Thursday, December 29, 2016

Decision made

Toby the cat was rescued from a parking lot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. No one could locate him; he cried for a day and a night. Then a little girl played the kitty app on her phone, and he came running. No onlooker volunteered to take it, so Carol and I scrapped our plans for another day at the Three Rivers Art Festival, and concentrated on getting the scrappy kitten back to Ohio, where he devoured a bowl of water logged adult cat food, and became the topic of my first blog entry.

We found him on a Saturday, and at his trip to the vet on Monday he weighed in at a pound. The vet put him at four weeks, and pronounced him lucky to be alive. Lucky or not, he seemed reasonably content, and grew up to be a very long haired black and white, with a “Got Milk” mustache and very short legs. I told him his mama left him behind because his legs were so short.

There were two cats in the house, Purrl, the indoor/outdoor cat, and Ryon, a young rescue. Purrl, of course, had no use for either cat, but Ryon and Toby got along. Ryon fell into the habit of licking Toby’s ears. I never saw the favor returned.

Ryon and Toby

Toby did not know how lucky he was, until a January day some years ago that Ryon took an afternoon nap and did not wake up. There was no other cat to lick Toby’s ears. He took to licking the arm of any available person and rubbing his ears on the wet spot. Truly pathetic. I asked if his legs were too short to reach his ears (they really aren’t, in a stretch).


When we go to the vet, there often is a large crate with a few kittens. I think Dr. Mike helps the local Humane Society get them adopted. Laura always wants one, of course. As sweet as kittens are, I’m not tempted. Pets are a responsibility, and there now is that problem of longevity. Toby is under strict orders not to outlive me, but a kitten could be iffy.

Toby boarded down the road for the week we were in Wisconsin. Thinking of his great longing for an ear licker, I asked the technicians to introduce him to the common room of cat boarders as quickly as possible and let me know how Mr. Feral took to new cats.

Toby is a feral cat, and does not resemble any domesticated cats I’ve known. In the beginning, he was the kitten who had to make up to adult cats. Now he is the adult cat, set in his ways, though still wishing for an ear licker. To consider a kitten for him, I’d need to know he could be social.

Monday evening I peeked into the cat room. Cats everywhere, lolling about, snuggled up to other cats—cat stuff. And Toby, lying in his condo, door wide open, looking out. I asked the technician how his week had gone, if he’d made up with any other of the boarders.

They said his door was open, all day, every day, and he laid in the opening all week. The cats came up to investigate him, and he tolerated it without flinching. But, he never came out and said “Hi, my name is Toby. What’s yours? Do you do ears?”

So, he can stop playing pathetic cat with me, and realize his paws do reach his ears.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A week off, and back again

We arrived in Wisconsin a week too early for Christmas.
Laura helped at the kennel,

 made cookies,
and made supper every day.

This is Sawyer, one of Pat and Ann's dogs.
Sawyer is a dropout from cadaver school.
Too easily distracted. 
No cookie dough will fall, but that's not what he thinks.

Waiting for Santa.

Pat is Santa; Laura has another hat.

This is Seamus. He has old, old bones. He's about 12.
He and a sibling ran away from home. Pat returned them.
Seamus was back on the doorstep every time Pat returned him,
until the original human said, "Guess he's yours."

And another of the rescues. 
I've lost track of the number of dogs in the house all week.
When we left, there was one less bed to sleep on, every night.
Sigh. A dog's life.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The cat prevailed

Vacation plans for Toby were firm, but fluid. He was boarding at a local kennel. And the kennel must be quite tired of me by now. Last week I made his reservation for Saturday, on. But the weekend forecast came up quite ugly, and I changed his reservation to Monday.

The polar vortex shifted, the weather moved a little north, and travel along two Great Lake shores to Wisconsin looked probable for today. I changed Toby’s reservation to this morning. I confess that all those times I called and listened to the times the kennel is open to take in and discharge pets, I never picked up on the crucial one. Though they are open twice a day throughout the week, on the weekend they are open Saturday morning and Sunday evening.

