Tim replaced all the ductwork, and these grates will be reused.
The door knobs will have to be taken apart and sprayed with WD-40
The walls are stripped of their wall paper, which was nicotine stained and damaged. I think they were also holding quite a bit of sour, old odors. We were pleased to find good rock hard lathe and plaster underneath.The plan at this point is to use a lime wash paint, which will add almost a texture to the painted walls. Tim is a bright bold color guy. I am a earth tone gal, so....color suggestions welcomed.
Floors are hardwood, They will require refinishing.
We are pretty busy here, so posting will be a bit erratic. We are working on our final renovation, a sweet Craftsman bungalow with lot of cool little details - wonderful oak doors, leaded glass in the front window, coffered ceiling in the livingroom, columns, hardwood floors. Amazing place.
When we bought the house a few years back, it was a mess. Tim and I argued, as we always do, and the argument did not vary from script: I didn't want him to buy it. He thought it was a great deal. In the end, I got sick of hearing him pester about it and just told him to do what he was going to do. I begged him, for the love of Pete, to just stop talking about it.
So. We ended up with a hoarder's house. There was a hole in the roof which had been open long enough that it damaged the floor of the attic. You could sit on the toilet and contemplate the sky. The first order of business was replacing the roof. Then we had the old windows replaced. Then the hoeing out began. We are not done to this day.
Then we got side tracked, A woman had fallen in love with another little house we'd bought. She was in the process of selling her house, but the deal had fallen through a couple times. Suddenly, her house was sold, and we had 60 days to get her new home together. (We did it. We made it, but I was literally staining the floor in the dining room as she moved her bedroom set in.)
We took a short break after our hard work, intending to get back to work after a couple months.
Tim rewired the place. He put in a forced air furnace and all the ductwork. But then, unexpectedly, our longest tenant died of covid, a horrible shock.
I did not even remember what his apartment looked like. We'd bought the house with him in it. We never raised his rent for the 10 years we had him because he was living in our only unrenovated apartment. He never complained, probably afraid that we'd raise his rent. We did renovate his kitchen, but you cannot renovate an entire apartment when someone is living there. He'd been there for 17 years all told and when we did get in there and get to work, it was a total gut. It took several months. We got that done, just in time for our Jim to move right in.
Once again, Tim and I decided to take a couple months off before getting back to the hoarder's house.
Then he got sick in the fall and stayed sick for nearly 3 months.
Finally, we are once again working on that renovation. Tim was drywalling a ceiling in the bedroom. I was hoeing out another bedroom, odds and ends really. The bulk of the stuff has been hauled out already.
He married again. This woman worked at the local Penny's store, back when Penny's was a big deal. She had inherited her parent's home after they died, and it appears that she simply moved their things into the attic and began replacing those things with her own. Somewhere along the line, she met an attractive insurance man who won her over and swept her right into his busy life. She seemed to have really made good use of her employee discount. There are new kitchen appliances that have never been removed from their boxes. Sadly most of them are out of date and useless. (Think trash compactor for example. Still in its box!) Midcentury modern light fixtures, still in their boxes. Drapes. Shades. Sheets. 3 sewing machines. 3 vacuums. Glassware never unpacked. You name it, Table ware. Fancy table cloths. Just stacks and stacks of stuff.
They never had children, She ended up dying of cancer. The house went to him, all full of his wife's memories before him, all of their shared memories together, and so. much. stuff.
He married once more, to a woman with grown children. She had a house of her own, so he walked out of that house, shutting the door on all those things and moved into her home.
Her children could not stand him. He was an alcoholic and he had a mean streak. In the end, she too got cancer. It was then that the marriage fell completely apart. He moved back into his house, filled to the rafters with stuff, little pathways between piles of magazines and garbage bags, one bag stuffed with cigarette coupons, another with salt and pepper shakers from probably every restaurant he'd ever gone to. Televisions stacked up in order of when they quit and were replaced by newer models, and piles and piles of new things, bought, never opened just stacked against the walls.
It is sad to think of him living in such circumstances. The house had broken windows and that roof that needed replaced. It must have been freezing in the winter. Eventually he got throat cancer from the cigarettes that he'd so carefully saved the coupons from. It could have been from the liquor. In any case, the house went to his last wife. She was too sick to do anything with it. After she died, it went to her children, none whom had the slightest interest in that filthy, jam packed, tumbledown house.
And along came Tim.
We spent weeks, literally shoveling debris out the broken windows on the second floor into the back of the truck. We made many trips to the transfer station to dump the things out.
One of the pieces of paper led me to a name I recognized. There were so many family pictures and slides, and home movies. We felt as if these things should matter to someone. They did. The woman who would become his second wife had a sister, and they were close. For a while the sister and her children had lived there in that house with their aunt and had some very happy childhood memories. Once their mother was back on her feet, they moved on and years later, they asked the insurance man for some of the family things, the old pictures from their side of the family.
He told them that he had burned it all.
He hadn't, though.
It was all there.
They came and sorted through. They took home movies, and slides. "Need a projector?" we asked. "Here you go. Here's a slide projector. Movie projector. Here are the screens." They went off with a truck load of stuff too. We were happy to see it go. For their part, they were moved to tears to see old movies of them as children and of their long dead mother playing with them.
Today, unbelievably, after all this time, I was still throwing away things. Old love letters from a love that did not last. Awards. Speeches. Invitations and Christmas cards, in between as I ran back an forth to help Tim lift drywall into place.
Yet another truckload of junk leaves, and another truckload of furniture will be going to someone who refinishes and sells furniture: "Nothing. Take it. Take anything you want. It needs to be gone. They thought they hit the jackpot. Truth be told, so did we.
As the house empties out, it begins to feel spacious. As the dirt and nicotine gets cleaned away, it seems brighter. I roll up and drag 70 year old rugs out to the truck. I sweep. The house begins to feel happier and in my imagination, I get the idea that it is grateful.
I am a silly woman.
What strange and ominous weather we had yesterday. The winds were strong, gusts up to 60 miles per hour, and they cointinued unabated all day. At one point, the house grew darker and darker, until it was quite at the point of switching on lights. Tim had just left to get me an onion for the cream of potato soup I was assembling to use up the balance of a ham slice. Suddenly there was a long, long rumble of thunder. I never heard anything like it in my life. It probably lasted for a full 30 seconds.
