we had gone to bed and the house was dark and quiet. 

He was no where to be seen in the morning. 

William and Tim headed out today. William needed a hair cut. They were also going to play Santa Claus, delivering our small gifts and thank yous to the tenants. Tim and William were also doing some whispering which I did not quite understand. 

But I was on my 8th or 9th load of laundry and folding to do. I had a list of other chores to tick off my list. I stayed home to get things accomplished. 

When they returned home, guess who was curled up in his cozy heated bed? Guess who looked up at William as he spoke gently to him, and even allowed him a tentative stroke down his back?

I am feeling a bit more hopeful about that cat. 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Difference

Thanks everyone for your encouraging comments yesterday. It was a very tough night. Words were spoken that probably needed to be spoken much earlier. All I know is that I still had not fallen asleep at 4 AM. I was awake at 6 to get William ready for school. 

What a difference a day makes. 

Yesterday, I was looking forward to my Christmas with all three of my children, their mates and my three grands, everyone under the same roof for the first time in years. A special home cured ham. Grandma Violet's fruit cake. I was lining up the perfect Christmas in my mind. 

Less than 24 hours later, those plans have fallen in. Their were tears and regrets. Oddly none of the tears were mine. I was practical, and assuring everyone that we needed to set all the emotion aside and just focus on the practicalities. We're all in agreement really, but we all wish it could be different. 

It is what it is. I'm sad, but it almost seems easier  now that the decision has been made. 

Tim brought down the tree from the attic a few days back, and fresh from quarantine, William was there helping me decorate the tree. He hung bulbs on it and studied the effect. He said, "It is strange, I just remember this tree as being bigger." 

Handing him an ornament, I said, "Do you think it might be because you've gotten taller?" 

What a difference a year makes. 




Thursday, December 15, 2022

Difficult Decision


I had to make a decision today. It was the hardest decision of my life. I can't talk about it and I cannot even begin to tell you how awful I feel about it.

It hurts so badly that I cannot even cry. There is just this sick feeling, the knowledge that we couldn't have done things any differently and lived with ourselves. 

Knowing it is the right decision does not make it any less painful. 

The Birthday Party

 Yesterday morning, I picked up Mattie so she could get some shopping done. She mentioned that she wanted to pick up some pepperoni pizzas for Levi. The following day was his birthday. I got to thinking on it as we drove. 

"Listen," I said, "If you want to order the pizzas, we'll pick them up and deliver them. Our contribution will be rootbeer floats and a birthday cake." 

She thought that was a great idea and we conspired together. In the end, we agreed that Levi shouldn't know anything was going on until we actually showed up at their door. "Oh, this will be so much fun," she said. 

We plotted our plots while shopping. When the Amish get a ride, they make the most of it. She introduced me to an Amish bulk store. I introduced her to a new discount grocery. We also hit the GoodWill (she likes to pick up jigsaw puzzles to do at night with the children.) I found three pair of pants for myself. 

We went to Walmart. The Dollar Tree. The trunk and back seat began to fill up with bags. 

So I dropped Mattie off about lunch time. The three children at home efficiently began to unpack the car.  Levi came said, "How's the millionaire doing?" 

I said, "Actually, he's been under the weather..."

He said, "Oh, I meant you." 

I laughed. "I'd like to know who is telling you stories..." Levi's a big kidder, and he gets a kick out of people handing it right back to him. "I am here to tell you the bad news that YOU used to be a millionaire. Mattie and I went shopping, though. 

He laughed. He said, "I'm working on my second million, you know." 

"Is that a fact?" I said, waiting for the punchline. 

Sure enough, there was one. "Yeah. I gave up on der first million,.."

At 5:00, we picked up the pizzas, grabbed the gallon of vanilla ice cream from the freezer and the cake off the table. 4 big bottles of rootbeer were already chilling in the trunk. We headed back up on the hill. 

Levi was very surprised to see our car pulling up to his house yet again as he walked home from the saw mill next door in the dark. 

What a fun time we had by kerosene lantern light, with the kids all around the table. They'd never had rootbeer floats before and were very interested to see what that was all about. After supper, the girls scooted the dishes off to be washed, and there was much giggling and carrying on. The boys disappeared out the door to take care of the evening barn chores. Levi pulled his chair over to the big kitchen woodstove and we sat around shooting the breeze. 

Over the course of the evening, we discovered, appropos to absolutely nothing, that one of Levi's favorite things was Beetle Bailey. It just made me laugh. 

We left at 8, because children were beginning to nod off, one by one. The two of the youngest girls dozed off on a blanket in front of the warm stove. The youngest boy was asleep on Mattie's lap. 

When, I got home, we looked on line and found a lot of five Beetle Bailey collections for $10. Tim said, "Order those..." and so I did. I put a note to the seller: 'Don't put any billing information in with these please. Just a note "From Santy Claus" and gave him Levi's address. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Cats, Colds, Christmas.

 The tree is up, which makes me happy. One more thing checked off the list. The stars are lit in the front window, and Tim's beloved bubble lights are bubbling away. 


I'll try to snap a picture of our tree tomorrow night. 

The cat is out of the basement and is somewhere on the first floor. It wasn't pretty, and I know that I did not make him any less fearful, but he needed to be out of that basement. I think he's in the library. The good news is that there's a nice crackling fire going in there.  I fixed his dinner dishes and set them right where they've always been. He no longer has access to the basement. 

William had covid last week. His mother came down with it Sunday. Her significant other tested positive today.

Tim does NOT have covid. He is nearly done with his antibiotic but still has a horrible cough. This is worrisome to me. It's been days since either one of us has slept through the night. I also cannot tell you the times that I've been awakened by him coughing in my face. 

The OTC cough remedies we had on hand don't seem to do a thing. My go-to is ginger tea with a nice dollop of honey. (He does not like ginger.) Mentholated chest rubs. (He doesn't like the way they feel.) I suggested a vaporizer.  (He argued.) 

I mean, this is exactly the sort of thing that you read about...colds that don't go away, turn into pneumonia, hospitalizations, people die. So, I AM worried,  I finally lost all patience over the weekend and put my foot down. I went out and bought that vaporizer. I turn it on and if he wants to sleep in our bed, I guess he'll just have to suck it up and deal with it. I also bitched until he used the chest rub. Turns out he thinks it helps. 

