Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Beginning

 It's been a long time since I really 'bought' groceries, so today was the day. On top of the fact that I needed to stock up, I also needed to figure out how to feed a gang of concrete workers. No idea how many. So I have five pounds of hamburger cooking in the slow cooker with peppers and onions. I'm following my sister's lead and making sloppy joes. It will feed who ever shows up. 

It's going to be hot, so we've got a case of water, 3 six packs of pepsi, and 24 bottles of gatorade in the fridge. I've got the freezer packed up with all sorts of frozen treats. 

I went to Goodwill and picked up a dozen towels which are in the washer right now, so that they can all clean up. We shut off the water, so it will be the old fashioned way: 5 gallon containers of water and wash basins. I don't suppose that 'old fashion' will bother the Amish.

By the end of the week, we will have our basement done. That's amazing to me. 



Monday, May 29, 2023

Bread

 William came home from school on Friday, and he was a bit grumpy. He had homework. Baking for Good is a program put out by the King Arthur Flour Company. They watch a video demonstration and each student receives a little bag cloth bag with a package of yeast, a small bag of whole wheat flour, a bag of white flour. a dough scraper and the recipe. 

The idea is that he bake two loaves of bread, one to share with his family. The second loaf goes back to school and is collected with the other loaves of bread and given to a local food pantry. 

I listened as we walked. I'm a sucker for stuff like this anyway, so I tried to be cheerful. "We've baked bread before. You enjoyed it. This will be fun." I pointed out that it was a long weekend, so we had plenty of time to get around to it. He remained grumpy. If they would have called it anything besides homework, he'd probably have been much better natured about the whole thing. 

In any case, he plunked the kit down on the hoosier cabinet when we got home from school. This morning was the day, and so I got him started on it. Since it was his project, I tried to stay out of the way, unless my assistance was required, but we had plans for the afternoon. It was 9 in the morning, so I figured we were leaving plenty of time. 

I pulled out my trusty Kitchen Aide mixer. William said, "What are you doing?' I said that the mixer had a dough hook and was a very nice way to blend and knead the bread. I did not add that it was also quicker. 

He looked at me. "We didn't use a mixer. We stirred it." 

I said, "Yes, you can do it either way. I'll let you choose whether you want to stir it or use the mixer." 

He thought about it. "Let's use the mixer." 

I was washing dishes from breakfast. He came over with the measuring cup. "I need one cup of warm water." 

I said, "What temperature should the water be?"

He said, "The recipe just says warm water." 

I looked. He was right. There was no temperature in the recipe.That seems like kind of critical there. At least, I've always thought so. I got the kitchen thermometer and said, "You want the water to be between 110 and 120 degrees. You don't want the water too hot. That will kill the yeast. You don't want it too cold or the yeast will not grow well." 

"The lady did not say that." He followed my directions in an irritated way.

*sigh*

He poured the water into the mixing bowl. He added 1/4 cup of sugar. He added the yeast. He explained to me that you would see the yeast start to foam and that's when you went on to the next step. 

"That's right," I said, washing dishes. 

I could smell that the yeast was working. He poured the whole wheat flour into another bowl. 

"What are you doing there?" I asked. 

He explained that the flour needed to be stirred before it was measured. 

'Huh,' I thought. I don't stir my flour, but hey, it was not my project, and so I kept my thoughts to myself. A circle of flour surrounded the glass bowl when he was done. He carefully measured out one cup and added it to the yeast mix. I happened to be wiping down the counter, and so I reached over and switched the mixer on low. 

William freaked. " TURN THE MIXER OFF! I'M  NOT DONE! I HAVE TO ADD ANOTHER CUP OF FLOUR!" 

I said, "That's fine. You can do that."

He continued on in an agitated way, waving his arms around. 

"William, listen. We're just mixing the flour in. We can stir the first cup in and you can add the second cup. I've made a lot of bread in my life. Really, it's fine." 

He was sure it was NOT fine, and he continued on. He added the second cup of wheat, and then 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of salt. 

That's twice as much salt as I use, and so I double checked the measurement. That irritated him too. He was right, though, and said, "I TOLD you...." 

The mixer churned on as he added his ingredients, and then he added one last cup of wheat flour. He dumped the wheat flour back into the bag. Well...most of it went into the bag. Then he opened the small bag of white flour and dumped it in the bowl. A small cloud raised up around the table as he stirred and stirred the flour. Then he measured out three cups of flour and added each cup to the mixture, raising up small clouds of flour above the counter too. I watched closely, pointing out that the dough was pulling away from the side of the bowl and that was a sign that it's going just right. 

We floured the table and turned the dough out on it and he kneaded the dough. I got down his great-grandmother's bread bowl from the cupboard and buttered it. He shaped the kneaded dough into a ball and plopped it in the bowl. He covered it with plastic wrap. I showed him how to set the bowl in warm water to make it raise faster. 

We cleaned up the kitchen while we waited for the 30 min rise time to be done. 

He plopped the dough out on the the floured table. and began to roll it out. 

"This recipe makes two loaves. You need to divide the dough in half." 

He debated that hotly. "It does not say that." 

I showed him where it did. 

"Oh," he said. dividing the dough in half.

He rolled the dough and folded it following the directions. We were making two rustic loaves, by his choice, and I handed him a knife to make the slashes in the top. Turns out I was dead wrong on that according to the lady who gave the talk. You don't make the slashes until after the loaves had raised a second time. 

I didn't bother to tell him that it didn't matter. At this point, I was getting worried about our afternoon plans. It was after 11. 

He made his loaves and he let them raise, he made his slashes, and he popped the bread in the oven. It was supposed to bake for 30 minutes. Since we were baking two loaves of bread, he was absolutely certain that the timer should be set for an hour. That did matter and so it was argued. I insisted on having my way in the matter. He was dead certain that I was wrong. 

30 minutes later, he was pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven with two perfect loaves of bread. He was quite proud of himself. Later, at supper, we sampled our loaf. It tasted as good as it looked. He is excited to take that second loaf to school tomorrow. 

Breadmaking is always a soothing, mindful activity for me. It is quite a different thing when you're baking that bread with a 12 year old armed with a recipe, who knows exactly how the lady did it at school. 



Words

 Tim came home from church today and said that there had been a big accident. He wasn't sure what happened, but the police were detouring traffic through a store parking lot. He just couldn't understand how an accident would be so large that it shut down four lanes of traffic, but it did.

Tonight on facebook, there was a quiet post. A man driving a minivan was hit by a truck pulling a trailer this morning, right where Tim had been. The man's 8 year old daughter had been lifeflighted to Buffalo. 

Once there, his daughter was whisked into surgery for a severe head injuries. He gave a lot of details and it sounded very gruesome. 70 stitches. Her skull being held together by plates. It was quite a terrifying ordeal for him and his wife as they waited for the surgery to be done, and to find out the extent of the brain damage. 

He updated to say that miraculously, the part of the brain affected was responsible for taste and smell, that otherwise her brain function seemed normal. When she woke up, they were both overjoyed to hear her speaking coherently, and acting just like her normal self, just groggy from the anaethesia. 