He Who, on a summer day.

I called yesterday to change Toby’s reservation to this morning, and the recording finally penetrated. I left a desperate message, but the call was not returned. Late in the afternoon I called Ann. She does run a kennel, and the cats have their own room, with sunning perches and everything. “Sure, bring him along.” Listening to him moan for several hours would not be pleasant, but perhaps Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter would lull him to sleep.

Laura and I worked through yesterday with the resolve of vacationers leaving nothing to chance. The car is packed. Suitcases are open on the floor, and packed. All the last minute items are listed, and bags to tote them are open on the table. We are as determined as two people who’ve had no vacation in three years.

I’d been in bed a short time, and half asleep, when I became aware of muffled plopping noises. “Why are kids out in the street with fire crackers, in this rain?” I wondered. Eventually I got up and looked out the window onto the street. Fat raindrops, landing solidly. I went back to bed.

We are encased in ice this morning. I looked at the weather maps. Lake Erie and Lake Michigan are wreathed in purple and blue—freezing rain and freezing cold. I texted Ann, It’s No Go. Toby will be keeping his Monday reservation after all.

The front garden bench, through ice.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I didn’t come in from the cold yesterday, or, my heat pump learning curve

Most all my life I’ve lived in homes heated with natural gas. Nice stuff, comes into the house through a pipe, burns in the furnace, makes warm air. Have the furnace checked yearly, good to go.

When I looked at mobile home units, my choices were electric or propane. I’ve been in propane heated houses, and it’s OK, but not so warm as natural gas. Don’t laugh; there’s a difference between warm heat and not so warm heat.

The units available last June were this electric unit, and a propane unit. I chose this one because electricity comes in through the electric line, no tromping out to check the meter on the propane tank.

I looked it all over. I saw an air conditioner outside, an electric furnace in the laundry room, an electric hot water tank in the walk in closet. I asked the manager, what I could expect for an electric bill.

“About a hundred dollars a month, if you’re careful.” That is astoundingly low.

We moved here in July. It was hot, and the air ran all the time. The bill was about sixty dollars. The next month was hotter, the bill was eighty eight dollars. September, cooler, back to sixty. October, we didn’t heat much, forty dollars. November, the furnace ran a lot, back to eighty dollars.

So, December was moving along as usual, until that polar vortex slipped on down. It is cold. There was that little thermostat mishap, adding to my misunderstanding of the heating system. The last week before the vortex, the temperature hovered in the twenties, day and night, and the furnace ran a lot.

But, the air was cool. I had Dan, the maintenance guy, take a look. And, I learned about heat pumps. Yes, that air conditioner is a heat pump, and they are super efficient, in their own way, and not the gas way I was used to.

When the thermostat is asking for heat, the heat pump extracts it from the outside air and sends it in. Dan aimed his heat gun into several registers, and the air coming out at the floor is in the seventies. It feels cooler because it’s cooler than body temperature.

My lifelong habit is to turn down the heat at night and increase it in the morning. I made a four degree change here, between day and night. That will all change tonight.

Yesterday Dan proved to me that increasing the thermostat two degrees will cause the electric furnace to turn on when it is cold enough outside to discourage the heat pump. “Just like burning money,” he announced. It was around ten degrees outside at the time. “Don’t change it,” he advised. “Run a constant temperature when it’s so cold out.”

But, of course, I would learn the hardest way possible. I lowered the thermostat to sixty two overnight. I heard the heat pump running whenever I woke up. This morning, I raised the thermostat one degree, ate breakfast, went to work. Three hours later the temperature was unchanged.

Outside we were up from two degrees to seven. Just as I was leaving an hour later, the temperature rose to sixty three. Triumphantly, I raised it another degree and went to my appointment. On returning the house was---sixty three. It was ten degrees outside. In six hours the heat pump increased the house temperature one degree.

I got it, Dan. I punched in sixty six and listened to dollar bills burn for half an hour, though I felt warm air rising all around. It’s sixty six now, and the heat pump is maintaining. Interesting stuff, this new heat.

