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I don’t talk about one of my passions very much. It’s cooking and baking. I love to eat, obviously. You can merely look at me and know I don’t miss many meals. ;-) You wonder why I even have to say that I love to eat. That should go without saying. Except not everybody does. Some do it simply to fuel their bodies out of necessity. Whether they are watching calories or are too busy to slow down and enjoy a meal, they are missing out. Easy for me to say. The people who don’t revel in the intoxicating and stress relieving properties of food consumption are probably not overweight either. They really don’t get the otherworldly pleasure that I do from lifting a fork or spoon to my lips, opening my mouth for the first bite and partaking of the texture and flavor of nature’s goodness. Not to mention the joy and anticipation I get just from looking at and thinking about food.

I feel exceptionally blessed that I was given the gift of a palate that can appreciate most foods. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even realize that food is a taste like tv shows or music. That people have preferences–likes and dislikes. I would never (probably not) try to get someone to watch a tv show if they said they hated it. Just because I loved it, I would assume they had different tastes and move on. Where as with food, I find ALL of it DELICIOUS and figure people don’t know any better when they don’t like a certain food or dish. I jumped to the conclusion that they’d just never had it prepared right or that they were close minded without even trying it. When I’m eating various things, I always think, “HOW COULD ANYONE NOT LIKE THIS?!”

When I was thinking of starting my blog 4 years ago, hubby suggested I do a food blog. I was all for it. Until I really began to weigh what that would mean. I didn’t like the idea of only blogging about food, cooking and baking. Although it is a big part of my life, I didn’t want to ONLY do that on the Internet. I could’ve done a blog about dogs, more specifically OUR dogs. But that would also have been very limiting. Maybe I would’ve had a bigger audience if I had narrowed down what I write about. I saw so many doing the food blog flawlessly and knew I couldn’t compete with the likes of The Pioneer Woman. I wouldn’t even try. In the last 6 months, I found another food blog I love which has the yummiest desserts and appetizers that I simply have to share with you. It’s called Averie Cooks. She does a food blog the way it’s meant to be done. I’ve tried several of her bar recipes and they are all to die for. She hooks me with the first picture and then goes through every step along the way with pictures. Then maybe they’ll be 27 MORE pictures of the finished product. Cut  into individual pieces, put on a plate, stacked on a serving platter, etc. It’s total overkill. She’s selling past the close. That is why I can’t have a food blog. I would be like “I made this. Here try it. Here’s what they look like. You MUST make this!” :D

Today I roasted garlic for the first time and it changed my life. I was dumbfounded that I’d waited so long to try it. I’d read about how to do it on the Internet several times over the last few years. It just seemed so intimidating. It was ridiculously easy. I love garlic in its natural form so I was like, “How much better could it be roasted? Is it even worth doing?” WHY YES, IT IS! I cut the tops off heads of garlic (the big bundle thing that has the cloves attached). I was worried I would end up cutting the wrong end but it’s obvious when you go to do it which end to do. Then I drizzled each head with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and wrapped individually in aluminum foil (shiny side out). I put them on a sheet pan and baked in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. I let them cool and then unwrapped the heavenly goodness. You can either peel the paper/skin off with your fingers or squeeze it out of each clove. I popped out the cloves and they were soft and buttery with a sweet, very mild and EVEN MORE SCRUMPTIOUS FLAVOR than regular garlic. I spread a clove on each 1/4 of our sandwich for lunch. It gives a hint of flavor, not overpowering at all. Then an entire head I mashed with a fork and put in the dressing for a pasta salad I made for dinner. I had roasted some eggplant as well for it. I love pasta salads and put everything under the sun in them and they’re always good. The one I made today had white onion, celery, roasted eggplant, roasted corn on the cob (leftover from the other night), a diced tomato and a bit of diced cheddar cheese. Now I want to make a hot pasta sauce (another night) with some of the other roasted garlic. It’s so tasty, you can just dig it out and eat it plain. I mean I can but so can you if you haven’t already decided that you don’t like garlic! ;-) Please let me know if you’ve tried this or if you’re going to try this. I would love to say I turned someone on to the joys of roasted garlic.

