Thursday, August 31, 2023

My Untroubled Conscience

 Let me set the stage. I 'know' a guy. He is in pretty bad shape, the kind of bad shape that people don't come back from. He is nearly 80. He's lost his wife. He's lost his brother, his sister, his sister-in-law. He has no kids. He lives in an apartment in a town just over the New York State line. He is a pothead.

Pot is legal in New York State. Do I agree with thtat decision? No. No I don't. Alcohol is enough of a problem, so now we are going to add pot to the mix? Doesn't make sense to me. And, for all of the talk that tries to equate it with alcohol, there's a difference. I used to be a pot head 45 years ago, and what I know is that when it became a habit for me, I lost my ambition. I was pretty unmotivated. I plainly did not give a rat's bottom about much. I recognized this, and stopped.

Does pot have medicinal applications? Sure it does. The effects of it for Parkinson's patients is pretty amazing. It helps with nausea. It stimulates appetite for people doing chemo. And yes. It helps with anxiety. 

But here's the thing. All of those benefits can be accessed with a pill. Smoking is not healthy. I watched my father die of lung cancer, and I know where of I speak. I quit smoking cigarettes on the spot. The thing is that the pill does not contain THC, which is what makes you high. You get the benefits. You don't get the high. my opinion, people who smoke dope are doing it for their own gratification as opposed to any medical benefits. 

So, back to my friend: Alone, in very poor health, he, by his own admission, rarely gets out. He lives a very isolated life. He doesn't own a vehicle. He wanted to go to the Seneca Reservation, where there is a pot dispensary on virtually every corner. This is not exaggerated. They are everywhere. 

I thought it over. I researched it. I can drive a man to pick up pot in New York State. He can have that pot in my car, as long as no one is smoking it. So I said that I would pick him up and run him to the reservation. It cost me an hour and a half of time, and I filled up on reservation gas which is 50 cents cheaper than our own gas. 

He's a talkative character who has made some interesting life choices. He joined the Marines at 17. He was sent to Camp Pendleton after boot camp because he was too young (this is his story) to be shipped to Vietnam. He met other soldiers returning from Vietnam who shared their stories. Over and over he heard that they were not fighting soldiers there. They were fighting farmers and families, and regular people. Over and over he heard 'I wouldn't go.'

So he didn't. 

He made a conscious decision, accepted the punishment at Leavenworth, met a lot of interesting characters there, and, years later, when President Carter made the offer to expunge the Dishonorable Discharges of the soldiers who objected to Vietnam, he chose not to do that. After his prison time, he felt like he had earned it fair and square. 

He spent his life bumping along, lived in Phoenix for years with his wife, managing an apartment complex. He was happy.

Now he's 80, alone, moved back here, where he had family left, but in the end, he lost most of them. 

There was a bit of an uproar about my trip, the general concensus being that I was taking a terrible risk. (I'm not, and I explained it.) Then it has been slanted to whether or not what I am doing is enabling. (Probably am.) My sister said, "My husband would not allow it." (Tim doesn't approve but we don't have that kind of relationship. He has never told me that I am not allowed to do something.) 

But in the end, I think it comes down to this:  We all choose our own lives. I don't understand his life. I don't have to.  He's an interesting fellow in complete possession of his faculties. I don't begrudge him a ride in my car, a chance to visit and chat, and a toke before he goes to bed at night. 

What say you? 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Different kind of day.

On the way up to the new build, Tim said, "I want you to figure out something." He started to talk about the erosion on the west side of the house where the entry to the basement is. I said, 'That's funny. I was thinking about that one night when I couldn't sleep. I have a plan. I want to dig it out level. We've got that pile of concrete blocks. We can build a retaining wall."

(We save everything. The previous owner had used them under his mobile home which was repossessed and hauled away, which sounds like a very sad country song, doesn't it?)

It was a fun morning, working in the sun, digging and leveling, and laying the block. Tim worked on his own project. 

We broke at midday and ran into town to get some concrete mix, and there I saw it. 

Angels sang. 

It was the front door of my dreams:

On clearance!! 

Tim said, "It's a 32 inch. We need a 36 inch. It swings the wrong way," and walked on, leaving me staring longingly. 

I priced the door at 36  inches wide, swinging to the right. A mere $1500. We will not be getting this door, which makes me sad. 

But the retaining wall looks nice, so far. 

That roof we put on to solve a bat problem? Well. The jury's still out on that. The tenant called to say that a bat had gotten in, but that it left. Kittery, her cat was studying a small gap between the 200 year old hand hewn beams and the wall. She thought they were slipping in there. Tim and I went down and sealed that area, but tonight, we got another bat call. 

We walked down in the dark, Tim with a flashlight and a pair of gloves and me with a sheet. There he was, hanging upside down in her stairwell. Tim tried to catch him in a basket, but he flew a short distance landing on her pen jar on her desk. "Give me your glove," I said to Tim and I simply picked him out and walked out the door with him, turning him loose. 

Here's my theory. He was awfully easy to catch, which is not the norm. I am going to guess that he's the bat from the other night. The new roof trapped him inside the tiny attic.  He worked his way into the house. Paula saw him, but he didn't leave as she thought. He got himself tucked away. After two days without food or water, he was very weak, which was why he did not fly far, which is why I was able to pick him up and turn him out into a full moon night.


Either that, or he was rabid. 

One of the two. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

In Between

 It's been a quiet time here. I guess we're still processing Tim's news. Tim went to his church on Sunday, and offered his situation up for prayer. After church, a friend immediately approached him. As they compared, they  realized that their situations were very similar although medicine has advanced. The old surgery has been replaced by robotics. 6 or 7 small incisions replace one major incision. His friend's surgery was 25 years ago, or thereabouts. You'd never know it talking to him today, and it was a great encouragement to Tim. 

