Saturday, November 27, 2010

Little More Progress

Today we rearranged the shed - which we use as the main entrance as it has one step at the entry and one step up into the main living area. Nothing like organizing a room to clear out clutter, find missing items and give yourself more space.

Sweetie hung a 12' metal rod across one end of the room - in front of the metal shelves I'd previously used for food storage - where it does double duty for indoor clothes drying and coat rack. Instead of stringing a clothesline anywhere I hang clothes, etc. on hangers. Our food storage is stashed in a pantry and closet and buckets fill the end of a hall that leads to the spare bedroom. This room has two entries so I just closed the door and made use of the space.

Yesterday we also tore out the broom closet and the cabinets above the fridge. The Hoosier cabinet and fridge swapped places with the kitchen table and chairs which gave us a smaller kitchen work triangle. In the spring we'll install windows above the kitchen table and re-insulate the exterior wall for about 20 feet. In older mobile homes the insulation tends to slide down the wall defeating its original purpose.

Tomorrow I pick up my elderly friend for her first look at our home's interior. She's asked me to take her to her husband's grave and the grocery too; something I feel honored to do.

I also re-buried my cat, Mita, who died last November 2nd. Guess I must have unconsciously been thinking ahead when I wrapped her in a towel, then placed her in a box and wrapped it in plastic. When I dug her up it was a simple matter of placing that box in another box and wrapping it in plastic. A few people think it's strange that I'd move my cat but she was my most faithful companion for 13 years so I couldn't leave her behind. Call me crazy. I don't care.

Up north, where we used to live, they got 15 inches of snow yesterday. Don't miss it but I know it will soon be here too. Oh well, we'll be warm inside with plenty to eat and the company of Lady and Kitty Kitty and great friends who call nearly every day.

Well, time for bed. My eyes are blurring I've read so long this evening. Take care, Treesong

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Being Thankful

On this day, my favorite of all holidays, I find myself being thankful for simple things: an extra quilt on the bed on a cold night; a long, leisurely shower and an over sized towel to wrap myself in; a morning call from my elderly friend to say, "I'm thankful you're close by now"; our new home, of course; for waking up this morning able to walk without falling; and remembering to turn the oven on and off at the appropriate times.

After today, who will remember, in the midst of their distractions and committments, to be thankful? Will they be thankful for a roof over their heads and heat and lights and food to eat? Will they be thankful for friends and family and a store close by? Will they be thankful for an income and a few bucks in their wallets? Will they be thankful for the medication they need or their doctor or pharmacy? Will they be thankful they are even alive?

Each year it seems we "celebrate" Thanksgiving and then leave it's message by the wayside. The day is barely half over and someone complainss the stuffing had too much sage, the pies were runny and the kids were rambunctious. Another comments on her sister-in-law's outfit and the weight she had gained.

We're such vain, judgmental, opinionated people. And all to keep up the empty, incessant chatter. Silence is a killer your know.

Try to steer the conversation toward humor, a new recipe, the volunteering you did earlier or God forbid, God himself, and you're treated like a leper.

Or, better yet, mention mention Sarah Palin and you've got everyone's attention. Like the young woman on Facebook who wished Palin would visit Grand Rapids. When asked why, she said, "Because she's going to be the best looking presidential candidate we've ever had and want to see her."

Talk about comments!

I had to remind myself that on Facebook, everyone seems to talk about anything to anyone. It's as though NOT saying something means you're alone or ignored, God forbid.

I for one, am thankful I've learned it's often best not to comment.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


A while back I mentioned we would be living off our preps for the foreseeable future. It's been an interesting, telling time. A great opportunity to get creative, discover what "food fatigue" really means and discover the holes in your preps.

First, creativity. Who feels like being creative in the kitchen when their body aches in places they didn't know existed and they haven't the strength to lift a cast iron fry pan or operate a manual can opener? Not me.

Second, "Food Fatigue" is real and happened quicker than expected. We agree it's due to moving between two locations three times in about 4 weeks. This means either stocking cookware, dishes, etc. for two locations or living on sandwiches and canned fruit. We opted for the latter. Yesterday I made a huge pan of lasagna. You'd have thought we hadn't eaten in a month. We ate it three times yesterday. I didn't have the energy nor inclination to fix a vegetable. To heck with a balanced meal, I thought. We have plenty of variety in our preps but don't stock MRE type food. Even if we did the microwave was buried in a box someplace though they could have been made in a saucepan.

