The Hospice Store

Today was a splendiforous day. I love that word. It just rolls off the tongue. It means magnificent and wonderful.

After JJ had left for school, EJ and I set off to the hospice store in a nearby town. The hospice store is a thrift store which raises money for the hospice. There are actually two hospice stores in the same town run by the same organization. One store has smaller items like clothes, books, toys, dishes, and knick-knacks. The other has larger items like couches, tables, dressers, beds, and exercise equipment. We enjoy them both. Today we set off for the second store to search for a couch to replace the one our cat, Annie, ruined.

I love thrift stores and yard sales. I love that shopping at thrift stores is a lot like treasure hunting. We never know what we might find. We might find nothing or we might find something totally unique. Often we can buy good quality items for not much money. Also, I love that I don’t stress if a secondhand item gets stained or ripped, which is important if there are pets in the home (or small children). I mean, it’s one thing to have a cat pee on a $10 couch and quite another to have her pee on a $1,000 couch that has to be replaced with another $1,000 couch.

The hospice store has rooms filled with furniture.  Sometimes we go there even when we aren’t shopping for furniture. We just like to browse. But today we went there hoping to find a couch. I have missed having a couch. I tried to get used to sitting in the wingback chair, but it just wasn’t as comfortable. And I couldn’t curl up and fall asleep in the chair if I got tired while waiting for EJ to get home from work.

EJ and I wandered through the rooms and found a lot of couches. The style of many didn’t suit us. Some weren’t comfortable. Then we found a couch that would work AND it had a matching loveseat. It had a few flaws–it is, after all, a used secondhand couch–but it was in good condition. We kept looking…because you never know what other treasure there might be. We found another couch that would also work that was in even more excellent condition. We considered them both and decided to get the couch and loveseat. It just appealed to us more. Together they cost only $185.

Our new couch
Our new couch

We loaded up the couches and took them home. We had fun putting them in place. The amazing thing is that they match our curtains really well. When we first moved into our house, we had furniture with blue accents so we bought blue curtains. However, we bought our previous couch (the one Annie ruined) at a neighborhood yard sale in a lake community for only $10. I think the owners were moving across country and needed to sell everything. The couch was high quality and in absolutely excellent condition. Never again will we find a used couch as good as that one for such a low price. The same day, we bought an excellent recliner that exactly matched the couch at a different sale for $5. They were both green. They did not match our curtains. When you treasure hunt, you can’t always choose color or pattern. However, the couches we bought today are blue and match our curtains as if we had specifically bought them with the curtains in mind.

EJ’s recliner is getting worn out, but we couldn’t find any recliners that we liked at the hospice store to replace it. We will keep checking the store to see if they get one in.

The love seat. We were planning on building bookcases on this wall.
The love seat. We were planning on building bookcases on this wall. Now we have to brainstorm what to do.

The only dilemma we have now is that EJ was planning on building us ceiling-to-floor bookcases on one wall of the living room so we can bring our library downstairs where it’s more accessible. However, we have placed the loveseat along that wall. So now we have to re-think our plan. We have to decide whether we want to still build the bookcases there or, if we do, how we will place our furniture. Every dilemma should be so enjoyable.

Before we left for the hospice store this morning, I walked into the bathroom and saw someone peeing in the toilet. My first reaction was to say “Oops, sorry” as I backed away. Then I realized that it was our cat, Luke. He was actually using the toilet. I was so surprised. We didn’t teach him this. He has been isolated in the bathroom while we give him meds for a health problem. I have a litter box in the bathroom for him, but apparently he decided to use the toilet. EJ and I were so surprised.

We had such a fun day today. It was a gift.

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A Dagobah Day

Order and sanity is returning to my home.

The cats all seem to be in good health…or on their way there. After we took Luke to the vet the other day, we put him in the bathroom.  The bathroom is smaller than the back porch, but we were able to give Luke lots of loving attention whenever we went into the bathroom. We have a cat door into the back porch but had closed it off to isolate the sickest cats there. I had to put a litter box in the house for the other cats. It was nice to be able to return all the litter boxes to the back porch where they belong. Luke seems to be doing better, so we let him out of isolation early this afternoon. He missed us. He’s sitting on the arm of the chair as I write this post.

This morning I went outside to give Annie lots of attention. She actually is doing  very well outside, but I was thinking that her life has changed–she is no longer an inside cat because she has committed the Unforgivable Sin. People have debated for years what the Unforgivable Sin is. I now know: It’s peeing on me and the couch. As I cuddled Annie, I found myself singing to her: ♪ It’s a hard knocks life for you… ♪ Then I laughed because the song is from the musical Annie. We originally named our cat Anakin, thinking “she” was a male. Then we discovered “he” was actually a female, so we switched her name to Annie. The name “Annie” actually suits her very well because she has the most musical meow I’ve ever heard. She sings her meows. No one except us has ever heard her though because she refuses to meow on command.

The mantle shelves above the woodstove.
The mantle shelves above the woodstove.

The weather is becoming more and more autumnish. During the night the temperature has been dipping into the 30s or 40s, and during the day it’s only reached to the high 50s or low 60s. Definitely sweat shirt weather. It almost feels cool enough to build a fire in the woodstove.  Almost. I love it.

Yesterday it rained all day so we did inside tasks. EJ painted the woodstove with heat-resistant paint and then he put oak trim on the longer shelf above the woodstove to match the shorter shelf below it. I cleaned the house and cut up the hot peppers our neighbor had brought us on Saturday. I put them in the food dehydrator to dry. For the rest of the day, the house smelled very strongly of hot peppers. It was almost over powering.

I shot Ewoks.
I shot Ewoks.

This morning when EJ returned to the house after taking out the garbage, he said “It feels like Dagobah outside.” Dagobah is the planet in Star Wars where Luke first met Yoda. It is gloomy and misty and wet there. We used to fight clone troopers and droids on Dagobah when we played Battle Front games with JJ on his Playstation game system when he was in his early teens. He had only two controllers so we took turns playing each other, two at a time. We also fought on the moon of Endor where the Ewoks lived. The Ewoks really irritated me because they would follow us around constantly yelling “Ai-yi-yi!” So I started shooting them. Really, I did. My son gasped, “You can’t shoot Ewoks! They are on our side!” I replied, “No they are not. They are irritating and their constant chattering is giving away our position to the enemy.” Then I shot another one. He wouldn’t let me play on the Ewok plant anymore unless I promised not to shoot Ewoks. I told him I would try not to shoot them, but I could make him no promises. Then I shot another Ewok. “Oops!” “That wasn’t an accident! You shot him deliberately!” “You can’t prove it was deliberate….” I’m probably the only person who shoots cute little Teddy Bear Ewoks.

Anyway, this morning was damp like Dagobah. Later it got a bit sunnier, although there were still some clouds and dampness in the air. EJ worked on a variety of tasks, including FIXING THE LAWN MOWER! Yay! After he left for work, I walked Danny and then mowed the lawn. It looks so nice now.

Not the Worst of Summers

It also has not been the worst of summers. It has also not been the best of summers.

