Wednesday, August 31, 2022

It's been a long time since I've had nightmares. Actual, jerk-wide-awake-in-terror nightmares. Crazy stuff that has me laying awake in bed wondering why on earth I'd have a dream like that. 

So. I'm wide awake at o'dark thirty. This has been going on since last Friday night, and it is starting to wear. 






Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Thrifty

I had to replace my second crockpot today. It died in the middle of simmering split pea w/ ham soup yesterday afternoon. 

Rest in peace, loyal crock pot.

In any case, I set out to replace it today. (Yes. I need two.) 

Goodwill always has crockpots, and they did not disappoint. In fact, the one that I got was in perfect shape and it also matches matches the other crock pot that I already have.

I did not need those practically new BearPaw boots but that did not stop them from jumping in the cart with that crock pot and with...what's this? BOOKS??? (How did those things get in there?)

When we checked out the total was still less than the price of a brand new crock pot. I made sure that I pointed this out to Tim right away.  


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Right Under Our Noses.

 Today was a banner day for me. I got new rugs for the kitchen. I had gone with hooked rugs the last time, but they are not practical for the kitchen. They just need washed too often. Or maybe I'm a slob. Who knows? This time, learning from my errors, I got three rag rugs, things that can easily be tossed in the washer and dryer and back on the floor in no time flat. 

We came out of the store, and it was a lazy afternoon. We ambled down the road to a farm to price the sweetcorn. 50 cents an ear, just like everywhere else, but they were big, freshly picked ears, We got 7 ears. 

Headed back down the highway, I said, "Do you want to go for a walk?" Out of the blue, Tim said, "I want to go up and see Ray,

I was a little surprised. Back when Tim and I first met, 25 years ago, we were both working at a factory. He had two friends, Ray and John. After Tim and I got married, Ray and John came over pretty regularly for supper. Being single, they liked a homecooked meal and the men liked to blab about work. 

The factory closed down, and we all went our separate ways, on to different jobs. John got a girlfriend. He died of cancer some years back. Ray never did get married, He came close once, but in the end, he's just a hermit at heart, an affable, bearded, shy fellow. I wondered why he popped into Tim's head. Seriously. I hadn't seen Ray in years.

When we pulled up in front of his little house, there was no car in the driveway. "He's not home," I said. 

Tim said, "His car might be in the garage." He got out of the car and knocked on the door. He waited a while, and then returned to the car. We had begun to back out of the driveway, when the door of the house opened. I wouldn't have recognized Ray. He's lost 1/3 of his body weight. But his voice was the same. So was his laugh. 

He invited us inside. He's been sick. He hasn't been eating well. I think it is one of those situations where he needs to eat more because he's losing weight, but he's too weak to fuss about cooking and so he doesn't  eat, which has him losing more weight. 

I listened to him talk and I was horrified. 

We had a nice visit. He still drives, and he's coming to supper. 

We drove back down that hill, sober, lost in our own thoughts. It was a shock to think that something like this could happen to our old friend, living his quiet, hermit life, wasting away. 

There are many things in life that we cannot fix, but we can make sure that he is fed. 


Mystery Solved

Tim keeps a close eye on the comings and goings of people in our neighborhood, what houses have a vacancy, etc. The appearance of the yellow wagon in our side yard has been a mystery to us. We haven't been able to connect it to a person, but Tim connected the wagon's appearance, with an apartment being filled next door. So, he walked right over and knocked on the door. A little boy, completely naked, answered the door. His mother had not even heard the knock so she was a bit surprised to walk in the room and see Tim standing outside the open door. 

In any case, they had a discussion about the wagon. Yes. It was hers. She doesn't have a car and she uses the wagon for groceries and transporting her child. She was afraid that it would be stolen so she was trying to hide it. 

Tim came home and got the loppers. He cut away a hiding place to tuck the wagon into so it cannot be seen from the street. 


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Derring Do

I've been on a tear. Tim started it, really. He's had a Dewalt saw in a very large box that he bought some months ago. It has been sitting in the front hall ever since. It is not an attractive decoration, being in the bright yellow and black box, and from time to time, I complain about it. Usually when I get up in the middle of the night and head out into the front hall and trip over it. 

"Why does this have to stay here?" 

"Well, he tells me, "I can always take it upstairs." 

And my answer is always, "So how exactly does that help? You're just moving the clutter someplace else." 

He's been pretty stubborn about it. 