I wrote the above post almost 2 weeks ago. I was going to add more to it but never had time. Today when walking the dogs, I stopped and chatted with a woman who was gardening. She said she didn’t plant vegetables but did herbs. So we were discussing the different herbs and I asked her if she’d ever made homemade pesto sauce. She said she hadn’t. (I’m making it tonight for dinner! Another first for me.) Then I asked her if she’d ever roasted garlic. She said no. I told her I’d done it recently for the first time and how wonderful it was. In all my exuberance, I said “they undertold how good it was”. <blink, blink> Who talks like that?! Apparently, me. I can hardly believe I said it. She didn’t let on how stupid it sounded but as I continued on my walk, I couldn’t get it off my mind. That was hours ago and I STILL haven’t been able to conjure up the correct term. Normally, I don’t really freak out if I say something wrong but I feel like I should know better. What limited intelligence I had seems to be slipping away. Now I have to wonder if I’m on the path to losing my memory too…I hope I can find my way back to this blog to post in the future. <sigh>

 

 

We left on Thurs. June 26th for a 9 day vacation to Green Bay, WI. I had hoped to escape my day to day life & problems and come back refreshed like you’re supposed to after a vacation. Alas, that was not meant to be. The trip to GB was only a 3 1/2 hr. drive and we were lucky enough to find an open RV spot behind the casino. They charge $15 a night and for that all you get is electricity. It used to be free but they had people living there for over a year and never leaving so I can see why they had to make some changes to the rules. We took things very easy due to Mom’s limitations. We took her with us to gamble once a day for a few hours. When we did other things like go to the cheese factory, meat market and antique mall, she wanted to stay in the RV and rest. So she played games on the ipad and the dogs kept her company. We made sure we were never gone for too long. We cooked all our meals except one in the cabin (what I call the RV). The 3 of us went out for a fish fry at a bar in DePere the day after we got there and it was pretty flavorless. Since we knew we’d be there over a week, we only bought a small amount of cheese and meat that would last us through the weekend. We had plans of going back to the meat market and getting a bunch of meat to take home the next week. We also were counting on hitting the bigger cheese factory for some cheese to take home. Not to mention we had hopes of going strawberry picking while up there. Even a return visit to the antique mall whose prices were so much cheaper than where we live was on my mind.

None of this came to pass. The first 4 days were pretty uneventful. When Monday came we knew the end of the week would be super busy everywhere due to the July 4th holiday. There’s a ton of construction going on in GB now. Trying to save ourselves some grief later in the week, we looked up a place to dump the RV’s waste tanks. We knew we had a couple days before it was full but didn’t want to find out the hard way that they’re full. One trip we had stayed in an RV park in Michigan and they had everything at the site but a dump. That time, we thought we could wait until the day we left to dump (which would have been convenient). Instead the night before, water from the grey line (not the toilet, the sinks) came backing up in the bathtub. From washing dishes too much! Not a lot of water, just enough to let us know we had to empty it immediately. Anyway, this trip, the dump site was not on the property and quite a distance away across town. With the construction, it took us about 20 minutes to get there. It was actually an RV dealer and there was a line. We had to wait about half an hour for the folks ahead of us to use it first. While we were there, we decided to get propane. We had probably 2/3 of a tank already but figured if we ran the refrig. on the way home with a lot of food in it, we didn’t want to take the chance of it running out. So we got that filled. Things went better than we expected since we’d been dreading it. It was great to have it over with and know we wouldn’t have to leave our site from Monday afternoon until Sat. when we left to come home.

Or so we thought. We got back to our site and hubby plugged in the electrical and only a few things worked. The microwave and outlets worked but the slideout (which is the room that expands to make way for a bed in the LR area), the jacks and the refrig. didn’t. This made NO sense. Everything had been in working order when we left earlier that day. We were in the same site with the same plugin and yet: nothing. The refrig. works off of either propane gas or electricity. When we’re driving, we run it on propane, when in a campsite, we run it on electricity. Now it wouldn’t run at all on either one! It boggles the mind. Hubby looked and saw one of the fuses was blown. He tried putting in one from a different area and blew that. Then he went to an auto parts store and bought extra fuses and came back and started blowing those. It’s some electrical problem that can’t be fixed by mere mortals. It has to be something more complicated that someone who went to weeks or months of schooling on RV repairs has to deal with.