We worked on the new build today. I've been very matter of fact with Tim. We've got two months, and what we are doing is buttoning things up for winter. He will require a solid month off. He will be on activity restrictions for at least two months following that. We are taking the winter off. 

He spent the day on the tractor with the bucket on the front. He scooped up dirt and dumped it around the foundation where the dirt had settled. I spent the day taping up the zip board

We were waiting for the building inspector. He said he would be there before 3. I was up on the ladder when I heard Tim talking to someone. It was the inspector, and he was there before lunch time. He was quite curious about our time line for this build, and about scheduling the next inspection. Tim explained that we would be on a mandatory slowdown for the winter, and why. 

Immediately, the man said, "Oh no!" followed by, "Listen, my dad had surgery and it took him a while to recuperate. It was a pretty awful few months, but the guy's in his 80s now and doing great!" 

We visited a while in the sun, and when the guy left, he said, "Well, call if you have any questions or even if you need moral support!" 

How nice. People have been so very nice. 

I think of gz's blog, she refers to comments as dropping a pebble in the pool. So many pebbles dropped in our pool lately. Thank you to everyone who has troubled themselves to do this kindness, whether it be electornically or in person. 

Yesterday, we spoke with a 93 year old woman who has run out of her savings after 30 years of retirement. She lives a very frugal life, and things are getting much worse for her. She's decided she cannot afford television anymore, which might sound like a luxury, but this is a woman who has no car. She is pretty much homebound. She never married. She has no children. She lives in her parents house. I doubt she is a reader. Television is probably just about her only entertainment. 

I said, as I always do, "You need to call us! We can drive you places. We can help you out!" We always tell her this. Many people have. Someone tried to set her up with Meals on Wheels. She snorted in disgust. "What am I supposed to do with that? I don't have a microwave." Immediately, I thought of someone who is selling a small microwave. I said, "We can get you a microwave!" She got upset. Her house is not wired to be able to handle a microwave. I didn't bother to tell her that if her kitchen could handle a fridge and a stove, it was surely able to handle a microwave. There's no point. Someone from her church offered to bring a box of food from their food pantry every week. She turned it down. She's diabetic and she can't eat processed food. I said that there were many people who would be glad to help her out. She said, "I don't know anyone on this street. I used to know everyone. But I don't approve of their lifestyles." And she began to point out the various houses where people cohabitate but are not married. 

I was sad for her when I left, but there is not a lot we can do for her. She is upset about her situation, but she doesn't want to accept help. Other than dropping off food on her front porch, healthy things that she won't object to, I can't think of one other thing to help her. Nobody's dropping pebbles in her pool. If they did, she'd probably heave them back. 

Today, my grandaughter had her first day of school. She's excitedly been running to the window to watch the school bus stop on the corner in front of her house since the time she could walk. She was beside herself with the thrill of actually riding that school bus and going to school for the whole day. I smiled thinking of her. I had pictures of her dressed for school and getting on the bus. I couldn't wait to hear how her day had gone.  

There was a grave being prepared in the little cemetery across the road That afternoon, the internment ceremony was held and the cars lined up along the little road. 

Beginnings, ends. Somewhere in between, Tim shut down the tractor out of respect and we worked together in the sun to finish taping that final wall.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Rather Astonishing Day

 Tim wanted to have a morning with his son this morning, and so I am at home. I had a bunch of small things to take care of. A haircut to schedule. She had a cancellation and can take me Wednesday ~yay! Usually it takes me at least a week to get in. 

We received a telephone book. It lists 'Jamestown/Warren and Vicinity', but we were surprised to see that it was completely New York phone numbers and businesses (not that we use Yellow Pages any more, in any case) Flipping through the phone book, we noticed that a great deal of it is 'fluff'. 'Recording Podcasts ~ The Basics'.  'A History of the Yellow Pages' (the first one dates back to 1875 in case you're curious). Another page was 'Know Your State Capitols!' And 'How to Stay Healthy!' Even a page devoted to 'Removing Stains' and other helpful laundry tips. 

I made up my mind to cancel this complete waste of paper and time and energy, and listed on the front of the book was an opt out site. I set the book by the computer so that the next time I sat down at my keyboard, I could take care of that. 

Today was the day, and so I typed in the URL. It would not allow me to opt out until I registered. I hate stuff like that, because you know that your information is being sold, but with no choice, I went ahead and did. It was not complicated, but it took time. For whatever reason they kept insisting that my address was not valid. It was. I compared it to the address on the book and it was exactly the same as I had entered. I clicked on 'accept address'. I had to wait for the code to be sent to my inbox and enter the code over here and blah blah blah. 

I finally got the information completed, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? I was told that I was not being sent directories so I had nothing to opt out of. 

I picked up my non-existant book, which felt remarkably existant, and walked it out the recycle bin.

Remember the saga of Gravity Defyer? They are now known as Guarantee Denyer in this house. To bring everyone up to speed, I ordered a pair of workboots for $235. The upper began to separate from the sole on both boots within 6 weeks of purchase. The company guarantees their product for 60 days. We should have been fine. However, the company refused to honor their 60 day warranty because Amazon has a 30 day return policy. 

We left off on this sad little saga where, on my 6th or 7th attempt to resolve this, the polite representative assured me that I would be covered under Amazon's A-Z Guarantee. I waited and received the reply from Amazon that I'd been denied. No explanation provided. 

So back I went, like an annoying mosquito. I initiated yet another conversation and was urged to file an appeal. I did that. Today I received the response. I was not covered under the Amazon A-Z Guarantee because the boots were not returned in the 30 day time frame. 

