Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Deed is Done

 After a day, we finally settled on the car we wanted. 

We will never own a new car. They just are not worth the money. But we were pretty much sold on the Suburu, for the gas economy and the all wheel drive. Tim had seen a car he was interested in, but he had to look. Today we drove a Buick Enclave (hard no from me. It didn't get any better gas mileage than the truck that Tim was insisting wasn't economical to drive. I put my foot down.) We drove a Toyota Venza, which Tim liked and so did I. We looked at other cars. Pros. Cons.  We compared gas mileage. We talked price and blue books and by the end of it, I really was just ready to be done. Tim, bless his heart, could happily go on for days looking at vehicles and reading about vehicles and comparing vehicles. And I fully expected that he would. 

We were meeting the seller of the Suburu at 4:30, and Tim and he discussed the vehicle. Much to my surprise he made the decision very quickly. He told the guy we would buy it. He is taking it in to get a fresh inspection. We will have the car next week. 

A blue 2014 Suburu Outback. It is pristine on the inside, and has 105k miles, 

So. That was today. I have a splitting headache. But it is done. We started out with a number in mind to spend, and we managed to keep it right where we wanted it. All's well that ends well. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Strange Day

 We headed out a little earlier than usual this morning. We were picking up Levi and his brother in law (also named Levi) and his sister Clara to take them to visit poor Ruben in the hospital in Erie. Tim had his regular therapy appointment, so it was an easy enough thing to do. 

Poor Clara looked frazzled. She got home last night and was heading back today. She will stay overnight with her husband once again, and hopefully the two of them will be back home some time tomorrow. 

The weather has been changeable. Last night, I woke up in the night to thunder. This morning it was so mild it felt like spring. By the time we got to Erie, it was 60 degrees! We dropped the three of them off and headed off. We had a bit of time to kill, and so Tim bought a donut. We wandered through an outdoor store They had shirts on clearance for $74.95 and canvas slip on shoes marked down to $84.95! Tim and I enjoyed the wander, but we knew right off that this was not our kind of store. 

We went to Tim's appointment and noticed that the wind had picked up noticeably. By the time we finished, it was freezing. The temperature dropped 24 degrees in less than 4 hours!

Despite all that, Tim did some pricing. We are looking at a 'new to us' car. The transmission in his has bitten the dust and the old car is not worth the repair. It was so cold though, and so wickedly windy which made everything that much worse.

By then it was time to pick up Levi 1 and Levi Too from the hospital. As it was about 1, we stopped at a Burger King to humor the two Levis. The weather was looking dicey enough that we all just wanted to get our food and head out of town as quickly as possible. While we waited, I saw two Amish in a booth. Joking, I said, "Oh, look! Cousins!" The two Levis made a beeline to introduce themselves. 

Turns out the two men were from Spartansburg. They were speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, but Levi said later that the murder of the young mother was not unwitnessed. Her four year old son saw, and was old enough to relay what he saw to the police. Combined with the vehicle information, I hope that it is solved quickly. That poor child, though. 

The community has come together for the family, and there is a reward being offered. 

It is still cold and windy and fierce out, but by Friday, the temperatures will once again be up in the 50s. 

Roll on spring! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Unexpected News

 Watching the news last night, we were both dumbfounded to hear that one county away, an Amish woman was found murdered in her home. She was six months pregnant, and her two young children were in the home. Her husband found her when he came home at lunch time. The two children were unharmed.

We looked at each other with a sick feeling. I know that it is a different community than their Amish community, but I also know that Mattie and Levi both have what seems to be 1001 cousins. 

We worked down at the new house today. We didn't get the windows in, but we got them framed up. We had severe weather coming, heavy rains, possible hail and thunderstorms. So we just went ahead and framed the windows, but waited to cut the sheeting out and install the windows in their spaces. 

After considering things, Tim decided that he wanted to put in two more windows on the south side of the house. I agreed with him on one. He ignored my objection to the other. More 2 x 6s were required along with additional ziptape. He also needed to pick up some furring strips, so we decided to use the rainy afternoon to head up to the lumber store. On the way back, we figured to stop in at Levi and Mattie's to make sure they didn't need a ride to Spartansburg this week. 

We decided to frame the question just like that. They would know about it. I'm not sure how word gets through their community, but it does. We would see it on the news, but they probably got it word of mouth at about the same time. I know that they do not speak of things like this in front of the kids, so asking if they needed a ride to Spartansburg was all that we'd need to say. They would know what we were referring to, and if it was a relative, we'd made the offer. They could discuss it between themselves later and run down to the neighbor's house and give us a call. 

Mattie met us at the door. It turned out that it was not a relative, but she was glad we were there. There had been a serious accident. Her brother chopped down a large tree the previous day. As it fell, a large branch crashed down. He tried to run, but did not make it. The branch fell on him, badly breaking his leg and trapping him. 

His wife had been hanging out laundry when her daughter told her that 'fadder' had fell a tree. Clara stopped to look where her daughter was pointing. When she didn't see her husband, she went looking for him, and found him pinned under the branch, his leg bones broken through the skin. 

I shivered at the thought of it, and Mattie said, "I know!" 

I asked her where he was and she said that he was in  Erie. He had surgery and at least one rod had been put in. She thought there might be two but she wasn't sure about that.  He would be kept in the hospital and pumped full of antibiotics for at least three days to make sure that a bone infection did not set in, which could lead to possible amputation. Once that danger was past, he would be sent home. 

I mentioned that Tim had a therapy appointment the following day and we volunteered to take anyone up that wanted to visit him. 

I'm glad we stopped in. 

As we were leaving, Levi followed us out to the porch to quietly ask what we knew about the murder. I said that the police were not releasing much in the line of details, only that they were asking everyone in the community to come forward if they'd seen anything out of the ordinary. A red jeep had been seen going up and down the road. It was parked in the dead woman's driveway at about 10 AM. If anyone had a description of the driver, it had not yet been made known to the public. 

Levi stood with his hands in his pockets. The murder troubled him a great deal, we could tell. 

Truth be told, it troubles us as well.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Just Another Day

Last week, I told you that we got my daughter's birthday card back.  It had a bright yellow label on it that listed the house as vacant. Saturday, we got Thelma's card back. It was listed as 'Insufficient Address'. I had the sneaking suspicion that neither of those cards even made it to the UK. In fact, I was pretty sure they hadn't gotten any further that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

So I took the envelopes back to the post office. The girl there was able to confirm my suspicions. Despite the 'UK' plainly written under the addresses, in spite of the International Stamp, they were trying (and failed) to match them to possible US addresses. 

As irritatng as this was, really, I was much relieved. For both of the cards to have come up missing, I had a sickening feeling that someone had seen the colorful envelopes in the outgoing mail and simply picked them up hoping to get lucky and find something tucked inside them. (My daughter's card did have a gift card), so it was a bit of a relief to find that wasn't the case. 

She expertly took a marker to the envelopes and obliterated all the bar codes. She dropped them back into the system. We shall see. I have never had a problem, and I've mailed plenty of cards and letters there. Hopefully that was a one off. 

Today, since it was expected to be pretty warm, the plan was to go up to the new build and install the kitchen window so that we could finish up the rough wiring. There was also a bathroom window to be put in, but there was no wiring to worry about on the outside of that wall. We also needed to install a small window in the computer cubby. 

We got up early and headed out. Half way there, the tire went flat. Tim said, "It's that rim." We immediately pulled off the road into a gravel lot of a service center. How's that for luck?

Tim got out of the truck and looked. "We're f-----." he said. 

Tim has a problem. He knew that rim was bad, but he was trying to buy a set of rims. He didn't want to get just one. He wants his truck to be purty. Things like that drive me nuts because the fact is, playing the waiting game, waiting until you find exactly what you want sometimes, SOMETIMES bites you in the butt, and this waiting game bit us big time. 

