Thursday, June 28, 2012

Only 68!

My Three Sons was a TV show I watched pretty regularly in the 1960's. 

Oh, it was a silly show and their Grandpa was very cantankerous but I was in love with Don Grady.   He played Robbie Douglas on the TV show and he was only two years older than me.  I thought he was the most adorable teen star EVER.  Well, aside from Troy Donahue -- who for most of my teen years was only in the beach movies -- until he joined 77 Sunset Strip (give us you comb, Cookie).   And David McCullum on Man From Uncle.  And there was also Michael Landon on Bonanza -- I walked a mile plus home from school every day pretending I was on the Bonanza prairie and Little Joe was going to rescue me from the horse thieves.  Those were the days.  But Little Joe and Ilia and Troy Boy were all adults.  Don Grady was my age -- or close to it.

I followed Don through his high school TV angst and into his college years when he unexpectedly got married on the TV show.  I didn't much care for those episodes -- but I did desperately want the hair of his TV bride.  Plus she was so nice and dressed so prettily and feminine in every episode.  But look at the picture of the family -- everybody in a suit AND tie?  Really?  I bet they wore overcoats and hats to church on Sunday, too. 

Fred McMurray, the father on the show, loved his boys without exception.  And Grandpa was always around to make dinner.  I wanted to live in that household where everything was perfect and everything always came out right in the end and no one ever got drunk or screamed through the house at 9:00 p.m. breaking dishes and your father wasn't hiding in the bedroom, afraid to come out because he'd get hit if he did.  And everything that went wrong in your family was always your fault. 

Today it was announced that Don Grady died at age 68 from cancer.  He was handsome even in his later years, wasn't he? 
He probably could care less that he was the boy I "loved from a far" during the 1960's -- in fact, he probably hated all those teen girls screaming after him.  Still, the TV role he played brought me a great deal of happiness.  He was always handsome, polite, helpful, and decent. I knew he would have danced with me at the junior high hop -- even though I couldn't really dance and felt like a fat wallflower.  He has that kind of mannerly gentleness -- and his father would have insisted. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Still -- and always -- a liberal!

Just remember I'm a true product of the 1960's!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

Retirement for me is G R E A T!  For Hubby, not so much.  Falling off the front porch a week ago Saturday has put him backward in every circumstance.  I'm dining out with friends, meeting ladies for lunch, cleaning when the mood strikes, reading Gone Girl and loving it, making updates to Facebook every day, whipping up big batches of delicious potato salad and cooking at least two meals a day . . . it's just an unending series of doing things I like and enjoy.  Meanwhile, Hubby lies in the bed and moans.  Yes, actually he's taken to whimpers of pain that can be heard throughout the house.  That and going to doctor appointments twice, sometimes three times, a week and taking handfulls of pills. 

We got the Dell PC set up after the 475 viruses were cleaned off it and I downloaded the recommended AVAST virus protector - and immediately came the screen of death and the PC would only load in safe mode.  The PC is back in the hardware hospital while they run tests to find out what's wrong with it now.  This time Hubby had the sense to let me carry the unit to the car -- it was carrying in the hard drive that caused him to fall off the front porch steps.  What amazed me -- the PC is bulky but not all that heavy.  I could carry it fairly easily, once I put on my new "walking shoes" that guarantee I have ankle support to go up and down the steps out front of the house (three steps -- that's all it is).  I have to admit I was shocked at the problems Hubby was having carrying something this light weight.  I think he was horrified to find I could lift the unit easily and just hop out the front door.  Life throws subtle warnings to you when it's time, I guess.  Anyway, we're back to using the MAC full time - with no printer and no decent address book -- but I've been updating the info on the MAC as it comes in through the awful MAIL program (that's what MAC email is called -- MAIL) and I've been forcing myself to use MAIL instead of the internet where it's impossible to download and file mail messages.

It's very hot here in KC with predictions of even hotter weather to come -- in the100's at the end of the week.  The AC is running a lot but we try to turn it off around midnight and go through the night without air.  This makes Hubby happy - he seems to be constantly cold right now.  He came down with some kind of bug over the weekend (vomiting and diarrhea but he's pretty much over it now) and was actually shivering.  I'm always hot.