Since my last trip to Pittsburgh with Maddie and Rudy, I have learned something new about the Amish. Everytime we passed a yard sale sign, an accented voice would ring out, "YARD SAAAAALE!!" something which would cause the driver to stop the car. One of their purchases was a cabinet sewing machine, which struck me as a strange purchase for the Amish. I asked where they were going to plug that in at, which struck them as funny. 

The sewing machine would be taken apart and made into a treadle machine. 

I said, "Well, we've got two old sewing machines from a house. The things are very old, metal housing...." Maddie said, "We'll buy them off you." I said, "Don't be silly. We paid nothing for them. I would give them to you." 

Tim and I talked about it later and I eyeballed the old Singer treadle sewing machine, in perfect shape with drawers full of attachments for it. It both struck us as wrong that we'd been using something as a decoration that someone else would put to good use. I dropped a short note in the mail and one of the kids called me on the neighbors phone. Yes. They would surely love to buy the treadle sewing machine from us. 

So the following week, once the rain stopped, we loaded up three old sewing machines and delivered them. I took the lid off the least useful one (the cords were old and brittle). Maddie was thrilled with it. "Yes, she said, "We can use this. It's a fine machine." Levi stopped work at the sawmill and came up to see. We got the others unloaded and they looked at them. Levi inspected the treadle and announced that he'd never seen such a fine sewing machine. 

But, I digress. Moving the old treadle machine out left some space in our livingroom. I began to rearrange furniture and move some of the bigger plants from the office, now that there was room to display them in the living room. 

Tim didn't say anything while I cleaned and bustled around. 

So last night I couldn't sleep and I headed down the hall in the dark, and again, I tripped over the damn Dewalt box in the front hall and I swore my customary swear, and continued on. 

This morning, much to my surprise, Tim was up and moving. He got that saw out of the front hall. Moreover, a organizational thing that I'd wanted him to do for some time got done today. We gave the kitchen a good scrub down and did some rearranging there as well. Tim washed windows. 

I was getting caught up on laundry from being away for the best part of a week, and getting caught up in the moment, I...well...you're not going to believe it, but...

I THREW AWAY THE MATELESS SOCKS! 



Friday, August 26, 2022

Odd.

I noticed a lady next door bagging her garbage. I smiled at her, but she ducked her head and did not look at me. They're stand offish, and that is their way. Just after they'd moved in, I noticed that she was using a taxi to get back and forth to work, and offered to take her in to save her money, but that was ignored as well.

That's all you can do is offer. 

We set out our wheelie bin for garbage pick up that night before we went to bed. Just by chance, Tim was unable to sleep. He got up and as he passed by the front window, he happened to notice two new bags of garbage set by our bin. 

Now, the thing is, if they'd have talked to us, we'd have told them that they were welcome to set a bag of garbage inside our bin. It's rarely even close to full, so it wouldn't have been a big deal. However, setting extra bags of garbage next to the bin results in extra charge to us. 

Tim moved the bags back. I attached a little note saying 'Talk to us. We're aren't unreasonable, but we pay extra if you put your bags outside the bin.'

It bothers me though. We called the garbage company. They've given instructions to their driver not to pick up extra bags, so if those neighbors want to tuck a bag or two into the bin, no harm, no foul. It will not cost us any extra. If they just bring the bags over and set them along side the bin, they will not be picked up. 

On the other side of us, there is a rental as well, an apartment building. Someone has been parking a yellow utility wagon on our side of the fence in the bushes. There are an awful lot of people who don't have cars and they use wagons, shopping carts, and baby strollers to haul their laundry or their groceries or even their kids from place to place. 

Again, I don't want to make anyone's lot in life worse, but the question begs an answer. Are they trying to hid it so that it doesn't get stolen? Dunno. Is it stolen, and they are trying to avoid being tied to the theft, so they are stashing on our property? Dunno. 

I keep telling myself that people are struggling right now. My job is not to make their situation worse. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Perfect Storm

 Sunday, I was writing my weekly letter to my youngest daughter and her husband over across the pond. Tim was getting ready for church. He said, "When I get home, why don't we go to Grand Valley?" 

I thought that was a fine idea. It was just him and I for the next couple days, so it gave me a chance to check on the garden. I had tomatoes coming ripe. He wanted to work on a tractor or two. We had finished up all our projects here. 

We headed up, stopping at a friend's to do a swap. They had extra produce. I had jalapenos she needed for her salsa. We chatted for a while, and then headed off, getting to the front door of our home away from home just about the time that the skies opened up. 

