Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Funerals seems to bring out the best and worst in people. FIL's funeral was no different in this regard.

For one thing, i had to fly down for the funeral. Well, i didn't have to, but by train/bus/train, it would have taken over 15 hours, and as Himself and i would drive back together, driving myself there didn't seem to make sense, even with a rental car. Or, especially with one, having to do the NYC to Philly gauntlet of driving. Flying would be the quickest, even if i opted for two stops instead of one, saving 50% on the fare. I also opted to have carry-on luggage only, and felt naked without my Swiss army knife with me. I misplaced it a few weeks ago, and have yet to find it, so it was easier than usual to leave it behind. But still missed. I also enquired if knitting needles are once again allowed or if these would be viewed as weapons. No way was i willing to surrender my half-done mitten to some TSA person who wouldn't give a monkey's about my knitting efforts.

Nope, knitting needles were okay. So, i booked my flight and hoped for the best that the hardware in my leg wouldn't be too much of a security problem.

It took me about 15 minutes to pack, and i couldn't sleep at all, fearing that i'd oversleep the alarm. I didn't, and i was grateful that the local regional airport required me to be there a half hour before the flight rather than the two-hour requirement most of the large airports require.

I had always loved to fly and deeply resented the fallout from the @#)($#(* terrorists 11 September attack on the Twin Towers. I wondered if i'd feel that same sense of wonder and anticipation i used to feel, even if everyone would look askance as i set off all the security alarms because of my leg's hardware. I had called for a taxi to take me to the airport, so we wouldn't have to get my car on the way back. The taxi driver arrived a bit early, and we left right on time. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we chit-chatted about the weather and wondered where the summer had gone. As we pulled up to the front door at the airport, i felt a surge of excitement. That same sense of adventure i had always felt when flying returned. Take that, you @#($(@* terrorists.

The security check-in wasn't really that bad. I had my toiletries bag ready for when i go boating, and had a ziplock bag in there chiefly to keep things dry. At the beginning of the sailing season this year, i had filled empty travel sized bottles with my preferred shampoo and conditioner. I hadn't used much of either on my 4-day trip in June on my friend's schooner, and it was easy enough to put them all in the extra ziplock i had in the toiletries bag. The woman doing the security check kindly explained that we'd need to pull out the liquid items, place them in the plastic zippy bag, and that she could give us one if we didn't have one. No more than 3.5 ounces; again, i easily met that requirement. I wore slip on sneakers/trainers so they were easy enough to shed, and i learned to unzip/rezip my laptop bag with alacrity.

I told the man at the gate about the hardware in my leg, and it didn't set off any alarm. He commented that my hardware must be doing a good job, and he had some stuff in his knee.

I pulled out my knitting whilst we were waiting for boarding. A puddlejumper to the Big Airport awaited us, and the first lady who greeted us gave us our seating assignments. She placed me in the last seat in back. I was the only one with an empty seat next to me, and she explained it was because of my knitting. Sweet woman, as i could sprawl the yarn all over quite comfortably. I told her i thought it was because i was the shortest passenger and most people would consider it a squeeze. She gave me a knowing look that seemed to say, "That, too," and i made my way to the back, which was two steps from the doorway. There was only a pilot. A passenger sat in what would have been the co-pilot's seat on any other plane. I was a tad envious of his position, but i also knew nearly everyone else was wishing he or she had brought along knitting to get a bit of breathing space, too, that i freely had with the empty seat. I think the plane could hold 10 passengers at most, and even i couldn't stand up in the plane without knocking my head against the ceiling.

As the plane revved to start its dash down the runway before takeoff, the smile on my face involuntarily widened. I always love the moment of takeoff, and that sense of awe filled me as we felt the wheels leave the ground and wind support the wings. Just like sailing, only the wings were horizontal instead of vertical, and made from metal rather than fabric.

The view was astounding as we rose above inlets and coves i know so well. I thought i spotted my friend's schooner and waved. Not that they would be able to see me, and it was early enough that no one except the cook, mate, and perhaps messmate were up, but it was the thought that counts.

Arriving at the Big Airport meant i had to catch a bus for my connecting flight at another terminal and needed to go through the security check-in again. I had everything ready, explained about the hardware in my leg, and they had me stand in front of an X-ray machine for the full body scan. Easy-peasy, and i was cordial as i put my shoes back on and told the security guy that didn't hurt a bit. And it hadn't. After all the horror stories of ugly TSA moments, i was relieved to find that the folks i encountered were just doing their job. They were careful to make sure i got my laptop back. They explained that i needed a separate bin for it, and even though i'm sure they needed to say it hundreds of times every day, it didn't sound stale.

