It Could Have Been Much, Much Worse!

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline.

My mother lives in South St. Paul, but goes to church about 25 miles away, in Hudson Wisconsin. The church has formed the “Driving Miss Daisy” ministry to take my mom and her friend, Dorothy (both in their 90s) to and from church on Sunday mornings. I have the “bring them home” shift every first and third week. This past Sunday, a new volunteer had been drafted to bring them home because the regularly scheduled driver has left the church; so this was Jane’s first time. She dropped Dorothy off and took Mom home. She helped her to the door, but when they opened it, a strong gas smell wafted out. Mom hurried in to find her husband and get him outside. He has completely lost his sense of smell, so resisted leaving the house, thinking she was over reacting. Jane discovered that one of the stove burner knobs was on with no flame. She turned it off, got everyone outside and called 911 (I’m not positive that was the exact order of events). Anyway, the fire fighters arrived, checked the house for any other gas sources, opened all the windows and allowed them to go back in.  And all is well. Thank goodness for Jane; what a dramatic start to a volunteer gig! Note: Mom’s husband, still unable to smell anything, starts closing windows to keep Sunday’s cool, fresh air from coming in! 

Have you ever had to call 911?

The Doldrums

It is a slow time of year right now. Clients are waiting until school begins to resume therapy The garden is in a “wait and watch” stage, with beans developing, the third crop of spinach growing, and tomatoes slowly reddening.  Who knows what is happening beneath the potato plants. They just keep flowering.

This is the first time since 1991 that we haven’t had a child in school or college. I feel as though I am in the doldrums, just waiting for something to happen.  The wait isn’t necessarily refreshing or pleasant. Husband’s father goes to a Memory Care Center this week. We are sort of waiting for things to happen with him, too. Who knows how he will adjust. This time of year is usually busy and forward looking. Not this year.  Send in the clowns!

How do you handle the doldrums?

 

One-Way Market

On my trip to Madison last weekend, I went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. It is a four-block affair that rims the capital building.  You can enter the market from any of the incoming streets but my friends explained early on that you can only go one way at the market.

As we were there pretty early (6:30 a.m.) and it wasn’t very crowded I didn’t understand the rule about one-way. And it’s not a posted rule either, so that made me want to turn and go the other way very badly.

But after about an hour of very leisurely looking, tasting and shopping, it had gotten very crowded; that’s when I realized the intelligence of the one-way rule. At that point it would have been very awkward (and inefficient) to try to go against the crowd.  My friends told me that in another hour, it would be even worse!

It was a great market – all local folks, no re-sellers. I ended up with a purple cauliflower, a chili-cheese bread, a little tiny apple pie, cherry tomatoes that taste out of this world, squeaky cheese curds, another cheese w/ Kalamata olives and some multi-colored potatoes.  A real score!

When have you gone against the grain?

The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?

 

The Right Amount of Stress

It is hard to know in a drought how much supplemental water for the vegetable garden is too much, and how much is too  little.  We err on the side of overindulgence. Our recent water bill is testimony to our generosity.  I worry that our pole beans, full and tall on their poles, have yet to produce flowers due to our over watering and not allowing them to feel stress.  I worry our peppers are responding the same way, with very few fruits as yet. Here is a photo of the pole beans with potato plants in the foreground.

Babies born to diabetic mothers often have underdeveloped lungs due to  the  glucose-rich uterine environment  which lacks the normal “stress” of less sweet amniotic fluid. Children who have few expectations don’t fare as well as their peers who have expectations.

It has been stressful at my work due to difficulty hiring staff. I can’t believe that the stress is doing me any good.

I think that a  little bit of stress is necessary for all good development, be it for plants or people.  The trick is discerning the right balance.  Oh that we could thrive without stress!

What do you consider the good stress in your life? The not so good stress? How do you find a balance?

Public Notices

One of my favorite sections of the newspaper (besides the section in the Sunday edition that lists District Court proceedings for who got convicted of what and what their sentences were) is the Public Notices.  I don’t know if the big papers like the Strib or the New York Times print public notices, but our paper does. We have to vote every general election if we want the notices published in the local paper.  It always passes. As a local district judge told me, it is the best place to find out what your friends and neighbors are up to.

By public notices I mean foreclosure announcements, city and county  commission proceedings, school board minutes, bids for government contracts, summonses for parents to attend juvenile hearings, divorce related interim property rulings, and name changes.

One of my friends was surprised to read that her sister’s house was in foreclosure.  “I’ve been sending her money for the mortgage for months! What has she been spending it on instead?”

Public notices provide access to unanswered community questions. ” How can they keep that new restaurant open when hardly anyone goes there and the prices are so high?” That is answered by seeing the notice that So and So construction company is placing a lien on the restaurant in question for not paying the construction bill.

Our local paper prints the following:

WHAT IF AMERICA DIDN’T NOTICE?

Public notices help expose:

Fraud in Government!

Dishonest businesses!

Unfair competitive practices!

PARTICIPATE  IN DEMOCRACY.  READ YOUR PUBLIC NOTICES.

 

How do you participate in Democracy?

 

Long Lost Relations

I received an unexpected request for family tree information last week from a woman in Canada.  According to Ancestry. com, she and I are DNA matches and are likely 5th to 8th cousins. Her great grandmother and my Great Grandfather Lunzmann were siblings. I never knew he had siblings, but there he was on her tree, the youngest of about six children. I had never really ever looked for his siblings, and searched  instead for earlier ancestors.

I am very happy that my long lost relative contacted me, since I know very little about the Lunzmann family.  I know about my great grandfather’s life after 1900, but not in the 30 years before that and not his family life in the small village he came from in Mecklenburg , Germany.

This is one time that I welcome the intrusion of new technology in my life . I don’t always feel that way about it.

What about the latest technology do you find charming? What do you find alarming?

 

 

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