We were not complaining about a rainy day, that's for sure. It was dark and breezy and distant thunder and flashes of lightning continued nonstop. One rain front moved out and another followed in fairly short order. There was nothing to do but wait it out, and so we did. I was reading 'The Spectator Bird' and Tim was snoring gently on the couch. 

I marveled at the feeling of having absolutely nothing to do. Nothing. I rocked in my chair, and read my book. The breeze blew through the screened front door and the thunder gently rumbled, lightning flashing over distant mountains. It was wonderful. 

Eventually, I got up and made stuffed zucchini (stuffing: venison, onions, peppers cooked together and put in the hollowed out zucchini halves) and topped with the tomato sauce from my own tomatoes. I popped it in the oven and went back to my book  The rain stopped for a few minutes, so Tim went out to sight in the new .22 he got for William to practice on. 

Soon it got dark again, and the thunder got louder, and a new round of rain came through. Tim came inside and we had a peaceful supper watching the storm move on from out the window. "This is delicious," he said, and helped himself to more. 

And that's how it went. The rain came and went for that night as I washed the dishes, and put everything away, as Tim watched out the front door to see the deer coming in to get fallen apples. We fell asleep watching the lightning through the bedroom window. It was quite a show. 

The next day was no different. Dark, with one storm front after another moving through. In between the storms, we did some thrift store shopping, getting clothes for the grandkids. I found a Woolrich sweater that I loved. We explored and we talked and laughed and drove in and out of the rain showers. Once back, I curled up with a 'new' book I'd gotten. Tim went out to work on a tractor. We took supper to my brother-in-law and sister. I gave her a book that I'd finished. We played scrabble. We came home and watched a DVD we had bought, 'Cider Mill Rules'. Neither of us had seen it since we both have a huge gap in our movie watching...we just never had time...and it was an interesting watch, since I am pro-choice, and he's preacher's son 'pro-life'. We leave each other believe what we will believe. He knows what I believe and why I believe it. I know what he believes and why he believes it. 

Outside, the storms kept moving through, one right after another. 

It has been such a long time since I was actually kept inside by the weather. It really was wonderfully relaxing three days. 

This morning, I dug some wildflowers, and I picked the ripe tomatoes and we drove home to get the wildflowers planted, to get the tomatoes processed. It looks like the rain has stopped. I'm almost sorry about it, because it really was the perfect storm.


Saturday, August 20, 2022

Satisfaction Guaranteed.


 This morning, I headed down to Jim's place with the bucket of wildflowers that 
William and I dug up across the creek to relocate on our side of the creek.
The red cardinal flower, I knew...but the blue cardinal flower, I didn't. 




the cleome was a new discovery as well. 
65 years of not paying attention, I'm afraid. 

Jim and Paula were already happily chatting by the creek, 
each with their favorite deck chair from their respective back decks. 

We did a good thing. 

We will rest on our laurels
(which is illegal to relocate). 




Friday, August 19, 2022

Seeing Red

We finished the stairs today. It was a bloodier day than usual. Tim was cutting off steel posts that he'd driven into the ground to provide extra reinforcement to hold the stairs in place in case of flooding. I'm not sure what happened, but he partially cut one, gave it a pull, it snapped and he whacked himself in the head giving him a shallow cut and a big knot. 

He insisted he was fine, and we continued on. 

I am the able bodied assistant to Tim, aka 'hold-this-right-here-like-that-person'. We were putting up the railing on the steps down the bank. Long story short, he told me to hold this right here like that, and I did what I was told. Except that he miscalculated. 

"SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, back it out, you've got my finger!" He reversed the drill, and I looked at my finger. Sweet merciful heavens. The screw went through one side of my finger and came out the other. It looked gruesome. We were quite nearly done, and Jim gave me some bandaids which I applied extra tightly to stop the bleeding. 

I insisted I was fine, and we continued on. 

William sniggered a little. He was nailing shingle strips down to the treads to make the whole thing slip resistant. Both tenants are in their 70s and this needs to be as absolutely safe as possible. (Before anyone questions our sense in installing the stairs, I should report that one of them was rappelling down the bank regularly. This is definitely safer than that.) 

Anyways, William had the poor sense to say, "I'm the only one who hasn't gotten hurt." It was about then that he smacked his finger with the hammer. There was no blood, but there was plenty of tears. 