At my last layover, we didn't have to go through another security check, as the transit bus met us near the plane and dropped us off behind the security check-in point. An Asian woman liked my mitten and asked about the double-knitting technique. I had her try on the mitten i had already finished so she could see that it wasn't as bulky as she might expect. The cook on my friend's schooner texted me to let me know she had checked on the cats and all was okay. My friend who is a nurse was going to check on the kitties the other days, but couldn't the first day, as she was on call. Another sailing friend texted me to say he was thinking of me, hoped all was well. We texted a few more times, he telling me a bit about his sailing trip, me giving a tenative itinerary on when Himself and i would return.

Himself picked me up at the airport, and had to wait a half-hour longer than anticipated as we left a tad late and those of us who had carry-on luggage had some pieces that were too large for the smaller overhead bins. One of the women who waited behind me for our tagged pieces to be brought to us remarked on my knitting. She was a weaver. Who knew that a pair of mittens could be such a conversation starter?

As Himself drove and i looked at a landscape that had been so familiar, i mentally noted some of the changes. This house's paint colour scheme had changed, that commercial building now sported a different name.

Friends wanted to take us out to lunch next day, and they did. It was wonderful to chat with them, and three years' absence wrought few changes. Their hair is a bit whiter, but their wit as sharp as ever, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

The viewing was later that evening, and although my brother-in-law didn't want an open casket, he was outvoted by his sister and Himself. I am not good with dead things, never have been, and i abhor open caskets. I wasn't consulted of course, being only the in-law, and it was a gift from God that i was as okay with it as i was. Perhaps all those gifts the cats have brought me toughened me up a bit. Most of the people who came came for Himself, my SIL, and BIL; one of FIL's dearest friends, himself 90 or so, let Himself know that as much as he'd like to make the 2.5 hour journey to pay his respects, he just couldn't. One of Himself's childhood friends has a mother who's still living and also opted not to make the trip. She must be in her 80's by now.

I chatted with many of the people who came, especially those who came for Himself. I was sad for our loss, but not for FIL. He was more than ready to go. I didn't get chance to speak to a few as they stayed very briefly, but i'd get to speak to them the next day.

After the viewing another childhood friend Himself has wanted to take us out for dinner. My FIL had been pretty much a surrogate father for him, and i felt very sorry for his loss. I asked him to stay the night at our house, as he was going to attend the funeral service the next day and be a pallbearer.

We were invited out to breakfast by FIL's BIL. He had flown up from Florida for the service. His wife, FIL's sister, wasn't well enough to make the trip. I hadn't seen Uncle B for several years, so offered to ride with him. He welcomed my company, introduced me to his Garmin/GPS, which he calls "Road Bitch," and we chatted easily about boats and the theatre. He and his wife are a striking couple, and as i looked at Uncle B, i saw that he now looked like an elderly man. The blue eyes were as penetrating as ever, and his years of serving in the Navy still showed as he looked crisp and neat, but his jowls showed the lines of age, and his step was a bit slower. On the ride to the church, he confided some things. I must have one of those faces, and i don't gossip. Consequently, i know any number of family secrets that other family members would be appalled to learn that i know.

The night before, SIL had thought we were one pallbearer short. I told Himself i'd be glad to volunteer and went up to SIL to let her know i could help. No, they had found someone else, and here i felt a bit miffed. I was surprised at how much i really and truly wanted to do this. Me who recoiled at dead things. Himself said i could take his place, but i didn't think that right, so i told him no and decided that even if i felt a bit bruised, i needn't make a scene about it. Himself had volunteered to say a few words and came over a few minutes later, asking if i'd take his place as pallbearer as he wanted to rewrite a bit of what he was going to say. I nearly said no, thinking him simply diplomatic, but i opened my mouth, "Okay," popped out, and i saw he was visibly relieved.

The priest is from Nigeria and speaks English with a sing-song cadence. He is one of those happy men of God who lives his faith. If more Christians were like him, i'm sure more people would be attracted to Christianity. His homily was a mix of encouragement, solemnity, and joy in expectation of everlasting life. Himself and our older nephew both spoke after that. They both spoke from their hearts, and i think it did them both a world of good.

We went to a nearby restaurant afterwards, and there were 30 or so in our party.

After a few hours at home and a bit of a nap, we met up with friends for another meal and wonderful conversation.

I gained three pounds in as many days, and was grateful for the outpouring of love and support. People said it with food and funny stories. With hugs and tears. By sending flowers, or in one case, with a gift certificate so Himself and i could enjoy ourselves as we saw fit.

