Sunday, July 30, 2023

An Expensive Flea Collar

 Houdini has made the decision that he is an 'inny-outy' cat. He and Mangey have become friends and they like to have their visits in the driveway. He stays very close to home, but I've got a 'thing' about bugs in the house. I was worried about fleas, so I went out and bought him a Seresto collar. They've worked very well on our last cats, and the thing that I like is that they are good for the summer. When it starts getting cold, I expect that Houdi will decide that he is once again a fan of the great indoors, so really, that $64 provides a year of protection for our part of the world. Breaking it down to  $5 and change a month makes the upfront cost a bit easier to swallow. 

This has never happened before but within a week of getting his collar, the cat managed to lose that collar. I kept thinking that we'd find it in the yard somewhere, but we didn't, and so, today we headed to the Walmart to buy him another collar. (Ugh!)

I grabbed the collar off the shelf, and Tim says what he always says which is "Why don't we check out the hunting section to see what they've got on clearance?" 

And so we headed off that way. A bright yellow clearance sign always catches my attention, and I looked at a computer display briefly. "Gees," I said to Tim. "I can't believe how cheaply you can get a computer. I mean, we paid twice as much for our long ago was that? Seven years now? Yeah. I think it's been at least...." My voice trailed off as I realized I lost my husband. 

I turned around and there he was back at the computers. He said, "At $179 for a HewlettPackard, I think we should get it. This is marked down from $439." Turns out that he'd been eyeballing computers at our own Walmart, and was disturbed to see that they did not seem to carry desktops anymore, at least not on the shelves. It turns out that people prefer laptops to desktops. 

I guess Jaycee is not the only dinosaur. So now I have a question. How many other dinosaurs are there out there tapping your blog posts out on a desk top? 

Saturday, July 29, 2023


We have two gasoline weed wackers/strimmers, and I cannot start either one of them. Peeves me to no end. 

Today, I got a battery powered Stihl. 

Happy as a pig in mud. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Debby Gets New Shoes

 You know how I am a collector of distressed plants from the clearance section at Lowe's? Well...Tim is a collector of distressed trucks from virtually anywhere. 

Last night: "I'm going to look at a truck tomorrow at 8."

Me: "Why?" 

Him: "Because the car isn't going to last another year." 

Me: "Okay. But maybe you should be looking for another car then."

Him: "I want a truck."

Me: "You have a truck, though." 

Him: *laughter*

As of this morning, we have another truck, and I'm not really quite sure why.

We worked on the house today. It was a short day, but we wanted to get the purlins installed. We have another storm front moving through, and we will not be installing the steel roof while it is rainy. That is the making for disaster. So we will spend the weekend installing the sheeting. We are supposed to have 4 days of nice weather next week, and it will be a good time to get the roof done, as much as we can. 

We came home and showered. It's the first time in a week that I've styled my hair. I wore my garage sale $1.50 black sundress (with POCKETS, Mrs Moon!) A 45 min. drive to stop, first of all, at a Mennonite grocery. Starbuck's coffee for $3.99 a bag is the main reason for there, but we always find more. It's a great place to pick up rice noodles, for instance. Todays bit of excitement? I found Rotel tomatoes for 29 cents a can. Pepperidge farm seeded wheat bread for a dollar a loaf. It is double bagged so it is easy to toss two or three loaves in the freezer. 

Then it was up to a Necker's General Store in Clymer. It is a good place to buy good shoes. My cheap sneakers proved to be no bargain at all. My feet were miserable. I was wearing a pair of knockoff crocs but while they were comfortable, I needed something that provided more grip and traction instead of sliding. I found exactly what I was looking for: 

 They were a good price at $38. An excellent deal with the July 25% discount, applied. 

After that, we walked across the street for supper. The storm hit while we were inside, and the power went out. We drove out of the storm coming home. It is hitting now, and the thunder is rumbling virtually non-stop. The rain has been heavy, but the powerful winds we were being warned of, didn't happen. 

So. That was today. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023


Today was a better day, I am grateful to say. I was toying with taking yesterday's post down. It sounded complain-y. I decided to leave it in place. It's a transition, and our marriage has met and navigated transitions before. They are never fun, though, are they?

I've been buying shrubs for the property. I buy distressed plants from Lowe's. I leave them set out in their pots and keep them watered, and they usually come back very nicely for me. Since I don't know for sure where to plant them yet, I just leave them in their pots, set off to the side of the camper. The other day, I saw a forlorn little forsythia bush. 1/2 price. I paid $7 for it, and brought it home. A few days of sitting outside and being watered regularly, it began to perk right up, just like most of them do. I was going to my son's house for the week, and asked Tim to take it up to the new build for me. 

He did, but...

...he set it in the green house, and it went a week without water. I returned to find it sitting there, every leaf brown and curled up. I was quite sad about it, but brought it outside, gave it a good watering. I did not hold out much hope at all.  

Today, I looked closely, and I was surprised to see signs of life. No matter how hopeless something might appear, I guess that new growth is possible. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Finding The Way

 I'm struggling here. 

Tim has rebounded greatly. I look at other people who have had strokes, and I know how lucky we are. There are minimal physical effects. If he is tired, he stammers. His throught process is good for the most part. But he is different, and sometimes, two heads are better than one. He has periodic trouble sleeping and that makes a difference in his thinking, too. 

When I get up in the morning, I like my leisurely cup of coffee. My four McVitie's wheat biscuits and little jaunt around blogland and then I'm ready to get on with my day. Tim is much faster. He doesn't drink coffee. He eats his bowl of raisin bran and is ready to walk out the door. Sometimes, the two of us can get a little snarky. 

This morning was one of those mornings. "Tim," I said firmly. "I'm not willing to rush. You let me have my hour and then I'll be ready to go." He got pissy, and told me that he was going over to the renovation to pick up the ladder pick. I suggested he wait until I was ready because the ladder pick (a long steel plank that hangs between two ladders to act as scaffolding) is heavy. Really heavy.

