DIRT – Marilyn Armstrong

My cleaning person was here yesterday.

It was floor and shower day and right now, the house looks as good as it gets. I’ve been explaining to the dogs that they can’t be messy. If I’m going to pay for cleaning, they need to be a lot tidier.

So all the floors are clean. Kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom. AND she got all the dirt that gets into the corner under the seat in the shower. I can clean it, but afterward, I can’t get back up.

While she was working, I commented that my husband does not see dirt. She laughed.

“No,” she said. “You show them the house and it’s a mess and they say, ‘It looks fine to me.'” I laughed. Because it’s true. Garry has improved over the years, though he will never be a natural homemaker. The baseball game will always be more important than the rug.

Now, when I point out the dirt, he squints, puts on his bifocals and nods. He has acknowledged dirt. This is a valiant change on his part and I acknowledged it by finding someone to come and clean every few weeks. This works out for both of us. She is very busy and has another part-time (5-day-a-week) job in the afternoon, so she calls me when she has a free morning, which seems to be about every three weeks.

We aren’t messy these days. The dogs are messy. We (the people) are quite tidy. We just can’t bend or lift much and finally, I realized no matter how I looked at it, we needed help. If Garry were 20 years younger, I could enlist his help — except he’d still be working and so would I, so it still wouldn’t get done.

This leads me to realize that when we were both working, I didn’t notice the dirt as much because I wasn’t home. Retirement leaves one in the house many more hours. I have much more time to contemplate the dust and grimy floors.

I still haven’t figured out whether men don’t SEE dirt. Do they really not see it or are they not alarmed by it? I guess they didn’t grow up with toy vacuum cleaners and pretend kitchens.

CHANGES — Marilyn Armstrong

As we have been repairing the house, I’ve also been rearranging the house. Three crates of dolls have moved into storage. The organ is gone. The big dining table has be folded up — it is a drop-leaf — into its smallest size and become where the plants live in the light of the east-facing window.

Finally finished front door

Photo: Garry Armstrong — Finished new wall

Owen brought over a small dining table today. It will, when open, seat six and if there are more people than that, it will be a sideboard and everyone can find a place to sit and eat. It’s hard to explain how very much I wanted someplace in this house where I could walk three steps without bumping into something.

The front woods

I’m waiting for my next large box to recommence boxing up the medium-sized dolls.

Autumn through the dining room French doors

So these two pictures: the first was shot on an SD chip I’d forgotten to remove from the camera. It waited for me. The other was taken today. Finally, a room that has floor space!

A quiet place to sit and maybe a place for a computer, too

New gutters, from the deck

Meanwhile, it would appear that we are now also under siege from raccoons. When all the birds and squirrels are tucked into bed for the night, the raccoons strike.

I really wanted to feed the birds, but it appears I’m feeding everything.

HERE’S YOUR HAT. WHAT’S YOUR HURRY? Marilyn Armstrong

I used to be the Entertainment Queen of my crowd. It was close to 40-years ago, but I was the hostess with the mostest.

I fed the hungry, housed the homeless, cheered up the downhearted. I rescued cats, dogs, and lost people. No living creature was ever turned away. It got crowded and if feeding the birds is expensive, imagine feeding 20 extra people every week. I think I was in the kitchen whenever I wasn’t at work.

Motley crowd on Coney Island boardwalk.

One day, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted some privacy. I didn’t want to clean up the mess or cook gigantic meals. I was tired of spending all my money on other people. The crowd that assembled nightly in my living room weren’t really friends. I had become a facility. A place to crash. Where there was always music, food, something to smoke and probably a good conversation and a sofa.

So I started locking my front door and asked people to call before showing up. About half the crowd never came back … and I never missed them. Others drifted off in the course of time. A few are still my friends today.

Where friends … and guests … are concerned, quality is not necessarily quantity. Actually, these days? Less is definitely more.


AND NOW, TIME FOR A CLASSIC JEWISH JOKE:

A very poor man goes to his Rabbi complaining his house is too small and he can’t stand it anymore. “What should I do?” he asks.

“Get a big dog,” advises the Rabbi.

Puzzled, the man buys a sheepdog and brings him home. The house is even more crowded, and the man returns to the Rabbi. “It’s worse,” he moans.