I had chance to see a number of people i haven't seen since moving to the new location, and it was nice to catch up on things.

The kitties were glad to see us when we returned, and the relief of not keeping an ear cocked for "that" phone call in the wee hours is visible in both Himself and me.

I did say at the start how funerals seem to bring out the best and worst in people. I've decided to focus on the good stuff.

Thought of you, John Gray

when on the long ride back from FIL's funeral, I saw a licence plate with the following tag:


I didn't have my camera, or i would have taken a picture and uploaded it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out, out brief candle

My mother-in-law died nearly six years ago. It was sudden and very much unexpected. Of the two, my father-in-law looked more frail, so if anyone placed bets, he clearly would have been picked to go first.

I felt very sad for FIL when MIL went. It was about four days later, and through a whirlwind of decisions and a thousand tiny details, we found ourselves alone in the last place he and MIL lived.

"Your mom died before your dad," FIL said.

"Yes, that's correct."

"How long did your dad live after your mom died?"

"Nearly six years."

"That's too long."

I nodded. I think my dad felt the same way, and although his death certificate said the cause of death was pneumonia, i really believe it should have read broken heart.

Cold comfort for my FIL. He and my MIL were one of the happiest married couples i have ever met. They weren't without their flaws, and each was aware his/her partner had some, but i never once heard either speak a derogatory word about the other.

My FIL and i always got along and always spoke freely to one another. He could never tell his kids he thought six years was too long to live without his beloved wife. And he never thought twice about telling me things because he knew i knew what to share with others and what to keep between ourselves. I told him that unless he was suicidal, how long he would survive her wasn't really up to him. He agreed, and while he wasn't happy being on the planet without her, he never became suicidal.

When i got the go-ahead to become a telecommuter and move to my current location, i was slated to move just after the August birthdays. We have a slough of them: both my nephews, FIL, Himself, and me. My younger cousin, who's more like a sister than cousin to me has three boys, and two of her three have August birthdays, too. With Himself's family, we always had two birthday get-togethers: one in February for MIL's and my sister-in-law's birthdays, and then in August for everyone else's. My brother-in-law's birthday is in October, and his wife's is in early September, so some years we'd have a Sept/Oct birthday celebration, too, but many years, it was simply August.

After MIL died, Himself's sister wanted to keep the August birthday tradition going, and the year i was to become a telecommuter was no exception. FIL was turning 80, and SIL wanted to have a party at a nice restaurant FIL loved. By this point, he was living in an assisted care place, which was his choice after MIL died. It was nearly three years since MIL had died, and he had aged a lot. He allowed SIL to plan everything, and i got the impression that while he was glad to see everyone around the table at the restaurant, he could have done without the party hats and favours, but didn't want to disappoint his daughter. It was a lovely meal, and i knew that he knew and he knew that i knew this would be the last time we'd see each other.

And it was.

A little over a week ago, he was taken to the hospital after displaying symptoms of pneumonia. While in the hospital, they diagnosed emphysema. My aunt died from its complications, and it's not something i'd wish on anyone. This particular hospital also routinely tests for MRSA and yes, the test confirmed he had that as well. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a staph infection that's resistant to many antibiotics. Fortunately, the doctor told FIL's kids that this was a tall order of things to overcome, and FIL was frail. He thought it best that they prepare for the worst.

My prayer was a simple one. If FIL wasn't going to survive this trifecta—and i was pretty sure he wasn't—that he could go in his sleep and without much pain. His kids visited every day (or nearly so as i explain) for the past week. He was alert and awake. He felt some discomfort. He had a DNR in place. Himself went Saturday to see Dad, and as Dad wasn't liking the food very much, Himself had gotten in the habit of stopping at McDonald's for French fries, sometimes with a burger and milkshake, too. On that Saturday, he thought the milkshake not a good idea, given milk's phlegm producing capabilities, and got something like a slushy and order of French fries. FIL was awake, drank the slushy, ate every French fry, and after a bit said he was tired and going to nap, so Himself left. He had to work Sunday and by Sunday afternoon was done in, so decided not to visit. He called SIL to let her know. She said both she and my BIL had visited and that FIL was most likely sleeping. FIL died in the wee hours of Monday. Himself called me shortly after
3:00 a.m. to let me know. His heart had simply stopped.