Hubby was so mad, I couldn’t even talk to him. We had to regroup and come up with a new strategy. We called the RV dealer we got the propane at first to see if they could take a quick look at it and help us out so we could stay the week. They said they were booked up until July 14th! There was no way we could stay since all our food would spoil if we didn’t go home immediately. Hubby had to go in to the casino and see if he could get a refund for the unused nights we’d paid for. They usually don’t give refunds but said they would take care of it the next day. I’ve had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since then that nothing will come of it. I’m having hubby call the credit card co. tomorrow to see if they ever did credit us the $75.

It was lunch time so we quick ate some cottage cheese and headed on our way home. We had no bread and our first stop that day was going to be a bake shoppe. We scrapped that idea and left in time to get home about 6:30 pm. Ok, so our vacation was cut short. We won’t even talk about how we wouldn’t have had to go to the RV dealer to dump or get propane if we knew we were leaving. Or that if we’d stayed plugged in all along, it may not have happened at all. Here we were trying to save ourselves grief by taking care of things early and then it backfires. There’s nothing like packing a ton of extra clothes when you think you’re packing for 9 days when it’s really only 4! I kept telling myself that we can adjust and make the rest of it a “staycation”. Just be at home and do some fun things we don’t normally do. We took both weekends off from going to estate sales so we were looking to do something else exciting.

We were lucky that the spot in front of our house was open to park and unload the RV. I wouldn’t want to cart everything from around the block (which we’ve had to do before). It was super hot and muggy and then it started to rain. Rain is no big deal for people who’ve never had their basement flood. When I heard how hard it was raining, I started to panic. I was on edge and checking the basement every 10 minutes for water coming in. Hubby was checking the street and saw it flood all the way across. That’s always disturbing. One of the sewer drains by the curb (not at the intersection but a bit away) is clogged. We’ve tried opening it ourselves with a rake handle but it won’t work. We’ve also both called the city more than once about it and they’ve never done anything. About 10 pm, I was down checking the basement when I literally saw the water coming in by the standpipe, up the drains of the laundry tub and near the foundation. It comes in incredibly fast and I called to Greg to come down and start the sump pump immediately. Meanwhile, I picked up everything I could that was on the floor and carried it upstairs. I know most people think “just don’t put anything on the floor if you know this happens”. Well, that’s just not an option. We just don’t have room. Maybe we have to buy some baker’s racks to put everything on. We were up until almost 2 am waiting for the rain to stop. When the road went down some, we were able to open the standpipe and the water drained out. It was all clean rain water. No garbage or dirt or sewage like we’ve had happen before. Things could have been a lot worse. If I subscribed to “everything happens for a reason”, I’d think that’s why we had to come home early, to be there in time to catch the flood before anything was ruined. But I don’t believe in that at all. If I did, what, pray tell, would be the reason we needed to flood in the first place?! :-(

No one needs that kind of excitement. Especially us on the very same day we came home early from vacation due to an emergency. The next day, hubby took the RV back to the storage place in Elgin since we can’t it in to our dealer for repair unitl the 10th. Then we spent the day sucking the water up with our rug cleaner. We tried to get as much up before we shampooed the carpet. You can imagine it takes forever for a damp basement to dry out. We’ve got a dehumidifier down there and it runs constantly. We used to run a large box fan down there which helped get some air circulating to dry it out but it got wet in one of the past few floods and quit working. Yesterday we were finally able to put everything back downstairs and resume living.

As you can imagine, I was beyond depressed after what transpired. Other bad things kept happening as the days went by too. Including but not limited to: a charming ceramic teapot clock I bought from someone on Instagram came broken beyond repair, our new furnace rebate from Nicor Gas was rejected again (it’s $300), our Postal claim for the lost package was denied with no reason why again.($50), our 2nd half of last year’s property taxes came in the mail due Aug. 1 ($3645) and we’ve been getting a ridiculous amount of spoofing phone calls. I can’t even keep track of all the bad things that have been happening. I have to believe it’s NORMAL to be down after an avalanche of bad things happening. I honestly can’t remember being THAT down for awhile though. Not since the last time our basement flooded June 25th, 2013. Any of the things I mentioned would be enough to go wrong at one time but to be inundated with THAT MANY in such a short time, is a real test of strength and fortitude. I allowed myself 2 or 3 days to sulk and feel sorry for myself and then I started to gather my bearings and start over again at life.