The new knives from our Branson trip proved dangerous to my fingers when I decided to make a huge batch of potato salad yesterday (15 Yukon gold potatoes).  I sliced into my thumb while dicing potatoes.  I nicked my ring finger while chopping eggs.  While slicing green peppers, I did the most damage - I sliced right into the ball of my left index finger and then kept on going and sliced off the tip.  For a while there I thought that we were going to have to eat red potato salad -- I bled that much.  But finally I got it stopped and now, though sore, my fingers are healing nicely.  I'm dangerous around sharp knives. 

Tonight I meet a school friend for dinner at the local Brookside bar / grill.  I mentored her during her first year at Wyandotte and it will be fun to catch up on the doings of the young and energetic.  Also this week I get my first social security check.  We are waiting to hear about further GI tests for Hubby's throat.  I've got plans to start cleaning up the computer room any day now -- you know, I might have to wait until my fingers heal up.  Don't want to cause any permanent damage. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Bill Maher expresses my deep felt political opinions every week.  His Opinions from Inside the Crystal Bubble about Washington Republicans are so spot-on. 

Certainly this little picture says how I feel about the Supreme Court and its allowing of untold millions to be donated to political campaigns because "corporations are people."  How can we think elections will be fair if the 1% of the population can dominate the media with their unlimited contributions? Actually, how can any court be supreme if a man like Clarence Thomas (who never says anything during any case being heard) sits on the bench? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wellness Check

Hubby visited his primary care physician this morning to consult on the hospital test from Tuesday which decreed that his larynx was simply old -- and not rising as it should.  The PCP (primary care physician) was not entirely satisfied so more tests ensue.  We don't when yet, but within the next two weeks.

The doctor looked at Hubby's banged up knees and swollen joints and "tut-tutted" but declared that nothing was broken or irretrievably damaged.  The visit was over an hour so Hubby returned home completely spent and is now in bed, napping once again.  He is letting me do all the driving -- so you know he's in a bad way. 

Hubby claims he can only sleep with the TV on -- and now, since he's sleeping all day, his nighttime sleep is very erratic -- meaning that TV blares all night long as well as all day.  It's beginning to seriously bug me -- I can barely stand to be in the same room with the machine.  I want to throw something through it -- or at least turn the sound down to mute.  Hubby, being slightly deaf, now has the sound up to nerve-grating decibels.  And the awful stuff he watches -- if it was made in the 1960's or '70's or maybe, like Walker, Texas Ranger, early '80's -- he watches it.  And the same old movies over and over -- Die Hard, Rambo, Rocky, anything John Wayne, and, a hundred times a hundred -- The Bourne Identity series.  Oh, God!  I'm sick of all of 'em, but especially Matt Damon as Bourne.

Yesterday I brought home a meat loaf dinner from Cheesecake Factory -- their portions are huge -- so Hubby had some meatloaf last night and today there was enough left over so I'm not having to cook.  Well, toast and tea with fresh melon for breakfast -- but lunch was merely as reheat of that lovely meatloaf with mashed potatoes.  At least food-wise, I've had it easy today.

I'm grateful that Hubby is in recovery mode -- I just wish that the recovery would move a little bit faster.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ladies Who Dine

Instead of a luncheon date, I met a dear friend from my days at the #3 Telephone Company for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Overland Park.  We met at five and finally forced our way from the table at 7:00 -- two hours of eating, laughing, and exchanging life stories.  I felt relaxed and happy.

I have loved Susan for the past 18 years -- but our paths crossed very infrequently since I left #3.  She is a director there, a power who has kept her job through many buy-outs and management changes -- which speaks to just how good she is at what she does.  Now that I'm retired we can meet much more frequently -- I'm hoping monthly.  We even talked about crafting together again -- and playing cards with each others families.

Our meal was sumptuous -- chicken for her, scampi for me.  Then apple crisp and lemon cake for dessert.  I brought back a huge pile of meatloaf for hubby, with fresh mashed potatoes and corn -- and then a container of strawberry short cake.  Everyone, including the boys who got a taste of the meatloaf and tatters, was delighted.

This retirement thing is really working out.  I'm turning into a social butterfly.  I have even made a date for next week, to have dinner with another teacher friend.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

A greeting from the boys for their father, who yesterday took a serious fall coming into the house and today is unable to walk, once again.  We hope his seriously banged up (and bloody) knees recover quickly.  We are also sending him best wishes for the hospital testing that is coming up this week -- please let everything turn out alright!  Get well, Papa -- walking with Mama is JUST NOT THE SAME without you with us! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hiding in the Closet

The bathroom has been cleaned and "cleaned out" since last Saturday -- now it only requires weekly maintenance.  I even managed do that this week. I Swifter-ed that floor like crazy!  And enjoyed doing it!