I wasn't surprised, although i lay awake until 5:00 a.m. or so just thinking of this and that as one does after those sorts of phone calls. Snippets of conversations, or the way someone talks or gesticulates with his hands, or how he laughs. I cried a little, mostly for me and for those who would love and miss him. I'm not sorry for him, though, as he's wanted to leave for quite some time. I got the feeling that he saw his kids were finally ready to let go, so he felt he could let go, too. I was grateful that my prayer had been answered.

The viewing and service are later this week. I shall travel back to the old location, and have had myriad invites from people. My dance card is full with a waiting list. Meantime, i'm at the current location tying up some loose ends, making provisions for the kitties. FIL died just short of his birthday. I'd like to think he's spending it with his wife and all the other loved ones who went before him.

It's my hope that when it's my time to cross the bar, there'll be plenty of folks on that far shore eager to see me.

So i might fall a bit behind on my blog reading. Sometimes real life needs every minute of our days, and for the next four or five, i shall give myself wholly over to it.

And since i mentioned crossing the bar, i ought to close this entry with that poem:

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just another fat fingered moment...

On Monday nights, my knitting group meets. We typically don't meet up over the summer, but decided this year we'd like to, so we are. Sometimes we don't knit much, but we talk a great deal, and there's often a lot of laughter.

Each woman in the group used to take turns hosting the get-together, but we now meet at Nadine's house each Monday, since Nadine doesn't drive much anymore, and her mobility is a bit impaired. She's a lovely hostess and looks forward to us descending upon her with our projects. She turned 88 this year, and her eyesight is failing (close-up stuff is hard, distance is still fine), so she's given up knitting but still can lend a helpful hand when we're winding yarn or if we run into a knitting problem.

She has portable phones throughout the house, and always has one in a pocket attached to her walker/zimmerframe. One of our knitters, M, recently moved one state over, and calls us each Monday night to say hello. We take turns talking to her, catching her up on our latest project or just general chit-chat. Well, i was the last one to talk to her when she called on Monday night, and when i asked if anyone else needed to talk with her again, they all shook their heads and called out, "Good-bye, M," so M could hear. I told her good-bye as well and went to disconnect the call. My portable phone has a green talk button and red stop button, so looking down at Nadine's phone, i pushed the only red button i found.

In a nanosecond, i realised that wasn't correct, as it was a button with a red cross on it, and instantly dialled 911 (US equivalent to the UK 999). Oh, dear, that's not what i wanted to do--i simply wanted to hang up the bloody phone and dearly missed the old cradle model just then.

I told the others what happened. Nadine didn't know it was programmed to do that. I dialled 911 and when the dispatcher answered, "What address are you calling from?" i dutifully answered the question. I then quickly explained there was no emergency. I just pushed the wrong button and it automatically dialled 911. He asked for the name of the person living at the address, and i gave him Nadine's name. I told him, "It wasn't Nadine, though, it was me, her fat-fingered friend named Megan who pushed the wrong button."

Here, he laughed, thanked me for letting him know all was all right, and that was that.

It got us to giggling, and i asked Nadine how to switch off her phone. Turns out i had to press the green Talk button. "But, i don't want to talk," i protested when she told me, "I'm done with talking."

"Yes," Nadine said patiently, in that tone that showed many years' worth of raising children, grandchildren, and explaining things to others with small words so they understand, "You press 'Talk' when you want to talk, and press it again when you are done."

"Well, then it shouldn't say 'Talk,'" i said, "It should say 'On/Off'."

I know i've mentioned before that i'm mechanically retarded. And being fat fingered besides just adds to the challenge. But having "Talk" substitute for "On/Off" "Hello/Goodbye" is just cruel.

Oh, and my current knitting project is a pair of mittens not unlike the ones below.

I made these for Himself--they were my first attempt at mittens.

I made these for me afterwards, as i liked the ones i made for Himself so much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some days, I shouldn't really be left unattended...

A few weeks back, i heard a sort of weird buzzing noise in my business phone. One of the requirements when i became a telecommuter was that i needed a dedicated phone line for my business line and access to a high-speed internet connection. So, it made sense to bundle both as it was a bit cheaper that way, and since i am reimbursed for the cost, it made it easier from an accounting standpoint. Everything on one bill.

Prior to moving here full-time, during that two-year period the house stood mostly uninhabited, we were required to have a freezer guard in the house. It's a temperature sensing device that automatically calls whatever phone number or numbers one has programmed into it. A landline is required for the freezer guard to work, and so it was that we had a phone number and a landline at that, for the express purpose of ringing our caretaker should the temperature fall below 48°F in the house. The insurance company insisted that in order to insure the house, we had to have a caretaker if we weren't going to be here full-time, as this house wasn't meant to be a seasonal home, and we were too far away to come running at the drop of a hat should the freezer guard indicate something was going on that required human intervention. Alrighty then.