As he watched his daughter sleeping in the hospital room, filled with gratitude and relief, he found that he could not get the truck driver's anguish out of his mind. 

He made a facebook post: 

'There was a big accident @62 and Jackson run. A truck with a trailer hit a brown Honda Odyssey. A little girl was sent to Buffalo NY helicopter. 

I was driving the van. The little girl is my daughter. I'm looking to reach out to the man driving the truck. The poor man felt horrible, and I want to assure him that she's doing really well and that it looks like she is going to be okay. She survived. Lots of stitches. Probably a scar, but she'll live. Everything else is details. We feel very blessed. 

All I know is that he's Jehovah's Witness, it was a couple around 55-65 years, NY plates. I want to exend some comfort and to let him know that there are no hard feelings. Accidents happen. We're all human. 

If you know this man, please message me privately. I'd like to give him my phone number." 


That's pretty powerful, isn't it? Made me feel much better about humanity. 

It made my own worries seem kind of inconsequential, but I've been struggling for a while, and today, reality came along and smacked me along side the head. I pondered the situation as I scrubbed grout at the rental. It's been building for some time and I could see my own part in it. I can get a lot of scrubbing done while I'm doing my soul searching. 

By the time that Tim ambled in. I knew what I wanted to say, and I said it. I didn't raise my voice. I owned my part in it. I also made it clear that he needed to own his part of it. 

He doesn't really have much to say. He's not a talker, and that makes things difficult. After I said my piece I went back to scrubbing.

Finally, in a quiet voice, he admitted that I was right. 

I looked at him, knowing full well that's all I was going to get out of him. I said, "You know, you expect everyone else to address their problems. You're pretty vocal about personal responsibility. Why are you exempt from that?" 

I scrubbed some more. 

He left to do some work over at the renovation. 

Marriage is two imperfect people. It just bothers me a lot sometimes that after 25 years, we still stumble. 

Did you ever just run into a random person that changes the whole complexion of your day? That happened today. I got to talking to a woman over some lawn furniture set out at the curb, and it was the most fascinating conversation. She and her husband winter in one place and summer here, so I didn't know her, But in an amazingly short period of time, we knew an awful lot about each other. We had people in common. questions asked and answers given, and 'huh!' and so on and so forth. We exchanged phone numbers and e-mails and she said, "You're extremely intelligent. I can tell that about you. You are a good person. I can tell that too." 

A random meeting, random words, but boy, today they felt like a blessing. Two strangers hugged on the curb and I headed to the car. 

I went back to continue working. Tim came back, and said, a little uncertainly, "Your sister wants to know if we want to come for supper. She's making sloppy joes." 

I did want to go. I just needed conversation. I just wanted to talk. 

It was a nice supper. The words flowed, and there was plenty of laughter. Her son and his wife and grandson were there too. He is retiring from the Army and they are in the process of moving to the farm up the road that they bought a few years back so it was nice to be a part of that excitement too. 

William was due back and we could only stay a couple hours. The car ride home was still quiet, but it seemed a lot easier to bear the silence with the echoes of laughter and talk still fresh in my ears. .



Sunday, May 28, 2023

Getting Close!

 We spent the day working on the renovation. William and I got the porch cleared away. Inside, I began sorting through old books. So many books, some of them in Swedish and very old. So much sheet music, dating back to 1907. I am sure that some of these things would matter very much to the right people, and if I knew who these people were, I would send word to them right away. 

There are some books I'm keeping. For instance, Emily Post's book on 'etiquette' looks like a fun thing to look through. As I casually flipped through it, one important chapter was devoted determining how many servants one needs to run an efficient household. I think I will need to read that closely, because the current servant of this house really is not running an efficient household at all. She probably should be replaced, the slattern. 

It is sad to say, but Tim and I have decided to (gasp) throw away books. Put them on a dump truck and take them to a transfer station. While we are doing that, we are going to hoe out some old books at home as well. There are books that are no longer relevant, and haven't been for many years. There is no point in keeping them. 

Any books that are readable and relevant (and there are plenty of them) will be headed to our library's "Book Cellar", a used book store that sells their donations out of the (you guessed it!) the cellar. 

William and I also completed another big project. We got all the glass ware and dishes washed and loaded into the car and taken to Goodwill.  I have another car load of appliances still new and in their boxes. That stuff is set out and waiting for me to haul away. 

William earned $10 for his help today, and he got his allowance too. He is $32 away from his VR equipment and he's chomping at the bit. He has his lawnmowing job to do on Monday, which will get him another $10.

He's got it all figured out and thinks he can have the money he needs by the end of next weekend. It's an exciting time to be William. 


Friday, May 26, 2023

Twilight Zone

 Tim is low tech. I'm not exactly high tech, but he's worse than me, I think. He has a flip phone because he wants a flip phone. He likes a phone he can tuck in his pants pocket. He got his first phone from my son when Dylan upgraded his phone after high school. Tim carried that thing for quite a few years until it finally died. He replaced it with another flip phone and he's had that one for years. 

I got a smart phone a few years back, just a cheap android, Straight Talk, meaning I buy a card every month. Tim likes the smart phone, because he likes to have access to the internet when we are at camp. So a couple of Christmases back, I bought him a smart phone. It has remained in a file cabinet for the past year and a half. 

Alas. Tim's flip phone no longer holds a charge. He can charge it, but as soon as it is unplugged, it loses power immediately. He complained. I said, "For heaven's sake, Tim. You've got another phone..." 

Stubbornly, he held out for another week, always getting mad as heck when his phone died in the middle of a conversation. "I want our landline back!" he yelped.

I said, "You know what? If you want the landline back, you call them. You deal with customer service, because really, I've spent way too much time on the phone with them already. You made the decision to drop television and telphone. You want it back, YOU call them. YOU deal with customer service." 

So, he got out his 'new' two year old cell phone. Unfortunately, I spent a hour on the phone with customer service getting that straighted out, so it's hard to tell who is the winner here. 

Today, Tim was at the retirement property.

I stayed home. I had a to-do list of things that we needed to get done. A letter with a deadline to be assembled and mailed. I was waiting on an important call from our lawyer. I had some errands to run. I kept busy today. 

This afternoon, Tim messaged me to make sure I had been able to get some of the most time sensitive things knocked out. He was quite impressed that it all got done. He mentioned that my brother in law had come over to see what he needed. Dave said that Tim had called. Tim said, "It was the strangest thing. I didn't call him." 

I figured that he had butt-dialed him somehow on his new phone, but he said, "I haven't even entered Dave's phone number into my contacts yet."

Hmmmm.

My sister messaged me later in the night asking for Tim's new number. I gave it to her. She said, "Dave got a call from Tim. It was from his old number, though." 

I said, "That's sitting right here on the table. He leaves it plugged in, just to check for messages until he's certain that everyone has his new number, but he's not carrying it, beccause it can't be unplugged or it won't work.

She said, "It came in at 1:40."

