Monday, December 29, 2014

For The Record: The Twenty Fourteen Winter Holidays Part I TSAT

For the Record:
The Twenty Fourteen Winter Holidays
Part I
The Saturday After Thanksgiving (or TSAT)

Note: Since I am writing this near the end of the last month of the year and my memory is shot, this is really probably only a scant impression, based mostly on how I remember feeling.

Generally speaking preparing for the Winter Holidays can be broken down into two categories.  Presents and Food.   Well, okay, I admit, that may be the Kardashian view but, come on now, you have to agree that Food and Presents do have a prominent place in the celebration.

Ross and I spent what has become our Traditional Thanksgiving Day cooking for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Well, that’s because the Saturday after Thanksgiving is when we celebrate our Thanksgiving.  And well, that’s because we are at the stage of our life when the “kids” have to split their time between many families.  Families who don’t live in the same neighborhood anymore like they used to in the “good” ole days.

So anyhow, (that’s how Ross always gets back to the point of a long story and invariably gets sidetracked), so anyhow, on Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day 2014, I was making meatballs and gravy for the traditional “The Saturday after Thanksgiving” (TSAT) lasagna.
It took us all day.  You can’t rush meatballs, gravy and three large pans of lasagna.
At the end of the day I remember feeling tired.

I honestly don’t remember many details of the TSAT day, November 29.  I remember that we tried to be ultra organized. We planned on dinner for 2:00.   I remember that Jen, Derek, Bella, Ryan, Jackson, Anne and Domani were here on time.
Anne had run the Philadelphia marathon six days before.  I remember her kind of limping when she came in.  She told me that she had been to the doctor to have a blister or something taken care of.  I remember thinking she looked tired.

Even after all of the planning, though, the lasagna wasn’t ready on time.

We didn’t all sit down together at the dinner table.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that yet. Chaotic is what my impression memory is.  Ross getting the gravy, meatballs, parmesan cheese, and drinks on the table while I stood at the counter dishing out the lasagna, plate by plate. The kids pushing the pasta around on their plates, not really interested.  Bella asking for more meatballs as she tried to scrape as much of the sauce off of the noodles as she possibly could.  Jen and Derek taking turns chasing Jackson so one or the other could sit down and eat.

I recall that Jimmy had to work that day so I knew he and Tara wouldn’t be here until after 3:00.  I remember that we were all probably finished eating by the time they came.  We were perhaps in the middle of getting coffee and desert on the table.  I can picture both of them coming into the dining room, Tara was holding an Edible Arrangement (basket of fruit).  I asked if they were hungry.  They said yes.
I guess I must of jumped up from my seat, and I must have seemed frantic to get them food, because I remember Jimmy telling me to “Take it easy, Mom.”  As I watched Jimmy struggling to finish his lasagna, (I guess he wasn’t that hungry after all), we both had the same thought at the same time. We remembered how Joe loved my lasagna and how he would go back for seconds and sometimes even thirds.  And I remember saying quietly to myself, “Oh, my Joe.”

I have noisy after dinner memories of the kids boisterously playing in the spare room, AKA the Toy Room.

And I have a vivid image of 15 month old Jackson toddling round and round, from the kitchen to the living room, down the hallway, back up the hallway, through the living room again and then back into the kitchen.  He was followed closely behind by Jen, his arms outstretched in order to keep his balance while his body, bobbing from side to side, tried to keep up with his quick moving tiny feet.

Today, as I write about that day, and as I reflect upon it, I realize that my grief was softened on that TSAT day by a favorite memory.  That is the image of us all together, peacefully sitting in front of the fire place, with the full enthusiastic sounds of new lives in the back ground, as we made plans for the traditional “Sunday After Christmas” day or SAC celebration.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Has This Ever Happened To You? Important Message!