I was watching it from the big window in the office. "Big storm coming," I thought. However, the sky began to brighten almost immediately. There was no more thunder. I never saw any lightning at all. It wasn't long and the sun was shining brilliantly, and the rain stopped. \The wind did not.
Tim returned with the onion and we marveled about that roll of thunder as I chopped it to drop into the broth with the ham to simmer.
It rained off and on during the day, sometimes heavily. The wind did not cease, not for a moment. I was peeling the potatoes for my soup a bit later, when I noticed it getting fiercely dark once again. Tim was in the office. I commented about the darkness to him. He was amazed by it too. Really, it was once again dark enough to switch on the light as I worked.
It was pouring down, and once again, there was a huge rumble of thunder that went on and on. We honestly cannot ever remember hearing such a thing. It rained heavily for quite a while, but there was no more thunder. We never saw the lightning.
It really didn't matter much to us, tucked away inside our sturdy house. One 12 year old boy was quite determined to get his school work caught up, all in one day. He did, too. Every bit of it. It took him 6 hours, but he was driven. He had a pool party to go to on Sunday and he did not want to be troubled by the specter of undone assignments. We organized his folder together so that he could hand it in on Monday.
He was giddy with relief to have the rest of the day to do as he pleased. What to do, what to do?
We had finished reading The Sorcerer's Stone earlier in the week, and our agreement was to finish the book and then watch the corresponding movie. So, we rented our first movie from Amazon Prime and settled in to watch it.
Our soup simmered in the kitchen.
The wind blew against the house, and intermittently, the rain pelted against the windows.
It was an enjoyable day to ourselves.
In keeping with Neil's challenge, I post two drone videos of the town that I live in.
The first video I post is because it is taken right across the river our house. I suggest turning down volume. I found the music irritating as heck. In the opening minutes, though, you will see William's school, the big castle looking building. Our house is also there.
The second video is more professional and provides a big view of the town.
Warren Pennsylvania has a population of about 9000 or thereabouts. Our town was founded in 1795, and named after General Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary war hero who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. It is built on the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Conewango Creek We live along the Conewango Creek.
Yesterday, William had a night out with his mother and stepfather. We took a bit of a break too, grabbing pizzas and the makings of rootbeer floats to take along to Mattie and Levi's. We also took something along for the children:
That game stopped everyone dead in their tracks. The girls started another game with a couple more of the children getting involved. The older boys came in from their chores and the next thing you know, they were in on it as well. Every time the snake struck, they would just about roll with laughter. It was fun to see. The best part was when their father walked into the kitchen. He stopped to see was all the hysteria was about and when the snake struck, he gave a startled jump as well which added to the general hilarity.
So we ate supper, and blabbed away. Northsider, they had never heard of hot beds either, and were quite intrigued with the idea. Many of them have polytunnels to start their garden plants. Levi said thoughtfully, "That would work...manure generates quite a bit of heat." They do not have a poly tunnel of their own, but Maddie has her plants started inside.
It was an very nice visit. We sat in the livingroom in our rocking chairs and talked quietly while the children played with Jake. I only realized our mistake when Tim said, "We need to get home." I looked at the pendulum clock ticking away. "We've got plenty of time," I said. Tim said, "That clock is an hour off."
Come to find out, we had set dinner for five PM, and were right on time. What we didn't realize is that the Amish do not set their clocks back. We arrived at 4 PM their time. "No wonder you looked so surprised!" I said.
Jake the Snake struck once more, and gathered in a circle on the floor, the children rolled around laughing like it was the first time that they'd seen him do that. The adults laughed as the clock struck 6. It was 7 PM, our time and time to go.
With all of William's difficulties yesterday, I've been thinking very hard about things. It is very easy to assign blame in this to others.
I have spent the last months dealing with a situation that was only introduced into my life because the people responsible chose not to deal with it. My life has been turned topsy-turvy by it since before Christmas. Luckily after two solid months of hitting things hard, it appears (knock wood!) that the matter is resolved. I am beginning to breathe a bit easier, but it will be a long, long time before I get over the experience, It will be a long, long time before my hypervigilence settles down. It has been, for lack of a better word, traumatic.
So when William's situation popped up, right away, my knee jerk response was to set the blame directly on someone else's door step. I knew full well where he'd learned to 'hide', to 'cover', to simply not deal with things.
Laying wide awake in bed last night, I pondered a lot of things. Blame never helps, does it? It may assuage our own guilt for a time, but it doesn't fix anything. Blaming also throws up a road block in our relationships.
In the dark of night, I turned that bright accusing light on myself.
I am 65. I have a bad knee. I have had surgery on that knee which did not help. I have been quietly dealing with that pain for years now, reluctant to spend more money on medical care that didn't make anything any better.
Predictably, that problem got worse.
That problem with my knee led to a slow and steady weight gain. I was moving less, exercising less, but not eating less. The pounds began to creep on. I ignored them too.
Predictably, that problem got worse.
I am a self conscious person. I always have been.
Predictably, THAT problem got worse too.
Laying there in the dark last night, I realized that I'm a 'hider' too.
Now, my advice to William was, "We are disappointed, but the fact is, this needs to be turned around. You've gotten yourself into a pickle and you need to get yourself out." We discussed ways he could do that. He's lost his tablet until the school situation is resolved, and believe me, that is some powerful motivation, right there.
I believe he will turn things around.
I lay in bed and went over my handling of the situation. His mother was very like him. She was my oldest, my first. ADHD was not a 'thing' 42 years ago. I was not as wise and patient as I could have been. I was torn between the needs of two other children, and a child who needed my full attention to accomplish.
I failed her. I was not the mother that she needed.
Now I am older. I am more patient. I know what I am dealing with.
I lay in the dark, replaying the day in my head. I thought of how uncomfortable it had to be for William, being asked, day after day, about homework. "Oh, no. I got it all done in school. I don't have any homework," he assured us.
Predictably, that problem got worse.
The undone assignments only increased in number. I am sure that he lay in the dark many times, worrying about the situation, but unwilling to take that first step to begin to sort it out because he was afraid of being found out.
Predictably, that problem got worse.
His grades were suddenly in jeopardy, a teacher reached out to his mother, who forwarded the information to me. We walked home last night and he was ashamed, his head drooped, his cheeks red, answering in monosyllables if he answered me at all.
I'm sure he believed with all his heart this problem could NOT get any worse.