I voiced my disastisfaction in yet another polite chat. The ever polite customer service person  told me yet again that a claim has been filed against the seller. 

I commented that this has already been done. The chat got 'disconnected for technical issues'

It asked me if I wanted to end the conversation, but I didn't, actually. Jose, and then Lujo tapped in, and two more times, my chat got dropped for technical reasons. Still, I refused to end the chat and waited.

I really had given up all hope, but Nazaf came on the line. I explained the situation once again. I said that it was dishonest on the part of Gravity Defyer and that I'd been trying to resolve this for some time now. I said that I was simply noting my disastisfaction, and that I was filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Nazaf claims he has issued a full refund which I will see in 3-5 business days. 

We shall see. 

I know that I will never make another 3rd party purchase through Amazon again. 

I also want to take a minute here to thank everyone who has reached out and shared their own wisdom on our recent bump in the road. You have been more helpful than words can say. While I have dealt with my own cancer years back, this is a whole different ball game on a completely different field. I thank you all. 

LATE EDIT: the wrong order was credited to my account. I got on the computer once again and was told that I was not being honest. Now I am mad.

Friday, August 25, 2023

An Ordinary Day

Tim ran to Eastern States to pick up some things for the new build. He wanted to replace a hydraulic line on one of his tractors. 

Me? I spent the day cleaning, upstairs, mostly, getting William's room ready for his return this weekend. He's been adventuring in Michigan. 

It just felt so ordinary, and that, in and of itself, seemed strange. 

Once again, I thought of Tasker's words. " is surprising what you can come to terms with and live with." While I knew that his words were undeniably true, I was surprised that 'ordinary' happened so quickly. 

The Dust is Settling

 Last night, Tim's decision not to have surgery knocked me sideways. I can understand it, I guess. Virtually everyone knows someone who has prostate cancer and has lived with it for years, no treatment, just regular checkups to insure that nothing has changed. Tim seized on to that. 

Getting all blubby, I said, "Tim. Didn't you hear what the doctor said? He made that clear. He said that many people who have prostate cancer don't need treatment, but he said, flat out, that your cancer was not that kind of cancer."

Tim looked at me with a strange look on his face. "I don't remember that," he said. 

I began to get the idea that Tim's still face in the doctor's office was plain shock. Nothing the doctor said had registered. He had not expected to hear this diagnosis, and when he did, he was the one knocked sideways.

So we talked. He asked a couple questions. At bedtime, he'd thought of another question. "I don't know," I said, but I got up and got my phone. We read about it. 

This morning, we talked about the practicalities. We're in the middle of a new build. We've got a renovation. What do we tell the kids? What does he NOT want people to know? We all made a collective decision to hold off telling William until all the facts are in. It is not fair to leave him with questions that we do not yet have answers to. 

Tasker said it best: "It is surprising what you can learn to live with." 

True story. 

Tim headed out to check on his roof. I let him, because I knew that it was important to him to do that. I know that he will not want me hovering and fussing. Tomorrow he is going to Eastern States to pick up stuff for the new build. Let him. He's not having surgery for a couple months. Let him continue on with his normal activities. November will come, and things will change then, and that's okay, because after that, well...We both know that 79% of men are cancer free 10 years after completing the treatment. 

The worries of the day are sufficient. We will worry about winter when winter gets here. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


 Tim has had some health problems since last fall, what with the cough that lasted from the end of October to February. His stroke in January. A bit of a roller coaster, but Tim rode it out like he always does, minimizing everything. 

The good thing to come out of it is that he's being thoroughly evaluated by his new doctor, and she quickly found some concerning things. 

He was transferred to a specialist back in May. We had to wait a long time for the special MRI needed for the biopsy. Then the biopsy was canceled. Then the biopsy finally happened. 

In between all that time, I guess we were both pretty pragmatic. I mean, really, Tim is never sick. The past calendar year has been a real abberation. Cancer doesn't run in his family. His people tend to live into their 90s, and even then they don't die of cancer. Plus, only 10% of biopsies reveal cancer. 

All those things are tremendously reassuring, aren't they? The odds seemed to be in our favor.

Except the doctor called two days after the biopsy to leaves a message that he needed to talk to Tim. That alone sent a shiver down my spine. 

Tim has cancer. 

Yesterday was his PET scan. Today was the appointment with his doctor. The doctor said, "There are prostate cancers that you simply live with, you go on, and life doesn't change, and everything is fine. This cancer is not that cancer."

I felt my face going numb with shock. Tim's face said nothing at all. He listened. 

It was a quiet car ride home. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A Tale of Two Tees

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Seen on a shirt: 
'That is a TERRIBLE idea! 
(What time are we meeting?)'

The elderly lady wearing it had the very best laugh. 

If I was wearing a tee, it would read:

Been there,
Done that,
Got the teeshirt. 

The roof is done. It got very hairy because the rain that was forecast for tomorrow showed up today, so we worked until dark last night, and were up at 6 to begin again. 

(Our poor tenants!)

No one fell of the roof, or even got seriously insured. 

All's well that ends well. 

Tim said, "You know, we shoudl put a roof on once a year to stay in shape. 

I said firmly, 'This is our last roof. We will NOT do this again.'

Monday, August 21, 2023

Tim and I Entertain

 I have been struggling lately with that brain that whirrs off and keeps me up until o'dark-thirty. Last night was another one of those nights. I did fall asleep eventually, and when I did, I slept like a rock. 

I was horrified to wake up and discover it was 9 am. Tim was already gone down the street to the new roof and I did not hear a thing. I didn't want him down there alone. I drank my coffee and ate my 4 McVities and got myself dressed, teeth brushed and headed down the street to help Tim. 

