Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Long Over Due Pictures.

Today, we had to run to Erie for therapy for Tim. He feels like it is beginning to help which is a great relief to both of us and makes the trip totally worth it. It was a nice trip, quite different from the last one when the wind was blowing so hard that high profile vehicles were struggling. It was also single digit cold. Today it was in the thirties and sunny and calm. 

(That alone made me feel calmer.)

Anyway, we traveled back home, taking our time. Tim stopped at a Home Depot and got an estimate on the LP SmartSide that he wants to put on the house.  We weren't ready to buy for a couple of weeks yet because, right now, we are working on the rough wiring. 

It is not a hard job. Just tedious. 

You can see the wire run in the foreground as well as the back wall. 
This is what will be our bedroom. 
I am taking the picture from what will be our pantry, a walk in room. 

To the left of our bedroom is the spare bedroom.

Directly across from our pantry is the spot for the washer and dryer. 
and behind that, the bathroom. 

It is pretty hard to describe what you are seeing. This is a Kohler tub that we bought from well-to-do folk who were ripping out the bathroom of their fancy lake house to make a step in shower for their aging mother. The tub is porcelain covered cast iron, heavy as sin, and in perfect shape. We got it for $100. We were shocked to find that they sell for $1000 new. We lucked out on that one alright.  It is one of those things we set aside for the house a couple years ago, and it has waited patiently all this time. 

Before we installed the sliding glass doors, we tractored that tub through the opening. It weighs 300 lbs, so we loaded it into the tractor bucket, pulled in as close to the house as we dared and pulled the tub through. It was still a big job. 

Anyways, the sliding doors go into the livingroom. One of the final touches to the house (and 'final touches' are a llllooooooonnng way off...) will be a sun room (conservatory for you Brits) built on the outside of those doors. It will face the west, and give us a nice sunset view.

This is a view of the killer table. The table got moved back, and no one really paid attention to the fact that the sawhorse leg was sticking out to trip unsuspecting old ladies. The crock pot was not sitting on the table at the time, luckily. 

(And yes, DrumMajor, I fixed it. Your description of a broken hip made me cringe.) 

 We are also putting up foam insulation on the outside of the building (it will go under the siding.) The area is much windier than in town and we want a snug house that will hold the heat in winter. It is going up lickety split, and we are doing that as the weather permits. The worksite is extremely muddy, and the clay makes it pretty slippery. 

So we drove home looking at houses. We've decided on either dark gray with white trim or dark blue with white trim, I think, but that is subject to change. 

Note that these pictures are not at all what our house will look like. I just wanted to give you an idea of what the colors would look like. (I want blue. Tim wants gray.) Our house will be a plain 24 x 48 foot 'box', all on one floor, There is a full basement underneath and there will be a pulldown attic stair to a storage upstairs.

You can see the sliders here that will at some point have the sunporch built out front.

You can also see the door to the basement. 

To the left of the basement, we will haul and mound some of the dirt pile (from the basement excavation) and slope away from the house for drainage. It will make a nice space for landscaping with shrubs and a flower garden.  There will be 3 additional small windows to put in, one over the kitchen sink, one in the bathroom, and a small one for the computer 'cubby' that is off the livingroom. 

It is a small two bedroom house, all on one floor (except for the basement). It is the right thing for this time of our lives. We bought the property probably 7 years ago. We have been planning this in our heads ever since.  To see it coming together, step by step, is very exciting for the two of us. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Legends Of the Fall

 The Drum Major is always warning me to be careful. I always find that a bit humorous. 

Her warnings bring echoes from a long ago childhood..."Be careful..." "Watch what you are doing..." "Get down from there..." My mother's voice. My father's voice. Grandparents. "Be careful..."

But I am not a child. I am a grown woman. 

That little factoid did not stop me from going ass over teakettle today. 

I was awhile getting to my feet. Long enough that Tim came from what his work to do a damage assessment. 

I boogered up an already boogered up knee and gave myself a boogered up elbow to boot. 


Other than that, a quiet day. Taco for supper with homemade taco seasoning. The left over taco meat, salsa, chopped tomato got tossed into the crockpot with some pinto beans. Chili for supper tomorrow night.

Curious: I am commenting as usual but many times, I am surprised that my comment has not 'taken'. Can anyone tell me: are the comments going to spam or are they simply not getting through?

Monday, January 29, 2024

Story Tellers

 That Elton John video from yesterday's post has really caught my mind. As Thelma noted, I'm always thinking. Doesn't everyone do that? I'm washing dishes, and I'm turning some thought nugget around in my head and trying to make sense of it. Scrubbing the toilet and thinking about something I read. Making the bed and pondering the people of the world without beds. I do that all the time. Do you?

Anyway,  my thinking yesterday revolved around all the stories we are surrounded by but never, ever know.  Sometimes it is a matter of never getting to meet (or take the time to get to know) people and their stories. Other times those stories are locked up deep inside the person, never to be told. 

I guess that I am a story teller by nature. I believe that anyone who reads stories is a story teller themselves. 

There is a story telling guild starting locally. I would like to join in. I've had a little experience with historical story telling which I loved, but too often, it involved people who couldn't stick with the theme. They wanted to promote their own writing, their own stories, which were good, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the place for them. The focus was supposed to be on the crazy Newboldt sisters who lived in a falling down mansion for years, dying off one by one, until they were all gone. What a great story. The story of the war of 1812 did not fit in. 

So...I probably won't join with that group again, as much as I would love to. 

In the end though, a story teller is going to find an audience, and the stories are going to be told. I guess that is why I love blogging. I may not have met most of  you in real life, but we know the story of each other. 

That's a cool thing. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Tiny Dancer

My oldest grandaughter is taking ballet lessons. She's wanted to for a while now. She started to want that once she was enrolled in gymnastics which she also wanted. Her parents had paid for a block of lessons, and so they encouraged her to finish out the prepaid lessons in gymnastics before she moved on to something new.

