Monday, July 29, 2013

I didn't check for bodies

Over the weekend, my home phone started to act funny. I noticed on Saturday evening that it rang a half ring twice, then would stop. I answered one of these calls, and it was a friend to say that she had tried calling a few times, but the line would disconnect. Another friend called me on my cell phone (which i rarely switch on) to say the same thing.

I called the phone company, expecting to take to a computer-generated voice prompting me to push a thousand buttons, when a man's voice came on the line. I explained the problem i was having, and he told me how i could check my line to determine if the problem were inside or outside the house (inside the house, i pay, outside the house, it's a free service call). He ran a check on his end and said it looked as if it were an outside problem.

He scheduled me for Monday, which was fine by me. He wasn't sure there was room in the schedule on Sunday, and i said i'd be out for part of the day, so just as well to have the repairman come Monday. He said that the repairs would take place outside so i wouldn't need to be there. But, Monday was fine, and someone would arrive between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Right after he told me how to check for myself, he said i may not want to go out this time of night to do it (which i didn't, as it was past 9 pm and dark), but i could try it Sunday. About 10 minutes after the phone call, i was checking my email, and a sudden, overwhelming odor of skunk spray pervaded. Damn. Skunk near the house. I'd had one spray the back door a couple years earlier. My eyes were nearly watering, my sense of smell was pretty much gone, and then i remembered that Jim and JoJo were outside. I had a sinking feeling about Jim. He would probably be curious about the little black and white creature ambling around and would want to go up to her and say hello.

He came in and i think he reeked of skunk, but the smell still lingered inside the house, so it was hard to say. Jo also came in. Both had something to eat and drink, and wanted to go back outside. I let them out.

Sunday morning, i let them back in. Jim reeked of skunk spray, and i had the opportunity to try and wash a cat. He did NOT want to be put in the bucket to be washed, so i got my hands good and wet of the concoction in the bucket and rubbed it on him. It was supposed to stay on for five minutes before rinsing, but he started licking himself almost immediately. I rinsed him off wetting my hands and then a small towel. He smelled less skunky, but i couldn't tell if it were lingering skunk smell in the air or on him.

Turned out to be him. I hadn't washed his face at all, not wanting to get near his eyes, but his head smelled of skunk, so i did a second hands-on rub.

He was actually very good, and i sensed that he was uncomfortable having this odor on him, so perhaps that added to his willingness. This morning, i found a few spots that still had a stronger skunk smell, so once again rubbed the stuff on, then rinsed with the wet towel. I didn’t wash his cheeks, and they still reek of skunk, but the rest of him is mostly deskunkified. The strongest smelling spots have gone from watering-eye stench to old rubber smell, so i’m going to call it good.

I enjoyed a hike with a friend yesterday, wasn’t expecting any really important calls to come in, and the two half rings weren't enough to let a caller get to leave a message on the answering machine, so spent my Sunday hiking, running an errand, and doing a little housework after Jim’s first washdown. Last night, both Jo and Jim wanted to stay outside all night.

This morning, after letting Jo and Jim in and feeding the cats breakfast, i remembered that the phone guy said 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the phone repair probably meant someone would come five minutes before six because that's usually the way these things work. I settled down to work after washing up the breakfast dishes and giving Jim his third washdown, when to my great surprise, the phone repairman showed up by 11:00 a.m. He was lanky with biceps, and long, curly hair that was starting to grey. He sported a beard and wore a friendly expression. I met him as he alighted from his truck, told him where the outside box was for the phone, and he asked which door he needed to use should he need to provide an update.

About 10 minutes later, he knocked on my door. Wondered which plug i had used for my check. I couldn’t remember. There were two, but i hadn’t thought to check both. Turns out that the problem was likely inside my house after all. He was going to do one more check, where he was going to call me on my home phone. I didn’t hear a ring, but i did hear a faint, very high pitched noise three times. It sounded like a dentist’s drill miles away, and i don’t know that i’d have heard it had i not cocked an ear expecting the phone to ring. I told him what i did/didn’t hear.

He wanted to know where the old jacks were. I knew this and could show him instantly. He thought they might be a problem but he’d need to look down cellar. He glanced at the Bilco hatch and asked if that were the way down cellar. Well, yes and no. If the hatch were unlocked, he could go down there easily enough, but the door at the base of the steps was latched so wouldn’t open from the outside.