On the way, I met a man who lives across the street from that house. "Going down to supervise Tim, are you?"

"No," I answered. "I'm going down to help."

So I got there just in time to load the old shingles on to the truck. Tim moved the truck and pointed to the 4 x 8 plywood sheets and said, "Push them up the ladder to me." 

I said, "I thought you were cutting them." 

He said, "I am. I will cut them on the roof." 

I firmly said, "No. You will not. They are big and they are unwieldy and you're making us work way harder than we need to. They'll get cut on the ground and the smaller pieces carried up to the roof. That's safer."

He snorted. "It's not any safer." 

I put my foot down. "I'm not doing it like that, and neither are you." And I waited. 

He huffed and he puffed and I just looked back at him. "Fine!" he said. "We're cutting them on the ground." 

And so we did. 

He didn't have a pencil. I walked back down the street to get one. By then the guy across the street was sitting on his porch. "Going home for lunch, are you?" 

I was hot and sweaty and I had just had yet another unneccessary argument with my husband. I looked at him and said, "No. I need to grab a pencil." I walked home and grabbed four of them to stick in both trucks. I walked back. 

Tim was still pissy, but I didn't care. I have a very bad knee and standing of unlevel surfaces is always a bit scary for me. My knee suddenly gives out. Hauling heavy stuff on a slant made that possibility even more likely. I handed him a pencil. 

He cut the pieces of wood, and then I hauled them up the ladder and across the roof to him where he was up on the high roof hammering away. 

"Get me my roofing nailer," he said. 

He was still mad. I still didn't care. 

"Where is it?" I asked. 

"In the truck," he answered.

"The big truck or the small truck?" 

"The dump truck." 

And so I headed to the dump truck which was parked on the street. By that time, in a passing way, I noticed that the man across the street had been joined by his wife. I opened the door to the dump truck, and lo the roofing nailer was not there. As I looked behind the seats, I became aware of yelling behind me. I didn't really attend, because the couple fights. 

(Yes, I am fully aware that I'm the pot calling the kettle black.)

In any case, I was putting the seat back in place and I heard "Hell-ooooooooooooo! HELLLLL-OOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" in a demanding sort of a way. I turned around. The man said, "Yeah! I'm talking to you!" 

Did I mention that I was hot and tired, and not having the best of days? I feel like that's important to this story.

Summoning all my patience, I said, "Yes?" 


(Are you freaking KIDDING me?) Politely, I said, 'Debby' and headed back across the street. I called up to the roof, "Tim. It is not in the dump truck. Did you bring it up from Grand Valley?" 

"Then it is in the other truck," he said. 

I looked in the other truck and there it was. That's my main job, I swear. Finding the things that he sets down and forgets where. He's got a lot of places to set stuff down. Sometimes those places are at different houses. 

(At one point, he was yelling, "Where's my tin snips?" I said, "Well, you had them in your hand." He said, "Did I?" I said. "Yes, Tim, you did." I checked both trucks. I checked the ground where we were working. No tin snips. I found them. They were on the roof, resting right there on the peak of the first story side of the house. I said, "For pete's sake!" and pointed them out. "Huh." said Tim.)

But I digress. I hauled the roofing nailer up the ladder like I hadn't been dragging lost stuff up the ladder all day and handed it to him on the high roof. Did I mention that I'm afraid of heights? I feel like this is important to the story too. But there was not much of a choice here. I know I shouldn't be on the roof, but I also know that Tim probably shouldn't be either. 

"Grab that roll of ice and water shield and bring it up." 

I went down to grab the roll and it was heavy. Really heavy. 

I struggled it over to the ladder and started trying to get it up the ladder. I said, "I'm not quite sure how the **** you think that is going to happen." 

"Just hold on, then," he said in a voice that was as grumpy as my own.

Between the two of us, we wrestled it up on the roof. We got done what we needed to get done. I even got myself on the second story roof. It was sickening, but I did it. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the neighbors across the street. Apparently, they'd gone out some place. They were coming back and stopped their car in the street to watch us. 

When I am really scared, it comes out as mad sometimes. I feel like that is another important detail to the story. "Gees," I snapped, "What in THE hell is their problem?" 

Today we got the underlayment down and the drip edge installed. We got the ice and water shield and the felt paper down. 

Most importantly, we seem to have provided great entertainment to the couple across the street. 

Oh. And you have received the sanitized, fit to be retold version of the day's events. That may be important to the story too. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Gravity Defyer

Here's an interesting thing, one of those irritating things. I bought a pair of work boots for Levi through Amazon. They were from a company called Gravity Defyer. 

The boots began to separate from the sole within six weeks of purchase, not something you expect to see from a $235 pair of workboots. The company guarantees their footwear for two months, so I contacted them to let them know there was an issue. They e-mailed back and said that I needed to contact Amazon, since I had bought the boots through them.


I did what I was told and Amazon contacted the company to make it right. The company sent me an e-mail requesting pictures of the boots, backs, both sides, tops, soles. I did as I was instructed. I pointed out that these are workboots, and they were bought for work. 

For such an expensive pair of boots to fall apart that quickly was a bit of a shock. For comparison, you can buy a pair of Wolverines or Columbias or CAT brand boots for half the price. The last company Tim worked for gave them a yearly allowance for new boots. He always bought name brand and just tucked the boxes away until the boots he had wore out. He always had boots in reserve. They last. 

Gravity Defyer messaged back, and said that they did not have to deal with us because Amazon gave us 30 days to make a return. I messaged them back and said, "But you guarantee your boots for 60 days. I think it is unfair that you deny a claim on a technicality." 

No response. 