I mentioned that I wasn't even home at that time, as I went in to the table where it is sitting plugged in. Sure enough. The call log showed a call going to Dave at 1:40. 

The phone was all by itself on the table. No one was here to use it. How on earth...?


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Can you dig it?

Today, there was an equipment breakdown. Tim's tractor fixing tools came in handy for the excavator as well. 'Carrot Top (his real name is Johnny, turns out) delivered the forms for the concrete work to begin next week. 72 hours later after the concrete is poured, the excavator can return to back fill, which means filling in the dirt around the basement walls. 

Then the rest of it falls ou our shoulders. I haven't exactly got a time line for the rest of it, but this weekend, I'll get the camp cleaned and ready to opened for summer. I think we'll be spending a lot of time there this summer. 

William's last day of school is June 9th. He's chomping at the bit. Once school is done, we'll be able to stay down there during the week and get cracking on the house. The idea is to get the frame up, a roof on, windows and doors in, make it weather tight. 

Not much else to report. We've made a decision on something that will either work out beautifully, or bite us in the behind big time. It's hard to tell, but it is kind of a nail biting time here as well. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

News

 


Forgive the crappy pictures, but it never occured to me to grab the camera.
We've got a big ol' mountain of dirt. 
We've got a big hole in the ground. 
Tim couldn't be happier. 
I'm a little amazed at the work done in just seven hours. Tomorrow, the excavator will return with a smaller piece of equipment and dig out the french drains and a trench for the water. He expects to be done tomorrow. The concrete guy cannot pour on Monday because it is a holiday, but he expects to begin work on Tuesday. 

In other news: they captured Michael Burham earlier today. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Planning big plans.

 Tomorrow morning is the big day. The excavator begins work. I'm not sure how long that will take but once that is done, the contractor will begin work on the basement. After years of having it as a long range plan (try getting a concrete guy to call you back. They just don't), we found a guy who was willing to do the work, and to do it in pretty short order. Amazingly, we found an excavator who was willing to come out and do the required work in that time frame as well. 

That is pretty miraculous, like the stars aligning. So. We're building a house that we were not ready to build, but we'd be stupid to not build, what with the alignment of the stars and all, because finding a concrete contractor who's not booked for years and an excavator contractor who happened to have a free month, well. that's something that might not happen again in our lifetime.

We've been stockpiling for this house right along. When Tim sees windows on clearance at Lowe's, he buys them and stores them in the old house on the property, the one that I refuse to live in because it has snakes and other critters (once there was a ground hog in the attic). We have a little wood stove, a parlor stove. I've got my butcher block, that huge monstrous thing taken from a commercial kitchen. We're building a kitchen around that piece. (Well. That and a Heartland stove). We have a cast iron bathtub for the bathroom, a real beaut, a Kohler in perfect shape. Some guy ripped it out of his house and just wanted it gone. We got it for $100. We've got a high back bathroom sink we took from a renovation.  I even have the chairs and lounger for the front porch. Tonight Tim found a fiberglass front door, still in its box for sale on line. The guy bought it 4 years ago, and never installed it. We got a very expensive door for $175. 

It's how we roll. 

It's hard not to be excited. We went walking tonight. Usually we're dreaming our dreams, but tonight we were planning our plans. That's a very different thing.

I made chicken last night for chicken alfredo.  I set a decent portion aside for tonight's supper. I knew that I was going to be doing some running today for Tim. 120 miles later, I got home five minutes before William got out of school. I was throwing a quick supper together, the chicken cooked in chicken broth with mushrooms and peas and onions added and thickened.  It really did make a good gravy, and it went over potatoes quite nicely. William doesn't like peas, and he is really quite clever about it, taking a mouthful of food, but somehow, when he takes his spoon out of his mouth, there are always those peas on his spoon. He daintily sets them off to the side. 

Sigh. 

There was not much left gravy left and Mangey was begging outside, so I took a bowl of chicken gravy out to him. Later, I went outside and laughed to see the empty bowl was licked clean. The peas were licked clean and daintily set to the side. 

12 year old boys and feral cats: Not all that different.

Tim and I walked tonight, admiring the flowers, and talking about the new house. It felt nice. 



Monday, May 22, 2023

I Stand Corrected. (Again)

 They still have not found Michael Burham, who is the prime suspect in the murder of a Jamestown woman. His family is from the area, and so he has ties here, but the police have been notably closed mouthed about giving out any information at all, and that silence has allowed social media to go nuts. 

Now I consider myself a sensible sort and since his truck was discovered in a short walk from our house, to be honest, I figured that he'd simply taken a kayak, throw in and floated down river. All along the river, there are plenty of camps that he could break into and hole up for the night, get up the next morning and throw back in and travel on a little more. It is early enough in the spring that kayaking hasn't really gotten in to full swing and camps you don't see camps being opened back up for the summer until Memorial day. 

He's been running since May 13th. I mean, he'd be crazy to hang around here, don't you think? 

Once again, I stand corrected. 


Turns out that he was living in the woods not far from here. On the 20th, he kidnapped an elderly couple at gunpoint, and he drove their car, with them in it, to Charleston, SC. He pulled off into a cemetery, walked them out of their car and then left them there. They were both unharmed, but I am sure that it was a terrifying experience. 

Once again, I am wrong. 

I hope they catch the guy soon. 

Today, I was able to get some house cleaning done. I always savor a catch up day, so that felt good. 

I wanted to run over and spray the grout once again at the rental. I'll go over and scrub it tomorrow once the fumes have died down. On the way, there was a man standing at a cross walk. Oncoming traffic had already stopped to allow him to cross and 3 cars waited. Of course, I stopped as well. 

Much to my surprise, the man in the crosswalk threw up his arms in a disgusted way, and complaining loudly, he stomped across the street, waving his arms and gesticulating wildly. It was such an unexpected response that I burst out laughing. He looked at me sharply and I called "You're welcome!" He swore and continued on. 

How very strange! '

Today, I waited, just to see. Tim went to brush hog where the excavating will be done starting on Wednesday. The excavator wants him on site, so that will tie him up for the rest of the week. He's quite keyed up about all of this. When he returned home, he was complaining. 

I said, "Happy anniversary!" He looked startled, but gave me a kiss. "Did you forget our anniversary too?" I teased. 

He says he didn't. I kind of think that he did. 




Sunday, May 21, 2023

Speed Painting

 Well, live and learn. 12 noon is 12PM. 12 midnight is 12AM. And now that I know this amazing factoid, you can bet the ranch that I will never need that information again. 

It's been a busy week. We painted the new siding at the renovation. It really does look very nice, a soft gray to go with the dark gray cedar shakes on the second floor and the even darker gray shingles on the roof. It took two days to complete. Friday, we got up, determined to get the job done since it was supposed to rain all day Saturday. Except that as we worked, it got windier. It got cooler. It got darker. 

I said, "Are you sure about the rain? Because, boy, it does look like rain." 

He said uneasily, "Better check your phone." I retrieved it from the car and looked. No rain called for. We went back to work. 