A young man was just coming to work. He and Tim talked. Tim came back and said, "He's got a truck just like this and he can sell us a rim for it. 

So our bearded buddy headed home to get that rim, and Tim pulled out the jack and got ready to pull the wheel. When he got it off and I saw how bad it was, I really was upset with him. The rim had a six inch split in it. No wonder the tire went flat! Why does the man take chances like that??!! I said, "You should have gotten another rim just to hold you over until you found the rims of your dreams, Tim." 

He didn't say anything. I said, "How much is that guy selling you the rim for?" 

He said, "$60. I got $40 in my wallet."

I volunteered to walk back to the Country Fair to use their ATM. The walk would do me good. I figured it was a mile, a mile and a half back. Not far. It would be much better than standing around feeling grumpy at my husband. Hindsight's 20/20 and I'm sure he saw plainly what he should have done. He certainly did not need to hear my thoughts on it. 

So I set off. I walked and I walked and I walked. It sure seemed a lot farther on foot than it did whipping by in a vehicle. Eventually I got there, and sat down for a short break and to call Tim. The guy came back with the rim. He said, "My boss will not let me mount a tire on this rim here. He'd be worried about liability. But if you take the rim two houses down, I got a friend there that will do it for you." Now how's that for luck? 

Tim carried the rim down, and then walked back and rolled the bad rim with the tire on. The man immediately stopped what he was doing and took care of the tire. The young man's father happened by and took Tim and the repaired tire back to the truck. 

So anyhow, I called Tim just as he was finishing up and heading to where I was. Which was great because the ATM, the one that I had walked 2.4 miles to get to, was out of service! So he picked me up (which saved me the 2.3 mile walk back) and we drove into town to the bank and we got the money to pay the balance of the rim and the money to pay the kid who mounted the tire. 

We eventually did make it to the new build and we got the bathroom window put in. We will go back tomorrow and (hopefully) get the other two windows in. 

We got home and Mangey was waiting. His mange has flared up again and one half of his face is raw, just sickening to look at. It makes me so mad. I don't know where he is picking this stuff up from, but I think that when he picks up a case of it, his owners just refuse to let him in the house. He's on the street. I know that I said that I was done feeding the ferals, but I can't ignore the poor thing. I got him a can of cat food and added a dose of Ivermectin. It worked before, and very quickly. I am sure it will work again. I fed him outside. 

I walked into the livingroom. "Mangey's got mange again." Tim looked pretty unbothered by the news. I said firmly, "When we move to the new house, we bringing him with us." Tim looked at me. "Our cat? Of course we are..." 

"We're bringing Houdi and Mangey. I'm not leaving him behind."

Tim didn't say we weren't. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

I Go To A Bar.

 An elderly woman with dementia is struggling right now. Her husband is in the hospital about 1 1/2 hours from home, and she wants to see him every day. Her daughter had been with her for nearly a week, and they went daily, but the poor woman doesn't seem to remember that. All she knows is that she wants to see her husband. 

Trying to arrange care for her is hard. None of the local 'homes' have openings for the two of them, and so they continue at home. They have care coming in 3 times a week, but it is not nearly enough. The family stuffs the refrigerator with food, but she doesn't remember that she has it. It's really not a good situation right now. 

The daughter had to go back home, and was concerned about her mom on her own. Her brother was coming in but had not yet arrived. I volunteered to go down to fill the interim. "I'll take her out for supper," I said. I thought that it would be a nice distraction for her. I thought a little drive would do her good. It was a beautiful day but cold. 

She was delighted to see me, although she had no idea who I was. I explained several times during the course of the afternoon. and saw the comprehension dawning.  An hour later, I'd be fielding the same questions and once again, watching her understanding come yet again. 

So, it was an interesting but not unpleasant afternoon. I listened to her stories of days gone by, and she really is a funny, funny lady. Her humor is something that dementia has not taken from her. I told a few funny stories of my own, and we had a lot of laughs. 

It was getting towards supper time, and (not knowing about the stuffed fridge), I said, "Hey. Would you like to go out to eat?" 

She worried that someone might be coming to pick her up to take her to Erie. They weren't, but I assured her that they could reach my cell if they did.

I let her pick the place and was a bit surprised when she named a local bar. I'd never been, but she assured me that they had all kinds of sandwiches there. It was out of my comfort zone: one woman with dementia in a bar I did not know, but it was me that put the question to her. 

We pulled into the gravel parking lot. It's quite a jampacked place on Friday and Saturday nights, but we got there a couple hours before the place got hopping. I quietly explained the situation to the woman behind the bar, and she led us to a table where my friend could see all, underneath the taxidermied head of a buck smoking a cigarette. 

While we waited for our burgers, she suddenly got up and set off. I was a bit concerned, but she crossed the building past the bar and headed for the bathroom like she knew exactly what she was doing. 

As I kept an eye in her general direction, my sister texted to make sure we were doing okay. "Yes" I answered, and, just for giggles added, "She's halfway through her first beer." 

My friend returned to the table, and I told her what I had just texted Anna, and she laughed merrily, and then she said. "There's a man at the bar with very long hair. I couldn't resist. I grabbed his pony tail and pulled his hair." And she laughed and laughed. 

Cue Lynyrd Skynrd

At about the same time, my sister messaged back "SHE DOESN'T DRINK!!!!!"

I asked my friend nervously, "What did he say?" and she replied, "I didn't stop. I just kept on walking..." and she laughed some more. 

Ye gods and little fishes! I texted my sister. "JK about the beer. Not JK about her pulling some guy's hair." My sister, ever helpful said, "We are laughing here..." 

The burger was good. The frenchfries were the best I ever had. We got out of there with no trouble, and we spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the places she knew as she remembered them to me, and the ghosts of the people who lived there years ago. 

We got home and she began stripping down in the dining room, and conversationally asked me if I was going home soon. She got pajamas on, and my sister texted to say that if she was getting ready for bed that it was perfectly fine to leave her for the night. 

She walked into the livingroom as another daughter called to check on her. "Everything is fine," she said. She told her that she had company. "I don't know her name though..." 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Big Stuff

 Well, it's been a mishmash of days here. We've been jumping between projects and it is a bit dizzying. Today, we got most of the rough wiring done. We have the kitchen left and then we are done with that. Then it will be time to do the plumbing things. Once that is done, we have the inspector come out and do his thing and then it will be time to do the finish work. That's the fun part. 

Yesterday morning, Tim gathered up $9980 worth of bills. We wrote a nice cover letter: 

To Whom this May Concern:

These bills were incurred as a result of a demolition done on property owned by the XXXXXs on XXXXX St, This property was located next door to our property located at XXX XXXXX St.

We had no prior notice of the demolition, however during a meeting between the city, the xXxX  and their lawyer along with XXXXX and XXXXX (city manager and an employee names redacted for privacy) the following was discovered:

Part of the demolition was obtaining the proper permits from the city. This required capping the lines from the house to be torn down. XXXXX did this work, and stated that he ran a camera through the line and that it was a 'dry line'. He stated that he ran a camera through the lines on the other side of the house between our property and the property owned by XXXXXXXXXX. He found that line to be 'wet' and “assumed” (his word) that this was the drainage for our house. He stated that he capped two lines. 

When we were notified by our tenant that her drains were no longer working, we called Warren Webster. The company sent two workers out and they attempted to snake out the line. He could not get through. He also marked those lines to showing that our drainage ran on the opposite side of the house that xxxxxx “assumed'.

While we understand that mistakes can be made, this particular expense has cost us over $10,000. In the interest of getting our tenant back into her home as quickly as possible, we paid for this work out of pocket, and we expect the city to take responsibility for this error and reimburse us. 