As for holes in our preps. Aren't there always holes in preps? Isn't it human nature to want what you don't have? My elderly friend asked me to pick up Bob Evans Chipped Beef & Gravy before coming to visit her. She's without a car, ill and has a daughter who only stops by to drop her garbage off. This was my first visit to a grocery in I don't know when. Seemed like a dream, the bright lights and shelves stocked to the hilt. When I looked at the prices it seemed like a nightmare. So, yes, we've kept our vow not to buy anything for ourselves but I left the store thinking of homemade donuts (this place has a great bakery), Cornish hens, chipped beef on toast, bananas, ice cream (any flavor at this point would be welcome) and how great a romaine salad would be. Sometime next month we'll go shopping. It will be like Christmas; in fact it may be Christmas.

In other news, I had the scare of my life yesterday. Sweetie began choking while sitting in his recliner eating a cheese sandwich. A few seconds later his lips curled outward and his face reddened. Maybe 10 seconds had passed when his eyes rolled back in his head and his entire body jerked. I grabbed the phone next to his chair to call 911 just as our phone rang. I was my elderly friend who said she'd do it and then call friends who live nearby.

I kept repeating Sweetie's name and suddenly he started choking again. The adrenaline rushed through my body as I yanked him up (my back feels like it today) and got behind him with my arms around him. Not an easy task while he was shaking and gagging! Next thing I knew our friends arrived; her husband grabbed Sweetie and the piece of sandwich flew out.

My elderly friend called again and said 911 was on their way. Sweetie - the infamous stubborn Irishman that he is - repeatedly yelled, "Call those suckers off." He was enraged and swearing and grabbed the phone. Our friends were in shock as he continued to yell and told the 911 dispatcher there was no need for help!!!!

After we ALL calmed down I told my friends, "Well, he's back to normal." They left soon afterward, just dumbfounded. Three hours later he said, "Your know, I lost you for awhile."

Truthfully, part of me wanted to hit him but all I could do was cry. His blood pressure remained low all day and he has no intention of seeing a doctor. Near as we figure, his airway was blocked long enough for him to loose consciousness and possibly even skip a few heartbeats until miraculously it started again.

Now you're probably wondering why I mention him choking after the paragraphs about living on our preps? Because I still cry when I think of how close I came to losing him - stubbornness and all.

Running 'Cause I Can't Fly: "A Full Body Scan of American Corruption"

Thanks to Coyote Prime for posting this.

And, as I mentioned in a comment at SixBears' blog, I'd like to see the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, the Clintons and all other law enforcement and government morons subject themselves to a body search/scan. How about cross country flights with several layovers/change overs for say, one month. Wonder how long it would take for them to revolt?

Running 'Cause I Can't Fly: "A Full Body Scan of American Corruption": "'A Full Body Scan of American Corruption'by Gonzalo Lira 'In the United States, if a policeman stops you for a traffic violation, and y..."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Have Lost Track But Not Given Up

One day has blurred into the next this past week. Today we're trying to revive ourselves in time for the next trip.

This would be entirely unnecessary if I weren't living with a hoarder.

His overloaded pickup, pulling an equally overloaded enclosed 12' U-Haul trailer, broke down last night 45 miles west of the Mackinaw Bridge. Sparks flew from his rear passenger side as the truck & trailer swerved from side side to side. A driver of the the lane NEXT to him must have stained his pants before he drove into the ditch then out again just as Sweetie missed him by inches. A line of vehicles braked and slowed in both direction but did not stop after both our vehicles stopped.

About 10 minutes later an elderly man driving a new Dodge pickup offered his assistance. His cell phone got reception; mine did not. He lived nearby and knew who to call for a tow. He even walked the ditches by flashlight with us looking for the tire and wheel. Once the wrecker arrived he offered to hook the U-Haul up to his truck and pull it to the nearby garage. The wheel, tire, brakes and who know what else are gone or ruined. The brakes had just been replaced a few days earlier in preparation for the trip.

An hour later we were headed south in the car towing the fully loaded golf cart trailer.

In case you're confused: Sweetie's 1997 F-150 with 268,000 miles was fully loaded beyond the roof top & pulling the 12' U-Haul - also loaded. I was following in the 1996 Crown Vic towing the golf cart trailer. On it were a 250 gallon fuel oil tank, a cement mixer, and snow blower and cultivator attachments for his John Deere riding mower.