No. He would not wait. 

He took off in the dump truck and, like always, I felt guilty. I told myself firmly that I had every right to have an hour in the morning, but still...

I was dressed when Tim got back and brushing my teeth. We hopped in the truck and headed out almost immediately. 

We got there and unloaded the pick. Yep. It was heavy. We set the ladders and...looking around, I said, "Where are the hangers?" and he said, "I didn't think we needed them." I stared. I mean, you can't use a ladder pick without the hangers. 

I started to say something and he started to get snappy. 

I walked away. I just walked away and I went into the air conditioning and let him figure out what he was doing next. About 20 minutes later, he came in and said that he would run back to Wayne St, and get the hangers. I took a deep breath and kept my mouth shut. That's a total waste of 1 1/2 more hours.

I sat inside playing a game on my phone while he was gone. 

I heard a sound outside. Looking out, there was an elderly lady from down the road walking around. This property used to belong to her husband's brother. I watched her. I've met her, but not often. She never remembers who I am, but she knows my brother and sister. 1 wasn't sure if I would frighten her if I suddenly walked out the door. She went to the open garage. She went over to the greenhouse. She walked back and studied the new building. She looked very confused.  I opened the door and went out. I greeted her cheerfully. 

She looked at me, shocked, and took a step back. "How do you know my name?" she asked suspiciously. 

I explained to her that I was Anna's sister, as I always do, and she said, "Oh, that's right!" I could tell she didn't remember me, but she knows my sister. They've been neighbors for 20 years or more. 

I invited her in for a cold drink. It was so hot out. I thought a stint in the airconditioning would be good for her. 

"No," she said, and peevishly went on. "Why aren't you answering your phone? I've called and called but no one answers." 

She doesn't know who I am. She doesn't have my phone number. I said, "Well, I don't think you have my phone number."

She looked befuddled. "I've been calling three places over and over again all morning long, and the phone just buzzes. No one answer there, either." 

"What three places are you trying to call?" I asked gently.

She said, "Well, you know, to check on you." 

"We're okay," I said. "It's really very nice of you to worry about us, but really, we're fine. You can just call Dave or Anna if you're concerned. They'll tell you it's okay."

"Well, when you didn't answer your phone, I called three places to come and do a health and welfare check on you, but the phone just buzzes. Nobody is answering their phones!" She was getting upset. 

"Why don't you come inside?" I suggested. "It's nice and cool and you can wait for Tim to get back, and then I can run you home." 

"No. Walking is good for me," and she set off. 

"I'll walk with you," I said. "We can visit on the way." To be honest, I was afraid for her. It was hot as hades, and she was heading towards the back of the property. "Why don't you come this way? You can follow the deer path." 

She followed along, agreeably enough, and she said, "Oh! There's the cemetery!" in a surprised sort of way. 

"Yes," I said, and pointed. "And right down there is your house." 

In a delighted way, she said, "When you get your house built, we'll be neighbors!" as if she had just realized this." 

"We will," I said. 

Suddenly, she said my husband's name. 

"Yes. That's my husband."

"He's Carrie's husband's brother."

"That's right!" I said. 

We stood waiting to cross the road. There's a ditch on the other side I wanted to make sure she got across. Once there, we said our goodbyes. She said, "Well, I'm not sure how long we'll be neighbors. My husband is 92. I'm...I'm...ah, hell. I can't remember. But we probably won't be neighbors long."

With that, she made her way down the field to her house. I watched her go. Tim drove down the highway on his way back. 

I walked back.

As we ate lunch, I said gently, "Tim. We have to talk. You're scaring me."

He said, a little abashed. "I meant to get those hangers..." 

I said, "Well, that makes a lot more sense than telling me that you didn't think we'd need them."

He looked at me. 

"For all your impatience this morning, rushing off to load the pick alone did not save you one bit of time. You could have given me my hour, we would have both gone over to put the pick on the truck together, and we wouldn't have forgotten the hangers. Your rushing around did not save us any time at all. We are eating lunch, and we have cut one board. That's it."

"Yeah," he said.

"I respect the fact that you like to get started early. It's the most sensible thing in this heat. You're not sleeping well at night. What if I get up at 7? You sleep in until 8. I get my hour, and then we can work together on things?"

"That would be good," he said. 

"You need to listen too, because sometimes, you forget things. I'm not trying to make  you feel bad or anything." 

"I can do that," he said. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Things that Make Me Sick to My Stomach.

You know how when you're both dreading an appointment, but resolute about just sucking it up and doing what needs to be done, and find out what's going on? And so you're trying not to be overtly emotional because there's absolutely no reason to be emotional, because this is only a test? There's plenty of time to feel completely like a ninny, or to get emotional when you find out the results of the test. So it was a quiet morning here as Tim got ready for that appointment...and then his phone rang. The appointment was canceled because the two doctors who needed to be there couldn't be there. The nurse told Tim that this is a pretty regular problem. 

Wonderful. We've waited a couple months to get this appointment. 

Shit like this gives me a stomach ache. 

But we simply went ahead and got ourselves down to the build to work on the roof. My job was handling the saw on the ground, cutting the 16 foot roof purlins to 14 feet 11 1/4 inch lengths, and marking them at one foot, so that Tim could easily see how he needed to set it for the overhang. Then I trotted the boards up inside and climbed a ladder to push them up to where he was standing on the top plate of the frame. And I couldn't look at him as I pushed the 2x4 up between the trusses, because it made me sick to my stomach to see him standing there on top of the wall handling the length of board without holding on! The problem was that I couldn't NOT look at him either, because I was afraid I'd do something stupid and knock him off. 

I had such a stomach ache. 

And then he needed a pry bar and a hammer, which meant that I had to climb up to the top of an 8 foot ladder on to the horizontal piece of two trusses and hand the things to him. I couldn't look down because it made me sickish. I couldn't look up because it made me sickish to see him silhouetted against the blue sky. And did you know that trusses wiggle? I gritted my teeth and got it done because he was doing the balancing act, the tricky stuff. 