Over the course of the night, we came up with a plan of action. He began working on it right away. It almost seemed that he might be a little relieved to have it all out in the open and discover that no one loved him any less. That he was not in BIG TROUBLE. (Never mind that he's never really been in BIG TROUBLE. He's still afraid of BIG TROUBLE.)
This morning he was full of assurances that he was going to get things sorted out, he was going to get the work all done. I watched him walk into school with a determined step. Two of his teachers have already been in contact via e-mail.
Today, I thought of my own 'hiding'. The last time that I went to orthopedics, they told me that my knee was quite nearly to the point of 'bone on bone'. A knee replacement is in my future. I knew that right along. They suggested trying a short of cortisone to provide some possible relief until then.
Today, I will call about trying the cortisone shot.
Yesterday, I started the intermittent fasting once again. It worked well in January, but I fell off the wagon when Tim got sick.
I probably got the same amount of relief from coming up with my plan of action as William got from coming up with his. We can't expect a kid to do what we cannot.
LATE EDIT: Maybe the knee was a bad example. It made sense to me in the dark. What I was trying to say is that I can see that in many cases, I do simply not deal with problems as they arise.
Ah, but today was a disappointing day. One of the things that I have been much concerned about is that William never has homework. Never. Not one time in over 3 months.
I found this suspicious. We discussed it many times and he always explained, "I get my school work done in Advisory." (That seems to be what we called 'study hall'.) There used to be a place where you could log into William's school information We used it all the time when we homeschooled, but I can no longer find it on the website.
My youngest daughter kept saying, "You've got to figure that out. William is in the perfect situation right now. His school reports are going to his mother. You don't have access to that information. He's going to play that to his advantage."
I looked. I tried to find that portal, and could not. It's not where it was when we were home schooling, anyway. I looked for it a couple times, talked to my daughter, tried to download a school app on my phone, but it turned out to be for weather alerts and cancellations.
This morning, I got an e-mail from my oldest daughter. A teacher had e-mailed to say that William was five assignments behind in her class.
As soon as I read the e-mail, I got the very sick feeling that this was merely the tip of the iceburg.
I got added to the school information. I discovered that what I was looking for is now called Home Access. His password had been changed since we homeschooled.
I got in and had a look around. He is missing 8 assignments in math. The other classes had just a couple missing assignments, but at least in those, his grades were good.
My heart sank.
I sat down and wrote e-mails to all his teachers. We are all on the same page now. They all think he's a very nice boy.
But he's a very nice boy who doesn't like school.
Walking home from school, we had a very serious talk. He looked down, with very red cheeks.
He's got 4 assignments done on his laptop. One of his teachers is sending home some work tomorrow night. He's got a full weekend to get the math sorted out. He'll get it done. It's never been a situation that he can't do it. He just doesn't want to.
Motivation is a lot easier than trying to help him understand something he can't comprehend.
I am reading 'Remember This', the play written about Jan Karski, written by Clark Young and Derek Goldman. A short biography of Karski (written by Madeline Albright) precedes the play to provide an overview of his life. It attempts to set the Nazi horrors of Europe into a complex setting of the bigger world.
This was written: ."...I canot conclude this without reminding readers that the enablers of evil are not confined to one side of the Atlantic. In the period just before World War II, there was a multidimensional pro-fascist network within the United States, spurred on by German agents. fueled by demogogic media personalities, enamored of the slogan 'America First' and built on a foundation of antisemitism. racism, isolationism, and fear. This was no trivial movement. It had prominient allies in the private sector, on the newspaper editorial boards, in Congress, and in the military sector. It also had a strong popular base, appealing to citizens eager to cast blame on those they held responsible for the Great Depression, especially bankers and East Coast politicians and financiars. The movement trafficked widely in conspiracy theories. most particularly in the belief that Jews were plotting to dominate the globe and that Franklin Roosevelt was himself a Jew. The fascist sympathizers held huge public rallies and even started their own schools. "
Tim and I sat in a waiting room and I quietly read the words to him. We looked at each other.
This is history. It is now considered controversial. There are those who don't think it should be taught in school. Books on the subject are being removed from school libraries. There are those that will be reading this post and they will be disgusted. Sadly, what will disgust them is me.
I say: These people were wrong 90 years ago. They are no less wrong today.
I got questions. Why is it that when natural disasters happen, you always have the folk that want to cry: "That's God punishing us for not inclining our hearts to Him" but then when you have something like, say, a 5000 mile long blob of seaweed heading towards Florida, the land of Righteous Indignation, home of the American Taliban, we hear....crickets?
Just one of those things that I always wonder about.
And another question I've got. Why is it that when you buy tickets on line for anything, a convenience fee is added? I bought $80 worth of tickets to Jurassic Quest, and at checkout, $22+ was added to that money for a 'convenience fee'. What convenience am I paying for here? I had occasion to actually ask that question of a real live person. I bought the three tickets on line, paid the 'convenience fee', but then had a problem. I couldn't place the order without setting up an account. I was on my phone, and when I entered my e-mail address, I 'fat-fingered' an extra letter in, without noticing.
So I called, and the woman explained the problem to me. "Okay," I said, how are we going to solve this?" I did not get the confirmation e-mail with my tickets to be printed out. To mail me the tickets was an extra $5 each.
"Lucky I paid a convenience fee," I said. "It just seems as if you have a responsibility to keep this convenient for people who make stupid mistakes."
They did, but they were not happy. They told me that they would do it "just this once". I presume that means that I am now exempt from any further convenience fees, seeing as how they are assuring me that there will be no further conveniences offered.
And another thing: how do you pronouce 'pieces'? Mr Shife has troubled my mind.
Another question. Whenever I shake out a fitted sheet, I always seem to find one of William's socks in it. Why is it that this sock never matches any of the socks I have in William's pile of unmatched socks? It just becomes one morelone sock to add to that pile. It's just a thing that I noticed, another befuddlement in the mind of an already befuddled woman.
The big question: "Will Trump be arrested?" He says he is going to be arrested on Tuesday. Social media is abuzz. THE ANSWER IS NO!!!! Of course he won't. He's rallying his base once again. If you had any doubt about his incitement of January 6th, well, open your eyes people. He's doing an encore right here before your very eyes.