(End of letter)

The city manager is an aggressive man who likes to get in people's faces to make his point. Tim is a quiet person. Before he left with his little packet, I said, "Tim, you have got to stand up to him. If he gets in your face, you need to tell him clearly, 'Back up. Get out of my face. You do not raise your voice to me."

He came downstairs to meet Tim and Tim handed him the papers. He said, "What? You expect me to pay for these bills?" 

Tim answered "Yes." He waited quietly while the man read the letter on the front and flipped through the bills. Tim said that at one point his head jutted forward aggressively. Tim took a deep breath and prepared to stand up to him. Instead, the man said, "We are not paying for all of this. We will be in touch." He turned around and walked out. 

Today, we got another bill for $1400. We will deliver that on Monday with an additional cover letter. 

I am not sure what will happen, but we have irons in the fire that I do not want to speak about until it happens. I spent a large part of this evening typing up a timeline of events and key players and scanning documents to forward to a person who may be able to help. Tomorrow morning, I will take a bunch of pictures with the good camera and forward those as well. 

We had to take a run up to our construction supply place, the big Mennonite operation in New York state. It was cold and rainy and one of those days for inside work. I don't know if you remember Mona. I've thought of her often, but since meeting her in September, we were so busy buttoning up the new build for winter, and preparing for Tim's surgery and subsequent two month work stoppage that I never got back up there. I rode up with Tim and said, "While you are placing your order, I'm running across the road to talk to Mona. I know that she'll be happy to hear how you fared." 

I scooted across the road in the cold rain and went up her driveway. When I rang her door bell, she popped her head out the door quizically. "I'm not sure you remember me..." and she said, "If you tell me your name..." and I did and she said immediately, "You bought my door!" I told her that I wanted to let her know that TIm had had his surgery in October and that they'd gotten all the of the cancer. She was genuinely glad to hear that. Just like before, she told me to come in. Her little grandson was there, and he was a delightful little monkey. She showed me her new kitchen floor, which I liked very much. We chatted like we knew each other a hundred years. 

It was too soon and Tim was there. I said, "I have to go, but I just wanted to tell you about Tim." 

She said, "Always stop in when you are this way!" 

I said, "I will. I think of you often. You made a mark on my heart that day." 

And then I was on my way to the car. What a lovely little moment, with a wonderful little woman! 

Another story about a wonderful woman. An acquaintance and her husband have been, both of them, sinking into dementia. They have lived on their own probably a bit longer than they actually should have been. She really shouldn't be driving, and I was glad to hear that her family had gotten her license taken away. 

Anyways, long story short, her husband was ill and taken to a big city hospital. One of her kids stopped in and she was gone too. She got herself a ride to the big city to the hospital. She has no idea who with but fortunately she got there and back but she was missing for 5 hours. Her kids were frantic. 

The decision has been made that they are no longer capable of living alone. They are such independent people, fiercely independent. They don't recognize their longtime friends and neighbors. Such a sad thing. I hope that my body does not outlive my brain. 

My daughter's birthday was in mid January. The Friday before her birthday, I sent out her birthday card. It never showed up. I sent Thelma a birthday card on the same day. Neither of them showed up. I was especially dismayed about my daughter's card because there was a gift card inside. I had reluctantly come to the conclusion that since both of them were missing, they were probably taken from my mailbox. Long story short, my daughter's card arrived back to me today. It was returned to sender and marked that the address was vacant. The contents were intact. The envelope undamaged. But here is the weirdest thing: The card was torn on the fold. Inside the undamaged envelope. With the gift card still inside! 

Probably the most amazing news of the day was this, though. My youngest granddaughter is a year and a half old. She woke up from her afternoon nap, indicated that she had to poop and led her mother to the toilet. Her mother was a little surprised. They haven't even begun potty training at this point, but she decided to simply go with it (no pun intended). She helped her sit on the potty AND SHE WENT! Her mother could not believe it, but after doing the post potty routine, they rushed into daddy's office down the hall to tell him this momentous news. 

We are all a bit dumbfounded.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024


 Ms. Moon gave me a giggle. She commented that Tim must like to shop. 


Tim likes to go into a store and look for what he's looking for, and when he finds what he's looking for, he's done. Well and truly,'time to go, here's your hat, I'm in a hurry'. 

So. We got to IKEA. First things first. We found restrooms, and then, it was well past lunch time, so we went to the cafe. And for all of you who suggested them, yes. We had Swedish meatballs. Just the fact that he got mashed potatoes and gravy made the man perfectly happy. I loved the lingonberry sauce. Tim did not. So, I got his lingonberries too. (I have spent 26 years getting all his tomatoes too.) 

Then we went looking. We didn't need furniture, of course, but we did look at their desk chairs. We want a cloth one that will withstand cracking and peeling and impatient cats. Tim was amazed at the pricing. We looked through the kitchen displays and Tim found just how our kitchen would be set up. He really fell in love with one of the exhaust fans there. We looked at their shelving and storage set ups and discussed the pantry set up. 

I even found a kitchen sink that I think Granny Sue will approve of.: 

We did not get this, because there was no need to. It was not on sale, but we knew what we wanted, and we knew where to find it. It's not a time for us to be dropping a lot of money anyway. We got the second bill from the plumber which was over $5300, on top of the $4300 excavation bill. So we are being a little frugal for the next couple months. 

We couldn't find the bathrooms, which turned out to be downstairs on the first floor by the warehouse. It was okay. I was picking up little things as I went. A string bag. A really heavy duty flat edged wooden spoon, a couple spatulas, a nice stalk of bamboo...I was having a perfectly nice time ambling along stopping to look here and there, picking things up and considering them. 

We got to the first floor and it took forever to find the bathroom sets ups. We wandered through the maze that is IKEA, asked a guy who gave us great directions, but it didn't help. And then we asked another guy who actually walked us to where we needed to go. 

A lady walking past stopped dead in her tracks and said, "Where did you get your bamboo?" 

I said, "Sadly, I can only tell you that they are somewhere on the first floor with the other live plants and that they are on an end display running alongside the aisle.  There are tons of them priced at $2.99." She laughed, and I knew she'd been lost in IKEA before too. 

We walked through the bathrooms, discussing the pros and cons. I wanted a big sink, something that would hold my water pick and our toothbrushes and the toothpaste. Just some space to set stuff. 
He pointed out a couple double sink set-ups but then I saw this, forty inches, ceramic. Tim liked the base of it, with the drawers instead of the cabinet like we have now, and wouldn't you know it? It was on sale! The sink, normally $399 was marked down to $280: $120 for the ceramic top. $160 for the base. Tim said, "You would never get that kind of heavy duty top at Lowe's or Home Depot for anything even approaching $120." He stood studying it. 

We got ours in white. 

They also had a matching cabinet, just over 3 feet tall, but shallow. It would slip into the wall at the side of the sink. We already have the mirror we are going to hang above the sink, but a medicine chest is a nice thing to have, especially when the plan is to make every inch of space count. And this was marked down to $57. Tim said, "I think we need to get these now." I thought that was a good idea too. They have a 10 year guarantee. 

We talked to the associate as prompted, and we made arrangements purchase and pick up our bathroom. Tim was ready to go. He wanted to goosestep me right out of there. We'd only been there a couple hours. It had taken us longer to drive there than we spent there, and that included lunch! I told him firmly that he was going to hold his horses. I spent another few minutes browsing around, having my little looky-loo. 

In the end, we spent $367, total, $357.22 including tax on the bathroom stuff, and a shocking $10 on fripperies that we surely did not need, but that I wanted. 

We drove home and Tim kept saying, "Yes. That was a good store, and we are going back when it is time to put the kitchen together. He really liked that he'd found a kitchen that was the rough footprint of what our kitchen would be. It was nice to see how it would all fit.