Compared to problems many other people are experiencing, our lives are greatly blessed and our problems are small. I have a loving husband. My son is doing well at work and college. We are not homeless or hungry or sick with a scary disease. Our car survived JJ putting diesel in the gas tank instead of unleaded gas.

Still this summer has been wearying, and this last week was not fun either.

EJ didn’t feel well and ended up staying home from work from Monday through Thursday. On Wednesday we took him to the doctor. She sent him for a blood test and x-ray to check for appendicitis or some sort of blockage. The tests came back negative, which is good, but we still didn’t know what was wrong. EJ returned to work on Friday. Several co-workers said they also have been sick, and they described his exact symptoms, so maybe it’s just a bug going around. I sure hope so.

It’s been two weeks since I have mowed the lawn. I tried again to mow the lawn on Thursday, but again couldn’t get the stupid mower to work. EJ said a wire is probably shorting out (or something) and he could fix it, but he’s been sick so he hasn’t been able to fix it yet. The mower is a small problem, but it’s another problem in a frustrating summer and I really felt like taking a sledge hammer to it. I really wish it could have lasted another month so that we wouldn’t have had to worry about it until spring. If the grass gets more then about six inches long, the Village will fine us $50.

I have spent most of the summer cleaning up diarrhea from the cats, washing and disinfecting litter boxes and the back porch where we had the sickest cats in isolation, I’ve also scooped up worms and poop and urine to be analyzed by the vet. EJ and I have given a variety of meds to struggling unhappy cats. We have bought more expensive, better quality foods for the cats. Most of the cats got better, but some cats continued to have problems. I was getting exhausted and the situation was becoming intolerable. We had to make some difficult choices.

Earlier this week, Annie was sitting next to me on the couch and she peed all over me and the couch. We moved the cushions and discovered that she had been peeing on the couch for probably about a week. We hauled the couch to the truck and took it to the landfill the next day. Fortunately, the secondhand couch had only cost us $10, but it was a very nice well-made couch and could have lasted years more. We can’t have any more furniture peed on, so Annie has become an outside cat. We considered finding her another home, but in these tough economic times no one wants an adult cat who pees on couches. Fortunately Annie is adjusting well outside. I spend time with her when I am outside.

Luke had been peeing on the floor, so he was in isolation on the back porch with Yafah. He is JJ’s special cat whom we raised from a tiny kitten, so we decided to take him to the vet to see if he had a urinary infection. If he did, we would do our best to treat him. If his problem was behavioral, he’d have to join Annie outside. We took him to the vet yesterday morning and learned that he has crystals in his urine–so his problem is medical not behavioral, which is good. We have to give him antibiotics and a very special food. He is still in isolation, but when he improves he can join the other cats in the house.

Yafah
Yafah

That left Yafah. Yafah seemed to improve a little bit, but then her diarrhea returned. We believe Yafah is the source of the health problems and we couldn’t risk her re-infecting the other cats. Neither could we continue exhausting ourselves and our finances. So yesterday EJ took her to the vet on his way to work and had her put to sleep. He asked the receptionist if she knew of ANYONE who would take her, but she said that they have a long waiting list for healthy cute little kittens needing homes. There was no hope for Yafah. EJ cried as he left her. It was very sad. Yafah was a beautiful, sweet, and interesting cat, but the situation had become intolerable. When we took her into our home, she was a starving, wounded, and homeless stray. At least she had a loving home for the last year of her life.

I will be very, very glad to see this summer go. Hopefully the autumn will be more calm and peaceful.

On a good note, I got the garden path finished. A small section of bricks near the bees is not as level as the rest, but overall it looks pretty good. The path is now wide enough for me to get the mower through. When the mower gets fixed, that is.

A Blessing and A Curse

“May you live in interesting times” (Phony Chinese curse)

Sometimes co-workers greet my husband with “How’s life?” EJ usually replies, “Boring. Very Boring.” They always respond, “Oh, that’s too bad.” EJ says, “No, it’s good. Think about it: ‘Boring’ means there’s no explosions at work, we aren’t unemployed, no one in our family has been in a car accident, we don’t have any major diseases. ‘Boring’ is good.” “I see your point,” they say.

We have been living in very interesting times this summer. I’m ready to experience “boring” for awhile. Our lives keep getting more and more interesting.

Yesterday EJ and I went to the doctor about my reoccurring rash. Well, actually our doctor’s schedule was full so we saw her physician’s assistant, Kathy. Kathy is very sweet and she said that the rash is psoriasis or eczema. It is likely to recur, but it is not serious. She said she has dealt with this many times before (and many have worse cases than me) and she has developed a “rash plan,” which, if I follow, should keep the rash under control. She handwrote out her plan, which includes using some OTC meds like Clariton and Benedryl, a prescription cream, gentle hand soap, and gentle lotion. She wrote down when and how to use each item. I was so relieved to know what was causing the rash and to have a plan. I think the worse thing is not knowing what is causing a medical condition.

On the way home, I told EJ that it looked like our life was finally settling down for us: We have a rash diagnosis and plan, the cats diarrhea and worms are disappearing, the flea problem is under control. Whew!

And then life got interesting again.

Twice this week–on Tuesday and again on Thursday–JJ called me on his way home from school to tell me that his car was beeping that he had “low fuel.” JJ thought he might have been siphoned–and theft does increase in hard economic times–but I remembered that EJ had said that modern cars usually have anti-siphoning devices so a car can’t be siphoned. I thought JJ had just forgotten to check the gas gauge because he is not used to keeping an eye on it since he didn’t drive the car much until recently. Forgetting to put gas in the car once is just, well, forgetting.  Twice in one week is getting old. “You are responsible for keeping enough gas in the car,” I told him, “and you MUST make sure you have enough.” The worrying thing is that EJ drives the truck to work and JJ drives the car to school so I have no transportation to help JJ if he has problems on the way home from school.

Horror Photo: http://www.desvirtual.com
Horror
Photo: http://www.desvirtual.com

JJ made it home ok. He was very tired from not sleeping well the night before, but he had to work last night. He stopped at the local gas station before driving in to work. A few minutes after he left, I got a call from him: “Mom, I accidentally put $20 worth of diesel fuel in the car instead of gas.”

With all the other problems we have had this summer, this was too much. Instead of my life flashing before my eyes, our finances flashed before my eyes. If we are very careful and very frugal, we will have absolutely everything paid off, including our house, in about two years. Meanwhile, money is tight. The car isn’t yet paid off, we can’t afford expensive repairs, and we can’t afford to buy another car. If the car is ruined, JJ will have no transportation to get to college…

A flurry of calls and texts erupted. I called EJ at work and he said, “Tell JJ NOT TO START THE CAR under any circumstance.” I called JJ at the gas station. He said, “I had to start the car to move it away from the gas pumps…” I called EJ, “Oh, no! Call a tow truck and have them take it to the repair shop and call the repair shop…” I called JJ, “A stranger at the gas station gave me money to put gas in the car and he said the car is ok to drive.” I said, “You have no idea who this stranger is or if his advice is good. Do NOTHING until you talk to your Dad.” “But Mom…” “Do what I say! NO ARGUMENT.” Argue, argue, argue between my sweet strong-willed son and me.