Update: Louie, the cat is living comfortably inside the neighbor's house. The vet-who-is- not-a-vet made a home visit. She found no broken bones, although he does have broken and loose teeth, which accounts for his difficulty eating. He has an eye infection. No mange (which I did not see either). She left a supply of soft cat food, antibiotics for his eye. He will need to see a vet, but for right now, he's resting quietly and comfortably. She sent me a picture of him stretched out on her couch, sleeping.
Remember the former owner responded on the original facebook post saying that she'd left the cat in the care of her sister, but that the cat was afraid of the dog? Interestingly enough, the neighbor has a dog as well, and they get along just fine.
I heard a heartening thing in a weather forecast. The first day of spring is tomorrow, on the 20th. It has been a snowy weekend. Not a lot of accumulation, but the travel was tricky Saturday night. I did not expect this, and took William and a friend to the roller rink. No real accumulation was called for so I thought it was safe. Going to pick them up, a car from the other side of the four lane crossed a median and hit the guard rails. It was a bit of a shock (and no, it was not a close call at all). I nervously continued on and before I got there, I also ran into white out conditions. The wind coming across the open grounds of the state hospital whipped the fine snow a whirling wall of snow. I hate whiteouts.
But all's well that ends well. I got the boys picked up. On the way home, I understood why the vehicle had come across the median strip. Those two lanes in were much slicker than the lanes going out, and I haven't a clue why that should be.
It's been a wintry day, today, and I have had absolutely no desire to go out in it.
But...back to the good news...typically speaking (although it is pretty hard to say what is 'typical' anymore), once that first day of spring arrives, the temperature rises (on average) one degree a day for a month. If that holds true, we should see temperatures in the 60s in just 30 days.
That is a pleasant thing to ponder.
Early in our marriage, I fixed liver and onions for supper. Tim was very doubtful and he approached it as he approaches all new foods: with great suspicion. However, he discovered that he really, really liked liver. He was amazed at how tender it was and sauteed onions are always a hit with him.
William was having dinner out with his mother and stepfather on St Patrick's day. It was a nice opportunity to cook something for Tim and I without having to worry about offending William's taste buds. "How about I fix liver and onions for supper tonight?" I asked Tim.
He was amenable to the idea.
So I dredged the liver, browned the liver, and then sauteed the onions. I allowed it to simmer and make its own onion-y gravy. I left it on the stove while I walked down to meet William from school.
He walked in the door and said, "Wow. That smells great! What is that?"
"Liver and onions," I said.
"Can I have a taste?" he asked and so I cut him off a piece with some gravy. "Can you save me a piece for when I get home? he asked.
I plated Tim's supper and he picked at it without much appetite. I was a little surprised.
"You used to like liver."
"It's okay," he said. "It's something I don't mind every year or two."
And when William came home, he was pleased to see some liver and gravy left for him, and despite the fact that he'd had second helpings of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots at his first dinner, he ate a second dinner with great pleasure.
"I really like liver," he said.
I saw that cat today, sitting on a porch. I called him. He looks awful. So awful. He did not come but he looked at me. I made a great show of setting his food out next to the comfortable bed I'd made for him.
Remember that I told you that someone had posted about him on facebook? I'd messaged her last week and let her know that I was trying to work on him. The owner also posted that she'd like someone to take care of him, that her sister was supposed to be caring for him but he was afraid of her dog.
Anyways, that woman reached out to me on facebook again. She's very concerned about him as well. I said that I was trying to get him to trust me. She said that he's a very friendly cat and that she and her daughter pet him and hold him all the time. Because he was sick, she couldn't let him in the house because she did not have a cage and did not want him roaming in the house until they knew for sure what was wrong with him.
"I've got a cage," I offered. "I used it when we brought home a feral."
She actually lives across the street from us, so at 11:00, Tim and I were dragging the crate to her. We set it up for her. I asked her if she had cat litter.
She looked stricken. She had a litter pan.
I ran back across the street to get a bag of litter.
Much to my absolute delight, she was calling 'Louie' when I got to the end of the driveway. I heard him meow. "Come on~" she said. And that cat walked right up on her porch and followed her in the house. When I showed up with the litter, he was sitting in his cage, unperturbed, being petted. He flopped down to cock a leg over one ear and clean himself while we finished talking.
She's got someone who is not a vet but works quite a lot with the feral cat population. She will be stopping in to give the cat a once over and some medication. She is afraid that he might have a broken jaw.
But the good news is that he's inside now. The long term plan is to get him healthy and neutered. She's not sure if she can make a house cat out of him, but that's the goal.
What a happy ending!
A while back, I went out on the balcony on the second floor. I rarely do, especially in winter, but I was surprised to see an orange and white tabby cat curled up in a sunny spot. He bolted as soon as I opened the door.
I set a cardboard box up, stuffing it with two large bed pillows and and a torn flannel sheet. I folded two of the flaps in so that there was a small entrance to it and tucked it in a place where it was protected from the wind.
I kept a watchful eye out for him, to see if he was a regular. Did he need to be fed?
A couple weeks later, I saw the cat on facebook. Someone a couple blocks away had posted a picture of him, looking for his owner. He looked as if he'd struggled out there on his own. I commented that I'd seen him down at my place and had set up lodging for him. I said that I was glad to see that someone had taken him because I can't.
And I really can't. I already have a cat.
(Tim would kill me.)
William and I were walking out to the car a few days back. "Ooooooooohhh," he said. "There's a hurt cat." And there he was. He looked as if he'd been in quite a cat fight. We went back to set out a bowl of food for him. We had a little conversation, and he mewed back in a tired, dispirited way, but he wouldn't come. I don't think it would take much to over come that, though.
Yesterday, I was by myself, so I snuck upstairs with catfood, both canned and dry. I went out on the balcony to set out food there, right next to the box. I was hopeful that he would recognize it as a safe place to receive food and be warm. rest and heal.
Today, I see that the catfood has been partially eaten. I hope he was sleeping soundly in the box. I did not want to open the door and scare him away. I can check later when I refill the dishes.
He just looked so very miserable, and nisery breaks my heart. It makes me literally feel sick.
(To be continued, I hope)
Tim's done with his Holter monitor, and boy, was he ever glad about that. He took it off, we boxed the unit up and returned it to the company following their instructions.
On Pi Day, I heard the phone ring. I was making an apple pie, but Tim got it. The call was short, but I could hear him answering in the other room. He came out when he was done and said, "The monitoring indicated no A-fib. No irregularities."