Dick, our neighbor came out, and said, "Boy. It sure does look like rain." 

We agreed, and kept on painting, albeit a bit faster. 

The paint was drying very quickly because of the wind, which was encouraging. We moved the scaffolding to the last side of the house. By the time I carried my supplies around to that side of the house, Tim was on the scaffolding painting at a furious pace. I painted from a step ladder, painting the middle section, he painted the upper section. I had completed the lowest parts the day before trying to use up my gallon of paint. 

I said, "I think it's spritzing rain." Tim had just finished his part. "We better stop right here." I was so close to being done though! I made a bold decision, and finished it. It never rained more than that bit of drizzle. Hurrah!

We hung new blinds in the rental. I've still got the bathroom grouting to do. 

Tim met with the excavator and the concrete contractor yesterday. Work on the new house begins next week. The contractor begins digging. When he's done, the concrete for the basement floor will be poured. The walls will be put in after that. While he is there, Tim's also having them pour concrete for the garage floor. 

I heard a strangled yelp from the office. "What's the matter?" I asked. "It's your birthday!" he answered. 

LOL. We've been busy. Thank goodness for facebook.



Thursday, May 18, 2023

Correct me if I'm wrong.

 Interestingly enough, Tim trusted me with a gallon of paint and a paint brush today, less than a week after I managed to drop a gallon bucket of paint on a hardwood floor. Of course, today there was no hardwood floor to drop it on, which probably gave him a great deal of comfort. We were working on the renovation today. I painted while he and a neighbor finished up the last few pieces of hardie board siding. 

It felt nice to work on something besides cleaning the rental, which is one project away from being completely done. I just did not feel like scrubbing grout with a toothbrush today, and jumped at the chance to work outside. 

Tim's off tonight to have a sleep study done. He was pretty tired when he left, so I"m sitting up in the dark waiting for him to call and tell me that he got there safely. I really kind of don't think he needs that study since he's pretty much gotten back to a normal sleep pattern, which makes me feel better. His doctor really pushed for it saying that they can get quite a bit of information from it. Tim agreed. 

William had his spring band concert tonight. He's in sixth grade and seeing him up on stage with all the other kids, he just looked so small. There were two kids who looked like grown men! We're waiting though. I know that his height bothers him and last week, a girl walked behind him on the way home from school making fun of his size. I keep telling him that genetically speaking, he should be a quite a tall kid. In fact he has grown a couple inches since Christmas, which was discovered when he put on his suit pants which were just a wee bit short.  I felt bad that I hadn't thought to have him try them on before the concert. 

We have just been busy, a little busier than I want to be, but I keep telling myself that once the new build starts, we'll be busier yet.

Know how I can tell when I've got too much happening in my life? Tonight I noticed that two key wound clocks and one weight driven clock have stopped. 

Well. I'm headed to bed. Tim just called. His appontment was for 12 PM according to the information packet we received in the mail. 12 PM is midnight, the end of night. 12:01 begins AM. Likewise, 12 noon is the end of morning. One minute after noon becomes afternoon PM. That's the way I''ve always understood it. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. 

Turns out, they expected him there at noon. Ugh.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Blows my mind.

We got a hospital bill today from when Tim was hospitalized in Erie for two days after his stroke. $36,000. For two days. 

PS: All those tests? Billed separately. $36,000 is for the hospital stay alone. 

That's insanity. 

Tim went up to talk to 'Carrot Top', the fellow we've contracted to do our basement for the new house. Saturday, we are all meeting up on site. Carrot Top will direct the excavation. Once the excavator has the directions, he'll start work. Once the excavating is done, the basement will be poured. The new build is getting under way. It's always a bit of a shock. The house build has always seemed so far into the future. Some day has become next week.

They still haven't found the suspect in the murder case. The news says that he has several active warrants on him for some pretty violent crimes, including child endangerment. The woman he is said to have killed has three children with him. How scary it would be to try to make sure those grieving children are protected. His address was also a shock. He lives not far from our friends Levi and Mattie. 

Day is Done

 Monday was a whirl of activity from the time that I got up until the time I went to bed. It just fell that way. There was the expected stuff: a guy coming into our house to do some work. Washing the windows at the rental. Scrubbing and finishing the hardwood floors there. Of course I ran out of the finish/sealer and had to drop everything to run out and get more and at a time when I was not fit to be seen in public. After weeks of listening to Tim rant about his flip phone not holding a charge, and reminding him that he had a brand new smart phone I bought him a year ago sitting in a box waiting to be activated, he finally decided to make the jump yesterday. That was not without drama. It involved a lengthy call to customer service. (You all know how much I hate THAT.) I got William to his haircut by the skin of our teeth. 

That multicooker was worth its weight in gold yesterday. It was a marvelous thing to put a venison roast in, along with celery, carrots, potatoes and onions. The only thing required when I got home was making the gravy. 

The good news is that it all got done. All of it. It felt good, finally, to be sitting on the couch folding laundry. 


Sunday, May 14, 2023

An Hour at the Thrift Store.

 The less said about yesterday, the better. Tim slipped away while I was talking to Cara on the phone to finish the painting. It's going to be a long time before he trusts me with a paint brush again. 

The day started out with a flurry of messages from the kids wishing me a Happy Mother's day. I had a leisurely morning to myself. William was picked up to spend the day with his mom, something that he was looking quite forward to. Tim went off to church. 

After Tim got home from church, we went to Goodwill. He was looking for a belt. I didn't really need anything. $23 later....

Tim found his belt right off and he was much pleased with it. It was a good sturdy working man brand. I was just ambling, looking, seeing what they had.

I had a large crock pot when the kids were home. I needed it. When it fizzled, I simply replaced it with a small pot. For Tim and I it was really all we need. Except the small pot is not big enough for a roast with vegetables on the side, etc, so I've been missing my big crock pot. This is a Cuisinart 6 quart multicooker. It was in perfect condition. It sells for about $100 new. It was on the shelf for $4.99. In the cart it went. 

Amazingly, I also found a Laura Ashley nightgown with the store tags. It was selling for $4.99. I was pretty happy with that find and happier yet to find that there were TWO of them. Both of them came home with me. 

I felt like quite the luckiest person in the world, but the day was not done. I saw a pair of Adidas sneakers. They showed no sign of being worn. The thing was, they were marked as a size 7. William wears a size 4. Studying the shoe, I did not see how it could possibly be a size 7. "I do think these will fit him,:" I said to Tim. Because of the tag, he doubted me.  At $5.99, they went into the cart too. I figured worse case scenario, I would simply bring them back. 

We went out for lunch, and then picked up a few groceries and came home. 

I matched a pair of William's shoes up with the size 7 shoes we had picked up. They were a perfect match. When he got home from his day, he tried them on and they fit perfectly. I'm going to guess that somehow the shoe was mismarked with the wrong size, but it was lucky find for us. 

Bad days always end, don't they?


Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

 I got my hair cut and then headed over to paint. It was 80 degrees out, and I threw open the windows and listened to my favorite Pandora station. Mumford and Sons Radio plays a good selection of not only that band, but The Steeldrivers, Lord Huron, Tracy Chapman, Chris Stapleton and a nice mix of indie music. The music swirled around with the warm breeze, and I worked quietly and carefully for a couple of hours, stopping to admire my progress and sip on a cold drink. 

I do the trim, and Tim does the roller work and I had made my way around the room, trimming three windows, two doors and a stairwell. 

And then William and Tim came back from the birthday party. 

William was tired, but saw an opportunity to make some extra money. I gave him a job. He whined and complained. It was too hard. He needed help. I helped him, and then gave him another small job. I went back to my painting. While I was gone, Tim had done the roller work required to two of the three walls that required it. I wasn't quite finished with the trim on that third wall. I tried to step up the pace. 

William needed help. 

I said, "William, I can't stop now. You're going to have to wait."

He got upset because he saw his opportunity to get some extra dough slipping away. He began to fuss and to complain. He wanted a job. "Listen," I said, trying to be patient. "You can do 'x'. You can do 'y'. If you want, you can do 'z'. But we're busy right now, and we cannot stop to help you." 

For the record, the jobs were moving the tools from the now finished living room, sweeping the kitchen floor, or sweeping the dining room floor. He did not want to do these things. 

"Then don't do them," I said. 

"But I want to earn money," he said. 

"William," I said in a warning tone. "You need to stop." He didn't. 

Tim yelled at him for the second time in one day. William fled up the stairs in quite a temper. 

Tim said, "I knew he'd be tired."

I said, "He's not having his late night Friday nights anymore. This is ridiculous." 

I tried to step up the pace. I had just to trim in the ceiling on that final wall, and I did something I never do. I took the bucket of paint to the top of the ladder, and trying to hurry, managed to drop it. Don't even ask me how I did it. Paint everywhere. Half a bucket of expensive paint lost. I couldn't get off the ladder without stepping in the paint on the ladder treads. It was awful. My bare feet were making tracks, adding to the general  disaster. 

In the middle of all of this, William resumed his fretting from the stairwell. Tim lost all patience. I was fed up with both of them. There was much hollering from all sides. William stormed out the door and sat in the car feeling very sorry for himself. 

It was not one of our finer days. 

Let me close with a laugh from facebook: 

A woman was writing a condolence card. Her five year old son asked her what she was doing. She explained that she was writing a card to her friend to tell her how sorry she was that her mother died. 

The five year old pondered this a while and then tentatively asked, "You're just writing that to be nice, right? Not because you did it, right?"

Goof Off

 It will be a quiet day (for me, anyway) and I'm grateful for that. William and Grandpa are headed to a family birthday party which begins at one. I've got an appointment to get a hair cut at 2. It sounds selfish probably, but the advance notice for the party was very short. I haven't had a hair cut since the end of January, and I've been looking very forward to this. William has filled out the card and I'm making a dish to pass. 

While they are gone, I'm headed back over to the rental to 'edge' around the ceilings, baseboards and windows in the dining room. Tim will come along later and paint the rest using a roller. He's fast and efficient at that. I'm messy. A lot of spatter. It takes me twice as long, probably because I'm trying so hard not to make a mess.

So, me and my trusty bottle of Goof-Off will head over for a leisurely afternoon of painting while listening to Mumford and Sons radio on Pandora. Goof-Off is for those little paint speckles. I just saturate a bit of rag with some. The house has hardwood floors and any paint spatters just wipe right up, leaving no trace at all that you'd screwed up. 

I have often thought that I need a product like that for life in general, which can get pretty damn messy, can't it? 



Speaking of screw ups, William is in the hot seat. On Friday nights, he has the luxury of staying up late. He is allowed to watch television, or work on the game he is designing, or play on his tablet. Last week, Tim was very angry that he'd stayed up until 2 AM. He was tired for the day, and grumpy. Before we went to bed last night, we had a firm discussion about it. While we left his bedtime open, we did say that he was expected to be in bed before midnight. No more all nighters. 

He understood, he answered. 'That sure wasn't going to happen again...'

I woke up at 3 and headed down the hall to the bathroom. Much to my surprise, William's bedroom door was still open. I looked and sure enough, he was not in bed. He was still downstairs! He got a stern scolding and sent to bed. 

This morning, I woke up at 8. Tim had left early to go turkey hunting, but when he got back, he and William had plans to mow two lawns. William was counting on them to take his VR money up to $170+. He's getting close to that VR. Knowing that the plans were to get the lawns done before the birthday party, I headed to William's room to get him up. 

I tried to talk to him about the previous night and how upset I was about that. 

"I lost track of time," he answered in a reasonable voice.  

I pointed out that Grandpa and I had gone to bed before 10. He is surrounded by chiming key wound clocks and a cuckoo. It is kind of hard not to be aware of the time in this house. I pointed out that he'd played for 5 hours and even in the worst known case of obliviousness, it wasn't plausible to me that he'd lost track of the time for five hours. I said that in my opinion, at some point during the night, he became aware of the time, but simply chose to ignore it. 

He insisted that he had no idea of the time. 

I said, "You know, you have a choice whether to take responsibility for your own actions or to cover it all up. You've lost your tablet for the day." 

He was outraged. He went into a small rant, saying, among other things, "It's not MY fault. Nobody told me what time to go to bed!" 

That plainly made me mad. While we did not give him a bedtime, we did make it clear we expected him to be upstairs before midnight. He was shifting the blame for his behavior to us. I said, "Well, you've lost the tablet for tomorrow as well. When you're ready to accept responsibility for your poor choices, come talk to me." I went out to make my coffee. 

He followed me out to the kitchen, and he was in a fine fettle then.  I said, "If you don't stop, I swear to Jesus that you're going to lose the tablet for a week." 

Immediate silence. He stomped away in a temper. 

His grandfather returned from turkey hunting, and sent him off to get ready to do lawnmowing. We had a quiet discussion about what had happened. William was back in the room in an instant, listening intently, protesting. Tim is not a shouter. He rarely raises his voice. He yelled, "I've heard enough of this! You don't have your tablet for the weekend, and You. Do. Not. Want. To. Keep. Complaining!" 

William went silent immediately. He continued getting ready to go do his jobs. He has been quite helpful this morning. I'll bet he is wishing that he had a bottle of 'Goof Off' to fix this screw up. 

The manhunt continues, with surprisingly little information being given out. I don't know what that means, exactly. Do the police believe that he's still in our area? Personally, I believe that he's long gone, but William's school was in lockdown yesterday. They did not tell the kids what was going on. They just rounded them all up and they spent the afternoon in the cafeteria playing games and watching movies. 

I also saw that the school district was not comfortable sending children home. Parent pick up was a requirement and all parents would be required to show ID. Unfortunately, I did not find this out until Saturday morning. Usually there is a telephone notification that advises these things. There is nothing on the school website. William walked home, same as usual, in the regular herd of walkers. 

What does that mean? Do they think he's no longer in the area? 

Dunno. This is crazy. Social media is blowing up with rumors. No official word on any of it. 

