Thursday, April 18, 2024


 It was a day of getting ready to go, getting everything packed up. We are headed east to see Iris' ballet recital. 

I picked up some laces to teach her how to weave a simple bracelet. I was looking at some beads, but remembered that I'd gotten her a bag of UV detecting beads at Christmas (they turn colors in the sunlight). I gave my daughter in law a quick call to make sure she still had some of those. If not, I needed to buy some beads. I was assured that they were in a drawer, and that Iris was quite excited for me to get there. 

My daughter-in-law gets up before anyone in the house so that she can get her shower. Then she bustled down to the guest room to put the fresh bedding on the bed. She was moving quietly because the rest of the house was asleep, and she shut the door to keep any noise out of the hall. 

Iris woke up, and saw the light under the door in 'gramma's room' and charged in excitedly thinking that I'd gotten in early to surprise her. "She was SO disappointed..." 

That was sweet. 

Today, Mattie needed to do some grocery shopping, so I volunteered to take her down. Her sister Katie came with us too. I noticed that things were quite different last time. Levi was with us. The women were quiet, and when they did speak, they spoke in German to Levi and he translated to me.  It wasn't oppressive. I guess that's just the way they do things. But it was sure different from how it is when I've got a car load of ladies. 

Anyways, it was Katie and Mattie today. Mattie said, "I'll probably fill up the car." I said, "I'm just about used to that," and off we went. So as not to garner any ill will, our first stop was GoodWill. Fine by me. I found some cute dresses for the girls. I needed a knob for a cast iron dutch oven, and I've been unable to find what I was looking for. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before, but I saw a box of pot lids. Nothing but pot lids. I found one with a knob that I liked and so I bought it, brought it home and unscrewed it from the lid and tossed the lid in the recycling. Voila.

They had two stores they needed to get to, and once that was done, they suggested Dairy Queen. I had my normal meal which is a FlameThrower and an unsweeted ice tea. They ordered their meals and we waited together. They called out our numbers and one by one we picked up our sandwiches and headed for a table. 

When I unwrapped my burger, I thought, "This doesn't look right. I've never seen a slice of onion on a Flamethrower." I checked my bag, and it was my order number. At about the same moment, I noticed Mattie's red face with a very strange expression. She was looking at the burger she had just taken a big bite of. 

I knew what happened immediately. I said, "Is that your burger?"

She said, "I don't sink so." 

I asked "Is it hot?"

She nodded. I laughed. "They mixed up our orders. They put my sandwich in your bag!"

She felt awful because she had taken a bite of it. "It's alright," I said. "You're not contagious or anything, right?" intending to cut out the part she'd taken a bite from. 

She looked quite shocked at that. I said, "It's not a big deal, really...unless..." I fixed her with a look. "Will I turn Amish if I eat this? Is Amish catching?" 

Laughing out loud is something that they don't do in public usually. Polite little giggles, but the ROFL LOL stuff is not something you'll catch Amish women doing. It was hilarious to watch them. Their eyes grew wide and they both simultaneously grabbed their paper napkins and held them tightly against their mouths, and rocked with laughter. 

In the end, I ended up taking the burger back, not because I was afraid to 'catch' Amish, but because there was nothing to cut the portion away with. Just straws and sundae spoons. I explained to the woman at the counter what had happened and they made me up a new sandwich right away. I looked back at Mattie and Katie and they were still rocking with their napkins tightly held against their mouths, laughing uproariously as quietly as they could.

I bought William a new pair of jeans while we were out. When he walked over after school, I had him try them on. They were too big. Honestly. The kid is so skinny. He's getting tall though, so now finding pants long enough that are not too big around the waist is a struggle. I headed out to the store with him and the jeans. He was outraged that I expected him to try the jeans on before we left the store. I said, "No. We need to make sure these are right." We were just passing the newly opened Dunkin' Donuts. I said, "Listen, humor me, and we'll stop on the way back and you can try Dunkin' Donuts." That quieted him down. 

3 pair of jeans later, we wound up going back to what we always buy, Wranglers, 12 slim. 

And when we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts, we had the intention of getting a donut for William and for Grandpa too. Except that there was (I kid you not) ONE lone donut in the long display case. William quipped. "This should be Dunkin' Donut without the S, and when I buy this donut, it will be just "Dunkin'" I thought that was hilarious. The poor guy behind the counter just looked as if he'd had a very hard day. 

Post Script: Tim has never met a donut he didn't like and so he told William that they'd go back to Dunkin' Donuts after supper. The store was open. They didn't have any donuts. When the guy said they had one donut left, he meant they'd sold out. There were no more donuts in the store. I guess they must be pretty spesh, as far as donuts go. 

So, we will be gone for the weekend. I hope that you all have a good weekend. 

GZ, I'll be thinking of you. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024


 You know, a profound thing happened this morning, before I even got out of bed. We have a pretty nice relationship with our tenants. 3 of them have a pretty solid historical connection. They grew up in Kinzua, and were forced out by the government who were building a dam, and where their tiny towns stood would soon be underwater, part of the Kinzua reservoir. It ties in quite really well with Tasker's post today, strangely enough as he too recounted a story of a place which no longer exists. 

So...they are good friends, bound together by their shared history. Through them, we met another couple, who had the same 'Kinzua Connection'. I wrote about them. The gentle man made a huge impression on me in that short meeting. 

It's no secret that I've been struggling. I mean, the news of the world is really just overwhelmingly awful lately. Today I read that Israel is blocking the delivery of sleeping bags to Gaza. That's indefensible. It is simple cruelty. Unfortunately, 12,300 children have been killed in Gaza in the past four months. More will surely follow, because they are starving to death. Israel's goal is to inflict suffering, and they are doing a fine job of it. Hammerabi's law demanded 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'. Israel's 'revenge' has gone far beyond what can be considered reasonable. 

I will always be ashamed of my president vowing to protect Israel, no matter what. To me, it is so very simple. Say that I've got a friend, and that friend gets mad and kills someone. How shall I respond? If I defend him, cover for him, help to him to avoid justice, this would be called 'aiding and abetting'. It is a crime. You can laugh at the simplicity of that, but in my mind, if it isn't ethical on a personal level, it is no more ethical on a national level, or a world level. Wrong is wrong. 

And then there is Putin. 

And our political chaos. 

I mean, it just never ends. I've given up watching the news altogether. I follow it closely, but somehow the words are easier to take than the actual visuals, so I read my news. It gets to the point where, really, you just feel as if it is futile. There is no point. There is nothing that I can do to make a difference. I mean, I try to be a good person. I do. But I will make no difference in this world. 

Last night, we got an unexpected call from that elderly gentleman from the beginning of this post. He's had a rough go of things in the past couple years. His wife died, and they were each a half of a whole. A tree blew down on his little house in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the winter. We offered him a camper to live in, but he thanked us. He went on living in the livable part of his little house, working industriously to make the unliveable part liveable once again. He's a quiet, independent soul, and sometimes you will catch him smoking a joint staring across the water. I don't begrudge him his small pleasures. I'll tell you true. Sometimes I am tempted to smoke one and see if the world looks any better when I'm done. 

Anyways, his text came out of the blue. He'd come across some foam sheeting and wondered if we would want it. Tim immediately said yes. The house is insulated. but Tim said that we could use it in the garage, to make that weather tight. They made plans to meet up. When we asked how much he wanted for it, he said that he didn't want anything, that it wasn't his. He was doing a job and had to get rid of it. He wanted it to be reused, instead of tossing it in the landfill. 

This morning, I invited him to supper, but it turns out that he eats very plainly, very simply. He's also a vegetarian. I said, "Well, can we do some sort of a barter? You're doing a kindness for us." He responded that perhaps we could do a barter at some point, but he could not think of anything at the moment. 

In a joking way, I responded, "Sigh! I can tell when I am being put off, sir!" 

He said, "Well. I'm afraid you're reading this wrong. Just an offer to a fellow traveler. I am sure things will even themselves out at some point." 

Afraid that I'd hurt his feelings, I said, "I know that you are right, and I hope that you remember us when the time comes that you need help. But whatever happens, know that this will be paid forward. In this world today, we have a responsibility to be kind, to pour as much good into this world as we can. It is our only hope." 