The caller ID displayed a cell phone number that I thought looked familiar.  So I answered the call.  The deep male voice asked to speak to Lynda G.  I acknowledged that yes, that was me.  I verified that the address he stated was indeed mine.
He then identified himself.  He was calling from the county sheriff’s office, he said.
Hundreds of thoughts went immediately into overdrive, racing around the tracks of my brain’s speedway.
 “ACCIDENT!”  “Someone had an ACCIDENT!”
Wait, what was he saying?
As my mind came screeching to a halt, I tried to focus on his words.
“Mrs. G, you were sent a summons to serve on a Grand Jury.”
“Since you did not appear, I am now informing you that I have a warrant here for your arrest.”
I immediately had a vision of myself being led out of my home in hand cuffs.
This can’t be happening.  Me?  Not to me.   No way.   I don’t even drive over the speed limit.
My emotions were all over the place.  I was frightened.
“I never received a notice,” I protested.
“Look,” he said.   “You are in trouble, here.”
“Lawyer, I want to speak to my lawyer.”
Well I didn’t actually say that. But, that was one of the first things I thought.   Hey, I watch Law and Order.  I know my rights.
This person, had managed to disarm me.  I felt vulnerable.
Ross happened to be in the room while I was on the phone.  When he saw the look on my face and noticed how pale I had become, he took the phone from me and started to question the guy.
The caller told Ross that if I did not comply with his instructions,  a police officer would come to our house and arrest me.
He told us that we needed to obtain a voucher which we would have to bring to the County sheriff’s office.  The voucher would cost $498.
Ross asked, “What if we just go down to the sheriff’s office?”
“She will be arrested on the spot,” he said.
The only way we could get this voucher was to meet him at a local retail store.
Of course by now we were beyond suspicious.
I got on my cell phone and called our local police department.
The detective I talked to asked me what phone number the guy was calling from.  She looked up the number and said it was a ghost number.
By that time, either Ross had asked one too many questions or the guy heard me say that I was going to call our local police department, because suddenly the line went dead.
When Ross called the number back, another person answered by saying “County sheriff’s office”.  As soon as Ross told this other person that he was contacting the police, the real police, that guy hung up the phone.
After that when we called the number there was no answer.
While  I am pretty certain that I would not have gone through with meeting this guy or giving him a credit card or money,  I have to admit he had me pretty rattled.
I am also pretty certain that these con men prey on older folks, probably particularly women because they know that they can easily be intimidated.
By the way, because I was so shaken up by this guy, I completely did not think about the obvious.
First,  the county that I was supposed to have had jury duty in was NOT the county in which I live.
Second, and this one was pointed out to me by the real detective that I spoke to, “Lynda,” he said,  “no policeman in any police department, would call the person they were going to arrest to announce that they were on the way.”
I am sure that there were other signs that this was a bogus call.  But as soon as this guy told me that he was calling from the sheriff’s office I panicked.
I know that most of us have become savvy and are aware that we should be wary of such phone calls and internets scams.
This is one that I have not heard of before.
Please pass this along.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Joe’s Legacy

I am pretty certain that if you have survived the parenting of an adolescent/teenager, then you can probably recall the exact moment when you realized that aliens must have come down from outer space, taken your own sweet child and replaced him/her with one of their one.

I remember that moment with my son Joe.  Only he wasn’t the typical obstinate, rebellious kind.  You know the one who locks himself in his room blasting “shake the whole house” thunderous music.  No, he wasn’t one of those.
Now, as I struggle to remember the infant, the toddler, the second grader, I must accept the fact that my advanced age has faded my memory.
Perhaps my strained reminiscences of Joe as a child are clouded by what I more clearly remember about his adult self.
However, I do remember one day in particular.  I actually stopped in the middle of putting Joe’s folded laundry on top of his dresser and sat down on his bed.  He was probably 14 or 15 at the time.  The feeling of sadness was overwhelming as I thought to myself, I have lost my son.  I hardly know him at all anymore.
I questioned whether he was always naturally quietly shy.  Or, I wondered,  had he slowly evolved into his mysteriously, calm introversion without me noticing?
I recently watched an old video of Joe’s eighth birthday party.  The excitement on his face was not at all diminished by the poor quality of the black and white tape.  Ghostly images poked and prodded at me, compelling me to recall.  But the animated images could not transform my pallid reflections into  vivid recollections.