The Rabbi nods his understanding. “Get a goat. He can be friends with the dog. Oh, and get a cat too.”

Even more confused, the man does as instructed. The house is unbearable. He returns to the Rabbi. “Please, Rebbe, it’s horrible at home. The dog, the cat, the goat … and it smells really bad.”

“I think you need a lamb,” says the Rabbi. “And a calf.”

DogsSlayThe BeastieDutiful to the end, the man gets a lamb and brings it home. The noise alone is deafening. There’s hair everywhere and the place stinks. Finally, he goes back to the Rabbi, now desperate for relief.

“Rabbi, OY VAY, IT’S TERRIBLE. The animals go all over the house and they chase each other. We have no peace, no privacy.”

“Get rid of all those animals,” orders the Rabbi. The man heaves a sigh of relief and the next week returns to see the Rabbi.

“Rebbe, it’s wonderful! We have so much room. The house is clean. Life is wonderful!”


Today, as promised I began the process of crating dolls. As boxes come in, anything big enough becomes storage for dolls. Many of these are more than 50 years old. Some are older than me, but they are effectively like new. Most will end up at the Salvation Army. I hope little girls get to play with them and love them as I did.

But the process of letting go is not merely getting rid of things, but recognizing you no longer have control over what happens to those items. That may be the most painful part of the process.

THE GOOD AND BAD OF HELP AT HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

The good news? About half a ton of dust and dirt left the house today. Though I know it will return, it is nice to know that at least the living room is clean.

The bad news?

“Please,” I said, “Don’t disconnect anything. I don’t know how it was put together because I didn’t put it together.”

Crash. Wires everywhere. Television is on, the sound system is on. There’s no sound. Worse, my back is so bad today I can barely move. I’ve been doing too much lifting and hauling. The spine doesn’t like it. But Garry needs sound. Okay, I need sound too, but this is not a good day for me to be hauling, twisting, and lifting.

Although I did not connect the sound system, I’m pragmatic about putting things together. First, I found the plug that attaches the soundbar to the TV and also, incidentally, the electricity.

I plug it in, and the three little dots that mean “It’s ON!” light up. Sadly, there is still no sound. I find one plug hanging off the back of the TV and the second end is lit up in red. The one on the TV says “TV/Audio Out.” It lives in a square hole and it’s the only plug on the TV that shape. The rest are standard cable connections. Sometimes you have to count them. One hanging plug goes into the one the looks like as if it is the right size. I find the plug for the bass speaker and I realize that all the plugs are loose, so I stick them firmly in their holes. I find two connectors — cable connectors — and I’m pretty sure that at least one of them should be connected to the DVD player. Probably both of them: one for visual to the TV and the other to the electricity so it will play.

Do we need the DVD player right this moment? I figure we can get through the day without a DVD. Garry is holding the flashlight and is beginning to look a bit bored. I’m sincerely considering beating him with the DVD cables, but cables are expensive. If you damage them, you have to find the right cables which, since the DVD player isn’t new, can be difficult. Sometimes, impossible.

My back is killing me. So instead of standing up on my own — it took me ten minutes the last time — I have Garry hand me the soundbar. Since I have determined that there is no plug on the TV where that audio plug can fit, it has to fit in the soundbar.

Yay! I found where it goes. Now I have to figure out which way it fits. It looks square, but actually, two sides have little flanges and they need to fit into their slots.

Where things go and what lies behind

“Is the television on?” I ask Garry. He tells me the TV is on, but not the Roku. I point out that I need something on with sound or I won’t know if I’ve fixed it. He turns on the Major League TV channel. I plug the little square plug with the red light into the hole with the flanges and suddenly — there is SOUND!

I then walk around the room picking up fallen items (Robbie the Robot was down), plucked the dogs’ balls from everywhere and throw them into the crate where they will eventually find them. Remarkably, I manage to get up and I’m still clean.

That’s the good part. The back corner behind the TV is usually a huge mass of dust, old oak leaves, dog toys, and all the pens you’ve been missing.

The DVD is going to wait at least until Owen shows up and I just hand him the cables and let him figure it out.

I can’t let her anywhere near my computer because everything is connected in this area and if she knocks those cable around, my chair won’t lift, my external hard drive won’t work and probably both Garry and my computers will be down. It will be clean, but life will not commence until I make it all work.