But by the time she finished gymnastics, we were all waiting for her baby sister to arrive. I discovered instructional videos geared to children. Those videos taught basic positions and postures. I loved watching her watching them with an intentness. She would study the videos, study her feet, correct it, and at the end, do a short dance to music with the instructor. 

I left mom with the link. If she found herself needing a short break for baby care, this would provide a good distraction for her oldest. 

Then there were two, and while a baby can be taken to a gym and not cause disruption, a crying baby at a dance studio might be a problem. Her father was involved in a massive project for his work and was traveling more than usual, and so ballet was delayed once again. She played soccer for a year, an activity that allowed for the squalling of a baby sister if required. 

This year, finally, at five, she has gotten her wish. She is finally doing ballet, and she loves it. I was talking to her on the phone and she told me that that very day, she had her ballet picture taken. She told me that she wore make-up. REAL makeup. Stuff on her eyes, stuff on her cheeks, and LIPSTICK!

I expressed great shock that all this had happened since I saw her last. Her reply was great. Matter-of-factly, she replied, "Yes. I'm not your little girl anymore."

Her mother sent me her picture and it took my breath away.

Sometimes when little girls have their pictures taken for these things, they look like little girls playing dress up. This little girl did not. Her mother was reluctant to have her wearing make-up and had applied it with a light hand. Her long blond hair was pinned up and she stood there in her tutu, arms raised above her head.

Maybe it was the expression on her face, the sweet confidence of an assured child. I don't know. It's hard to explain, but the camera caught it: she did not look like a child playing dressup. She looked like a ballerina playing that she was a child once again. 

It was shocking to me. I wish that I could explain it better, but that picture will be treasured. 

Friday, January 26, 2024


 This is just plain creepy. 

I was looking at my messages the other night, and I saw an unfamiliar face, along with the message, (taken verbatim) 'Hey! I'm Billie, your older sister and confidante. Have a problem? I've got your back.' followed by a reassuring thumbs up. 

I don't have an older sister. 

Further reading in that message tells me: 'All messages are generated by AI. Some messages may be innaccurate or inappropriate.'

I have to tell you, this is just mindboggling to me. Who on earth would respond to that, let alone discuss personal problems? I mean, you have absolutely no idea where those messages are going, or who is seeing them. Are people really that desperate for human contact that they will knowingly settle for fake family members???!!

Also creepy? The weather! At the beginning of the week, we were freezing in single digit weather. Today? 55 degrees.

I worked at the new build today. Tim needed to leave early. We got a call from one of our tenants saying that quite suddenly, her drains weren't working. He immediately headed out to meet the plumber. After several hours, it was determined that the drain pipe has been damaged by a neighbor who'd torn down a house and put in a large graveled parking lot.

The poor tenant just had surgery yesterday. She had noticed problems for a week, but snaked it out herself and hoped for the best. Alas. No 'best'.

The plumber is organizing the work, but stressed that he has to wait for the utilities to be marked before they can get started on the repairs. Unfortunately, the only advice that he could offer poor Deb is to use her water (and her drains) as little as possible. 

We really do have the very best tenants. Two of her friends had popped in with lunch and beer. Hearing all of this, Paula (who is also a tenant, six houses down) offered her shower. Laundry services were lined up. Deb herself is treating this all as an adventure. Her Alaskan 'can-do' is showing through.

So. It's been a very strange day, but, hey, I've got 83.3 million reasons to celebrate. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

For Ruth W.

 Just a short one today (keep the cheering down in the back, folks!!!) 

For Ruth W in Maryland:

Pizza dough recipe for a thick crust or pan pizza.

1 1/2 cup warm water

1 pkg of yeast (a little over two tsp)

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

(I have a kitchenaid mixer so I combine these things and give the yeast time to work and bubble).

I mixed in a good shake of basil and mixed it together. 

Next step:

4 cups flour

1/2 cup olive oil. 

(I added three cups of flour while the machine was beating it together. I drizzled the olive oil in as I added the last cup of flour)

Once it make a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl, I take the lump of dough out and work it into a ball, drop it back in the mixer bowl and then (this is just me), I set the metal mixing bowl into a couple inches of warm water. I just use a bowl. I cover the mixer bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it be. 

In a half hour-45 minutes, the dough has doubled in size. Preset your oven to 400. I had a couple tablespoons of olive oil sizzling in my cast iron fry pan, I shut off the flame and stretched my dough with my hands. (Some people prefer to roll it out.) I settle the dough into the hot pan and work it up at the sides. I top it and then pop the whole thing into the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes (? I didn't time it. I pulled it out when the cheese looked right and the crust was browned. 

(Note: some people like to put the pan in the oven for maybe five minutes to give the dough a lead on the baking. I don't, but I read that some do.)

We checked in to changing CPAs. Turns out that is not something that should be done during tax season. 

Note to all who suggested using a computerized tax preparation 'app': Our problem is that there is a difference between maintenance and renovations and there are things that need to be prorated over the course of years. It was also complicated by the fact that we had income coming from two different states, both of which had different laws. So it's not so much the calculations so much as the tax laws, some of which change from one year to the next. 

So that's about it. Worked at the new build today. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Accountants, Dough and Brunch.

 We had an accountant that we were quite happy with for a few years. He suddenly went into business with another accounting firm a couple years ago. Other than that, nothing really changed until we got a letter saying that he was retiring and turning over all of his accounts to his new business associates. 

We didn't like that much. It seemed like a bit of a flamboozle, but there is not a lot of choice in this town, and so we went with the flow. 

Tax day here is April 15th. Taxes need to be filed by then. Ours were not, but we were assured that a letter had been sent for an extension and we would be okay. We've never filed our taxes late, not ever, so this was another thing that we did not like very much but at that point, we felt that there was not a lot we could do. 

Tim called to ask when they thought they would finish up with our taxes, and they indicated it would not take long. He told them they needed to change their phone numbers on file because we had dropped our landline. He provided both our cell phone numbers and they said that they would call us when the taxes were ready.