In my humble opinion, the only thing of worth moving were the four painting in my car, the things on the golf cart trailer, the antique twin bed and three tool boxes in the U-Haul.

Believe me, the rest was useless junk. Buckets and buckets of obscure items, many broken or missing parts. Not one bit of it has been touched since being moved to the Upper Peninsula 18 months ago.

This move has now cost us well over $2000 when all we really needed was one trip with the 12' U-Haul and the golf cart trailer.

Tomorrow, if the truck repairs are finished, we return to the UP to pick up the truck and pay who knows what in towing and repairs. And then we begin the journey again, hoping and praying the truck and trailer make it back here in one piece.

And once he's had some rest he STILL has stuff in that pole barn as well as a boat and trailer sitting in the yard. God help us because I'm ready to scream. Not that it will do any good.

If you've ever watched Hoarders on TV you have some idea of what I'm going through.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What We've Been Missing

Since moving here life has done a 180. Yesterday was a perfect example.

I joined the library's writer's group that meets every Thursday for 3 hours. It was amazing to walk into a room of strangers and be welcome. People gathered round to introduce themselves and ask about my writing experience, the books I was currently reading and why I'd chosen to move to this area. I was so stunned I teared up.

It seems my friend Deb has been talking me up. "She's written for newspapers and she's always listened to me talk about my writing. You'll all really like her."

To put this in context, I've known Deb since I first moved to this area 30 years ago and she was recommended as a babysitter. She was married with three kids and didn't work outside the home. I was single, had three kids and worked for GM.

We're about as different from one another as two women could get. She left school in the 9th grade; I have 3.5 years of college. She's been in an abusive marriage for 35 years; I would have killed him. She's the youngest of four; I'm the oldest of four. She has very little self confidence; mine could be tempered at times. But somehow we've been supportive of one another.

Deb joined the writing group because she realized she needed something to do now that her children had all left the nest. "I felt like I didn't have a mind left," she said. "I thought writing would help me think."

She cannot spell or punctuate but she keeps trying. She has so much enthusiasm for writing that she sent a story to a vanity publisher. Of course, it was published. She was so proud of being an author that she sent me a copy. I had to restrain myself from taking a red pen to every page.

Everyone at the writing group has read her book and they've all realized the same thing I have. It's a terrible piece of work. Despite that, it has given her a new sense of purpose, pride and determination that no amount of counseling, crying, praying or demanding has ever done.

During our meeting the group's leader gave us a series of writing exercises which we then read to the group. Members responses were amazing. Laughter, jokes and respectful critiques filled the air.

My email was added to the member list. As of this morning I've heard from all but two of the group.

I am still amazed that we get phone calls from live people other than telemarketers.

When we needed to pick up truck parts Deb gave me a ride. When we needed help unloading the U-Haul, help was here. We've been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner - the first holiday invite we've had in two years, maybe more.

While we're up north for the last load, someone will be here taking care of our cat and watching the house.

When we go grocery shopping or stop at the gas station people stop and talk. The librarian knew who I was when I asked for a library card. She even offered a list of books she thought I'd be interested in based on what Deb had told her.

I could go on and on about how welcome we feel. It's such a contrast to being ignored and left out and judged on our past, our location, our lifestyle, our ages and whatever other determinations had been made about us.

And something else I just remembered. At the writing group someone mentioned a wringer washer in her story. Deb laughed and said I could identify with that because I had one. The most elder of the writers group looked up and said, "Have you ever made your own laundry soap?" When I said, "Yes and I still do," no one laughed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fix and Repair

We're not wealthy and didn't buy a turn key place with the latest bells and whistles. So, we're making repairs dnd discovering more repairs are needed.

It sucks. The more this country sinks into the abysmal economic hole, the more company we'll have in the fix and repair department. Like I told a friend, "Thank God we know how to live on ingenuity, duct tape, rice and beans and recycled parts."

And though I bitch about Sweetie's mess in the pole barn, he has found a spare propane regulator, a sufficient supply of screws, bolts and caulking and brake pads for the truck.

But, the day will come when we'll have to spend money. I dread it.