As I rewound the tape back for a second view, I was overcome with nostalgia.
I’m sure that type of reaction is normal for anyone watching old home movies.
For me, remembrances frozen in time by photos and videos of Joe seem to pick at the jagged edges of the  hole in my heart, until they are raw and too painful to touch.
For the past couple of months I have been participating in a bereavement group.  We have been meeting on Tuesday afternoons.  At the last session we were given the assignment to bring in an object which would signify our loved ones legacy.
On the way home from the meeting, I thought about what I would bring.  An idea easily came to me. It would be a set of Russian Nesting Dolls.  They would naturally represent the many layers of who Joe was.
I was happy with my choice.  As soon as I got home, I went online and ordered a set.
At the next meeting, as I anxiously waited for my turn to “show and tell”, I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was going to say.
“Okay, Lynda, can you share with the group now?”
I could feel my face start to flush.  My hands shook as I reached into my purse to pull out the nesting dolls.
Writing about this now, one week later, I can hardly remember what words came out of my mouth.  I do remember nervously playing with the dolls, taking each one out of the other.  I also recall going off on a tangent, saying something about how I didn’t really know my son as a mother should know her child.   Mostly, though, I can only conjure up in my mind an impression of muffled mumblings, like one of the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
I felt as though all eyes were on me, but they were confused eyes.  I started to cry.  Why were they not understanding what I was saying?   What was I saying?  At that point, I’m sure that even I didn’t know.
But I have had time to reflect.  A week’s worth in fact.   In fact, my mind is dizzy from the constant turning spinning and replaying the incident.
After giving this much more thought, I have figured out that Joe did not have any one specific legacy to pass on.  Like most of us he shared a different part of himself with each person in his life.
As a mother,  I am not ready to give up my part of him.  I grieve the loss of getting to know him as an adult, and especially as a father.
I recognize that somewhere deep inside of me, my grief has made me capable of sometimes being envious of the parts of himself that he shared with others.
I always thought that platitudes like “Live life to its fullest”, or “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal” and Stop and smell the roses”, were meaningless.
Do we really have a choice other than to live life minute by minute?  Crisis by crisis?  We have things to handle.  Stuff to take care of.  Business that has to get done.  Who else will do the laundry and sweep the floors?
No, it’s true, I am not ready to let go of the anger I feel when I think about how much more of life Joe had to live.  The hurt is unbearable when I think about how much more love he had to give to Domani, Anne, his family and all of the others whose lives he touched
Wisdom? I do have bits of it.  At my age I would hope so.  Some moments, when I can lay my ache to rest for a bit, the realization of how short our time here is, may not always bring me peace, but an acceptance of sorts instead.
Through the harsh reality of terminal cancer,  Joe gained an entire life’s worth of wisdom in less than a second of his life.
A day that I will always remember is the day Joe called me and said he wanted to bring Domani to the beach for the first time.
That day I was caught up in the moment of seeing Joe with his son, on the beach.  The look on Domani’s face when his little toes touched sand for the first time was adorable.  The look on Joe’s face as he watched Domani play with the sand as it ran through his little fingers was timelessly precious.
Now, as I think about that day,  I understand that Joe wanted to share that moment with me.  That day is surely a gift he lovingly brought to me.
After Joe died, I began to notice things around me that I hadn’t paid much attention to before.  I started to actually distinguish the difference between a red cardinal’s song and that of a finch.  The sky is not always just all blue or gray, but shades of hues and at special times brilliant splashes and streaks of red and orange excitement.  I sit and contemplate the way the gentlest of breezes fluff the shrubs and slightly bend the tops of the pines.
I began to carry a camera with me to capture those moments.  Last winter, as I was slowly awakening from the numbness of my zombie like state, I would go out early in the morning, sometimes drudging though six inches of snow, to find what I could discover in the meadow across the way.
Joe’s strength and appreciation for every minute of his life was certainly a part of himself that he shared with all of us.
Would I consider that Joe’s legacy to me?
No, Joe was simply my son.  His whole of the parts of himself was the legacy.
A Russian Nesting Doll.