Tim checked in with them a few times over the next few months, but the taxes were not done. Finally, in July, he went in person to see just what was going on. They said they'd been trying to get hold of us for a very long time. We don't quite believe that, because Tim was touching base with them fairly regularly. Also, we live about five blocks away from them. But, it seems the problem was that they were calling our landline. 

We really were not happy about this. 

Our taxes are quite complicated. We break our expenditures down and tot them all up on the computers, and print everything out to make it easier, but still...I can't do our taxes. I wouldn't even try. Neither would Tim. We discussed changing everything over to a new accountant, but we do not know anyone else. 

Today, we got a bill from them, which surprised us. They had been paid. The final $200 payment had been made on December 5th. Our balance should have been zero. The new bill did not reflect the final payment. Tim took the bill along with our bank information. They had been given the check on December 5th and cashed that check on December 7th. 

"Hmmmmm...." they said. But the billing person was not working today, and so they took copies of everything and promised to look into it.

I really think we need to look for a new accountant. 

On another note, I got a message from a friend wanting to know if we could do lunch. Our 'third' was not able to make it, due to a work situation that required her to stay in office, but when my friend asked if we could do it the following day, I kind of had an idea that she might be struggling too. 

"Cabin fever? Sure. Let's do tomorrow." 

We are kind of in the same boat. About the same time that Tim had surgery, her husband had a bad fall. We both got through weeks of restrictions and therapy, and taking care of our fellas. Understand that neither one of us are complaining. It's just a bit of a thankless job sometimes when you are dealing with a grumpy patient, and you're trying to be patient.

We had our meals and talked quietly. She said, "I try so hard to be sweet..." and I said, "and unfortunately, you don't get any credit at all for being sweet when you don't feel sweet at all..." and we laughed together, understanding perfectly. 

I said, "The thing that I know for a fact is that I need to step back from it a bit. I feel sometimes that I've slipped into a 'mother' role with Tim. I know he gets tired of it, and I try not to, but..." 

I shared the story about Tasker's post on the Pythagorean theorem, and the proof of it, and how I'd spent the previous evening playing around with that, just fascinated with the simple logic of it. How on earth had I gone 66 years without seeing what 'a squared + b squared = c squared' actually represented? All I knew is that it worked. 

I puzzled along with that like a hungry dog gnawing on a bone, captivated with the logic of the proof, and I realized that I needed something for my mind to chew on and digest on a more regular basis. I also needed interaction with other people.  When I went to bed that night, I'd made up my mind to ask Beth if she still went to her monthly book club.

Turns out she did, and while she didn't understand the Pythagorean Theorem, she did understand the need to keep a brain occupied and the need to escape the house every now and again.

I said, "Well, maybe you could go to the next meeting and bring my name up and see if they would mind me joining the group." 

She was a bit surprised by that and suggested that I just show up. "Nobody will care."

I said that I thought it would be a courtesy to ask first, because I know that one person can really change up a group dynamic, and since this was a successful group, I didn't want to offend.

Long story short. Who should walk in but the unofficial leader of the group! She was meeting another group of people. 

They're meeting February 15th and the book is Independence Square by Martin Cruz Smith. While it does not look like the sort of book that I'd normally be interested in, I'll sit down and get it read. After all, that is the point of a book stretch yourself a bit. 

When we were paying our bill to leave, I saw a display of chai cookies. I love chai tea. I commented to the cashier, "Chai makes those cookies sound healthy. I'm a big believer in eating healthy, and so I'm going to take two of those cookies, one for me, and one for my friend." 

Turns out she tells herself the same lie.

She turned to get two styrofoam boxes and I said, "Oh, no. Don't do that. Just wrap them in a napkin. I think that healthy food needs to be eaten on the drive home," and Beth agreed immediately. 

The cashier laughed. "Man, I love you guys!" 

The cookies tasted as good as the giggling felt.

I found an amazing pizza dough recipe today. I made a pan pizza using my trusty cast iron fry pan. I'd never done it that way before. I topped it with the spaghetti sauce left over from last night's supper, which was thick with sausage, peppers and onions. I added a layer of pepperoni and topped it with the obligatory mozzarella. It turned out great.  I even have a ball of dough and enough of that spaghetti sauce in the freezer to do another pizza later on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The BookMobile.

 Over at AC's, he had a beautiful story.  

It reminded me of one that I may (or may not) have. 

When I was a child, we lived way out in the sticks. My mother did not drive. My father worked long hours at the steel mill. When summer time rolled around, there were no other kids on our road. At some point, we did discover kids who lived a long walk up over the hill and would go to play with them sometimes, but for many years, it was just we four kids. 

We had very good imaginations and did not get bored, but I was a reader. I loved to read, and I had read every book on my shelf. The library was out of the question, but happily, the bookmobile came to a nearby town, one that we could walk to via an unused railroad track. We'd walk along that until the high old railroad bridge which terrified me. You could see the water rushing below through the gaps in the ties, and I was afraid of heights. My brother and sisters would scamper across fearlessly, but it took me forever, picking my way, step by step. 

At the end of all that, there was the post office, a small old fashioned building with brass locking boxes and big windows in the front. We were also tasked with getting the mail while we were there. My mother would never give us the key for fear we'd lose it, so we'd always have to ask the postmaster who was a very angry person who yelled at us every time because "we needed to use our key". 

I dreaded dealing with him every bit as much as that old railroad bridge, believe you me.

But I digress. 

Eventually, the bookmobile would pull up, making all the fear worth it. Up I would go to return the books that I'd borrowed two weeks before, which left me free to find new books.

I was a shy and awkward kid, and I don't know how old I was when the beautiful 'book mobile lady' watched me. She asked a few questions. 

"Do you like to read?" And "How old are you?" Things like that.

When she was done, she looked at me thoughtfully. "I think that these books are too young for you." She pointed out some books that she thought I would like, books for older kids.

I remember being uncomfortable being the focus of an adult's attention. That was often not a good thing in my experience, but I remember saying, surprised, "I can borrow any book on the bus?" She kindly told me that I was allowed to do just that. 