"That's good," I said. "I kind of thought it wouldn't. You've never had any symptoms before you got so sick. You haven't had any since." I stirred the cinnamon and vanilla into the apple slices.
Tim cleared his throat. "They talked to me about the implant."
I looked over.
His face got the stubborn look I hadn't seen for awhile. "I told them no. I didn't want it. I'm not doing it."
"What did they say?"
"They said, 'Okay,' " he said, and walked back out of the room.
Houdini really does love his boy something fierce. In fact when William goes upstairs to go to bed, Houdini roams around, meowing forlornly. It's gotten to the point where he comes out to the office and sits beside me, patting my chair and meowing with a question. He's begun to allow me to pick him up and will sit on my lap purring while I type.
He's here right this minute as a matter of fact.
I know that I'm his second choice and probably always will be, but a lapful of purring cat is a comfort.
It's still wintering outside. In fact I think we've gotten more winter in the past two weeks than we've gotten all winter.
There. Ponder that for a while.
I met a friend for breakfast this morning, and it was wonderfully cheering. She's going to Mexico with her husband on a National Geographic tour.
I'll bet that their winter is done and over.
If I sound jealous. I'm not.
I advised her not to have a tummy tuck while she was down there.
Seriously, though, it just felt nice to have time out for myself.
I made a nice pot of split pea soup for supper today. It was a hit for the over 12 crowd. Lucky there was apple pie left over from our National Pi Day celebration yesterday. He'd do about anything for a slice of pie, even finish his split pea soup.
Hope you all had a good one.
For his 12th birthday, William's Aunt Cara and Uncle Colin had sent him new bedding for his birthday, stars and galaxies, deep swirls of blue and gray, with constellations printed out. The stars glow in the dark. Very cool and he loves it.
On the list of things to do, we needed to find a new rug to match his new bedroom things. William had an appointment. I had a few errands to run so we left a bit early. We were in a store that had a large pile of carpets. He saw a huge fluffy white one. He stretched across it with a rapturous look on his face. "This is great!" he said.
We once had a white rug in the livingroom. We put it down and it looked very nice. For a few hours. One small boy managed to get spaghetti sauce on it on the very same day that we got it. Scrub as I might, that stain remained and ultimately the rug was retired to one of the upstairs bedrooms where the stain could be hidden beneath a piece of furniture.
That boy is older and taller now, But a white rug? For William? My god. I was having flashbacks.
I tried to be gentle about it. "White rugs stain very easily. What if your shoes were dirty..."
"We don't wear shoes in the house."
"Well, if something got spilled..."
"I don't eat in my bedroom. Sometimes I have a Sprite. Noah and I had snacks. But I don't really eat in my bedroom." We stood staring at each other across that pile of carpets.
I stood there trying to think of reasons to justify not getting a white rug. He stood there, rubbing his hands across it in a dreamy way.
"I just don't think," I started and suddenly his face changed.
"Wait....wait....wait a minute...." He had caught a glimpse of a rug further down in the pile. It was a dark denim blue fluffy rug that appeared to change color when you saw it from different vantage points. Dark gray, almost black, to a dark indigo blue. He ran his hands across it and watched the effect. "This is it, he said firmly. "It matches perfectly."
I agreed that it was a perfect match.
It was also on sale for $20 less than the marked price.
And, most importantly, it was not white.
We headed to the register with our purchase. William was very excited. I was ridiculously relieved.
On a completely unrelated note: Last night, Tim and I managed to get half way through 'Remember This, a one man performance piece by David Strathairn. Tim cannot do late nights at the moment, and I have to get a young man off to school in the mornings. We hated to turn it off. What a powerful piece. As usual, I was googling on my phone as we watched it, and found the book, written by Jan Karski. I showed it to Tim, saying "this is a book worth having." He told me to order it, but I'm the sort that does nothing without comparing prices. I told him that I'd look around the following day. We woke up this morning and the first words out of Tim's mouth were, "You need to find that book." Powerful, powerful stuff.
If you get a chance to see it, you should. If not, get the book. It should be required reading/viewing for every high school student.
But of course it won't be.
William has accumulated enough clothing that the little dresser that came with his bedroom outfit is just not big enough. I pondered around how to solve this problem and came up with a solution. In a closet of another spare bedroom, there is a a tall dresser that belonged to my grandmother and grandfather. I am not at all sure how it came to be in my house. It must have come from my parents at some point, but I don't remember exactly when. It is old and plain and matches his sturdy plain bedroom outfit (inherited from his aunt).
The best part was that while it had the same 'footprint' as William's little dresser, it was much taller and would easily hold double the clothing. The old fashioned drawer dividers would allow me to separate his underwear from his socks, and still have plenty of room for his PJs. An entire drawer for longsleeved shirts. Another for shortsleeved shirts, and an entire drawer for blue jeans. It was perfect.
Except for the fact that it was currently stuffed with hunting clothes. I was pretty sure that Tim hadn't actually looked inside that dresser for years, so I made up my mind that we would go through it and then swap the two dressers out.
I got Tim to help me move the dresser into the front hall upstairs. I began to empty it out. The top drawer contained papers. The paperwork for when we bought the boys' house in Williamsport where they went to college. Saved us a fortune on tuition. Both boys are in their midthirties now and that house was sold when they graduated. Taxes from 2000 - 2004. Check receipts from an account we closed out long before we ever moved into town, and we've been here for 11 years, probably longer. Old cords that went to things that we probably haven't had for years. We found ourselves squinting at cords and asking questions like "Motorola? What did we ever have that was a Motorola?"
Yeah. Quite a bit of pitching out. I don't think we kept one thing. The paperwork made a happy glow in the fireplace.
The other three drawers were also amazing. I found no less than 8 knit caps. I cannot tell you the number of times that Tim has wondered where all his knit hats have gone. I looked at Tim. "Huh," he said.
Long johns. New long johns that his thrifty wife had obviously bought him at end of season while they were on sale. They were still in their store packaging. Lots of long johns, tops and bottoms. I looked at Tim. "Huh," he said.
I think that he was getting a little embarrassed at himself. I pulled out two pair of fleece lined jeans. "Those are too warm," he said. "I prefer the flannel lined jeans."
I started a stack of clothes to be taken to the Goodwill. Continuing on, I found a hooded sweatshirt he was pleased to see.