When I say that I’m starting over, I don’t mean with gung ho or gusto. I’m slowly lifting myself back up to my usual positive self. I can’t live life negatively for too long or the outcome would be nothing short of tragic. I’m not the most resilient person in the world but I like to think I can bounce back with a little time and effort. Obviously, things are never as grim as they seem or as I make them out to be. Believe it or not, it was hard to think of anything to be grateful for for a few days there. Now I can be thankful that: no one died, no one is in physical pain, we still have a roof over our heads, something to eat, etc They come easily to me now but maybe that’s the blessing of time and perspective.

Needless to say, our staycation was NOT stress-free. We were drowning in stress. But we lived to face another day FILLED WITH PROBLEMS. Just kidding (I think). Our fun was cut short and none was readily available so we made our own. Yesterday, we worked outside, trimming all the bushes and trees in our front and backyard. We weeded the veggie gardens and the potted herbs. We got busy cleaning up the mess that is our lives and tried to find order where there was none. After we were done, we were exhausted but had a sense of pride and accomplishment that only hard work you do yourself can bring. It may not sound like fun but it was. We had the dogs in back with us while we were working and we got to watch them playing together. We got sunshine and fresh air and exercise that wasn’t scheduled. Hard work clears the mind, strengthens the body and frees the soul. I also realized that when I’m depressed, the best medicine is hugging the dogs. :-) My advice for the week is if there’s no fun to be had…go make some!

 

 

I recently took notice that a lot of my blog titles have some reference to death or being dead. I don’t know why. I’m forever having trouble picking the title of a blog post. Some people seem to have a knack for it. I never quite tie the title in with what I’ve written. If I do, it comes out as trying to be “too cute”. It may be worse to make no reference to the title at all like it is so random, it doesn’t belong to the post at all.

At this point in my life, I don’t have the time to dwell on such things. I just pick a title and send it out to the universe. Even though I haven’t been blogging much lately, I’ve been thinking about blogging. I used to lament about how plain my blog is compared to others. How others have so many bells and whistles and are just plain fancy. From the background to all the pictures and the buttons. I was like a poor person admiring a rich person’s possessions and wishing for their fur coat or their high heels or their Mercedes Benz. I can covet what they have until the cows come home but deep down, I don’t really want them. I’d be afraid the fur coat would be stolen. I couldn’t endure the agony of squeezing my feet into 4″ heels, let alone strut around in them. I might enjoy driving a Mercedes but my 21 yr. old car is more my speed. I don’t think I could love a car more than that one.

What I’m trying to say is that my blog suits me. With it’s plain jane look that’s mostly words and no flash. If it was all fancy and full of bling, it wouldn’t reflect me. I may like looking at other people’s fancy blogs and even temporarily wish for the stylish details they have. But I’ve finally come around to accepting that my blog doesn’t have to look (or read) like anyone else’s. I have a very select audience. The people who read me are mostly from other countries. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe that I’m unappealing to Americans. Somehow, I can live with that.

My spelling is better than most but not flawless. I refuse to use a spell check–that would be cheating. My sentence structure could use some sprucing up. I don’t always word things correctly and am often not completely happy with how a paragraph sounds. I don’t always have time to fiddle with it until it sounds right. As long as I’m getting my point across, I let it go. If I tried to write a perfect blog post, I never would’ve been able to start. It used to bother me that a few others who started blogging around the same time I did just skyrocketed to fame. Obviously they put more into it, more time and effort, more networking, more everything. I didn’t begrudge them their success but I felt almost invalidated that I was going unnoticed next to them. We don’t all have to be the star of the show. In fact, we all can’t be! Some of us must be supporting players. Being a Leo, I love the limelight under the right circumstances. As long as I’m not being embarrassed or made fun of, you can call attention to me and I thrive on it. I no longer expect to gain any fame through blogging. Going to BlogHer13 last year made me realize how insignificant I am in the blogging world. I’m not even one of the thousands of stars in the sky, I’m the fleck of dust on the telescope that others are looking through to see the stars. Mostly annoying and in the way but occasionally helpful by reminding you of the need to dust.