It was an eyeopener for me. I thought my choices were confined to one rack of books at the back of the bus.

So I scanned the long shelves of books and selected my limit of books, big fat ones this time, and much harder to carry back home. (Plus I had the added terror that I might drop one on that dreaded railroad bridge ~ spoiler alert: I never did.) 

When the book mobile returned the following visit, that beautiful lady was waiting to ask, "How did you like your books?" 

I told her that I liked them very much, It was all I could manage. I could not express to her the wonder I felt reading them, and the joy I felt in the knowledge that when I was done with these, there were plenty more books just waiting to be read. Not trying to be dramatic here, but it really felt as if a whole new world had opened to me. 

I wanted to BE that beautiful lady when I grew up. I wanted her job in the worst kind of way. She got to travel! And there were books

So fast forward 55+years later and there I am, sitting on the couch discussing feral cats with our tenant Paula. I mentioned a neighbor of hers, one that I'd seen Paula talking with. "I talk to her, but I don't know her name," Paula said. I told her the names of her neighbors and mentioned that Patty had been the head of the library for years. 

Paula said, slowly, "I used to work for the library when I was in high school. When I graduated, they offered me a job on the bookmobile, and I did that until I got married."

I looked at her thoughtfully.

"Do you remember going to the Irvine post office?" 

She did. 

We did the math. 

The time was right. 

When I related my little story, she did not remember playing a part in that, and who knows? It may not have been Paula. She probably met a lot of shy, skinny kids in her travels to the remote areas of the county and such an exchange would have been just a ordinary librarian duty. 

What I do know is that this ordinary thing was extraordinary gift to me. 

Monday, January 22, 2024


 We woke up this morning to find that the temperatures had dropped down overnight to single digits once again. We were not expecting that. It was supposed to be 31 degrees today (fahrenheit), which is far warmer than it has been for a while, so it never occurred to us that it would get so cold over night. But, there it was 6 degrees/-14 degrees celcius. 

It is interesting with this 'arctic blast'. It has been cold, but not nearly as cold as the midwest or up in Red Deer (I never knew that Red took his name from the place he lived...I just figured he was a ginger). But anyways, it's been cold and we've had wind, snow, freezing cold. Houdi has been pretty much an indoor cat since he was sick, but after the New Year, he began venturing out. He normally patrols the perimeter, and is back inside within a half hour. I guess that I'm comfortable with that. 

Now that it has gotten cold, though, he's discovered the joy of our bed. Now, I don't mind that, really. It's not a bad thing to have a cat curled up at the foot of the bed. Tim, however, does not like it. You know what that means, right? We get comfortable and curled up, and then the cat jumps on the bed. After a bit of pacing, he jumps on Tim, and walks his leg to his hip. Tim tried to gently shift him off which causes Houdi to jump on his stomach, which raises all manner of squawking. I try to scoop him up and deposit him on my side of the bed, but before long, he's climbing over top of me to get back to Tim.

Why do cats always gravitate most strongly to the non-cat people? 

Before long, he's deposited off the bed all together. He has a cat bed on the floor, and sometimes he will shuffle off to that. Maybe he'll go out to sleep by the wood stove, or curl up on the couch. But. The one thing we can count on is that between 4 and 5 am, he will begin to pace the house meowing loudly. We don't know why. He's got food. He's got water. I personally think he gets lonesome. He really has turned into quite a people cat, a far cry from the first few months we had him. 

So that's Houdi, the disrupter of sleep and the aggravator of husbands. 

But on the subject of cats, a great thing has happened. 

I think that I told you about Houdi's beginnings. His mother (street name: Tigger) is a wiley feral. One of our tenants put a house for her on the back deck and feeds them, but Tigger has litter after litter of kittens. Paula tries her best to capture Tigger, but has never been able to. She tries hard to catch those kittens, once they are weaned, and she finds homes for them. The last kitten she caught went to a Ukrainian immigrant who has been living a solitary life in a new country, struggling with the language. He was so anxious to get that kitten! 

She caught another one from this litter, in bad shape, weak, with a serious eye infection and pneumonia. She finds homes for as many as she can. Others get hit in the street, or disappear from the creek bank (we have eagles who fish that section of the water, from a dead sycamore). Some, unfortunately, succumb to disease. 

Paula has been trying to get the mother trapped for months now. We provided a live trap. She pays for the neutering, which I didn't realize she was doing. Our area does not have a trap, neuter, release (TNR) program. My vet agreed to spay her if we could trap her, but it would have cost over $400. We were willing to chip in on it, but that's a lot of money. It did not seem as if we had much of a choice. 

I found a TNR program over the state line and I e-mailed them on Friday. I got a response back today from a very nice woman who says that when things are slow (as they are now), they do accept animals from other counties. Cost: $40. She says that she will schedule any cat we catch. What a huge, huge difference that will make in keeping that population under control! She sent paperwork for the sick kitty and said they will schedule spaying as soon as she is cleared by the vet. She seems as anxious to spay Tigger as we are! My hat is off to that organization. We are glad to do our part in tending the cats as they recuperate, and we will continue to feed them as they show up, but they lead miserable lives and it would be so wonderful to do something to make their situation better. 

The vets in our own county have not been very interested in assisting in this. My own vet thinks that it is our own fault for feeding them, that if they weren't fed, they'd die off or at least be less likely to breed. She claims that she is practical. That may well be, but I hope that I never get to the point that I turn my back on a suffering animal. 

Anyways, so that was the good news for the day. We can't really start trying to trap Tigger until we locate the other two kittens or the weather eases. They are calling for a January thaw...right after tomorrow's ice storm. 

It was a good day, spent inside keeping the fire fed, doing the laundry, talking to cat people, passing along good news. Making plans with friends. mopping, vacuuming. 

So. That was today. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

All's Well that Ends Well.

