Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Full of Grace - Color My World

  • My local university basketball team will not start their season by going to play the Duke blue devils because of North Carolina’s draconian discrimination laws. This was an annual game that brought national recognition to our small college program and I am proud that they will forgo the prestige to support the rainbow of genders and sexuality.

  • I have green beans! I plant a lot of beans in successive rows, but last year, every single row I planted was eaten by some critters as soon as the plants were an inch tall. Every single bean plant disappeared as if it had never been planted. This year, every row is producing beautifully.  

  • Peachie went deep sea fishing and brought me home a filet of blue fish she had caught. It is one of my favorite fishes, but has become unavailable as commercial over-fishing depleted their population. I cut it into small portions and have been savoring it nightly, broiled with a lemon garlic aioli. Yum.

She also caught this and I am equally grateful that she didn’t bring this one home.

  • This is now blooming in my memory garden. It came from my former therapist’s garden and I look forward to it’s purple plumage every year. I'd like to think that Lauren knows how thankful I am for all she did for me.

  • Another absolutely stunning sky at the lake. Even the old timers have been commenting that they can’t remember a year with such beautiful sunsets as we have had this year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Full of Grace - Repairing our House

On the 4th of July weekend we went to the lake and first thing I noticed was the picnic table was broken. The girls had just had their annual party weekend and I assumed the table got broken during a fierce game of beer pong.  Then I got out the Adirondack chairs and one fell apart in my hands. A bolt had been totally shorn off. When I turned it on its side to replace the bolt, one wooden  armrest split and flopped off. I put the chair in my chair to take home since it was now a job that needed rebuilt constructed parts. Finally, I went to put the hammock out and the frame was all crooked. The lag bolts had been bent, almost to right angles. I was going to ask the girls about what had happened but decided I probably didn’t want to know.

Some of you may remember a couple of years ago when Martha’s boat died, and then the trailer broke trying to tow it home. Well, she actually paid a lot of money to have it fixed, put it in the water last year, and never got it to start. At the end of the year she took it out of the water and put it back in the camp garage. But I told her it could not stay there and to tow it home and either get it fixed enough to sell it, or take it straight to the dump. Unfortunately, the pneumatic jack that lifts the motor also broke. It took a few friends and a couple of hours to lift the engine enough to tow it home. “I hate this effing boat” may have escaped my lips. It may have escaped my lips quite a few times.

We got home only to notice that there was a large pool of water on the garage floor. It hadn’t rained in weeks so we were puzzled. After moving a load of crap in our hunt, we eventually traced the flooding to a broken water line in the back of the refrigerator. We turned the water off, pulled the frig out (which now blocked most access in the kitchen) and realized we needed parts.  But it was still the holiday so that would have to wait to the next day.

I had thought our well ran dry because we had no rain for weeks but Martha discovered it was a broken switch. (We are on public water but use the well for watering the lawn and plants) She said she would fix it on Tuesday but that I had to move the table where I do my winter seedlings.  So dressed and ready to leave for a meeting I had in 10 minutes I went to move the table, hit the well pipes with a table leg which caused a geyser in the basement and totally drenched me. I apologized that I had to leave, quickly changed my clothes, dried my hair, and ran to work while Martha sucked up all the water. When I returned four hours later, she said she had cleaned up the mess and replaced the pipe and was about to turn the water back on. But when she did, something else broke and we once again had a flood and she was dripping wet. Much cursing was heard. Rinse and repeat.

On Wednesday she went to take the boat into the repair shop only to find the trailers lights weren’t working and the problem was with the hitch on my car. I brought that into our mechanic who told me it was an U-Haul hitch and I should bring it there. But U-Haul couldn’t look at it until the next day.  Of course.  So I followed her boat over to that shop, (about 30 minutes) only to be told that they had no room and to come back. Home again, home again, muttering all the way.

We dropped the boat in the front yard and put the cars in the garage but when I went out again to walk the dog the garage door got stuck midway up. It would not go up further and it would not come down which left both cars hostage inside. Martha tried to manually move it and pulled so hard the handle came off in her hand.  Finally called a repairman, who couldn’t come until the next day. Of course.

We decided we both needed to take a break and went to sit out by the pool only to find out the filter was leaking. At least that explained why we had been losing so much water.  At this point we were starting to think we had some "everything is falling apart" curse on us but it only made us more determined conquer anything that came our way. Bring It. Fortunately that was an easy repair.