And then came his beautiful reply. "My friends on Water St. have shown me just how well you both understand the need to spread kindness and goodness to others. It is actions like yours that give me hope that we CAN create the kind of world that we long for." He closed his text with "Enjoy this day. Namaste." 

I do not relate this for shameless self promotion. I'm not bragging. But here's the gift of his words. We do try to be kind. We do try to do good. It never seems to be enough. It never seems to matter. It never makes a difference. Except...someone noticed, and I feel as if it has somehow eased my internal struggle just a bit. 

I think of Steve Reed's 'Estelle' painting her rocks, leaving them about London. I'm not sure how old she is but it was very moving to me to think of a girl, with a child's pure heart, leaving her rocks for others to find, earnestly believing that she can bring joy into the world. 

Red's story about taking his wife out for her birthday had an unexpected ending.

Weaver's stories about the kindness of others are touching too. 

Yeah. We are living in a very ugly world right now, but there is sweetness. There are Estelles. There are Geezes. There are good people, and just being reminded of that made a big difference for me today. 

Feel free to leave your examples in the comments, some little story of kindness that has made an impact on you. I'd love to hear them. I'm sure the world could use the encouragement. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

Feeding the Masses.

 Donna W. talked about potato soup over on her blog, I still have about 30 lbs of potatoes that I need to use, and I thought that would be a good way to use some of them up. 

Of course, I needed ham for that. I had a little ham, a two pounder, but it was in the freezer. Once thawed, it would need to be used. The soup would not require all that ham, so I made up my mind to do a quiche with spinach, ham, and swiss cheese for tonight. I got that put together and in the oven, and then chopped up some more of the ham and tossed it into a crock pot with celery and onion and some water. 

When the vegetables were tender and the broth good and 'brothy', I added some peeled, diced potatoes and let them simmer until tender. I added half a stick of butter and popped it in the fridge. All I have to do for supper tomorrow is make a cheddar cheese roux, add it to the soup base and heat through. That will make a quick supper for tomorrow. 

The rest of the ham and the left over swiss cheese from the quiche will become grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for the night after next. It's nice, esp. when we're busy, to have suppers pretty much planned and ready to go. 

At the end of the week, we are headed to see Iris' ballet recital. She is quite excited about her show, and it is all top secret, very hush-hush. She did show me one dance step, but swore me to secrecy. We're getting her a wrist corsage to present to her after the show. William is coming along and it will be a nice weekend away, a short one because Tim has a doctor's appointment bright and early Monday morning, so we'll head back Sunday. 

I haven't said anything about the cats lately. Houdi is not allowed out at night, and that seems to be saving his ass, literally. He hasn't been bit in the butt since his last bite in the butt. Of course, it makes him quite ornery when he asks to go out and it doesn't happen for him. He tries to argue the point. 

I know that after the last cat attack, I said that I wasn't going to feed the ferals anymore, but I can't help it. Mangey comes when I call, and he is glad for his food. He gets a good diet because proper nutrition is important to stave off mange. He had a horrible case the first time I met him, and we got him all cured from that. (I tried to talk to his owners about it. They think that this is from excessive grooming.) We treated him for mange, and got him all squared away. I was disappointed to see that a spot had returned on his face in January or so. So he gets a good cat food and medicated every other month as a preventative. His face is looking better. I know that commenters think he needs a new name, something nice, but he knows who I'm talking to when I call for him. He answers. We need to maintain that, because, as I said, when I leave this house, he's coming with me. They have a big dog, and he is not a fan of the dog. He told me so. The way he came over the top of the chainlink fence between our property and theirs was all I needed to know. 

Testing the water, I told Tim that we were bringing Mangey with us when we move. He gave me a look. It's not his favorite idea I don't think, but he didn't say were were not. Hence we have reached The Great Cat Accord. duly witnessed by all of you. You understand that you may be called to submit depositions in the case of objections down the road. 

In any case, when we got home from working on the house, Mangey was waiting for us. His face looks better. I called him to the mudroom and fed him his supper and we visited for a while. 

Another of the ferals is 'Goblin', and I think that he's the aggressive cat. He's a long haired black cat. We tried to bring him in a few years ago. Probably 6, maybe 7. It didn't not work out. He did not want to be an indoor cat. He told me so. The way he continually shot out the door each and every time he had an opportunity to do so made it crystal clear. When we tried to force the issue, he simply got out and to teach us a lesson, he did not come back for a couple months. 

Tim went to visit a friend and was a bit grumpy when he got home. He said, "Well, we've got another one. I've never seen this one before." I said, 'Is he the tiger?' Tim answered, "Nope. He was gray." I said, "Oh, the gray one with the white face?" Tim started to look a bit provoked. "No. He did not have a white face. He was solid gray. How many cats are we feeding???" he wanted to know. I honestly had to tell him that I don't know. If I see a cat hanging around looking hopeful, I put a cup of food out in the dish for him. 

I feel badly for the street cats, but they can't all come with us. We've already got one feral living in the old house in Grand Valley. He's figured out how to get in through the basement, and we don't mind. We run the furnace in the little house, keeping it at 50 degrees because we have a lot of stuff for the new house in there, so Get-Along has a cozy place to get out of the cold. I'm sure that he finds plenty of mice to keep himself fed. He is a true feral, and I doubt that he will ever get close enough to be petted, but he's a wiley character who has managed to fend for himself quite nicely, at the same time avoiding the foxes and coyotes. You have to respect an animal like that. We've seen him, off and on, for 4 or 5 years now, always from a distance, just a glimpse. 

Houdi was a rescue. We'll rescue Mangey too. but we cannot save them all. I can't help but feel bad about that.


We spent the afternoon working down at the new house. Wiring. I am not an electrician, and so at this point, I'm back to my old familiar role of step-and-fetch. I leapfrog the ladders. It's pretty boring. 

Today, I gathered up the scrap pieces of wiring and thought...hmmmm...and so entertained myself by stripping the wire down to the copper and then using pliers to shape it. I began restringing a windchime that had fallen apart, cutting the old string and then toying around with the wire to figure out how the best way to hang it. I think I have a plan. 

Of course, about the time that a design all began to come together in my mind, Tim needed me to feed wire through. We did that for the rest of the afternoon. 

When we ran out of wire, we spent some time finalizing the light placement for the bathroom. 

We stopped in and visited with my sister and her husband for a while, and then we headed home. The trees are starting to leaf out. and daffodils are everywhere. That's a hopeful sign. 

We watched the craziest movie tonight. 'Serenity', with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. It had an intriguing start. We were both hooked. I watched that movie devolve until I had no idea just what was going on. Tim dozed off and woke up after it ended. "So what happened," he wanted to know. I had to answer honestly, "I don't know. I couldn't tell you."

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Gray Area

 We worked on the house yesterday. It's a frustrating time for me, because there is not really a lot I can do, so I stand around a great deal of the time waiting for him to tell me what to get, or what to do. Sometimes, I can stand around for quite some time. We are doing the wiring for the ceiling fans/lights/exhaust fans, etc. We have the bathroom exhaust fan, and the recessed lights for in the bathroom, We will need to make a decision on the kitchen exhaust. 

So that was yesterday. 

Coming home, I had an unaccountable craving for a veggie pizza, and so we placed an order for one to pick up. 

I find myself just not wanting to be around people lately. Sounds awful, doesn't it? 

People just want to argue. An acquaintance really began blasting Christianity. She really feels it is responsible for so many evils in the world. There is no God! She proclaims this long and loud and will argue the point with anyone who dares to believe differently. 

Now, I don't disagree with her. She's right in my opinion, but I countered with, "Leave people alone!  For heaven's sake, I know people who call themselves Christians who are every bit as horrified as you are at what is happening in the world. Their belief does not affect you. " 

She was quick to let me have it. I think that she just assumed that we would be in agreement. The thing is, we are. I just don't understand the need to hold all Christians accountable for the acts of some. I guess my point is that I am completely willing to debate ideology. Evangelical Christianity and their ideology is doing a lot of damage, and I will argue that ideology because it affects me. Ridiculing everyone who believes in God is simply religious intolerance,  no different from the Christians she criticizes proclaiming that all other faiths are not 'right' or 'true'. 