 Tim had the craziest idea: He wanted to go to the reservation yesterday. I dragged my feet. We had William and it was cold, cold, cold! But he was determined. I did not understand why. He wanted to go to the Salamanca Antique Mall. He wanted to get cheap gas (on the reservation, gas is selling at $2.63 a gallon). Nothing that couldn't be done when the weather was a bit more accommodating. 

But he wasn't being put off and he was prodding everyone to get ready to head off. Snow wasn't coming until 11:30. He thought we could get there before things got ugly and then leave when things started tapering off. I told him that I thought he was crazy. 

But we went, which does not say much about my sanity either.

William was anxious to go. Tim had promised him an early birthday present: One of the dealers sells polished gem stones, and tubes of gold flake, and for whatever reason, he wanted one of those little tubes in the very worst kind of way, so he joined his voice with Tim's. 

I got ready to go and we headed out. 

It was a nice morning. We stopped for a sandwich, and then hit the antique mall. 

These are from Germany. Prewar, probably from the 1920s. Elastolin. I'm not sure why they caught my eye, but they did, and they were so darn cute.

They just reminded me of something on the edge of my mind. Maybe a story book I loved as a young child. Don't know. But I studied them so long that one of the workers passing by asked me if I wanted him to unlock the cabinet. 

I hesitated at my own foolishness. I mean, it surely wasn't anything that I couldn't live without. But...

"Yes," I said. "I want those little ducklings and the rabbit in there." He took them up front for me. 

William got his gold and a small bottle of silver as well. 

Tim even joined the party and got himself a civil war lead bullet. 

We drove back home with our 'smalls', and were happy. We had filled up with gas and even had a couple gas cans in the trunk. I hate when he does this. Coming out of Bradford, there is a big hill. Right off, there was a bit of a slide, and the car fishtailed, which scared the bejeebers out of me. Tim was unbothered, and simply slowed the car down to a steady crawl. "If we can make this hill, we are home free," he said. 

"IF??? IF???" said I. 

But we made the hill, and as we traveled along the ridge back home, snow squalls began, and there were times that we knew that there was a car in front of us, but we could not see it. That is something that scares the mess out of me too. Tim just drove along slowly and steadily. 

As we were passing by the reservoir, I received a message from Cara. She'd sent a funny meme to Tim. 

She didn't know how fitting her little joke was!

But all's well that ends well. We got home safely and William spent a couple of hours pretending he was rich. We'd bought a rack of spareribs for supper, and I got them baking in the oven. (If ever was a good day to use the oven, this was it.)

Tim ducked out to deliver William back home and to show my daughter and son in law how to oil and bleed the water boiler, something that rarely needs to be done, but is important to know how to do in weather like this and is a good fall maintenance chore.

He came back in and we spent the rest of the gray evening following the football game, eating spareribs and baked potatoes and reading about our 'finds' at the antique mall. 

We switched on a couple episodes of Antiques Road Trip, and it tickled me to see Angus Ashworth and David Harper driving along in a little Kharmann Ghia. My first car was a 1969 Kharmann Ghia, like the one below. (although mine never gleamed like that, I'm sorry to say). The question begged an answer: who on earth would pass off a Kharmann Ghia as an antique car, though????!!! (Answer came courtesy of simple math. Once again I understood why math was not my favorite subject.)

Just for entertainment: 

Friday, January 19, 2024


This made me laugh. On the last evening that I was at my son's, we ordered out for Chinese. I drove out to pick it up.

When I walked into the restaurant, the woman behind the counter was screaming her head off in rapid-fire Chinese to a grim faced man who continued working on. He said nothing, and he did not look at the screaming woman. 

This did not stop for some time. There was a young family waiting for their order. There was a lone man sitting in a booth waiting as well,. and we all exchanged incredulous looks. I mean, this woman was mad. It was hard not to feel sorry for the man.

The screaming went on for some time until the phone rang, and she snatched it up in an irritated way. When she spoke, we were all surprised to hear her speaking in totally unaccented English, in a soft pleasant voice. It was so unexpected, The other customers' faces mirrored the surprise that I felt. I nearly laughed out loud at the unexpectedness of it.

This was just sweetness. I hope little Xavier gets his wish. I hope he grows up to be the fastest kid in the world.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Here, There and Everywhere.

 Just to be clear, the baby isn't chugging balsamic vinegar on a daily (or even a weekly) basis. She gets lemons even less often than that. But she loves them and that is interesting. 

We went to Erie yesterday, for Tim's appointment. It was bitterly cold, 5 degrees. As we got closer and closer to lake Erie, the wind gusts became fierce. We watched both a semi truck with trailer (we feel that the load was either light, or it was running empty) and a truck pulling a camper veering wildly from side to side during wind gusts. We stayed back and did not dare to pass. 

We got there safely. 

On the way back home, we passed by a Troyer farm store. They were advertising potatoes at $15 for a 50# bag. I pointed that out to Tim right away. We were using up the last of our 50 pound bag from last fall, and we do love red potatoes. So Tim pulled in. Much to our surprise, the woman told us that the bags were now $10. Tim looked surprised but bought 100 pounds of potatoes without a blink. We have plenty to share with anyone who wants them. I have the ham, onion, celery mix simmering away in the crockpot. It will become potato soup, but Tim has asked for his favorite thing: pork chops with mashed potatoes, so that will be supper tonight. 

We stopped in at the Amish discount grocery on the way home. We didn't need a lot, but it is always good to check out what they have, just in case. They had little hams for $4.49. That is each, not per pound. I bought one to throw in the freezer. I also picked up some tomato paste, Tim picked up a couple boxes of cereal. I found William's favorite candy bars, 4 for a dollar. Tim picked up some chips and popcorn.  We walked out of there with a box of things for $20. 

One thing is that they have bins of make up. Some of it is the really pricey stuff. All of it marked as 99 cents each. I noticed that I was running low on foundation, and so, without any real hope, I glanced through the bins. I could not believe that I found my liquid foundation, and in the right shade too. 

I needed to use the restroom while I was there, and something that also intrigued me was the amount of makeup in that bathroom. They have a table covered with different kinds of make up. Right next to the sink, there is a bottle of facewash, presumably to scrub it all off before the girls go home after their shifts. 

