Category Archives: home

That’s What Neighbors Do

Well, the Trump supporting wife beater moved out of the house across the street taking his Trump sign with him.  They are renting the house to his wife’s son and daughter in law,  a young couple with a 2 or 3 year old girl, a cat, and a retriever-type dog.  I had high hopes for them until the young man hung a large Confederate flag from the front of house.

The other day another neighbor and I spotted the girl, the cat, and the dog running around  without any supervision.  The girl was happy as could be running into the other yards, with the dog doing its own exploration and the cat lying down in the middle of the street.  The neighbor grabbed the dog and the girl while I rang the doorbell to inform them that everyone was loose. The cat had already sauntered back to safety.  The mom was mortified and thanked us profusely. The little girl had just learned to open the gate to the back yard, and took advantage of her new skill.

A day or so later, the dad came over while I was in the front yard. He again thanked me and said they were so grateful we had noticed their daughter and animals, and offered to do any heavy yard work I might need done as a thank you. I told him that wasn’t necessary, as what we did was just what neighbors do. He seemed puzzled about that. He didn’t seem to understand that neighbors help without expectation of recompence .He also spoke with a southern twang, so he is evidently not from around here.

I suppose I could have asked him to take down the flag, but if he doesn’t  understand the concept of being neighborly, he might not have understood the request. I will just hope for other opportunities to show kindness.

What sort of flag would be a good response to the flag across the street? Tell about some of your more memorable neighbors. 

Crazy Eights

Husband and I received a lovely clock for our wedding almost 35 years ago. It plays Westminster chimes, and has traveled with us from Winnipeg to Indiana to North Dakota.

The clock worked quite well until last year, when it just stopped. We took it to the nearest clock shop in Fargo, where they told us that the innards were all worn out and it needed new ones.  We had a choice of digital or traditional.  I like to wind it, so we had them install new inner workings from Germany. It keeps time again quite well, but it has some quirks that I find alarming.

Some days, randomly, at  8:00 am and/or 8:00 pm, it chimes  continuously for up to three minutes. It plays the Westminster chimes over and over, and then plays variations on the Westminster chimes. When it has got it out of its system,  it rings eight times and gets back to its quiet ticking. It only happens at 8:00.  Some days it doesn’t happen at all.

I don’t know what to think about this.  Ghosts?  Odd German clock maker humor?  Who knows?   I don’t feel like driving it all the way to Fargo for a repair, so we will just put up  with the “Crazy 8’s” and see what new Westminster variations we get.

Tell about some infernal machine problems. What do you think it feels like to be in a time warp?


Oven Graveyard

My range/oven is dead. After never giving me a minute’s grief in 27 years, it has given up the ghost. The technician came today; two of the three needed parts are no longer made. I can send the board to be “rebuilt” but it’s only a 50/50 chance that it can be fixed and I’ll be without my oven for at least a month.

Got any good appliance shopping advice?


A Storm and a Hero

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay.

Two weeks ago, a windstorm hit Crystal Bay. It was the first straight line wind in 45 years. At  65 mph, these winds are as ferocious as a tornado, only without a funnel. It was pretty exciting for me until I saw my lawn chairs blown from the lakeside yard all of the way back to my garage. The wind’s strength picked up a 100-pound canoe and deposited it in my neighbor’s yard.

This summer, I rented out both sides of my dock because I really need the money and don’t have a boat anyway. I’m likely the only resident of this whole lake who doesn’t have a boat. I digress, but in my divorce settlement 12 years ago, he got the boat with no dock; I got the dock with no boat.

I watched as one of my renter’s boats listing in the water like the Titanic before it went down. The other boat became partially submerged. The force of the waves pulled the iron frame beneath the largest dock section off of the lake bed. And, my neighbor’s tree fell on the roof. This was their second tree to fall on the cottage in two years.


As with every high-anxiety situation, I turn to my take-charge, grounded son, Steve. He’s learned how to catch up to my runaway panic and calm me down within five minutes. He not only seems to have all the answers, he often takes over resolving situations with ease and confidence. I doubt I’d be able to continue living here without his occasional interventions.

I made my panic call after the tree came crashing down on the roof.  Within half an hour, Steve was up on the roof with a chain saw in the dark, cutting off the canopy of branches. The next day, he came out with two of his workers, and they devised a plan for taking the largest limbs without a crane. Which is exactly what any tree service would use. The guys used ropes tied around the large logs and eased them down over the roof. Steve laughed and joked with his guys the whole time. Unique challenges have always energized him. After three hours, the job wasn’t only finished, but all of the logs and debris cleaned up.

Before he left, he nailed a rope swing platform securely, unclogged a bathroom drain, screwed in a piece of plywood over a hole in the foundation, clipped a dozen overhanging tree branches, hung a new hammock, replaced a large bulb in the lakeside socket, and calmed the dock renter’s upset about having his boat underwater.

My son is my hero, my rock when things seem to be spinning out of control.  I got a registered letter from the city yesterday notifying me that there was a complaint filed against me for renting my dock. The ordinance says that people cannot have a boat at their dock unless they own it and live on the premises. Within hours, Steve had consulted the city planners, explaining my situation. He figured out a solution that will allow my dock renter to stay. He’s also figured out a way that repairing the storm-damaged roof will get maximum dollars in an insurance claim.

Everyone needs a “Steve” in his/her life whether a good friend, a mate,  a sibling, or an adult child.  Someone who will have your back in a crisis and be a calming voice in the storm.

Who has your back?  Who is your hero?

The Room on the Other Side of the Mirror

Our tortie kitten has some perceptual misconceptions regarding mirrors.  She is a determined little thing who loves to be with us, and who, if separated from us by a door or window, paws rapidly on whatever is in her way as though to scratch through it to get to us.  Sometimes we even open the barrier to let her through.  She does the same to mirrors, as though there is a room just beyond her reach. I notice this the most in the bathroom. She sits on the counter and paws and paws.

I suppose it is an easy mistake to make, since a mirror and window glass feel the same on her paws, and she can see things beyond both.

When have you wanted to be somewhere you couldn’t get to? 


Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter

I’m using my Grandma Britson’s name for the alliteration, just as the original “Heloise” did when she added an H to her name. Do any of you Babooners remember “Hints from Heloise” – household help in the form of syndicated newspaper columns, articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping, radio programs…  Well, there is still a Heloise, second generation, and of course a website:  a website , where you can find her Bio, Books, On Air offerings, Recipes (including Texas Caviar and Red Velvet Cake), and a section about her mom, the Original Heloise. The current Heloise has appeared on Oprah and Letterman, and is still writing books and making appearances.

I started this post thinking I would just share my tip for Trapping Fruit Flies, which seem to have shown up earlier this season. Instead of cider vinegar (which I’ve probably shared here before) I’ve found something less messy, and more attractive to the flies:

– put a peach pit (with some peach remaining on it) in a small container

– cover tightly in plastic wrap, into which a few knife holes have been punched; the flies can find their way in, but can’t seem to find their way out

– take outside periodically and release fruit flies; recover and begin again – they’re never completely gone

Then yesterday when I was complaining about how often I have to polish my favorite earrings with a silver cloth to keep their sheen, I was told this secret:

– find an old toothbrush and polish them with toothpaste

Who knew?

I’ve also managed to find a way to resurrect an old wicker rocker whose seat has broken through:  a couple of longish boards across the seat, anchored in place by a cushion, stick out on one end to create sort of side shelf, for books and (bird-watching) field glasses. A temporary fix, perhaps, but at least I don’t have to throw it out.

Do you have any Helpful Hints (household or otherwise) that either Heloise or I should bring to the attention of others?