I think he has given up on OTCs, to be honest. but last night I went out and read labels for a half hour. finally settling on Maximum Strength Mucinex DM 12 Hour.  I brought the box home and he read the label and for once he didn't argue with me. He just took it. There was some coughing in the night, but he woke up this morning and said, "Man. I feel great. I slept all night long!" 

Hallelujah. It's a start. Everybody needs to get healthy and STAY healthy. My youngest daughter and son-in-law flew into NYC today. I cannot think of anything more hearthbreaking that someone getting sick and suddenly our family Christmas is not happening. 

The Christmas Gift

 Tim and I are pretty much finished with our Christmas shopping for the year, which is a record. We just needed to buy our gifts for each other. 

Tim is the sort of person who gives you a list of things that he wants and lets you pick what you're going to buy him. He expects the same from me. I'm one of those sappy beings who loves to be surprised. Tim does not like surprises. Over the course of 25 years, I've made my peace with it. He is what he is and it is silly to be upset with what he isn't. It's also easier now that the kids are grown. I do get my surprises at Christmas. 

He was watching his Sunday football and during a commercial, he said "So what do you want for Christmas?" and he waited, like he always does.

I said, "I don't know."

Really, we sort of exchanged presents at the beginning of the month. (Me: Home electrolysis unit, him: a pair of sitka hunting pants) I had said, "I'm so tired of these random hairs on my chin...this is what I want for Christmas," and he said, "I need something that keeps me warm in the blind. These are marked down $100, so this is what I want for Christmas" and voila. Christmas for two old hairy, cold folks. 

And now here he was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it and could not think of anything. He thought of it and he couldn't think of anything he wanted either. His commercials ended and he went back to his football. 

I sat there thinking about it for a while and suddenly I got an idea. The next time a commercial came on, I said, "You have wanted a nice camera since you saw the river pictures that Jim's posting on facebook." 

He looked thoughtful.

I said, "You want to go to Florida this spring. Cara and Colin will be home for Christmas and we will have all three of them under one roof for the first time in a lot of years. We'll probably go to England again at some point this summer. Maybe we should just bite the bullet and get ourselves a good camera and learn how to use it." 

He said, "That's an idea..." 

And so we looked at ad after ad, and we bounced ideas around with my son who has a nice camera. Lucky for the photobloggers that I follow that I didn't have you on speed dial. 

In the end, we went with this:



It is described as a good starter camera, with zoom and wide angle lenses and light filters along with the instructions. Two of the kids and their spouses have good cameras of their own and will be able to help two learners. 

Two old dogs are about to learn new tricks.

Hopefully.



Monday, December 12, 2022

Calling all cat whisperers.

 So. We have Houdini, the feral cat. We brought him home from the vet on November 17th. He escaped down to the basement within two days and has been living/hiding down there ever since. I put his litter box down there, and his nice cozy bed. I refused from the beginning to feed him down there. He has to come to the landing at the top of the stairs.  He comes up to eat once the house is quiet. But he seems almost to have gotten more reclusive in the weeks that we have had him. He runs and hides as soon as there is a step at the top of the basement stairs. He has not been touched for 3 weeks. I thought that he'd get accustomed to us, but he isn't/won't. 

My thought is that he needs to come out of the basement. He can hide under furniture up here, but he'd still be getting used to us, which would be the first step in taming him

I do not want to live trap him. So I got the bright idea to move his food dishes from the top of the basement steps to the door of the basement. This is a move of about 2 feet, but it is just inside the kitchen. He can see his food from his old feeding spot.  

He has not come up to eat at all today. 

I feel like the worst person in the world knowing he's hungry down there. 

Suggestions?

Saturday, December 10, 2022

This and That

 My cold seems like a minor one. Tim is on an antibiotic for whatever version of the 'creeping crud' that he got well over two weeks ago. He seems to be doing better, although he missed most of hunting season. William has minimal symptoms of covid, and we are hoping that we've taken a miss on that. He hadn't been here for four days when he tested positive. It will be a close one. 

Did you hear about the thirteen people who were stuck at an airport after their flight was canceled?

And curses to that huge heartless behemoth of a company who made what is arguably the sweetest commercial ever

I carried Grandma Violet's recipe through the grocery store yesterday, collecting the things for her fruitcake. Tim had been pushing the cart, and had headed over to the next aisle to pick up his Raisin Bran. I grabbed a bag of walnuts off the shelf and turned in an absent minded way, looking at my list. I set the walnuts in the cart and proceeded to push off before realizing that (number one): it was NOT my cart and (number two) it had someone's purse in it. I burst out laughing at my stupid self and a masked woman nearby looked back at me. 

"I nearly stole your cart!" I said. 

Her answer: "if you're paying for it, go right ahead." 

"Sure," I said. "No problem. I'll have your purse. I'm golden!" 

She got a befuddled look on her face, and I recognized it right away, although most generally, I am behind the face with that look.

Anyways, she said, "Do you bake a lot?" 

I admitted that I did. 

She held out two cans of baking power, one Clabber Girl brand, the other Rumford. "So what is the difference between regular baking powder and double acting? Which should I get?"

I told her that she could use them interchangeably, that it made no difference at all. I offered up that I buy Clabber Girl although I had no real reason why. She said, "I was leaning that way myself. I remember the picture from the can when I was a little girl." 

I stood there holding my grandmother's recipe with a $30 list of ingredients. She stood there with a shopping list, waxing nostalgic about a picture on a can of baking powder. Two old ladies trying to create the Christmas yet to be while mentally roaming through the memories of Christmas past. It was a sweet moment.

"Merry Christmas!" I said to her, and she returned the greeting. I headed down to the end of the aisle where Tim and my cart were. He had run into someone we used to work with years ago. He and 'Goof' were finishing up their chat as I headed up. 

"Who were you talking to?" Tim asked curiously. 

"Not a clue," I answered. 

 I didn't know her name, but she was familiar to me.




Thursday, December 8, 2022

Home Again, Home Again

 Just got back from a quick trip east. It was my daughter in law's cousin's birthday. I went to babysit so that she would not have to miss it. 

The baby is a happy little chunker. She is bursting out with random little noises that sound a great deal like chuckles. She coos and she is a sneeze away from rolling over. 