I was just happy that I could count on another trip there. 

We stopped into the new build to haul our boxes inside, and then stopped in to visit with my sister and brother-in-law. 

Dave said, "So what did you think of IKEA? Isn't that a cool store? I really like how they have everything set up and designed for small spaces..." and the men talked. Tim said, "We stayed for two hours!" as if that had been a great achievement. "Two HOURS?" Dave and Anna said. "Nooooo. You hardly had time to look around!" 

Next time we go, I'm going with them

But we still cannot believe that we have everything we need for our bathroom except for the exhaust fan, tub surround, and the bathtub/shower fixtures. So far we have spent less than $700.

Monday, February 19, 2024

IKEA and things that go bump in the night

 It is a clear sunny day today. 

Houdi continues to mend well, and he is still outraged by the fact that he is being kept inside. 

Tim's out and about running little errands to occupy himself. It is cold today and not a good day to work on the house. It should be warmer midweek. 

A local scandal here has been in my thinking. A politician has been accused of indecent assault. He has been married for over 40 years. He has a grown daughter and at least one grandchild. The accusations are just that: accusations. What I know, on a personal level is that he's always been provocative and familiar and given to making comments to women. At the time that I worked in a factory where he was a 'big shot', he was wildly flirtatious. What I know is that a lot of the women he flirted with flirted right back, and thought the banter was great fun. 

The factory is gone now, and he wound up elected to a presigious position within the community. He comes from a prominent local family and his name is known. 

Life rolled along, and at some point, things began to change. His behavior at that factory would be frowned upon today. Actionable in a court of law. The proof of that is plain to see. We read about it virtually every day. 

He is an educated man. I never really knew him well enough to judge how smart he was, but did he simply not notice that things are different? Or did enough women respond to his flirting and teasing that he felt safe, that he'd never be reported, that his attentions were flattering? Did he get old enough (and the women get young enough) that at some point he became a dirty old man? 

I don't know, but I cannot help but think about a man who has, as he prepares to move into retirement, found himself enmeshed in scandal, hurt the people who love him most, and dragged his name and reputation through the mud. 

It's just a thing that I can't seem to stop thinking about. 

Gz wrote a blog post about 'that Swedish store' last week, that she and Pirate had gone for a gander. I want to buy my kitchen sink from IKEA, a Boviggen apron front sink. 

We have our cabinets already. And we're pretty certain what we are doing for counter tops (hint: we're not using counter top) but I mentioned to Tim that the cool thing about Ikea is that they design things for small places and that they have rooms set up so that you can wander around and get ideas. The nearest IKEA is outside Pittsburgh, about 2 1/2 hours away.

Much to my surprise, he said, "We should go take a look someday," and in my mind, 'someday' meant a distant unfixed time in the future. Imagine my surprise that we are going tomorrow!

I'm looking very forward to the trip, even though I am very disappointed in them for never reaching out to Steve  for his heroics in the saga of the IKEA shopping cart. I emailed them, sending a short synopsis along with the blog link, and saying that it might be nice if they reached out to him. They didn't. 

William had a fine birthday. We stayed up late watching a streamed 'documentary' about paranormal activity that may or may not have scared the mess out of him. I pointed out some obviously fake ones, and he quickly explained to me how the effect could easily be recreated. All the same, he decided to sleep downstairs last night, obstensibly because it was warmer and he liked to watch the wood fire flickering in the dark. That and the fact that Houdi slept on his chest for most of the night. 

Still amazes me that he's 13. It also amazes me that he seems to have suddenly begun to shoot up in height. I am sure that more amazing things are in store. 

Both Steve and  Gz have partners having surgery tomorrow. Stop over to extend your good wishes, why don't you? 

Sunday, February 18, 2024


 Today is William's birthday, lucky number 13. He is officially a teenager and quite pleased with this. He got a smart phone, his first. He's carried a flip phone since forever. Evidently, that is the social kiss of death in middle school. They have to put their phones into a box when they enter a classroom and there is always giggles to see that lone flip phone in amongst all the smart phones. 

He was relating his relief to me when called me for the first time on his new toy. 

I observed that middle school is like that, that there are always kids that look for something different in their classmates and then single that difference out to make mockery of. "It's what they do, and kids like that will find something new to make fun of. You simply don't pay attention to their nonsense..."

He said, "Okay then. Let's change the subject."

Anyways, despite the fact that I rained all over his parade, he'll be over for dinner today. Boston Cream Pie. He will be spending the night since he doesn't have school tomorrow and both parental units are working. 

Houdi was pretty sick on Friday night. I couldn't believe it. Tim said, "I heard two cats out there fighting." I said, "When?" He couldn't remember. But there it was. The cat been bit squarely in the butt. (Remember the last time he was injured, it was also in a place one does not normally pet their cat). So it would appear that he's not the aggressor in these cat spats...more like 'full escape mode'. 

But we had to get through the weekend. We got some topical antiseptic and epsom salts, and there was much squalling and hissing and a regular old set to. He was not a happy cat. Amazingly, my oldest put out an APB on facebook, and someone had 6 pills that had been prescribed for their little dog last fall. He donated them to the cause. Based on weight, I've broken the contents of the capsule down into 3 doses. 

The turn around was miraculous, and the festering is gone completely. Much relief about that. He's pretty perturbed about the small rations. His dry food is set out only after he's had his two tablespoons of wet food with his antibiotic dose. He also is not allowed out, which makes him very ornery indeed. 

Interesting to note that as a feral, he's always been standoffish. When he got sick the first time, there was a big change. I slept one night on the couch, holding him on my lap. He's turned into a huge lovey. This time, he seemed to know right away that we were trying to help him and for all the caterwauling and hissing and struggling, he did not try to bite. Most importantly, he did not run and hide when we were finished. He sat in the hall watching me, and in pretty short order, he was sitting on my lap. 

We've got snow here. It looks very pretty. A good wood fire going in the wood burner. 

Quiet day. I need to get moving. I've got a couple cakes to make. 

Gees: I know what I've been meaning to tell you about. 

I found these pickles at the store, and oh, my, are they fine!

The next time that I went to Aldi's, they were gone, and I was disappointed about that. On a whim, I sliced a cucumber into spears and restuffed the jar and stuck it back in the refrigerator. I tried one yesterday. Mmmmmmmmm...I like a pickle that bites back. I bet by the end of the week, they will be perfect. For 75 cents, I got a new jar of pickles!


On top of everything else, the washer simply stopped spinning. It drained, but did not spin. 
I hated to tell the news to Tim. It was one more expense we did not need right now. (although the first bill from the excavator is in and it is less than $4300, which $1700 less than the quote, a nice surprise). Anyways, when I told Tim, he said, "oh, that's nothing. Remember it did that before?" I didn't, but he said, "We just unplugged it and gave it a while, and then plugged it back in." Sure enough...

We just need them to get us through until the move. 
We are buying a new washer and dryer for the new house. 

Friday, February 16, 2024



She also said: 

"so long as Zionist nationalism has existed, so have anti-Zionist Jews" and concludes that it is now the mission of such Jews to "Disentangle Zionism from Judaism".

Not so different from Christians and Christian Nationalists. 

For Steve: 

The lamp came with this shade, which was too small. It is a big lamp, six feet tall.  

My first thought was to get a bigger shade for it, but, the more I looked at it, the more unsure I was about that. 

I actually woke up in the dead of night with the idea in my head that it was not meant to have a shade.  

And that I'd seen lamps exactly like this in funeral homes, at both ends of a coffin. 

My mind really does continue to work things out while I sleep. 

This is what I bought. 

I don't know. 

I think that it needs a bigger 'bowl'. 

Tim likes it a lot, but noticed that we have a rather large cobweb directly above it. 