People want to see things as black and white, and yet, life is rarely like that. If you don't agree with the actions of Israel, you are quick to be labeled 'pro-Hamas'. Or antisemitic. If you don't agree with the Evangelicals, you are a 'liberal', a word that cannot be uttered without contempt dripping from every syllable. If you don't agree with Islam, you are an infidel. It goes on and on, doesn't it? 

Yesterday, I disagreed with a liberal, and watched her take a page from the far-right republican playbook. If I was not with her, I was against her, and she tore into me. I recognized the gaslighting immediately. She was trying to discredit me by picking apart my words, making a big deal out of semantics, all in an attempt to miss my point, to ignore the big picture. 

I wished her a good day and ended the conversation, which she seemed to find hilarious. I'm sure she thought she won, that her argument was so overwhelmingly 'right' that I had no comeback. I had plenty to say, but what was the point of saying it? She wasn't listening to me, and I was sure as shit not going to stand there and listen to her. There was nothing to be won by continuing the conversation.

In the end, I think our world will be destroyed by intolerance, the refusal to respect people as fellow human beings with every bit as much right to live their life by their own rules as we have. 

Live and let live. 

It sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Friday, April 12, 2024

Water, Water, Everywhere

 We are getting quite a bit of rain here, but the Allegheny River is at 12 feet. It reaches flood level at 14 feet, so we're good. Still, the river is high and muddy. Our Conewango, which feeds into the Allegheny is likewise high. Tim walked down to check the flooding behind the rentals. He was mostly worried about the steps we built down to the creek for our tenants Paula and Jim to be able to reach the river bank and sit with a fire and watch birds during the summer. The steps are right where we left them, which was mighty good news to us. We've got rain in the forecast through Saturday night. High winds predicted for tonight. 

They're getting it badly down in Pittsburgh. Our Allegheny flows through Pittsburgh, and water levels there raised 21 feet in the past couple days. Comparitively speaking, we've got nothing to complain about. 

Today was a big day for us. The city has not responded in any way, shape or form to our paperwork. Dead silence. 

We have had a local television investigation team in. They've got questions. They requested paperwork from the city under the Sunshine Law, but the city has 30 days to get that paperwork to them. According to the reporter, he expects the city to take the full 30 days to forward it to them. 

In the meantime, we hired a guy to come in and run a camera down the line. He was going to provide us with a flash drive of the pictures to prove that the line had been capped. Unfortunately, the line is still filled with water and he could not see to get the pictures. But...all was not lost. He ran the camera through the line until it stopped. He came out of the basement and went to his truck. He had a device that communicated with the camera, telling him exactly where the camera was at. 

With a big grin, he said, "There you go. The camera is right here. See that writing on the side walk? (4'8", it said.) He said, "He marked where he capped it. The cap is 4'8" beneath this marker. That's where my camera is. That's where he's got it marked. Your line was capped." 

He gave us that information in writing. 

He explained where the city is going to try to get us. Shared lines are not allowed now. Back in the 1920s they were allowed so our lines were 'grandfathered in'. However, the law is, in the case of a drainage problem, the city requires the property owner to put in an unshared line. They will stubbornly stick to that, ignoring the fact that there was no drainage problem until they capped our line. Had they recognized that that was a 'wet line' and left it uncapped our drainage would have been working still. Since the house next door was removed, that line would no longer be a shared line, There would have been no problem. 

He pointed out that when a wet line is capped, the property owner is to be given written notice of what is going on. We were not. 

He said, given the city's dead silence on this, they are not going to respond, in his opinion. He said, "You'll have to get a lawyer." We had already figured that, and we have been researching out of town lawyers.

I forwarded the information to the reporter. Over the weekend, I will once again assemble the packets of information. Monday morning, I will deliver the information. What is so frustrating about this is that as citizens, if the city demands payment for anything, even a parking ticket, you don't have the option of ignoring that. How do they have the right to simply ignore us? 

Thursday, April 11, 2024


Well, I've caught cold. 

I'm on the mend. *snuffle*, but luckily, I have a nice pile of funny books on the table to read at my leisure. (Thanks again)

Monday, April 8, 2024

The Eclipse

 Oh, it was just the best time! Dylan and Brittani spent one night at our house. We had balsamic glazed pork, mashed potatoes, gravy and broccoli. My sister came and brought two loaves of bread and cooked up some parsnips for us, straight from their garden, to my stove, and straight to the table. Banana cake for dessert. 

(Note to self. My kitchen does not fit 11 people comfortably. The open concept in the new house will be a wonderful) But we had a good time, and we laughed together in that comfortable way of families. 

Ruby is 20 months old, and even though I saw her not too long ago, it boggled my mind to see how much more social she has become. She had hugs for everyone. She talks a bit, but one funny story. William brought down his marionette puppy from his bedroom upstairs. He walked the dog over to where Ruby sat on the floor, and made it dance around her and lick her cheek. Oh, how Ruby loved that. Ruby wanted that dog in the worst way and threw quite a tantrum about it. When her mother carried her upstairs, Ruby was roaring at the top of her lungs "UPPPPPPPYYYY!! UPPPPPPYYYY!!" I said, "Well. There's no mistaking that word." She was very tired. She had a long day, and it was past her bedtime. She went down with very little argument. 

Iris and I cuddled on the couch and watched Paddington Bear II, which was ridiculous, but she loved it. It was the great testosterone battle for William and his uncle. They both ate a pickled habanero to prove their manliness. (They do crap like this every single time they get together.)

Sunday afternoon, they headed out to Erie. They had a hotel room booked for two nights, and Iris was looking forward to the indoor pool. 

This morning, we all got up and headed to Erie to meet up with them. Their hotel was right next to a sports arena. It was one of the 'eclipse venues' around the city. My daughter Brianna and Don drove up in their car. William rode up with us in ours. We headed out about 9 am. We had heard so much about the terrible traffic, bumper to bumper traffic...but...nothing! It was like any other drive to Erie. It took us no longer than usual. 

With time to kill, we all went out to eat. Dylan treated us all, which was a nice surprise. We had a long leisurely lunch and then drove back to the hotel, parked in their lot and walked over to the venue. 

Ruby was totally befuddled by the astroturf. It was humped up in areas and she walked around studying the wrinkles, gabbling to herself, but throwing her little hands wide and saying, "Why? Why?" We had no answer. She was absolutely right. Grass would have been perfectly fine.

It was very cloudy, but the great thing is the clouds were scutting by quickly enough that even if the sun was obscured, it was not obscured for long. We were able to watch the sun slowly disappearing behind the moon. 

William and Iris were transfixed. As the spectacle reached totality, cloud cover briefly moved in. Iris shrilly screamed, "GET OUT OF THE WAY, CLOUDS!" which sent a titter of laughter through the folks seated nearby.

And it happened. As it got close, to totality, the music stopped, which was wonderful. Darkness fell, and everyone clapped. It stayed dark for nearly 4 minutes. Everyone quietly looked around. Lake Erie glowed red as if the sun was truly setting. It was a cool thing to see 300 people looking around in wonder, all of us in awe at what we were seeing. The temperature dropped noticeably and Iris requested her coat. William was snapping pictures, saying, "This is SO cool!" 

It was. 

And when it was done, we all could honestly say that it was a truly unforgettable moment, made all the more special by the fact that we were all together to witness it. 

I had so many little grandma moments. Can there ever be too many of those? 
I'm thinking no. 
Holding my hand as we walked, Iris said, "You are the best grandma in the world!" 
And she meant it with all her little 5 year old heart. 

Poor Dylan was in the throes of a major hayfever attack, so we decided to head home directly after the event instead of staying to visit with them. Ruby needed her nap, and Brittani was going to take Iris to the pool for an hour so that Dylan could have a nap right along with Ruby. 

The rest of us headed for home, despite all the warnings we had had about not doing that. 'Wait', we were advised. 'Give it a couple hours for the worst of the traffic to subside. Expect major delays!'