I invited him inside the house, and pointed to the cellar door in the kitchen. At the same moment, i realized Phoebe had gone hunting down there every night for the last three nights, and she meowed loudly last night, which is her cry to let me know she’s got something. I usually call out to her, thanking her, and she either leaves it for me as a prize or eats it. I hadn’t checked down cellar, but when Phoebe was ready for bed last night, i hadn’t seen anything at the base of the steps, which is her usual display spot.

“I didn’t check for bodies,” i said, and seeing his eyebrows rise in alarm, i quickly explained about Phoebe’s hunting. “Old house, stone foundation,” i explain.

He nodded and laughed. “I have the same thing and know exactly what you mean. Funny when you mentioned about ‘the bodies.’”

I warned him about the low beams as he’s tall. He was down cellar for five minutes or so, then came back up to check the jack at the hall phone. I told him i hoped it wasn’t too scary down there. He laughed again, showing perfect teeth and said, “No, it wasn’t scary at all.”

Five minutes more, and he went outside to the outside box to do a phone check. If it rang all right, we were in business.

It rang all right, so i answered thanking him. Yes, we were cooking with gas.

He drove away, and during his service call, the mail lady had delivered my mail. I walked out to the mailbox to collect it. At the back door, as i was ready to step out, my eye was drawn to half a dozen feathers and one bird’s foot on the welcome mat. Two of the feathers were a dull green warbler color. At the base of the steps and to the left, i saw a mouse’s head in the gravel. As i passed by the barn, a strong skunk smell still pervaded and hung in the driveway, too. I got my mail, and upon walking back on the walkway, just before the skunk smell at the barn, looked down and right to see a good sized dead mouse.

What a welcome for the repairman, eh? Well, as i said, i didn’t check for bodies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


It's hard to believe it's been a year since a small, orange ball of fluff arrived here to live with us. Jim has grown into a young cat, tall, sleek, and very happy.

Himself and i celebrated the day by toasting the anniversary of our youngest feline's arrival. We also went kayaking and swimming. JoJo lounged on the barn's side porch and welcoming any of the breeze that blew to reduce the effect of the heat. Phoebe stayed inside, hunting down cellar and in the eaves closet and hidey holes. As for Jim, he bounded around the yard, lay alongside Jo for a quick nap, walked along the top of the fence, and after we returned from our swim, greeted us by rubbing our legs and curling his long tail.

In other words, just another day in his life, enjoying every moment he can.

I was hoping to get a good photo of him to show him all grown up. So far, i've been unsuccessful.

I think i'll take a page out of his and the other kitties' books, remembering to savour each moment.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

reconnecting and summer

I've shared on here before how i am on facebook and joined only because a fife and drum friend kept badgering us to join. "It'll be fun," he said. "We can keep in touch and share photos."

I finally caved after a year, and yes, while i am friends with a great many of my f&d friends, i have reconnected with others as well and i do enjoy seeing their photos and hearing snippets of their lives.

One of the groups i joined was for my hometown, and that has been a real hoot as some of the people i knew or remembered were just enough older or younger that we didn't socialize much but we knew many of the same people, so it's been fun catching up and reminiscing.

One of the women who ran with a different crowd from me when in junior high and high school, was, i found out, a bit of a shutterbug. She took an amazing photograph of three boys who were a year or two older than i was. She herself was maybe 12 when armed with her camera, she snapped boys being boys, enjoying a moment of summer fun.

Here's a look at the photo. One of these boys attended our last reunion (the reunion included our class and the class a year ahead of us), and although he's taller now and shaves, i still see that bright-eyed boy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

bridal shower

I met a young woman, E, on the boat about three years ago. She was tall, thin, quite self-assured, had a delightful sense of humor, and was dating C, a young man about her age. It was a new romance, and she gushed a bit when she spoke about him, as we are wont to do in that early courtship phase.

Several weeks later, when SFB and I were helping with downrigging, she walked up to us with her arm around a tall, blond man. She shyly introduced him to us, and I said quietly to SFB, “He’s the one.”

“Yes, he is,” he agreed and nodded.

After the sailing season was over, E ended up moving into C’s house. His job requires him to be at sea 60 days and off 60 days. E found a job at a local place and took care of things while C was at sea. Next, they adopted a delightful border collie. Then another border collie or border collie mix.

