The Roof leaks & Kid Stuff…
One can live magnificently in this world
if one knows how to work and how to love.
- Leo Tolstoy
You do what you must do. If you are a dog owner, you also do what the dog must do. Rain began just before the morning walk, rain falling at about an inch per hour.
Zoë and I splashed along under my big red umbrella. She seems to enjoy the inclement weather, if her stride and pace are an indicator.
Siberian Huskies look like they are smiling or laughing. It is something about the way they hold their mouths. Today Miss Zoë trots along grinning and occasionally stopping to shake off excess water. She is a northern breed so foul weather is her element.
Walking without the grandchildren allows us to stride along and it feels good. When the children and Mark are along, the walk sometimes slows in pace and is more of a stroll. People heading out to work stand in their doorways, sipping coffee, and watching as we splash through puddles and make our way down the street.
The wet weather means there is an extra step in our routine when we arrive home. I grab a towel and wrestle with Miss Z as I try to dry her paws and rub some of the water out of her dense fur.
Despite my best efforts, the girl escapes and trots down the hallway to the living room where she gives a long, satisfying shake and plops down to lick her feet dry. There are puppy-paw-puddles on the hardwood floors.
As I do damage
control, I pass the room where grandson
This has happened a couple times and Mark has been up in the attic crawl space with a flashlight to determine the extent of damage. There is no obvious evidence of a leak, but leak it does. We will have to call a professional. Another large unexpected expense, in a year when we are trying to bring our finances into line with Peace Corps limitations.
Today I will catch up on routine housework and read Brownie leader literature. (There are several books to wade through.)
The news that we will have several sets of house guests in November set off a furniture moving frenzy for me last Friday. I had planned to pare down our household inventory at the Oktoberfest Officer Spouse’s Club Flea Market at Ft Gordon, GA this weekend, but now I am opting to keep some of the furniture till we say goodbye to houseguests. After Christmas we will become more proactive about paring down our possessions and boxing up special pieces for storage.
The new arrangement in the living room is not entirely satisfactory, but it seems much more cozy. Both the cat and dog have established strongholds near the couch where the relaxation action centers.
In the past we had a TV room, but now the television dominates our living room in a large, unwieldy cabinet which I am eager to dispose of in the future. In the interim, it is a comfortable space to gather in.
After a little
yard work, Mark and
Randi enjoyed collecting a basket full of pine cones which we may use for a project later. I did some touch-up paining on our old stake-sided wagon which I plan to use as a fall decoration on our porch. I will probably put a few pots of mums in it and a pumpkin or two.
Late Sunday afternoon we all relaxed and played Monopoly for a couple hours. Mark was the land baron after a slow start. We finally forfeited the game to Grandaddy and took Miss Zoë for a nice long evening walk before making a big bowl of popcorn and settling in for the night.
Here’s another nice quote:
The love of one's country is a natural thing.
But why should love stop at the border?
- Pablo Casals
Walking Miss Zoë…
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
- Marcel Proust
The morning walk was trying. Last night there were high winds, tornado watches and flash floods throughout the area, part of the turmoil spawned by Hurricane Ivan. Many upstate communities have no power today. The neighborhood is littered with downed trees. The sky is grey and the warm air is thick with sticky, steamy humidity. All this could make a walk less than satisfactory, but these factors are not what made my walk so difficult.
A stray puppy managed to sneak up on Miss Zoë and me and proceeded to follow us for the duration of our walk. What a nuisance!
Initially I did not notice the pup, but he trailed me for several blocks before I realized he was there. He was an artful dodger and skilled at staying behind me so when I turned to see why Zoë was being so unruly, there was nothing to see.
I tried to continue my walk, but Miss Zoë was insistent, jerking her leash and snapping her jaw. She threw back her head and sat down. I jumped back and stumbled over the golden ball of fluffy puppy that tripped me up. Somewhat stunned, I stared down at the little guy. Zoë began sniffing him, licking him, pawing at him… The pup yipped in delight.
I looked the pup in his sweet eyes and barked out a firm “No! Go home!” I stamped my feet and shook my big red umbrella at him. He sat glued to his spot, staring at me.
Next I pulled Zoë to her feet and attempted to continue our walk, but I met with opposition. Miss Zoë wanted to stay and investigate this small creature. Leash, dog, pup and umbrella angled around me and I almost fell down. Gusts of wind blew my hair into my eyes and added one more annoyance to an already frustrating situation. I finally managed to drag an obstinate Zoë along, her front legs suspended above the ground and the pup continued to dog us as I moved as quickly as possible down the sidewalk. Pup kept up.
When we reached the field near the elementary school I decided to try another tactic: we’ll outrun the pup. I attempted to run. Now Miss Zoë is a Siberian Husky – a breed that lives to run, so an opportunity to make tracks should be pretty appealing to her. Not this time. Once again, Miss Zoë just sat down. I stumbled to a quick stop and the puppy scrambled around my feet and again almost tripped me up.