Joe passed away on December 5, 2011.
I miss him each and every one minute of my life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mr. Nasty Installs a Carpet

The doorbell rang at about 8:30 yesterday morning.  From the side light windows I could see a man and woman standing at the front door.    We were expecting them.  Well, I should say we were expecting someone to come to install our new bedroom carpet.   We opened the door and the man said, “Carpet”.
The two of them quickly came into the house and immediately headed for the bedroom.  They knew the layout of the house, they said.
As they brushed passed me, the woman said, “There are four of us.”
“Two more out in the car,” she called over her shoulder.
The other two were a young woman and a young man.  They looked to be in their early 20’s.  They came in carrying what I assumed was carpet installation paraphernalia.
The woman stood outside the bedroom, looking into the room.  She shook her head and said, “Wow!”
Huh!  I thought we had done a pretty good job of emptying out the bedroom.  All that was left was the heaviest treadmill in the world, the biggest 1930’s depression era vanity (which includes the largest vanity mirror in the world), a huge matching 1930’s dresser (which includes the world’s second largest mirror) and a chifforobe.  Oh, yeah and a queen size bed.
The first thing that struck me was how quickly each of them moved.  Their pace could easily be described as running.
There was a lot of this running going on. Runnning in and out, bringing stuff in from the truck. Running to fetch this tool or that.
After about an hour, with the exception of the treadmill, and the bed, they had moved the rest of the furniture into the bathroom. The bathroom, which is less than half the size of the bedroom.  I don’t know how they did it, but they did.
The next thing they did was rearrange our living room to make room for the bed.  Then, after taking the bed apart,  they moved it into the living room.  They laid the box spring, mattress and frame up against one the living room sofas.
With Rico on my lap, I sat watching from the other living room sofa.  It turned out to be the best seat in the house to observe what would turn out to be an interesting, to say the least, six hour production.
The yelling started almost immediately.  At first I thought that perhaps he had a hearing problem and that’s why he talked loudly.  But then, as I started to tune into what he was saying, I realized that he was indeed yelling.
Phrases like, “What’s wrong with you?”
“How many times have I told you to do it this way!”
The man was tall and lanky. His gait was quick but tilted.  His worn and weathered appearance gave the impression of an older man.  I realized later that thirty-five years of kicking down carpet had taken its toll.
During a brief lull in the activity, I had an opportunity to start a conversation with the woman.
“Is this a family affair?”  I asked.
“Oh yes,” she said.
She was a pretty woman, with bouncy curls and a pleasant smile.
He was her husband, the young woman was her daughter, and the young man was their nephew.
She told me that the regular crew wasn’t available that day, so the boss sent them to do this job.
“Normally, they don’t send “him” out very often anymore to do these installs,” she said.
“He’s too much of a perfectionist.”
According to his wife,  he constantly complained that he couldn’t get good help anymore.
I soon found out why.
She then told me that as the day goes on, he will probably get more testy.
I couldn’t imagine how much more testy he could get.
She was right though, as the day worn on, the yelling got louder and quite frankly more abusive.
When he would call for a certain tool, all three of his “helpers” would literally jump and run.
A typical barrage went something like this:
“Look at what you just did!”
“How do you expect me to get over there, when you put that in the way?”
“You’ve been doing this for three years and you can’t remember what I told you!”
This behavior lasted throughout the whole day.  A six hour onslaught of nasty, demanding, venomous  attacks.
I started to feel that maybe I was being filmed and would later find out that I was the victim of a cruel prank, or the subject of a Candid Camera episode.  Perhaps, I thought,  John Quinones would come walking through the door and ask “What would you do?”
Confrontations make me anxious.
Even though they might not recognize what effect this man’s assaults may have on them, I could tell by the behaviors of the woman, her daughter and nephew, it most certainly did.
They finished up at around 2:00.   The last thing they had to do was re-hang the closet and bathroom doors that they had taken off.
This was the grand finale!
Nasty man:  “Okay, let’s go.  Where are the doors?”
Wife:  “We put them out in the sunroom?”
NM: “You did WHAT?”  “Who told you to do that?”  “Did you ask me?”  “You never put doors out in the cold!”  “Next time, you ask me!”
As they left I looked closely at each of them.
The nephew and daughter walked by, with their heads down and did not make eye contact.
The wife cheerfully waved.
Surprisingly, even though he didn’t look at us directly, he wished us “Happy Holidays” and told us to “Have a good afternoon.”
Purely, by force of habit, I said, “And you do the same.”
Needless to say I was not happy about this man coming into my house and behaving the way that he did.  The carpet seems to be installed properly, so I have no complaints about that.
But they were not very neat and left quite a mess.
However,  I don’t think I will mention my displeasure to the owner of the flooring business.  I wouldn’t want Mr. Nasty to take it out on his “helpers.”

The painters are here today.  They are a quiet pair.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The New Floor Saga - Finally the Finale

Four of them arrived at 8:30 on Wednesday morning.  Within minutes the house was filled with sounds of demolition.  Joined in  concert with the snap crackle of ripping wood was the bang, bang of swinging mallets prodding the old floor to just let go.
Listening to this, as I sat with my knitting in one of the four kitchen chairs, which, by the way, were now in our bedroom, I wondered how any sort of order could be restored by what seemed to me to be sheer and utter chaos.

Within in a surprisingly short amount of time, though, the old floor was up
out the door.

By the end of the day three quarters of the new floor had been installed.
Old Floor / New Floor

The four men who were doing the job were young, probably in their 20’s.  The one who answered to “the boss” spoke English, but with a definite accent.   I tried to identify the language that he was communicating in to the others.   “Portuguese,” he answered when we asked.   He told us that they were from Brazil.
I must say they worked hard, only stopping once for a short lunch break.
They came back the next day and were completely finished by 3:00.

I love our new floor.

Now onto the next project.  We are getting new carpet installed in our bedroom.  We are also getting the bedroom and master bath painted.
Today I spent the day emptying out our closets.
The plastic bins hold all of my yarn stash.  Sinful!

I can’t believe that all of this fit in my closet.  Ross and Rico can’t believe it either.
I hope this goes as smoothly as the floor did.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The New Floor Saga Part III

We have been getting ready for our floor replacement .   The installers will move all of the furniture but they requested that we remove everything out of cabinets and off of shelves.  And we have a lot of stuff.
Since the floor is being replaced throughout most of the house, the challenge has been where to store the stuff for the next few days.  So, some of it went into the sun room, some into the spare bedroom and the rest is in the garage.
However, we did manage to accomplish a mini purge.
It’s interesting, you know, one dilemma we were faced with was what to do with old used books.   I suggested that we put them into the recycle bin.  But, then we found out that the local hospital second hand shop accepts all and any books.  I guess plenty of folks still like to read the old fashioned way.
Today, Ross dropped off five shopping bags full of hard and soft cover novels, cook and diet books, how to’s, and what not to’s.  There was a group of  vol.’s 1, 2 & 3 Harry Potter’s,  a series of Ed McBane 87th precinct detective mysteries and three big fat Ken Follett volumes.
Since my preference is to listen to downloadable audible books and Ross uses his Kindle, I suspect our book shelves will mostly now be used to hold what’s left of my pig collection, (don’t ask) photographs and a few other odds and ends.
Oh yeah, I came across these whacha-ma-call-its.
Looks like somebody around here was a big Willie Nelson Fan