Stay tuned. 

It is a truly horrible picture and a good blogger would 

heist her hiney out there and get a better picture, but...

Now you know. 

(I mean, it's not like I'm Steve or Mary Moon.)

We worked at the house today. Mainly indoors, moving a 300 lb bathtub 3 times before we finally settled on the layout we want. We actually ended up putting the tub back where we had it to begin with. (Natch.)

We hauled a bunch of building supplies down to the basement so that we can begin the layout of the kitchen. 

We cut some insulation for on the outside of the house. 

Have I ever mentioned how I detest snakes? 

Houdi got bitten again, and once more, he is sick. (and on a Friday night~ argh!) My daughter put an APB out on the internet, and quite amazingly, she found someone with six antibiotic pills that they'd been given for their little dog. That will get him through the weekend. 

I am not going to say how happy I am about the Trump verdict. 

But I am. 

Finally: a song for: Northsider Dave  

God rest you merry gardeners
Let nothing you dismay
For Spring is soon to come again
With lengthening of days, 
The sun will warm the soil once more 
And send Jack Frost away
Oh tidings of composting and joy,
Compost and Joy
Oh tidings of composting and joy. 

One last giggle. 

Celebrating Valentine's Day

We delayed our Valentine's Day 'celebration' until the 15th. They were finishing up the concrete work at our little house down the street, and Tim is always very interested in concrete work. He wanted to watch them at work, see what they did, pick up some new techniques. 

We also know that this fix is going to be extremely expensive. I cashed out a small 401K and that money is in the bank, but we don't know if it will be enough, so it makes sense to be frugal right now. Between Tim's medical bills and the new build, which we are (so far) funding as we go, to avoid incurring debt. We are both about to turn 67 and we believe in living debt free. 

We mutually decided to skip any February 14th nonsense. He used to buy roses, but really, it is something that always made me feel bad. They are expensive and die so quickly. Chocolates? I sure don't want them. I've lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. I've been very disciplined about this, and I'm pretty proud of that. I still bake cookies for Tim every week, but I don't eat them. He has some Reese's cups in the freezer. I think he has forgotten he has them. I see them every time that I open the freezer door, but for whatever reason, I'm perfectly able to shut the freezer door without grabbing one. So no. Don't bring me any chocolates, thanks. I was really clear on that. 

We were headed to Erie for a therapy appointment for Tim on the 15th and so we decided that we'd just stop at two thrift stores on the way home. A friend was trying to get rid of a lamp she'd bought, a 6 ft tall floor lamp. She loved it when she saw it at an auction. When she brought it home, it just looked out of place in her perfectly decorated house. 

I said we'd take it. We have a floor lamp in the corner of the our livingroom, behind the glass topped steamer trunk that serves as an end table between the two couches. It does not give off enough light but the chandelier in the center of the room is very bright. I'm a lot like Goldilocks. 'This light was toooooo dim....this light was tooooooo bright...this light is juuuust right....'

And picky-pants me justified it with 'oh look...we were able to give the old floor lamp away to someone who was happy to get it. '

And while it was right, light-wise, she had a shade on it that is too small for the massive size of it. I'm not even sure it should have a lamp shade. I think it is a torchiere. To be honest, I woke up in the dead of night, with the conviction that I'd seen that sort of light before. In a funeral home, usually in sets of two, one at each end of the coffin. 

Anyways, so for Valentine's Day, we needed to figure out what we were going to do with that light, and as per usual, we hit up the thrift stores first. We did not find what we needed. We stopped at Tim's favorite diner on the way home. 

And that was our celebration. It suited us just fine, even if we did not find what we were looking for, 

I did have to go out on Valentine's Day.  It made me smile to see huge roughneck bearded burly men with their giant stuffed teddy bears and gorillas and their boxes of chocolates. They were everywhere, crossing the parking lot, holding their balloons and stuffed animals and flowers, getting into well used vehicles. That is sweet, isn't it?

We are off to work on the new build today. It is cold, but thank goodness the wind has died down. Last night it was so strong it sounded like heavy traffic on the street. We will be working on the inside. We have plenty of work to keep us busy until the end of the month without buying more supplies. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Touched by the Divine

I once again want to thank everyone for their comments on my post. 

I don't know what the answer is, really. The news is so sickening that I can't bring myself to watch it. I really grieve for the children caught up in horrible situations that they have absolutely no control over. I feel as if I want to do something, but there's nothing really to do. Just add my voice, but if feels like nothing.

In reading over the comments, a lot of things jumped out at me, and when I went to bed, I lay in the dark and pondered these things in my heart. 

I believe that all of us carry a spark of divinity with in us. We may call it different things...God (in all his names) that spark is there, and people can fan that spark into a great blaze, becoming a gift to the world. Other people ignore the flame, and let it go out. That's not good, and in a way, that is what has happened to me. I stopped looking for the divine in other people. As a result, I was at low ebb. 

It came as a bit of a surprise, and I wondered if perhaps I was being too simplistic, but I made up my mind to look for the divine today.

And so I got up  this morning and I started my search.

Today, a woman came to the house. I had separated a large aloe vera and I have a very large plant left over. I didn't want it, having two potted aloe veras already, so I put out a post on the helping hands site letting the community know that I had a large aloe vera looking for a home. If no one wanted him, I'd throw him in the trash. Immediately, I got a response. A young woman wanted him. I said, "Well that's great because I always feel guilty throwing away healthy plants." She said, "If you ever have plants you don't know what to do with, I'll be glad to have them." 

She came to pick them up and she was such a sweet person. Young. Starting out. She was thrilled with the size of the aloe vera. I gave her three large baby spider plants, a clipping of pothos, and some tradescantia zebrina. She told me her favorite plant at home, I showed her my favorite plant, a huge schefflera I have had for nearly as long as Tim and I have been married. I showed her my great grandmother's Christmas cactus and showed her how to root that. 

It was a short visit, but she was so happy. She offered to bring me a clipping from her striped spider plant tomorrow morning.  (Mine is green.) She walked out the door holding her plants and I felt like that little visit had a touch of the divine.

I had a hair cut today. Last week, I missed my appointment. For whatever reason, I got up thinking the appointment was at 11. I made my coffee and drank it in a leisurely way. When I checked my phone, I was horrified to find the appointment was at 9:30. It was not yet 10 and I was wondering if she still had time to take me. She had just stepped out and wasn't due back until 10:30. I felt like an idiot, but we made another appointment. I apologized when I went in today, but she dismissed it. She was completely unbothered, even thought it was funny. She had tried to call, but had our disconnected land line number. That was a nice visit too, a sharing. A mutual encouraging. I sensed a bit of the divine in that as well.

Levi called, and he needed a ride downtown and then to his brother's house. That's always a nice visit too. He has a fainting goat. I couldn't believe it. I mean the Amish are such practical people. Fainting goats just don't seem to have much of a purpose. "Well...the kids really wanted him, and a neighbor guy was selling her...." 

The man really does love his kids. He's always got a child on his lap or leaning on his arm to talk into his face, and he gives them his full attention. When the girls wanted a playhouse, he built one. He built the swings and the sandbox too. He bought a special jersey cow to make sure the youngest ones have the best milk. It didn't surprise me to hear that his children wanted a fainting goat and so he got one for them. 

But, it turns out that he also had a purpose for that goat. He has it in the pasture with his other goats. He is thinking that if a coyote gets in the pasture, the fainting goat will fall down all stiff legged and distract the coyote. .The other goats will have a chance to get their kids gathered together in the barn, where the horses will make short work of any coyote that dares to come inside.  Oh my gosh. It was so unexpected that I just burst out laughing. He's always thinking. 

Not sure how divine that conversation was, but there was plenty of laughter in the car. 