So. That was our day. We got home safely, put our things away and had a quiet night in. 

It is much warmer today, 23 degrees F. It is a gray day and snowing. 

Tomorrow is my youngest daughter's 34th birthday. I'm looking forward to a phone chat with her and wish that I could be sitting down with her for a visit in person.

On a side note: so many in our little blogging circle are dealing with such big, big things. We have never met, but isn't it interesting that you can know people, and grieve for them too just by our interactions on the web? I'm sure that it is not just me. 

Virtual hugs for all of you. My best thoughts go to you. I am glad you are a part of my life. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Happy Days

Just to be clear, the reason that I had a five hour drive to my appointment yesterday is that I was at my son's house, spending time with him and my granddaughters while mama had a well earned weekend spent with her brothers. There was a concert they all wanted to see, a band called 'Buffalo'. I'd never heard of them, but she comes from a family of real music lovers, and it is a band that they all knew and enjoyed. 

It feels as if I've missed such a big part of the girls' lives. The oldest is five. Along came covid. That was a year and a half lost. We got past that, finally. The youngest is a year and a half old. There was a family situation that put the kibosh on visiting for a few months. We finally all got through that, and then along came Tim's terrible, horrible, no good very bad year.

Long story short, when I get a chance to spend time with those girls, I savor every minute of it. I got there Thursday afternoon. The oldest had school Friday, which gave the youngest and I time to get reacquainted. We had just seen each other in early October when my daughter flew in from the UK for a couple weeks. She's a pretty sociable character. She's not talking yet, but the girl makes herself understood. 

She loves to eat. Her parents have never used baby foods. The kids eat what they eat, mostly. Here's something that makes me laugh everytime I think of it. That girl loves pickles, which is not so odd, I guess, but she will get into the corner 'lazy-susan' cupboard. She knows what she is looking for and when she finds it, she pulls the bottle of balsamic vinegar out, and follows her parents around begging. Initially, they thought to give her a little taste to let her figure out on her own that she didn't like it. But...she does. Very much. They will pour a bit on one of her baby spoons and she will grab on with both hands and pop it in her mouth with gusto, smacking her lips in appreciation. She also will eat a lemon slice right down to the rind. Have you ever heard of such a thing? 

The five year old is imaginative. She loves crafts and drawing, and books. I'd brought along a friendship bracelet kit and we made friendship bracelets for her and her best friend. We had a movie night and a 'sleep over' (which means she slept in my room instead of her own bed.) We played mermaids. I got to see how well she can ride her bike. She's a determined little thing and pedaled all the way to the top of the hill by herself. She was much too fast for me. My son jogged along after her with the baby stroller. I followed along behind them at a distance, walking briskly, but not keeping up. At one point, she got off her bike and walked back to make sure that I didn't get lost on the way back to her house. 

We intended to go to the Philadelphia zoo. We bought them a year's membership last year for the girls 5th and 1st birthdays, which were just a few days apart. Disappointingly, we found that the zoo closes down for two weeks in January for maintenance. 

That called for a change of plans. Tim and I had gotten them a birdfeeder for Christmas and a $50 gift card to Tractor Supply for the seed and suet, so we decided to get everything that they needed to set that up. A local TNR had set up with three kittens they were trying to find homes for, which was great fun for the girls. They cannot have a cat because they have a dog named Izzy who will not tolerate that indignity, but the girls enjoyed their time with the cats.

It was a quiet weekend, and we didn't do anything but make memories. I rarely have time with my son Dylan, so that was special too. There's something soul satisfying about realizing that the boy you raised has become a good man who loves his family. It was nice to have time to simply talk with him. 

That's all I needed, really. Time. 

It was good to get away from home for a while. I feel as if I've been pretty homebound for a long time. 

Tim has another appointment tomorrow. an hour and a half away. The temperature is supposed to be -11f tomorrow, which is -24c. The old house is cold, even with the wood stove going full bore. I baked a batch of molasses cookies just to have an excuse to have the oven heating the kitchen. William spent the day with us and made a batch of chocolate chips. 

So that's it, really. Nothing earthshattering, but happy days. 

Monday, January 15, 2024


 There is a column called A.I.T.A. It means, 'am I the a**hole?' People post their situation, and people weigh in on whether they are just being an asshole or are they justified.

I had an appointment today, one that I really didn't see the need for, but hey. I headed back, driving 5 hours to make that appointment. It was a pre-consultation for a colonoscopy. That is a change from when it was done last. Back then, I received a call to set the appointment and then I received a packet of instructions in the mail. I did as I was told and showed up at my scheduled time, and the deed was done. 

This time, however, there was this 'pre-consult'. 

So I show up for my appointment. The first thing that kind of caught my ear was the receptionist was all in a snit, because someone else had assembled the paperwork, and things might not be in the order that she put them in. There were four sheets. Really. Even if they were in a different order, it wasn't the end of the world. I listened to her complain to her coworker about it. She then handed me the papers, complaining that they might not be in order because she hadn't done it. 

Four freaking sheets of paper. If she was so bothered by it, she could have taken a few seconds to put them in the order that SHE preferred them to be in. 

I said, "It doesn't strike me as that big of a deal, really. Every problem has a solution, don't you think?" I had a feeling that the two employees had a mutual coworker they were targeting. I've been in that position before and it is an awful spot to be in. Hypercritical people trying to magnify every single thing you do. They are not being helpful. 

She looked surprised but admitted that this was true. We got through the four sheets of paper with minimal additional drama. 

I was escorted back to the waiting room. 

I waited. 

I was escorted back to the exam room by a nurse who took my vitals and asked me the date of my last colonoscopy. 

I said, "I really don't know, to be honest. My doctor said it was time, so she set up the appointment."

He flipped back through his paperwork, and said, "It was in 2010." 

Now here's where things began to go south. They obviously had my records. They had that information. So what, exactly, was the purpose of the appointment? I waited quietly after he left, and it wasn't long before the doctor came in with a medical student. She asked if it was okay for the medical student to do the questions. 