But I still have the full sized linen closet to weed out and clean. 

Today I tackled only the bottom / floor level shelf in there.  I had 289 candles from the 1980's stored just on the floor level.  This is no joke.  There may actually be MORE than 289 candles -- because these aren't the "jar" candles but the ones that go in candlesticks - both tall and small.  Many of these candles have never been used -- several were put out but never burned so I just stored them back in the closet. 

I also had all kinds of electrical hair appliances in there -- multiple sets of curling irons, steam curlers, electric curlers.  Then there are the Halloween costume headpieces I had stored away -- angel halos, middle ages circlets and conical headpieces, devil horns (with the matching pitchfork). 

I kept the electric appliances just in case one day I decided to grow out my hair.  How dumb is that?  I love this short hair.  I'm never going to set this hair again.  All the curlers and curling irons are gone.

But when did I think I could use up 289 red, blue, and white candles?  Or purple, pink, and orange ones?  I just came home with 20 jars of candles from Branson!  Clearly I'm past the life that uses candlesticks on every table -- or for a candle lit dinner (on the dining table I no longer set).  What should I do with all these gorgeous, unused candles?  I can see the Houston crowd now opening package upon package of candles for their Christmas presents.  I don't think they would be pleased.  I think I must have a candle fetish that's I'm going to have to overcome during this retirement phase of my life. 

Finally, Halloween costumes?  Really?  How delusional have I been in the last 30 years?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just a Short Jaunt

We left home early Wednesday morning and arrived, via the old pink Lincoln Towncar, in Branson by 11:00 a.m.  We checked at the Music City La Quinta but our room wasn't ready yet, so we tooled around, looking at the the tornado damage still evident.  Branson really took a hit last year -- many motels are closed, some theaters are still badly damaged, and many buildings are just being bulldozed.  We found out at that, though undamaged, the largest of the retail malls, the Factory Outlet mall was completely abandoned.  My favorite stores were gone.

By 1:00 we had checked into our handicapped room, deposited the dogs (La Quinta takes pets with a friendly, free smile -- lots of animals stay there with their humans), and headed out for lunch.  We also did a little bit of shopping at the lunch buffet -- I bought several Schnauzer items for the house (outside of the house, actually).

Then Hubby needed a long, soothing, cool nap.  By 5 p.m. though we headed back out for more shopping.  The evening was cool and clear so the pups were able to go with us.  Hubby found the Bass Outlet at the Tangier's Mall and bought four pairs of shoes.  We had a great clerk who, once he realized Hubby was willing to buy anything that actually fit, made sure we had our fondest wishes met.  Hubby even walked out wearing his new shoes.  Then we found a dinner buffet down the strip but afterwards, Hubby was pretty worn out so we headed back to our motel for an early night.

The La Quinta room was very nice and so clean.  We loved the handicapped shower -- you could just walk in without stepping over a tub wall.  We could even sit in the shower if we chose.  With a king sized bed the doggies were able to stretch out in comfort, relegating their servants to the far corners of the bed -- just like in the queen-sized bed at home.

By 8 a.m. the next morning we were back on the strip, looking for the leather purse store and Chicago Cutlery.  We did a pit-stop at the Christmas store where I found a wonderful selection of jewelry and actually bought nine pieces -- three rings, three necklaces, two pins, and a pair of earrings.  Then Hubby managed to find where the leather purse store had moved -- their building had been completely destroyed during the tornado.  I got three very small purses to tide me over until the next Branson sojourn.  We did a housewares store and I got the cutting board I had wanted -- plus a couple of stocking stuffers for the Houston family.

Then Hubby pulled off a miracle and found the Chicago Cutlery store that had moved into, what for Branson, passes as the burbs -- and I found all the discounted candles the trunk would hold -- I actually bought 20 soy candles.  I also got my paring knife, a couple of "Red Cross" discounted knifes, and a 4-piece set of steak knives.

So we were headed back to KC by 11 a.m. with only one more stop for a Braums lunch and some gas. We love Braums -- the best ice cream ever -- three scoops for three bucks!  We got home to find the tree-trimming guy still at work on the house and the window replacement guy in the driveway waiting to take some more measurements.