Stomach was doing some flips at that point, but I was brave. 

And then the thunder started and it was time to pack up, and I was not at all sorry, truth be told. Well, until he got the call that his truck was ready to be picked up from its front end alignment. Since we had to pick up some stuff with the dump truck, the plan was that I'd drive the dump truck home. I HATE the dump truck. It's big, but I wasn't driving the other truck, because 1) it is his pride and joy. 2) it's a standard, and while I can drive a standard (and actually prefer to drive a standard in the winter), I can't drive this truck. The clutch is very stiff, and I'm terrified of doing some kind of damage to his truck. (See 1) 

So. I was driving the dump truck and I was not happy about it. When it came time to leave the garage, I couldn't even get the dump truck into drive, which made my nervous stomach even more nervous. Tim was pulling out in the other truck and I waved him down. He stopped. I said, "I can't even get the stupid thing in gear!" Well. That's the sanitized version of what I said. It had been a rough day.

In any case, he said explained that I had to pull the gear shift lever really hard. "No. RRREEEEALLY hard..."

My son observed once that Tim had a higher tolerance for things that don't work right than most human beings. He is right. This is probably the secret of our successful marriage, as well. 

In any case, I got the truck to move and I picked my way slowly down the road, and I was happy to pull into the driveway. 


Monday, July 24, 2023


 First things first. Kelly? My "new" crockpot does not have 5 temp settings. It has five time settings. Reading glasses help. 

This is the fossil I found. It is part of a plant. What is cool is that you can actually see the pattern of the phloem in the fossil. If I was a better photographer, I could show you. I tried. I tried very hard. It was my first closeup photo, and I could not make it work to save my soul. 

I was tending to the plants in my greenhouse today, and I noticed a swallowtail butterfly fluttering against the ceiling of the greenhouse. I couldn't reach it, but I did manage to get it safely out the door. In the corner, I noticed the body of another. I've begun closing the screen doors to keep them from being trapped inside. 

We began work on the roof today. We'll go up tomorrow morning to work, but Tim has an afternoon appointment in Erie. They are calling for it to be very hot and humid for the rest of the week, so it would be smart to limit our work to the morning or evening hours when it is cooler anyway. 

Coming home, I saw some post that a train hauling wind turbine blades was coming past Youngsville. It had posted only 2 minutes earlier. I told Tim about it and we looked out our window and there it was! 

We beat it to Warren and waited for it to arrive. The size of those things boggled my mind. They each took up two railroad cars. 

There were a lot of railroad cars. 

Held up traffic for quite a while, but no one seemed to mind. 

I was not the only idiot out there in the hot sun taking pictures. 

It was cheap entertainment for a hot day. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

A very cool hot day

 This morning, I got up with the intention of putting some spareribs in the slow cooker. They could simmer away on low while we were working on the house, and when we came home, all that I would need to do is drain grease from the ribs, add some BBQ sauce, slow cook for another hour. Put some potatoes in the microwave and figure out a vegetable and voila: Supper. 

Except that I checked the cooker on the way out the door. How very lucky because my slow cooker was not cooking slowly. It was not cooking at all!

Well. that changed up the plan considerably, but I said to Tim, "We need to stop at Albert's. He had a electric roaster at his sale, when last we stopped in." He lives right down the road from the building site, and so it would not be a problem. Plus, I wanted to check on the tomato situation. He sells the best tomatoes I've ever seen. 

We finally got things settled for dinner and headed out the door to resume work on the house. We got two windows and two doors framed in. I handled the chop saw in the yard, Tim called down measurements and I cut to order, and took them over to the house. 

It was quite hot for all the trotting back and forth, but at least today, I remembered to bring a hat. Cars went by and tooted. A couple on a motorcycle waved as they passed. We waved back. We don't know the vehicles well enough to know who's who, but it is cool that people are so friendly. 

Two little house wrens have a nest in a vent of the camper. One got in the greenhouse and was fluttering against the glass, evidently not able to see the open door. I was able to gently pick it up and release it outside. The pair at the camper no longer fly away when we go in and out. That's pretty cool too. They sit and listen to me, cocking their little heads as I talk to them. I've set out some suet from the freezer to take up tomorrow. 

While I was waiting for my next series of measurements to be called out, I looked at rocks on the ground. I found a fossilized plant stem, which was pretty cool. I'll have to get a picture later, because I left it setting on the table where I was working.

We worked for 3 hours and then called it a day. 

We stopped down at Albert's and lo! that roaster was still there. I got that. He also had a Hamilton Beach slow cooker with five temperature settings!  I took them both for a very cool $6.50. (They are a lifesaver when you need a meal but don't have time to cook.) We visited for a few minutes. He had noticed the activity at the house he said. I said, "If you ever get the urge to set trusses..." He quickly commented that he never had the slightest urge to do anything like that. (Darn~!)

We returned home and neither one of us has felt like doing much.  Tim bought the last two windows for the house. I dished up dinner. I cleaned the kitchen. Now I'm not doing anything at all, and I'm not feeling the slightest bit guilty.

We will finish framing tomorrow. We will begin working on the roof. It feels like things are moving right along now. That is also cool. 

Saturday, July 22, 2023


 I was sad to hear that John died. He was definitely a man who lived life on his own terms, and I enjoyed his reading about his travels. I will miss him, and I know that I am not the only reader that feels that way. 

I also was sorry to read that Steve lost his mother. I think that even if you are expecting it, you're never really quite prepared for it. My condolences to Steve. 

We have been hitting the house hard. Since my return from seeing my grands last Friday, we have gotten all four walls up and about 3/4 of the trusses up. Those trusses are awful work. Heavy, and awkward to move. We had three people today. Tim, me, and his son. We worked for six hours. By the end of it, we were all beat. 