But the stairs are done. I am sure the blood splatter will wash away in the first good rain. Jim is pleased, but Paula wasn't home. We're going back to install solar lighting tomorrow, but that is merely a matter of drilling some holes which my fingers will be nowhere near. 

William was being a bit of a snot today, but he got very excited about an expedition. I had spied, with my little eye, cardinal flower growing on the other side of the creek. Since Paula has an interest in putting a garden using native plants, I decided to teach William about river safety, about still waters, running deep, to cross where you see the ripples, because that's where water is lowest. He was quite enthusiastic about our adventure, and found a clam shell as big as my hand. We made our way safely across (it is probably about 40 feet wide) but we went down river following the ripples, and then angled up along a small island where the cardinal flower was. On the way, I found a pink wildflower I had never seen before (LATE EDIT: It's called a cleome, also known as a spider flower), so I dug that up and set its roots in a shallow while I continued on. I not only found the cardinal flower, but growing behind it was BLUE cardinal flower (both are lobelias). We gathered everything up and headed for home. 

William is quite cheerful now that we've had an adventure and he's gotten paid for his work today. I'm musch more cheerful now that I've had a shower and soaked my hand. Tim's just glad we're done. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Day of Small Joys.

 What a nice day it was! We got up and got back work on the steps down to the creek. The tenants are awfully excited about this project, and it is fun to see that, and listen to them. The two tenants are of a like age, both of them local history buffs, both of them awfully fond of the creek behind their house. They are so tickled with the project that Jim provided the wood screws. He had a bucket of them that he'd brought along in his move, and he wasn't quite sure why...until we started work on the steps. His contribution saved us a lot of money. 

We slid the risers down the bank and got the supports in at the bottom. I began screwing on the treads. 

While we were working, William was working on a very large willow that had blown down. Tim had cut it back, but the thing sprouted up, creating a wall that blocked Jim's view of the creek from his deck. William lopped the suckers off, happy as a clam to be doing what he considered to be a 'man's job'.

I had to run to Grand Valley to get the post hole digger for the supports on the side.  Tim stayed behind to cut the rest of the treads for the stairs and to visit with Jim. 

While I was down there, I stopped into Albert and Becky's to get tomatoes. I mean I have my own tomatoes coming ripe in the garden, but he has the biggest tomatoes I've ever seen in my life. They measure over 5 inches across, and weigh well over a pound. What is wonderful about them is that one slice laps over your toast for the perfect tomato sandwich. While I was there, I picked up a tomato for Jim and Paula and a nice cantelope. 

I chatted to Albert for a while, and it felt nice standing in the sun, visiting. 

Jim and Paula were as amazed at the size of those tomatoes as I was, both of them saying they'd never seen such huge tomatoes in their lives. 

Tim and I went back to work, supervised by our tenants, listening to the distant thunder, watching the clouds move in, and the sky get darker and darker. More rain was coming, which was a great thing. We poured the concrete mix in the freshly dug holes, around the support posts. With a good rain, the concrete will harden right up around them, and we'll be ready to finish the job. Jim and Paula should be using their steps by the weekend. 

Tomorrow, though, we're taking a day off and taking William to Penn's Caves. He had such a fun time during the last cave explore that he's quite excited about doing it again. These caves are toured by boat which adds to the novelty. He's also excited about the eyeless fish that live deep in the caves. 

We got everything cleaned up and put away just as the weather started getting truly dicey. 

We turned the 'rescued' bike over to the police tonight. No one claimed it from the facebook post. 

Remember the kids across the street? Seems like the parents figured out that the 11 year old was too young to be watching toddlers. They are not left home during the day anymore. But I saw the oldest boy out and asked him if he had a bike. He did not. I asked him if he wanted William's old bike, (which is in pretty nice shape...just outgrown). I told him to run up and ask his mom if it was okay. "No!" he said, excitedly, "i'll take it!" Tonight, I saw him bike riding out with two other boys. That made me glad for him. I think he's a kid who doesn't get a lot of time to play with kids his own age. He waved as I passed. 

This is probably the most boring post ever, but all these little things made for a very satisfactory day. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Defies Logic

 While I was away in England early last spring, the inclement weather and the fact that Tim was not yet retired (which kept him kind of close to home) led him to explore television a bit more. Up to this point, he's not been all that interested in it really. Anyways, once I was home, I discovered my husband had a new habit. I call it screaming mimi tv. 