EJ talked to co-workers who know cars. I do not know cars or car lingo, but apparently the stranger had advised JJ correctly about filling the gas tank to dilute the diesel fuel. The stranger had also bought JJ some…I think it’s oxidizer liquid or something…to put in the tank. These actions helped save our engine. EJ told me to cancel the tow truck and told JJ he could drive to work since he probably would still be driving on gas instead of fuel. Then EJ took a few hours off work, filled the tank again with gas from his gas can, and drove the car to the repair shop across the street. Then we waited.

Gas/Diesel Pump
Gas/Diesel Pump

Diesel nozzles are usually bigger than gas nozzles so that people can’t accidentally put diesel in their cars. EJ asked how JJ got the diesel nozzle into the car. JJ said the diesel nozzle slid right into the car with no problem. After investigating the car, it looks as though someone defeated the anti-siphoning device on our car, denting our car slightly, and did steal some gas. This is why JJ was unaware until too late that he was putting diesel in our car and that is why he had low gas.

I asked my FB friends to pray. Friends from around the world began to pray. (Did I tell you that I love FB?)

This morning EJ talked to the repair shop. It would have been best not to ever start the car, but the repairman said that every action taken after that was exactly the right thing to do. We drove to the repair shop and the guy repeated that it should be ok to drive the car if it is driven with care, gas is put in frequently to dilute the diesel, and the oil is changed in a bit, and stuff like that.

The shop charged us….NOTHING.

"Let me do the math here..." Jayne Cobb, Firefly Series
Jayne Cobb, Firefly Series

If the car had needed repairs, JJ was going to have to pay as much as he could for them. I asked EJ to let me tell JJ how much this was going to cost him. When we got the vehicles home, I called to JJ, who was upstairs studying, “You need to come down so I can tell you how much this is going to cost you.” He came down groaning. Because we love to quote from movies, I quoted from Jayne Cobb, a character on Firefly, our favorite TV series:

“Let me do the math here… nothin’ and a nothin’, carry the nothin’…” 

“You mean it’s going to cost NOTHING?” JJ exclaimed. “Are you serious? Whew!” We are all so relieved. And so thankful. This is an answer to prayers from friends around the world. THIS is God giving us a gift. Of course, I think it’s also a gift when things don’t turn out the way I want because often those times end up teaching me a lot. However, those “not-turning-out-the-way-I-want” experiences are not so obvious or easy to see at first.

I found out later just how sweet the gift was. Besides the repair shop not charging us anything, while he was at the gas station, not just one stranger helped JJ, but a group did. A group of people gave him advice. Several people gave him money to get gas to dilute the diesel, and one man bought him the oxidizer. JJ is going to the gas station to see if he can get their names so he can thank them and offer to pay them back. I guess we raised him right.

We stopped at the Farmer’s Market when we went to retrieve the car from the repair shop. We bought honey, maple syrup, eggs, and a bushel of apples.

I didn’t have time to make challah bread this morning, so I will make it this afternoon. I also hope to mow the lawn this afternoon and try to work in my garden.

It’s a beautiful day.

NOOOOOOO!

This is how I felt.
This is how I felt when I saw Timmy’s worms.

Last night I saw that Timmy has worms. Will the nightmare never end?

I woke in the night thinking that we needed to give worm medicine to all the cats, and wondering how we could afford it.

I called the vet this morning and explained the situation to his receptionist. She asked how many cats I had and I replied, “Eight.” She exclaimed, “Oh, Wow!” She probably was thinking of what it was like to struggle with eight (very beloved) cats with worms and diarrhea. Or maybe she was thinking of the expense of worming eight cats. I know I was.

I told her that one cat was already taking worm meds so I only needed enough medication for 7 cats. Then I said that two cats were indoor/outdoor cats, but we were keeping them outside so they wouldn’t get what the other cats have and we could probably wait until our next paycheck to worm them, so we really only needed worm medicine for five cats right now. She said she would talk to the vet, and then returned a few minutes later to tell me I could pick up the meds at their clinic. With great dread, I asked her how much it would cost. I was surprised and relieved when she said it would only be $15. I have a suspicion that it should have cost more but the vet had sympathy on us. I never would have asked for a price break because the veterinarian is running a business, not a charity, and he needs to make a living as much as anyone. However, if he did give us a break, I am very thankful.

EJ and I drove to the vet office. When we walked in to the reception area, it was full of people sitting and standing around. We smelled a delicious aroma and discovered that the clinic was having a birthday party for one of the staff. There was food. We chatted to the vet a bit. He invited us to have some food, which was nice. EJ took a little soup, but I didn’t want to feel that I was crashing their party so I didn’t take anything, although I wanted to. EJ was drawn to the kittens in the “Free to Good Homes” cage. I was not even tempted. Not this time. Not for a long, long time.

When we returned home, EJ and I dosed five cats. Most of them were ok with it, but Annie hated it and really fought it. With all the meds we have struggled to give the cats in recent days, it’s a wonder any of them come near us. However, all of them still come for cuddling.

The situation really is improving (I think) despite the setbacks.

This afternoon Danny and I went out to work on the path in my garden. I really want to finish the path soon so I can get started on another project before colder weather arrives. For some reason, Danny didn’t want to go through the front gate so we went around through the back gate. I wonder now if he knew something that I didn’t?

It was another very beautiful autumn day. Summer used to be my favorite season, but over the years I changed and I now prefer autumn. There’s nothing like the blue of an autumn sky, and I love the colorful leaves (they are just beginning to change color now), and I love the warmness and coolness of the days. I was soaking it all in, rejoicing in the perfect day as I happily worked on my path, when I became aware that there were a lot of insects flying around me. Then I realized that they weren’t insects, they were bees. I figured they must have a nest in the ground. I thought it would be very good to retreat. I was retreating when suddenly….OWWW! A bee stung me in the arm. I haven’t been stung in years and years and years. Maybe not since I was a kid.

You know what? Bee stings HURT!

Bee ID card
Bee ID card

I am very, very thankful I got stung only once.

I called my Danny to come with me and I carefully retrieved my garden tools, put them away, and then asked my Eagle Scout son if he knew what to do about bee stings. He did know, so I took his advice and made a paste out of baking soda.

I decided that I was done working in the garden today. And tomorrow maybe I will start working at the OTHER end of the path. And maybe I will leave a section of the path unfinished until it gets too cool for the bees. Or something.

EJ texted from work asking how we were doing at home. I replied that I had gotten stung by a bee. He said, “Was it for sure a bee? Or a wasp/hornet/yellow jacket?” I replied, “Once I realized they were bees, I didn’t stay around to ask to see their ID cards.”

I will show EJ where they are tomorrow.