Levi gave us a tip that made things move along faster and more efficiently, but still...
...the remaining six trusses are going to take more than three people to lift into place. 
We will have to wait for those extra hands. It is summer time, and haying season, and everyone's up to their eyeballs in work right now. We have plenty to keep us busy. Tim will finish the headers for the doors and windows and the sliders in the livingroom. 

This is the view from what will be the front of the house. The right hand side will be the livingroom, and it will have sliding glass doors. Eventually, those doors will access a sun room that we can sit in during summer evenings and not be bothered by insects. On the other side of the basement door (the left side of the house) there will be a garden, and I am already collecting the shrubs and plants for that. It will, of course, not go in until we have the build done. 

So this week, the plan is to roof as much of the house as we are able to at this point, and to finish the sheeting. Of course, we also have to do some dirt moving. The earth has settled quite a bit around the foundation. 
Luckily, we still have a pretty hefty pile of dirt left over from the excavation of the basement. 

Initially, all this work was a pretty tough time for Tim and I. I am pleased to report that we have begun to settle into a rhythm, and once again, we are working like a team. 

Or, maybe, we're just too tired to snap at each other. 



Friday, July 21, 2023

A Day Away

 Today was a bit of a break. Mattie called. She was unable to round up a driver for Rudy's appointment in Pittsburgh, so I volunteered to drive them. I haaaaaate driving in city traffic but some things just need doing and so I did it. 

They have two car seats now, one for baby David and one for Rudy. Mattie sat in the back with the children, and her mother came along as well to help her with the appointment. I don't generally go into the hospital with them. I would if they needed me to, but they seem pretty self sufficient. I brought along a book to read 'Remember This' which I bought some time back and have never finished. It's a heavy book and a book like that gets read differently than light reading. I got about 1/3 of the way through it, and then things got busy. Today I started in on it again. I noticed the writing on the flyleaf of the book. 'Powodzenia!' said one with a David S(unreadable). The second thing read: 'Individuals have souls' signed by 'Der' which faded off into another unreadable scrawl. The final thing: 'One evening I go to the theatr' C(unintelligible scrawl) Y. 

It hit me today what I have. I have a book autographed by David Strathairn, who played the role of Jan Karski in the one man play. The other two names are Derek Goldman and Clark Young. the playwrights. I had no idea! 

So, I sat in the car, engrossed in my book, and eventually everyone returned. Mattie's mother said, "I read about a woman who claims there are many thrift stores in Pittsburgh. I said, "Well, I hate to tell you I am not driving around Pittsburgh looking for them. Happiness is Pittsburgh in my rear view mirror! (no offense Doug)" And so we didn't. We hied ourselves out of town and back on the highway. 

Once off the highway, though, the fun began. They love yard sales. So do I. We found a half dozen nice ones, and the trunk began to fill up. A sturdy child's chair, toys, the old fashioned adjustable window  screen inserts, a glass pie pan, pitcher, a high chair for dolls (Levi is building a play house for the children), It didn't take many stops and we were unpacking the trunk to repack it to create more room. It was full. One thrift store was so taken with baby David's serious little face that she gave Mattie a box of diapers that someone had donated. Their baby had outgrown them before the box was opened. 

Sticking to my determination not to buy ANYTHING because we will be downsizing, I did well. Sort of. At one of the yard sales, there was a lot of nice women's dress clothes. I don't need dress clothes, not at all, but I did love one dress and so I got it. Hanging near it was a 'Coach' purse. You have to understand that I do not know anything about things like this, but I knew that my daughter loves this kind of stuff. It was $20. I tossed it around in my mind, It was very well made. It was in perfect condition. She has a birthday coming up. And so I bought it. It was most certainly fake. 

When I got home, I looked up the registration number inside. 

It led me to this purse:

The prices ranged between $50 to $249

I was quite sure that I could not possibly have gotten the real deal for $20. I mean, that just doesn't happen...except that I went to a site that gave me six things to examine for authentification purposes. The bag ticked all the boxes. 

Looks like my daughter will be getting a very nice birthday gift. 

I was very happy. 

At another place, I got a Minecraft transforming sword/pickaxe. William likes Minecraft, and I figured that he was worth the 50 cents. 

I got a table runner for $1.50. 

That was the sum total of my spending. 

Rudy's appointment went well, and it was a very exciting day for him. He loves flashing lights and sirens and policemen. We saw a semi-trailer that had flipped with a load of building trusses. They were big ones that spilled out blocking two lanes of traffic. The trailer was completely flipped, its wheels in the air. He was agog with excitement. Police cars everywhere. After a long day, he was treated to the sound of an ambulance rushing by with flashing lights AND sirens. The icing on the cake. 

He did so well, really. I've never seen a not quite five year old child who could sit in a car for five hours and be perfectly happy looking out the window and singing songs to himself. He was good as gold. 

We were finally on their road when we came up on an Amish buggy. Mattie said, quick as a wink, from the back seat: "What is Levi doing out?" and sure enough, when I carefully pulled out to go around him, it WAS Levi. I was tempted to pull along side and ask him did he want to race, but I'm always nervous about spooking the horse, so we waved and went by. Curiously, I asked how on earth she could have recognized that it was Levi from the back of a buggy that looks like all the rest of the Amish buggies. She said, "I know how he sits. I also recognized my horse." 

When we pulled into the driveway, children came running from all over. The trunk was unpacked in the blink of an eye and kids were excitedly examining the toys. Little David slept soundly in his car seat. 

We're all kind of worried about John, over at 'Beans and I on the Loose'. He has not posted since the 18th, and that's never happened before. A lot of his followers are worried about him. Spare a good thought for him today. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

What We've Been Up To

 It's been a while since I wrote about the house. I was away for a week, and I made Tim swear to me that he would do some small jobs while I was gone and avoid the heavy work. There is a lot going on here, most of it unbloggable, and I've been struggling. I was looking forward to time with my grandaughters. I haven't seen them since the beginning of December, and a baby changes quite a bit in just 7 months. 