All in the all, the trip was a great success.  Everything on our list was purchased -- and the only extra items were the nine pieces of jewelry I brought home (since I'm not working where will I wear the new finery???? -- but they were so sparkly and pretty!!!!).  The only store Hubby had managed was the Bass shoe store, but he had driven the entire trip with no respite. and frankly on Thursday it was way too hot to leave the boys in the car without the AC running.  

Monday we are going to the hospital for the GI series of tests and then we have more doctor rounds -- cardiologists, knee specialists, etc. -- but we've had a mini vacation and came home with toys for the house.  A change of pace is always good. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We're off to do a very minimal shopping therapy session in Branson, MO.  We'll just be gone overnight but I'm looking forward to motel king-sized beds (we've booked a handicapped room at La Quinta which takes pets free of charge) and all-you-can-eat buffets.  
Hubby wants some shoes.  I want cheap candles for the house - and maybe a paring knife for the kitchen.  Also a cutting board for the sink would be agreeable if I can find one.  My favorite purse on which I broke the zipper during the winter needs to be replaced -- and it came from Branson. 

Actually -- that's the list.  Sister-in-law will remember when therapy shopping was a marathon round of EVERY store in the mall -- but no longer.  We do 60 minutes of standing and walking and looking at over-priced goods and we now need a 120 minute nap. 

The trunk will NOT come home loaded.  But hopefully, the Bass shoe outlet will provide Hubby with some foot relief and I will feel like I've had a mini-vacation. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

Today I met an acquaintance from school who had retired a year ago.  We decided on the local tavern which also serves pretty decent lunches.  She was the more lady-like, having iced tea and chopped salad for her meal, while I opted for the requisite diet Dr. Pepper and tenderloin sandwich.  The food was okay, filing, and not too expensive. 

The company was absolutely lovely, however,  and we sat for two and half hours, telling each other stories about our lives.  All we really knew going into the lunch was that we thought each, in her own right, was a good teacher, cared for our inner city children and liked musical theater.  She told me about meeting her second husband and moving to Kansas City from California and I laid out in great detail Hubby's current health woes.  

We had a good time together and decided this was something we would like to monthly.  The whole experience made me feel that I am settling into retirement quite nicely.  I am now a lady who lunches for hours as opposed to a school marm with only 20 minutes to wolf down a cold sandwich.  I could get used to this new life. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Round 2 -- or is it 29?

We visited Hubby's GP today to get referrals because:

  1. Hubby is willing to "talk" about knee replacement surgery -- talk is all he's willing to do, but this is a step (maybe) in the right direction.  He has found that he is currently unable to build strength in his leg muscles AND (more importantly) the guy he hangs around with (his mechanic) went in for knee replacement surgery today.  I think he's actually waiting to see how Art does -- since Art also has heart trouble -- but more seriously than Hubby.  If Art does well with his surgery, Hubby might actually move forward toward his own. 
  2. Also, Hubby has developed a problem swallowing and it clearly has become something more than just a minor complaint so we needed a referral, Hubby thought to a nose, throat, etc. doctor -- but instead got a GI referral and a hospital test to be run sometime in the next month (we'll be contacted).
Why is it that doctor's scare you when you ask for help?  I suppose, in our case, because our doctor knows that Hubby never asks for medical service unless things are seriously bothering him.  Because of the swallowing problem, the doctor ran through the various things that could be wrong:  rings in his esophagus, complications from diabetes, narrowing of the esophagus, reflux, all the things that could be treated with meds just from the doctor's office.  Then the dreaded "C" word came up -- tumor, mass, etc.  My heart sank into my feet -- and, as always, I headed straight to the "bad" places in my head.  Of course, Hubby and I are NOT talking about it at all -- we're acting like everything is just fine and dandy (please, God, let everything be FIND and dandy) because if you actually talk about "cancer" you could actually have cancer -- and that would NOT be a way to start retirement.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Creating a New Life

When we got home from Houston after our Christmas visit, Hubby had a meltdown which for him is rather a major event.  He was very unhappy that I was announcing to everyone that I planned to retire at the end of the year.

"We have never discussed your retiring.  The economy is awful.  This is not the time for you to be out of work.

In my mind we had been discussing my retiring for the last two years -- and very seriously since September.  As the administration and staff had continued to change in my school district, as I faced taking the last three hours toward final SPED certification in FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I had been consistently saying, "I think it's time I retire."  When I met with my advisory at Pitt State after Hubby's heart problems in January 2011, her question to me was, "Why are you doing this?  Retire."  And from that moment on, I had been "seriously" discussing retirement with Hubby.