"Sure," I said.

The doctor left the room.

The student fixed me with a cheerful smile and asked me how I was doing. 

"Fine," I said.

She said, "So, you're here to set up an appointment for a colonoscopy?" 

Internally, I was thinking, "...for pete's sake..." but I answered, "Yes."

She leaned forward with a broad smile and said, "So can you tell me why you want a colonoscopy?" 

This time I said it out loud. "For pete's sake! Does anyone come into this office and actually want a colonoscopy?" 

Her smile wavered a little.

I said, "I'm not trying to be rude here, but I'm a very practical person. I was told by my primary care doctor that it is time for a colonoscopy, so she made an appointment. This office set up an appointment for a preconsultation, and here I am." 

She continued on. "Have you ever had a colonoscopy before?" 

Once again, I thought, 'for pete's sake...' but I said, "Yes." 

"When?" she asked.

('for pete's sake...') "Well, according to the nurse, who looked through that little stack of papers you have, it was in 2010." 

"Oh, so you're here because it is time for one." 

('...for pete's sake') "Yes." 

She said, "Are you on blood thinners?" 

('for pete's sake...') "My medication list is right on top there. I take atenolol and a statin." 

She left the room to go out and get the doctor.

The doctor came in and said, "So you're here to set up for a colonoscopy?"

I said, "You know, I'm just going to say it. I don't understand why this appointment was necessary. You have all that information in your little packet. Your office told me when my last colonoscopy was. My vitals were taken which are not different from my appointment a couple weeks back. You have my history. You have my drug list. You know why I am here. The last time this was done, I received a packet in the mail. I followed the instructions. That was that."

I just hate waste. The fact of it is that we have an over burdened medicare and I really did see this as an unnecessary appointment. 

"Well, let's get you set up then." 

And so I was escorted down the hall to wait for the scheduler. She set up my appointment for April 26th. She efficiently said, "Now. Let's get you set up for your post procedure visit..."

I said, "Excuse me?"

She said, "Two weeks after  your appointment you come back in again to find out the results."

I said, "If there's nothing found, I won't need that appontment. If there's something wrong, I'd expect to receive a call to come in for a follow up."

She looked at me. I said, "We're not scheduling a follow up  now."

She just looked at me. "Okaaaaaaaaaaay...." she said. 

"We'll just wait to see if it's necessary." 

I walked out of there a bit dumbfounded. That was a $300 consultation. Yes. Most of it will be paid for by insurance, but what a waste of taxpayer money, don't you think? 


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The day before...

 The terrible winds that were predicted to move in about 10 am got here after lunch, and it was blustery and gustery out. (I know it is not a word.) Tim had an appointment. He wanted to run up and check on his truck. He saw a clock that he had fallen in love with, so he needed to take care of those things. No matter WHAT the weather was. 

In any case, the wind held off until he was safely back home, so that was a good thing. 

I got the Christmas tree down and packed away for another year, so that was my big achievement for the day. 

Well, that, and one other thing. A while back, I realized that I was missing a pair of earrings, and not just any earrings, but my favorite earrings with the blue opals. I looked in my travel bag, and they were not there. I checked my suitcase. They were not there. 

Last night, after months, after the assumption that I'd done something monumentally stupid, (my fear was that they had been forgotten in a purse that I donated), I found them. When I emptied out the pockets of that suitcase, I was pulling out the left over rubble of trips gone by. A couple packages of masks, Bits of paper and ticket stubs, and travel packets of aspirin. Also, way down in the corner, a pair of blue opal earrings. That made my day. 

I'm still not sure how they got in the suitcase pocket. My earrings go in a little pouch that clips inside a different bag with all my toiletries and the like. Stuff you don't put in a suitcase because sure as anything, you'll have something leaking everywhere. So...they are not supposed to be there, yet they were. Here's me, not looking a gift horse in the mouth. 

Anyways, that was a happy ending to the day. It's always a good thing to find out that you're not as stupid/careless/absentminded as you are afraid you might be. 

Today is a getting ready day. One last load of laundry. Vacuuming and setting the house to rights.  I'm also assembling a lasagna so that Tim won't starve while I'm gone. 

...and this is me getting to it. Have a good weekend everyone. 

LATE EDIT: I just have to tell you this little snippet. I'm headed there to give my son a hand for the weekend while his wife is away. When my oldest granddaughter was told that I was coming, she was extremely excited at the news. She asked her father if he could go away somewhere too so that she could have her own weekend with Grandma. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Going With The Flow

We woke up to a steady snow. We don't have to worry about accumulations however. The temperatures are hovering at freezing right now, but in about an hour, we are supposed to start getting some pretty heavy winds which will last for the rest of the day, 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph. (That's nothing compared to the 106 mph measured wind gusts happening in Florida. Hang on to your hat, Mary Moon and check in when you can) Those wind gusts are supposed to being in a day's worth of warmer temperatures and some very heavy rain. However, for right now, it is dead quiet, with the snow falling. 

It's kind of cool to be sitting here at the computer, sipping my hot coffee and watching the trees out the front window. I am just beginning to see the branches catching the first air movement, giving hints of what is on the way. 

It doesn't matter to me, really. I just go with the flow. I don't have anything pressing to do outside. A load of laundry in the washer. A pot of what will turn into chicken vegetable soup in the crock pot. If the power goes off, I'll just put it in a pot and slap it on the gas stove. If the power stays on, I'll vacuum. If it goes off, I'll dust and sweep and mop the kitchen floor. There is always something, isn't there? Maybe I'll even take down that Christmas tree!

I also have a book. It's one of those books that you read with your phone nearby, so that you can google things like 'the Peterloo conspiracy or the Cato Street massacre. I like history, and fitting a county's history into the larger history of the world's history is endlessly fascinating to me. The author does a good job at that. I was ridiculously tickled that when I read the words 'Tolpuddle martyrs', I knew exactly what they were referring to, having watched 16 seasons of the Antiques Roadtrip. (Yay, me!) 