I just wanted to have my week. Tim didn't want to go, because he can't just do nothing for a week. I can. I planned to sit back and enjoy it, too. 

Tim and I came up with a list of tasks that needed doing and I headed off feeling pretty confident that he was not going to push himself physically, especially since it was supposed to be awfully hot for the week. 

Long story short, I had a wonderful time with the grandchildren. I did not expect the baby to warm to me. After all, I was a stranger to her. I am thrilled to report that she and I got along just fine. She warmed to me enough that her mother was able to take in a afternoon matinee. She had a chance to go out to breakfast with her oldest.

When I got home, Tim needed to do some work on my car too, so that took a weekend, but Monday morning we were back at it. We put up two walls with my sister and brother-in-law's help. Tuesday, we were back up there. We put up one wall ourselves, and my brother-in-law came over and helped us with the final wall. 

Today, Tim had to run up to place the order for the roofing materials at Eastern States, which is about an hour from here, so it was a relaxing morning. I had time to get the laundry taken care of, folded and put away, egg salad made for lunch, take care of my plants, and tick a few little tasks off my to do list. 

One of the tasks I've been meaning to do is to call and cancel our Netflix. I kept the password on a post it note inside the tv stand, but of course it was not there. When we switched over to streaming our television, Netflix needed us to sign in again. We debated changing the password, but in the end decided that with the Roku, we have access to more television and movies than we have ever had in our lives. We made up our minds to cancel the Netflix. But, hey. I've been busy. 

So I did live chat with Netflix today and was gobsmacked when the woman said that we had a $19.98 + tax charge. I told her that I did not understand why we owed any money at all. English was obviously not her first language, but she patiently explained to me that we had not used our Netflix for the past two months. She meant that we had a credit, not a charge. 

I did not expect that.

Tim got home and we ate lunch and headed down to the new build. We put a second top plate on the walls for stability. Tomorrow, we begin setting the roof trusses in place. We expect two days and that will be done. The roof materials will be delivered Monday morning. I will feel much better once the place is roofed and sheeting is up on the outside of the walls. 

I promise I will be better about pictures. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

One last Post on Michael Burham.

 The whole Michael Burham saga is done and over. He is safely locked up in the Erie County Prison. The prison officials spoke to news media.

I'm glad that this is behind us. 

At the start of this debacle, the Warren County Commissioners were supportive of the staff. One of them said that the whole escape took only 10 seconds. I sincerely doubt that. I mean, the man jumped up on a piece of excercise equipment. He then pushed through a chain link cover that created the top of the rooftop cage, pushed through another fence where concrete had crumbled. All this with an armload of bedsheets that had been (presumably) already tied into a rope. (If they hadn't been, that alone would have taken quite a bit of time.)  The statement implied that the prison was crowded and this is why prisoners were exercising at 11:00 PM. 

The same commissioner went on record as saying that the staff had acted appropriately in the emergency, following prison regulations. 

This escape became a very big deal, with multiple state and federal agencies involved for 9 days, with a huge expenditure of equipment and overtime, with world wide coverage. That 9 hour standoff next to us? The information that has been made public says that they do not believe the man in the videos was Michael Burham after all. The story that he had accessed the laundry room to get out of his prison clothes? He was wearing his prison uniform when he was found. He had simply turned it inside out. So what even happened there? (And no, I haven't seen the man who believes he is a ninja since I've been home and I've been looking for him.) 

I think that it became pretty obvious fairly on that this was not going to be something swept under the rug, and 6 days ago, this was released.

An apology was offered to the community. 

I wish the investigation was being handled by people outside the community. There is already a kneejerk response by a lot of people who feel that any criticism of the prison staff or law enforcement is a slap in the face of the brave men and women who serve in any way as part of that 'Thin Blue Line'. I don't see it that way. It does need to be investigated, and thoroughly. DA Greene, recused himself and handed off to the state AG, and I am glad. 

I think that it is also interesting that he used the words 'negligent' and 'complacent'. It's the first time that I've heard these things said out loud by anyone in a position of authority. This is a prison designed for non-violent criminals with sentences of two years or less. Michael Burham should have automatically triggered a higher level of security. The prison also was not over crowded. 87 prisoners contained in a 139 bed facility. I see no reason why the exercise area could not have been placed off limits during the hours of darkness, especially since they were aware that a broken beam provided an opening in the roof of the facility. 

I will be interested to hear what the final findings are. 

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Scepter of Light

 My grandaughter's current favorite cartoon is 'Elena of Avalar'. We played Elena quite a bit in the big back yard. She, of course, was Elena. I alternated between the roles of Camilla (her trusty steed), Naomi (her friend), Isabelle (her younger sister) and Shuriki (the evil sorceress). 

I performed my asigned roles, doing whatever was asked of me. She had a wand from one of her dressups and she ran about the yard, yelling 'Hurry up! Over here! I see Shuriki!' and raising up her wand and yelling "Blaze! Blaze! BLAZE!" Shuriki always seemed to get away. 

Iris explained to me that it was because she did not have a real Scepter of Light. Hers was only pretend. We stood in the sun. "So what does a Scepter of Light look like, exactly?" and she explained it in great detail. 

Later, in the house, I pulled out my phone and had a bit of a trip around Amazon. I found several versions of the Scepter of Light and we sat together going through them. She picked out the one that she wanted with all her heart. I don't ever place orders on my phone, but I did say to her that as soon as I got home, the very first thing that I would do is sit down and order that Scepter of Light. 

She was thrilled to death at this and gave me a great many instructions. I was not allowed to touch it because once someone not properly trained in using a Scepter of Light tried to use it. "She slept for two days and never woke up one time." 

I didn't bother to say that factoid alone was enough to tempt me to get my untrained hands on that scepter. Instead, I solemnly swore that I would leave that powerful magic in her capable hands. She was quite excited about her scepter, and talked about it a great deal. 

When we sat down later that night, she looked at me with great love and said, "I can't wait for you to go home!"