I guess we just don't hear what we don't want to hear.

But here's the cool thing about my husband -- he is NOT a stupid man.  I walked away from the meltdown he was having at the start of 2012 and thought about his point of view.  I began to have doubts myself about retiring.  Still a couple of days later, I sat down with him and laid out all my reasons for wanting to retire this year -- why I thought it was really necessary.  And at that point I brought with me a budget of what we spent monthly and the estimate that social security had sent me when I turned 65. I could prove that, though we wouldn't be rolling in money, we could manage if we limited ourselves.  Hubby listened.  Then he processed the information.

As the spring semester rolled on, things got progressively worse for me with my job.  By March Hubby was on board, even championing retirement.  He was the one who took me to social security to enroll.  He was the one who made all the trips with me to the board of education for complete paperwork.  When he talked with our friends, it now sounded like his idea, too.  

We both agreed that we would have to be careful that I didn't just hole up in the house, never get dressed, and never go outside.  I'm not a naturally social person.  As an only child from a very small family, I have always been quite comfortable with my own company, creating my own entertainment.  I was ten years old before we had neighborhood children I could play with.  Until then I had played by myself, mostly inside the house.  I had not learned to ride a bike or play sports.  I could invent great games though -- and when we finally got a family of boys who moved in two doors from our house, we were outside running around from early dawn until dusk, playing the games I made up in my head -- using all their outdoor toys.  It was with them I got my first broken bone, my first big bang up scrapes, rode my mother's two-wheeled bike that she had as a kid, and shot my first toy gun.

Now it's hubby who is carefully arranging that I go outside the house at least every other day.  Yesterday he drove me to Target and Trader Joe's.  I wanted curtains for the bathroom -- Target only had drapes.  We got the dog treats at Trader Joe's.  I went shopping for a little over an hour, but it was enough to interrupt the bathroom cleaning, require me to put on clothes, leave the house, and see other people.  On Tuesday he took me to breakfast at The Big Biscuit, a new restaurant that opened up across the State Line.

Hubby comes home every day for lunch -- which we actually eat as our main meal.  Then we can snack for dinner -- either on left-overs or on fruit and sandwiches.  On Sunday he made chili for us.  This week I've done the cooking but I've found that if I request something, get it thawed, and the kitchen ready, he's still willing to cook.  Last week it was thick pork chops, that were so good we just ate them with sliced watermelon.

I can see he's trying to adjust to having me around all day long.  I know in this little house it's not exactly the most optimum arrangement.  Some mornings I fix breakfast (biscuits and sausage today) but on others he fends for himself.  Every morning he and the dogs take off for his little house around the corner, but it's hot outside and Hubby is not withstanding the heat very well this summer.  Usually by 12:30 he's back, taking a nap while I get lunch / dinner prepared.  He naps during the afternoon while watching the most vile TV.  I work in the computer room or clean in the bathroom while the dreaded marathon of Walker, Texas Ranger takes over the bedroom.  Some evenings he takes off to visit with friends or works out in his garage, but he's home usually by 8:30 and then he leaves the TV watching to me, while he plays on the computer.

Both of us are adjusting to this new life we're leading, probably Hubby more than me.  It's really nice that we finally have this time together -- and apart -- doing the things we both enjoy.  I had worried that Hubby would be cranky and distant once the event was actually a reality.  Instead, we are working toward making this new adventure both pleasurable and beneficial.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Most of you know that I don't have a lot of warm memories about my mother -- especially from my adult years.  But I will say this -- and proudly -- my mother could C L E A N!  Now she wasn't just a housewife -- that woman kept the cleanest house I've ever been in.  She scrubbed, scoured, and dusted every day.  She had her doctorate in keeping a house clean -- so clean even the basement floors were always pristine.   Plus, her home was warm and lovely to see.  Everyone gathered there -- because you could always come and things were in their place, food was ready to be served, and the furniture was "relatively" comfortable.  We had a lot of beautiful, expensive antiques but Mother also had comfortable couches and deep arm chairs for lounging. 