I’m no longer going to vow to blog more. I will blog when time allows, as I always have. I will continue to just sit down and write without measuring my words as carefully as I should. I will jump from one topic to another, unintentionally alienating people along the way. July 18th will be 5 years that I’ve been blogging. I’m proud that I’ve kept up with it. I know blogging is something I’m in for the long haul. Hopefully, I’ll always enjoy writing on here and sharing my life stories. Several of the blogs I enjoyed reading have just up and disappeared over the past 5 years. Most of the time there’s not even an announcement. I just go to the blog and it’s NOT THERE. That is a rude awakening. It’s akin to being invited to someone’s house and you get there, knock on the door and they’re not home. You’ve been stood up. Obviously, I’m making it personal. I know how to do this quite well. I’ve never felt like closing my blog since I started it so I’m unsure why others are doing it. If it is boredom or they’re just not that into writing. Maybe they’ve gotten other interests or feel bad neglecting it so just quit entirely. Blogging feels like the only thing I do for ME. There’s no way I’m giving that up. You can’t put a price on the feeling of achievement I get after publishing. Or the smiles I get reading the comments. Or just the emotional release I get from sharing thoughts or events in my life. What I’m trying to say is you’re stuck with me. ;-) Even if I tried to fancy up my blog, it would still at the heart, be a pig. My blog and I are both pigs that don’t need lipstick. Oink. (What a stupid ending to this…)

 

 

This morning when I woke up and checked Instagram, I saw something I couldn’t wrap my head around. A very sweet, well meaning woman had taken in a 3 day old feral kitten that had been abandoned by its mother. I thought it was a nice thing to do and the fact that she would be bottle feeding it around the clock to keep it alive was admirable. She announced that she had set up a GoFundMe page to ask for donations for the kitten’s care. She wanted to take it to the vet to be checked out and was asking for $600. I was floored. I’ve heard of GoFundMe before and I thought it was started to recruit money for projects like making a documentary film, hosting an artist’s exhibition at a gallery or starting a small business. For anyone unfamiliar with the website, I’m sure that was it’s original intention and I have no problem with that. The arts are underfunded and it’s hard to come up with startup money for a business even if you have a great idea. Unfortunately, like everything else the Internet gets their hands on, it becomes abused. Daily, I am hearing about people starting a GoFundMe page for everything under the sun.

On the news when someone dies tragically, in an accident or is murdered, a fund is started to pay the funeral expenses and help support the family. At the very least they are trying to get full college tuition money for any surviving children. Not to sound cold hearted (which I probably do) but doesn’t anyone plan for anything anymore? No one seems to have any life insurance (even through their job) or any savings. Or is the real root of all this that no one feels they are responsible for paying for their own things anymore?

The youngest generation of adults don’t realize that some things are optional. I spent a few minutes looking through GoFundMe to see what people are trying to get money for. There’s a ton of people trying to obtain money for medical expenses. I thought after Obama Care, everyone’s supposed to have insurance? There are still copays of course but apparently people think if they can get someone else to foot the bill for those too, all the better.  I can see how someone can fall on hard times. Over 10 years ago, hubby had to be hospitalized suddenly with a bad ulcer and we had no insurance. We had temporary insurance that wouldn’t pay anything. We racked up $20,000 in medical bills. We had to put it on our credit cards and have had to pay for it many times over with the interest. My feelings on the subject of asking for handouts isn’t soured by our experience. Even if GoFundMe was around then, we wouldn’t have felt right asking for others to pay our way. There’s an entirely different type of mentality in the world today where no one feels that they need to pay their way or earn their own money.