I contacted Amazon. "How is it fair that a company gets to ignore its guarantee because of your 30 day return policy?" They agreed it was not fair, and the company would be required to honor its warranty. The young man confidently told me, "I'll bring this to the attention of my supervisors. When the Amazon executives get involved, that carries a lot more weight than your emails."

I waited a week and heard nothing from Gravity Defyer. So much for the power of Amazon executives.

I contacted Amazon again to tell them that I have received no message from the company. I was assured that it would be resolved. It has been escalated. Supposedly, I'll hear from Amazon tomorrow. 

LATE EDIT: Amazon says we are not covered under Amazon A-Z guarantee with no explanation why not. I

It's just been a lazy day today. I chopped 1 1/2 gallons of green peppers for the freezer. I made roasted vegetables with marinated chicken breasts for lunch. There was enough left over that I chopped the vegetables and left over chicken finely, added a can of chicken broth  and diced up a couple tomatoes to throw in with some pearl pasta. It was a good supper. Laundry done, a walk at a local state park, and another day is done. 

Tomorrow, a roof. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023


I received a very rattled call from a tenant. Paula has been with us for two or three years. She had a bat in her house that she could not find. It was the second one that she had in two days. I was a little surprised by that. The house is an old one, one of the oldest in our town, 184 years old. It has two apartments, one a two bedroom all-on-one-floor, which our buddy Jim lives in. Paula lives in an open concept apartment with a huge sleeping loft upstairs. The bats seem to come in somewhere in the sleeping loft. 

This happened once before. The first tenants that lived there, a lovely couple who moved out when they finally were able to buy their own home. We were awfully happy for them. We just got word that they are expecting this winter. We are even more excited. Anyway, Cheyenne and Michael had only been there a day when we received a call about midnight. Tim answered it, and was greeted by a loud scream and the phone disconnected abruptly. He leaped out of bed, pulled on his pants and rushed down the street. By the time that he got there, the husband had got the bat out. He was in the process of calming his wife. 

We studied the situation, and figured out where they were coming in, and screened the entrances. We thought we had the problem solved, It had been quite some time since we had a bat complaint. Now, two bats in two days. Obviously, they figured a new way in, something we need to insure is closed off before winter hits. 

So we took down some beers and some wine coolers and had a visit on her back deck last night at dusk. It was a friendly visit. We did not see any bats exiting, unfortunately, so Tim has made the decision to replace the roof. He can eyeball the underlayment for signs of rot that would create an entrance. We can replace that, screen the eaves and reshingle. 

But it was a nice visit listening to the evening birds, watching the water and talking with a friend. 

I hear this pairs well with cooked goose.

Thursday, August 17, 2023


I've been collecting shrubs for the property. I buy the distressed plants from Lowe's. I bought a forsythia, which Tim took up to the green house. It didn't get watered while I was away for a week, and I was so sad to see it dead, leaves brown and curled. I set it outside with no real hope, and the thing has taken off once again. Green leaves unfurling all up and down the stems. 

I also have a lilac bush. It is two years old. I bought it on a whim, because lilacs are my favorite. It's still in its pot and doing very well. It even bloomed in the spring. I cannot wait to get it in the ground. 

My poor buddleia.  I had it sitting on a table outside the camper with some of my other 'rescues'. It got blown off the table in one of the bad storms, landing upside down. When I got to it, it was badly broken. I clipped the dead stuff back. Then someone (TIM!) dropped a boot on it, adding insult to injury. I was beginning to think it was cursed, but it is growing once again. 

There's probably 8 or 9 pots of stuff and I tend them all carefully when I go there. Mentally I plan how I want the garden to look, over and over again. I want a wall of flowering shrubs, and I want them edged in the hosta I have propagated from here, and in front of that,  my flowers. Low rock walls, the pile of stone waiting patiently over by the greenhouse. I have solar lighting picked up at various end of season sales and set aside. I have my birdbath. A sun dial I'd bought for my parents and took back after their deaths (Come grow old with me! it says). I bought a stone frog and a duck to nestle in amongst the hostas. My bunny gentleman waits patiently to discover where he will stand in all of this. 

Lots of dreams. Lots of things to be done. I am collecting the pieces and parts and everything waits to be assembled once the house is built. 

Yesterday, I watched a glittering swirl of yellow leaves come down in the wind. The seasons are changing. The end of summer used to make me so very sad. I'd try to hold on to those long summer days. I don't anymore. Fall will come, regardless of my thoughts on the matter. After that, I will endure winter, dreaming dreams of gardens unplanted. 

Seasons come and seasons go. We are swept along with them, aren't we?  I find myself thinking of seasons past, of children grown, of people gone from this world, the places that I used to know.  My mind goes back and forth between the past and present and the cloudy future

I'm not sure that any of this has a point,  but it is what I am pondering on this day as I sit between two seasons, waiting to see what unfolds. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh, and I read those books to my children  one chapter at a time as they grew up, everyone freshly bathed and in a pile on my bed. listening. I cannot read the last line of the book without teary eyes. 'So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place at the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.'

That's the same childhood that I wanted for my own children, full of imagination and love, security and being taken care of. It did not work out the way I hoped. I suppose our ideals never match reality, do they? They are grown now, and seem happy enough in their own chosen paths. Now there are grandchildren, three of them, and for all my shortcomings as a parent, I can say with all honesty, I'm a fine grandma. 

My oldest grandaughter has quite a collection of stuffed toys on her bed.  They have names. She loves to carry on conversations with them. For her 5th birthday, she got a new toy that she adored. It was soft and mooshy. She climbed up on the couch next to me. "Grandma, do you want to play?" 