Wherever he is, though, you can bet that he is wishing he had a bottle of Goof-Off.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Half grown.

We've got the house locked up tight as a drum tonight. There is a suspected murderer come down from New York State. The scene of the murder was about 25 minutes from here. The school in Youngsville was on lockdown, a field trip cut short and the kids returned to the school and had a regular school day, except that no one was permitted to leave or enter the building.

It was business as usual at the schools in Warren, though, which was puzzling. His truck was located at a park on the west end of town. When we heard the news, Tim said, "Welp, I better lock up the vehicles and the garage. 

Our the door, he went. 

William stood in the middle of the livingroom. "Wait...we have a murderer running around???" 

"A suspected one. And it is nothing to get your shorts in a twist about..." but he was out the door, quick as a wink, locking up the cars and truck and the garage with grandpa. When they returned to the house, William set the deadbolts on the door. He said in a very comforting voice, "Don't worry, Grandma, me and grandpa have everything all locked up." 

He's 12, and just sometimes it surprises me how grown up he can act. 

Of course, there are always the other times when he's grumpy because his video game isn't going the way he wants. 

A tween-ager. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

This and That

 Yesterday, DrumMajor commented: I think you need that old style of wall phone that's wooden, with the bell ear piece, the horn speaker and the wind up handle on the side. 

 


Like this, you mean? 

It hangs in our front hallway. 

Today was a better day. One of the big conveniences of UPMC is that they travel the clinic that his new doctor works from.  Their office is in Erie which is about an hour and 15 minutes from here. Not a big deal, but a trip there, an appointment, and the trip back eats up a big chunk of day, so the fact that they came here was not unwelcome news. Without much heads up, that changed. They decided not to offer that service anymore. We would have to drive to Erie. That's not a big deal for us (except for not being notified of the change), but it might be for others who struggle with transportation.

After lunch yesterday, I sat down with the phone and called the number we were given. I explained what had happened, and the woman said, "Well, we need to schedule that appointment then." Much to my surprise, she said, "Can you be here tomorrow at 11:30." (We certainly, certainly can!)

We even got a call this morning, backing things up a half hour. Because we were driving so far, they wanted us to speak with the doctor as well. So it turned out to be a minor inconvenience and like most of my frustrations, not worth losing patience over. 

On top of everything, it was a nice day for a drive. 
 
Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 85. 
It is hard to believe she's been gone 12 years. 
Harder yet to believe that she was only 7 years older than me when she died. 

Yesterday was National Iris Day. My darling granddaughter is named Iris, so I made sure to pass that information to her mother right away, commenting that it really seemed as if there should be cake. 

William fell down the stairs tonight. I used to worry about that when he was little. I worried less and less as he got older. At 12, I had stopped worrying about it altogether. I was pulling an apple pie out of the oven and called upstairs to see if he wanted a slice with vanilla ice cream. 

I heard him running in the upstairs hall. The door opened  and he came clattering down the stairs. Suddenly there was a yell, followed by quite a lot of thudding. I was running from the kitchen to the hall. Tim was half way off the couch. That boy scared the wits out of both of us. 

For his part, he said, in a musing sort of way, 
"I always thought that falling down the stairs would hurt more." 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Not Enough Patience in the World

 Remember when I talked about my experience with the customer service department of Optum Financial? And I tried so hard to be patient? So hard...  The last problem was that I needed a 12 digit account number but the statement only provided the last four of that account number. When I called (for the third time) I was told that information could not be provided over the phone but that they would send it to me. 

I got mail from them today, eight days after the frustrating phone calls. It doesn't provide the account number. It is just a blank form. Which I already have. 

ARGH!!!

Today, Tim had a consultation that we were anxious to go to, Is it possible to really want to tick that box and get the information while also simultaneously dreading the appointment? It's a hard feeling to explain, that dread combined with the anxiousness to just finally begin getting answers, but that's kind of where we are right now. 

We drove in, reassuring each other. We got to where we needed to be only to find out that he didn't have an appointment in the book. We explained what it was for. They had no record of it. We waited patiently while they tracked it down. Finally, the answer was found. He did have an appointment. They canceled it. They couldn't reach us. They were calling our landline. The landline that we dropped.


Has being patient ever killed a person? Because I feel like it might be the death of me. 



Sunday, May 7, 2023

Teaching Patience.

 William has been doing a lot of lawn mowing and helping out with whatever project we are in the midst of. He's been stashing money away for the VR, which is hidden away until he earns the necessary $250 that we spent to buy a used one. At this point, he has tucked away $144 towards it, and the end goal is in sight. 

He had a couple lawn mowing jobs lined up and was begging for more work. I gave him the job to sweep out the garage at the rental. It is a two car garage with an attached workshop, and it was admittedly a big job. It was also a $10 job, and he was chomping at the bit to get that done. 

I went out to the garage with him, and I explained how it needed to be done. I showed him the debris in the corners and against the walls. I told him to sweep the stuff from one side to the middle of the garage, and then go to the other side, and start sweeping that to the line of dirt in the middle of the garage. Once you got that done, simply sweep the big line of dirt into a big pile of dirt. I explained that since it was a $10 job, and that he would be required to do a good job. 

Enthusiastically, he told me that he would do a good job, and I headed off to do the kitchen. 

Five minutes later, he was in the kitchen. "I'm all done," he proclaimed. 

I knew that he couldn't be, but we walked back out. He had swept, but there were random circles of clean space with a pile of debris in the center of each them. 

I showed him again, how to sweep methodically, pointing out the stuff that he was missing. He was obviously irritated. and as usual, he desperately needed to have the last word. No matter what I said, he responded, "I did the best I could." 

It was another chance for me to practice patience. 

"William, did you or did you not miss some spots?" 

He agreed that he had, but added "I did the best I could." 

I turned and walked back to the house. 

Five minutes later, he was back in. "I got it done." 

I went back out, and pointed out why he wasn't. 

This went on for another couple rounds. He was getting mighty mad. I was struggling to keep my own cool. "Listen William, you're in such a rush to finish the job that you're not even trying to follow instructions and that's a part of doing a good job. I'm not going to fight with  you about it. We're talking about a hour's worth of work, if you do it right. If you are not going to do a good job, you are not getting paid the full $10. The choice is yours." 

He insisted he wanted $10. 

I said, "Well, then you need to follow instructions. I've given you the same instructions. I've demonstrated." 

He got mad then. In the end, I said, "William, this is getting really frustrating. When you work at a job, you need to do the job to your boss' expectations. I'm not going to continue debating with you. Sometimes you need to listen and be willing to take instruction. I'm not paying the full $10. I am deducting $2.50 for your attitude. You can stop right here. The job is half done. You will get $5. If you want to earn the last $2.50, you can finish it." 

I headed back to the kitchen yet again, letting him decide how he was going to handle it. 

He did get the job done, and he got it done right. I scrubbed the refrigerator and we discussed what happened. He apologized. We talked about how apologies need to be a starting point, that if you're sorry, that means you've seen what you need to change, and you begin to try to change that behavior. 