The sewer problem? That's fixed. They started yesterday, and finished today. They did a good job and took pains to sweep the sidewalks when they were done. We were able to call our tenant and tell her that everything was done and she could move back home. She wasn't expecting that, and was thrilled to  pieces. "I can run the washer? I can use the kitchen sink? I can flush the toilet?" (Yes, yes, and YES.) And let me tell you, the relief of having that behind us is divine, too. 

A friend had a floor lamp she wanted gone. We went over to get it, and had a nice visit with her. It's been so long since I've seen her. Ironically, we both found ourselves stepping back from church at the same time with some of the same questions. She feels like a kindred soul because of it. That visit was touched by the divine as well. 

The 'new' floor lamp meant we now had a extra floor lamp which we were able to give away. 

In my own little corner of the world, I saw today one life impacting another again and again and again. Seek and ye shall find, and I felt my own little spark blazing just a bit brighter. I cannot change the world, and I still grieve that I can't, but I need to be a positive force right where I am.

Public Service Announcement

Tim got a call on his cell phone the other night. He. answered it. Almost immediately, he said, "Okay," and then he hung up the phone. I looked over at him. "Who was that?" 

He said, "I don't know. She said, "I'll call you right back." 

I said, "Why do you answer those phone calls? You're not supposed to. Let them go to voicemail. If it is someone important, they'll leave a message." 

He got cranky with me. "You didn't tell me that." 

I have. Multiple times, but when his phone rings, he answers it. Always.

He checked the number. It was from Jamaica. 

"Tiiiiimmmmm...." I said, And I googled  'why would I get a call from Jamaica telling me that they would call back' and up popped the answer. There is a business there that just randomly dial numbers one right after another. If the phone is answered, they say "I'll call you back," and hang up. Their job is done. They note the number as a live number and put it out into the world wide scammers. The website stated that this was only the first call in a flood of scam calls. 

Sure enough, there were three phone calls, one right after another. Tim did not answer them. I blocked the number on his phone. 

This morning, another came in. I typed the number into Google. These calls are coming from India. They claim to be your electric company, They spoof their identity so that you cannot tell that they are not, but a good clue is that the number will come up with no ID information. They tell you that they have a warrant for your arrest unless you settle the bill right now, with your credit card. They also threaten to cut your power. This scam goes out all across the company, and they have done their homework. They know the electric provider in each area that they call. 

I blocked that number too. Once again, I reminded Tim, "DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE IF YOU DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE NUMBER! Let it go to voicemail!"

Now I am warning you too. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Am I The Only One?

 One of the very best things about blogging is that I cannot tell you the times that I've read something somewhere else, and thought, "Oh gees. I thought I was the only one..." It makes me feel part of the human race to know that we all have our little oddities and are perfectly nice people despite our quirks. Blogs make me feel much more 'normal', whatever that is!

So here's one that I'm going to throw out there. 

Some people pray to God to 'fix' things. I used to, however taking an Education for Ministry course has stripped away my belief in the Bible as the literal word of God. A classmate's assertion that "God wants a pure race' set me on a road of unbelief. 

As the years go by, I am witnessing a shocking sort of Christianity emerging in my country. It is elitist, it demands power, it demands the right to choose everyone else's life. It's dismissive of a large swath of misery happening in this world, even in this country, right this very minute. Right before our very eyes. Over and over, we see the biggest faces on this movement falling into scandal. Their laws do not apply to them, just everyone else. 

But as Ecclesiastes tells us, 'there is nothing new under the sun.' We've seen these people before. These Christians bear a keen resemblance to the Pharisee of old. For all their noise, Jesus had quite a bit to say about them. But. Here we are. The Bible thumpers evidently are not reading the book they demand everyone else be reading. 

So. I don't believe any more. I don't feel as if I've lost anything. I don't feel that I've gained anything. It's hard to explain, and there is no one more shocked than me that this has happened, but here I am. 

I still believe in Good, though. Is God and Good the same thing? I kind of feel like it may be. Then I turn around and feel that maybe it's not. But anyways, I still feel that my responsibility as a human being is to do good, as much as I can, whereever I am, whenever I get a chance. 

I guess that I kind of like the idea of the 'butterfly effect', the idea that this world is more interconnected than we can possibly understand, which means that a small kindness can affect another, which affects another, and another and ad infinitum.  Maybe it's silly. Maybe it is just me, wanting to believe that I can do something, anything, to make a difference. 

Sure beats feeling helpless.

Of all the things that I have learned in 66 years, I can't fix things. I can try to make things easier, but sometime back I realized that trying to fix the unfixable was like beating my head against a brick wall. I also can't pray to a God that I no longer believe in to fix it. Understanding that I can't fix things does not mean that I don't want to, though. 

So. I struggle.

What to do, what to do?

At the end of the year, in despair, I just kind of threw it all out into the universe, my 'barbaric yawp', and I wait for what comes next. Will my echo of myself return to me? Will it go out into the world, perhaps to make a difference? I listen, but have not heard anything yet. 

I feel quite ridiculous trying to explain the inexplicable. 

But I still have to ask: am I the only one? 

LATE EDIT: Thank you for your comments. I know that I am not alone in feeling alienated from organized religion. I know that I am not alone in my absense of faith. I guess my question more about my sense of helplessness in the face of all the awful events of the world. I used to be a person who prayed and left it all in the hands of someone greater than myself. In the absense of that, I watch the world burning down down all around me, and I just feel lost. What does one do? All I can come up with is be as kind as I can, wherever I can, whenever I can and hope, hope, HOPE that somehow there is a connection that I don't understand. 

Redneck Geologist, I really, really think you understood where I was going with this better than anyone. I can't reply to your comment probably for the same reason that you can't comment under your own name. Am I less happy that I used to be? I think probably you're right. The world is so ugly and heartbreaking right now, and on a scale that I have never witnessed before. It really breaks my heart. Now it used to be that I could simply sit down and pray my heart out and then walk away feeling I had done something to address the ills of the world. But it seems like I haven't been able to figure out just what I should be doing. This awful sense of futility. 

I am interested when you say that you still believe in God. That you still have faith. I would love to sit down with you and have a good long talk about this. I'd like to feel as if the world is in the hands of someone greater than me. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Not a Fan

 Today is the big Superbowl game. 

I am not a big football fan. 

Usually, we take turns hosting another couple but we disconnected from our television server and we no longer get the game. We generally go to their house, share a meal that we alternate cooking and the guys watch the game. Sometimes, his wife and I might watch a bit of it too, but last year, we just visited. 

This has been just such a high stress time, keeping Tim contained after his surgery, dealing with a grumpy man who may or may not have wanted to listen to good sense. That is isolating and lonely. Christmas. The drains. Nothing huge, but just a succession of things that made it impossible to feel as if I'm 'on top of it all'. 

Does that make sense?

Anyways, the husband is a talker. He's not a bad person, but he is opinionated and he likes to hold forth on his opinions. Loudly. Clearly. "I'm going to tell you something..." 

He is not a bad man. Really, he's not. 

But he's an expert on everything, even when he is not. I wanted to wring his neck last fall when he explained to Tim that his surgery was 'nothing', and he'd had it. He hadn't. He'd had a TURP, something that is a completely different procedure for a completely different condition. He was the one who called me to get information on Tim, speaking in a comforting soothing voice, asking for predictions on a future that was not, at the time any way all that clear. His questions were intrusive but wrapped in a veil of concern. I told him then that he was not being helpful which seemed to come as a surprise to him. 

Now, we are in the middle of this drain issue, and his response was an airy, 'Well, look at it this way: your drains will be all new." 