A 'sneeze' is the right word too. The oldest brought home yet another cold. The baby caught it too. Poor mama! Covid, RSV, and cold after cold has cycled through their house from pretty much the beginning of October. Not a fun time. 

Brittani worried if I should come out. "It's a crap shoot," I told her. It is. Everyone is sick. Tim has been sick with a cold that turned into a bacterial infection. He is on antibiotics right now, but still has the cough. He missed a great deal of hunting season because of it. I was braced to get that, but it had been a week and a half, and I had no symptoms at all. I mean, really, I could get sick running to the grocery store at this point. The 'creeping crud' is everywhere. 

So my little grandaughter called me to tell me that she had bravely taken a covid test and it was negative. "Hurray!" I said. "I will see you tomorrow."

And I did. 

It is hard to entertain a little peanut when she's not feeling the best, so when she asked me to come and play with her in her room, I said, "What shall we play?" She thought about it and finally came up with the idea that her bunny was having a birthday party. I ran with the idea, running out to get a balloon, a little stuffed unicorn and a small gift bag. We had little unicorn cake plates with brownies. It was a wonderful party, and over much sooner than I expected, but I'm a go with the flow sort of grandma. 

We read books, we watched Rudolph and Frosty. She was fascinated with the idea that I had watched the very same programs when I was just her age. 

We were having supper Tuesday night and Dylan said, "Tell Grandma about your dream," and she told me that she had a dream that she lived right across the road from me. I said how wonderful it would be that we could see each other every single day. What a sweet, sweet moment. That little girl loves her grandma. How lucky I am!

I had an open ended visit planned and had tentatively thought to stay until Saturday, but I woke up in the middle of Wednesday night with a headache and a runny nose. I evidently got what the girls had. I decided to head for home before it hit big time, so I left today. A bit of a heart breaker. 

I ran to the dollar store one more time before I left and got five unicorn balloons to hide around the house for a unicorn hunt. I got one for the baby too. A bright red one. She was fascinated with the way that it floated when she kicked and wiggled. 

And then I drove home. I had to stop for tylenol. As bad as I felt about leaving early, the cold made me feel bad enough to know it was the right decision. 

On the 26th, we are headed back once again. This time though, it will be Christmas, and all my children will be there. All my grandkids will be there. 

It would be nice if nobody had a cold. 

Late Edit: William tested positive for covid today. 


Monday, December 5, 2022

Who Wants To Know?

 I had my 'medicare appointment' today. I mean, I thought I was going there to get my prescriptions for another year, but they informed me that it was my medicare appointment. 

I am still learning my way around the medicare system, so I just took them at their word. It was my medicare appointment.

I went there with my book, but there was no time to read it. They had four pages that I needed to fill out because this was my 'medicare appointment'. 

It started out innocuously enough, but by the second page, the questions wanted to know whether I needed a walker, a cane, a wheelchair to get around. What adaptive equipment did I need in my home. I was a little surprised to see that I was being asked about my ADLs. Could I do my own housework independently? Cook for myself? Do my own laundry? Could I make phone calls by myself? Could I toilet myself? Shower myself? Stuff like that. 

WTH?!!! Of course I can do those things. 

I drew an impatient line and wrote N/A. This is my family doctor, for heaven's sake, and there would be no reason for her to have any questions about whether I could do these things or not. 

I continued on, and it moved into my mental state. How often did I socialize?  I stopped ticking boxes and read ahead. Eventually, I got to 'Did I feel that everyone would be better off without me?' 

You know, about 12 years ago, or so, my mother was hospitalized. The doctor sat us all down and explained that my mother was going to die and that nothing could be done about that unfortunate fact. She was sent from the hospital to a nursing home while her home care situation was being figured out. 

She had to fill out a form too, a lengthy thing, and part of it was a self assessment of her mental health. One of the questions was 'Do you think about death a lot?' My mother answered yes. After all, she was still processing the news that she had a terminal illness. 

The nursing home's response to that was to put her under a suicide watch. Let me tell you she. Was. Livid. If anyone had bothered to talk to her, they'd have figured out that she was grappling with her own mortality for the soundest of reasons: she was dying. But no one bothered to talk to her. 

Now, all these years later, I sat there staring at the same questions. I don't go to the doctor often, but when I do, we always chat cordially. We always find something that strikes us as hilarious. She's never had a reason to ask questions about my mental state or what adaptive equipment I need, or whether I can still dial the phone and carry on a conversation. 

So what was up with this form? This was my 'medicare appointment'. So who was asking me the questions, because it sure wasn't my doctor. 

I drew a big line across the rest of the questions and wrote, "I can assess my own mental state." 

I took the clip boord back to the window and politely said, "I am not filling this out. I turned 65 but this is simply the worst case stereotyping. Very little of this applies to me. Lyndsey would never have a reason to ask these questions, so who is asking them?"

She said, "It's okay. Don't worry about it."

I'm still curious why a 65 year old woman, just retired, walking into the office on her own two legs (slight limp: arthritic knee), carrying on a perfectly appropriate conversation, arriving 15 minutes early for her 2PM appointment would warrant that questionare? Did I mention it was four freaking pages?  


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Origami is Beyond Me.

William's friend made him a flapping wing crane. It was quite clever and I got the idea to try to make one of my own. I am headed east next week and I thought it would be amusing for Iris. I began to unfold the crane carefully to see how he was constructed. 

William flipped. "You're ruining it!" 

"I'm not," I said. "I'm carefully unfolding it..." and I refolded it to show him that the seams would make it easy. 

Unfortunately, his shorts were well and truly in a twist at that point. He took the paper from me. I had a you-tube video up and watching the demonstration, step by step, and didn't realize right away that William was smoothing out the creases in his paper. 

"Don't do THAT?" I gasped. "I need those creases to reassemble everything!"

Oh dear, he was good and mad at me at that point and there was quite a bit of drama over this. "William," I said reasonably, "is making an origami crane possible or impossible?" 

He began to protest that it was impossible. 

"But it's not," I said. "You're approaching it as if it cannot be done but you had the evidence that it can be done right in your hands. If your friend made one, you KNOW it is possible. There are all kinds of instructions and videos. We just need to sit down and teach ourselves." 

But he was so mad by that point, I figured that it was better that I simply teach myself and once I had the technique down, to go ahead and teach him. 3 hours later...2 different videos...I can make a perfect crane, but damn if I can get his wings to flap. 