I found a pair of hunting pants. He said, "I'm pretty sure those don't fit," but he ducked into the bathroom to try them on and came out to drop them in the Goodwill pile.
I found a gas mask, an old army issue gas mask with unopened filters. "For pete's sake, Tim!" I said. He said nothing at all, but snatched it up to squirrel it away someplace else.
There were trigger finger mittens and leather gloves. Multiples of everything. A veritable treasure trove. Tim went through and picked what he wanted to save. In the bottom drawer, I found the real treasure however. There were nearly two dozen pairs of wool socks, some of them worn, some of them brand new. It was astounding.
I looked at Tim and Tim cleared his throat. "I don't like wool socks," he said.
I said, "Well, you might try telling people this bit of news." I was probably looking at several years of Christmas gift giving.
However, this wasn't really a bad discovery, because you know who likes wool socks? Me. I like them quite a lot. I was in my glory. There is nothing more wonderful than nice wool socks for padding around a house with hardwood floors in the winter time. Oh, the joy of socks! I began sorting through this treasure with real enthusiasm and wound up keeping a dozen pair. The rest went in the Goodwill pile.
(Nobody needs two dozen pairs of wool socks, not even me.)
(But then nobody needs a gas mask either, yet here we are.)
Not being in a mood for socks, Tim wandered off downstairs. I polished up the old dresser and slid it into William's room on a throw rug. I moved it into place and transferred everthing out of the little dresser into the new supersized dresser. The long johns and knit caps left over from Tim's hunting stuff fit into the little dresser with room to spare. I slid that dresser back into the spare bedroom closet and shut the door.
William wandered upstairs later to work on his Lego. Uncle Dylan and Aunt Brittani gave him a 2500 piece set for his birthday. It's for ages 18+. He's working on it one pouch at a time and is hopeful to complete it before his 18th birthday.
"That's a nice dresser," he commented. I enthusiastically showed him how easy it would be to keep his clothing organized and easy to find. "Huh," William said, in an uninterested voice.
I gathered up a dozen pair of wool socks and headed into our bedroom to put them away. 12 pair of bulky wool socks take up quite a bit of room in a drawer.
Suddenly the dresser in our bedroom is no longer big enough.
"Huh," I said.
I'm kicking that cold. Better yet, nobody else seems to be coming down with it.
Tim has been wanting to do something since he saw it advertised. There is a restaurant called 'Red's Best Pancakes'. It is only open for two months during maple syrup season, only on weekends, and only from 9-2. The draw is that they serve nothing but pancakes, sausage, applesauce with coffee and orange juice. No menus needed. The maple syrup is made in a big barn out back and it is brought to your table warm. Tim really really wanted to go. Today was the day. So we drove about 40 minutes.
It is a big log cabin and it looks for all the world like one of the lodges you'd see in the Adirondacks. There was a big fire place going, and pancakes were being turned out at an amazing rate. The long griddles had a pourer and a flipper because they were such huge pieces of equipment that the pourer would not have time to finish pouring and do the flipping.
Tim had already walked inside. I took a minute to read the sign on the door. They only took cash or check. I can't tell you the last time I saw a sign that read like that. I followed Tim inside where he and William were talking to the hostess already. "Tim," I said, "Do you have cash, because they don't take debit." He looked as surprised as I was. I told the girl, "We'll go back to town, and get some cash and we'll be right back." She smiled sweetly and said, "Come in and sit down. Have breakfast and then you can run into town and get money and come back."
I felt like we'd stepped into a time warp.
The place was packed and yet once seated, we had breakfasts within five minutes. The other thing? All you can eat. The record is 50 pancakes, in case you're curious. The current record holder was going to stop at 48, but the staff talked him into eating two more to become the champion. No records were broken today. Tim and I both had three pancakes and William had two. That did us just fine.
He got a good deal on a deer rifle once and is always hopeful to get another good deal.
Not so. William was quick to point out the morse code around the screw on cap of the light. It was EXACTLY the one used on his very favorite show. Tim said, "If you want it, you can buy it, and pay me when you get home. To me he said, "When he loses interest in it, I'll have another perfectly good flashlight."
Once home, I finished three loads of laundry and folded everything. In between loads, looking at my cell phone, I saw that Jurassic Quest was coming to The Erie BayFront Arena. You've seen them, the animatronic dinosaurs that roar and walk. It's quite a set up, something that you travel at your own pace and will take a couple hours to see. It will only be there for Easter weekend. I looked at the ticket prices and Tim and I had a quiet discussion. It would be a good Easter gift. We went on line and bought the tickets.
It's a lot more retro than Stranger Things but when we told William, he was thrilled.
We had a quiet supper. We finally had the jar of hotdogs that Mattie and Levi sent home with us. They were delicious. William and I watched 'Slumberland' while Tim visited slumberland on the couch. We both enjoyed it. I made a prediction very early on in the show and William explained at great length why I was wrong. As the story worked on, my theory was proven correct. William stared at me with real awe, and said, "Are you psychic?"
It was a gray day, but it was a happy one.
Not really much to say. I am on day 3 of an awful cold. It is not covid. It is hard not to remember that all of Tim's problems started with a cold that never quite went away, so I am doing my best to insure that he doesn't catch it. I have been pretty unproductive, I can tell you that. I keep telling myself that the house stuff will wait. Just get the necessary stuff done.
Today is the last day of his Holter monitor. If it shows nothing, they want to implant a monitor into his chest. We were both a little blindsided by this. He has no symptoms of A-fib. Never has had them. He does not want the implant. Since I believe the A-fib was caused by his serious dehydration, by the fact that his kidneys were not functioning properly, by the fact that he had a shot of steroids just hours before he just sort of fell apart, I cannot, in good conscience, talk him into it. That is a decision for him to make and I will back him up on that. I guess we'll wait and see.
We are supposed to be getting another snow storm today. The last one was on Monday, and it caused some real problems. Downed trees and power outages. It had not started this morning, so school was not called off, something a bit disappointing to William. It has been a gray day today, and the snow has begun once again. It is supposed to snow all through the night and into tomorrow. We're waiting to see about that, too.
Anvil Cloud commented yesterday that Tim and I have an interesting relationship, and I've been thinking about that.
Tim and I are very different. Most of the time, we simply accept those differences. He likes cars. As long as my car gets me from point a to point b, I'm happy with it. He likes to hunt, so I raise the vegetables. We get along pleasantly for the most part. I like to read. He doesn't. I like to write. He doesn't.