You know the shows I am talking about: guests get on and scream at each other, sometimes have to be physically separated. Paternity test results are read. Lie detector tests are given and liars revealed on prime time. More screaming...one party in joy...another in hysterical denial...crazy stuff. 

So when I began hearing fighting and screaming from the office, I began to walk in to see what he was up to, and I was shocked. Tim is a very quiet person. He doesn't appreciate yelling and screaming and noisy public scenes, but here he was.  

"Really, Tim?" I'd say, but not much more than that, because really, I have to admit to being a bit of a true crime junkie. (Dateline, for example.) Tim hates shows like that. 

So anyways, this morning it was raining and Tim was pacing because he had nothing to do, so he switched on the television to see if Trump has been arrested yet, and Maury was on. He settled down. I rolled my eyes. Oh my gosh, I just don't get this.

It was a top ten program, with highlights (?) and catch-ups with people who had been on their show. So there's this one guy, plain as a potato, who decided that his girlfriend had cheated on him, because the toddler looked at him and said, "Que pasa?" 

"The baby doesn't even speak English. Not my kid!" he repeated over and over and over. 

For pity's sake. Maybe the child watched Dora the Explorer.

His girlfriend howled and carried on something awful. "It IS your son. I swear, I haven't cheated on you!" 

Plain Potato Man sat there stony faced. "Child speakin' Spanish."

Well, they did the test and announced the result. The child was his. The woman is yelling "Boom! There you go! I told you!" etc. 

So they did a follow up to see where they are at today. Still a couple. But now Plain Potato Man is certain the oldest boy is not his. "He doin' all sorts of karate moves. Child definitely got Asian blood." 

WTH?

So the woman is howling and carrying on something awful. "It IS your son. I swear, I haven't cheated on you." 

They did the test and announced the result. The child was his. The woman is yelling "Boom! There you go! I told you!" etc. 

She announces she's not "playing this game any more." 

I thought, "About time...how can you make a life with that kind of stupid?  I'd have been out the door the first time he started that stupid talk..." etc. 

I stopped talking as she said, "I am done with this. I got my tubes tied." 

The man exclaimed, "You did whuuuuuut????"

She laughed and he laughed, and they claimed everything was wonderful, and that he was being the best daddy he could be. 

I'm always dumbstruck to discover just how much dumb there is in the world. 

Tim shut off the television. Evidently it was a bit more dumb than he could take. 



Rain!

 Last night I woke at about 2:30 AM, listening intently. I had no idea why initially, but it slowly dawned on my sleep fogged mind. RAIN! I could hear the patter of rain through the open window at the head of the bed. 

It seems like a very long time since we got a good soaking rain, but it may have been because for the last three weeks I've been running back and forth between the eastern side of the state and the western side of the state. Maybe I simply missed it. 

I fell back asleep and five hours later, it was still raining when I woke up. 

We were going to finish the stairs today, but that will have to hold for at least the morning. I don't mind. It makes a for a good leisurely morning with a cup of coffee and my BelVita biscuits, reading blogs. Seven of them talked about rain in their corner of the world as well, and how welcome it was. 



Monday, August 15, 2022

Today's Adventure

 Today, we started construction on the steps leading down the bank to the shore of the creek for our tenants. Jim asked for it, but the woman who lives in the other half of the house is beside herself with excitement. 

We worked and laughed together under the cloudy skies. It looked like rain...but as usual, nothing happened. Still, the clouds gave us a nice break from the heat, so there's that. 

Anyways, there were the obligatory trips to Lowes. (Tim needed a new circular saw.) We needed to pick up 2 boards, 2 x 10 x 12. $100. I gulped a little. Luckily we have everything we need for the railings and the tread. 

A bald eagle sat in the tree supervising our work. 

We finished up the work we meant to do today, and I got a bright idea to have an adventure. Yesterday, Tim had noticed a brand new mountain bike thrown off the 5th Street bridge. It had landed on a graveled 'island' of sorts, exposed because we've had so little rain. 

I decided to wade down river to that little place and retrieve the bike.  My thinking was that if we. by some miracle, got rain, the bike would be washed away. So, I climbed down the bank and made my way down river, sticking to the shallows. When I got to the bike, I had a bit of a dilemma because the back wheel was damaged and bent and would not turn, but there came a shout from over head. Tim had dropped some cord and I tied the bike handle bars securely. Hand over hand, he pulled it up. He had the hard part of the job, to be sure. 

By the time that I'd waded back up river and gotten out and walked home, Tim had the back wheel unbent enough that the wheel would turn, He reattached the chain and fixed the kick stand. I've placed advertisement on line. 