He got his act together, and he cheerfully helped for the next couple hours while we reassembled the kitchen. His grandfather came back from a morning worth of errands, and William mowed two lawns under Tim's supervision (he's still new at this.) He wound up earning a princely sum of $32.50 for the two lawn mowing jobs, his allowance, and the garage.

This morning, he helped me clean kitchen. I asked him to sweep the kitchen floor for me. He told me that he knew how to do a good job. I moved into the livingroom to continue working, leaving him unsupervisied. He did an exacting and careful job. 

When I walked back out into the kitchen, he was just finishing up. He did a great job. I told him so. 

Practicing Patience

An elderly man stood with his cart in the dairy section, studying the things through the glass. I think he was probably looking for something. Whatever he was doing, he stood there for an inordinate amount of time. 

I needed to get to the butter. 

We live in such an impatient world. I am by nature a pretty impatient person myself, as a matter of fact, but I do try not to show it. The thing that I know about myself is that 1) that impatience is rarely warranted and 2) with a little effort, I can keep my thoughts to myself and 3) it costs me absolutely nothing. 

And so I practice being patient. Maybe I'll get good at it someday. 

I am happy to report that I succeeded this day. I stood with my cart, and eventually, the man did notice me waiting, and said, "I'm sorry!" in an embarrassed way, and I said, pleasantly, "I'm in no rush..." We both continued shopping. 

In addition to struggling with patience, I am one of those people who rely on mental lists. This means of course, that I head for the checkout only to catch sight of, say, a jar of peanut butter, which reminds me that (crap!) I need bread. Avocados might remind me I need tomatoes. (I don't know why, don't ask) I'm always grateful for long lines because it almost insures that I'm not going to leave the store without something that I meant to pick up.

By the time that I headed back to line, I saw I'd have plenty of time to ponder my purchases, to make sure that I had everything. That is because the elderly man that I'd practiced my patience on was at the register. I'm not sure what he was irritated about but he was giving the cashier quite a time. 

People in line were getting restless. I tried to see it as yet another opportunity to practice patience. 


Other than that, nothing much going on. I cleaned a refrigerator and an oven yesterday over at the rental. We are cleaning out the things from the basement. I cannot imagine how one person gets so many shoes! I've been matching them up and we dropped a nice collection of things off at Goodwill yesterday. 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Tenants

 We are at a work slowdown on the renovation. We've had a tenant move out and now have a house to bring back on line. 

We are not disappointed that she moved out. We had been agonizing about what to do. We have a cardinal rule. We don't rent to family. The reason for this is invariably, something comes up. Always, there will be a dispute about something and the next thing you know, you have the whole fam-damily up in arms. In this case, the tenant wasn't family, but she had strong ties to Tim's family. We should have known better. but, when she was interested in the house, because we knew her, she was a pretty easy choice. She stayed for five years and we truly never had a problem with her. Then she got a boyfriend. 

They asked to buy the house from us, probably nearly a year ago.  After discussing it, we said yes. Because she had rented from us for so long, we gave her a lower price. They seemed to be quite pleased with the offer at the time it was made. She did come back later, via IM and ask if we would consider lowering the price, which surprised us a little, considering no other house in town was selling at that price. 

Tim and I discussed it, and then I sent the reply back. "No. We were going to remain firm on the price." Given the two car, two story garage with attached workshop, and the fact that the house had been renovated completely before she moved in, we thought that $63,000 (oh man! I was wrong...$75,000) was more than fair. 

Her response came back: "Okay. Just thought I would ask." 

We thought no more about it until a relative sent us some very angry messages that she'd received, complaining that they'd fixed up the house out of their own pocket because we would not do anything, about the fact that the house was in poor shape, about the fact that she'd given us $60,000 in rent over the years. Even worse, she complained bitterly about me, that she knew that it was me typing the message, and how rude and controlling I was. 

We messaged her expressing surprise that she would feel that way. The house was not in poor shape. Not at all. We  had bought the house, renovated it, and she was the first tenant. It was newly carpeted. New bathroom. New kitchen. New appliances. Refinished hardwood floors. She loved that house, and often posted pictures on facebook of her home decorating. I pointed out that it was really unfair to expect that five years of rent would be applied towards the purchase price. We corrected her $60,000 claim to less than $35,000. We also pointed out that during the covid years when beauty shops were not open, we gave her a reduction in rent. Once, when she had a health crisis, we had contacted her and forgave her rent for a period of time until she was back on her feet. I said that it really bothered us a great deal that we really tried to go above and beyond in our duty as landlords (it forms the basis of our business model: if you take care of your tenants, they stay for the long term). I also pointed out that her criticism of me was unwarranted. Tim and I are a team. He does not like to type. We both discussed the situation, and while I had sent the message, it conveyed both our thoughts, not mine alone. To have her go to Tim's family and criticise me was unkind. 

There was a lot of back and forth. She was very apologetic, and it was obvious that she did not intend that we should ever get word of what was being said. She loved her house. She thought the price was fair. On and on. She closed with the explaination that she had only reached out to the family because she knew they didn't like me. 

Ouch. 

The boyfriend got involved. 

Tim got mad. This is a rare thing. Tim seldom gets his tail in a twist, but this made him mad. He simply rescinded the three month old offer to sell the house, his reasoning being that number one, they'd never be able to get a loan, both of them being people living over their means, and with some employment issues. This would mean that they wanted to do a rent to own with us. We were not willing to take on that level of risk. Number two, every time that there was a problem with the property, we would be portrayed as 'ripping them off'. We would forever be the bad guys, complaints to family, whenever a problem arose. 

They were very upset about the decision, and their response was to come back and lay out the fact that terrible things were already being said about me in the family, and that the person who forwarded her messages to us was a key player in those discussions. 

I know it. So does Tim. I mean, it has gone on for years. Neither one of us felt like dredging it all up again. 

So there we were. The boyfriend began to become troublesome and challenging. Tim and I discussed back and forth how to handle it. In the end, she decided that the situation was uncomfortable and left on her own. We were not sorry. 

We are, however, a little shocked at the damage. In the bathroom, a table was bolted directly into the wall to be used as a vanity. It did not match with anything and needs to be taken out. Wall repair. In the laundry room, a knob was broken on the washer. The shelves we had put up running behind the washer and dryer had been taken down and replaced with cupboards of some sort. They had been simply ripped from the walls leaving serious damage. More wall repairs. Quite strangely, an area rug had been screwed onto wall to wall carpeting. A cell phone charging shelf had been built next to the bed out of scrap wood. I was horrified to think someone had been messing with the wiring of the house. All these things are in violation of the signed lease. 

Ugh. 

And yet...we can still count our problem tenants over 15 years of renting on one hand. 

There are a lot of horror stories about being landlords. These tenants will not receive their full deposit back and they will be enraged about it. They will complain bitterly to everyone that will listen, but they are the exception to the rule. We will take the lessons from this situation and we will make sure that we do not repeat our mistakes. 

Monday, May 1, 2023

Customer (Dis)Service

 Miss me? 