Earlier this year, she posted two pics on facebook: one of the first dog with the caption, “Pappa asked;” and one of the second dog, “Mamma said yes!”

I attended her bridal shower yesterday. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a bridal shower, I really can’t recall the last one, and I knew I’d be one of the oldest attendees there. Turns out that the bride’s mother, grandmother, older neighbour, and an older woman who until recently was with C’s stepfather were also there, glad to see another not-so-young woman in their midst.

There weren’t any silly games. E’s mom did e-mail C a bunch of questions and put E on the hot seat, asking her how C responded to them. E answered most of them correctly. One of E’s friends in attendance is 6.5 months pregnant with twins, and while everyone asked how she was feeling, and she was glad to talk about her pending arrivals, she was careful to make the afternoon more about E and her upcoming nuptials. Another young woman, Nichole, is getting married a bit after E, in October. I asked her about her wedding plans, and she looked excited and nervous as she briefly explained them.

In this electronic age, and I noted the number of smartphones present, with most being used to take pictures, I wondered about the importance of the bridal shower. Yes, getting married can be nerve-wracking and exciting, but really, if you live with your intended a few years before the wedding, well, you’ve already got the living together thing established, haven’t you? You’ve already got basic stuff most likely as far as housewares. So, does it still feel as special?

I recalled my bridal shower, which took place on my 26th birthday. My late MIL had a ball planning it, invited loads of women, the table positively groaned with food, and I got some very nice things. I had lived on my own several years so I had a lot of the start-up stuff already. And Himself often stayed over at my place, but didn’t move in until after the wedding, and then we moved to a two-bedroom flat six weeks later, so it felt more like we were living in our place, rather than his living with me in my apartment.

E’s mom asked if she’d open her gifts while we were all there. E said she’d love to, and many of us responded that we were curious to see what gifts she received. She confessed that she’d feel funny if someone got her something that she really didn’t like, because she’d have to fake like it. One of her friends quickly assured her that that wouldn’t be necessary, she was quite sure all of us had gotten her things she’d love. I thought back to my own shower and wedding gifts. There weren’t any that were truly dreadful, and some still survive.

She had hurriedly registered at a national department store and picked a list of things she’d like. This was helpful to me, as I wasn’t sure what she’d want or could use, and I went with the safe containers and lids one could use for leftovers or for food prep. The card I bought was simple and conveyed exactly what I felt. I was glad to be part of her shower.

There were lots of laughs when her first dog wanted to help open the gifts. E gave him bits of paper to play with, and in the case of my gift, he helped to open it before she was ready. We oohed and aahed at some of the nice things she got.

Her mother had wrapped the wedding RSVPs, which E knew she was getting from her mom, and her mom also told us that she was paying for postage, too. She had wrapped the package and adorned it with a paper flower she made. E carefully removed the paper flower, wanting to save it. Her mother scoffed and said she could make her another if she wanted. No, E wanted this one, as a memento.

Next, E opened up a gift from her grandmother. I was sitting beside E so was the first to see that they were old linens. Gram went on to explain, “These were Aunt Lydia’s.” Aunt Lydia, it turned out, had raised Gram, although we didn’t hear more of the story than that. The way Gram said Aunt Lydia’s name, you knew Aunt L was somebody special and wonderful.

There was a linen towel with an exquisite embroidered edge, and a few table runners that had threads skillfully drawn (pulled) to create intricate patterns so it looked almost like lacework.

I asked Gram if Aunt Lydia had done the embroidery. No, but most likely one of her sisters had. Gram then went on to explain about the drawn table runners.

As Gram explained, and lovingly unfolded the table runners, E’s eye grew misty. Tears fell, and I witnessed That Moment where E realized she is getting married. She seemed to take in that she was now entrusted with beloved heirlooms and had entered that Inner Circle.

It took her a few minutes to compose herself. Her mother looked surprised, her gram looked so pleased.

Those tears answered my earlier question. Yes, it still does feel special. It’s still a rite of passage where all who attend wish her well from our own vantage points, which run the gambit from “will that ever be me?” to “I can’t believe I was a bride so long ago.”

I didn’t feel very much older until I was leaving, and one of the younger women asked how long I’d been married. When I said “27 years, well in September, 27 years,” there was a noticeable pause. I then realized the woman who asked most likely wasn’t even 27 yet. I smiled, wished E well, pet her dogs, and headed for home.

It was a lovely shower.