For a quiet town, we've had a group of kids who seem to think they are a gang prowling around and night, leaving graffiti and just being ignorant. I am curious to see where this bike came from. 

Tomorrow, we'll go back and finish the steps. 



Sunday, August 14, 2022

Scam

 A recent ad on a local facebook site caught my attention. A woman was advertising a house for $1250. A big one, on the corner about 4 blocks from where I live. I was interested because there was no 'For Sale' sign in front of the house. She also was not listed as the owner of the house on the assessment site. 

The ad went on to read that it was an excellent opportunity for someone to own an old house at a fraction of the price. It warned that a substantial downpayment would be required and that the purchaser would need to submit a list of the necessary repairs and a schedule of when they needed to be complete. 

It didn't make sense for a number of reasons:

Number one: the house is a duplex. You weren't owning a house, you were owning part of a house. 

Number two: if the house is selling for $1250, what is considered to be a substantial down payment on that?

Number three: If the house is being sold, then why does the seller need a timeline of repairs? It was not her business what happened after the sale of the property. 

Now, I have a wide streak of curious, so I had to ask. I messaged the seller with my questions. All of them. She answered with: "Do you have enough money for the down payment?"

"Of course" I typed. "What is the down payment on a $1250 house though?"

She explained, "The house is $1250 a month." (The ad did not mention this, so my curious streak continued unabated.) 

She said that it was seller financed, and that the monthly payment included taxes, insurance, interest, etc. The total price paid would be about 9 times the $1250 price she listed.

I said, "Well, that's very unusual. Every house I ever bought, the buyer arranged financing."

She was starting to get snippy. She told me that they had helped many people into home ownership in my area, and that she thought I was rude. I told her that as a potential buyer, I was entitled to ask questions, to do my due diligence. In my opinion, she was being pretty rude herself. 

I said, "What agency do you represent?"

She refused to answer. 

Facebook is a veritable font of information, so I did some checking on her facebook page. She had taken a class by FortuneBuilders. Basically, you can't find a lot of information on it on line, it is all very hush hush, but what I could glean from the BBB site was that it was a scam company. This woman wanted a large sum of money from the 'buyer'. She was charging an exorbitant monthly rent (note that our highest rent is $750 per month, but that is because the utilities are included in those two apartments.) The 'buyer' would be responsible for doing the repairs on the property, but if they fell behind in repairs, or the 'seller' was dissatisfied with the work, she could take the house back for a violation in the 'sales' agreement. It was referred to as a 'remote renovation business'. 

I said, "We buy our houses in cash." 

All conversation stopped there. 

I went back to her ad and warned everyone. Basically, this woman had just bought 1/2 a duplex so recently that the deed had not been recorded. What she was doing was charging someone a huge sum of money to fix her house up for her. The buyer would never own the house. 

How is this even legal? 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Salman Rushdie

Several years back, as I told gz, Salman Rushdie was speaking at a book store in Harrisburg, PA, some distance from me. I really wanted to hear him, but did not want to drive a couple hundred miles to see him by myself, let alone walk around a strange city by myself at night. 

Tim had zero interest in going, so I asked around but could find no one interested. I did not go.

Imagine my surprise to discover that he spoke at the Chautauqua Institution yesterday. I've been there for other things, but had somehow managed to miss this one. The Chatauqua Institution (pronounced sha TA kwa) is less than an hour from where I live. 

I would have loved to have heard him, but am glad I wasn't there

Who would have guessed that a Iranian fatwa from 1989 would ever have an effect in my corner of the world 33 years later?

Friday, August 12, 2022

A Day Out

For all of their plain ways, it struck me as inutterably sweet that two Amish sisters were tickled pink to find very fancy teacups with matching saucers for $2 a set. Lavishly painted, gilded, the fancier the better, it seemed. They gathered them up, speaking rapidly to each other in German. 

Later, they explained, in English this time, that they were buying them for their mother, who loved to give a teacup and saucer to her all grandaughters at Christmas time, I'm guessing for their dowery chest. 

I loved that little glimpse into their lives. 

Mattie also found a sewing machine with a cabinet. She stood studying it and asked if we could fit it in the car. "You know how it works," I said. "We'll get it in there some way." (We did.) 

I asked her what she was going to do with an electric sewing machine, and she explained that it would be disassembled and refitted with a treadle and belt. That's pretty clever. She mentioned that she buys these sewing machines when she sees them so that the girls can each have their own machine when they're old enough. 