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Falling in Love

 We have Roku now, and I saw a television series I'd never seen before, a Canadian series called 'Jake and the Kid'. It moves along sweetly. I tried to get William interested in it. He thought it was boring. Anyways, I looked up the series and saw that it was based (very loosely) on the book "Who Has Seen the Wind" by W.O. Mitchell, a Canadian author. 

Reading reviews on it, I found that people either loved it or hated it. Intrigued, I ordered it for $4 from Better World Books. I must have gotten a copy from someone who hated it, because it appeared to have never been read. 

I don't think there is anything lovlier than falling in love with a book. It's been a while since I had that experience. I often thought of Red and his blog and his stories about growing up. 

It ended, as all books do, and reluctantly I returned to the real world. 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Breaking News My Foot

 Unconfirmed, but it's all over facebook that Michael Burham has been captured. I don't have any details, although the facebook posts do have photographs

The news has just announced it as breaking news. about 20 minutes after facebook did. They are still saying it is unconfirmed. (Breaking news, my foot) 

Still, I'm very glad that he's back in custody. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Home Again, Home Again

 I am back home. It was a tense trip because my front driver side brake began to make a noise while I was visiting. Tim listened to my worried phone call and assured me that he'd checked the brakes, and I was good for the drive home. I was. We made it. He was waiting when I pulled in the driveway. He pulled the tire off and found that the pad was gone and it had gone to metal on metal. He's ordered the rotor. 

William's been a bit of a fusspot lately. I suppose it is something that you can expect when the teenage years start closing in. It was a long car ride home for him. His tablet wouldn't take a charge and he was pretty upset about that. We had a long talk about his obsession with electronics. He doesn't feel that he has a problem. I do. So...there are new rules, and they will be firmly adhered to. 

The latest on Michael Burham is that he is believed to still be in the immediate area. He is believed to have had help. There was talk of a drone in the area as he made his escape which supposedly happened in a matter of seconds. They found a stockpile in the woods which is believed to be associated with him and his escape, which means he has had some help. They also said that at this point he is believed to be armed. 

It is hard to understand why he is so hard to find. Part of that is because we live on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest. This is over 514,000 acres, most of it heavily forested and not accessible by vehicle. I can understand why he is so hard to find. They are using helicopters with infrared cameras to search the area as well as the islands in the river. 

I guess that I will never understand how he managed to escape to begin with. It's not just that he was in an exercise area at 11:20 at night. The claim is that he was being watched by video camera. I also question how one man could manage to take that many bedsheets without being noticed. There were holes in the fencing. It seems as if they were aware of that. So my question is, why wouldn't they have an armed guard in that area? 

Hindsight is always 20/20, I suppose. The thing is that in the end, he will be caught, but hopefully, it happens before he hurts anyone else. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Same ol' same-o

 Well the skuttlebut is that Michael Burham somehow knew that the house next to ours is an apartment building which is accessible from the street. He is said to have entered the building's laundry room to find clothes and was able to get out of his prison garb. Supposedly, when he escaped through a metal grated covering of the exercise area (using a pull up rack to reach it), he made a rope from bedsheets, climbed down as far as he could, jumping down in front of the glass doors of the prison entrance. Also, supposedly, when he hit the ground, he got up limping. 

We are being told he is still in the area. The focus was on Clarendon this morning and right now they believe he is hiding in the Oakland cemetery.

Driving my granddaughter to camp this morning, she told me a joke.

"Knock knock!"

"Who's there?"

"Interrupting baby!"



Tuesday, July 11, 2023


 Today we tried to go to the playground. We got an idea of the scope of this flood. The little creek is normally maybe 5 feet wide at best, a wading creek less than a foot deep. This creek became 30 feet wide and several feet deep. Fences were destroyed. Picnic tables moved. Trees downed. All manner of debris everywhere. Roads and black topped walking paths buckled. That is just one park. In places, the shoulders have washed away from the road for mile long stretches. A lot of homes were flooded, extensive property damage. 

It really was a bit hard to wrap your head around.

Michael Burham is still on the loose. Tim says that everybody swears they have seen him from every small town in the county. Police are checking every tip out. 

Monday, July 10, 2023


 Flood waters receded.

Michael Burham still upon the lam.  

I have the cutest grandchildren.That is all.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Much Ado

 This afternoon, here where William and I are, with my daughter in law and grandaughters for the week, it began to rain. The thunder rumbled on and on. Before it was all done, 5.34 inches had fallen, breaking a 20 year record.

William looked out the back door and called us over to see. A tiny little creek had become a raging river. Before it was said and done, a water rescue had to be done. Roads are closed, and the police are asking everyone to stay off the roads unless you have orders to evacuate. 

Back at home, there is still a strong police presence on our street. An vacant house was searched. Another house was searched when a woman heard someone in her house while she was in the shower. She locked herself in the bathroom and screamed out the window until someone called the police. Tim walked out front and was ordered back in the house. I talked to him tonight. "It is crazy. You have no idea what is real and what's not."

A neighbor posted the helicopters circling 24-7. She said if she caught sight of Michael Burham, she would kill him without hesitation just to get some sleep.

Not Official

 William and I will be away until Friday.

Let me say that I have not seen the news. But I can tell you that the stand off lasted for 7 hours and involved many agencies. In the end, it was simply announced that the suspect, Michael Burham, remains at large. 

It was reported on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX. The BBC picked it up. I even read a Slovenian report.

So...why did they focus on the house next door? No official explanation, but what I can tell you that one of the tenants has lived there as long as we have lived in our house...12 years maybe. He walks to his menial job every day. He once rambled on to me about how he is a ninja and has a ninja training school in a converted double decker bus out in the woods. People are amazed by his ability to disappear.

I am going to guess that his response to people in full tactical gear demanding access to search his home would be much different than yours or mine.

It might even be deemed suspicious.

Like I said, no one has offered up any official explanations.