The installers dropped off over sixty boxes of flooring today.  We were told that that the wood has to get acclimated to our house before the install.  I have to admit I was skeptical of this advice.  I googled it and found this info:

"Acclimating hardwoods is the process of matching the wood’s humidity and temperature to the ambient humidity and temperature of your home. Because wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature and moisture, it is important to “synchronize” the wood with the normal living conditions in your house to the greatest extent possible.
If you fail to properly acclimate hardwoods, they will likely be mismatched to the house, which could lead to two unfortunate consequences.  If the wood is at a higher relative humidity than the house, it will likely contract shortly after installation. Even though you install the boards tightly against one another, gaps will develop in the floor–as much as 3/32 of an inch per 3.25″ board. With prefinished floors this is particularly troubling because you don’t have a puttying and sanding step to allow you to fill the gaps.

I hope the new floor feels comfortable here.  
New Floor Acclimation

The install starts at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Quotidian Post

Mondays are the only days that I have some sort of a self imposed routine.  Change the sheets, water the plants, quick vacuum, straighten up. 
Actually, after writing that sentence, I suddenly realized that Mondays are not really the only days I have a sort of routine.  
Humph, wait a minute, isn’t my whole life routine? 

          regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure

That’s how the dictionary describes the word routine. 

Hey, now that I am thinking about it, I do do the same things at the same time every day.

6:30 a.m.:
  • ·      Get up, grab my laptop, go into the kitchen 
  • ·      Take my medication (nothing serious) put the kettle on.

While drinking my tea in my “Contigo” stainless steel mug with the green top I:
  • ·      Check my e-mail. (why? I don’t know.  I never, ever get any personal e-mails)
  • ·      Go onto Facebook.
  • ·      Check to see if I have any Words with Friends moves to make.
  • ·      Play my 5 lives worth of Candy Crush.
  • ·      Read some of my favorite blogs. 

After I finish my tea I:
  • ·      Make the bed.

Then, while I’m still in whatever I have worn to bed, (not really pi’s, but like sweat pants and a tee shirt) I:
  • ·      Put on my gray Keen’s with the orange striped shoe laces
  • ·       Get on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes and listen to my book. 

After my “workout” things kind of loosen up a bit.  
By loosen up I mean that after I have adhered to the “strict” standards of my morning, there remain things that I absolutely do every day.  But, I don’t necessarily do them in the same order or at the same time.  
I know, I’m such a rebel that way. 

So, today, I strayed a little from my conventional morning.  It’s 9:11 a.m.  Ordinarily, I would have been one quarter of the way through my tread/listening. 

I wonder what effect this untraditional start of the day might have on the rest of my “Monday, but now I realize it’s actually my everyday”, regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure  routine. 

As you might have guessed from the title of this post,  I referred to to look up the word “routine”. 

I could score big on WWF with that one!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Catching a Bug and Catching Up

I’m angrily getting over a miserable cold.  I’m angry because I think I know where I picked up the nasty, germy bug.  
It most assuredly happened the last time I was there.
As I was bending down to tie my shoe, I  heard it.  It was a wretched sound.   My head shot up.  I had to know where that awful noise was coming from.  And there she was, sitting all alone, down in the pit of the very lanes that I would be bowling on, practically right in front of me.
It was not a polite, “I’ve got a little tickle in my throat” cough, cough.  It wasn’t a watery eyes, sneezy, “The goldenrod is terrible this year, isn’t it?” allergy, cough, cough.
In fact, I can’t even classify it as a cough.  The woman was hacking.  She was deep down gurgling, whole body shaking,  hacking.
And I? I was terrified.
I pointed her out to my team mate.  “Do you hear her?” I asked.  “What is she doing here?” I wanted to know.
Okay, so there is this ritual at bowling.  I don’t know if it is a standard world wide practice.  But in our league, whenever a bowler makes a spare or a strike, she gives a hand tap, high five to members of her team and also to the bowlers on the opposing team. Apparently, it’s a way to graciously pass on good luck to the other bowlers.
I told my teammate Diane that I most certainly would not be touching anyone’s hand that day.
And I didn’t.  Well, except for that one time.  I got caught up in my own excitement.  The excitement of making a turkey.  Three strikes in a row.   It does’t happen very often for me.
So, as I walked back through the roaring, cheering crowd,  after my third strike in a row, my turkey strike, how could I deny the others a hand tap, high five?
I couldn’t.  I didn’t.
Two days later, there I was.  A coughing, sneezing, sniffling, sore throat, achey NyQuil ad.
So, again I ask the question.  Why was that woman out in public?  Why was she not home in bed?