Time to just head for home. I dragged my uncooperative dog along and the pup trailed behind. After several blocks, we managed to get a little distance between us and the insistent pup. We were forced to a complete stop at a busy street and the pup caught up. He flopped down on the grass and gave a little sigh, but as soon as we made a move to cross the street, he was right behind me.
Stray dogs are not uncommon around here and many houses have three or four dogs inside fenced yards. It crossed my mind to simply drop the pup into one of the fenced yards. If nothing else, at least I could make my escape! (We have farm friends who often come home to find an extra dog in their fenced yard). I can not, do not, will not have another dog.
The Humane Society of overrun with lovely puppies and older dogs who need homes. They cannot accept another animal.
Many dogs (and cats) are killed by cars on the busy street in front of our house.
I imagined making found pup flyers and wandering the neighborhood distributing them. The determined puppy followed us for almost a mile when a car pulled over and a young mother and child got out. They started up the sidewalk to their front door. In the back yard I could see a curious dog running up and down the fence line.
“Oh, isn’t your puppy cute! See the cute puppy?” said the mother, squatting to help the little boy pet the pup.
I quickly engaged the young woman in conversation. I explained my dilemma while the boy and his mom rubbed the puppy’s belly. I nudged Miss Zoë and took a few steps. A little more conversation, a few more discreet steps away… When I was certain they were fully engaged with the pup, I picked up my pace and Miss Zoë and I made our escape. We were about half a block before the woman stood up and looked at us.
Feeling like a criminal, I quickly turned my head and continued walking. My heart was pounding. The puppy did not follow. I did not look back.
OK, no more puppy, but now I am exhausted physically and emotionally and I am left with guilt. I can only hope the pup will join the young woman’s dog in her back yard.
The Eagles have won!
The field in Ware
Shoals gave the feel of walking onto a movie set. The old stone field house, which once housed
the press box and the score board resembles what would
have graced a
Ware Shoals is a town that time left behind. It is a small community, somewhat isolated from the beaten path and not an easy commute from other less economically-depressed cities. There are many deserted houses scattered among some elegant mansions from the heydays long ago. Kudzu creeps up on properties, taking over the land, the trees and finally the buildings themselves.
The football game
was good. Certainly better than their
Following the game
we drove back to
There is a game Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
The ants go marching one by one…
Joy provides assurance; envy brings loneliness.
- Sir John Templeton
We had extra “guests” for breakfast this morning. No they are not refugees from Hurricane Ivan, no, they are ants. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny ants. This was no picnic, in more ways than one.
Miranda and I were still sleepy eyed, but focused on getting a good seat at the breakfast table when we became aware that Mark was moving at high speed and emptying the contest of several cupboards onto the countertop. A long line of tiny ants marched in a single-file formation across the bottom of the cupboard and across the back wall into the next cabinet.
They puzzled us since they did not seem to be drawn to any of the more obvious treats one might think ants would be drawn to. There was no evidence of ants in the sugar containers or on the peanut butter jar. It was as though they were simply enroute to somewhere else. With three cupboards emptied, Mark squirted a few shots of ant spray and took out a few hundred of them and dispersed the remaining bunch into a confused crowd rather than a disciplined squadron.
Later this morning I will tackle the clean up operations. Why they are there and where they are going remains a mystery.
into the weekend because usual the routine was broken. Mark and I started the day in Miranda’s
classroom along with many other grandparents.
We had the opportunity to share some stories about our trip to
Later on Friday
Mark and I drove to
The weekend was
low key. Saturday we again went to yard
sales. We came home with a video of Watership Down.
Much of the yard sale allure is simply seeing the community up close. We meet local people and learn much about the area and about attitudes. People at yard sales talk. I collect phrases, personas and tales for later use (in my writing).
We ended the morning at the town square in Hodges where they had their annual fire department fundraising festival. A carnival was set up and there were craft booths, etc. Hodges is a tiny town and an insular community. There is a feeling of stepping back in time when you visit. Cameron snacked on a funnel cake and Miranda chose to sip on lemonade while we strolled around looking at the fair.
Mid-afternoon, my friend Martha came to visit. She and I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and visiting, just like our mothers once did. Since Martha is also originally from Le Mars, her visits seem a bit like having family visit.
Later Marty and I slipped out and went to a couple antique shops. Martha is excited about decorating Pat’s new farm so we had fun window shopping. She did purchase a large pottery ram. He is a primitive style and will add a touch of whimsy to the kitchen. She hopes to establish a Scottish feel about the place and they are hoping to sustain that image with a Scottish name for the property.
Sunday we all got up and shared some wonderful French toast. Mark is a good cook and we are appreciative eaters. Following the meal we headed outdoors for an extended walk with the lovely Miss Zoë. Our first stop was the mill pond where we fed the ducks. Turtles joined the fowl this time. We continued our hike along the rails-to-trails path and got a great workout.
The remainder of
the day slipped away while we did laundry and some weeding in the flower
In the evening when everyone was bathed and the popcorn was made we watched our yard sale movie. By Randi and I were in our beds, sound asleep and I believe the guys followed suit shortly after.
Tonight there is a football game to attend. That is if it isn’t called on account of rain.