Scarborough Tea

I thought today was going to be a difficult day because I stayed up much too late with EJ and I got up much too early with JJ. I like to greet EJ when he comes home from work and I like to fix breakfast for JJ and send him off to college. Last night I think I went to bed at 1 a.m.–it could have been later–and EJ and I got up at 6 a.m. with JJ. After JJ left for the day, both EJ and I took naps. EJ slept in his chair and I curled up with Annie on the couch. I slept a little–until Kee-Kee stepped on my head and then tried to sit on Annie, who growled at him. I pulled Kee-Kee on top of me and wanted to fall back to sleep, but it was useless.

I thought today was going to be a difficult day because I was so tired, but it turned out to be a very good day. Working in the garden yesterday had really relieved my stress. I love to work in the quietness of the garden, and as I work I often ponder or pray and absorb peacefulness into my spirit.

After working in the garden yesterday, I remembered a time years ago when I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and she told me that my lymph nodes were very swollen but “don’t worry yet until we know more because it could be nothing serious.” I wondered what exactly I wasn’t supposed to worry about, so I went to the library and looked up “lymph nodes” in a medical book (we didn’t have a computer at the time), and I found a whole lot of things to worry about. I slammed shut the book and decided that I would not waste time worrying until I was diagnosed with something to worry about, and if I was diagnosed with something to worry about, I’d deal with it one step at a time. I think that the scariest point is when you don’t know if something serious is wrong or not. After a diagnoses, then at least you start developing a plan to deal with it. It turned out that the lymph nodes were swollen only because I had had numerous sinus infections and not because of a scary disease.

So after regaining my perspective yesterday, I decided that exposure to MRSA didn’t mean we would actually get the virus, and I wouldn’t worry until I had something to worry about. That’s pretty much what the doctor told EJ when he called her this morning: Until symptoms develop, there isn’t anything to worry about. If symptoms develop, we can start treating it.

It looks as if the better cat food that is specially formulated for digestive problems might be doing the trick. The cats aren’t completely back to normal, but it looks like they are improving. For the first time since they got diarrhea, I have hope that there is an end in sight.

EJ had recently read that fleas love humidity and that if they will die if the humidity gets below 50 percent. He noticed that the basement had become damp and humid, so after he talked to the doctor, EJ set up two dehumidifers in the basement. Hopefully that will take care of the few fleas that have survived our other measures.

After EJ left for work, I took Danny for our regular walk. Danny is a real mooch–he always follows the food. Sometimes on our walk, he finds food that people have dropped in the grass or road. I always pull him away because I don’t want him to eat something that will make him sick. Today Danny was interested in a spot in the middle of the street, and when I realized he was trying to eat something, I pulled him away. It was a blob of gum that someone had eaten. As I pulled him away, the gum stretched out, one part in his mouth and the other still stuck to the street. It was a funny sight.

I spent the rest of the afternoon–before and after JJ left for work–working in the garden. The day was gorgeous. It was sunny and had an autumn-ish feel to it, with both a warmness and coolness at the same time. I felt a lot of joy as I worked. This is why I garden–not so people will admire it, but because of the perspective it helps me find. 

I made some progress on my path. I didn’t get as far as I wanted because it is hard work pulling up the vines where I want to place the bricks but I am pleased I got as much done as I did. I am maybe halfway done with the path.

Often when I take Danny for a walk, children run up to me and ask if they can pet him. They always ask his name, of course. Whenever new children run up, ones who had met Danny before tell the other children about him: “He has soft thick fur.” “He name is Danny.” “Danny is nice.” While I worked in the garden this afternoon, several small children walked by with an older girl. I heard the children say, “This is where Danny lives.” Then they peeked through the wild rose bush growing on the fence and saw me. “Hi! You have a big garden.” “Your whole yard is a garden.” “You have pretty sunflowers.” Danny rushed up to the fence and they all petted him before they moved on. The kids are adorable.

A few days ago, we found a recipe for an antibiotic tea made up of parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Since I grow all those  herbs in my garden, I made the tea. It is yummy. The ingredients reminded EJ of the lines of a very old ballad called Scarborough Fair. I do not know if the tea already has a name, but because of the ballad, I decided I’d name it Scarborough Tea. The song helps me remember the ingredients. I thought I’d end this post with a beautiful video of Scarborough Fair sung by Celtic Woman.

“Define Interesting”

My family’s conversations are filled with quotes from favorite movies. Star Trek, Star Wars, The Princess Bride, and others are filled with very quotable quotes. If we see a beautiful full moon, one of us will say, “Wow! Look at that moon!” Another will quip “That’s no moon…that’s a spacestation!” (Star Wars) Or if one of us says “This plant is dead.” Another will say, “It’s not dead. It’s only mostly dead. I’ve seen worse.” (Princess Bride). We do this all the time.

One of our very, very favorite TV programs is a science fiction series called Firefly that originally aired in 2002-2003. It was created by Joss Whedon and starred Nathan Fillion. We have the whole series on DVD and we watch it often. Nathan Fillion now stars in the TV series Castle, but he loved Firefly. Castle is filled with Firefly references and occasionally Firefly cast members guest star in Castle. We love it! Anyway, Firefly is filled with wonderful quotable quotes. I’ve been thinking of one quote in particular this week because it pretty much described last week. EJ found a youtube video of the scene for me. It is worth watching.

The week started out quite well. JJ started college last Monday. He’s had a few days of feeling overwhelmed, which I told him to expect, but mostly he is enjoying it.

The vet had given us pills for giardia for all the cats, in case that infection was causing diarrhea. Not all the cats have diarrhea, but he wanted to eliminate that as a cause. We had to give eight cats a quarter of a pill morning and night. EJ and I worked together. As I always do when I have to give the cats medication, I caught and wrapped each cat in a towel so he/she couldn’t get away, scratch, or bite, and held him/her while EJ administered the pill. The cats HATED the taste, and they did all they could to resist. I’ve never seen them fight and squirm so hard to get away. I got pretty good at holding the squirming cats so they couldn’t get away. EJ got pretty good at giving the pills to the cats, but it still was an effort to get them to swallow them. Some of them held the pill in the side of their mouth so they could spit it out later.

The pills did not help the diarrhea.

EJ said a couple of his co-workers said that their cats had a bad case of diarrhea so they switched to a high quality cat food like “Science Diet” and it cured the diarrhea. So we bought some good cat food and we are trying to see if that works. It is distressing to me that the cats have diarrhea. I did see some non-diarrhea poop in the inside litter box not long ago, so maybe the food is helping.

Yafah has worms (we are giving her worm medication) which might be responsible for her diarrhea. However, I also wonder if part of the cats’ problem is stress or environmental. We are still battling fleas. They are not at all as bad as they were several weeks ago, but I occasionally find one or two on me (and that’s one or two too many), and I am trying to get on top of the problem so they don’t get worse. We have to medicate the cats and spray the house in sync so that one does not reinfect the other. In previous years, if I noticed any fleas, I just gave the cats some flea medication, sprayed the house, and then the fleas were gone. This year it hasn’t been like that. I have never, ever, ever had such a problem with fleas. I’ve heard from several sources that this year the fleas have been very, very bad–much worse than normal.  I guess the weather has been perfect for their breeding.

I am getting exhausted dealing with fleas and diarrhea.

Also, the rash I have been struggling with this summer has reappeared.