She saw to it that I cleaned with her.  I wasn't very interested and dusting all those nick-knacks all over the place was tiresome.  Scrubbing marble entryways (sounds a lot grander than it really was) or bathroom tiles did not reward me in any sense.  Some of our biggest arguments during my teen years was over the state Mother would find my bedroom.  When we moved into my grandmother's house after she had died, I had the second floor to myself -- with my own half bath.  It was huge room with a walk-in closet, pretty unique for a house built during the 1920's in Kansas City.  Moreover it had a huge alcove completely lined in bookshelves.  I loved that alcove -- and all my father's and my books housed there.  Mother had decorated the room beautifully with silk love seats, a fireplace, Grandmother's antique library table for my desk . . . and painted it dusky pink.  It was a feminine teenagers dream and I loved the room. 

But I didn't clean that room unless I was forced into it.  Sometime in the middle of the week (I would never know when) Mother would go upstairs -- and find:  bathroom covered in hair products and makeup, clothes -- both clean and dirty -- on the floor.  Bed always unmade -- why make a bed in the morning if your only going to get into it that same day?  Books and papers scattered everywhere.  I always had good intentions -- I just didn't ever think about actually cleaning the room. 

I would come home from high school and find my mother in a terrible state -- and my mother mad was truly a seismic event.  But she had always -- and I mean always -- cleaned up the room.  Consequently, though I lived through her anger for the next 24 hours, I wouldn't have to clean the room until the next week - and then I'd forget (or ignore the mess) and we'd repeat the cycle. 

Hubby thinks both my dad and I did these kind of things because we had no control in the household -- and this ensured that we could upset Mother with the double bonus of not bowing to her demands.  I'll never forget the evening Mother sent Dad out to water the flowers on the same day she had washed all the windows in the house -- and instead of watering the flowers, he turned the hose on the house where all the windows were spattered, the screens were in place and the inside windows up, and the living room and dining room were soaked.  Her eruption on that accident equaled Mt. Vesuvius exploding.  Then there was the night Daddy dropped the newly purchased watermelon on removing it from the frig.  Some juice leaked out on the floor Mother had just waxed that afternoon.  Mother jumped up from the table, grabbed the watermelon Daddy had just picked up, and smashed it with full force onto the floor of the kitchen.  This drop caused it to shatter into hundreds of tiny red islands floating all over the kitchen floor.  She then picked up the keys, walked to the car, and drove away -- leaving Daddy and me to clean up the mess as best we could.  I remember sobbing into the sink as we vainly tried to get the sticky juice from spreading beyond the kitchen. 

Anyway, those stories aside, my mother did teach me what real cleaning entails -- not just dusting or polishing but actual deep down clean.  And the truth is, her voice is in my head if I try NOT to really "clean" something but just spiff it up.  During the glory years of the 1980's I had a maid and she came every other week and cleaned the house (she dusted and polished) -- and twice a year I did a complete cleaning of everything in the house -- every glass, every dish, every do-dad sitting around got completely cleaned.  But in the 1990's, after I left teaching the first time, I gave up the maid -- and honestly, I just quit cleaning the house.  I'd do a sweep out of the bathroom and kitchen sometimes -- and sometimes not.  Then came the 2000's and I just gave up on the house.  Hubby could no longer negotiate the stairs down to what had actually served as our living room and dining area when we had guests.  The upstairs was too small for real entertainment.  So I just quit any real cleaning. 

However, I KNOW what real cleaning is -- and when people have asked me what I intend to do during my retirement -- I do NOT explain that what I'm doing is R E A L L Y cleaning the house.   I'm cleaning it to pass my mother's inspection.   I'm taking it slow.  Very, very slow.  Last week I attacked the bathroom floor.  Once the floor had white tiles on it -- but sometime in the last decade it turned gray.  No more!  That floor is sparkling white once again.   This week it's the bathroom walls.  The bleach smell is everywhere in our little abode.  And I'm only still working on the bathroom.  But eventually, that bathroom will be clean enough to pass the inspection my mother is currently giving it in my head. 

Then we'll move on to another room -- either the bedroom or the computer room, depending on my mood.  At the state the house is still in, my mother would be apoplectic at the mess and grime -- and she'd be right, if overly critical.  But from her I know HOW to clean -- and I'm slowly getting it done. 

Monday, June 04, 2012


We took the Dell Desktop PC in for an evaluation to our local tech shop. Graphics, printing, opening icons -- all had crawled to near non-functioning speed. We were told we wouldn't have an estimate on the damage for at least five days -- but based on our experience with them, it's probably going to be two weeks.