The business phone line is digital, and my business phone and internet provider sends cunning adverts about how much better digital is, and all the bells and whistles i can get should i wish. They also want me to bundle it with a tv package.

Um, no. In the time i've been telecommuting, i've had several business phone/internet outages, where i used my anachronistic landline to phone my boss and let her know. I've also used the same older technology to partake in teleconferences when the digital line wasn't working.

When the buzzing started, it was intermittent and annoying, but like a fly, a bit here and there. Unplugging and replugging the phone line seemed to help somewhat, and it was then i noticed that Jim had taken to chewing on some of the wires. I told him no, of course, a word he's heard often enough to understand, and changed out the phone line with one that he's never gone near. Nope, still same buzz. By this point, the buzzing had gotten more noticeable and seemed to be occurring more often. I had seen the cable company truck near the house a few days earlier, so maybe something was up with them?

With Jim's help, i also tried switching out phones to see if the phone was the problem. I heard a buzzing sound, tried to get him to stop helping me, and switched back to the original phone. Some buzzing, but not as bad as before.

I talked with my boss next day, which was yesterday, and we both agreed the buzzing had to go, so i called the cable company. They'd have someone out some time today. The kind tech, whom i think was named Todd noticed the buzzing and said it was very annoying. No wonder i called.

Yes, i've heard the horror stories of waiting for the cable company. That could be grouped with the contractors post i wrote earlier. I had work to do, of course, and figured my errands would have to wait a day, but other than that, no worries. I got the call from the cable company just before 1:00 pm. He'd be here in 10 minutes. And, he was. He, Ben, was the same young man who'd come over once before, i think right after i first had things set up, and the internet connection was a bit slow. He remembered me, and loved Jim. Jim was only too glad to say hello and wanted to crawl in Ben's tool bag. I told him if Jim was too annoying, i'd take him away and hang with him in the other room. Nope, all was fine.

And, in 10 minutes, Ben deduced that the problem was with my phone. Ahem. He had me test for myself, and yep, there it was. Even though i'd swear i heard the buzzing when i had switched phones the other day. Since it was a service call, he had to check the lines. He did, and found one outside that was a bit too tight and could cause some problems. Another showed a bit of wear and could stand replacement. Another work truck had happened by, and talked with Ben. Together, they ran new cable line from my house to the pole. One of those serendipitous things, so it was meant to be.

I thanked Ben for this trouble, felt foolish, and he left. I have to go through a preferred vendor my company has chosen rather than drive 10 minutes to my office store of choice for a new phone. Trying to remember my sign-in and getting that to work was another adventure. sigh.

The new phone will be here in 1-3 days according to the on-line order form. I've had to make two calls with my business phone since, and the buzzing has nearly disappeared. You know, like those times where the car makes a strange noise, you take it to the mechanic to demonstrate, and nothing sounds amiss.

Perhaps it's a good thing i work from home. When i have days like this, i can't help thinking that the roadways are probably a good deal safer. I'll have a new phone that i won't know how to operate and which may provide fodder for another blogpost. On the bright side, i can add another great service/repair call experience.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It was one of those weekends

where a grey funk descended and permeated everything. Walls felt damp. Doors swelled and refused to shut easily--not just the really old cellar door that does that all year long, but the newest doors, added in the first year of the 21st century behaved likewise.

Not conducive for sailing, at least not the kind of sailing i want to do for fun, so i decided a domestic weekend was in order. Looking around the house, the casual observer wouldn't notice anything remarkably different, as there are still the odd piles of papers for me to sort, and Jim delights in jumping on everything he possibly can. The older cats are still hissing, although a bit less than before, and Jim actually gives them space for three seconds before bounding over to them, so there are improvements there.

While the cats were working out their personal space issues, I went through some of my clothes. They seem to propogate in some way as well as change sizes. I've been a telecommuter for nearly three years now, so really, i don't need to hang on to all the office clothing. I've always preferred comfort over fashion when it came to clothing, and i've always regarded the clothes i was required to wear to work to keep with company dress code were really clothes of prostitution. Now, some of the items i actually liked, but when it comes down to it, my favourite mode of dress is a pair of jeans and a tee shirt or sweater (jumper) depending upon the season. On really hot days, i've been known to don a sundress, although most of the time in the summer, it's a pair of shorts and a sleeveless shirt or tee shirt.