Many people are trying to drum up money for a trip they want to take. Whether it’s a school band trip, a foreign exchange adventure or an expensive vacation. Obviously, all the donations are voluntary so no one is having a gun put to their head to contribute. And it’s a great thing that there are so many magnanimous people wanting to help others in all these endeavors. Plus the fact that so many people actually have excess cash TO donate astounds me. But whatever happened to working for the money? To go on a band trip, they used to have a car wash or  sell these overpriced candy bars that people bought out of obligation more than anything. Now they don’t even want to schlep those around. They just take 5 minutes, set up a page and watch the money roll in. Like on “Breaking Bad” when Walter White’s son starts a donation page to get money for his dad’s cancer. Meanwhile, Walter White is making meth and storing millions of dollars in illegal funds. Which brings me to the latest phenomenon of people faking they have cancer or other horrific diseases just to get sympathy and large sums of cash. Sometimes the person is mentally ill, most of the time they are just evil. Believe me, I feel for anyone who has or had cancer. The physical, emotional and financial pain is devastating. But when bad things happen to people, does that mean they shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden? There have to be several thousand people who have fought cancer without asking for donations. I’m not saying it’s wrong but why doesn’t EVERYONE deserve help? Sometimes the people too proud to ask need it the most. It just feels like some people think they are more special than others.

Which brings me to the entitlement issue. You knew I’d be bringing that up. Browsing through the pages and pages of people all over the country, I was shocked to see what people were trying to get others to pay for. It was everything from editing equipment for their YouTube channel to a pair of prescription eyeglasses. Lots were asking for money to go to the Prom. Since when is that a necessity? One woman was trying to raise money for a new tattoo. I’m not even kidding. People no longer want to make their dreams come true. Now they want YOU to make their dreams come true! Nobody is guaranteed anything in life and no one owes you a level playing field. If you’ve never been to Disneyland and want to go, just see if others will pay your way. If you can’t afford an ipad, why should you do without when everyone else has one? Just tell everyone to help you out so you don’t have to be deprived.

My husband calls this ONLINE BEGGING. Someone who wouldn’t be caught dead standing on a street corner with a tin cup, sees nothing wrong with throwing a page up to see if anyone will come to their rescue. Even a street musician plays music for donations. The current group of people wanting your money doesn’t have to “do” anything to get it. Maybe give a convincing story. I was raised that you have to work for or earn everything you get. If you get something at a discount or gift, it’s a bonus. You don’t  have to have everything in life. You shouldn’t. It just breeds spoiled people who expect everything their way 100% of the time. I would have less of a problem with it if people had to “take a class in manners” and they’d be given $20-50 by someone. “Clean up litter along the freeway” and get $50-100. You get the idea. People would equate that the money came to them FOR something, not just for existing.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how cool it would be to buy an old church or warehouse and renovate it into a home and antique museum. It was after going to that artist’s warehouse in Chicago for the estate sale. I would love having all that room to display everything properly and no worry about running out of space. Obviously, renovating costs money as does buying the property. I joked about using crowdfunding to get the money. I said it sounded like a worthy cause that people could probably get behind. Basically, it’s one of many dreams I have. I’ve also come to realize that not EVERY dream should come true. Some should remain dreams. Also does a dream mean as much if others fulfill it for you? Instead of making it happen on your own, the dream is given to you. Maybe what bothers me the most is that no one else seems to have a problem with this but me.

 

The Cat’s Meow

 

The oddest thing happened that I simply must chronicle. On Memorial Day evening, we were staying up a little later than usual since Greg was off the next day. Around midnight we were watching some type of trash tv that I look forward to like “Catfish”. All of a sudden, I looked down to my left and saw a cat walking next to where I was sitting. This wouldn’t be strange at all except we don’t have a cat. We have 3 dogs. I’m on the left side of the couch with a small end table between me and Mom’s loveseat. I hear a “meow” so I had looked up and when I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It turned right around and went back the other way. I turned to Greg and told him a cat had come in the house! Meanwhile, all 3 dogs were laying in the room with us (sound asleep) and oblivious to this feline visitor! :-) Greg & I got up and started searching for it in the house and then went on the deck to see if we could see it in the yard. The dogs came too but didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Greg said he didn’t see it and started to say that maybe I’d imagined it. Don’t you love husbands?! He plays a Mah Jong game on his ipad and it makes animal noises so he thought it had been the cat’s meow on there. I told him I was sure of what I’d seen.