While we are happy about that, we're a bit unhappy about the fact that this is going to cost thousands of dollars and (to borrow a phrase) "I'm going to tell you something:" the drains were perfectly fine before all this and we have a long held philosophy in this house: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Tim was a bit aggravated by the comment and just quietly excused himself and came home, but when he told me about it, he was irritated, because his friend is a man who is given to great gnashing of teeth when he has a problem. 

After thinking about it, I asked Tim if he still intended to go to their house to watch the game. He decided that he would.

I bowed out. 

I try very hard to be patient, but I have a harder time being patient when I'm emotionally depleted. And I am. I'm at low ebb, and have been struggling since last fall. I just felt like I did not want to be around this man. 

He is not a bad man, I want to make that clear. 

In any case, I decided not to go. I just don't want to go. I will stay home and watch some benign comedy on television. Or maybe quietly read with a cat on my lap. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The End

My  mom was morbidly obese, and at the end of her life, her weight really incapacitated her. Her knees were shot, but her health problems and weight precluded surgery. She wound up pretty much housebound, and the weight came on even faster. 

It was hard to watch, and she never forgave me for telling her that I couldn't join her at the Chinese All You Can Eat Buffet. I really paid close attention to my wording. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, and I wasn't trying to be mean. I just felt that she was lonely after the death of my father, and that she was 'eating her grief', so to speak. 

Yet here I am. 66 years old, due to turn 67 in a few short months. My mother was less than 7 years older than me when she died. 7 years! A sobering thing, Especially in light of the fact that as I've gotten older, the pounds have begun to creep up on me AND I have a bad knee. 

My bad knee is the result of a yoga stretch maybe 10 years back. I felt the tiniest of a tiny 'pop', and when I rolled up my mat to leave, my knee felt strangely wobbly. There was no pain. Not then anyway. That came later, and lo, it has remained with me all these years. 

I've been trying hard to delay doing anything until we get Tim's medical bills from his 'terrible horrible no-good very bad year' paid off. He is still having therapy, so there are still bills, but yesterday, for the first time, working at the new build, I had to acknowledge to myself that my knee might not wait. 

I've been thinking a lot about 7 years. I don't consider myself superstitious, but I can't think of my mother without a little shiver. 7 years is not a lot and as I get older, the years seem to be flying by even more quickly. 

I made up my mind that my mother's ending is not my ending. I made a resolution at the beginning of the year, and I have stuck to it. I've lost 8 pounds so far, and that is gratifying. 

I remember when my children were small. They loved 'choose your own ending books', the books that stopped, allowing the reader to make a decision on what to do next. The decision would prompt them to a new page, and they would continue on from there. They read those books over and over, making different decisions every time. 

I plod determinedly on, making different decisions, hopeful that it is not too late for me to choose my own ending. 

Friday, February 9, 2024


 I am concerned for Joanne Noragon. She has not commented since January 28th, the date of her last blog post. Anyone hear from her?

It was a warm day. We took advantage of it to put up more soffit. We are due a cold snap next week. We will just go ahead and continue our work inside.

(After the drains are sorted, of course.)

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Things Begin to Fall Into Place

 Well, things look much brighter today.

The worst part is not knowing. The last time we had a problem, the plumber told us how we were going to proceed. One of the things that he said he would take care of had not been taken care of several days after speaking with us. We went ahead and did it ourselves, and it wasn't a problem to do it. It was just aggravating that we thought it was taken care of, and it hadn't been. And...he's just not very good about keeping us updated.

Our issue is no small problem and it cannot be put off indefinitely. We've got a tenant in the house. 

He contacted an excavator. Part of the job involves ripping up the street, and the plumber did not have the equipment for this. He told us the excavation alone would be $6000. But when we did not hear anything back for two days, we had questions. Did we need to sign paperwork for the excavator? Did we need to make a down payment? 

Remembering earlier 'unticked boxes' we called him to make sure. 

He did not call back yesterday. We waited this morning hoping for a call back that did not come.Tim said, irritatedly, "If we do not hear anything by 9:30, we're just heading out to work on the soffit at the new house."

"No," I said firmly. "We have to speak with that excavator. We need to make sure this is a done deal. I can't take another night like last night." 

He said, "I'm not calling. I am going to go talk to them in person," and out the door he went.

What great people. They were on top of everything. They had the permits done, the secretary gave us the name of the man that was doing the work, they were waiting for one more utility provider to contact them (to verify that they were not going to hit any underground utilities). She didn't know a start date, but he was coordinating things with the plumber. By the time that Tim got home, he was receiving a call. Work starts Monday morning.

Tim talked to Deb. He explained that she could take her dog to the hotel. He explained that she could come and go from the house as she pleased, but that she just couldn't live there or put water down the drains or flush the toilet. We explained that the City guy would be calling back Monday to verify she was living someplace else, so what ever decision she made had to be made before then. She has a brother, two daughters, a sister-in-law, and a friend all who live very nearby, so we were not sure if she would rather just bunk in with them for a week. 

In the end, she picked the hotel, so we stopped in on our way out of town. They listened to the situation, and then set everything up. She has a reservation, and all she has to do is show up. They will not begin charging us until she signs in. They are giving her a room at the end of a hall so that her dog is not unduly upset by unfamiliar noises in the hall. They even gave us a special discounted rate due to the special circumstances.

We both feel so much better than we did last night. We know what is going on. We are able to get details settled. A bad situation is a lot easier to take when you feel like you are making progress in getting past that bad situation. 

With that, we went to the new house and worked comfortably together on a gray day.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024


There is so much going on in addition to the sewage line. We are trying to organize that. It supposedly has been handed off to a company who has agreed to do the excavation for $6000. According to the city guy, the permits were being applied for. The city is also demanding the tenant has to move out, which she has flatly refused to do. We've offered her a hotel room. We've offered to allow her to come stay at our house. She and her little dog Shirley could be upstairs, and have their own bath. We are two blocks from her house, so she could run in and out between the two places, tending to her cats and her plants and whatever. She wants to stay right where she is at.

We have no time line and no firm commitments. 

I've received a response to an angle that I've been pursuing on my own, which is encouraging. 

In the meantime, a furnace went out in another unit. Tim hauled a ventless heater down to her, unhooked her dryer and set her up with heat for the night. That's fixed and back on line, and we can thank our lucky stars that it did not happen during the expected cold snap. Tim went back down and unhooked the heater, and hooked her dryer back up. 

Tim went down to work on his tractor. It won't start. Dead battery. Or maybe it was a starter. Who knew. But he got it started and buried some lines he's been worried about. 

On the way home, the rear brake caliper froze up on my car. He had that all ripped apart, the new part bought and put on in fairly short order. He got it before the rotor was damaged, thank goodness, because his car has been having transmission problems, and is parked right now while he decides whether it's worth fixing. 

My vote is no. 

 He doesn't disagree, but he wants to replace it. 

Again, my vote is no.

He has two pick up trucks (not to mention his dump truck). He counters that they use too much gas. I say he drives one of his trucks for short distances and if he has to go further, he drives my car. I'm putting my foot down on this one, because quite honestly, what is the point of having trucks and paying insurance if you are not going to drive them? 

Yesterday, I cashed out one of my 401k accounts to pay for all of this. We're hemorrhaging money at the moment and in the middle of a new build. We have lived debt free for over a decade, At our age, it's important to keep it that way, in my opinion, and while he agrees with this philosophy in principle, he has some strange ideas about cars. And trucks. And tractors. 

And I feel guilty about telling him he can't. I mean, let's face it, he's been working hard, and he's come through a hard time, and...and...

It's a bit overwhelming, and when it is overwhelming, I tend to be cranky. I'm trying to keep it to myself, and not doing a very good job of it at all. 


Make me laugh. 




Monday, February 5, 2024

This Too Shall Pass

 Well, the meeting with the city was very disappointing. Everyone was there. 