This weekend seemed like the perfect time to go through the clothes and sort things out, once and for all. I'm not quite finished, as i did have to try some things on. My rules were pretty simple. If i didn't like it, it went in the giveaway pile. If i liked it and thought it worth keeping, i had to try it on to see if it fit. If i were unsure, i'd try it on and see what it felt like. That last bit probably sounds crazy, but there are clothing items that don't look like much, but off the hanger and on the body, they wrap me like a comforting hug. If it got high marks for comfort, it was reserved for the perhaps keep pile. If it didn't feel right, into the giveaway pile it went. I found the shirt i wanted to wear two weeks ago. I found it with a number of pair of shorts i had forgotten i stowed in a drawer in the guest room, and most of those shorts went to the giveaway pile. It's August in the Northern Hemisphere for crying out loud. If i hadn't missed any but one pair of them, wasn't that a sign?

The last time i went through this exercise was three years ago. I had six weeks to pack up the bulk of the contents of the other house, which was then our primary residence and move them here. While i had purged clothes then, i didn't take into account that i had left some here so that when we came for a long weekend, we didn't have to pack so much. And, it dawned on me, i hadn't really consolidated things, just hung stuff up or put the drawers back into the bureaux and called it good. Tra-la-la.

I'd never consider myself a clothes horse, but my burgeoning closet and drawers tell a different story. In musing why that was and what other lies fallacies did we believe about ourselves, i realised that i was a depot of sorts. Any number of women over the years would ask me if i wanted their clothing. They had either just given birth or gained or lost lots of weight and in going through their clothing, found some pieces i might like. Nearly all of these women had fine taste in clothes and like or love shopping. I shop only because i need to, and they saved me a lot of grief from having to do that. They saved me money, too, and in one case, i was able to reciprocate by giving one of the women some of my smaller sized clothing that i didn't want to part with, but i knew the items would fit her, and she'd look great in them. She said something that i've always remembered, "I won't hold your clothing hostage."

And yet, here i was, the Depot. That sounds so much nicer than holding things hostage, doesn't it?

As a result of my domestic weekend, Planet Aid and Goodwill have several bags of things from moi, and more to follow. Shoes and coats are coming up very soon on the purge screen. Yes, i can justify those, too--some of the shoes i wasn't sure i could wear after breaking my leg, and it took a couple years before i could wear anything besides sneakers (trainers). But again, some of those shoes were for someone who had to dress up a good deal more than i do now. When Himself and i went to a wonderful place a few weeks back to have an excellent dinner, i wore a pair of high heels my friend Jude would call FMPs*, and i couldn't believe how uncomfortable they were.

FMPs. I had a pair of cobalt blue slings that fit the description, and after i broke my leg, i knew i'd never wear them again. The heel was too high, and even before i broke my leg, they were none too comfortable. Jude was sad to hear i gave them away but agreed that FMPs such as those deserved to be seen, and she was sure the Goodwill shopper who saw those would be happy dancing indeed.

What really struck me as i looked through my things this weekend was in some ways, these items seemed to belong to somebody else. A different chapter. And that made it easy to put so much in the giveaway pile. Oh, not to worry--there were a few emotional favourites that i'll hold onto for a bit longer yet. And even if i get down to just things i like and that actually fit well, there'll still be more than enough or too much. Sometimes that's a fine line.

Taking a break on the clothing front, i balanced the checkbook, and got my savings record updated. Did a great deal of filing so i can actually find things pertaining to this year, and they're now all in one place. I derailed when doing the taxes this year in April, and while i meant to get back to sorting things, somehow it didn't occur until August. Ah, well, both months begin with A and we've still another quarter to go of this year, so there's hope i can have a strong finish.

I gave everything in the house a good dusting, vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, wiped down the kitchen counters and cupboards, and cleaned the litter boxes. Played with the cats. Went out to dinner with a friend, and we watched the first episodes of  Doc Martin as she had missed the very beginning of the series, and i hadn't seen any of them. Tried to do a bit of knitting, but Jim is fascinated with anything that moves, so i have to wait until he's fast asleep. Speaking of which, it's his bedtime, and i still shut him up in my office at night. The older cats like the break, and as much as i love him, i relish it, too. I can have issue enough with my gauge/tension when i knit without his help!

*FMPs=F*ck Me Pumps (shoes)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get ready for some fuzzy cuteness

I have been trying to get a good picture of Jim, but he moves around a lot adding to my ineptness as photographer. My friend's 10-year-old grandson, he of spicy ketchup potato chip/crisps fame, took 2 very good photos, so i might be asking if i can get a copy of each.

Meantime, these shall have to suffice.