"I surely do," I said, and she handed me 'Hildee'. I began to speak in changed voice, telling her how happy I was to be there. "I was SO afraid! I didn't know where I was going. I hoped it was a nice place, with a nice little girl. I was so happy to see you!"

She chatted a bit and then said, in a very serious voice, "I will be going to school soon and you will not be able to go with me." 

(Oh my heart! Christopher Robin had much the same conversation with Winnie the Pooh...)

I asked, "What about me? What will happen to me?" 

"You will stay in my bedroom," and she described her beautiful bedroom.

I said, "It sounds wonderful. Will you tell me about your adventures when you come home?"

"Yes," she answered. 

"Then I will be very patient and wait for you. Maybe some day I can go to school for show and tell."

"Maybe," she answered. "But I promise that I will love you for all my childhood." 

Has there ever been a moment so sweet that a person just burst? Because it felt like I might. 

It was a long and busy day, and at bedtime, there was no argument. She went up the stairs to her bedroom with her parents to brush her teeth, put on her princess night gown, and listen to a chapter from the book that they are reading. The rest of us stayed downstairs visiting. 

Before long, my son was gallumping down the stairs. "Where's that toy she got today? She wants that toy." He picked up a toy, but I said, "That's not the one. Hildee is over on the floor by the couch." 

Back up the stairs he went, to that enchanted place at the top of the stairs where a little girl and her stuffed animals will always be playing. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Less is More

Tim knows a guy who can't afford to retire. He wants to, but he keeps pushing it back. Tim and I marveled over it, because the thing is, this is a professional man in a very lucrative position. We were curious about it. 

We had to drive to his house for a business transaction last night, and were blown away by his house. It has a stunning view overlooking a lake with a dock for his boat. He just had a massive addition built. The thing is a show stopper. 4 late model expensive vehicles sat in the circular driveway. A fifth was for sale. 

Coming home, I was thinking about it. The little house we are building has a nice view of the western sunset. If you look out the southern window, you get a great view of the cemetery across the road. The east windows give you the sun rise. The northern windows give you the woods. It will never be a million dollar house, but it will be ours, built with our own two hands. We can afford to retire. 

Today, we worked on the house. At lunch time, I scooted down to Albert's to see if he had any tomatoes (have I mentioned how I love tomato sandwiches? Because I do, I really, really do.) He did, He also had some Candy onions, which we love. I picked up green peppers and some zucchini for 25 cents each as well.

We blabbed (because I'm a blabber) and he said the house was coming along, and I told him about Levi and the boys and the roof. "What a marvelous gift!" I said. "I still can't get over it. They think they owe us for the trips to Pittsburgh. I think that we can never pay them back for what they've done for us."

Albert laughed. "I love bartering," he said. He told me about some of the deals he made. 

I said, "You and Tim are two of a kind alright. He bought a Heil McLain water boiler from a fellow who cannot afford to retire. His house was quite stunning, right on Chautauqua lake.  On the way home, I told Tim his life could be worse. His wife is happy with her little house down the road and is as frugal as HE is."

Albert said, "Same with my wife." 

I said, "And both of you guys retired...I'm sure you know you're both lucky to have found such good catches. 

Albert threw back his head and laughed. "You got that right, girl!"

I headed back home for my tomato sandwich. 

Monday, August 14, 2023


 It was a short but action packed weekend. We got to 'party central' about 2pm, Friday. There was a lot going on, so we went out to dinner Friday night, to a little Mexican restaurant. It was nice to visit with my son. It's been a long time since we really had time to sit down and visit. The last time I was there, he was away on a business trip. 

Dylan will be heading out again for a week in September. He designed a system for a major drug manufacturer that has won a national award. He will go to California to receive it. The cool thing about this is that his company sees world wide application for this, and it has the potential to be used by thousands of companies. Pretty exciting. It was the first project he was handed after being hired by his company, and he poured three years into it, between the design and the finetuning required as the system went on line. I know it is something that he is relieved to be done with, and the 'buzz' is the icing on the cake. We are very proud and happy for him. 

After dinner, Brittani had a project of her own to do. She had to put together the cakes for the birthday party. 

Yes. CakeS. With an 's'. 

The five year old had requested a Frozen theme cake, so this was a four layer sponge cake with blueberry compote between the layers and a homemade butter cream blue frosting that was to die for. There was a spray edible glitter and marzipan snowflakes on the side. White chocolate covered the top of the cake and dripped down the side like melting snow. Atop the cake was a blue 'ice' castle and Elsa and Anna along with Olaf and Sven. 

The baby has turned one. She likes bananas. She got a two layer banana cake with chocolate ganache in the middle and a buttercream frosting, trimmed out in pink. 

The THIRD cake was a small banana cake, the 'smash cake', the cake given to the baby for her very own demolition. 

Saturday was the big day. The party venue was at a trampoline park with climbing walls, ziplines, rope walkways, 'ninja warrior' challenges and a go kart track in addition to the ballpits and trampolines. It was loud and pulsing with lights. The kids loved it.

Iris is a very alert little five year old. Tim and I did not want to buy them toys. They have just about every toy known to man, so we got them a year's membership to the Philadelphia zoo. It gives them free admission and free parking for a year. She must not have understood this. 

I started this thing when she was young. When her parents went out and it was just her and I, to help her feel comfortable, I often pretended to 'forget' things so that she could explain to me how they were done. Initially, I thought this was a good way to make her feel comfortable around me. I live five hours away, and she doesn't see me every day. I'm pretty convincing because little Iris later confided in her parents 'Grandma is VERY forgetful.' 

After opening her gifts, she told me, "Grandma. I didn't get a gift from you!" I laughed. I'm sure she thought forgetful grandma had struck again. I explained about the zoo. 