The next day we went to take the boat, again, but as we were pulling out, the piece of wood that had wedged the engine up fell out and the propeller was dragging on the street sending out sparks. That took another couple of hours of struggle to work out, and we finally got the boat safely transported.

But as we were sitting, extremely tired but proud that we powered through it, our nation’s strained racial seams began to split wide open. And so, since this is usually the day I post what I am grateful for during the week (and it has been a tough week to feel much gratitude) I will center on this:

  • That we have the talent and tools to repair most of what breaks.
  • That when needed, we have the financial luxury of hiring experts to help us.
  • That to date, everything has been taken care of - including the boat which she will finally sell to somebody for parts.  I hope.

And I am most especially grateful:

  • That Martha retired from being a police officer years ago. I would not want to live with the worry and strain of watching her go out the door every day in today’s climate.
  • That I don’t have a black son, because I can't imagine the worry and strain of a mother watching her son go out the door every day in today’s climate.

A lot of things are broken in our nation, but I have to believe they can be fixed. Everybody has something they can help with. We have the talent and the tools. We will power through this. That is my prayer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The New Neighbors

Although we have a full neighborhood behind us, our house is on a short street of 6 houses. Martha grew up in this house and knew the surrounding neighbors since childhood. When I first moved in, all the homes were occupied with the older folks she grew up with. Over the years many have died or moved in with children and we have experienced a full turnover of neighbors.

Directly across the street there was an elderly woman who we took care of - mowed her lawn, cleared her driveway of snow, etc. When she moved a 30ish couple moved in but the man (who was always outside smoking) would never say hello or wave. Cold, but we were relieved not to have double the yard work to do. The woman eventually divorced him and a new man moved in who was very friendly.  It was nice to have folks to wave to and greet at the mailbox. But recently they put the house up for sale to be closer to his work. We kept hoping that a young family might buy it and that we’d have some kids around for hire as we get older. But then we heard that an elderly lady with a walker bought it. Damn. But then it got worse.

Long time readers may remember back to when I was a church goer and received a letter from the church elders that I was no longer welcome at the church. Although they never gave me an opportunity to speak with them directly, I did hear rumored the problem was because the temporary female minister told them I was in love with her, or stalking her, or something like that.  A little delusional and gay panicky I know, but they gave me no opportunity to defend myself and so that ended that.

I see the wife of one of those elders often - walking her dogs, at the supermarket, etc. Every time she avoids me - changes directions, stares somewhere else, anything to avoid eye contact.  I see her often enough that it is obvious the cold shoulder is intentional.  

So, of course, it is her mother who moved in.

The first couple of days I watched as she made many trips with her van, unloading her mom’s stuff. Each time I tried to make eye contact because I hate to have negativity in my life and this was just juvenile.  And then one day I simply walked up to her and forced her to acknowledge me.

Surprisingly, she turned and hugged me as if we had been old friends for decades, just being reunited. She asked about Martha, she asked about the kids, she talked about having my girls in Sunday School (they thought she was a whack job). I helped carry in some boxes and she invited me to meet her mother. It was all very strange and very phony feeling.

But, it turns out her mom is a lovely person. She broke her neck and is in a brace and needs the walker. I gave her my phone number in case she needs anything and the other day I accompanied her on her  daily exercise walk around the block. I almost gagged when she went on about how great her son-in-law was. I wanted to ask, “oh the one who said I couldn’t even sit in the church sanctuary, alone,  during off hours for prayer?”  Last I remember a church was supposed to be God’s house, not an elder’s personal property.  Oh yeah, so very Christian of him.

So I have a new neighbor. Her children live close by so I don’t expect to have to do the yard work, but I will keep an eye out for her. She moved from a different area of the state and told me she doesn’t know her way around so I will try to invite her to go shopping or perhaps go on a Town tour. I will check up on her and walk with her, when I can,  on her excursions through the neighborhood for although I no longer consider myself a Christian, I do agree with the basic tenets of kindness and compassionate for all, something I see less and less of in organized religions.

And now I see the house behind me has sold and a new car is in the driveway. Time to go introduce myself. Would it be wrong to hope the new neighbor is a world class baker or chef?