Monday, December 12, 2016

What would you give for a Twinkie or a HoHo right now?

Monday afternoon, cards with the Methodists. No Mother of Sorrows has joined us, printed invitations notwithstanding. But the four of us don’t seem in a hurry to disband.

We have never been two only, which is a shame. I would love to teach someone how to play Russian Bank. Sometimes we are three, when one of us has her monthly bridge group, one of us is too long at the doctors, or one of us, who shall remain nameless, rides the Jerr-Dan to Goodyear to have the six year old battery replaced.

A while back I contributed a copy of Hoyle to the portable bag of cards. We were playing by family or frat house rules, and paper, scissors, rock is not the best solution among serious card players. A worthwhile contribution, as we had scratched out all the rules each of us remembered about pinochle and set out to play a game the last time there were four of us together. While interesting, it didn’t have the intensity any of us remembered.

Someone perused Hoyle recently, waiting for more of us to assemble, and there it was, the missing rule. The ten is more powerful than face cards. Our foursome has been a threesome since the lost rule was recovered, and won’t be a foursome again until January 2nd. Then there will be some card playing!

Every session, there are refreshments. Except for a crème filled donut at Halloween, I’ve never indulged. Between meal snacks are deadly. But there is such a laden table every Monday, I am coming to realize the snacks are out to keep stock rotated.

But today, apparently, there were no goods that needed consumed or composted. One of our number stopped at the Yum Yum Shoppe across the street and emptied from his pockets a chocolate covered Twinkie and unadulterated HoHo’s.  The later an oxymoron and the former—well, we’ve all read of the Twinkie unchanged over several decades of observation. 

The refreshments were offered around. He who stopped at the Yum Yum shop selected the Twinkie, when it was turned down. That left two HoHo’s and I declined one. The other player took a HoHo, but called his wife to see if she would like it. In fact, he placed several calls. “Honey, it’s me. It’s an emergency. Call me.”

They’re long married, and the emergency must be a long standing game. “She never calls me back.” But eventually she did. She turned down the HoHo, citing all the alien ingredients. He ate the HoHo with his tea, and took the last one for the road.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Almost the first day of winter

It's snowing in the township. 

 And on our drive and car.

The nerve!

We have the happiest sparrows for acres around.
In the morning the pear tree is full of sparrows,
waiting a turn.

The chickadee and the junco have not found their way back.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A fine Bazaar

For a couple of weeks I have passed the demure sign on the left,
announcing the Community Christmas Bazaar
to be held today, at our town hall.

Laura and I were there when it opened.
Our new road super had a hand in this.
Isn't he something.

We passed him in the hall, whistling while he worked.

There were more vendors this year,
everywhere we looked.

This is the township administration office,
converted for the day.
Someone you know is considering.

I bought ringing bells for our front door knob,

some more ornaments,

a Christmas sheep.
 I think Toby finds him extra interesting, so he's hanging with the stockings.

And some soap.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Now, this is scary

Dan and Joe came to fix the plumbing leak this morning. It was right there under the sink. Dan even raised the foot on one side of the dishwasher to make it level and stop the door from binding.

As I always do, I took a picture of them on their hands and knees, working. You know, illustrated stories. Didn't think any more of it until an hour or so later. I was visiting with a friend, and my phone made a new ping.

I took a look, and wound up appalled. My phone was offering to let me share a photo with an apparent Google circle entity at the location the photo was taken. That circle member was identified as the management company of my mobile home complex. 

Still baffled, as I could not make out the picture from the thumbnail, I tapped for the full offer, and there was a picture of Dan and Joe, fixing the leak. I would never have used the picture; it was rude. But, Google looked at a picture on my phone, associated it with the location and wanted to post it to their employer's Google circle.

And, that is frightening.

At my Thanksgiving gathering, one guest and I were chatting about the intrusion of intelligence into our lives. She told me that "they" listen to phone conversations, and then flood your internet with ads relating to subjects or products you might have discussed. I was skeptical.