This forced us to move back to the lovely desktop MAC which is not prone to downloading viruses and continues to run with amazing speed -- probably because the e-mail program on it is so awful we choose to access email using the web instead of a mail program.  It's a shame, really, that we use the MAC so rarely.  If only we could find a good email system for it.  However, I'm sure once the Dell is back up and running properly, we will slowly switch over to using it almost exclusively -- mainly because Outlook is such a superior email program (filing, organizing folders, setting up different accounts, etc.). 

We are also now forced to make a decision about WIFI.  Earthlink is the problem we are told.  We have both had our email addresses for many years and folks recognize us from them -- but if Earthlink cannot and will not support WIFI then we will have to change.  Our tech convinced us that we could use a modem to continue to use DSL Earthlink as WIFI but we have been unable to make that function.  The tech did look at us sadly when we explained we were an "Earthlink" family -- "not really very good for WIFI, Ma'am.  They just don't have it." he responded. 

I'm gearing my loins for the conversation with Earthlink this week -- I have really liked their service but it may be necessary for us to change.  It won't be cable, that's for sure.  I think we've agreed that AT&T WIFI will be our best bet -- our neighbor works for AT&T (once Southwestern Bell) and he had gone WIFI as of a couple of years ago.  We watched in anticipation as the AT&T crew came and set up the neighborhood so his family could access wireless.   Now we know our inner city neighborhood supports AT&T so that will probably be our new provider.   Think of all those bill paying sites and passwords that will now have to change.  Bah. 

We have multiple WIFI machines around our house -- from Nook to WIFI printers.  All three computers are WIFI equipped.  Yes, I said three.  Hubby gave me a lovely HP notebook for my birthday -- it didn't arrive until June but I was happy to receive it.  If we are to continue to access the web and the printer, we now need WIFI access -- instead of having to switch cords around to access DSL, printers, etc.  And we can pull the newest readers out of storage and finally access them.  It's time we upgraded.  However, changing technology is hard on these old folks.  

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Finding Peace -- a little at a time

Thursday afternoon we met friends at the Merriam Cinemark to see the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Debby, Lou, Nancy, Hubby, and me settled into our seats with popcorn, ice cream (Hubby), and diet soda in a wonderfully warm, closely knit group.  We each knew the others' likes and dislikes -- Hubby must be on an aisle and since he is still walking poorly, not up a load of steps.  Nobody cares that we are sitting to the side and probably too close to the screen.  Sharing armrests is okay -- if our arms touch we're comfortable with that.  Laughing out loud and nudging our neighbor is acceptable.  We've been together over ten years now -- and we've settled into a really comfortable place with each other.  We know and accept each of our foibles. 

The movie was delightful, though Hubby fell asleep during it.  Nobody cared -- even when he snored out loud.  We celebrated the triumphs with the old British actors on the screen -- and we cried at their disappointments.  Hubby was there - he had managed to hobble in to the theater.  He had already walked into Sam's Club that morning and shopped with me.  We were together, we were managing his meds, we had my retirement ahead -- we were coping as best we could with our new life style.

Nancy, without her beloved husband Tom who had died in May, was seated beside me, soldering on.  Each of us felt Tom's loss in the group, but certainly no one of us could totally relate to Nancy's pain.  Still she was bravely joining us, going forward with her life and plans and including us in them.  Debby and Lou who really don't go to movies had come out to help celebrate Judy Dench and crew and sat directly in front of us.  Each of us understood, somehow, that we were stronger for being together -- and so we had made the effort to join forces, if just for that afternoon, in a solidarity with mature actors on the screen telling us a story of courage among the "old and beautiful" (the motto of the hotel in India). 

The movie's philosophy was one we all espouse and was repeated several times during the film to make sure we all got it:  if everything has not turned out right in the end, then it's not the end. 

As I sat there, absorbing the beauty of our friendship, the delight we were sharing in the movie, holding Hubby's hand on one side and nudging Nancy's elbow on the other, I felt one of those fleeting moments of pure joy that we once-in-a-blue-moon get to experience.  I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, living a life I had dreamed about for many years.

I know this perfect feeling doesn't last -- life's problems, even as I write about this feeling, are intruding and causing stress and tension -- but in that moment, in that theater, I had one of those rare peaceful moments -- and I could agree with the movie, "it will all turn out right somehow - and if it isn't right at this moment, then it certainly isn't the end."