William is right. It's impossible. 


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Delivered

 We ordered a gift on line for Tim's son.  It was a big thing and we tracked the package's progress, because we wanted someone to be home when it was delivered. Tim went hunting and I was resting my knee, so I was the obvious choice. 


I was home all that day and nothing was delivered. When Tim got home from hunting, he was surprised to find that it hadn't been, so he got on line to see if they'd changed the date. It's a busy time of the year and it happens. Except that he came out of the office saying, "It was delivered at 1:22." 

"Really? Did they set it out back maybe? I don't understand that. I was right here all day, unless they showed up while I was in the bathroom or something." 

He looked out back. Nothing. I mean, it would have been impossible to miss. It was big. 

I messaged FedEx and let them know it had not been delivered. I received no response. 

I guess that I'm a bit of a wierdo, because my worry is always that they will think that WE are the dishonest people, that we are scamming them. After an hour with no reply from FedEx, I called Cabela's. 

I had to wait forever to speak to a customer service rep, but 'tis the season. I waited. When the representative finally came on the line, I explained things. 

She said, "It was delivered at 1:22."

I said, "It is not here and I was home all day waiting for it. I'm not sure what to tell you." 

She said, "I'm looking at the picture. It's out on the patio behind a metal chair with a white cushion. The house is white, the foundation is gray and the patio pad is gray."

I said, "Well, that's a problem then. Our house is yellow and we haven't got a patio OR patio furniture." 

Long pause. "Well, they must have delivered it to the wrong address. Does the house sound familiar?" I hated to tell her that we live across the street from a block of rental houses owned by the same man. They are ALL gray and white. I was pretty sure none of them had a patio though.

"It's a big box," she said helpfully. "And it was shipped right in the original packaging so it will be pretty obvious." 

Tim was standing there in his flannel pj bottoms and t-shirt. I covered the receiver and said, "The last time that we had a package mis-delivered, it was the bull-float. It went to that house there", and pointed across the driveway to a neighbor off the main drag and up a side alley. He said, "Well, if he would have gotten it, he'd have run it right over." 

He pulled on his muck boots anyways and stepped around the stockade fence to head over. I said to the woman, "Do you want to hold on, or do you want to help someone else and call me back?" She said she'd wait and so we talked about Christmas and packages and it wasn't long before Tim was stepping around the fence, wrestling with the box. 

She was happy, I was happy, Tim was happy. Happy, happy, happy. 

Later, I said, "That's kind of strange he didn't let us know it was there." Tim said, "He couldn't find a label. Neither could I. He didn't know where it belonged. He didn't even know who left it. He was very glad to see me."

I looked at the waist high box curiously, turning it this way and that, examining all four sides. How strange. There wasn't a label. 

I found it later while I was trying to wrap it. The label was on the bottom of the box. 



Friday, December 2, 2022

Friday

I spent the day cleaning. 

I'm reading 11-22-63. It's been a long time since I read anything by Stephen King, but I am engrossed with the book. 

Tomorrow, I'll probably bake molasses cookies. 

Tim's still fighting his chest cold.  

I can touch my knee without pain. This is a huge improvement. 

William decided not to hunt. 

Houdini is still in the basement, although I have a hunch he's coming upstairs and exploring the house when we're in bed for the night. 

That's it really. 

Okay. Who's snoring out there? 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Aggravation

 I have a strange mind. Very often, things just pop into my head. For instance, I saw a feed for Eagleton Notes, and Graham used the term 'anti clockwise' to describe his walk. 'Widdershins!' popped into my head. I mean, really, It is not a word I use. Furthermore, it is not a word anyone I know uses. As a matter of fact, I had to look it up to see if it meant 'counter clockwise'. (It did.) I can't remember where I came across it,. but I must have. 

It's happened to me before. Once, when I worked at a Tractor Supply, a customer was trying to describe a tool he needed. It popped into my head immediately. "Oh! I know. You're looking for a mattock." I headed off to see if we sold such a thing. We did. It was what he wanted. Understand this tool was part of  tool display. The name of the maker and the barcode was on it, but the name of the tool was not provided. 

The customer was pleased as punch because it was exactly what he was looking for. I spent the rest of my shift puzzling over it. 'Mattock'? Where had THAT come from? Was it even right? As soon as I got home, I headed straight for the computer. I typed in mattock and the picture was exactly the tool I had sold. I couldn't tell you where that word came from, but obviously I had heard it somewhere. 

Funny how things pop into my head sometimes. Today, it was a phrase. "This could make a preacher cuss." No mystery about where the phrase came from though. My father said it all the time, and usually he was applying it to me. I was the one who could make a preacher cuss. I sure made him cuss. He cussed all the time though. Probably I made him cuss more than usual. Dunno. 

Funny the things that pop into my head sometimes. 

This morning, I got up and had my coffee reading blogs. I have been staying off my feet, which frustrates Tim a little. He can't abide laziness, yet here I am, stretched out on the couch. For two days even. 

Staying off my knee has helped. It still hurts if I spend any time on it, but today I was going out for the first time in probably 4 days. I wanted to get my covid booster and my flu shot. I went to retrieve my covid card from my passport wallet. That was the last time I'd actually carried it, when I went to England to visit Cara and Colin. 

Except it wasn't there. Everything else was. I checked inside the passport. Nope. I checked the eight pockets and the zippered compartment, pulling out every piece of paper in that wallet.I emptied out the wallet. The debit and credit cards I used while I traveled. The itinerary. The boarding passes, Wet wipes. My insurance cards (which are now undated and useless.) Receipts. All manner of ephemera. I sorted through the papers carefully. No covid card. I threw away the stuff I didn't need. It wasn't there. 

That was a bit of a surprise, because really, I haven't carried it anywhere. I cannot think of anywhere that I would have needed proof of vaccination except boarding that plane back in February. 

Isn't this frustrating? Why it is enough to make a preacher cuss. It was not the last time that thought ran through my mind this long morning. 

I came out to the computer desk. Maybe I needed it for something I was completing online. I went through the omputer desk and found a whole mess of stuff that I could get rid of there as well. More outdated insurance cards, gift cards, envelopes, phone books, notes to myself, out dated bills and reminders and receipts. 