Again, nothing. It was an easy drive out of town. There was no more traffic than usual. It took no longer to get home than usual. Coming home in the car, William said, "I will never forget this day as long as I live!"I said, "I know that I will remember it forever." Grandpa said, "Me too." We all will remember the eclipse. Ruby will probably remember the astroturf. Memories all around. 

And when I got home, I carefully put the dandelion that Iris had picked for me between the pages of a thick old book. When it is dry, I will laminate it along with the note she wrote all by herself. 'I am so excited to see you.' 

It was just about perfect. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Rain, Rain, go away!!!!

 It has been a rainy week here, and Tim and I have commented several times how fortunate we were that he was able to get that tractor unstuck and home before all this hit. The water levels are crazy. The small streams and creeks rise and recede in crazily short times. There was quite a bit of flooding behind the old house (where most of the stockpiled stuff for the new house is stored). I am quite sure that had we walked down back where the tractor was, it would have been under water as well. 

But...all's well that ends well. 

(and next spring, I will chain the tractor to a very large something!)

We live below a large hydroelectric dam called the Kinzua Dam, and the reservoir, which spans just short of 19 miles is normally at 1304 feet. It is currently at 1327 feet. Normal water output is just over 2000 cubic feet per second. It is currently at 7500 cfs. The water level in the reservoir is not dropping. The plan is to increase that output to 15,000 cfs. When the Allegheny river levels are high like that, all the creeks and streams that flow into it are much higher than usual as well. We are in no real flood danger, but it is certainly something that people need to be aware of, especially if they have children. People do get swept into that water and lost. 

The biggest news here, however, is Monday's eclipse. Everyone is keeping a close eye on the weather. We are on the very edge of totality. We are due to have total darkness for 47 seconds or something like that. The farther west you go, the longer that totality will last. My son and daughter in law will arrive here tomorrow, spend the night here, and then Sunday afternoon head to Erie, where they have a hotel room booked for two days. Erie should have close to 4 minutes of totality, which will be very exciting for the girls. 

We are driving to meet them there. We will leave very early on Monday, to get there before the worst of the traffic, and spend the day with them. William and his parents will meet up with us there as well. 

The worst part of the whole viewing experience is supposed to be getting out of town when it is over. Dylan and Brittani drove to see an eclipse back in (??) 2017 or 2018. When it was over, he said that traffic was so congested that it took them 2 hours to drive 8 miles. So we are hoping to have a quiet family cookout after the eclipse while we wait for the worst of the traffic to subside. 

The only thing that would goof our plans up is the weather. After a very rainy overcast week, it is supposed to stop raining for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It will be partly cloudy all three of those days. They are still predicting that we will have a good viewing experience, which will be nice. Tuesday, the rains move back in again, and the rest of the week will see us returning to the rain. 

Boy. I am SO glad Tim got his tractor unstuck! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Isn't it Ironic?

 There is a young man in our area who considers himself quite t he businessman. I know that he has some mental issues and some anger control issues. He is prone to violent outbursts. 

He graduated, and moved on to owning an antique shop. He convinced his parents to let him have his college money, and invested in an old building. It wasn't a bad idea, and it could have been successful, but he's just a very disagreeable man. He got into disagreements with his neighbors. He broadcast his disagreements all over facebook (this sounds like I am making it up, but I'm not.) He says horrible disgusting things to people. When people get aggravated with him, he turns it right around to the fact that he is on the autism spectrum and that he is being picked on. 

His business failed because, really he's just not a nice person. 

He's gone on to buy other buildings. He has tenants. The buildings look pretty rundown from the outside. I do not know this personally, but he is reputed to be a slum lord who treats his tenants very badly. He's the boss, he's the owner, my way or the highway. There is no give and take, and when he gets mad at someone, there he goes, blasting away on public media. That part I have seen, and he is disgusting. 

Some time back, he bought an old fashioned ball room out in the middle of a very small town. It actually used to belong to my uncle. The building is very cool and dates back to 1870. It used to be a general store. He intended to use it as a special events venue, but it never got quite off the ground. It's pretty far out, but also...well...he's difficult. 

For example, kids have stood on the covered sidewalk in front of the building to wait for the school bus for years. I mean, really, generations. He got quite upset about that. It wasn't that there was damages of any sort. He made it clear that he was the owner, and he was making the rules now. No kids on his porch, which required them to stand on the edge of the street, since there was no sidewalks. When people tried to press the point, he put up big 'F U' signs in the windows. He put posts all over facebook laughing at the outrage his signs generated. People just thought this wasn't the sort of thing that they wanted their kids to see.  

That's the sort of thing that puts you on the outside of any community. He made a lot of enemies, and people tend to find other places to take their business. 

Someone drove a pick up truck straight through that covered walkway. Take note that walkway actually is the sidewalk for that stretch of street and has been since 1870. 

While I surely think the retaliation was wrong, I will say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. You reap what you sow. 

On top of it all, there have been some questionable things, fires, insurance, things like that. 

After one of them, he tried to set up a collection to give to his tenants.


Most people gave directly to the tenants. 

Anyways, here's the latest thing. He's reportedly trying to turn the White Swan into a 'Gentleman's Club.' He has a facebook post up to recruit dancers. He wants them to call to set up auditions. He provides a number. You have to understand that the population of the entire township is only 1211 and this has plainly fired up nearly everyone in that small community. 

Late Edit: The guy in the back ground is a constable. 

He posted this on facebook. I'm not even going to bother showing you the ad. 

People are hugely upset about this. 

There is a petition. 

There are some who believe it is his idea of an April Fool's Prank. 
Others believe he is dead serious. 

I signed the petition. 

I guess we'll see. 

One of those people was venting to me. 
He's a terrible person. (He is.) 
He's rude. (He is.) 
He lies. (He does.)
He rips people off. (He does.) 
People are very suspicious of him. (They are.)

She went on at some length about his business practices and his ethics. 

I bit back my words, but here's the irony:
She is a Trumper. 
The very faults that she sees so clearly in this young man 
she cannot see in a man who is running to be president of the United States. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

Details, details, details.

On March 19th, Tim got his tractor stuck. It has been stuck all this time. We've been waiting for it to dry out. I mean, that baby is buried up to its hubs on the big back wheels. He's walked back a couple of times to try to get it unstuck, but it's well and truly bogged down. 

Last week, he watched a fellow on lawn tractor mowing a lawn and he laughed about it. "The grass isn't even high enough to NEED mowing!" he said.

I said, "And you're not the man that got a full sized tractor stuck brush hogging an area that surely didn't require brush hogging..." 

He laughed.

Yesterday, we heard the weather forecast, which calls for rain for most of the week. I groaned and said, "Honestly, Tim, we're never going to get that tractor out..."

Today, TADA!!!!! He got the tractor unstuck and back up to the garage! Hallelujah!

I had a nice video conversation with my daughter in England today. I'm grateful for that technology. Otherwise, missing her would be unbearable. 

My sister asked me to take the two ham bones home with me from our Easter dinner yesterday. (43 of us gathered. I think it was the best turnout she's had.) Today, I made a nice pot of soup using them and the left over celery, carrots, and zucchini from my relish tray. I chopped up four potatoes to toss in, and there was supper. 

The kids are coming home for the eclipse. We are in the zone of totality for 47 seconds, but if we head west for Erie, we will be in totality for 3 minutes and 46 seconds. It will be a cool experience to be with all the grands on such a memorable day! 

At the end of the month, we will be heading east. My oldest grandaughter will be doing her first dance recital and she is quite excited about this. I can't wait to see her. 

In between there are the appointments, and the house building, and the issue with the city, but it is nice to know that April will begin on such a fine note and end on such a fine note. It eclipses the crap in between!

For all you people who recommended 'The Detectorists', I am sad to report that we cannot get it on this side of the pond. 

Finished Puckoon, and it was disappointing. It was hilarious and ridiculous all the way through, but by the end, it had gotten so ridiculous, it started to seem silly. It was definitely a funny book though.

I began reading Lamb and got to Chapter 4 before deciding that this was a book to be read and thought about. It is a funny book, but I like that the author has Jesus 'staying in character', so to speak. He's a kid grappling with the idea of who he is, and who he is meant to be, and what he is meant to do. All reported from the perspective of his childhood friend, Biff. It IS funny. 