In addition, EJ came home from work and told us that a woman at work who is addicted to serious drugs kept working after she was diagnosed with a contagious virus called MRSA. Everyone who worked in the same plant with this woman has been exposed to it.

WebMD says that MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. MRSA is spread by contact. So, you could get MRSA by touching another person who has it on the skin. Or you could get it by touching objects that have the bacteria on them. The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin, like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract. Though most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening. Many public health experts are alarmed by the spread of tough strains of MRSA. Because it’s hard to treat, MRSA is sometimes called a “superbug.” MRSA infections are common among people who have weak immune systems.

I am concerned for EJ and JJ. EJ is concerned for me because for much of the summer, I was taking Prednisone for my rash. Prednisone weakens the immune system.

Great.

Tomorrow we will call our doctor to begin the process to test to see if we have the virus.

Fleas…cats with diarrhea…rash…MRSA.

I felt so stressed today that I went out to work in the garden. Gardens are good stress-relievers.

First of all, I admired my sunflowers. In late Spring I planted sunflower seeds in various places through the yard. Sunflowers are very cheerful flowers. Some of the sunflowers got knocked down in a storm, but most of them are holding up pretty well.

The stick...and my garden cat.
The stick…and my garden cat.

Then I headed back to worked on my path. As I crossed the back yard, a large spotted frog LEAPED in fear (I probably nearly stepped on him) and landed on my foot. I screamed, and he went one way and I went another. After I got over being startled, I went back and found him again. He was a pretty frog. I wish I could have taken a picture of him, but by the time I had gotten my camera, he had hidden.

After I removed the bricks a few weeks ago, I lined the path with the bricks. However, when I tried to mow the path last week, I discovered that the lawn mower is too wide for the path. So today I found a stick that is just a little wider than the mower, and I used it to help me make the path wide enough. It is primitive but very effective. As you can see, my garden companion, Rikki-Tikki-Tabby, joined me as I worked–as he usually does when I work in the garden.

The part of the path that I finished today.
The part of the path that I finished today.

I have a lot of vines in my garden. I had to yank up the vines that were in the way so that the bricks would set level. This was a very hard job. I used the hoe and clippers to get the vines out of the way. I had a brilliant idea of mowing the vines to then make it easier to use the hoe. The mower nicely did what I wanted, but I was able to mow just a few feet before it died. I couldn’t get it started again–although I tried–so I went back to yanking up, hoeing, and clipping the vines. It was so difficult that I had to stop just before I reached my goal of finishing the path along one side of the house. I will work on it again another day. I hope.

I was exhausted when I quit for the day, but the garden had helped relieve much of my stress and I was in a more cheerful frame of mind. The day was beautiful.

As I said, my week (and summer) sure was interesting.

College–and Cats

Back in my other life, before I was married to EJ and had a son, I was a word processor at a consulting firm. When I mentioned to my supervisor that if I ever got married, I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, she said, “Oh, you will be totally bored staying at home!”

She was wrong.

About me, anyway. I think she was very bored staying home and preferred to work. Me? I am almost never bored at home. Something is always happening.

JJ trying to avoid my camera.
JJ trying to avoid my camera.

Today was JJ’s FIRST DAY OF COLLEGE. I took several pictures, partly because I wanted to have pictures of this huge milestone, but partly because I was enjoying his insincere protests about me taking pictures. He had fun dodging me and I had fun stalking him with my camera until he got in the car and drove off.

JJ texted me that he had reached the college ok, which was a relief. However, he took a wrong turn on the way home, which filled me with anxiety because I didn’t know how to help him get unlost. He figured out his error and found his way home. Whew! He had a good day.

While JJ was off at college, I painted the second half of the porch again. Maybe I am finished, but I might put another coat on the areas that get high traffic. I’m not sure.

I went to clean the back porch (cat diarrhea) and discovered that Yafah had coughed up a worm. Eew. So I called the vet’s office and was told to bring in the worm so they could see what kind it was. I used a plastic spoon to scoop the worm into a sandwich bag. Then I also scooped some of Luke’s poop into a bag as well, in case they wanted to look at it. Luke’s poop isn’t as runny as Yafah’s, but it’s not the normal well-formed poop either.

Sadly, I am becoming a poop expert.

The worm was still alive and wiggling when I arrived at the vet. YUCK! The vet identified the worm and prescribed the appropriate medication for Yafah. He gave me a syringe of worm medication and told me to give half to her now and another half in two weeks to kill off any new worms that hatch from the larvae. Then he examined Luke’s poop for parasites and a specific kind of germ or bacteria or something. All clear. YAY!

The vet said that there is another germ that can cause diarrhea but which is too small to see with his microscope, so he gave me medication for that. He gave me enough for ALL the cats as a preventative treatment. I have to give EACH of our EIGHT cats, one-fourth of a pill TWO times a day for FOUR days.  Imagine that for a moment. This is going to be interesting. Some cats are relatively easy to give pills to, but other cats keep spitting out pills or they fight tooth and nail. The resistance gets worse as they learn to expect it. EJ said he will help me. We will have an adventure trying to capture each of the cats and shove pills down their throats. The cats are going to hate us. We will give them their first pills tonight when Eric gets home from work. We might end up ripped to shreds and in the hospital.

Pray for us.

Yafah needs the medicine most, but she is going to be particularly hard to medicate. Yesterday she vanished from the back porch where she is isolated. EJ was really worried that she had gotten outside somehow. I told him not to worry because I was sure she had just found a good hiding place. This morning I saw her climb into her hiding place behind a board near the ceiling.

Yafah's hiding place.
Yafah’s hiding place.

Here is Yafah in her hiding place:

Can you see Yafah in her hiding place?
Can you see her?

Here is a closeup:

Yafah in her hiding place near the ceiling.
Yafah in her hiding place near the ceiling.

I know that as soon as Yafah sees me, she is going to run into her hiding place. I have no idea how I am going to get her out so I can give her medicine. I will have to be tricky. Maybe put medicine in her food or something.

After I got back from the vet, I cleaned and disinfected the back porch. Then I took a shower–because handling poop and worms and everything made me shudder and I wanted to feel clean.

This has been a difficult season with the cats.

Paint Memories

Today was laundry day. Usually EJ goes with me to help me, but he had to work six days this last week and I knew he was really tired, so I drank only ONE cup of coffee and then I loaded the dirty clothes in the car and went to the laundromat, leaving EJ home sleeping. When I got back home, I took the baskets of wet clothes to the back yard, and then I went back into the house to fix breakfast. When JJ left for work right after breakfast, I went outside and hung the clothes on the clothesline. I really enjoyed the morning, which was sunny but nicely coolish.

After I finished hanging up the clothes, I paused to think about how to spend the rest of my day. I decided that this would be a very good day to paint the front porch. I have wanted to paint it for a couple of years now and was determined to paint it this year, but was afraid I’d run out of summer before I could get it done.