I searched three dresser tops and dumped out a drawer. I went through the stack of souvenir books from my trip that I keep on my bedside table. I went upstairs to check two lockboxes of important papers. I even checked an old purse that I'd meant to get rid of, but hadn't. Today was the day for that, too. No covid card was found, but I wound up with a full garbage bag of things to take to the trash, embarrassingly enough. 

It really was enough to make a preacher cuss. 

I came out to call the doctor's office. I mean, really, I couln't be the first person in the world to lose a covid card. Maybe they could issue me a new one. It just made me so frustrated though, because quite honestly, I was almost certain that I had no need to take that card out of my passport wallet. It should have been there. 

The office was closed for lunch and so I headed back to the bedroom. I picked up my travel credit cards and my passport, and the much smaller pile of papers and began to tuck them back into the various pockets of the passport wallet. I went to push the passport into the biggest, deepest pocket and it caught on something. 

You guessed it. It was my covid vax card! I know that I checked the pockets of the thing multiple times. I was so sure that my covid card was in there. I never found it. It was the strangest thing. Really. It was enough to make a preacher cuss, although for all this frustrating morning, I don't believe I swore at all looking for that card. 

There was a frustrated oath when I found it though. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Suggestions?

 The bone bruise is quite possibly the most painful thing I've ever done to myself. Since the fall was a month ago now, I kept thinking at some point things were going to settle down. They are not. I did some reading and discovered that it can take 2-3 months for a bone bruise to heal.  That was sure discouraging. 

I don't think that I am accident prone, but I cannot believe the number of times that I've bumped my knee against something, or bumped something against my knee, or absent mindedly knelt to do something. The pain is just awful. I was loading groceries in the trunk of the car, and lightly bumped my knee against the bumper. The pain was instantaneous and I was leaning against the car with tears in my eyes. People looked at me curiously. Tim stood there waiting for me to get over it. The previous night, he'd come in to find me rolling on the kitchen floor after dropping something, and kneeling to reach under the table to pick it up. 

We braved the Black Friday crowd at the Walmart, and got a bottle of glucosamine chondroitin. I didn't know if it could help, but I didn't think it would do any harm. 

After four straight days of indigestion, I finally looked up the supplement, and one of the side effects is (you guessed it...) indigestion. 

If anyone has any suggestions, I am open to them. 



Monday, November 28, 2022

Clarification

 There are two comments that I specifically wanted to address: 

The first: Guns and hunting for an 11 year old seems to sum up the biggest difference between our country and yours! 

America has a gun problem. I will be the first to admit it. We surely do. I will also admit to having more guns locked away in this house than I am aware of. Tim is NOT, however, a member of the NRA. He never would be. We believe in common sense gun laws. We believe that assault weapons (my definition of that is a weapon which shoots multiple rounds per second.) Nobody needs a weapon like that. Likewise, high capacity magazines should be outlawed. To us, this is just common sense. 

To us, it is also common sense that not everyone in this country should have access to a weapon. We need to start from that premise and move forward. 

We don't believe that we should arm teachers to prevent school shootings. Not all teachers are good people and I would hate to think of weapons in their hands, in our schools, with our kids. The whole focus of preventing school shootings is keeping guns out of school, not bringing more in. 

Unfortunately, the NRA has a strong lobby and lots of money. They have a tight grip on the testicles of those who have the power to change the laws. 

(It is also common sense to us that there is no difference between lobbying and bribery but that is a whole different tangent. Pretty sure that I will piss off enough people with the tangent I'm on, let alone marching off on another.)

William understands that a gun is a tool, just like a knife or a chainsaw. He understands that you can do a great deal of damage with each of these things but used for the purpose they are intended for, they are important and useful tools. 

I also understand that there are dangerous mindsets out there. People who are harping on about guns and personal protection are fools. They are exaggerating the dangers to justify their weapon. Those are the people you see walking around with a weapon on their hip. The ones who ease back their coat in a casual way to make sure you know they are carrying. To me, they are simply masturbating in public, getting off on watching your reaction to realizing that they have a weapon. 

I can't abide people like that. 

I also can't abide people who talk about preparing for the civil war. 

I can't abide people who strut around saying, 'Nobody messes with me, because I'm carrying.' I always want to point out that nobody messes with me, either...and I don't carry. I've got a niece who likes to talk like that. She sounds like an idiot. 

Those are the twisted sorts of attitudes that turn gun ownership into such a problem. They are, without a doubt, American attitudes,  and it shows plainly in our daily news. 615 mass shootings in this country this year. So far. Even as I type this, I imagine that the number has become outdated. 

America does have a gun problem but I can assure you it has nothing to do with an 11 year old boy learning to hunt. 

The second comment that I specifically want to address is the idea that William might feel compelled to hunt to please his grandfather. That is not the case, and he has been assured over and over again that it is, ultimately,  his own choice. He thinks that he wants to hunt now. His grandfather and I have both told him (together and separately, many times over) that it will be ultimately his choice. We are both actively involved in making sure that DOESN'T happen. We both believe we know him well enough to recognize when he is struggling. 


Sunday, November 27, 2022

The No Grandma Zone.

 This morning I woke up to a message from my youngest daughter suggesting that Spook's name be changed, since 'Spook' is an old perjorative term for a person of color. Of course, I knew that but the 11 year old boy that named the cat did NOT know it. I felt no need to educate him in that regard. Spook is also an old term for a haunt and the cat is slipping around, sticking to the shadows and dark corners of our house like a little spook. Hence the name. 

It was brought up that even if William did not know this term, if he discussed it at school, other children might be aware of the connotations, especially if they are brought up in racist homes. Some teachers might wonder if William was being raised in a racist environment. 

In the end, there is no reason to create controversy for William. His life is difficult enough without any extra bullshit. So we discussed it and we bounced around names for a while, finally deciding on 'Houdini'. William is a fan of magic and Houdini is a apt name for a disappearing cat. 

William and Tim went out hunting today. William is a junior hunter, and this is his first year. Tim is a big fan of hunting and he really enjoyed teaching our two boys the craft. Having his hunting buddies grow up and move on was a sad transition for him. He was anxious that William give it a try and William seemed quite amenable to the idea. 