I can make it all work (I set most of it up myself), but all that bending and twisting and lifting will make me crabby. I think I need to get some crime scene tape to keep her out of the electrical corners!

POP! NEW GUTTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

“POP!” Pop of Positivity Share
Theme: People doing the right thing
just like they promised!

Usually dealing with contractors is at it’s best, not too bad. This time, it went so easilyAtlantic Gutters were on my schedule for 2 pm. They showed up at 10:30 in the morning. Just as well we didn’t sleep late.

They went to work instantly without a moment wasted and in a few hours, they were finished. It cost $500 more than expected because there should have been fascia put on with the roof, but they weren’t there (we had really awful people doing our original work because we didn’t know anyone and we took someone’s recommendation.

New gutters from the deck

The guy turned out to be her brother-in-law and he’d never put up a roof or gutters before. It was a disaster for us, but he took the money and smiled all the way to the bank. We knew so little, it took us years to discover what a mess they had made.

Thus, for the past 19 years, gunk has been building under the edge of the roof. Without the fascia, we were going to need a roof soon. We just bought maybe 8 to 10 more years of roofing.

The company is Atlantic Gutters of New England and they are a large group, reasonable prices. Not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive. They are a big enough organization so that they are likely to still be in business in a few years. I sure hope so. They give a nice, long guarantee, but as I have learned, a guarantee is only good if the company stays in business.

Right now, I’m pretty happy. Even with the unexpected $500.

After they were finished … and I should add that they cleaned up every single item they used. When they were done, it was exactly as it had been before they began. Which means that we have several tons of leaves to blow into the woods. I always laugh when people suggest we need humus (no, not the delicious combination of chickpeas and tahini (with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and maybe a hint of chopped onion) but the rich soil you find on the floor of the forest.

We have a lot of humus. Enough for half a million gardens. Maybe more. So when they left and I had handed them my previously empty credit card because I really needed those gutters, I went out to the back porch to sweep up the pile of leaves and birdseed. Surprisingly, there were no seeds on the railing. Between the return of the Mourning Doves and the determined little chipmunk, every last seed got eaten.

We refilled the feeders — again. We filled them yesterday, too. We also let the Duke wander around the deck and bark himself sick. This does not scare the birds. They trust their wings. It freaked out the squirrels and the birds get a whole hour to eat before the squirrels were back.

After a while, the birds got tired of watching me push leaves off the deck and started hitting the feeders with energy, totally ignoring me and the Duke. They probably didn’t even appreciate the new gutters.

BLACK & WHITE – HALLWAYS, CORRIDORS, AND NARROW PATHS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:
Indoor Walkways, Hallways, Elevators

I’ve been thinking a lot about hallways and corridors recently since I’ve been wondering if I should start saving up for some version of a motorized wheelchair.

Medicare will give you one only if you are going to use it IN the house, not outside, but I don’t need one in the house. I need one outside, in the mall (for those rare times I go to one) … and moreover, I need one that could travel “off-road” on grass and gravel surfaces because that’s where I take pictures. If it only travels on smooth surfaces, it won’t get me anywhere I need to go.

It’s actually two hallways — up (with stairlift) and down (stairs only) — and only 39 inches wide!

All the books and DVDs make the hall rather narrow

If the thing will only run on flat, smooth floors, what would I do with it? We don’t live in a flat, smooth-surfaced world and the hallways in this house are far too narrow to navigate in any kind of chair. They are often difficult to navigate on foot and we are used to turning sideways when we are carrying packages — even small packages.

Narrow entryway

Almost too narrow to get the groceries up — the stairlift gets in the way!

Between Garry, me, and the pups, we knock a lot of stuff off shelves and tabletops. It makes one think seriously about what do you do when you can’t walk, but you can’t get up and down the stairs with a wheelchair either. Does that mean you have to move to “one of those homes”? Shiver.

NOTE:  Garry says we should hook up the dogs and make them work for a living. I pointed out we’d need more dogs. More dogs? MORE dogs?

ANOTHER DAY DOWN THE TUBES – Marilyn Armstrong

It wasn’t a bad day. More, it was a day when you don’t stop moving and when it’s over, you wonder if you accomplished anything.  There were so many stops and starts and lots of running up and downstairs.