Everything moved from the porch
Everything moved from the porch

I moved the patio table and chairs and all the plants off the porch and under the lilac bush. Then EJ helped me get the paint supplies together. I started to sweep the porch, but EJ ended up taking over the task while I found some old clothes to paint in. I am not a neat painter and tend to get paint all over myself. I used to have a shirt and shorts that I always painted in. I never washed them so they contained the memories of years of painting projects. I could point to spots of paint that had been used to paint our bedroom when we first moved in, and spots of paint used to paint our living room once or twice, and both times we painted the bathroom, and a LOT of paint from the last time we painted the porch. The last time I painted the porch was maybe ten years ago or so. JJ was 8 or 9 years old and he helped me. We ended up getting into a paint fight. It probably started when one of us accidentally painted the other, and then the other not-so-accidentally painted the first one, and before you know it, we were both deliberately painting each other until we were covered in paint. It was very fun. Sometimes I sort of miss those days. Teens tend to have too much dignity, worrying about what people will think, and being embarrassed by their Mom’s silliness. it’s not until they get older that they remember how to be silly again.

I think I threw the paint shirt and shorts away a few years ago when I was cleaning out closets and drawers. Now I will have to start a new paint shirt and shorts with new paint memories.

Painting our porch.
Painting our porch.

EJ didn’t want me to paint parts of the porch that were in the sun because he felt those areas were too hot. So I painted the half of the porch that was in the shade. Painting is another task that I do not LOVE like I love reading and walking Danny, but which I find great pleasure doing. There is something very soothing and relaxing about painting, especially when it’s outside on a sunny and coolish day.

This is where we bought wood. From one post to another is one face cord.
This is where we bought wood. From one post to another is one face cord.

After I finished painting the porch, EJ and I went to buy a face cord of firewood. A face cord is a stack of wood that is eight feet long, four feet high, and about 16- to 18-inches deep. In previous years, we bought our wood from three people who cut and sold wood in their spare time. This year, two of the three appear to no longer be selling wood. We drove to the third, but the man wasn’t home. EJ called the phone number on the sign and the guy said he’d be home at 5:30 p.m, so EJ said he’d return.

When we got home, I painted the porch again. The whole porch was in the shade by this time, so I put a second coat of paint on the half that I had painted earlier and a first coat on the other half. I also painted the steps.

After I finished, I had just enough time to get cleaned up, do the dishes, and take the clothes off the clothesline, and then it was time for my Hebrew class, which I co-teach with a friend. We teach our class through video-chat. We have students from several different states and even from another country. Pretty cool.

While I was teaching, EJ went to get the firewood. Usually the guys we buy wood from help load it. I was glad EJ had help since I couldn’t help him this time.

After my class, which ended at 7 p.m., I went out and painted the whole porch and steps again. Tomorrow I will paint the second half again, and then I think I will be finished.

We unloaded and stacked this truckload of firewood
We unloaded and stacked this truckload of firewood

When I finished painting, I started stacking the firewood into our woodshed. I didn’t tell EJ that I was stacking it because his back has been hurting, and also his shoulder, and I didn’t want him to hurt them even more. I had unloaded and stacked about a third of the wood when EJ discovered I wasn’t still painting the porch and he came out to help me. JJ helped a bit too, and it went faster so we finished before it got dark. Now we only have nine more face cords of wood to buy to be ready for winter.

After I got cleaned up, I made popcorn and relaxed and wrote this post. Now I must get back to work and fold the clothes.

I have been busy from morning until night. I am tired, but it is a good tired.

 

 

 

The Path

We had been going to the Farmer’s Market every Friday morning, but EJ has been very busy and working very hard at his job this week, and he was very tired, so we didn’t go this morning. We need honey, but we have enough eggs.

Yesterday after EJ and then JJ left for work, I mowed the lawn. It is usually JJ’s job, but this week has been busy and I knew he wouldn’t get to it, so I just went ahead and did it. Radar showed storms moving in quickly, but I figured that it wasn’t raining until it was raining, so I went ahead anyway. It ended up not raining until about an hour after I finished.

I actually enjoy mowing the lawn. When I was a child, I somehow figured out that if I had to do something, I might as well do it with a good attitude and find something about it that I enjoyed. So although there are tasks that I can’t exactly say I LOVE like I love reading or walking Danny, there are many tasks that I very much enjoy. Mowing the lawn is one of those tasks. I really like the way the lawn looks after it’s mowed, and I like the smell of freshly mowed grass.

Stacked bricks
Stacked bricks

Sunday I had finished digging up all the bricks in the path through my garden. I am digging up the bricks because I would now prefer to just mow the path instead of having to weed it. Today after my guys left for work (and after I had taken Danny for a walk, of course), I lined the edges of the path with bricks and hauled the excess bricks to the new place where I am stacking them. (I ran out of room in the other place.) I used the wheelbarrow so I didn’t have to take lots and lots of trips.

Half of the path I removed bricks from.
Part of the garden path

The path winds along one side of the house and most of another so I was only going to do a little bit, but I ended up throwing the shoe and doing it all. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop. I just keep doing a little bit more and a little bit more of a project until it is done. After I dug up the bricks Sunday, my back hurt for several days. I am sure my back is going to hurt some more from today’s work.  When my back hurts, I always wonder how EJ can endure the pain he lives with every day.

Danny nicely refusing to move from the hole he dug in my path.
Danny nicely refusing to move from the hole he dug in my garden path.

Danny came out with me. When I returned after taking a load of bricks to the stacking place, I saw he had dug a hole in the middle of the path and was lying in it. You can’t really see it from the picture, but it was quite deep. I tried to call him into the back yard where he had dug a hole to lie in a few weeks ago, but he just nicely refused to move. Danny has become an expert at non-violent civil disobedience. Whenever he doesn’t want to do something, he just wags his tail and smiles and stays where he is. I think I should change his name to Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr.

I ended up letting Danny enjoy his hole. I can fill it in later.

After I finished the path, Danny and I went inside. Danny actually obeyed me this time when I called. I finished my inside chores. I will spend the rest of the evening relaxing with a cat on my lap.

There And Back Again

JJ starts college this coming Monday. We have been teaching him the route to the college by having him drive us there and back again several times over the last couple months. The last time he drove us to the college, I wrote down each road and turn he needed to take. We had him drive us to the school for the last time today following the written directions to verify that I had written the directions down correctly and to ensure that he could follow them. He was able to get there and back again ok.

EJ very rarely gets lost. If he drives somewhere just once, he can remember the way–even years later. I am the complete opposite. I have a horrible sense of direction and I can get lost anywhere. Even if I say to myself, “I think I should turn right but I am always wrong so I will turn left,” I am STILL wrong. I even took a wrong turn in the theater the last time I went to see a movie with a friend, and almost took the exit out of the building instead of into the hallway to go to the bathroom. My lostness even affects seasoned travelers and a GPS. My sister-in-law offered to drive me to Parents’ Day at my son’s Summer Camp a few years ago. She has traveled alone all over the country, but we got lost and what should have been a one hour trip took three hours. The GPS got all messed up and directed us into a cemetery.  It was crazy. So, anyway, if I have to go to an unfamiliar place, EJ has me drive the route with him the day before to learn the way.