I keep trying to tell Tim that William might give it all a try and decide it's not for him and that he needs to be prepared for that possibility. He swears that he is, but he went out and bought William a deer rifle to use that will 'grow' with William. He was excited as could be to find a new blaze orange hunting jacket for William in the Goodwill. They've been practicing with the gun. William is a bit afraid of it. He wears ear plugs but he does not like the kick. He is fairly consistent hitting the target. (He's a dead eye with his bb gun and spends a lot of time target shooting the spinning woodchuck target during the summer.)

In any case, they went out today. Tim did not take his gun. He's been keeping a close eye on the deer and he knew where a spike and a four point were coming in nightly. He set up a blind a couple months ago. We have antler restrictions here, so they were not legal for Tim, but they were legal for a junior hunter like William.

They waited inside the blind and the deer came as is their habit. Tim and William sat side by side in the blind and grandpa began coaching him in a whisper about setting up the shot. In the end, William couldn't do it. He got nervous. He refused to make the shot. 

They sat side by side in the blind, one patient man, one nervous boy. The deer finally strolled away. 

Once they got home, I told Tim, 'You know, he just might not be cut out to be a hunter, and you need to let him decide on his own. If he doesn't want to go out..." At that point, William walked in on the discussion. He got upset, and made it perfectly clear that he does want to hunt, and he does want to go out tomorrow morning and he does want to get a deer. 

Grandpa was getting ready for bed tonight. He's had a chest cold for the past three days and is pretty tired, but he wants to take William out tomorrow. I began to quietly express my concerns. Patiently but firmly, he told me to leave it alone. First time hunters get buck fever sometimes. He assured me William would do better tomorrow. 

I left it alone, but I see it plainly. My grandson is becoming a man. This is between him and his grandpa. 


Predictable.

In the beginning there was Mangey. After a summer of treating him, I made the decision to bring him inside. Tim said, "I think he belongs over in that green house on the next block. That's where I see him sitting anyhow." 

Did I listen? No. No I did not. I got all manner of stuff for Mangey and we made the move indoors. William renamed him Ash and they played laser tag together. It was a delightful two days. Then Mangey decamped. 

William cried. 

I felt terrible about it. I'm a grandma after all. Three weeks later, a tenant caught the feral kitten. He was part of a litter. One kitten disappeared very early on. Another tenant took the first one Paula trapped. When she trapped this second one, she had no idea what she was going to do with him. She just wanted him off the street before something happened to him. 

Because William was so sad about losing Ash, I decided to take that kitten. I brought him home from the vet visit. I knew William would be happy. This is how we've come to have a traumatized cat who lives somewhere down the basement. I assured William that when he gets over being afraid, he will be more interesting.
 
Today, William was loading some books in my car for a trip to the Goodwill. I heard a delighted sound from the kitchen. I walked out, and there was Mangey/Ash. He was loving on William and William was loving him right back.

Greeeeeeeaaaaattt....After over a month, the prodigal cat came back, carefully timing his return with the adoption of another cat. 

Mangey raised holy hannah at my feet and got fed. He looked a bit disgruntled when his food went outside, but he followed along willingly enough. 

William and I went to the Goodwill and when we came home, Mangey was waiting and happy to see us once again. 

"But WHY can't he come in?" William pleaded. 

I explained all the reasons...that he seems to have another home, that we have taken in a kitten, and (mostly), that Grandpa will kill me if we wind up with two cats, all while trying to block a cat from scooting inside. 

William cried. "But we can't just not FEED him!!!!" 

I pointed out that he had gotten his handout, just as he always has, and that we will continue to feed him (and who ever else shows up at the door).

Darn cats.

One change: I went down to pull the sheets out of the dryer and Spook was curled up quietly in his cozy bed. For a change he did not run for the dark recesses of the old coal room when I stepped off the stairs but he did keep his eye on me. That's an improvement. He comes upstairs to eat every night when we are in bed and the house is dark.


Saturday, November 26, 2022

Ms. Moon's Post

 Ms. Moon posted her 'how did you meet' story, and it was sweet and it is funny, and she is right. The smallest choices can be life altering. What would have happened had she not gone to a dive bar the day after Thanksgiving? 

My story lacks the romance, I suppose. Tim is very shy. I was also coming out of a very bad marriage to a very bad man who was on his way to a very bad place. How did a woman who considered herself intelligent get tangled up in that? I didn't know, but what I did know was that it was never going to happen again. I had 3 children to rear and then I was going to be a genial old lady with a nice garden and a cat. 

Life goal, people. It was my life goal. 

So I'm working night shift at a factory, and Tim was a machinist/mechanic there. He was very quiet, very efficient, slipping around from machine to machine keeping everything running. Sometimes his friend would be with him.

Now John was a talker. He'd talk your leg off. Tim would just stand quietly by and listen. Laugh. Add the occasional word to the conversation. 

One day, my machine was having difficulty and Tim stood by to see what it was doing. During the course of the observation, he talked a little. More than I'd ever heard him talk, anyway. He'd heard that I'd just had a birthday. "Yes," I said, "It was one of those milestones. I just turned 40." He looked very surprised. His chin lifted off his hand and he said, "So did I. When's your birthday?" And I said, "May 21st. When's yours?" and he lauhged and said. "April 21st." He had the most pecuiliar expression on his face. "Do you go to church?" he asked. Intent on what I was doing, I answered, "Yes. Every Sunday. I'm an Episcopal Lay Minister." 

I turned around and the man had vanished. He was gone. I thought 'that really is the shyest man that I have ever met.' 

After that day though, Tim began to put himself forward. He coordinated his breaks with my breaks. He ate lunch when I ate lunch. He began to talk a bit more. He was a good friend at a time when I needed a good friend. And when I bought a bed for one of the kids, he had a truck that he offered up right away. He stayed for supper and liked it a lot. 

And so it began. 

I was very clear about the fact that I was never going to marry again. Not ever. 

It didn't stop him from asking. Multiple times. He took every turn down in stride. What I didn't know was that he'd been divorced for 8 long years. His shyness was a problem. He had a prayer. He wanted to meet a sensible woman his own age who went to church. He prayed that for months. That was what he wanted. 

He knew I was the answer to his prayer from that first day at my malfunctioning machine. 

I know he is lucky that I was unaware of all of this. 