The older children met the car as we pulled in. They were much pleased to see that their mother had brought home three pizzas.  Next door at the sawmill, I saw a tiny little girl driving the team pulling logs to her father. One boy pulled his mother aside to tell her something, and she went quickly into the house and came out with a letter from another sister who was planning a visit. Mattie and her sister read it together. The day was not a good one. They agreed that Mattie would write a letter back, suggesting another day, posting it the very next day. 

Then I took Katie home.  She said, "I don't know when I've had so much fun! It was an adventure!" 

Yes. Yes it was. 





Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Inklings

I learn a lot from reading blogs. One of Northsider's favorite movies is 'Shadowlands'. I have to admit there are a lot of movies that I never had the chance to see, and reading about this one, I didn't remember seeing it, and decided that I should. So, off to the library I went to borrow it. 

I did like the movie very much. Truth be told, I believe that I did see it, long ago in the dying days of my last marriage. I did not know the end was so near, but recognized the fact that it was mortally wounded. I watched that movie, and I remembered crying at the ending, touched at such a great love, recognizing that my own 'love story' fell quite short. 

Though I vaguely remembered seeing it, I'd forgotten most of it, so I watched it again, and was moved. I still cried at the ending, but felt no need to compare. 

I noted that I'd seen it to Northsider and somewhere along the line, someone mentioned 'The Inklings' in the comments. I can't remember who, and I don't want to try to figure it out, but whoever you are, thank you so much. 

The book had to be obtained through an interlibrary loan, coming in from Erie. It is a tattered blue covered book that had not been checked out since 2014. What a treasure it is! Someone has underlined the things that appealed to him. Lewis was a walker, and he believed that "all weather had its attractions". The unknown reader had underlined that sentence and wrote his own note quoting Thoreau (I had to look it up, even though I have Walden upstairs on a shelf): 


I have often wished that I was one of those folks who could quote things off the top of my head. 

I can't. My undisciplined mind wanders freely.

So anyways, here I am, on page 55 of a book that requires me to read with a phone in my hand for easy access to Mr. Google. I am enthralled with the conversations between Lewis and Tolkein. The very thing that turned Lewis from his childhood religious upbringing was the very thing that made turned me from a believer to a non-believer. It was pretty mindblowing to discover this. Tolkein patiently dismantled Lewis' arguments, which set him on a path of rediscovering his own faith. 

What a moment! To be standing under a tree as a wind stirred on a quiet day, bringing down a shower of autumn leaves as your mind grapples with a completely new paradigm.

I don't have a lot of time to devote to reading such a book, but Mattie called me today. There's been a problem after Rudy's last surgery, and he needs to go back down to the Pittsburgh Hospital. She hasn't been able to find anyone to drive them. "Sure," I said. "It's not a problem. I will be glad to." 

She was so relieved. 

I will selfishly admit that a big part of it was to be able to sit in my car and read uninterrupted for a huge block of time, googling, studying, returning to my book is something that I'm very much looking forward to. 

As exciting as it is to be reading about The Inkling, I also can't help but feel a sense of kindredness to this unknown soul who underlined and made margin notes in that old book. 

One final thing. Warnie Lewis quoted Wordworth on the occasion of his retirement from the military. 


And I was struck by their perfection. 
They fit retirement. 

My days are now "made for me", and I like that very much. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Ghosts

 I imagine that you all are just about sick of hearing about grandchildren. 

I left that happy place and headed home. It is a five and a half hour drive. It doesn't bother me. I like driving alone sometimes. I just bring up Pandora radio on the cell phone, put it in its handy little holder and drive home listening to Mumford and Sons Radio. That alone is a pleasure, since Tim doesn't care for that kind of music. He wants to listen to classic rock. I don't mind that, but I enjoy listening to new music too. It's nice to click off the miles listening to something different. 

I'm afraid that I was doing an awful lot of day dreaming on the way home. You see, John (who writes the blog 'Beans and I on the Loose' ) is a full time traveller. He and his cat Beans are always exploring some mapdot, and that life fascinates me. Like as not, I pull up where ever he is, courtesy of Mr. Google, and read about it too. Anyways, if you are not following him, I encourage you to check him out. Right now, he is doing a fascinating series on Ambrose ND, which is very close to the Canadian border. The town has a population of 17 people. 17! I cannot even imagine a town that small, really. 