No? 

Well, the house has been beset by problems which required customer service calls. I haaaaaate customer service calls, because usually, no actual service is provided. The people are sweet and wonderful but it's a big old bunch of nonsense. I usually get provoked, and I try very hard to keep my voice patient and kind because I know it is not their faults. 

Case number one. 

I had a health care savings account provided by my employer. I've been retired for a year now, and I decided to simply cash that account out. It's not a fortune, but $1481 is nothing to sneeze at either. so I made the call to OptumFinancial to begin the process. A very sweet young lady answered, I told her what I needed. She said that I would have to fill out a form and send it in. Okay. I can do that. She said she'd e-mail me the form. 

No form showed up, so I called back and spoke with another sweet person. She explained that my account was not active. I explained that I'd been retired for a year. She explained that my account had been closed and that the money reverted back to Optum Financial. 

"They KEEP it? How is that even legal? I was not notified that this could even happen!" I was flabbergasted. To just take someone's account without even telling them? 

Sweetly, she told me that she would reactivate my account. I answered a bunch of questions. My account is reactivated. She then promised to e-mail me the form I needed. 

I checked my e-mail and lo, it was there. I noticed that it can take 6-10 weeks for the account to be closed and that there would be service charges but they gave no indication of what those charges would be.

In a grumpy mood I began filling out the paperwork. I had the statement from the company, and it kerflumoxes me that they send out monthly paperwork telling me how much money I have only to learn that my account is inactive and that they are claiming THEY own the money. Something doesn't make sense here. 

You know what else doesn't make sense? The fact that the paperwork requires a 12 digit account number, yet on the statement, you are given only the last four digits of that number. 

I resolutely picked up the phone again, waded through all the preamble for the third time, pressing one for yes, and picking options, etc. 

Another sweet voice answered the phone. I explained, trying to modulate my own voice into something that sounded kind (IT IS NOT HER FAULT! IT IS NOT HER FAULT!) and I finished with "and so I need that full account number." 

And very sweetly she said, "I'm sorry but I cannot provide that number to you. I will mail it to you and you should receive it within 10 business days." 

I choked back the words that came immediately to my lips and said, "That really doesn't seem fair to me," as sweetly as I could manage, because really, I was feeling not all that sweet. 

She said, "You received that account number in your welcome packet." I said, "But that was YEARS ago. I don't have that." 

She was so very sorry, and even heaved a sympathetic sigh. She would send it to me. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" she asked. 

Argh!

Case number 2:

And then there is Breezeline. That bill covers our internet, our television, and the stupid landline that receives mostly scam calls, so we don't answer it. However, if you try to drop the stupid landline, that messes up the bundle and it will actually cost you more for your television and your internet. 

Argh again. 

This weekend, we lost our television, our internet and our landline (we probably would not have noticed the phone for days, actually). The simultaneous loss meant one thing. We had a past due amount. This happened once before. They do not send out paper statements. Tim made our regular monthly payment of $250+, but there had been a rate adjustment. We were past due by $10, so they shut it all off. 

This happened last year. Probably about the same time. The young man was very apologetic and assured us that we never should have been shut down over such a small amount. He was very nice, got it all taken care of, and we assumed it was a system fluke. 

Alas. It was not. The same thing happened THIS year over $11.43.

We talked about it and decided to scrap the television service. We get 9 channels. That's it. Of those 9 channels, 3 are the same station. Two are PBS (which as sustaining members, we have PBS passport for free). That's a lot of money every month for such a paltry offering. We already knew that we didn't want the landline. 

I called Breezeline customer service. 

A sweet voice answered. She sounded suspiciously like the sweet voices that answered over at Optum Financial. I explained that I was calling to settle up the past due $11.43 and to cancel the television service and landline, that we were only keeping the internet. She was glad to take the payment but she could not cancel our services. That required a Retention Specialist (the way she said it, I'm sure the name is capitalized). These important people do not work on the weekends, but she would be glad to have one call me on Monday. 

(IT'S NOT HER FAULT! IT'S NOT HER FAULT!) Sweetly, I said, "Thank you." 

She brightly told me she was ready to take my payment. I told her that I did not want to make that payment until I was certain that the cancellations were done. 

"I understand," she said, "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" 

ARRRRRRGH!

The Retention Specialist did not call, and so I called this morning. 

I explained what I needed done. She said that she couldn't do anything until the past due amount was taken care of. I paid the $11.43. 

She wanted to tell me about some promotions. 

"No," I said firmly. "We are not happy with this service. This happened last year and we were assured that it was a mistake. Now it has happened again. It seems like to me, when someone has a record of regular monthly payments of $250+, a rate hike for something as small as $11.43 should be seen as a mistake, a reminder sent out that the rates have gone up." They mail past dues, but the regular bills need to be accessed by going to their website and logging in to your account.

I was trying awfully hard to be sweet. Truly. 

She said, "Well, I can't shut off your phone without the passcode." 

Me: "What passcode?"

"You have a four digit passcode." 

"I never set that up. We've had this landline for like 12 years." 

"Legally, I cannot make changes to your phone without that code."

It was getting harder to be sweet. "Well," I said, "You're going to have to tell me how I'm going to find out what that code is." 

"Top right hand corner of your past due bill." 

Okay. Little bit of passive aggressive there. I gave her that number. She took off the landline. She took off the television. Our new monthly bill would be $65.88. 

"Can I help you with anything else, today?" 

Grit teeth. "No thank you." 

So Tim and I went out and got a ROKU, and I did all manner of technical things that always make me nervous. I even scanned my first QR code. I got everything set up, and by the time that Tim got home, I had found a very old favorite that he loved: The Red Green Show. (The immortal words of wisdom: 'If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy' or the Man's Prayer: 'I am a man. I can change. If I have to. I guess.' The Possum Lodge Motto: 'Quando omni flunkus, moritati' ~translation: When all else fails, play dead. ) All was well. 

Later that night, I was sitting at home watching Antique Roadshow, and feeling pretty happy with my day's accomplishments. Out of the blue, the landline rang. The landline that had been canceled that morning. 

Resolutely, I picked up my cell phone and called Breezeline once again. I sat through all the prompts and finally I was speaking to a live person. She was just as sweet as she could be. I explained that I canceled my television and landline that very morning, but that my landline had just rung. I explained that I wanted to make sure that it was shut off because I did not want to be charged for it. 

She explained that my account had been reactivated when I paid the past due $11.43. 

I explained that I didn't want it reactivated. We went through it all again. 

When she was done, I said, "I was quoted a price of $65.88 this morning. Is that where we are at?" 

And she said, "Well. Yes. Until the promotion expires. August's bill will be $133. plus tax." 

I swear to you. There was not one bit of sweetness left in me. I said, "I was not told that this was a promotion. I was not told the bill would double after three months. Not one word."

She apologized just as sweetly as could be. 

ARGGGGGGHHH!!!!



Music to our Ears.

 Well, the concert was good fun. It was not nearly as loud as the last event we went to, which was a bit of a relief to my poor ears. Tim en...