I'm sure she didn't understand this completely, but the good news is that they all went to the zoo the afternoon that we left, She got to feed the giraffe. I'm sure that made her feel much better about her forgetful grandma. 

We headed out Sunday before breakfast. We stopped at Cabela's. Just to look, don't you know. Tim ended up buying a four night stay at a lodge in the Smokey mountains. He wants to go in the fall. (I was as dumbfounded as you are.) We had a leisurely lunch and then we headed out. 

It turned out to be a much longer day than we thought. Half way home, the low tire pressure light came on, so Tim pulled off the interstate. The tire was low, so he put air in. We once again headed out, but within just a few minutes, the tire was going low again. We pulled off the insterstate once again. This time the tire was positioned so that you could see the nail in it. 

The trunk was unpacked. We had never had to use the jack before. It was a feeble and inadequate thing that actually folded over under the weight of the car, which left us in quite a pickle. Much to our surprise, a big truck pulled up and a man said, "Do you need help?" 

Tim said, "Do you have a jack?" 

The man laughed. "I sure do. That one is junk, isn't it?" He lived across the road and he scooted right over and came back with an industrial jack. Tim jacked the car up quickly, pulled the flat off and reached for the 'donut'. The man said, "We can fix that tire if you want," gesturing at the flat. Tim agreed quickly. A 'donut' is a small spare designed for emergency use, something to get you to the tire shop. It is not something that you want to be driving two hours on. 

Tim and the guy headed off in the truck. William and I waited in the shade. Someone else pulled up to make sure we were okay. We chatted a while as we waited. 

It wasn't long and Tim and Roy were back with the repaired tire. We slapped it on and just that quick we were on our way again. Roy did not want any money for his help. He said easily, "I am the luckiest man in the world. A year and a half ago, I was dying. I got a kidney transplant. No matter how much I do for anybody else, it will never be payment enough for what I've been given." 

We drove off feeling quite good about people in general, and it's been a while since I've felt that way. In fact that very morning, there was a van parked in front of the Cabela's. He was selling flags and tee-shirts and the like. They flapped gaily in the wind sending their message: "F___ Joe Biden!" 

How on earth anyone can see Trump as any kind of a hero is beyond me. 

The man waved and yelled to us. I waved too, but I didn't use all my fingers. William gasped "Grandma!" from the back seat in a shocked voice.  I was ashamed. It was pure impulse, and it was rude. Every bit as rude as the message on those flags. I had descended to his level, and that's not a thing to be proud of. 

So. I had a pretty low opinion of humanity yesterday, my own humanity included. Meeting the luckiest man in the world was just what I needed.  I had gone just as flat as that tire. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023


There are a lot of competitions at the local county fair, and one of them is photography. Tim met a woman who had entered some of her pictures and her nose was a bit out of joint because none of them received an award. She was sure that the judging was unfair. The winners certainly knew the judges or had some sort of 'in'. It was a waste of time and money for her to enter her pictures, but "what are you going to do? It's not fair." 

That struck my funny bone. My friend Dixie always used to say, "Life's not fair. If it was there'd be a ferris wheel." I imagined her right there listening to those complaints, and brusquely retorting, "Of course it was fair. There's the ferris wheel right there." 

Tim and I will be away for the weekend. My youngest grandaughter celebrated her first birthday last week. My oldest grandaughter turns five next week. The party is this weekend. It will be a quick trip for us, arriving Friday, leaving Sunday afternoon.  Tim has an important appointment early next week. 

Have a good weekend and we'll catch you on the flip side. 

Monday, August 7, 2023


We have a roof! Believe it or not, this was done in 8 hours with two 'English' (Tim and I), one Amish man and his three oldest boys. 

Levi called Tim as we were prepairing to head out. He had his orders caught up at the sawmill. He had haying to do, but not until the afternoon, after it had dried in the sun for half a day. He offered to help. We were surprised, but not going to turn that one down, the primary reason being that Levi has put on tin roofs before, and having an experienced person on site is a huge time saver. They understand team work. Tim cut the 'double bubble', which is what they call the insulating layer that goes under the tin. Either Amos or I ran it up the ladder. In between that, Amos and I carried the tin sheets over to the building and set them on end so that they were ready to push up to Levi and Reuben and Andy on the roof. Levi directed, and the rest of us kept up. The first morning, we had half of the roof done. 

We were even more surprised when Levi gave us another morning. We got it done. 

This is such a big deal. There are not enough words. I have a bad knee. I will need a knee replacement, but now is not the time. If my foot is not level, my knee has a tendency to 'give out' with no warning. I can't do roofs. Tim shouldn't do roofs, in my opinion, but he has been doing them right along. 

Now. suddenly the roof is done. 

Every last thing left to be done on that house can be done by the two of us. 

Every time that I think about that, there is a happy lightness in my heart.  I am so grateful. 

We had a party that night. Pizzas. Macaroni salad. Ice cream. I brought sparklers and fountains for the childen, along with some spinners which whistled and danced around on the driveway. I had specifically sorted through the fireworks that we had, picking the ones that didn't make booms, only emitted showers and sparks. I had quite a selection of stuff. While we waited for it to get dark, I taught the girls how to play 'cat's cradle'. They'd never seen it before but were enthralled. Everyone ran to get yarn to make their own game. 

It was a wonderful evening. Well. Except for the fact that despite the description on the box, the first firework went off with a boom. I couldn't believe it. Everyone shrieked. Tim said Levi jumped so badly he nearly fell out of his chair. Rudy ran crying to his father.  

I felt terrible. I had specifically weeded those out. 

I thought. 