I never made it to comments. I haven’t opened any emails. I did take quite a few pictures but haven’t had time to process them.  The rain is just starting. It may not hit us as hard here —  not the rain, anyway — but definitely very high winds. With the trees still full of leaves, that means blowing branches and breaking trees.

The animals must know what’s coming. Everything was in a feeding frenzy.

Photo” Garry Armstrong

Our nor’easters are essentially “local hurricanes.” Storms come in from the ocean and start to spin. They don’t move. So if it’s rain, there’s flooding. In the winter, we’ve gotten as much as three or four feet of snow before it finally breaks up.

With the contractor working, there was a strong sense of pressure to get finished before the weather moved in.

Then, there were phone calls. I’m checking out other medical insurance. I should have made the calls earlier in the week, but I had to make them today.

Meanwhile, it’s the world series but I think they are going to cancel the American League Pennant because of the weather. A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel went on for hours and entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as I suspected, they were having problems. The baseball channel has a lot of problems, but if you want to watch baseball, gotta have it.

I needed to fix Garry’s broken email too — which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

The contractor did a GREAT job on the house. He’s still here. It is a real improvement. No more rot and no more of that sloppy, moldy old door … and the front door is finally insulated and nicely finished. It needs a new painting, but I think maybe it’s too late.


New Surroundings — our contractor — managed to do a good job without bankrupting me in the process. He did a really good job. All neat and sealed against the weather. And we sure have weather incoming. 


Tomorrow, we have to take the car in because somehow, one of the two latches that keep the hood in place broke off. No accident or anything. It’s just gone. It’s not a big deal driving a few miles into town, but a longer trip could cause serious damage.

Meanwhile, since both Garry and I have doctor appointments next week at UMass, their automated equipment calls every day for each appointment. They are such long calls, too. I feel a powerful need to go edit their electronic phone calls.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but It was busy and fragmented. This is the only thing I’ve written today and I need to process at least a few pictures. Frozen pizza for dinner because I’m off my meds for a few days to give the rest of me a break. Today is the day I realized what a difference they make.

With the washing of the dishes, the official day is done. I feel like the day never fully started. I knew this month was going to get weird. On my agenda for tomorrow is explaining to the doctor that Garry’s has run out of hydrochlorothiazide because The Duke ate the container. Duke doesn’t (fortunately!) eat the pills. Just the plastic container. And any wood he can wrap his jaws around.

I have a lot of natural antiqued wood furniture. Duke is not the first wood chewer in the household. Only the most enthusiastic.

The Wood-Eating Duke

MY WORLD GOES ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was about to give up. Contractors have a weird way of vanishing just when you think you’ve got a deal. You have the money in hand. The house awaits some long-awaited repairs. Which is when your contractor slips into the mists of time and disappears. What happened?

But not this time — or at least I don’t think this time. We have a date. I have the money. If we don’t get typhoon-level rain for all next week, we’ll have a fixed side of the house and a repaired (and hopefully freshly painted) front door.

The deck Dutch door won’t make this year’s repair list. We’ve run out of time. The weather is turning, so that job will have to wait until our next not-winter. I would say spring, but spring is usually winter, but wetter. So the next time after the regular winter when we have weather in which a carpenter can work … like maybe May or June, the Dutch door gets fixed. Along with the rot around it.

I am thrilled. No, really. I know there are too many other things going on about which I seem unable to do much. So I send $5 to Elizabeth Warren and fill my bird feeders which somehow doesn’t seem nearly enough, but it’s what I’ve got to offer and I figure it beats nothing by a little something.

Oh, and I switched to all wind-powered electricity. Yes, I know it costs more, but I figure it’ll be maybe $5 a month … well, with Owen coming back and all his stuff, probably more but he’ll pay his way, so it should be fine.

Meanwhile, Garry is feeling better and Bonnie seems to be barking less. She now seems to require a biscuit from both of us. We have to both appear and bribe her and then she goes back to sleep. Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

I’m just really happy the house is getting 2/3 fixed. We didn’t really have the money for the Dutch door anyway, but I was going to try to “make a deal.”

Something I read today — I think an article in the Washington Post — the author said that by Friday, she can’t remember what happened on Monday unless she goes back and reads her notes. That’s just how I feel. By Friday, this world has whizzed around its axis about 48 times. I sometimes forget the morning news before lunch.