I often laugh that I have a super power. My super power is that I can find lost items. I am always finding things that EJ and JJ misplace. Often I immediately find what they looked everywhere for. If I can’t find an item, I sit and think a bit and then I suddenly know where the item is and I retrieve it. I guess every superhero has a super power and also a super weakness. I can find lost items, but I cannot find myself. That’s the way it works.

JJ has not really had to drive alone to unfamiliar places, so I do not know whether he will be more like his Dad or more like me. I do not think he is as adept at finding his way as his Dad or he would have been able to drive to the college after being shown once. I just hope he isn’t as directionally challenged as me. I will be concerned about him driving to the college until I know he can make it there and back again by himself.

I spent my afternoon getting stool samples, cleaning out the kitty litter boxes on the back porch, and cleaning the back porch.

I think the medicine is helping Yafah with her diarrhea, but now Luke has diarrhea. I have been concerned that it is some contagious disease and all our cats will get sick with it. That would an absolutely awful thing. I kept Yafah on the back porch and put Luke in the bathroom so he could go in the special kitty litter and we could get a urine sample. Several times I found Luke out of the bathroom and the bathroom door open. I thought someone in the family was just forgetting to latch the door and I was going to remind them that they MUST make sure they keep him isolated. Then I remembered that Luke has always been skilled at opening doors and, yup, I saw him open the bathroom door and walk out. He didn’t urinate before EJ had to leave for work, but he did have diarrhea, so I scooped it up into a sandwich bag and EJ dropped it off at the vet on his way to work. Our vet’s associate called me later to tell me that she didn’t find any parasites. That’s good. She said we can pick up some medicine for Luke on Wednesday. It’s probably the same meds Yafah is taking. I hope it works, and none of the other cats get diarrhea. I’m getting a bit tired of dealing with it, and I worry about the pets.

Wooly Aphid Photo: bugguide.net
Wooly Aphid
Photo: bugguide.net

Early this evening I was outside and saw a small little bit of fleathery fluff flying with purpose. I remember seeing this beautiful tiny insect a few years ago, but I haven’t seen it again until tonight. I took pictures of it, but my pictures didn’t turn out so well, so I will share a picture from the Internet. I researched what it was, and learned that it is a wooly aphid. Their common name is “fairy fly,” which I think suits them. The Journal News website said that “Wooly aphids have special glands that produce wax in very long, thin streams. The wax covers the insect’s body and gives it the fluffy appearance. If you could wash a woolly aphid in something that dissolves wax, you would see an ordinary-looking aphid underneath. Wax protects the delicate aphids from predators while they feed.” I know that aphids aren’t really good for plants, but I still think these are very pretty.

A Crappy Life

Lately I have had a rather crappy life. I mean, really.

One of our cats has had diarrhea. Badly. I was constantly discovering it and cleaning it up and mopping the floors. I’ve also dumped out and washed the litter boxes because the cat messed on the sides. We suspected Yafah, but weren’t quite sure. About the time I was certain it was Yafah, I’d find diarrhea when I thought she wasn’t in the room, so then I was not sure again that it was her. With eight cats, it’s not always easy to pin down which one has the problem. We couldn’t afford to take all eight cats to the vet, so I wanted to make sure I took the right cat. Over the last few days, I have isolated cats in various groupings until I had eliminated all the cats except one, and was certain that, yes, it was Yafah. (I felt very scientific in the way I isolated the cats to discover which one had diarrhea.)

Another problem is that Luke has been peeing in “unauthorized” places. He has been peeing under the desk and also in the dog and cat food dishes. He used to not do this so either he has an urinary infection or he is stressed. If it’s stress, it’s probably due to the fact that Yafah has diarrhea and messes in and on the litter boxes.

We isolated both Yafah and Luke on the unheated back porch. I’m tired of cleaning up diarrhea and urine in the house. Plus, we didn’t know if they were infectious and all we need is to have all nine pets be sick at the same time. (We’ve never had more than one pet with a health problem at a time until now.)

Another problem is that Danny has been scratching, scratching, scratching. I was sure it was not fleas, but suspected it was an allergy. He has been nibbling his front legs and causing little sores.

We decided to take a pet to the vet this morning, but we could only afford to take one. I decided to take Danny, since he seemed to be the most distressed. Yafah has diarrhea, but she is quite cheerful otherwise. We decided we would take the cats in a couple days when EJ got paid.

My choice of pet was actually the best choice, I think, because we were able to deal with all three problems. Danny does have an allergy. The vet reminded us that he had this same problem last year at this very same time of year, so it’s a seasonal thing. (I had totally forgotten that we deal with this every year.) He gave Danny an injection, which should stop the itching and help clear up his problems.

We also mentioned Yafah and Luke in passing because we were afraid their and Danny’s problems might be related–if they were all reacting to the new flea medication I gave them a few weeks ago. The vet very nicely sent us home with an Imodium to stop Yafah’s diarrhea and also an antibiotic for her. He gave us a jar of a special kitty litter just for Luke so we can get a urine sample. A urine sample will reveal if his problem is an infection or stress.

When EJ and I got home, we went out to the back porch. I wrapped Yafah in a towel and held her while EJ gave her the meds. She fought hard and squirmed out of the towel, scratched me up, and got away. I recaptured her and held her again. She actually liked the liquid Imodium once she got a taste of it. She hated the antibiotic pill. After we got the medicine into her, I looked down and saw that she had diarrhea-ed all down my pant leg. Sigh. We only have to give Yafah the meds for several more days. I hope she doesn’t mess down my leg every day because I don’t have enough jeans to last until our next laundry day.

As I said, it’s been a crappy life lately. However, I am glad that we were able to make progress with all three animals, and hopefully these issues will all be resolved soon.

EJ giving lovings to the kittens in the "free to good home" cage at the Vet's office.
EJ giving lovings to the kittens in the “free to good home” cage at the Vet’s office.

I should mention that going to the vet is very risky for us. Our vet has a cage set up in the waiting area in which he puts kittens that need homes. They are free. Numerous times we have taken one pet to the vet and come home with one or two adorable kittens. Today as we were waiting to be taken back to the exam room, EJ gave lovings to the two adorable kittens needing (free) homes. We thought they looked like tiny copies of Timmy and Luke. The receptionist said that one of the kittens always scoops up cat food with her paw to eat it. Awwww. However, I have already told EJ that as much as we love kittens, we MUST NOT have any more. So we were able to resist temptation and come home with ONLY Danny.  You should all be proud of us.

My Honey

Today was Friday, the day I make Challah Bread and we have a nice meal. Today was also the day of the Farmer’s Market.

EJ and I needed to get to the Farmer’s Market because we are almost out of honey. If we didn’t get it today then we won’t have enough honey for next Friday’s Challah Bread. I can always substitute sugar, but honey makes it more delicious AND is better for us.