Things like that, in my mind are pretty superficial differences though and now that we are retired, we spend a lot of time together and we get along well enough.
Communication has always been an issue. Tim doesn't like to argue, with anyone. He will walk away. I think that sometimes things need to be said, brought out into the open. Everyone has their own personal 'non-negotiables'. I think. There are things that he will not tolerate (and shouldn't) and there are things that I will not tolerate (and shouldn't).
Sometimes, life happens and don't you damn know it, you look around and realize that you've blundered into one of those non-negotiable mindfields.
Tim will never be known as a great communicator but he listens. He won't answer in a lot of cases, but I chalk that up to being raised in an authoritarian family that didn't allow a lot of discussing. I know when he's upset about something because he sniffs. As ridiculous as that sounds, when I hear a sniff, followed shortly afterwards by another sniff, I know that somethings up. And so I ask him what he's upset about and he doesn't answer and I wait, because I know that he is upset. I'm kind of a no bull girl, and eventually, probably to get rid of me, he does talk. And we figure it out.
In this case, I'm the one who is upset. He understands the problem. He agrees that it is a problem. We are even in agreement of how it should be handled.
I think a lot of marriages are like that. Most I guess. I don't know. What we have is respect for each other and what we both bring to the table. It's a working partnership, and has been for 25 years.
Between us, we have raised 5 kids, and got 4 of them through college, We have built a nice little business for ourselves that generates income and should continue to do so for all the rest of our lives. When we are done, that business will be sold and divided up and provide each child with a nice nest egg that will advance them in their own lives.
Pretty decent life's work for a quiet hardworking man and a talkative hardworking woman.
Tim's been not himself for a while, and I've been concerned. He is coming back to himself though, and that is gratifying.
There's been ~um...~ a situation ~ that was purposely set on the back burner because it was not the time to trouble him I put my big girl panties on and just kept it to myself, but it was troubling me.
Yesterday, I had plans to go pay my respects at a funeral home. I've been just dragging for a couple days now. Yesterday, it became clear. I woke up with a headache, a wicked sore throat, and sick to my stomach. Body aches. It got worse as the day went on. So. I didn't go anywhere.
Tim stuck around home as well and during the course of the day, the topic finally came up. "Tim, I want to talk to you about something that has really been bothering me a lot." And I laid it all out. This has been a terribly stressful and worrisome time. I imagine that it was for both of us. He listened quietly, as is his nature. He told me that we were in agreement on the subject. We discussed it a little. He's not much of a talker. Never has been and that has caused a lot of problems for me in 25 years of marriage.
He sat quietly after I stopped talking. Finally, he ended up picking up a remote a turning on the television when he saw that I was done talking.
That made me mad. I mean, sometimes, I just need to know that he's listening.
So he watched a couple cop shows while I fumed quietly to myself.
After a couple hours, he said, "Well, I'm headed to bed. Coming?"
I said, "You know, I'm not sure where I am sleeping tonight." I'd had two hours to stoke a good head of steam and I was sick, I was mad, and I was feeling as if there was no resolution.
So...he went to bed without me. I slept on the couch watching a Netflix movie. The Starling, in case you're interested. Don't watch it unless you're in a mood to bawl your eyes out.
This morning, I got William up and moving. Tim eventually came downstairs and greeted me cheerfully. William was in the shower, and so I hissed, "Please don't Tim. I'm really mad at you right now."
He looked surprised. "Why?"
"Well, because I laid out something that was really troubling me. Something that you agreed was a problem and then you offer nothing in the way of resolution, You sit down and watch a couple television shows and go to bed. I'm really, REALLY, REALLY pissed. "
And he said, "Well, I decided the best way to handle it is..." and he laid out how he intends to handle the situation.
I said, "you sat there and you said nothing...."
He said, "Well, I didn't know that you wanted to hear what I was going to do..."
"Tim, that is called a discussion. One of us starts it. The other one listens, counters or agrees, and a solution is reached jointly. Of course you needed to voice your solution. That's how I know that we have reached an understanding."
He looked as if he's never heard this before. I can assure you that he has.
25 years people. 25 years.
I had an appointment with an oral surgeon today, so of course, it wasn't a day I was looking forward to.
I filled out the paperwork, and then waited in the waiting room. Two women came in, well dressed, made up, gravely voiced, talking about a piece of jewelry and where they had gotten it.
I was quiet, because I was nervous, but I listened to them. One, in very high heeled boots, tottered over to the coffee pot, a keurig. "Jamaican Me Crazy? HA, everyone already knows I'm crazy. No Jamaican about it..." and they both laughed loudly.
The other said, "I need to use that restroom," and she tottered off in her heels as well.
People are interesting, aren't they?
The woman came back out, and the other one loudly asked, "Everything come out okay?" They both tittered as if the old joke was the cleverest thing that had ever been said.
I almost forgot to be nervous as I listened to these two gabbing loudly about shopping. I mean, it was like watching an episode of Real Housewives of Jamestown, NY.
Eventually, my name was called, and the fun was over. I got an estimate that made my eyes water. $3300 for one tooth!
One of the things that I really enjoy doing, now that I have the time to do it, is cooking. And baking. I like to find new recipes.
I made a turkey the other day. Of course there were left overs. We had turkey salads, which were very nice. We had turkey sandwiches. Likewise, very nice.
But we still had turkey.
What to do, what to do? It was cold outside, and I thought that a nice pot of soup might hit the spot. And so I looked around on line and found a recipe that sounded very nice,
I bustled around the kitchen and rustled up a very nice tasting soup. It looked pretty too. I served it up for supper and...to say it was not a hit was an understatement.
It's a little exasperating. Any new recipe is viewed with great suspicion in this house. Tonight, I made the great anouncement. "You know what? I'm tired of putting together meals that everyone turns their noses up at. From now on, I'm not fussing over meals. We're having the same old stuff that we always have."
And two sets of eyes, one pair brown, one pair hazel, looked at me with such hopeful expressions.
Tim drove to Erie today. It was the farthest he's driven since everything happened, just over an hour. William had some time at a trampoline park and we had lunch at a wood fired pizza place. We stopped at a big city thrift store while we were leaving town.