So, let it blow. I'm well prepared to hole up for the day if it comes down to it. By Wednesday, this should be done, which is good news. I'm away on a break for a few days. I was trying to remember the last time that I went off. I can't. I'm overdue some grandma time. 

Sunday, January 7, 2024


 We did get some snow for the much-discussed winter storm. They were only calling for 1-3 inches in our area, but I guess that the center of the state was more heavily affected than we were. 

But I spent the day puttering n the kitchen. Tim requested a batch of cinnamon rolls which I whipped up. Not entirely happy with the dough, so will try again once these are gone. 

I find myself reluctant to take down the Christmas tree. I know it needs to get done. The rocking chair needs to be brought back down and put in its rightful place. I guess that I am a little sad that it is all said and done. 

But I am reading an interesting book ('Dicken's Favourite Blacking Factory' by Neil Price - which I would not have known about had it not been for Tasker). I started it before Christmas, and it got set aside in the holiday shuffle. 

So that's it, really. I'm sad about the school shooting. I'm sad about people who can blythely dismiss any talk of it as 'hysteria' and set it into a statistical framework that minimizes risk to his own children. 

I am sad about people who see the answer to this as teachers being armed. That scenario assumes that all teachers are the good guys. Unfortunately, you have only to look around you to know that this cannot be assumed. There are bad people who teach in our schools and victimize their students. Sure. We should give them all guns. That will make it easier for them to intimidate and victimize. 

It just seems like wherever I look, there are very sad stories these days, and so many of them involve the children of this world. That fact, alone, is a sad story. Unfortunately, any talk of these things is dismissed as hysteria by the anyone who does not wish to discuss it. 


I talked to my grandaughter yesterday. We talked about the fact that she is learning to read. We talked about the fact that she had her dance pictures done that day. She told me that she wore makeup. When I expressed great shock that this should have all happened since I last saw her, she said, "Yes. I am not your little girl anymore." 



Wednesday, January 3, 2024


 The the house is now hooked up to the electric service. The inside work was not too awful, but it was cold outside. Very cold. Hooking the service to the breaker box is slow work and I sure did not want to rush Tim on that. I did what I was told and ran for what was needed. 

That part is done and I am glad for it. I was frozen when I got home and it took forever to warm up. 

Now the rough wiring work begins. Tim has an appointment for therapy in Erie tomorrow, so we will wait a day to begin that part of things. That's likely to take a week or more, depending on the weather. A storm is forecast for this weekend. 

Once the wiring is done, the inspector will come to inspect our work. We generally don't wait long on him. He's an affable fellow who likes talking with Tim. 

At that point, we can begin insulating the walls, and putting up the drywall. 

Celebration of darkness AND light

 I am on the downhill side of the cold. 

Tomorrow, I will go with Tim to start the wiring on the house. We are starting with the basement. Tomorow will be installing the breaker box and connecting that. We will install a light in the basement and some outlets. 

Let there be light!

But we're going to be celebrating the dark, too. Did you know about the Solar Eclipse on April 8th? We are fortunate enough to be in the zone of totality. If we go an hour west, we will be able to maximize it. The darkness will last for four minutes. My daughter-in-law asked if they could come to our house for the weekend. ("YES! The answer is always, always YES!") 

That is something to look forward to. 

Late Edit for AnvilCloud: 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

New Year

 It  was quiet New Year's eve here. It usually is anyway, but this time, quieter than usual. I had spent the day putting the house to rights, doing laundry, washing sheets, mopping floors, things that I'd gotten behind on because we'd been working on the new build. By the time that I was getting supper on the table, it was becoming clear that I was coming down with a cold. I snuffled my way to midnight. 

We watched the Times Square thing, as usual. We tracked the big moment as it arrived, time zone by time zone, country by country. Finally it was our turn and we ticked down the minutes. 

Now, here's an interesting bit of trivia for you: my youngest daughter and my son did the Times Square thing, back when Cara was in college and Dylan was on his own but not yet married. It was, by both their accounts horrible, not only because it was freezing cold, not just because there were so many people. The main reason it was not a fun time is that the NYPD moves people into the blockaded areas. The people are actually penned there, for hours. You cannot leave to grab a hot cup of something. You wouldn't want to do that anyway, because you also cannot get out to pee. The men can take care of their needs, discreetly, but the suspicious puddles were a bit off putting to Cara. By the time of the big moment, watching the ball drop, all she wanted to do was get out of there and find a bathroom. Both of them said that they were glad for the experience, but they would never do it again. So...all those happy faces you see televised from Time's Square, kissing at midnight, looking joyous and happy with life? Most of them are cold and have to pee so bad their teeth are floating. 

We watched all this from the comfort of our warm livingroom which is a short walk to the bathroom. We like our creature comforts, thank you. We went to bed shortly after the magic moment. By the time that I woke up this morning, I had cold chills and a headache, a disappointment because we had intended to go to a big auction. There was a secretary that Tim wanted quite badly. 

He ended up going by himself. It would have been irresponsible for me to go, being sick. So, most of my day was spent on the couch, feeling worse and worse as the day went on, going through all the tissue in the house, finally brought to the indignity of bringing a roll of toilet paper out to the livingroom, and going through a goodly portion of that too. 

Tim only stayed a couple hours at the auction.The place was packed and the things were selling for hundreds of dollars, even thousands. That's the way that it goes when there are lots of people to bid.

Northsider was curious about our auctions and the sorts of things that are being sold, so Dave, this is a link for you:                  You can view the items for sale in a slide show format.

By the time that Tim got home, I was really feeling pretty awful. One of those miserable colds where your face hurts, your teeth hurt, your nose is a mess. 

I did manage to get the pork and sauerkraut in the crock pot for supper. That is the traditional New Year's Day meal around here. It is actually a German thing which was brought to our country by the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish). I don't know anyone who doesn't start their year with that dinner. Is it the same for you out there in blogland?

So that was our day.


 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...