Now I must tackle the ant relocation/removal project.
Rambles about birthday, rain, children…
I am mislead by appearances. Through the window I see overcast skies and a promise of more rain. Autumn days like this can be great for walking, but here, even with a temperature of 69 degrees, the humidity is evident. You can not detect this through the window view.
I walk a hundred yards outside the door and sweat pours off my scalp, down my back, soaking my shirt. Zoë initially trots along, alert, happy to be striding down the avenue, but soon her enthusiasm wilts and her panting is nonstop.
I think about
Moriah and Chip in
Before bed last night, I stood on our vine covered porch and watched the rain thundering down. The streets filled with water. Our sidewalk resembled a trout stream bordered by beds of perennials. On the radio there were recurrent warnings of tornadoes and flash floods throughout the region.
On the positive
side: no football practice and maybe, with luck, no game tonight. I know,
I am in the living room and through the window I hear the sound of cars on wet pavement. The grey light filtering through the windows suggests a wintry day and I eye the fireplace longingly. With the air conditioner on (to dilute the humidity) the room feels almost comfortable enough for a cheery fire. (On my birthday I gave in to that impulse and enjoyed watching a few logs burn as I relaxed for a while with a good novel.) I will be glad when cooler weather arrives and I can have a fire…sometime in November perhaps.
The weekend plans were scuttled by the weather closer to the coast (this month there have been five hurricanes with all their associated warnings, watches, rain and threats.).
Saturday we drove
We lunched at The
Olive Garden. Dining with children is
always a compromise.
Sunday we loaded
Miss Zoë in the back of the truck and headed toward the western part of the
Monday, our wedding anniversary, we stayed home and puttered around the house. Mark cooked a fine meal and we shared some Spanish Cava. The kids had sparkling cider.
Yesterday I organized our Peace Corps medical screening package so we can make copies and post it later today. The only delay is for reimbursement receipts. The busy “season” for their staff seems to be June- September so, with the rush over, perhaps the screening time will be shorter.
I am fairly
certain there will be a request for additional tests or follow-up. This is not because we are not thorough, but
because they are a bit cautious about assuming any health risks for their
employees. I just hope we can leave in
the spring. I am ready to move on with
our lives and I do not wish to put down anymore roots here in
Today I will finish my Girl Scout leader package.
My birthday and changes of plans…
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing
it every day.
- Henri Nouwen
I donned my birthday crown before I even turned on the light in my bedroom this morning. I stumbled down the hall, rubbing sleep from my eyes and was greeted in the kitchen with a pile of packages and a plate of Eggs Benedict (somewhat modified to accommodate my diet preferences). I sipped my coffee, adjusted my crown a bit, and after some polite conversation began to unwrap the lovely gifts in front of me. Not a word about my lovely crown…
Last night Miranda
While I began opening gifts Mark assured me there will be birthday cake later – He made a “from scratch” carrot and pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting. I got a glimpse of it and have permission to sneak a piece during the day!
Randi’s gift was a special treat: two bars of
wonderful, dark, truffle chocolate which I will savor when I indulge myself
with espresso later this weekend.
I hurried around to get dressed so Miss Zoë and I could walk Randi to school. As I was tying my beat-up dog-walking shoes, Randi commented, “Gramma, I have a crown like that, but mine is bent.” I reached up and took my tiara off. This community already thinks I am a bit of an eccentric old, dog-walking woman with wild hair, but a crown would just be a bit too much for them. Real queens probably don’t wear their crowns when they walk their grandchildren to school. I wonder if they ever wear them at breakfast?
My day and my new-year are off to a good start. I may play hooky from my checklist today, but it is a long weekend coming up so I may just tackle a few things so I won’t regret it when Tuesday rolls around.
The tentative plan
is to drive to
One more cup of coffee and I will start my official day…I will be singing a happy little birthday song to myself because life is good and I am grateful for the abundance of warmth and joy that bless me.
Research says that scents are the most effective tool for triggering memories. I concur.
Zoë and I were
caught off guard this morning when a large truck pulled out of the mill parking
lot. As the truck driver shifted gears,
the truck belched out a cloud of fumes.
I inadvertently inhaled and almost immediately memories of our life in
In retrospect, it
is as though I was really back in
It appears our
weekend plans to visit
Throughout my life, it often rains on or around my birthday, regardless of where I happen to be on my special day. Most years I almost relish the rain showers (I like rain, but I grow tired of days of grey) as a sign of autumn on the horizon. Fall is my favorite time of year.
I rate beautiful, lingering autumns high on my requirements for a place to call home.
I hope on our
Christmas trip to
I am sure Noah and Moses were not too pleased with their lot in life at the time. I find much to be grateful for and I am abiding my time with good spirits, but I hope to take proactive steps to carve out a retirement home that meets some of my priorities.
I love to walk so a community with a CS church, a library and maybe a coffee shop and a book store to walk to are high on my list. Parks are wonderful perks and an active arts community – bands, a farmers market, interesting architecture… A dry climate with cool, crisp winters and comfortable summer weather. These are some of the criteria on my list.