We finished the afternoon with a shared meal at the local I-Hop, laughing, sharing current events, enjoying each other.  The glow from that moment of pure bliss seemed to have wrapped each of us somehow.

The moral of the day for me is believe that things will work out somehow.  Look for those joyous moments -- thank the friends that surround you when they occur -- and keep the faith. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Buying Because a Commerical Recommended It

Two wonderful stories are on tap from yesterday but I've decided to save the last one and tell about the first -- because I've got some Libra in me and chronological order seems neater. 

We needed a Sam's run for essentials and Sam's sells things like paper plates, milk, and eggs much cheaper than our beloved Hy-Vee.  Hubby drove -- and then he actually got out of the car, I got him a cart to lean on (oh, yes -- they have mobile carts you can sit and drive but Hubby is determined he is NOT at that stage yet) and we went inside. 

While I wondered the aisles getting the stuff I wanted and we needed, Hubby would park himself on a sales bin and watch.  First came light bulbs.  Then I wanted cleaning supplies.  Hubby, who no longer cleans ANYthing but considers himself the most expert of cleaners, oversaw my product placement in the cart.  I've finally gotten a semblance of smart and marched over and asked before I dumped stuff in the cart.  "Is this a good cleaner?  Can I use it on both the bathroom and the kitchen?" 

"Plain bleach is better."  Hubby scowls meaningfully. 

"I can no longer manipulate a gallon bottle of plain bleach without making a mess.  I want to spray and go." 

"Well, if you must, that one is okay."

I have wanted a Swifter wet mop for forever.  Sam's had one for under $30 but I was smart.  I didn't just drag it to the cart.  "How much of a fuss will you make if I decide I MUST have a Swifter?" 

At this point, Hubby's head dropped onto the top of the cart and he had to hold his brains inside.  He even moaned. 

"I'm having real trouble on my knees.  I know that the Swifter may be a wasted purchase and I may never like it but I really want to try it."  I didn't plead (really, I didn't, I just explained). 

More moaning.  I stood silent.  Finally, he lifted his head, squinted his eyes into his most off-putting stare and pronounced, "I just don't care.  Do what you want." 

I scurried off, grabbed the Swifter and put it in the cart -- along with a new broom and dust pan. 

"We have brooms at home!" Hubby growled, looking even more dire. 

"Yes, we do.  And every time I want one you have carted it to the basement or the garage or outside for the steps and LEFT it there until it's become unusable for the bathroom or kitchen." 

We drove the cart, full of Swifter, broom, and cleaning products off to the food section.  Hubby wanted two cases of water -- and he wasn't capable of getting the water in the cart by himself, so I guess he figured he had better give in gracefully or I might start growling, too.  

We walked away from Sam's with the requisite $200+ cart of food and supplies (five years ago it was the hundred dollar store -- but in this economy . . . ).  Still we should be good for another month.  Hubby had made it through the store, if not up and down the aisles, I had the products I wanted, and I had managed to transfer even the huge cases of water into the trunk.  We did have to stop at the really great local hamburger joint, Windstead's, to get me a diet cherry lemon lime (the prettiest cherry drink in the world that comes with a dollop of sherbet) and a single cheese burger with the works.  This provided me with the strength to be able to unload the car once we got home. 

Today I assembled the Swifter.  Usually I defer to Hubby any tool or product or machine that requires assembly.  But I figured that I WANTED the wet mop and I should figure out how to make it run properly (plus I wouldn't have to listen to Hubby tell me how useless the mop was going to be).  I got everything in place but I couldn't make it "squirt" cleaner onto the floor -- I think they call it misting.  I took the Swifter apart three times using every configuration I could think of before the the button turned on and the detergent "misted" out.  No one ever said I had any mechanical ability. I had the batteries in backward. Other than pounding nails for hanging pictures (and doing it at least three times for every picture I hang -- we use a lot of Spackle in this house), I have no idea what to do with a real tool.  I think this makes for a perfect mate for Hubby. 

Into the bathroom went the Swifter and me.  I LOVE IT!  We had much grunge in the corner of the floor by the tub and after using two Swifter pads and lots of mist, almost all the grunge is gone.  I only had to bend over twice to pick up some disgusting crud from the floor -- because the Swifter pad was too full. 

I have watched those Swifter ads on TV for years.  I'm glad I finally bought one.   This is going to make cleaning the bathroom floor a lot easier.  I even used the Swifter on the cobwebs on the walls.  Housecleaning has commenced!