I bought two long sleeved t-shirts, a dress blouse to match a sweater, and a shirt for William. Much to Tim's delight, he found a keyboard. It's like the fourth keyboard that we've had for this computer. We've had an annoying problem with the letters wearing off our keyboard. It doesn't matter to me, because I am a touch typer, but for a hunt and peck fellow like Tim, it's a supreme handicap. We've tried various paints but nothing seems to stick. Tim got a nice microsoft keyboard for 99 cents and it made his day.
My exploring time was pretty limited. Tim was wearing out. On the way back to the car, he handed me my keys. I drove home. He slept in the car.
He's been sleeping a lot better at night. At this point, he doesn't even always need the bottle of beer, so that is good, good news. He usually gets a good nap in the afternoon as well, and it makes all the difference for him.
My sister drove to Pittsburgh last night to pick up her husband. He was flying home from the Dominican Republic where he'd gone with a group to build houses. Unfortunately, his plane had engine trouble and he got stuck for an extra day. Anna messaged me, and I said, "Well, if your plane has engine trouble, it's best if this is discovered while the plane is on the ground." She agreed. Dave got a free night at a resort in Punta Cana. Anna had to pay for her room in Pittsburgh. I'm sure it was nowhere near as fancy. But all's well that end's well, and they are on their way back home.
Tonight, Houdini surprised me. I was stretched out reading. He came over to the couch, studied me for a while, and then jumped up to stretch out beside me. I petted him for a while and then went back to reading. Unhappy with this, he climbed up on my lap, stretched himself out in a lazy way, and fell asleep. That was a first.
Know what else was a first? I saw snowdrops blooming today. It was cold and gray, but there they were! What a cheerful sight!
According to the Ontario County Sheriff's Office, a brief pursuit led authorities from East Bloomfield into Canandaigua, where police shot and killed Brandon M. Zurkan, 31, of Warren, Pennsylvania following an encounter between Zurkan and police.
At 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, 911 was alerted by a citizen who heard a "firecracker or gunshot" from a sedan he was following on state Route 5 in East Bloomfield. A deputy in a marked patrol car intercepted the sedan on Route 5 in the town of Canandaigua, saw the car travel over the center line twice and activated emergency lights and sirens to try to stop the car, Ontario County Sheriff David Cirencione said Wednesday at a news conference. Zurkan, he said, continued driving east into the city, drove erratically, including on lawns and through at least one red traffic light, and fired multiple shots from the car. The pursuit ended when Zurkan drove through a fence and struck a curb.
Zurkan got out of the car, gun in hand. Cirencione said that four officers -- two deputies and two Canandaigua police officers -- fired at Zurkan after Zurkan pointed his gun at police. Police were attempting to deescalate the encounter for over 8 minutes at the time, police said.
We had an errand to run this morning, which was good because it got Tim out of the house. He really has quite a case of cabin fever, I think, but he's trying not to mind. He really is doing a lot better now that he's sleeping.
This evening there was an unexpected knock on the door and it was our old buddy Ray. We brought him in and we blabbed on the couch awhile. He said, "Well, it is time for me to mosey back up on the hill." He also said that he was pretty mad at himself. He'd gotten a hankering for some cornbread last night, and that he whipped up a Jiffy mix. It must have been outdated because they didn't rise. He'd meant to pick up another box while he was out during the day, but he'd forgotten.
"Ray!" I said incredulously. "For pete's sake!"
He looked embarrassed at his absentmindness.
"No! Not that," I said. "Cornbread is easy enough to throw together." I went to the kitchen and started grabbing stuff from the cupboard. He followed me out, looking a little shocked. It took me 10 minutes to mix it all together and scrape it into a pie pan. I popped it into a 400 oven and said, "You'll have to wait for 25 minutes."
"Do you ever think how much money you'd save on groceries if you stopped feeding everyone?" he asked. He and Tim settled in to jawjack a bit longer. I used the time to put my kitchen back to rights and do the dishes that I had not done after our supper. Ray was watching hungrily when I tested the cornbread and then pulled the pan out of the oven. "That smells so good."
I covered it in foil and wrapped it in a towel to keep it hot for the trip home. I also popped some sausages in there and told him to cook a couple eggs to go with it.
He headed down the driveway with his piping hot cornbread like he was holding treasure.
That single solitary bottle of beer at bedtime continues to be a great help to Tim. The first day, he slept the clock around, the second, he slept nearly 7 hours, and last night, although he had problems falling asleep, once asleep, he slept soundly. I got William off to school. Tim is sleeping still.
It is a big relief to both of us. He sounds more himself. My brother-in-law is in the Dominican Republic building houses right now. My sister was off work, so she stopped in. We ate lunch at played a couple games of Scrabble and had a couple hours of heart to heart. Both things did me as much good as the sleep has done for Tim.
Last Saturday, I got a bright idea. Turkey! Who doesn't fall asleep on Thanksgiving day after a good turkey dinner? I always pick up two or three turkeys for the freezer after the holidays when they are on sale, so I grabbed one and put it in the fridge to begin thawing. Although Tim discovered the miracle of beer, with a half thawed turkey in the fridge, I was committed.
Yesterday was the day, and I tried a new recipe, infusing olive oil with rosemary, garlic cloves and slices of lemon over night. I worked the skin away from the breast of the turkey, and stuffed that with slices of lemon and poured some infused olive oil in that pocket. It was supposed to be stuffed with quartered oranges and lemons, but it seemed like such a waste. After baking, the fruit is discarded. But I tried a new stuffing recipe and just popped it in a slow oven and basted it with the olive oil infusion.
It was great.
A couple days ago, our landline rang. It was an unknown number, but I was expecting a number of return calls, so I didn't feel comfortable not answering it. A deeply accented voice began talking about my auto insurance. I said, "We are not looking to change our insurance now. Thanks." and disconnected the call.
Within seconds the phone was ringing again. It was a different number with the same area code and prefix. I answered again because it unusual for them to call back. The same heavily accented voice said, "This is not a sales call. I am calling to give you information only, and I would ask please to make my day by listening."
I didn't answer, but I was intrigued enough to stay on the line. There was a pause, and the man began going on about Allstate Auto Insurance. "Now. How many vehicles do you own?"
I disconnected again. You never know what information is being gleaned from whatever information you might give them. I had no idea who I was talking to.
Within seconds, the phone was ringing again. Same area code, same prefix. different last four digits. I did not bother to take the call, and walked around all afternoon with the guilty knowledge that I'd had an opportunity to make someone's day and did not do it.