Late edit: the police are still in the back yard. They have video of him. They believe that he is holed up nearby, which is exactly what he did last time, slipping out at night to steal what he needed. After the hubbub died down, he kidnapped a couple to drive him out of the area.

Tim is searching and locking up the basements and crawlspaces of the rentals today.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Shots fired

 Remember a while back when I told you all about the murderer on the run? And how he kidnapped an elderly couple and forced them to drive him to North Carolina? And he was captured finally? 

Last night he escaped from the county jail. Our street is blockaded. Our house has been searched by soldiers. They seem to have found him next door. Shots fired. Bullhorns advising residents in the area to get on the floor and stay away from windows. 

William and I are on the other side of the state, thankfully, but Tim is standing at a window watching it all go down. 'Get away from the window!' I yelped. He wants to watch. I said, 'could you at least turn off the lights...'

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

A Day of Constant Irritation

Wellup wasn't exactly a day of constant sorrow, but it certainly was a day that would (to quote my pap) 'make a preacher cuss'. 

I'm packing for a trip, and I thought that I should pick up a couple extra pairs of shorts. I headed to my favorite thrift store, and found two pair in short order. Bonus: they were both 50% off. So I got them and headed home. Of pair fit. One pair didn't. I put the receipt and the shorts on the table. 

It didn't help that I had a grumpy boy today. Gads. (Perhaps the song applied to him). He wanted to try a 'Grimace Shake'. I mean, for heaven's sake...we rarely go to McDonald's. (He and Tim favor Burger King) But a bunch of kids were talking about this special shake last night, and he wanted to try one in the very worst way. It was all he could talk about today. So, we thought to take him to McDonald's for lunch. Turned out the Grimace shakes ended yesterday. 

Of course they did.

All was not lost. We found that there was a recipe for Grimace Shakes. A handful of raspberries. A handful of blueberries, vanilla ice cream, and milk. Blend it with a hand mixer and top it with some whipped cream. I figured to stop by the thrift shop to return the too small shorts on the way to the grocery store to soothe grumpy adolescent. 

So...have you ever heard of a thrift store not accepting returns because the items might have been worn? Hello? This is a used clothing store. The items are donations. That irked me. Strongly worded message sent to the corporate offices protesting this change in policy. 

All was not lost. Two milkshakes later, the boy was happy. 

We went to look at a new (to us) car today. We were scheduled to meet at 6:30 after he got out of work. We drove a half hour, were sitting in front of his house, when Tim checked his phone to discover the man had texted saying, "Can we do this on Monday instead?" 

For pete's sake!

I need a giggle. Maybe a funny movie? (Side note: This movie tickles my funny bone. I haven't seen it for years. Maybe tonight's the night! If you have a passing acquaintance with The Odyssey, you'll laugh even harder.)

Yesterday was a nice day. I helped my sister make macaroni salad for 50 people yesterday morning while Tim went to the parade. I came home and made my contribution of a tossed salad, and we spent the afternoon celebrating a family wedding. The house is right next to a cemetery where a lot of family is buried, my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins. my great grandmother. I'd never been there, as strange as it sounds, so my sister and I walked over to remember them. 

We watched the fireworks. We did not go down to the park, but sat and watched from across the river. It was a nice night. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

July 4th.


Happy 4th of July! We will spend the afternoon celebrating a family wedding. 

Kelly posted that there was a video about Carson, the little boy I told you about yesterday. I didn't know this, but have found it and posted it for you. 

Monday, July 3, 2023

Not shopping at the Antique Mall.

We went to an antiques 'mall' yesterday, a big one. You can wander around in there for hours, really. So much to see. It's interesting, really, I know that we are downsizing, and knowing that seems to have made me a lot more mindful. I saw things that I liked, and I was especially taken with a brown ware casserole: 

The price on it was $15. I don't know why I love the 'daisy dot' stuff so, other to than I remember it from when I was a child. My mom had a few pices. I have a mug on the computer desk right now. 

I stood there considering it, and in the end decided, nope. Don't need another casserole dish. 

I walked on. 

I stopped again. I saw some peach luster ware. 

I have four place settings of that. I got them all for perhaps $20 at a thrift shop years back. I love them. They are something that I remember from my childhood as well. My maternal grandmother had some. There were several pieces for sale, but what I especially loved was the tall cups. I drink one cup of coffee every morning, so I use an industrial sized cup. I studied these too. $6.99 a mug. But really, my dishes are carefully packed away. My intention is to bring them out when we get to our new house.  And I already have my morning coffee cup. It is a big orange mug, with a handle that fits me perfectly. It gets washed and put by the cappuccino maker ready for the next morning. Did I really need this beautiful $ 6.99 mug? The answer was no. I walked on. 

I saw a spice set I loved..,

but I already have this...
And so my afternoon played out.  I don't go to these places with an eye to buy anymore, but I love going to them and browsing, and remembering. 

I saw these dishes: 

My mom had a set. They came in boxes of laundry detergent, and she collected them one piece at a time. I even remembered the name of the detergent: Duz. I looked it up to see if I was right. I was! 
'Duz does everything!'

I saw an old wooden folding table painted with a floral still life. We had one, and I remember sitting at it, staring in wonder at the dust motes reflecting in the light in front of the window as I listened to the train whistle trailing far away across the field behind the house. I remember someone in the background figuring it out: "She's looking at the dust!" I wonder how old I was. 

My old rocking horse was there. The self same one that I have in my office right now because my sister was going to throw it out and I didn't want it but I couldn't let it be thrown out either, we are. 

(I'm a mess, aren't I?)

I saw all sorts of things that reminded me of somewhere else: My parents old Big Ben alarm clock. It didn't work, or that would have come home with me. The old electric percolators that burped and hissed. That sound started every single morning when I was a kid, right along with the sound of the radio. We only got one station and the first program was always 'Church of the Air'. My father always felt like the preacher liked to swear, which is why he talked about hell and damnation all the time. Irritated the snot out of my mother. 