But at least I am getting a couple of major items cared for. So in case the world survives, I’ll have a great front door and won’t have that rotten side door anymore.


This song was written by  Tom Paxton, but I can’t find a copy of him doing the singing. This singer’s okay and he plays the guitar well. So he will have to do!

In case you may be wondering why, despite the fact that the door that opens onto the deck is not getting replaces, it’s because I simply love that door. I love being able to open the top and have the air blow through the screen in the door. It turns out that Dutch doors are well-loved and wildly expensive. I could probably make a fair bit selling it, but I just love that door.

Scrabbling Junco feet!

Today we had two rather hungry looking squirrels, our usual chipmunk who is beginning to become a teenage chipmunk … and a lot of woodpeckers. I wonder why the woodpeckers are so fond of our feeders? We have a woods full of trees and a fair number of them are old and hollow, so there ought to be plenty for them to eat … but maybe we serve a better meal?

TAKING THE REST OF THE WEEK OFF – BACK ON THE WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

This is the kind of busy week we all bump into. Usually, I try to set up schedules with posts in advance, but I’m tired. I’ve been pushing to try to get everything that needs doing done before the snow flies. I finally realized I can’t do it. It’s not because I’m unwilling or uninterested.

I’m tired and I can’t keep pushing this hard. Cooking, cleaning, writing, photographing, processing, editing … and maybe even sleeping (!) — I need time. I need a few days to get stuff done. I can’t sit at the computer all day and still manage the rest of the week. So, until Saturday, I’m dealing with the rest of my life. Or trying to.

Tomorrow is Garry’s dental work. The first of two days, actually.

There’s something for every taste

Thursday I have nearly a whole day while they figure out what to do with my Pacemaker. It will need its battery replaced soon. Whether to switch to a new (non-metal) Pacemaker or keep the current one is up in the air. New or old, they are internally identical (no major progress on Pacemakers, in case you were wondering). Plastic or metal, they are no different, so it’s a matter of “convenience.” Mostly mine. On the upside, there are a lot of tests they can’t run if I have a metal one and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I can’t get an MRI with a metal pacemaker and there are many airport issues. Except I’m not flying anywhere. There’s some question of whether or not Medicare would pay for a replacement anyway since there’s nothing wrong with the one I have. Personally, I’d like a thinner one where I can’t feel the wires — and not have to panic in the presence of magnets. Sometimes, when I walk past my refrigerator that has all those magnets on it, I wonder if I’m going to accidentally turn my heart off.

Friday, Owen’s moving in. Right now, he’s moving out all the trash in the basement. For the FIRST TIME EVER, all the junk will be GONE.

Oh, joy! I do need to check for a few long-missing items. I have a feeling they are in big cartons at the back of the basement behind all the rest of the more recently added junk. All my old writings and my copy for the ceremony of “Fall of Sauron” day are in the very back — assuming they are still readable.

I may want to dump most of it, but there are probably a few things worth keeping. Or they will so embarrass me I will race to the dumpster with them.

So I’m just going to take the rest of the week off. See if I can clear out the mountain of email. Get some sleep. Buy groceries as we’re running a bit thin in the freezer.

I think my contractor will be starting work next week and I think (I hope!) my granddaughter has found a guy to paint the doors. Meanwhile, I’d like to enter winter without holes in the exterior walls of the house.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES – UNIVERSAL CHATS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

 

THE TOILET SEAT

ME Honey, you left the toilet seat up AND you didn’t flush!

TOM – I know. I did it on purpose.

ME – What? Why would you do that?

TOM – Easy. Because I knew I was going to have to blow my nose after I took my shower.

ME – What does that have to do with anything?

TOM – Because if I wait to flush until after I’ve blown my nose, I only have to flush once, instead of twice. I’m saving water.

ME – Why don’t you put the seat down and flush after you use the toilet. Then throw your used tissue into the wastebasket.

TOM – (SILENCE)


PAPER TOWELS

TOM – Why do you leave used paper towels lying around in the kitchen? Why don’t you throw them out?

ME – Because I can use them again. I’m saving paper.

TOM – You can’t use paper towels over again! That’s the whole point of DISPOSABLE paper towels. They’re disposable!