Floor update.
We’ve decided to replace the whole floor.  Not just the kitchen, but all of the hardwood floor throughout  the house. We also decided to go with a lighter wood.  The dark Brazilian cherry is beautiful, but it’s tough to keep clean.  Especially, with a Rico dog,
To go along with this news, there is a cautionary tale to tell.
When Lou (the guy who came out to give us an estimate) told us what the square footage measurements were, we immediately realized that they did not match up with the measurements from the last time we had the floor installed.
In a phone conversation, Ross brought this to the attention of Dominic, the owner of the flooring business who would be doing the job.  Dominic off handily chalked it up the necessity of having to add in a 10% waste factor.
Ross, who taught Math for 30+ years, knew that a 10% waste factor could not possibly add up to needing an extra 200 more square feet.  He had a strong suspicion that Lou made an arithmetic calculation error.
I think that Ross is probably the best arbitrator and negotiator in the world.  No, really he is.
He simply told Dominic that he wanted to give him our business.  “Especially,” he said,  “since you did such a fine job for us last time.”
He asked Dominic if he would personally come out to do another measurement.
“It would put my mind at ease,” he said.
How could Dom say no?  He couldn’t.  He didn’t.
What is it that they say?  Measure twice.  Cut once.
As it turned out, after Dom did the second measurement, the square footage was 200 square feet less than what Lou came up with.  That translated into $1800.
We went into the store the next day.  Lou was there.  He apologized.  He showed us where he made the mistake.  When he measured the hallway leading into the bedroom he forgot a decimal point.  Instead of 24.5 square feet, he wrote down 245 square feet.
Buyer be “A ware”.

I exaggerated a little about the reaction to my Turkey.   hehehe

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life Under A Rock Wrapped in my Raspberry Scarf

Lucky you, those of you who have been living under a rock.  Your quiet domicile has protected you from the barrage of pings emitted from the electro universe.  You are peacefully unaware of Ebola hysteria, Isis madness, and  the child predator, Enterovirus D68, just to name a few.
I’m seriously considering finding my own rock.  Or, perhaps John Denver’s Rocky Mountain high would provide a nice respite.

In other news from my own little corner of the “world is going to hell in a hand basket”, I’ve fallen behind in my “Beginning Writer’s Workshop”.   I have no excuse, but laziness.

Today, I woke up so darn early.  5:00 this morning.  I tried to force myself to stay in bed, close my eyes and go back to sleep.  Couldn’t do it.   It’s a Tuesday thing.  I have bowling in the morning and bereavement group in the afternoon.  Maybe I should go Under a Rock house hunting instead.

A few months ago our refrigerator leaked and puddled onto our beautiful Brazilian cherry hardwood kitchen floor.  We had the floor installed throughout the house about six years ago.  At the time of the install, the floor people suggested that we buy an extra box of wood,  just in case we needed a repair.
The leak has caused the boards around the fridge to buckle and blacken.
Last week, we called Dennis. He owns the store that we bought the floor from. He sent Louie over to assess the damage.   I thought they would be able to rip out the problem and replace the bad boards with the spares we have in the garage.
Louie came in, looked and shook his head.  Not the smiley “everything is going to be all right” up and down shake.  Rather,  it was the foreboding “tsk, tsk, we’ve done all we can, there is no cure” side to side shake.
Our house has that open floor plan.  So the living room flows into the kitchen which flows into the dining room which flows back into the living room, which flows into the foyer and down the hallway.
“The best we can do,” said Louie,“is take out the kitchen floor, replace it with new boards.”
“Then we install molding at the living room and dining room entrances where the old floor meets the new floor,” he said.
“Of course, that is if we can even get that same wood,” he said.
“And even if they still manufacture that same exact floor, the dye lot probably won’t match, “ he added.
I shook my head up and down.  Not the “I’m so glad you’re telling me this” shake.  Rather, it was the “numb, I’m putting my fingers in my ears and saying la, la, la, I can’t hear you” shake.

An Under a Rock house probably doesn’t have Brazilian cherry hardwood floors or leaky refrigerators, for that matter.

By the way, instead of working on assignment #4 of my Beginning Writer’s Workshop,  “Try Out Different Points of View”, I was doing this:

Feather and Fan Scarf
Valley Yarns Northampton Raspberry Heather
 The pattern is a free Ravelry download by Rae Blackledge.  It can be found here.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Lighted Candle

So, I’ve completed Lesson 3 of my “Beginning Writer’s Workshop” class (found on the ed2go website).  The objective of that lesson was to “Get acquainted with the variety of forms available to the creative writer.

When I was thinking about signing up for the course,  I was somewhat apprehensive.
As I read through the instructor’s description of the course, this sentence is what convinced me that this class was exactly what I was looking for:

“This exciting, hands-on course for the creative writing novice is filled with challenging exercises, expert advice, and plenty of direct support and encouragement.