It was such a nice afternoon, just walking along and daydreaming. Tim was off looking at the things that interested him, and sometimes we would cross paths to show each other what we'd found. We met friends there too. I was so engrossed in looking that I walked right past them and never noticed them! I heard them asking Tim where I was. 
Tim said, "She's around here someplace..." 
"Uh oh," the man replied. "Probably spending a lot of money..." 
Tim laughed. "No. I know that she isn't." 

He was right. 

Oh. Yes. I forgot one thing. A couple weeks ago, I bought a pair of Sketchers sandals, just a casual pair of flip flops that I can slip into and out of easily. I discovered that when I walk around for awhile, my feet sweat a little. Just enough that the sandals make little farting sounds when I walk.😳 Not a happy discovery.

If you are looking for a small good deed to do, there is a 10 year old boy with cancer in our town. He wants to travel. He cannot. His grandma has set up a PO box for him and asked people to send post cards from where ever they happen to be. If you'd like to take part, the address is: 

Cards for Carson
PO Box 705
Warren, PA 16365

His grandmother just asks for people to tell him a little about the place the card is from. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Independence Day

 Something we've been pushing William towards is to be a bit more independent. Baby steps. Chores to be done. Responsibilities. Going to the library by himself, or to the store on his own. They are big steps for him.

When we got the final piece of subfloor down, William was striding across the floor, trying to map it out in his head. "Where's my room going to be?" 

Being a smarty, I pointed behind him. "Right there." 

He was standing in the right front corner of the house, so he jumped over to the other side. "Right here?" 

I pointed behind him once again. "Right there." 

He looked at me, not understanding. I laughed and said, "We'll leave you in the camper." 

He stared. "Really?" 

Not realizing that he was taking me seriously, I continued on with my joke. "Sure. Why not? You can live over there, and we'll live over here. We can be neighbors."

He stared at me. "I'd get the whole trailer? I'd have my own kitchen, and my own livingroom, my own bathroom, my own bedroom? It would be all mine?"

It was my turn to stare. This certainly wasn't the direction I thought my joke would go.

William said, "I like that idea." 

Tim said, "Why not? I never thought of it, but that would be nice for him." 

Today it was raining again, and so we went up to the reservation to go to the Salamanca Antiques Mall. On the drive up, Tim said, "That's a really nice idea for the camper. I mean, we've got it. It's there, and we don't have any plans for it after the house is finished in a couple years. We can build a lean to off the side of the garage, and pull it there for him."

I guess the boy's a bit more independent than I gave him credit for. Grandma needs some pushing towards William being more independent, though. 

Baby steps. Baby steps. 

Saturday, July 1, 2023

The Rain Came

It was supposed to rain, and it certainly looked like it was about to rain any minute, and we remained poised on the brink of rain for most of the day. Mattie called this morning and wondered if I could take her to the bank and to Lowe's. They hold church services in their homes, alternating, between members homes. They hadn't hosted a church service since the baby was born, and are just now getting back to it. Casting a critical eye around her home, she decided that the floors needed to be finished. Levi was very particular about the brand. It needed to be water-based. It needed to be satin finish, since the high gloss finishes show the scratches too easily. 

She asked if I were busy. I said, "Just doing laundry." She was upset that she was taking me from that. I didn't bother to explain that I just throw my laundry in the washer, and it takes care of business all by itself. I can do my laundry while running an Amish woman to the bank. It does not require me to stand there to haul heavy dripping clothes from a wringer washer, rinse the clothes, and then run them through a wringer. 

I had something for the children. Ever see one of these? It's called a ROKR Vitascope. It is a wooden model of a projector and it has gears inside. When you crank it, the gears power a little light and the film clicks through and projects on the walls. It is a kit that sells in the $35-60 range. I got this at the Goodwill in an unopened, polywrapped box for a mere $3.99. I was hoping that William would be interested. He was not in the least bit interested. It is not Lego. 

I made up my mind to take it up to Mattie's older children, but I learned a valuable lesson. The hoarder's house had an antique doll carriage.  It was something that I meant to hang on to, but let's be real. We're downsizing. What am I going to do with this? Why do I even need it? So I took it up to give the youngest girls. Oh. You should have seen their eyes light up! They were thrilled, and immediately scooted off to grab their babies and wheel them around the porch. Levi was coming up from the sawmill, and I saw him and Mattie exchange a look. 

Aghast, I said, "Oh no! Is this not allowed? And Levi said, "'s pretty fancy. We don't usually have things like that." I said, "well, I can turn right around and put this back in the trunk." I felt horrible. Druscilla, Sarah and Elizabeth stood stock still staring anxiously at their father. Levi said, "Well..." in a considering way and then thought perhaps the girls could play with it for a while until he thought it through. 

I was not about to make that mistake again, so I took the vitascope into the house and showed it to Mattie. I set it up on the bureau in the livingroom and said, "You and Levi can discuss it. If you think it is the wrong thing, it's all wood. Just throw the whole thing in the kitchen stove. 

The youngest girls were washing dishes. Katie was sweeping the kitchen floor. I thought that I had been very discreet. wasn't long and the boys came up from the mill. They were building a hunting shanty and stopped for a glass of cold water and a snack. There was a flurry of german chatter between the children, and they ran to the bureau to see what I'd brought. 

So much for discretion. By the time we got back from our short run, the box had disappeared. Hopefully, not before it had been given the parental seal of approval. 

We had a nice visit on the porch listening to the thunder rattle around the mountains. Little David was bright eyed and alert. The boys went down to bring up their work horse. The horse pulled the finished shanty out of the mill as Andy led him. Ruben and Amos rode inside. I said, 'They must be steering it." which gave them all a good laugh. The girls sat all in a row with their wet hair, waiting for their turns to have their hair braided. 

The wind picked up. The thunder echoed. 

Finally, finally, the rain came. 

The Lawyer.

 Remember how I told you that we'd talked to another local government person? We thought that if more people were aware of what had happ...