But I decided that it was not a book that I'd be comfortable discussing in a book group with people that I do not know. This loss of faith thing is new to me, and I'm navigating my way through it. I know what I believe, and I'm shocked to that I have come to believe this at this point in my life, but what I know for a fact is that I never want to be the person that destroys another's faith. I will never argue with someone about it. I think that it is just wrong to criticize anyone for their belief/faith/religion. There is no reason to measure their belief against my unbelief. Live and let live. So I sure don't want to tromp on in there to be discussing a book like that with people I don't know well. What I believe is my own business. What they believe is theirs. As it is said, "Go in peace." So I have set Lamb aside.

Then of course, I got side tracked by my new history book. I read some aloud to Tim Sunday night. He was so riveted, he fell asleep on the couch. I was so riveted, I didn't notice until he snored. 

My sister and brother-in-law were really interested in that book. In skimming through the information on their township, they recognized names from the cemetery across the road from our new build. We needed to leave, and my sister reluctantly gave me my book back. Today, I found a 2023 reprint of it, 1000 pages long (it must be a larger print). It is old enough that it is 'public domain' and an historical printing company has reprinted it. I ordered it for them today, to be shipped to their house. It's a surprise. Shhhh! Don't any of you say a word. 

In the meantime, let me get back to my 'assignment'. I need to pick a book and get reading!

Sunday, March 31, 2024

My Finds.

 There were three things that I liked from the auction. We are not buying any furniture at this point, because we know for a fact we've got to get rid of furniture when we move. So there is not one whit of sense to buy any furniture at this point. 

But I saw these ducks. They are cast iron, and they were for a garden. They needed to be sandblasted. I don't think that I would have painted them, but, who knows? I will never know. They sold for over $200 so they went home with someone else. 

I sure did not like them that much. 

There was something else that I wanted badly just as soon as I saw it. I quietly called Tim over and showed him this. It is a history of our county published in 1887. It has 692 pages, not counting the appendix, so this was a massive book. I saw that it had each of the townships listed. People, places, houses, businesses. Our city was less than 100 years old when this volume was published. 

Tim agreed that this is something we should try to bring home.

We did not know what it would go for, but we both love history. 

The auction went on and on, and the book stayed there. Once the antique muzzleloaders and swords were auctioned off, I was pleased to see that some people left. We sat there for three hours, waiting for that book to be offered. Finally it was. Tim handed me our number and whispered, "Wait until it goes low." (Unnecessary advice.) When the price went down to $10, someone bid, and my hand was up in a shot. And my hand stayed up. There were three of us, and by god, I did want that book. And I got it! For $50! The guy behind me grumbled, "She got a good deal on that book!" but he had every chance to outbid me and he didn't. So...

One of the auction assistants walked the book back to me. 

I was reading about the great hydrophobia outbreak of 1835 in downtown Warren. The problem was so serious that they passed a temporary ordinance making it legal for a resident to shoot any dog found in the street without a person. Engrossed in my story (it is a VERY readable book) I missed it when the next thing I wanted came up. 

It is a pot hanger, a pretty one. 

It dropped to $10 and then attracted a half dozen people bidding on it. The bidding was fast and furious. I tried to tell Tim I didn't want it that bad, but he wasn't listening. In the end, we got it for $55. 

It is rusty, and the metal pieces need to be 'unfrozen' so that the thing can be taken apart. Just like the ducks that didn't come home with us, this will need to sandblasted and soaked to 'unfreeze' the hooks. One the thing is taken apart, it will be painted black and properly put back together. It's a pretty heavy thing. It will hang above our old butcher block in the new kitchen. 

So that was the auction. Tim got the screen door that he wanted so badly and a kerosene can. I got my book and my pot hanger. Who do you think got the better bargains this time around?

Auction Day

 As noted, we went to an auction on Saturday. Tim wanted something. He wanted something quite badly. He went there with a mind to get this screen door. It was obviously from an old store, and was complete with the Sunbeam bread advertisement sprayed on that screen. He just wanted it. I don't know why. 

It isn't a bad thing. I doubt that I would have picked it, but it seemed to trigger something in his heart. 

We got to the auction early, to have a looky-lu. To be honest, I did not think we'd be walking out of there with much. Since you seemed to enjoy the last link,.here's this weeks auction.

There were three things that I saw in this sale that made my heart go 'pitty pat'. One of them appears in the slideshow. Two of them, however, do not. They were the things that I wanted, and one of them, I made my mind up that I was not going home without it, if it was within my power to do so. 

Tim got his screen door, for $150. He was well pleased with himself. After that, he handed me the number and told me he was going to the restroom. 

While he was gone, something came up that I knew he would love and so I bought it. 

When he sat down, I handed him back our number and said, "I bought you a present." 

He looked very surprised and said "What did you get me?"

I said, mysteriously, "You'll see."

He looked quite intrigued. 

I said, "It was expensive, but when you see it, I think that you will agree that it is well worth the $275."

Oh my gosh! The look on his face. I thought he was going to fall out of his chair. He was speechless. 

I confessed. He collects oil memorabilia. (We live in oil country.) There was an old kerosene can that came up, a 5 gallon can, with good strong graphics. No one bid on it. When it went down to $10, I bid and won it. 

After the auction, we gathered our things together to leave. Tim said, "I like that can. That's a good one." He liked it even better when he picked it up. It was a full can! (Kerosene goes for between $4 and $5 a gallon.) We don't have any use for the kerosene, but we know people that do. We'll tell Mattie and Levi to use the kerosene in their lanterns, and give us the can back when it is empty. 

I will tell you about my finds tomorrow. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Happy Easter

One of my resolutions for the year is to lose weight. I've been working away at it faithfully, very strict with myself about what I am eating. I make sure to meet my exercise goals daily. I aim for 60 ounces of water, and if I don't meet my goal, I always get 80% in at least. The smart watch has been a good investment for me. 

But for all of that, when I check my weight every week, it never really seems to be much to talk about. A pound. A pound. A pound... 

This morning, when I got on the scale, I made a milestone. Just over 15 pounds. When you divide that into months, it works out to five pounds a month, which is decent. So that was my first happy thing of the day. 

The second happy thing was that the rest of my books arrived. It is nice to have a stack of unread books on my bedside again. It has always seemed luxurious to me to have multiple books right at hand to choose from. 

We are taking the weekend off. There is an auction we are going to on Saturday. We're going to my daughter and son-in-law's afterwards to dye Easter eggs with William. Sunday, we'll go to my sister's house, as usual. It's a potluck, and so everyone brings dishes to pass. I'm making a meat and cheese platter, a relish tray and a sweet potato souffle, simple things. Afterwards, there is an easter egg hunt for the kids. 

I read a funny story today. A woman feeds the crows, and as crows sometimes do, they leave shiny things for her at the food site. Today, much to her surprise she found a metallic Easter egg. She opened it up and found a $20 bill inside! I decided that I need to take up feeding the crows.

That's it really. Working on the house, which is probably getting boring and repetitive, so I won't say any more about that

Happy Easter, everyone. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Better Day

 First of all, I want to thank every single person who recommended 'Puckoon'. Oh my gosh. It has been a long time since I laughed so hard at a book. GZ said that perhaps it was a book to be read out loud. Tim is intrigued by my laughter, and I have read parts of it out loud. He laughed as hard as I did. Today's example was Mrs. Doonan speaking with a solicitor about getting a divorce. 

"But Mrs. Doonan, just because you don't like him, that's no grounds for separation."

"Well, make a few suggestions," she said. 

"Has he ever struck you?"

"No. I'd kill him if he did." 

"Has he ever been cruel to the children?"


"Ever left you short of money, then?" 

"No. Every Friday on the nail." 

"I see." The solicitor pondered. "Ah. Well. Think hard now, Mrs. Doonan. Has he ever been unfaithful to you?"

Her face lit up. "By God, I think we got him there, I know fer sure he wasn't the father of me last child!"

It's like Monty Python in book form. I have giggled all the way through it. The little asides slay me: Milligan arguing with the author about his legs, and then his explanation about being a soldier in WWI. From the waist up, he was a hero. Unfortunately, he had a coward's legs. 