Although it was scary for me to think that “plenty” would not only be reading my assignments, but also making comments, I was hopeful that they, the “plenty”, would also be  providing plenty of constructive feedback.
My initial impression was that we would be a small group.  I also thought that the group, along with the instructor and the instructor’s assistants would be reading and commenting on everyone’s assignments.

So, this is the way it really is.  The class has 300 participants.  There is a short quiz and a writing assignment at the end of each lesson.   In order to have the assignment read, it has to be submitted to the discussion area.  The discussion area is in a forum format.
Unless otherwise noted, the instructor or one of her assistants will read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The students can also read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The first lesson’s assignment was:

This is what I submitted:

I did receive a comment on my first assignment.

Although it was not quite specific, it was certainly encouraging.

I was determined to be an active member of the class.  I promised myself that I would read and comment on each and every one of those 300 assignments.

After plugging through the first 50 or so, I knew that there was no way I would be able to read and comment on all of them.  Heck, I could not even manage to read all of them.

Since the default sort of the forum is by date created, I quickly realized that those who were among the first to submit their assignments were the ones whose pieces would most likely be read.

By the time I submitted mine it fell somewhere in the middle of the list.

What I found interesting about the 50 or so introductions that I did have the chance to read was that most of the writers wanted to achieve their life long dream of having a piece of work published.

This is not something that I am aiming for.

So far, I have to say, the lessons have been helpful and I am learning new information about writing and I’m gaining knowledge.

The title of Lesson 2 is “On Detail and Description”.   I learned several things.

  1.  Be specific instead of vague.   
  2. A major virtue of a well-written vivid description is that the reader will stop seeing words on a page and mentally experience the thing, person or place I am describing.
  3. When I am describing something I care about, ideas will naturally tend to emerge. 
  4. By selecting details that show how a person is feeling is the most effective way to communicate emotion. 
  5. Be as honest as you can when writing description. 
I found this to be an eye-opening lesson.   I realized that when I write my blog, I depend heavily on photos instead of words.

The assignment for lesson 2 was:

I found this to be a difficult, yet rewarding challenge.  It was fascinating to intently concentrate on an object and realize that I was able to notice such fine detail that I would not ordinarily have seen nor appreciated.

Here’s my
 “Lighted Candle”
The vintage brass candleholder is the type that might have been carried by the Lady of the house to light the way up the darkened hallway, guiding her to her chamber. The curved handle is crafted into a floral shape with a loop to fit a thumb and forefinger. A white candle sits in the center of the flower. The square base was apparently designed with molded sides so that it would accommodate a box of matches or perhaps a few trinkets.  Presently it holds two pieces of gray, flat smooth lake rock along with a couple of chunks of weathered coral.  The candle has been lit before and is now half of its original size.  Although it is white, there are streaks of red running down the sides.  I am curious about why that is and find myself distracted trying to figure out how that happened.  The wax has pooled at the top but is not dripping down the sides yet.   The triangular flame appears to be dimensional.  When first lit, the flame quietly bounced up and down in a slightly rhythmic way and seemed to be floating above the blackened wick.  I had an urge to run my finger through it.    Now that it has been burning for a while, the wick has tilted and it’s end is hotly glowing red.   The urge to run my finger through it has wisely disappeared.  

I received only one comment.  It was from the instructor.
This comment was specific and again encouraging. I would have liked more suggestions from her about how to improve it, though. 

I did read several of the other submissions.  I found it interesting that we each described the details of the flame in similar words.  

Going into lesson 4 - “Try Out Different Points of View”, I have realistically concluded that I have to approach the rest of the course differently.  Instead of expecting and looking forward to “plenty” of feedback,  I have decided to concentrate more on what I am learning from each of the lessons.   
Because after all,this is what I wrote in assignment number 1,  What I expect from this class is to learn new means and methods which will enhance my writing experience.”  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Time It Will Be Different?