ME – That’s ridiculous! You can use regular towels again if they’re not too dirty. So why can’t you do the same with paper towels?

TOM – Because I don’t want to have to look at dirty paper towels on the kitchen counter.

ME – Okay. I’ll hide them so you don’t have to look at them.

TOM – I guess that works.

ME – (Sigh) Now I just have to remember where I put them.


TRASH TALK

ME – Tom, please take the garbage out. The bag is overflowing, as usual.

TOM – Damn it! I hate dealing with these overstuffed garbage bags! Garbage is falling out everywhere! This is ridiculous.

ME – Then why don’t you just empty the garbage one of the first three times I ask you to. BEFORE it starts to overflow.

TOM – Where’s the challenge in that?

HAPPENSTANCE JUST HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – HAPPENSTANCE

It has been one of those weeks. We were supposed to go away at the end of the week to celebrate being alive and surviving this year, but happenstance really happened big-time. First, I got sick. I wasn’t sure I was sick until I talked to Cherrie and she had the same thing and then Garry came down with it. I guess that means I had something. It’s one of those stomach things, so it will go away pretty quickly (usually they only last a few days), so I’m not going running to the doctor for something that’s just “going around.”

As it happened, one of the people we would be have been visiting has to be in the hospital soon. People with contagious things don’t go visiting people who are having surgery soon. It’s just … well … rude. Unhealthy, too.

Then there’s the wall of the house. As concerned as I am about getting the insurance company to throw a few dollars our way (ONE year’s payment of our home insurance bill would more than cover the issue and we’ve been paying for a long, long time — 19 years on this house and 10 on the previous one — but they don’t “pay.” They collect.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

On the upside, Karin — who we were going to be visiting but now aren’t — dropped by this morning with her business partner and Garry got to jabber a bit and it was fun to actually have company. She commented that this is a really lovely area — which it really is. It’s a gorgeous area despite the terrible weather we’ve been having.

Owen then came over and put a new pillar under the back deck. The pillar is on cement, so it isn’t going to sink. It used to be attached to the house, but the attachment came loose. Propping it up seemed a better deal than getting a new deck. That’s a few thousand dollars and basically, there’s nothing wrong with this deck except that it has come unhitched from the house. Now, with a double-strong wooden pillar propping up that corner, it is unlikely to go anywhere. And he got the job done in under two hours. Go, Owen!

I’m still trying to get hold of the contractor. It’s a busy — SUPER busy — season for contractors. Not only is everyone desperate to get something fixed before winter drops by, but it’s hunting season. Big time. And contractors have an odd way of drifting away even when they are in the middle of a job. So I want him to come, but I have to cajole and coddle him. Can I bribe him with cookies?

And yesterday, because how loud can anyone hint before someone else gets the message, Garry bought me a brilliant purple orchid. Which meant rearranging the dining room by pushing the table against the French doors. We can use it as a sideboard if we are serving and everyone can drift off to eat wherever they are most comfy. And my flowers look so much better.

As it happens, happenstance won my day. I happened to have a new coffee machine because the old one croaked and new flowers to dream about. Garry feels a little better than yesterday and I don’t feel any worse, which is something.

IT’S GONNA BE A HELLUVA WEEK – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

It’s going to be a rough week. We are supposed to take a vacation at the end of this week — visiting friends — but I need something to get worked out here and make sure we have a house to come home to. I at least need to know what’s going on around here — if MAPFRE is going to help at all with this repair or we are just left hanging.

And I have also very quickly hire a contractor who will do a good job at a decent price. Soon. I’m almost as terrified of finding a decent contractor as I am of somehow guilting the insurance company into not abandoning us.

I had hoped by now I’d know if the insurers would come through before I tried to find a contractor, but I don’t have any time left. Summer is disappearing and suddenly, winter will drop by — and then nothing gets done until next spring.

What a sky!

It is a bit tricky without money. It’ll get done. How exactly? Good question, but it’ll get done. Somehow.

Garry looking for the best shot

Sometimes, when you are looking at what is going to be a very difficult period of time, it’s good to get out and take a few pictures, which we did. There’s not even a hint of autumn outside. Usually by September — even near the end of August — at least the maples are beginning to shift colors and the aspens are yellow. But this time, it’s just solid green, green, green.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong — The perfect canal.