The book gallops along at its own breakneck ridiculousness 

Thank you for that suggestion. 

This week has been a reoccurence of the stomach issues that plagued me a week prior. That finally seems to have eased up, which makes life a bit more endurable as well. I shouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a stress related issue. But I took a deep breath and realized that every single one of you reading this right now has some sort of aggravation in their life. It is just the way it is. I've taken a deep breath and Tim and I  agreed upon our next step. We will continue on. 

Houdi also aggravated me today, the darn cat. Something that has been happening regularly is that his dry kibble winds up spread across the kitchen floor. Everywhere. Every day. Sweeping it up is the first chore of the day while my coffee is brewing. 

He has a tendency to decide (at roughly 4:30 AM) that he wants outside. Due to some  pretty costly trips to the vet, he is no longer allowed outside at night. We can sleep through a cat fight. If we are awake, we can react more quickly, hopefully intervening before serious damage happens. 

So. When he starts carrying on at 4:30, we simply shut him out of the bedroom and ignore him. 

He does not like this. 

Tonight, I was putting a handful of silverware into the silverware drawer, and he meowed to go out. I was in the middle of my job, so I ignored him for a minute while I finished. I heard a clatter and turned around to find the little fart slamming the side of his food dish, sending kibble flying everywhere. Moreover, he was staring straight at me with an irritated look on his face. 

We are working on the plumbing, as planned. We will work on it again tomorrow. As AC noted, every day, we are making progress there. That's good to keep in mind too. 

It was chilly today, but sunny, and that was a nice spirit lifter too. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


I am sure that everyone has seen the video of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. I lived in Baltimore for a couple years while my ex-husband attended Johns Hopkins University. It's just strange to think that something like that happened in a place that I knew. 

 Today was a mixed bag day. We started the day attending to the debacle of 'us vs the city'. Best possible scenario? We end up with a bit of leverage. If not, we are receiving some sound professional advice. It is a time for waiting for things to unfold, but I'm not so good at waiting. Unfortunately, we don't have much choice in the matter. The first packet of bills were delivered before 9:30 am on February 22nd. The second billing was received by their office at 11:18 March 5th. The city has not responded. 

We are putting installing the plumbing at the new build. We will continue with that project tomorrow. We have two vent pipes to put in as well. 

Other than that, I am waiting on two orders of books. Puckoon, To Say Nothing of The Dog, Hoot, Lamb, Diary of a Nobody (when Jaycee writes her book, she'll have to find another title for it, I guess!), Thank You Jeeves and McCarthy's bar. It will be an interesting pile of books and I'm sure that one (or more) of them should tickle my funny bone, which really could use a bit of a tickle right now. 

I couldn't afford to buy all of your book selections, but I did list them in a notebook for my purse. I am sure that most of them can be found at the library. Again, thanks, everyone for your suggestions. 

That's about it, really. It's just been a tense time, and it is not going to stop. However, we've started the ball rolling, and we will continue on course. We will know how the story ends when it ends. 

Someone else has been waiting. Her waiting is done. Stop over and congratulate Jenny. She's a grandma! 

Friday, March 22, 2024


 William spent the night last night.  I guess that I'm going to have to simply accept that he is really truly officially a teenager. I am going to miss the boy that he was, He was in his own world. 

I want to thank everyone for the book suggestions. I ordered 7 books. I've never ordered that many books all at once in my life. $33. Eep. Granny Sue's suggestion about Bill Lepp was a good one. All the guys in the house used to be addicted to Patrick McManus books. They would read them and howl with laughter. They were a very popular stocking stuffer. I know that I'll be able to tick off some names on my Christmas list early this year. That was a great discovery. I've also got three series and a half dozen authors in my notebook for future reference. 

And while I'm thanking people, bless you all who are posting your spring flowers. It is snowing here (again!). Red and AC did not keep that crap up north. Thanks for that, you two. I thought that Canadians were supposed to be so nice, yet here we are. 

The wood stove is going for another night. It is supposed to be warming up here at some point, and next week is supposed to have highs in the 40s-50s. I am just ready for the season to change. A few warm days makes the return of winter even harder to take. 

Tim was very surprised to see that someone had set a trap line down behind the old house. Today, a truck pulled in, and he saw a man checking the traps. He was gone before Tim could get down there to him. Tim couldn't believe it. That really is quite an egregious thing, to set traps or to hunt on property without asking permission from the landowner. 

In the way of rural living, one person knew someone who knew someone...we managed to track the mystery trapper down. He felt terrible. He'd been given permission to trap on adjoining property and had made a mistake about how far up creek that property came. He did not know that he was on someone else's land. 

I am glad that it got all sorted out,  and amically too. We gave him permission to run the line on our property, now that we knew who he was and how to contact him. 

Not all things can be resolved amically, though, I guess. We have taken the next step in the case against the city for the capped drain. The city has not responded. They received the first stack of bills on February 22nd, at about 9:30 AM. The final bill was submitted on March 5th. I think that's ample time to respond or to at least give us an idea of how they mean to handle it.  The dead silence makes it pretty clear that they don't mean to handle it at all. They are simply waiting for us to go away

We can't afford to simply forget about over $11,000. Not many can.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Answers On a Post Card

 Borrowing a phrase from John Gray at Going Gently. The book club meeting was a pretty nice visit/sharing. I enjoyed it. It is not something that I get to do much of, just sit and visit with other women. We talked about our books, we ate our salads. It was fun. 

Next month's assignment: 'Read a funny book.' 

I've been looking up funny books and have found that many of them just don't sound funny to me. I throw the question out into the big wide blog world. Funny book suggestions? 

Answers on a post card. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Big Stuff.

Here's a funny one: I was looking for giant pumpkin seeds for Tim's grandsons. I thought it would be a fun summer activity for them. They are a pretty easy to grow thing, and it would be fun for them to watch them grow over the summer. 


I hunted around on line, reading about giant pumpkin seeds. Can you believe that people are selling. 5 giant pumpkin seeds for $150? Another place wanted $40 per seed! There you go, Northsider! That's a business for you! How many seeds does a pumpkin have? You could sell them at a bargain price of $10 apiece and still wind up with plenty of dosh to splash around at the carboots! 

Large pumpkins are much more reasonably priced than giant pumpkins, and I'm sure that they will be exciting enough to watch through the summer. 

Other than that, not much to report. Quiet day shopping for birthday presents. We found a nice sale and got all the interior door knobs for the house at $6. each, on clearance. We also got a low profile hall light for the laundry space for $15. Tim ran up to Levi's to get some rough cut to have on hand, and he picked up the stuff we need to start doing the plumbing work. Tomorrow is a one person day, with very little stepping and fetching, and it's a little too early for 'hold this right here like that'. 

So I've got a day off...which is great, because tomorrow is Book Club. I have not been able to make the meetings. The assigned reading this month was to read a banned book. I read two, actually. Since they were children's books, it was quite easy to do. I read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie and Laura Ingall Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. 

What's interesting about the Little House series, is that I read them as a child and adored them. Every year at the beginning of the school year, I would go to the library, and check the books out, one at a time, and reread them. Every year of elementary school. My initial thoughts were that it was ridiculous that the books were on the banned list, but then came the day when I was reading a passage to William. The Indians had gathered to declare war on the white settlers. The Osage Indians, led by Soldat du Chene came to the powwow and argued against it, fearing that if they killed whites, the government would deliver a disasterous response. The chief felt so strongly about this that he said that if the decision was made to attack, that he and his tribe would fight them. 

The powwow lasted for three days, with drumming and war cries, and a Laura described the fear of lying in bed at night and hearing this. The family was fearful of attack. It must have been terrifying. in the end, the decision was reached. They would not attack the settlers. 

William was probably 8. Maybe 9. We discussed it. It was very easy to view the Indians as 'the enemy', but we also discussed the situation from the Indian's point of view. It was a back and forth discussion, and William was interested. 