After today, I think I will enlist a friend to help me conduct a test and find out if we're watching Home Depot and Victoria's Secret spots streamed down both sides of our computer screens after we chat them up.

I have one more subject for today. I cannot think of a category for this one. When Dan and Joe came in this morning, about nine, Dan complained it was cold. But, he complains about everything. I knew I'd just turned the heat up from my overnight 62 degrees, and blew him off.

When I came in from work at two this afternoon, Dan was right. It was cold in here. Sixty two and sinking. Management sent the dynamic duo right back. Joe ran back and forth for tools; Dan lay on his stomach in my small laundry room, testing out theories with volt meters.

Here is the conclusion. The red wire from the thermostat to "the board" in the furnace is shorted. "Some fool" probably stapled it down ( they could not pull it more than a foot out of the wall at the thermostat) instead of letting it lay loose "up there," and a probable nick has shorted through.  It cannot be fixed until tomorrow, when "Chip" can come a pull a new wire. Shame that fool stapled it down, else a new one could be pulled along the same route.

Dan and Joe went to the office and returned with two space heaters for us. They put one in the kitchen and one in the living room. After supper we turned them on, to warm up the house before bedtime. We promptly popped a breaker. We unplugged the kitchen heater; Nancy Drew located the breaker in a flash and put it back in order.

Looks like we'll be sharing the cat tonight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nancy Drew knows

There are two bathrooms in our new digs. Mine sprung a leak, and it’s not my problem.

In the old house, eventually I might come across a piece of plywood nailed down, and on investigating find it was to repair a leak that no one knew how to resolve in another way. It became my problem to ascertain the cumulative damage and find the repair people needed.

But, now it’s not my problem.

A while back I found water on the floor. I cleaned it up, and kept an eye on it. It didn’t happen when I used the shower. It didn’t happen when I flushed the toilet. I decided a washcloth I’d hung over the tub to dry had dripped, mopped up the puddle and forgot it.

Sunday we had company. Sunday evening I found a puddle. I cleaned it up and wondered if it came from the shower I took that morning. In the middle of the night the puddle was back, and by yesterday morning soaked the towel I threw over it.

I called management, and Dan and his helper Joe were dispatched.

Dan surveyed the puddle. He flushed the toilet. The puddle did not increase. He filled the tub with water and drained it. The puddle did not increase. He and Joe went outside and “pulled a panel.” No wet insulation. He came back in, mopped up the puddle and told me to be more careful.

The floor was dry all day.

I was home yesterday. My six year old battery went toes up; I had to wait for a jump. That failed. They sent a Jerr-Dan. Right in front of my house, the Jerr-Dan went toes up. Not my problem. Dan and Joe trailing about looking for a water leak helped ameliorate my car frustration. AAA sent a new Jerr-Dan and Dan and Joe left.

I did spend an hour at Goodyear, having my battery replaced. Got home five minutes before the kid, and counting the day a total waste, just hung out for the rest of the night. Bathroom floor was dry, until after a lovely supper of rigatoni in homemade chicken Alfredo. Nicely plated. And, we ran the dishwasher.

Nancy Drew looked at the puddle and puzzled, and realized the common denominator was the dishwasher on the other side of the bathroom wall. It ran on Sunday, after company, and ran last night, after supper.

I went to work today, after the long weekend plus Monday. I stopped at the office on my return and made an appointment to have Dan come tomorrow morning to look at all the towels in the bathtub. I’ll start the dishwasher when he calls to say he’s on the way.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

July 20th was 19 weeks ago

It's over for another year. I have Saturday's back.The band uniform is at the dry cleaner for the last time.  Saturday's don't start for real until next week, though. It was Saturday when I went to bed last night. 

It was nearly noon when we stumbled out the door today to take on Saturday shopping. Miss Less Awake than I rummaged in the back end of the car for several minutes before she handed me the shopping bags. She won't carry "granny" shopping bags into the store.