On the other hand, the weather was wonderful. Cool, dry, with puffy white clouds and reflections like mirrors in the canal.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn leaning on the fence and Garry taking great pictures.

Just be patient with us. There’s an awful lot we need to get done and we have very little time in which to accomplish it. I think the biggest miracle will be managing to get something happening before the snow flies!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – I made him leave the woods. I live in fear of lethal mosquitoes!

FROM DUST WE COME, TO DUST WE RETURN – Marilyn Armstrong

A few nights ago, we watched one of the “Orville” episodes on Hulu. This episode was about finding a lost cell phone from a “time capsule” on earth and how someone recreated that world on the Holodeck. He fell in love with the girl on the phone, but of course, it couldn’t work. Past is past.

I love time-travel stories. In fact, Garry and I are quite addicted to them. The first movie he ever brought over to show me was “Somewhere in Time” which is a time-travel love story. I liked the movie so much I haven’t wanted to read the book. I want the images from the picture.

I understand, as a generation, we will disappear rather faster than previous generations simply because so much of the material we’ve created is electronic. Our things have no physical structure. We can’t store them except on our devices. When we pass, our computers will pass too if not immediately, then eventually. Time will make our computers useless anyway because technology is everchanging.

Dawn in Vineyard Haven.

Our photographs will largely disappear when we die. As we vanish, our memories will vanish unless we wrote them down somewhere in a book that isn’t immediately forgotten. It is a rare family (usually a wealthy one) where the past is saved through centuries. Even those ultimately disappear because time goes on beyond remembering.

Vineyard art

I’ve visited a few castles of great lords of Egypt (there are a few in Israel, including Lachish), plus of course Canaan, England, Ireland, and Wales. The oldest ones are rocks and ruin. What didn’t disintegrate through time was destroyed by earthquakes or other natural events. Many great monuments remain, but no one knows who built them or when. Personal belongings have long turned to dust so we can but imagine what the lives of those people might have been. I’m sure we are more wrong than right in what we want to believe.

Assuming we find a way out of today’s current mess and build a kinder, better world, bits and pieces of us will hang around, no doubt transferred to some new medium. It will be less than previous generations left.

Giant Rose Famille Ginger jar

I thought about all the photographs. Almost all will be lost because they were never printed. They have no physical reality. I even wondered (briefly) if I should print some — even tiny versions — just so there would be a physical record they existed. Then I realized no one would want the pictures anyway.

Let me rephrase that. They might want them, but they have nowhere to put them. That’s why when Garry was cleaning out his parent’s house, I was afraid he’d bring back stuff. It wasn’t that the material was not important. It was that we have no room for it.

Little things

Our walls and cabinets, closets and shelves — everything is full. The attic hasn’t much in it because it’s not really an attic. It’s full of fiberglass to keep heat in the house.

Funny how insulation was a big issue when we moved here. Now, I wish we had better ways to move air around so it wouldn’t be so hot!

More little things

Times change. Hopefully, enough of our world will be saved somehow and somewhere. For all I know, some planet in the great out-there has all our TV shows, music, books, and photographs. Maybe they are building a new world based on what they see in our old stories and pictures.

SIZE IS RELATIVE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge – Size Matters!

Everything is relative. When we moved into this house — Garry and I — it was perfect. I didn’t know about the tons of snow that would need to be cleared off the driveway or the water that would rush down the driveway and try to pool in the basement.

I never imagined 12-stairs would prove too much for me and Garry never thought pushing the trash up to the street would be life-threatening. I didn’t count on heart problems, cancer, or having yet one more vertebra (S1) disintegrate.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Our house in winter

Mostly, we didn’t think we would get old, cranky, or poor. We were working. We assumed we’d continue working for years to come.

Well, sometimes, it all turns sideways. Garry lost his job because they decided he was too old. I got too sick to work. Owen’s job blew up on 9/11 and never came back. The kids came to live with us, which made the house too small. Ten years later, they left, so now the house is too big and we’re a lot older and poorer.

Big, small … it’s all a matter of one’s position in the universe. I’ve heard people who live in mansions complain it’s not big enough and then, later, I’ve heard the same people complain it’s too much and who needs so much house?

Definitely a door!