We have Bob the Buffalo hanging in our library. The interesting thing about Bob is that he is a very old mount. His head is filled with concrete, and the board he is mounted on is very, very old. The story (unverified) from the man we got him from was that he bought the thing from an estate sale of Cornelius Vanderbilt back when he was a very young man. Who knows if it is true, really. He was an elderly white haired gentleman at this point, giving it to me because after years of moving, hauling it from one part of the country to the other, after 40 years, he realized that his wife was dead serious when she said that Bob was not going to hang in her house. Ever. 

For my part, I thought "HA!!! Here's my chance to get one over on Tim. He'll never believe that I got him a buffalo for his birthday." The deal was done, and it was only after the fact that I realized just how big a buffalo head is. His wife had a valid point. It took three people to get the thing on the wall, and this was only after installing a massive lag bolt directly into the stud. 

But I digress. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a key player in the building of the transcontinental railroad. When the government decided to take care of the "Indian Problem", one of the tactics used was to slaughter millions of buffalo. Indians died of starvation. Cornelius would, for entertainment, have a gentleman's car, loaded with wealthy men, and they would shoot buffalo from the trains. He would have the heads mounted and hand them out like party favors once the taxidermy work was done. 

Bob might well be one of those. The age of him is right. Taxidermy was a rich man's realm. And then there is the story of where he came from. 

Who knows for sure? 

Bob isn't talking.

But William and I discussed these things, the unfairness, and the cruelty, and the fact that when you treat people badly, it generally causes bad feelings. We discussed the fact that it was a different time. We discussed racism. It was a healthy conversation. 

And in my mind, it was silly to ban the Little House books although I was could acknowledge that they required discussion.

Last Christmas, I bought a set of these books for my grandaughter, who was five. She loves to be read to, and she's into chapter books now. Laura is her age in the first book. I bought the books early, early, early, before Tim's surgery, and in the months in between, I found myself wavering. Iris is a pure spirit. She loves everyone. She doesn't know about racism.  As they read the books, her good parents would have had much the same discussion with her that William and I had, but she would be hearing for the first time that there are people in this world who see others as less than human. 

William was old enough to know that this can happen. Being raised in the time of Trump, he saw the evidence with his own eyes, from the mouth of the president, and echoed by his cult. However, Iris was too young to see it. 

She will, sadly. 

Once that happens, it will be discussed with her. and after that, I think the books will be fine for her. They are safely tucked away upstairs waiting for her. She will have those books read to her and she will hear "Ma hated Indians." She will already know that thinking is wrong. I just didn't want those beloved books to be the introduction to that ugliness.

Alexie's book was entirely different. He was a middle school kid, a smart boy who had gotten into the 'good school'. His struggle to fit in. His encounters with prejudice in his school but also at home. His former friends, the kids that he'd grown up with suddenly saw him as not quite 'Indian' enough. There was also quite a preoccupation with sex. 

William and I read this book too. It was discussed with his mother. In the end we decided that boys his age think about this stuff anyways. I knew they talked about it. I'd heard them as I waited for William at the corner. While I was uncomfortable reading some of it to William (and he probably was embarrassed to hear his grandmother reading it to him), the book generated a lot of discussion. Good discussion. About the toll of drugs and alcohol on the reservation, about the pain of growing up the son of alcoholics. His sister was murdered. 

Banned books are interesting, but in the end, I think the adults in a child's life should be the ones to make that final decision. Both of these banned books have very strong and redeeming qualities. 

We have certainly come a long way from the topic of giant pumpkins haven't we?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Little Things

 I was so exasperated yesterday, when I tried to delete a draft and wound up deleting a post instead. I've been struggling a little here, and when things get overwhelming, it just seems like I can think of nothing but that one big thing.  In the end, as always, I came to the familiar conclusions: It is what it is, and whatever happens, I will deal with it. Once that conclusion is reached, it seems like my mind lets go of that one big thing and once again, I begin to notice the little things around me. 

And, lets get real, that's all this blog is: a compilation of the little things around me. Why you all keep reading is beyond me! But I'm glad you are. 

To the commenter who noted that she has bad luck growing tomato plants, I bought the coolest little things. 

The great thing about these is that they are totally reusable. You fill them with your potting medium, plant your seeds, set the tray into the water tray and let it go. You water from the bottom and when you are ready, you lift the top tray out and the plants pop out from the flexible bottom. It worked so well on tomatoes that I bought a second for my cucumbers, which I intend to grow hydroponically again after an abysmal failure the first year (I have figured out what I did wrong though. I think. Worth another try since I have all the equpment I need.) 

Note to Tasker: No tomato is ever wasted. You end up with seven and only want four? Well, sir, you have received a sign from the universe that you're supposed to give three away. Easy peasy. I, myself have planted four zucchini seeds. I only actually want one, so that means that I will be up to my armpits in zucchini and looking for homes. (This is how you make sure that you don't ever wind up with an overwhelming number of friends. After one good zucchini season, they all run when they see you, and hide behind their curtains not answering your knock.) 

Channeling my inner Mary Moon, yesterday, I saw a packet of okra seeds on a rack of 20 cent seeds. (Twenty cents!) They are a wonderful addition to gumbos and soups, so I got a package of them. I resisted an urge to buy yet another seed tray. These will be planted in paper cups. 

While I was mooching about the store, finding little bargains, I decided to run back and check the houseplants. One can never tell when one will find a distressed house plant in need of saving, and reduced to a ridiculous price. Always worth a look. There was another elderly lady there with a younger woman (perhaps a grand daughter). I try to be pretty non-judgemental as a rule, but I'm going to tell you, These people smelled. Horribly. I don't think that I've ever been around such a smell. The elderly womam looked dirty. The younger woman did not. Maybe it was just the grandmother that smelled so awful. It wasn't anything definable, like she'd had some sort of bowel accident that she couldn't help. It was just this over whelming smell of funk. But how does a person get to that point and not notice? Or if they don't notice, how do the people around them not notice? How does anyone let someone they love get into that state? I don't know. I tend to be pretty direct. I'd be saying it outright. "I don't want to hurt your feelings but you smell bad. Here's some lovely scented soap. The shower's in there." 

It's snowing here again, I am sad to say, and it is awfully cold, but in the handful of warm spring like days, I got out to walk. Something that I much admired in England were hellebores. I'd never seen them here. Reading up on them, I got the idea that they might be something that could be grown here, but I never seen them, so I wasn't exactly certain. Guess what? I saw one while I was out for a walk. I wanted to examine it closely, but couldn't. You just don't want to walk up on somebody's yard. That's how you get yourself shot. But, there it was. Proof positive. I can grow them here. I can't wait until we get in the new house and I can begin assembling things. 

I had to go back to the hospital to get the rest of my tests done. I didn't have time to do them all on Friday. I'd just done the lab work that required fasting. I still needed the chest x-ray and ekg. By luck, I got registrar 1 again, the same lovely person who had processed me through the first two times that there were no orders in the system for me. She must have recognized my name because she had my name plugged into the system before I even walked in. She said, "Guess what! I have orders for you!" I laughed. I said, "I know you do. I was back here Friday to get the blood work done. I need to finish it up today." She said, "Well, you were very pleasant about all of it, really." I said, "You know, I'm thinking it was because I hadn't had my coffee both times you saw me. I just didn't have the energy to make a big stink about it. I'm caffeinated now, sistah, so let's just get this done, and don't give me any problems." It always feels good to share a laugh, doesn't it?

So I'm surrounded by little signs of spring everywhere. Things budding out, splashes of bright yellow forsythia. I can see magnolia and azalea getting ready to do something big. There will be daffodils soon and tulips, too. Another season is coming. 

And keeping with his annual tradition, Tim has gotten his tractor stuck. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Other Lives


Sorry folks. I managed to delete a post. I've put it back, but your comments have been lost. 

 12 out of 12 tomato plants have germinated. My zucchini and cucumbers too. I'm still waiting on 8 pepper plants. That little bit of spring never fails to make me glad. 

We were going to go to an auction today. Here's a link for people who like to look through. The fellow was quite a hunter and there were a lot of mounts. That mystifies me. Why on earth would someone want to hang a trophy that didn't belong to them? But Tim said that one guy snapped up like 75 of them for $100 a pop. There was a lot of art, something that would have appealed greatly to Northsider Dave. We were looking forward to going. We are still getting the feel for this stuff. 