The neighbors will not allow us to dig up the pipe, so a new line will have to be run. It will cost us in the neighborhood of $10,000. 

The neighbors were aggressive and hostile, and had a lawyer, a smooth talking guy, who said, "You have my sympathy..." 

'No. No I don't believe we do...' Of course, I did not say that outloud, but as the song goes, he 'reeked of insincerity'. 

One of two things has happened here. The line from the demolished house was capped by the city. The man who did it claims that nothng  was 'y'ed' off of it. Something seems to have been. Or the pipe could have been damaged by heavy equipment. We will never know because we cannot dig it up.

The plumber got so angry, he got in his truck and left. 

We met up with him later. 

He said, "They are just awful, awful people. That city guy made me so mad, I knew that I was going to lose my temper. So I left. I'm sorry." 

We could not disagree with his assessment, and since I had to walk away, I couldn't fault him for leaving either. 

We mapped out the path forward. 

Yeah. We could waste an awful lot of time trying to fight this legally, but in the end, I think the best thing to do is to fix it as quickly as we can for the tenant's sake. 

As far as the neighbors? I don't even know what you do with people like that, but what I do know is that we are going to take the high road on this one. We are not going to throw good money after bad, trying to prove a case that we are not able to prove. I'm also thinking that the city screwed up too, but they are going to be concerned about covering their asses on this one.  

You know the funniest thing? I have never talked to the neighbor lady before. Not one word. She snapped, "Sure, you can go ahead and dig....after you pay us half the demolition costs." 

Stupified, I said, "Why would we owe you half of that?" 

She believes that we reported them to the city for a derelict property. I said, "Becky, we absolutely did NOT report you to anyone. If that's what you're upset about,.."

The city official waved his hand impatiently. "That's not why we're here..." 

I bit back the "Listen, asshole, I didn't bring the topic up," and went inside to speak with our tenant. And to cool down. Those two things. 

I said to the tenant "I don't understand it. I've never saiid a word to the woman before today." The tenant knows that feeling. She told me that the neighbor glares at her in a shockingly hateful way every time she sees her. They've never spoken either. 

I said, "Well, all I can say is that if she shows up with a plate of cookies, telling you that she's heard you've been sick...DON'T EAT THE COOKIES! That's how people wind up on Dateline."

Good to find the humor in the situation. 

This too shall pass. 

Someone repeat it back to me please! I need to hear it from someone else. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Legalities and Asshats.

Thank you all for commenting on the last post. It was a thought provoking discussion and it was interesting to get so many opinions from so many different vantage points. I like to toss ideas around while I'm working, and this was my 'think' of the weekend. 

We got the last of the foil covered styrofoam over the zip board. It is an amazing product. We were taping the seams, and when we got to the sunny side of the house, the sun was actually radiating back on us. It was noticeably warmer and we were shedding our coats. It is supposed to be warm through the week, so we plan to make use of that. We will install the soffit and fascia unless we need to be involved down the street at the rental with the damaged drain line. 

Tim went in to talk to the city on Friday about those damaged waste water lines. The official got angry at him immediately, began to read him the riot act and said that he did not understand why he had to be so combative and unreasonable. Really put him on blast. 

Tim was a bit taken aback. 

A mistake had been made. Our neighbor has called three times threatening legal action against the city. Words have been exchanged. They claim to have a lawyer who said 'x' and 'y' and the city official said he wanted the documentation because it did not sound right to him. The subject was changed. The official asked for the name of the lawyer. His request was refused. 

The city official thought that Tim was the neighbor and apologized profusely when he realized his mistake. 

Tim then talked to the plumber. They've received several calls threatening legal action as well. 

The only ones that they haven't threatened with a lawsuit is us, not yet anyway, but we all have a meeting tomorrow afternoon. The city, the plumber/excavator, us and them. I cannot believe this is turning into such a debacle. If we had inadvertantly caused damage to our neighbor, we'd feel duty bound to do whatever we had to do to make things right, and we'd want to do it as quickly as possible. I guess that this does not hold true for everyone. 

We did a little online reasearch and noted that they have a long history of suing and being sued. Reassuringly, they have lost virtually all of those cases.

Meanwhile, our poor tenant gamely assures us that she's fine and doesn't need a hotel room.

We have never had to sue before, but it looks like there is no way around this. Tim is really upset. He's right: it IS ridiculous, and it is unfair, but I reminded him that we've dealt with 'ridiculous' and 'unfair' before. We'll just deal with it once more.

This too shall pass. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Too Late?

Do you think it is ever too late to save a kid? 

There is a boy, the same age as my grandson William. In fact that is how I first heard of the kid. He was in William's class. They were friends, but it soon became evident that William was a bit too easily manipulated into doing the wrong thing by this kid, and we really had to bring the hammer down on him. William was probably second or third grade. He and his mother were living with us at the time. 

There were long drawn out conversations on right and wrong and the fact that William surely knew the difference between right and wrong. He soon realized that if he behaved badly, he would be the one getting punished. It didn't matter if someone else had told him to do it. He was the one who made the decision to do it, and his decision was going to land him in hot water every. single. time. 

William started minding his p's and q's, and a natural consequence of this behavior was that he and his friend (let's call him Fred) began to not be such good friends. 

Ironically, at the same time, I met 'Fred's' stepfather and he was a good, good person. Young, but hard working, extremely religious, and determined to set this boy on a good path. We ate lunch together and he discussed things with me. It was hard because both his wife and her ex-husband (Fred's father) had been serious drug users. In fact, the father OD'ed and died. The mother straightened her act up, and had quit the drugs. A couple years later, she met my friend and eventually they married.

But this boy. Fred was getting into so much trouble. He was in trouble at school constantly, and some of it was for pretty bad stuff. They couldn't find a baby sitter for him because he was just a really mean and disrespectful kid. 

I talked to Tim, who was laid off at the time and working on a house (naturally). He was also taking care of William. He's a good man, and a patient one too. Perhaps, we thought, Fred could come and spend the day with William. Under Tim's patient and steady hand, maybe... So Tim offered to let Fred come and spend the day with them. 

Except from day one, Fred didn't listen. He did what he wanted. He was rude to Tim. He was mean to William. The third day in, Tim overheard Fred telling William to call Tim a 'fucker'. Tim was amused to hear William say, in a shocked voice, "I can't do that! I'd be grounded for my whole life." Therre were whispered, "Do it! Do it! DO IT!" and William said,  "I don't want to be mean to my grandpa."

That very evening, Tim talked to the parents and said he wasn't willing to watch him anymore. He explained why. His stepfather was discouraged. He was trying so hard to make a difference. He was proud of his wife, but he felt like part of the problem was maybe his wife felt guilt about the fact that she'd been a very poor mother for the first years of her son's life. Fred was 9, maybe, at the time.

Things got so bad at school that they moved Fred to a different school, thinking a fresh start might help. My niece works at that school and the problems there began almost immediately. Elementary school ended, and then there was middle school and from time to time, we heard things that indicated that things had not changed. 

I saw the stepfather in a store a couple years ago. They were having a birthday party for him. I can't remember the reason, but it conflicted with something else going on in William's life and he would not be able to attend. The stepfather said awkwardly that they had invited a number of kids but they were not sure anyone was coming. 

I kind of lost track of them, but Tim saw the wife today. He stopped and talked. Fred, now 13 is on probation. She did not say why. Things got so bad at school he was at that they have enrolled him in another school. 

I've been thinking about this all night. The same age as our William and on probation

And I guess that's why it is on my mind tonight. Is it ever too late to save a kid? 

I think of his mother who has turned her life around. I think of his stepfather, working hard to provide for his family, trying so hard to make a difference in this kid's life. 

And I am haunted by the idea that a 13 year old boy might be unsaveable. 


 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...