Our market is one of those new build warehouse sized emporiums so beloved of millennials. It's simply a rebranded Giant Eagle. Too big for me; Laura heads off with the shopping list and I wait on the wrong side of the registers until she finally comes down the chute and is directed to a lane. "Please proceed to Lane 13!

This time Laura sorted out a red bag and a green, in honor of the season. Her best laid plans went awry; we still came home with a couple of plastic bags.

After lunch, we set out to find some more ornaments and the star to top the tree. I thought about this over the week and decided on a garden center. They specialize in seasonal decorations, and seemed a great idea. One block down the road I had a moment! Why was I heading across town when we have a fine nursery across the street.

We bought a wreath, all the rest of the ornaments, and a star for the top of the tree.

Toby is happy to keep watch over the tree now. No more hiding underneath.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Can they win another game for Joe

It’s the state semi-finals tonight, Joe. And they’re matched against the same team that took them down last year, but barely.

It was a beautiful night last year. As I left from taking Emily for band inspection, folks were beginning to gather at the intersections of the residential and main roads. Why, I wondered, and then realized they were gathering to cheer the team buses. (They probably cheered the band buses, too.)

The team spirit of the city impressed me, and I swing around back into town to sit in the grocery store parking lot and watch. It was inspiring. Homemade signs, the beat up yard signs signifying the home of a band member (Loud is Good), anything they could get over their heads, the parents waved.

Tonight I had to get Laura to school way early.  The director wants to see how many gave up the holiday to march in the band, decide what sort of a show they could put on, and run through it. Sadly, it’s cold and drizzly. I bet the parents were at the corners anyway; football is a pretty big deal around here.

Instead of going home tonight, I went straight through on the main road and out to another township past mine. An old acquaintance is newly admitted to a care facility there, the memory unit. When the aid took me to her, she knew me and knew my name as soon as I spoke it. She remembered and used it the rest of the visit.

We had such a good chat. One of the sisters associated with the facility stopped to introduce herself, and my friend introduced me. The sister asked me to stay to supper and went and arranged us a private table and another meal. I couldn’t believe I signed out more than two hours after I signed in.

So, a cheer for Jean, too, who told me she would be ninety on her next birthday, “whenever that is. I was born in 1927.” That needs cheering from the street corner, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why she needs a head start

December is Laura's flat out favorite month.
Early on, her birthday. Later on, Christmas.

It's the present thing, I believe.

It started last weekend when Laura wondered what we should do for stockings this year. I volunteered to ask Aunt Janice for ours, and she asked if I would be offended if we just looked for our own.

"What about any of the ornaments?" She hoped never to see those again, either.

So, we went to look at what is up for sale this year.

Needless to say...

We picked out a little tree, some garland, and the beginning of the ornaments.
We do have thirty odd days to accumulate ornaments we like. (I liked the owl!)

Mr. You Know Who hasn't knocked it over yet, an annual occurrence at the old house.

He does nap on the tree skirt every day, 
after his obligatory pounce to shake out mice or things.

One of the first things Laura hopes to find is the star. 
In the meantime, a Santa hat.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Perimeter patrol

My cat ownership goes back to my college days, and I've never permitted a cat on a counter.
At the old house some cats were hell bent on hitting the counter when the two leggers were done in the kitchen. Purrl was an awful offender, looking for the last splatter.

Toby had Purrl to show him how to do it, but was never interested.
The first time I saw Toby in this window he raised two paws and said, "You caught me, but it's the only south facing window I can reach. Don't take it away from me."
And, I haven't.

As you can tell, he did have a job to do up here. Something has his attention. He is all purpose.

Watching him settle in is worth the price of admission.
Of all our treasures up there, 

only the bird moved.
Look at that tail, just so, around the butterfly, under the bird.

And look at those ears! Something he must know about is happening on the street.

Friday, November 18, 2016


This Google Earth image was taken in June of this year, the month before I moved in. When I called the trash company for service, the representative had to find my GPS coordinates. I said about half way down my road, on the east side, a double wide. "With the red roof?" "The next one south!" Mr. Next Door has the only red roof in the park.