The van was just barely big enough when everyone lived here and now our little Renegade is absolutely perfect (but I wish it had a bigger glove box). The deck was too small, but now it’s perfect.

If it would just stop RAINING for a while. We need a dry spell! Preferably, without killer mosquitoes.

THE CHURLISH ADJUSTER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Churlish

I couldn’t have picked a better word for this morning if I had searched the dictionary myself.

I should start by saying that Garry has been a customer of Commerce Insurance, now renamed MAPFRE since he moved to Massachusetts in 1970. Admittedly, part of the reason was that there weren’t a lot of companies servicing Massachusetts in 1970 and for private vehicles (Garry was a renter, not a homeowner), Commerce pretty much owned the market.

They are not even close to the cheapest insurers on the market. In fact, they are a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than most of the other companies, but over the years through lots of car bang-ups, they’ve been fair with us and even when, for reasons I still don’t understand they doubled their rates this year, we stayed with them. We have a long-standing record with them and I always think — usually to my detriment — that loyalty should be rewarded. I am usually wrong. I still anticipate when you’ve hung in there with a company for 49 years, they should at least treat you with civility and respect.

When I reported the problem, I was assured I’d be seeing an adjuster by Friday. I assumed it was a done deal.

Indeed I got an email and a telephone call from the agency assuring me the complaint had been received and properly filed and would be dealt with ASAP. I had a complaint number. An adjuster would be calling shortly to make the appointment for Friday.

I’m not sure why this stuff always seems to happen on a holiday weekend. It’s Murphy’s Law. This is not merely any old holiday weekend, but it is followed by an extremely busy week including more checkups with my heart specialist, Garry’s eye doctor/surgeon (his cataract surgery might need a bit of updating). Plus, a meeting with his friend who he is hoping will help him find a spot in the voice-over business.

Every day next week is booked and supposedly, we are going on vacation shortly thereafter — the vacation that got deferred earlier in the summer. I haven’t even begun to deal with Owen and dogs yet because until this mess with the house is sorted out, I can’t go anywhere.

Thus when the adjuster did not call yesterday as expected, the last thing I did last before going to sleep was write down the number of our insurance agent as well as the claim number so I could call first thing in the morning. There are events you can cancel — but then, there are events you really can’t and shouldn’t cancel and next week is full of the latter.

I called my agent and then, reading the emails I got from MAPFRE insurance, I called the agency itself. My claim agent (who is not the adjuster — just the person who handles the paperwork) was out until Tuesday. Long weekend. It’s the last time the kids won’t be in school full-time. I used to do the same thing, so I wasn’t surprised.

I really needed to see the adjuster today. I moved Garry’s doctor appointment to next Tuesday because I thought I needed emotional and mental backup today. That appointment officially made next week 100% fully appointed.

The adjuster finally called me and yelled at me for 10 minutes for apparently having the gall to call him TWICE inside a few minutes. Twice! He shouted how he had more important places to be than dealing with my little problem (it’s good to know they are concerned for my welfare). I pointed out in my best dulcet tones (no yelling) that all I had asked him to do was call me. He said he hadn’t heard about the appointment until Wednesday night and I said, “Today is Friday and all I asked for was a phone call.”

He finally agreed to see us later, around two. I said I don’t move fast, so please wait. It takes me a while to get to the door. He didn’t seem to understand what I meant but finally said he’d call and tell me when he was on the way. I said “thank you” and hung up. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been talked to that rudely by anyone with whom I was doing business. I didn’t think business people talked to clients like that. I know when I was in business, I’d have been fired for yelling at any client. Even if I had a good reason — and he didn’t have one.

I thought about it awhile, called MY agent, explained that I just been thoroughly dressed down by the adjuster who apparently didn’t think my job was important enough to give me a phone call and make an appointment.

I’m worried about the mold, too because Garry and I haven’t been feeling well and I wonder if the mold has something to do with it. I know we just saw it, but it has probably been growing underneath the damaged vinyl for weeks. Months?

Churlish hardly begins to describe this morning. I don’t even understand why. Has he been watching too much Trump on the news? Maybe he had a fight with someone else and I just happened to be the person on the phone.

Overall, not a great week. I’m trying to feel better, but I don’t think I’m succeeding. I’m working on it, though.

MYTH, MAGIC, AND HOUSEKEEPING – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.

I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”

Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?