The morning somehow got away from us, and suddenly I was pressed for time to finish baking the bread and making the meal. I was trying to calculate how I could get to the market and get everything done before EJ had to leave for work, but then we decided that EJ and JJ would go to the Farmer’s Market without me. JJ went along because he needed to buy laundry detergent at the store. A few months ago, in a fit of anger, he told me that I never do anything so I stopped doing his laundry for him. I suggested that it would be very wise not to tell me again that I don’t do anything. Anyway, I figure that someday, in the not-too-distant future, he will move away and it will be good for him to know how to do laundry. After the initial shock, and a few questions, he now does his laundry without complaint. He has gained a new skill! Perhaps I am not as merciless as he sometimes thinks.

I love the Farmer’s Market, but removing that from today really reduced the stressful busyness of the morning. I was able to get the Challah Bread baked, the meatloaf made, the kitchen cleaned, as well as the house cleaned without having to rush.

EJ returned without the honey.

He said that the farmer had only been able to bring two pints of honey to the Market, and those were snatched up first thing before he got there. Bummer. Oh, well. Next week’s Challah Bread will have sugar in it unless we can get to a store that has raw honey.

Photo: missbeehavenlavender.com/
Photo: missbeehavenlavender.com/

Way back in the past, I used to come home from high school and fix myself toast with honey on it as an after school snack. I LOVED honey. But then–I can’t remember just when–I stopped liking honey. The honey would sit in the cupboard for months. I thought my tastes had changed. Then, just a few years ago, EJ and I read that the honey in the stores isn’t really honey. I mean, they do something to it that removes all the good beneficial stuff from it. So we found raw honey and, oh, wow, what a difference! It was dripping with deliciousness and I couldn’t get enough of it. We went through several jars very quickly until my craving was satisfied and settled down. After tasting real honey, we searched our cupboards for the fake honey and threw it all out. As we did, we saw in one bottle an evil black mass…a mold or something. Real honey doesn’t ever go bad. Just more evidence that what we had been eating before wasn’t real honey.

We have searched for sources of real honey in our area. So far, we have found honey at the Farmer’s Market (except for today) and at a store about an hour away.  I do not think we will have time to make it to that store next week.

“Please Wait For Assistance”

We ran out of the delicious grape juice we always drink on Friday, so EJ and I went to the store 30 minutes away where we usually buy it. When we opened our front door to leave the house, Danny shoved himself past us. He has been doing that a lot lately. We let him go with us.

At the store, we bought the delicious grape juice. We also bought paper towels and four gallons of water. We don’t like the water in our village, so we usually buy it. We would like to get a water purifier so we don’t have to buy water, but our To Do List is long, and the purifier isn’t at the top of the list.

Checkout Machine Photo: Big Dave and Company.com
Checkout Machine
Photo: Big Dave and Company.com

Since we were buying so few items, EJ decided to risk the self-checkout lane. You know, those lanes where you scan and bag your own groceries? I hate them. There is only one time (or maybe two) when we actually were able to get through the process without the computer indicating that we needed to wait for assistance. If we pay by check, we have to wait for it to be approved. Other times, if we move the bags even just a little, the computer thinks we have removed an item from the bag so we have to wait for the cashier to push a few buttons so we can continue. I don’t understand how I am supposed to bag a lot of groceries if I can’t move the full bags out of the way. Whatever the reason, we almost always have to wait for the cashier. I never use those stupid lanes, preferring to go through a lane with a human cashier, but apparently EJ is an optimist. He keeps trying.

So today, since we had just a few groceries, EJ said, “C’mon, let’s try the self-checkout lane.” So we did. I tried to slide the full bags out of the way so I could bag the others. The computer locked up, telling us we needed to wait for assistance. Meanwhile, the cashier was dealing with some situation at another lane. She could have pushed a couple of buttons and let us go on our way within seconds, but she talked on the phone to her manager and talked to the people and we waited and waited and waited. And waited some more.

I was totally annoyed by the robotic computer voice that kept saying every 30 seconds, “Please wait for assistance…Please wait for assistance…Please wait for assistance.” I muttered softly in a robotic voice, “Please shut up….Please stop repeating yourself” EJ told me that I really shouldn’t talk to the computer because it couldn’t understand me. I muttered that we should cancel the order and go to a checkout lane with A REAL PERSON. EJ said he’d wait if I wanted to go to the car. I decided to go because the computer voice was very, very annoying. I went to the car and waited with Danny, and EJ was out in about 10 minutes. On the way home, we talked. Although the cashier could have hit a few buttons and sent us on our way quickly, she was in her 60s and was no doubt handling a situation the best she could. I was glad I hadn’t let my irritation spill out. Both EJ and I feel that most people are just trying to earn a living for their family, and life can be hard. Who knows what they are struggling with in their personal lives?

But, I told EJ, PLEASE do NOT go to a self-checkout lane again when I am with him. I hate them. They take longer than the longest real cashier lanes, and those don’t have annoying computer voices.

Beautiful September August Day
Beautiful September August Day

After we got home, we unloaded our groceries and then went to get a pickup load of firewood. We usually buy from individuals who are selling it from their homes. We have three individuals we usually buy wood from. However, the first didn’t have any wood out yet, the second wasn’t home, and we didn’t have time to go to the third. We will have to wait for another day.

After EJ went to work, I went out to the garden. I have decided to remove the bricks from all the paths because I can’t keep up with weeding them. It will be less time-consuming to just mow them. I enjoyed the physical labor of digging up the bricks and carrying them to where I am stacking them. I enjoyed the coolness of the day and the slight breeze. I enjoyed the sun and blue sky and the leaves beginning to change color. It was an absolutely beautiful September day…in August.

Oh, Crap!

Camping
Camping

This morning EJ and I again worked at getting the RV ready to sell. I cleaned out the inside, sweeping and vacuuming, while EJ mostly emptied the outside compartments. The possibility of selling  the RV is bittersweet. When we bought it, it represented fun, freedom, and adventure. It meant spending time as a family, talking around a campfire as we roasted marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoying the beauty of nature. We’ve had a few really neat vacations, but now we have no one to watch our cats while we are gone, EJ doesn’t get all that much time off, we haven’t used it in a couple of years, and the RV isn’t all that comfy for his back. It makes sense to sell the RV, especially since we are really scrimping to get debt-free. We have only two years before we are completely debt-free–less if we can sell the RV. However, it’s difficult to give up the allure of the RV experience. Until the RV is sold, we can always change our minds…

Danny's bath
Danny’s bath

I gave Danny a bath today. He was pretty calm and patient about it, considering that he doesn’t really like baths. After his bath, I fastened his leash to the front porch and brushed him. Then I cut the hair off his rump. When he was younger, he used to escape whenever he could and go on an adventure through the neighborhood. One day he escaped (I think the other dog we had at the time let him out of their pen) and ran into the street and a van hit him. It didn’t hit him directly. It ran over his beautiful tail and stretched out his spine. His tail was broken so it had to be removed. Now, every now and then, I have to cut the hair off his rump so that poop does not stick to it. He hates this, and maneuvers himself around or sits down so I can’t reach him. I used to have JJ help me by holding the leash taut so Danny couldn’t move away, but JJ always let Danny pull him and we all constantly moved around the yard while I tried to cut his hair. Tying the leash on the porch worked better.

The whole thing is a crappy job, but somebody has to do it, and that somebody is me.

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