He asked me many times. Finally, shortly before Christmas, he asked yet again. I studied him. He was a good man. A quiet person. I decided that I could trust my own judgement on this one, and so I said yes. His astonishment was plain to see. He asked me to repeat myself. I did. He got up and put on his boots and left. 

The kids got home from school and we had a quiet supper. We were getting ready for a Christmas party at my parents' house. "Where's Tim?" they asked. 

"I don't know," I answered.

"Isn't he going with us?" they wanted to know. 

"I don't know," I answered. I didn't believe that he was coming back, and the ironic thing was that he'd been really pestering about marriage for so long. I didn't know that all I had to do was to say 'yes', to put a halt to all of that. 

Shortly before we were to leave. Tim came walking back in the house. It was my turn to be astonished. "I didn't think you were coming back!" 

He said, "Why would you think that?" 

I said, "You didn't say anything. You just left." 

He said, "I've got a big family. I wanted to tell them that we were getting married. That's a lot of phone calls." 

The kids said, "Wait, you're getting married?"

I said, "My God, Tim. You need to learn to talk." 

I've been saying it for 25 years now. 

Late edit: Sorry that Ms. Moon's link was not initially included. 


Friday, November 25, 2022

The Holiday and That Cat

 The cat is named Spook. He haunts the basement, much to my chagrin. You know that he's there when you go down to throw in a load of laundry. There is the sound of a cat scooting to a dark corner. Disappointing, but we've moved his litter pan down there and his nice cozy bed. He has to come to the landing at the top of the stairs to eat though. His food and and water bowls are at the top of the stairs. We fill the dry cat food bowl each morning. We give him fresh water.  The wet food dish gets food in it twice a day, once in the morning, once at supper time. He is called when the bowls are filled, but he does not 'here kitty, kitty'. 

Thanksgiving was a nice celebration. My niece firmly told us that we were going around the room to say what we were grateful for: for retirement, for a new grand daughter, for the fact that the matriarch has made it through a difficult year to be with us still. The prodigal nephew said, "I'm grateful for my new family, which has brought me back to my old family. 

I said that if that recitation of blessings was going to become a tradition, we needed to make Thanksgiving a no-mascara zone. 

As a family, our gratitudes far outweighed our challenges. I hope it was so for you as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving.

 Well, after the strange day of the broken leg that wasn't, Tim and I dashed to the store to get sweet potatoes and pecans for the sweet potato souffle, and to pick up a quick throw together supper. Tim picked William up from school. 

Today, William is baking 4 loaves of bread, two apple, two pumpkin. We will whip up some cinnamon butter to take along. That is his contribution to Thanksgiving. I will put together a sweet potato casserole, a bowl of cranberry orange sauce. and one stuffed 12 pound turkey. Someone else is bringing a 23 lb turkey. My sister is bringing a ham. There is a family chat group that keeps my phone pinging as someone else offers up yet another contribution to the meal. Nobody will go away hungry. 

We will be sitting down to have Thanksgiving dinner with my sister's family once again. Fifty are coming.  This is the first year that the party is so large that it has outgrown anyone's house. We will be having it in their church recreation hall. 

It is a busy couple of days coming up. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it. If you don't, I hope you feel it. 

Cat update: I left his door open to give him freedom to explore. Haven't seen him for two days. I know he's around here someplace. He comes back to eat and use his litter pan. It's like having a furry little ghost. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Unexpected news.

 I have a bad knee. I've gotten used to having a bad knee. I have had it for many years now. I had surgery on that knee at least 4 years ago. It solved absolutely nothing, despite the assurances that it would solve absolutely everything. I just made up my mind that it is something that I have to deal with. "This is my life now. I have a bad knee."

When I look around at others, I see people with far greater challenges. I also have a high threshold of pain so it seemed like a manageable, minimal 'handicap'. As long as I was careful about how I set my foot down, the problem was not a big deal. 

Last month, Tim and I were unloading wood and we heard a child screaming bloody murder. It just went on and on. It was a school day. We kept unloading and the screaming kept on and finally Tim said, "We need to take a little walk and make sure that no one needs help."

So we set off down the sidewalk trying to pin point the noise when it happened. My left foot teetered off the edge of the side walk and left my right leg in charge. My right knee said, "Aw hell no, man," and gave way. I went down knee first on the sidewalk. 

It hurt something awful. I thought that I would throw up, it hurt so bad. Tim said, "Your problem is you don't pick up your feet." I didn't say anything at all. I got up and hobbled back to the house to get myself back in order. It was embarrassing, the truth be told. A neighbor was out walking her dog. Probably thinks I am a day drinker. 

Anyway. 

So for the past few weeks, I've been, once again, babying that bad knee. I can't kneel, which is a real pain when one has taken in a feral kitten who hides every single chance he gets. Sometimes it's okay. Other times it's awful. Tim rolled over in bed one night and bumped his knee against my knee and I thought that I would die. 

(Spoiler alert: I didn't)

It just didn't seem to be getting better and so I made an appointment to see my family doctor. Yesterday, I hobbled in to explain the situation.  She chided me for waiting three weeks, but she knows me. She pressed around until she found the place that hurt. 

"Yep," I gasped "that's it."

She continued to press around, trying to gauge the scope of the problem. 

"You've got it," I said. 

She made hmmmm, sounds and looked at me strangely, and said, "Right here?" 

I said, "Yes, that's it, Lindsey, and it would be just super if you could stop now." 

She laughed. I sort of chuckled.  

She explained that where I was having the pain didn't involve the knee at all. She sent me straight over to X-ray.  I texted Tim and drove over. I caught them at a slow time, so I was in and out quickly. 

The x-ray tech doesn't give anything away, but she did say, "When do you see Lindsey again?" I told her that I didn't have a follow up, that Lindsey would call me when she got the results of the x-ray and we would take it from there. "Good," she said.

I was starting to get suspicious.

This morning, I got the expected call while I was making my coffee. I have a leg fracture. 

Late edit: not broken. Orthopedic doctor not even sure what the Dr. who read the x-ray was seeing. I am pretty sturdy stuff but stumping around on a broken leg was quite a bit of a stretch even for me.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A different world.