In June, my unit was brand new, surrounded by mud and ruts, no drive yet. You can see my front and back decks. The next unit after me has a tenant now; lovely lady. She finished the deal with the lone handyman to get dirt in between our units and get it ready for grass. I have a shed back there, now, and I believe her clincher was "She's going to fall back there, and won't you be in trouble!"

All those brown rectangles are sites prepared for a trailer "to drop." Management seems to drop one or two a week. Those two rectangles behind me have units in them, being prepped for occupation. The rectangle 4th down from the red roof has two rows of concrete plugs in the ground; each as big around as a 55 gallon steel drum, and pretty deep. The unit rests on them. You know I just have to know everything.

Years ago I worked for Forest City Enterprises in Cleveland, and they built high rise apartments from prefabricated units that were built in Akron and taken by train to their location. When they left the old car barn in Akron, where they were made, the sinks were installed, the closet rods in place, lighting--just the toilet was secured in a closet so it would not break in transit. 

I realized that's exactly the situation here. Manufactured homes. These are not trailers, but they are mobile homes. I need to stop saying "the trailer park," and say "the mobile home park." Or not.

A unit going in behind me. The yellow unit beside it is in one of the two rectangles behind me. This one is in place but not dropped. It's still on wheels.

Now the wheels are off, on the left, and the axels are on the right. Workers will get underneath and get the hook ups situated, then drop the unit and install the white skirting. I'd love to be here when they "drop" it.

Don't mourn, organize!

You can call the House Oversight Committee and add your voice to the call for a bi-partisan review of Donald Trump's financial records and potential conflicts of interest. The phone numbers are: 202-225-5074 or 202-225-5051. They are counting every phone call! If you can't get through, call the White House switchboard: 202-224-3121.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lunch with Jeanette

I lived at the top of my old road for twenty eight years. Jeanette lived at the bottom most of her life. She called on the new owner of my old house and told her what to expect, and to be prepared to tell her if the mail has been delivered in the winter. Jeanette has a long lane and cannot see her mail box from her house.

Then Jeanette headed off for my house. The lovely new lady of the old house called and forewarned me. 

I like Jeanette. She's self entertaining; she talks all the time and seldom expects an answer. She had two invitations to lunch sponsored by the middle school (where Laura was just last year), and the person she always takes is feeling poorly, so, of course, "I thought of you right away." And off we went.

Heading to be served our Thanksgiving dinner. The little face over Jeanette's shoulder is leading us to the head of the line. I apologized to the youngster in red shoes for cutting in, and he said, "No, please, you go first."

The string ensemble played, and probably well, but could not be heard over the lunch room din.

My place mat. I considered obliterating the name at the bottom, but on consideration I think the lovely little saying may be one of those ubiquitous Irish proverbs, and is cited as Ireland, County Derry. If some parents with the surname of Derry chose to name a child Ireland, Hooray! I am descended from County Derry.

Jeanette's plate.

My plate. Same as above, without turkey, shredded, and dessert. From six o'clock around, one ice cream scoop of Stove Top stuffing, extra salt. That large, horrid canned corn. One melon scoop of sweet potatoes, extra sugar, oatmeal topping. One spoonful of apple pie filling. One serving of jellied cranberry sauce. One ice cream scoop of instant mashed potatoes, extra salt. I'm still waiting for the salt and preservative induced skull splitting headache to subside. 

We were constantly attended by seventh graders who wondered if the food was good and what did we have for family Thanksgiving. When their shift ended, they disappeared and were replaced by new caretakers. It was all too sweet, and Jeanette had someone to listen to her for an hour.

Jeanette's bumper sticker. She said once she got out of her car and found a perfectly coiffed and well dressed woman reading it. When Jeanette came back to her car, she found a dollar bill under her windshield wiper. It said: "I am rich, but I will help you." Jeanette pulled it out of her purse and showed me.