Yesterday I went to a Bereavement Group meeting.  The group actually had their first session last Tuesday.   I thought about going.  Then I thought about not going.  Then I thought I should go.  Then I thought I probably shouldn’t go.  Then I started doing laundry and then the dog needed to go for a walk.  Then the View came on and then it was lunch time.  And then it was 2:00 and it was too late to go.
During the first few months of my grief, I did try a couple of these types of support systems.   I  went to the first meeting of each of them.  The seating arrangement was the same. We sat in a circle facing one another.  I felt as though I were a slice of “of grief pie".   We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart.    I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.  
I recall that I was so intent on silently rehearsing what I would say when it was my turn to speak,  that I’m sure I was only half listening to each of the other slices relate their stories.
Even though my ears were somewhat distracted by my own thoughts, my eyes would automatically shift to a new tone of voice.   My head would nod in a sympathetic and understanding way.
I don’t remember the specifics of their stories.  The images of their pain come back to me in flashes of twisted and scrunched up tissue covered eyes.
After each of these meetings, I would become somewhat defensive.  How dare those people make me cry.  What did any one of them say that could possibly ever make me want to come back and do that again?
It’s been nearly three years since Joe passed away.  Actually it has been two years, nine months and 19 days.
As I said, yesterday I went to my first meeting of this new group.   Since I was not there for the first meeting, the facilitator took me aside for a pre-meeting conversation.
She has a kind face and soft voice.    As I told her my story,  I found myself crying the hard tears of a new loss.   She asked me, “Do you know what we do here?”  I was puzzled.  Of course I knew, we would all sit in the “grief pie” circle and cry.  But of course I didn’t say that.  She followed up with , “What do you expect to get from this?”
I stumbled over my answer.  I told her that I supposed I expected comfort and support.
She explained to me that this place was indeed a place to come for comfort and support.  More importantly, though, it was to be a safe place where we were expected to not only explore but share our feelings.  Then she said the thing that I think I needed to hear.  “You are here to work on you own grief, not the grief of others.” She asked me if I thought I would be able to do that.  Then she asked me if I wanted to join the group.  I said yes.
The meeting started with us all sitting in a circle.  We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart.  I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don’t Quit My Day Job?

On a whim I signed up for and paid $99 for an online course.  The name of the class is Beginning Writer’s Workshop in I found through the ed2go website.
I’ve taken two writing classes in my life.  One was “Creative Writing” and the other was “Writing for Business”.   Both of those were oh so long ago.
The class started yesterday with an optional pretest.

Of course, I took the pre-test.  I must admit most of the questions were common sense.  
There were a few more “technical” questions as they related to what I call the formalities of writing. 
There are many writing terms that I am not familiar with.  But even with my lack of  “formal writing” training, I scored okay on the pre-test. 

One of the reasons I impulsively decided to take the course was to learn how a writer writes.  What does the process entail?  Does a writer’s mind work differently than a non-writer? 
I have always been fascinated when I hear authors talk about the characters they have created.  They speak about them in a Dr. Frankensteinien way.   
Do they have a more heightened imagination than non writers?

When I write, I am basically putting my thoughts into written words.  

Pre-test Question No. 1:

So, I have been hesitating to delve into Lesson No. 1.  I am afraid.  Perhaps I’m afraid that I will find out that I am a better knitter than I am a writer. 

My latest completed project. An afghan with 289 individual granny squares sewn together.

As an incentive to get through the six weeks and complete the course, I intend to record my progress  on my blog.  
I wonder if I can get extra credit for that?  hehehe

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pshaw…Bish Bash Falls - A Local Legend?

Our Little Jaunt
Part I

We are on a little get-a-way.  Actually we were not really trying to get away.  I would say it’s more of a desire for a change of scenery.
So, yesterday, we left the Jersey shore area and headed up to the mountains.

We had to cross over the GW bridge first to get out of NJ.

After the bridge, there was no traffic and the rest of the 4-1/2 drive was pleasant.  

The change of scenery that we were looking for was immediate.   We left behind yellow sand and blue sea to  travel along green, hilly and curvy roads.

The meadows are softly lavender, and wildly golden.

Spotty emerging dabs of orange, and red are beginning to peek through.

Red barns and white silos complete our picturesque drive.

We debated over our lodging.  I have a hard time picking.   Well, that’s because when I go to check out each of the travel websites, the first thing I do is look at what kind of rating former travelers have given the places.  Let me be more specific.  The first thing I really do is read the “poor” ratings first.   
I mean I can generally tell when the negative comments are not pertinent.  
For instance, one woman complained that her son woke up the first morning with a few bites.  Of course she claimed that they were from bed bugs.  Interesting that not one of the other 500 comments mentioned anything about having a buggy stay.  So, I ignore those kinds of comments.
I do pay attention to complaints about cleanliness, outdated accommodations and rude staff.

There are many quaint B&B’s here.  There are also vintage throw back roadside motels.  Actually some of the motels got excellent reviews.

I decided, though, to go with the tried and true Marriott.  I am pretty happy with a comfy bed, reliable  WIFI and a flat screen TV. 

We will check out the other accommodations, though.  I would rather judge those for myself in person.

Yesterday, we tried to find Bish Bash Falls.  We were told by a couple of the locals that it is a pretty spot.  A must see, we were told.  In fact one of the waitresses at the luncheonette gave us, “better” directions than “your GPS.”

We were told that the falls were only 15-20 minutes from town.   After driving for 45 minutes we decided that the legendary Bish Bash falls are just that.  A local legend.

Anyway, today is a rainy day.  I’ve been up since six waiting patiently for Ross to wake up.

Well, time for breakfast.  It’s complimentary with Marriott, you know.

We’ll see what the day will bring. 

To Be Continued.