Last night about bedtime, I ended up with quite a gastro issue that kept me up a large portion of the night. I was not feeling terrific this morning either, and felt it was prudent to keep close to the conveniences of home, so off Tim went by himself. 

It was packed and he said that there were no bargains to be had. Furniture selling for thousands. Still, he went and watched and bought a toolbox. (Why am I not surprised?) He brought it home and began to sort through it to see what sort of goodies he had. One of the things was a packet of pamphlets and papers. Turned out it was for a John Deere riding lawnmower. It even had (I'm guessing) a spare key taped to the inside of the owner's manual. 

Tim said, "Huh. A lady bought a John Deere rider there." (He was dumbfounded that she had paid over $4000 for it, which is about the price of a new one.) I said, "Boy, she'd probably like to have that stuff." When Tim mentioned that she seemed to be a friend of the auctioneer, we got the idea to call and leave our contact information at the auction house. We can drop the paperwork off the next time we go through. They keep records of bidder information, and can contact the woman who bought the tractor.

Another thing that was in this packet was warranty information that provided a name and address for the first owner. Because I am a curious soul who is glad that she was not born a cat, I looked up the name. I quickly discovered that he had passed away back in 2022. It provided his wife's name, so I looked that up and discovered that she had passed last fall. 

Little coincidences. They lived about an hour from here, but they had both worked at a factory that Tim's mother had worked at years back. It was interesting to think that they might have known of each other. Tim's cousin is the minister of a Methodist church in that small city. This couple was Methodist. Another link. 

We nosied through the details and coincidences of their lives. It was a second marriage for both of them. She had been widowed in November of 1972, and she had re-married in September of 1976. But that poor woman! Her son died in December of 1977 at the age of 23. Two years after that, her daughter died at age 21. 

Within 6 years, she'd been widowed, remarried, and then lost both of her children. How does a person get past something like that?

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Other Lives

 12 out of 12 tomato plants have germinated. My zucchini and cucumbers too. I'm still waiting on 8 pepper plants. That little bit of spring never fails to make me glad. 

We were going to go to an auction today. Here's a link for people who like to look through. The fellow was quite a hunter and there were a lot of mounts. That mystifies me. Why on earth would someone want to hang a trophy that didn't belong to them? But Tim said that one guy snapped up like 75 of them for $100 a pop. There was a lot of art, something that would have appealed greatly to Northsider Dave. We were looking forward to going. We are still getting the feel for this stuff. 

Last night about bedtime, I ended up with quite a gastro issue that kept me up a large portion of the night. I was not feeling terrific this morning either, and felt it was prudent to keep close to the conveniences of home, so off Tim went by himself. 

It was packed and he said that there were no bargains to be had. Furniture selling for thousands. Still, he went and watched and bought a toolbox. (Why am I not surprised?) He brought it home and began to sort through it to see what sort of goodies he had. One of the things was a packet of pamphlets and papers. Turned out it was for a John Deere riding lawnmower. It even had (I'm guessing) a spare key taped to the inside of the owner's manual. 

Tim said, "Huh. A lady bought a John Deere rider there." (He was dumbfounded that she had paid over $4000 for it, which is about the price of a new one.) I said, "Boy, she'd probably like to have that stuff." When Tim mentioned that she seemed to be a friend of the auctioneer, we got the idea to call and leave our contact information at the auction house. We can drop the paperwork off the next time we go through. They keep records of bidder information, and can contact the woman who bought the tractor.

Another thing that was in this packet was warranty information that provided a name and address for the first owner. Because I am a curious soul who is glad that she was not born a cat, I looked up the name. I quickly discovered that he had passed away back in 2022. It provided his wife's name, so I looked that up and discovered that she had passed last fall. 

Little coincidences. They lived about an hour from here, but they had both worked at a factory that Tim's mother had worked at years back. It was interesting to think that they might have known of each other. Tim's cousin is the minister of a Methodist church in that small city. This couple was Methodist. Another link. 

We nosied through the details and coincidences of their lives. It was a second marriage for both of them. She had been widowed in November of 1972, and she had re-married in September of 1976. But that poor woman! Her son died in December of 1977 at the age of 23. Two years after that, her daughter died at age 21. 

Within 6 years, she'd been widowed, remarried, and then lost both of her children. How does a person get past something like that? 

Friday, March 15, 2024


 Today I got up, skipped my breakfast biscuits and coffee and hotfooted it over to the hospital. It would be good for me to get those extra steps in. (In case anyone is interested, it is 2,897 steps from my house to the main entrance of the hospital.) I signed in at the kiosk once again, took my seat and waited. Before long, I was called back into the registrars office, and guess what??? My orders were in the system. 

I want to make clear that there was no point getting upset about the situation, not really. Inefficient? Sure was. But it was not the fault of the registrars. If the orders aren't there, they aren't there. She asked me if the doctor had given me paperwork. They had. So, it was my fault for not bringing that little stack of papers with me the first time around. Of course, they turned out to be completely useless, which led me to wonder if I'd lost something. I didn't think so. But maybe it was my fault. So when I called the doctor's office, I was still not sure if I had lost or misunderstood something. When he assured me the orders were in the system, well...that explained it. All of you who suggested that the orders were never entered? I believe that is what happened. Could I have blown a big ol' hissy fit? Sure could have. But the thing was, this mistake was not made by the young man I was speaking with. Which brings us back to whose fault it was. I know her. She's a young mother, and at the time, she was going through a very difficult time with one of her children. So...could I have bitched about her. Sure. Jeopardizing her job was not going to make things better in her life. didn't get mad. 

Anyways, I went back to the lab. The lab tech was very sweet, but OMG. She looked about twelve, for one thing. She was so very nervous for another. She couldn't find my vein in one arm. She asked for back up. A more experienced tech palpated, found the vein, showed it to her, and then returned to her own patient. 

My 12 year old tech continued to tap around the inside of my elbow in an uncertain way. It was starting to make me a bit nervous. I said, "Would you like to try the other arm? Perhaps that would be easier to locate." With relief, she snapped off the tourniquet and we started over. We were both relieved to see a vein pop right up. She got her tubes and set them down and they began to roll. She kept picking them up and setting them down and they'd roll again. I finally said, "Here. I'll hold those." She got ready to put the needle in and her hands were trembling. Actually trembling. I felt bad for her, don't get me wrong, but I was also a bit worried about me

She did a fine job. It didn't hurt at all. She filled both the tubes required, and I said, "Good job!" as she withdrew the needle. I don't even have a bruise, she did such a nice job. 

But, ye gods. The lead-in just about did me in, and I am not usually squeamish about stuff like that. 

I saw the cutest thing today on my walk to the hospital. A herd of preschoolers, led by a large green dinosaur marched down the street, accompanied by a gaggle of teachers and aides. Their little faces were painted. One had a green mustache. There were rainbows. Shamrocks. Pots of gold. Little banners being waved. It was just adorable. I stopped and said, "Oh, I do love parades (spoiler: usually I don't)." I applauded and waved and they waved back to me with the hand that wasn't holding on to the rope with the loops to keep them all in a line. Cutest bunch of little leprechauns I ever saw. 

I am aggravated about one thing though. Remember that big cooker we got yesterday? It works a treat. It really is a nice thing. (Tonight, roasted vegetables and porkchops: Tim pronounced them perfect.) Anyways, paying it forward, I listed both of my smaller airfryers to give away. 20 minutes later, they were claimed. 

Except that I have had no one show up to get them. One person did not return one DM after telling me that she would be here today. The other got irritated when I asked for a time that she would be by. Her fiance does not even get out of work until 4:30. He doesn't get home until 5. I replied, "Well, yeah, that's fine and all. I have things that I needed to get done, and I wanted to arrange things so that we didn't miss each other." It is now 7:30 and I haven't heard from anyone. 

I went down the list and gave one of the fryers to the next woman in line. She was as excited as if she won the lottery. "I work until 7:30 (it was 7:12). Can you hold it for me?" Too funny. I assured her I would hold it. 

Who would have thought it would be so hard to give stuff away?


 It was a day of getting ready to go, getting everything packed up. We are headed east to see Iris' ballet recital.  I picked up some la...