 There was a flurry of activity across the street over the weekend. You might remember me talking about the situation back in July. It was obvious that they were struggling, but it was hard to figure the situation out. There was a man who came with a loud truck. There was a woman who once sat in front of the place blowing the horn for like a half hour before someone got pissed and walked out and told her to knock it off. (Not from my house). Her excuse was that her boyfriend worked nights and was sleeping in the apartment. There was a skinny woman (a different one) who seemed to be living there with the three kids. Although there was often a vehicle there, the woman also did her grocery shopping, pushing the cart five blocks home, and then wheeling it across the street to dump it in our yard when she was done. 

Just chaos, really. It seemed like chaos. 

William out grew his bike. It was a nice bike, but we found a very nice bike second hand, and got it for him. Tim and I discussed it and the next time that I saw the oldest boy, I walked across the street. "Hey, I said, "my grandson has a bike that he's out grown and if you'd like it..."

His eyes got wide. "I want it!"

I said, "Well, run upstairs and ask your mom..."

"I want that bike." He was so eager for it, I wasn't going to say another word. "Come on over and get it then," and headed across the street. He ran after me after cautioning the two younger boys not to leave the sidewalk. They stood there obediently. When I wheeled the bike out, he was thrilled, but as befitting a near teenager, he played it cool. He jumped on it, and rode off down the driveway. There were many summer nights that I saw him out biking with a group of boys. It always made me smile. It also always made me smile that he recognized our car and gave me a solemn 'cool guy' wave whenever he saw it. When I walk over to meet William after school, I always see him and he says, "Whaddup?" Very cool, you know. Very cool.

And now there was a flurry of activity across the street, furniture hauled down the steps, and loaded on a truck, and gone. just gone. 

It is the week before Thanksgiving, and I think about those kids. I wonder where they are. I hope they have a good holiday. I'm glad that the bike went with them. 


And remember the yellow wagon? Tim saw her walking with her little boy. It was cold, in the teens. He stopped the car and offered them a ride, even though he had no car seat.

They climbed in. They were headed to the Family Dollar. She was going to buy a treat for the little boy while they waited for a bus to take them to the Walmart to do some Christmas shopping. Tim drove them there. That's where he was headed anyway, to pick up his weekly supply of Pepsi. 

They all walked in the store together. Tim got what he came for as the little boy kept a close eye on him. When he saw Tim headed to the door with his purchases, he called out, "Wait, wait! Wait for us! Don't go." 

It broke my heart a little to think of it, a little boy not even three. He's hiking along in the cold with his mother. Too young really to know what is going on, but old enough to know that there was a man with a warm car who was kind to him. 


Could the adults in these stories being doing better for themselves? Are they 'working the system'? Probably, but I don't know. I don't know the back stories. But what I see is the faces of the children. Not a one of them has a choice in the matter. 

I'm not going to begrudge them. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Shameful Secret

 I heard that a friend was dealing with breast cancer, and for the second time. Although I made the appropriate shocked expression and the correct 'what can we do?' noises, what was going on in the inside was completely different.  I'm ashamed to admit that. 

I asked my questions, delicately, trying not to seem intrusive. "It's been quite a while since her first diagnosis..." and the answer came. "2003, I think..." 

And my mind  clicked like a calculator, Nearly 20 years. 6 years before me.

"She's guite positive and upbeat, the strongest woman I know," I was told. 

"Was it caught early?" This last question asked with bated breath, because, because, because, I am an absolute ASS about making those appointments, about keeping up with them, my illogical mind assuring me that if I just don't think about it, it won't happen again. 

"Is there anything she needs? Anything that we can do?" I really am making all the appropriate sounds. 

Inside, I was taut and watchful, once again. 

My exterior is not mirroring my true feelings. Role playing is familiar to me. I've done it all my life. When cancer came along, it was quite a stutter step in my life. Never saw that curve ball coming, but I chose the role of an optimisist, and I played it well, for everyone in my life. On the last day of radiation, they march you to a bell that you ring. Everyone cheers. Everyone claps. Treatment is finished. Hurrah. 

My face was happy that day in keeping with my chosen role, but inside, what I felt was...well...I don't know how to describe it. I didn't feel like it was over. "Your cancer, unfortunately, is a type of cancer that has a tendency to break off and travel in the bloodstream," I had been told when I asked about recurrence. I took that knowledge and buried it deep because I didn't know what else to do with it. 

As the years passed (unbelievably 14 years of them), I thought about cancer less and less, except,..today, I am thinking about my friend. Selfishly, I am also thinking about myself. 

No one knows. Don't rat me out. 


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Cat Update

I thought that I remembered everything for the new cat. I realized when I got up this morning that I'd forgotten one thing. A litter scoop. Believe it or not, I went to four stores and they were all sold out. Craziest thing I ever heard. 

We resorted to caging the cat. Left to his own devices, he'd have hidden away forever. Putting him in a dog kennel, with a box 'cave' to hide in, he remained in his cave for all daylight hours, slipping out to eat and drink and use his litter box after the lights went out and the house got quiet. 

I've been fretting about it. The cat smells bad. He's a feral. He has had surgery. 
He comforted himself at the vet clinic by sleeping in his litter box. 

For two days. 

I knew that he needed a bath, but I hated to traumatize him even more. 
Today, I just couldn't stand it. 

So he got a bath. 

Surprisingly he was quiet. No blood was shed. No fight was waged. He simply laid there limply while I washed him in the bathroom sink, gave him a leisurely soaping and then rinsed him off. William and I wrapped him up in an old towel and dried him as best we could. We wrapped him in a soft blanket and gave him some cuddle time on the couch. He kept his face hidden, but he did purr. 

Tonight, we all watched a movie. 

I took the cat from the kennel and cuddled him on the couch for the entire movie. 

This time, he did not hide his face in his blanket. 

He was taking it all in. 



Finally, he relaxed. 


When I put him back in the kennel, he didn't run back into his cave. 

He stretched and then he wandered over to check out his cat dish. 

We are supposed to be getting lake effect snow tonight. It should begin shortly. We are supposed to be getting 5-10 inches over night. That's nothing, really. My nephew is stationed at Ft Drum, New York. Read about it here

Late Edit: 

Red, I noticed that you had a Ivan Doig book on your book list. I enjoy him as well. I came across one of his books that I'd never read. The Sea Runners. It was a dandy. Last night I couldn't put it down. I finished it. It was a very good read. I enjoyed it a lot and I think that you would as well, since it takes place in a part of the world that you are acquainted with. 

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...