Anyways, the rest of the fireworks display went well. Andy did the fountains and everyone oohed and aahed as if we were at a big fireworks display. The sparklers were in all different colors, which were fun to watch. I had probably 3 dozen of those. It was fun to watch the kids excitedly leaping and waving them in the yard. Cars going past on the road slowed to watch the fun too. 

At last it was time to go home. We headed down the hill and before we got to the bottom of it, suddenly, without warning Tim became violently ill. That was the beginning of a pretty scary two days. I worried about dehydration, since that seemed to trigger the cascade of events that triggered his stroke. Deja vu. We have absolutely no idea what brought this on. No one else got sick. We all ate the same thing. He said he felt fine all night. 

He is better today and seems no worse for the experience.

I'm grateful for that, as well. 

Friday, August 4, 2023

A Good Girl

 Today, we were working on the house and my mind was wandering all over the place like it normally does when I'm doing stuff that does not require me to pay attention. Anyways, it popped it to my mind. A young woman, a teacher, had been charged with a shocking crime against children months and months ago. I wondered what had ever happened. The next break in activity, I grabbed my phone, and typed in her name and discovered that she plea bargained and is due to be sentenced later this month. 

As I continued my cyber stalking, I saw that since her firing by the school district, she'd taken another job, working in the HR department of a local company. 'How does that happen?' I wondered, studying her smiling face in her linked in profile. I was surprised to read her professional information, which made it seem as if she was moving confidently down her chosen career path insteading of striking out in a completely new direction because she will never be able to teach or work with children again. 

How do you get past that? How do you stop thinking and obsessing about it?  How do people royally screw up, but then get themselves into another well paying job, let alone one that involves confidentiality and trust? I know these ponderings makes me sound like a terrible human being. 

She had a birthday, and people sang her praises on her facebook page. Every one was carefully acknowledged with a heart emoji. One of them caught my eye. 'She's a good girl from a good family.' There were several likes for that comment. I've been mulling it over. No. I don't know all the details, but I know enough to know that a good girl abused her position of trust and that it was something that unfolded over a period of months. This was egregious behavior that any person, teacher or not, would recognize as inappropriate. 

She started out with 6 charges, 4 of them felonies. There was a plea deal. She pled guilty the two misdemeanors, corruption of minors and indecent assault without consent. The good girl from a good family with a good job has a good lawyer. 

I'll be interested to see what her sentence is. 

Late Edit: The ever gracious Steve Reed made a comment that stopped me in my tracks: Hmmmmm. I'm hesitant to comment not knowing the specifics, but I generally applaud the idea of giving people a second chance when they've screwed up. Of course, there are a lot of variables severe were the crimes, how did they affect the victims, what were their potential long term effects. 

That was an excellent comment. I worried that I had left a wrong impression. I know that she did a terrible thing. I know that she is in the hands of the legal system. My point was not about judging her (not my job) or about kicking someone when they are down. I guess that my point was diffrerent. I was not talking so much about 'second chances' as I was about consequences. Sometimes it seems that consequences seem to fall more lightly on some than others. I am fascinated by the fact that someone can do something awful, but still be surrounded by supporters who will see them as 'good people' still, worthwhile, worth a second chance. Other people never have that kind of grace extended to them. They never get a second chance.  

Sorry for the lack of posts. Tim is quite ill. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Random Advice

It's not world changing, but I feel as if there is someone out there that I can save with my hard earned wisdom. 

So. Here we go: 

                           If you get the idea that your bathroom would look quite luxurious 
with fluffy white rugs, don't. Just don't. 

So, what is your random advice that won't change the world? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

A whole lot of happies.

I have been actually losing sleep over this. Truly. We had 15 roof trusses in place, and we had 6 more to go. The trusses already set had been very physical work. We pushes them up inside the house, lifted each end to its respective wall. At that point, it was hanging upside down. With one person standing on the wall and two people on the ground, the truss was flipped up. Each of the two people got on an 8 foot ladder, pulled the truss back into place, 24 inches from the previous truss. It was checked to make sure that the overhang was even with the wall, and then it was toenailed into place. An 8 foot 2x4 was used to brace the top evenly with the previous trusses. 

I know it is a lot of explaining. 

It was exhausting work. 

We had six more to put up, and the problem is that it could not be done by slipping the trusses inside. There was no longer room to maneuver 26 foot long trusses. They would have to be raised to the roof from outside the house, and flipped on top. 

Today was the big day. We had four of us working and one of them, my nephew, had done this before when he put an addition on his house. We did it his way, and they went up fairly easily. We were done in a couple of hours, sliding them up ramps and 'walking them' where they needed to be. 

I cannot tell you the thrill I get every time I look over and see the dead patch of grass where that pile of trusses used to lay. 

Tomorrow, we will put up the last of the purlins which connect the trusses into a sort of grid. It steadies the trusses and you use also use that to nail the underlayment for the tin roof, and then, on top of that will go the tin roof itself. I will truly feel as if once we have the place roofed, we'll have accomplished the lion's share of the 'grunt' work, the heavy, physical laborious work, and I am grateful for that. 

Once this part of things is finished up, and the doors on, etc. the breakneck pace can stop. If we feel like taking a day off, we can do that. THAT will be nice. 

Tim got his 'new' truck yesterday. I was quite worried about this, to be honest. We do not need another 'project' truck, not at this point. We have way too much going on. The good news is that the truck is very nice. It runs perfectly. I was very happy about that too. 

Know what else I'm happy about? I had a tomato on toast sandwich, and it was just about the most perfect thing I've ever tasted. 

Kay? I'm getting together a package for you and Art and hope to have it on the way to you by week's end! Hope your brother enjoys it too!

Going, going, gone

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