Meanwhile my good friend and her GM retiree hubby blissfully spend his retirement check. In the past week they've gassed up the 2007 Dodge truck three times; eaten out every day including taking us to lunch yesterday after having breakfast with his mother three hours earlier. Mark my word, later this month we'll hear mumblings about not having money. Within their extended family one will borrow from another until next payday arrives.

Yet they're the sweetest people I know. Even without money at the end of the month they'll help someone move, babysit their child or offer a place to stay temporarily.

Meanwhile, we'll work toward getting this place in shape and find amusement in our dog and cat; enjoy TV, internet and library books(our entertainment budget) and have coffee with friends.

As for the challenges here, most revolve around a ton of deferred maintenance. Whenever there was a leaky faucet or window, it was eventually repaired but the damage done by the leak was left as is. Consequently we have three flooring soft spots, paneling to replace beneath four windows and several pieces of moulding to replace.

Every time we turn around something else is missing a part or it's so filthy it's stopped working. As Sweetie said this morning, "I'm surprised this place isn't roach infested." That made my skin crawl.

The ironic thing is shelves were full of cleaners, disposable razors and air fresheners - all coated in dust, spider webs and grease. I shudder to think of their toxicity, but I set off two bug bombs inside and two beneath the place when we were last here.

I spent an entire hour scrubbing ONE ceiling beam in the living room. If I wipe a damp cloth across it I still have yellow/gray residue on it!!!

This is a 1982 Schult the previous owner bought in 1984. I doubt the walls were ever scrubbed. The original carpet is in both bedrooms and hall. Newer carpet is in the living room but is heavily stained. We'll pull it all up in January.

The propane company was just here for an inspection. When they pulled out the range I about upchucked. No need for a mop or broom beneath it. Sweetie is there now with a carpet razor cutting the vinyl flooring away. Not even going to bother trying to clean the mess.

I've taken a slew of pictures but am having trouble with my camera once again. Suffice to say I'm scrubbing more today and making spaghetti sauce.

One day at a time we'll make progress. Later this week we return to the UP to load up and winterize the place. It can't happen soon enough.

So much more to talk about but I have work to do! Have a pleasant day, Treesong

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Journey, the Realizations

We departed the U.P. at 4:20 p.m. only to realize we had a flat tire on the U-Haul passenger side rear OUTSIDE tire. We were still in the driveway!!! After trying to fill the tire with a portable compressor Sweetie drove 16 miles to a station with air. Once he filled the tire he pulled forward so my truck tire could be checked. No sooner had he jumped out of the U-Haul and we heard a loud pop. The U-Haul tire deflated again.

Unbelievably, the tire never went completely flat; only down about two inches. It was Sunday evening and nightfall was approaching, so we continued on to the nearest U-Haul outlet that could possibly help us the next morning - another 32 miles away.

To shorten the story, we contacted U-Haul on my cell which kept disconnecting (poor coverage) and once again Sweetie's English/Irish temper got the best of him. Off he drove while I'm standing outside my truck talking to U-Haul foe the third time. I told the operator never mind, he's taken off and soon followed his disappearing tail lights.

We stopped every 50-100 miles checking the U-Haul tire, which never deflated further. So, the truck made the journey with a slight tilt toward the ditch but everything inside arrived in one piece!!!

My man has determination if nothing else.

WE arrived here exactly 13 hours later (Monday morning) exhausted but grateful. A short time later we had the bed unloaded and blankets piled high upon it. The pilot on the furnace had gone out and we weren't able to relight it. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Three hours later I got up, made coffee and toast and Sweetie slept another five hours. I unloaded what I could from both trucks and rounded up our planned help. That in itself got interesting. Within four days of having arranged the help only one person showed up. Two others had the flu and one had got a much needed job. But, still running on sheer determination, we unloaded the truck and worked feverishly to fix a few things before we ran out of steam Wednesday afternoon.

I can't recall when I have ached so much or when three Aleve during a 24-hour period had NOT touched the pain. Sweetie slept most of Thursday and has since paced himself and taken better care of himself. Having satellite TV hooked up made all the difference because he and the remote and his recliner have become one again!

Today I felt clear headed enough to hook up the DSL and answer emails.

I'll post more later. In the meantime we are soooooooooooooooooooo grateful to be here. The realizations of what we've been missing, how fortunate we are and how awesome God is have flooded over us like waves from a refreshing sea.

Thanks to all of you for your comments. Have a restful Sunday. Treesong