The cool thing is that as the population dwindled, houses were simply abandoned. It is a ghost town. Old homes falling into ruin, filled with the momentos of those lives. John's been walking around documenting this stuff, and I've been poring over these posts. The more I study the pictures, the more I read about the place, the more questions I have. If curiosity killed the cat, I gotta say that I'm very grateful to have been born another species altogether. 

I daydreamed as I drove. One of the houses that I pass every time is in Elysburg, PA, at the intersection of Rt 54 and Sleepy Hollow Road, and I always feel sorry for it, and wonder about the stories it could tell, about the families that lived under its roof. But with all of John's explorings in my head, for the first time, I really just wanted to stop and explore the place. Get out. Walk around. Peek in windows. 

It was all I could do to talk myself out of it. I've only passed through the area, and I'm not at all familiar with it. That's the sort of misadventure that can get a person shot, some folks being mighty protective of their property. 

So I drove 277 miles, passing old houses, unoccupied, falling down. I studied them all as I passed them, and I wondered about them and what they held, I wanted to explore them all, try to recreate the people who lived there, piece together their story. 


The world contains so many stories, and once again, I was grappling with this wild desire to know them all. Unfortunately,  the ones that interest me the most it seems are the ones that I can never know. The people who could have told them are gone from this world. 

Anyways. go read about John's adventures. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Home Again.

 There is something about a new baby, brand spanking new. The little noises they make. The little faces they make. The way they fit into the curve of your arm. Their tiny feet, their tiny fingers. Today. everyone was preparing to duck out for a doctor's appointment. I stayed behind with the idea to get my shower and be on my way before they got back. 

There was a reason for it. I had such a fun stretch of days with my grandaughter while her parents were away adding a new leaf to their family tree. We played, a lot, and her favorite game is 'betending'. I myself am a pretty good 'betender', so we were having all manner of adventures. I gently prepared her for the fact that I would be leaving. "Why do you have to go?" she asked. I told her that grandpa missed me. I also told her that I knew she'd be able to help her mom and dad so much with the new baby.  

I wasn't too worried about her. The day before I left, she was much caught up in the new experience of being a big sister, and that was just as it should be. She is about to embark on a whole new adventure. Slipping out quietly seemed the best way to handle it. 

It is such a private time, a bonding time for the new family, a learning each other time, and I would have been an intrusion. 

Still, it was hard to leave all that happy behind. 


 In the departure, there was a small moment. Mom had taken the oldest out to buckle her in her carseat. Dad had set the youngest down in her little bucket seat to go back for a folder that needed to go with them. There was a small moment of one wide awake alert baby studying the shadows on the wall, gazing around her with astonished little eyes, quietly taking it all in. 

It was a happy trip, with a lot of small, happy moments. I'm so lucky to have been a part of it. 


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Locksmith

 I am still caring for my oldest granddaughter...and it still feels strange to say that. 

She is such a darling. This is the longest time she's gone without her parents, but she has done well. 

She has a wonderful imagination. Yesterday, she was 'betending'  a bear was in the house. She was running around screaming in mock terror, slamming doors.

I was getting dressed and stepped into the hall to yell, " hey 🐻 bear! You better mind your manners!" Quick as a wink, she darted past me to slam the bathroom door too. 

"Don't worry grandma! I have locked all the doors!"

Indeed she had. I quickly bent to look at the lock. They were different from the locks I 'picked' when my own were doing this sort of thing. I had two dogs locked in different bedrooms (did I mention the second floor has all new carpets?) I also had hot rollers plugged in the now locked bathroom. I had no phone. It also was locked in my room. 

I said "oh no! Grandma can't unlock the doors!" The little pipsqueak looked at me as if I were the most ridiculous grandmother in the world. In her most reasonable voice, she said, "we just need a penny! I will unlock them for you!"

And she did.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Perfect

 She is here. She is perfect. She and Mom are doing great.  

Oh, and her name is Ruby. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Big News

 Tomorrow, I'm headed east again. When I return, I will have two grandaughters instead of one. The pineapple bag is all packed with crafts to keep a four year old occupied as she waits to finally meet the little sister she's been waiting on for months. We will decorate the porch for the homecoming. I expect to return Saturday, unless there is a need for me to stay longer. My son has two weeks off work and it is an opportunity for the little family to bond. 

Going, going, gone

 We finished the ceiling today. We have probably 1/2 of the drywall on the walls. We were able to take my sister and brother-in-law's dr...