He loved the kitty doorstop the first week and flung himself off him. Nowadays, it's a simple climb over.

He sat still long enough, so I clicked the button and ignored the bad lighting.

He likes to climb, and I had forgotten I had put this silly thing on the chair in the living room. Jim thought it was there for his amusment. He sees the toy potential in everything.

He's testing out the toy possibilities. It's shiny and it might move.

Pausing a moment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

RIP, Marvin Hamlisch


Another legend from my halcyon days gone.

He leaves behind a huge body of work.


I clicked on the Biography tab on his website and was astounded at the long, long list.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shout out to contractors-the Grace test

I've heard countless tales of woe surrounding contractors. They never call back, they don't show up on time if they show up all, shoddy workmanship, etc. I've had a time or two where people didn't call me back, and a time or two of shoddy workmanship. As with so many things, one or two occurrences can taint one's perception and cast aspersions on the group entire.

And so, Himself discovered the leaking water heater. He wasn't going to be here for the fix, which was fine. I had a plumbing issue earlier when he wasn't here and a hockey teammate recommended an excellent plumber. I have since heard lots of great things about how marvellous of a plumber he is. In my case, he did a great job, didn't charge an arm and a leg, and as if i needed further proof, he passed the Grace test.

Grace was our wonderful black and white, one-eyed cat, who left us last summer. We found her as a feral kitten when she was starved and her one eye was so covered with green and yellow pus, we couldn't tell if there was an eye still there. It took three adults to catch her, and two of those adults were Himself and i. She was slow to trust us, and her lifelong fear of brooms and sneakers (trainers) left me to believe that if ever i found the broom wielding, sneaker-wearing individual who terrorized this sweet kitty, he'd be meeting his Maker most expeditiously.

Completely undeserving though i was, she chose me as her human. She also loved Himself dearly, and although she lived with us for 13 years, she never really got over her extreme shyness with humans. Very few entered her inner circle, and the only two she liked right off the bat were two very dear friends of mine from college. All i could figure was that she felt the love my friends and i had for each other (more like sisters than friends) and trusted me enough to trust them right away. They also did not crowd her, nor did they corner her. They held out their hands and called to her, then waited while she made up her mind. Neither had to wait long.

Other friends, who are as loving had to wait years for such acceptance and even then, it was measured carefully. First they'd never see her. Then just glimpses. Then short pauses. Then maybe a chance for a longer look. And only after quite a long while of longer looks, maybe a quick pat on the head.

The last time the plumber was here, he changed out the old taps in the shower upstairs. Grace was here, and as was usual when a stranger came, all cats went into hiding.

I had been working and stepped away to use the restroom. When i returned, the plumber was ready to go and mentioned that he let out one of the cats, which he hoped was all right. I immediately thought of JoJo, as she was more trusting with humans than Grace and she more than Phoebe loved being outside. I told him it was fine, asked him which one, and he answered, "The black and white one."

I was stunned. I repeated what he said, not believing it. He nodded, and i said, "She didn't run away from you?"

"No, she was standing by the door and looked at me then at the door, so i opened it, and out she went."

When i told this to friends, they were just as gobsmacked as i had been.

I have been very pleased with the few things he's done and was glad he could fit us in with this water heater. Yes, the accolades of others was good to hear, and i am very pleased with the work. But truthfully, it's the Grace test that forever sealed the deal.

We needed an electrician for the new wiring (plumber would do the plumbing but not touch the wiring that needed to be done). I called someone whom i knew would know good electricians, and he gave me the name of someone he considered "an electrician's electrician." Gave me both his business phone and mobile. I called the mobile. He answered right away and told me he was booked for a month. I thanked him for his time, explained briefly what was needed, and he told me to try back if there was something else later on. I asked whom he would recommend, and he gave me a name, said the guy was next town over from me. I thanked him again, looked up the number and called. Left a voice mail message.

That evening, when i took a shower, i could tell the hot water heater had stopped working as the water wasn't as hot as usual (plumber said there was a chance it might). Called Electrician #2 the next day and still no answer so left another message. When i didn't hear back by day's end, i decided it was best to try to find someone else and to make calls the next morning. A weekly newspaper had a business directory, and i thought of my friend using one of the people who advertised there from time to time. A handywoman. I couldn't remember if she did electrical work. I had the paper and scanned it. There was her advert, but no mention of electrical stuff. There was also a Mr Handyperson--plumbing, electrical, no job too small. I said a quick prayer as i do with these things. I fervently wished i could employ the Grace test. But, Grace went over the Rainbow Bridge last summer. I sighed and called. Mr HP answered right away. I explained what was needed and said it might be the easiest job he'd get all day, as we already had the breaker box and all, just needed the wire run with a few extra feet for the new water heater arriving soon. He said he'd had a cancellation that morning, they pushed back to the afternoon, would it be okay if he came over in about an hour?

Yep, that would be fine.

And he arrived about an hour later. Jim ran to him as he came in, and he scooped Jim up. Played with him for a few minutes and went on to say that he'd gotten two kittens himself, rescues that were strays in a big box store parking lot. It didn't take him long at all to do the necessary wiring and when i asked what i owed him, he said he felt bad because he didn't do much and it didn't take long. But, he typically has a flat fee. I asked what it was, it was less than i expected, and i paid him in cash. I thanked him for coming by, and he played with Jim a few more minutes before he left. He joked about putting Jim in his tool bag and carrying him out. This was on Wednesday.

When i called the plumber to let him know the wiring was good to go, he said he'd be able to come Friday.

I thought about calling back Electrician #2 to let him know i didn't need a call back. But, i didn't do it. After all, look how many times they don't call back, they don't show up or show up late? My phone rang later that afternoon. Mr Electrician #2. He said he got both of my messages and was sorry it took so long for him to call me back (first call made Tuesday mid morning, second call made Wednesday morning, and this was Wednesday evening). What work did i need done? I explained that it was a very small wiring job for a new water heater, and as my old one had quit working, i had called someone else as i needed the work done sooner rather than later. "I was going to call you back and let you know," i said with a wince--okay, i lied-- "but you beat me to it!"

He said "Ah," knowingly and explained, "I was away a few days. My daughter just had a baby," and here i could feel the wonder, love, and joy in his voice. I was certain his face was beaming. "I had to be there for that, and...well...she and the baby had to come first."

"Congratulations!" i said sincerely, "Of course they did. I appreciate your giving me a ring back, and should something else come up where i need an electrician, i'll be glad to give you a call."

If i had done the call back, i would most likely have figured him to be One of Those Typical Workmen mentioned in the first paragraph because he wouldn't have returned the call just to let me know he was a new grandfather. This really did change things completely, and i felt a tad ashamed for lumping him in with Those.

A week ago, i didn't have a clue whom to call if i needed a qualified electrician. Now, i have three names i'd be glad to recommend to anyone. They charge a fair price. And as far as i can tell, they do great work.

We once again have hot water on demand. The plumber arrived just after 8:00 and was done about two hours later. Told me to wait about an hour for hot water. I celebrated by taking a shower over lunch and it felt wonderfully decadent.

So, thank you, you wonderful workmen. Who pass the Grace test. Who play with Jim.Who answer your phone. Who are upfront about your workload. Who rescue stray kittens and give them a forever home. Whose voices gush a bit when they talk about their new grandbaby. Who charge a fair price and do great work.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

First impressions

My friend, M, who was a cook on my friend's schooner, shall be cooking there once again. The cook who started this sailing season can't complete it, so M will be taking over.

She asked me if she and her grandson Jack, he of spicy ketchup potato chip/crisp fame, could stay chez moi for two days whilst she gets things organised in the galley and sets things up. Everything had to be removed after my friend's schoonre ran aground, and she lives just far enough away that the ride would be a very long one home and back.

I readily agreed.

When she and Jack had helped out a bit earlier last week, they stopped by the house here to say hi. They both had a to meet Jim, and like me, both loved him instantly. Jim liked both of them, although squirmed a bit when Jack tried to hold him, indicating his desire to jump about and play. Jack was loathe to leave and in subsequent conversations with his grandmother, when my name was mentioned, he'd say, "You mean where Jim is?" Prior to meeting Jim, he referred to me as "that lady with the bear in the back yard."

Himself noticed the hot water tank leaking, so we called the plumber. We need to add a bit of wiring to change this indirect heated one (heated via an oil-burning furnace) to an electric one, unless we wanted to pay nearly double for a new indirect heated one, so it took a day to get an electrician to do the work. Himself is away, and the old water heater died. Okay, not entirely unexpected, but i had hoped it would hang in there until the new one is installed (happening tomorrow).

As it turns out, M and Jack will not be spending the night here tonight, which is just as well. Since i'm already known as "the lady with the bear in the back yard" and "that place where Jim is" i can forego "the lady with the bear in the back yard, where Jim lives, and there's no hot water."

I've been heating water on the stove top for dishwashing and i've broken out the solar showers for bathing. They're okay in a pinch, but i shall be glad to return to hot water on tap!