I bet everyone is wondering how on earth a cat could get into our house in the middle of the night. I’ve blogged before about the Magic Mesh we have on our 2 sliding glass doors. In place of a screen door, a screen is attached by velcro and held together by magnets. Since we have a fenced in yard (5′ tall), we want the dogs to be able to come and go in nice weather. They can let themselves in and out to go to the bathroom, chase squirrels, sun themselves or just run. You can imagine how much of a slave I am to opening the door for them if we didn’t have it. They all insist on coming in and out at different times. It could be one after another but not together. You just start something and they want in or out. So we’ve been in love with the Magic Mesh since we first tried it a few years ago.

At bedtime that night (about an hour later), I took Mom up to bed and Greg takes the dogs out. The dogs immediately found the cat and chased it up onto one of the fence posts. The cat sat up there taunting them while they barked and jumped. Greg took a leaf and tickled the cat’s nose and it jumped to the other side. As far as we know, it hasn’t been back since. The funny thing is I’ve been wanting a cat for years! I had one as a kid. Greg thinks the dogs wouldn’t be good around it but I think they would. We’d have to introduce it slowly. I’d hate to think what would have happened if the dogs had woken up when the cat came in. It would’ve been like a scene out of “Christmas Vacation” where the dog is chasing the squirrel in the house.

It really caught us off guard thinking how lucky we were that it wasn’t some other wild animal that came in like a squirrel or skunk! I’ll keep you posted if the cat returns and we end up adopting it. ;-)

 

 

Today has been such a good day. Nothing special but still remarkable in and of itself. I had almost no leg and back pain which is miraculous. Some days it’s really bad and it pretty much varies every day. After the worst winter I’ve ever lived through, full of cold and snow and no Spring at all, today’s weather was sunny and in the 80′s. The dogs and I had the best walk we’ve had this year. We took our usual route but the dogs were so well behaved. Not perfect but the closest they’ve been in a long time. They didn’t pull on the leash like fiends which in turn makes my back and legs hurt worse. They walked nicely with slack in the leash most of the time. This put me in a fantastic mood. I was talking to them as we walked and praising them which probably helped them be better (except for Elvis who can’t hear). Nothing awful happened on the walk which is an anomoly. Yesterday, halfway through our walk, we were charged from across the street by a giant black lab. The owner didn’t have the dog on a leash and ran over saying, “He’s just a puppy. Only 2 years old.” I didn’t waste my breath trying to tell her 2 yrs. old is not a puppy. When we got home, I put some vintage tunes on the boom box in the kitchen and started making dinner. I whipped up a cold pasta salad with chicken and lots of assorted veggies. I love those and that’s my favorite way to eat when it’s hot outside. I was going to make a rhubarb cake but ran out of time. Hopefully, this weekend I’ll get to it since all our rhubarb is ready to pick.

I had another sale on Instagram last night. I’ve been trying different nights and different themes. Last night was just random items which doesn’t seem to go over as well as all one type. Last week I had another random sale and the week before that I had a religious sale. The first of the month I had an angel sale. I’m thinking of doing that once a month. So many factors come into play, the day and time you have the sale, who’s online then, the price you list it at, what others are looking for and how much money they’ve got available to spend. I’ll just keep plugging along. It really has me inspired though. I wake up every morning thinking about what I’m going to sell next, etc. I’ve been really flexible with letting people pay when it’s convenient and so far people are really pleased I’m willing to work with them. I want to keep it a good, positive experience, not just for me but for the customers as well.

I don’t want anyone to think everything is rosy for me though. Because we have to keep things interesting at all times… Last Friday morning (May 17th), before 9 am, hubby went to fill up the Jeep with gas before we left to go treasure hunting. He goes to a gas station in town, less than a mile away. Before he could even get there, some guy in a Mack Rolloff truck (like a garbage or recycling truck) hit him. Greg had just turned the corner (right) and was a block from the gas station. The truck was in the left lane (speeding) and started going into hubby’s lane. He touched him in front and the headlight on the driver’s side just flew off and the front got crushed including the grill. He called me to tell me so I wouldn’t worry. The guy was in his work truck and on the job so it was lucky he pulled over. Greg called the cops and it took them over half an hour to arrive. Then the police officer took statements and gave the other driver a citation because he was at fault. His truck didn’t have a mark on it from the incident. The Jeep was driveable so Greg finally got gas and came home. I told him to call our insurance co. immediately and he spent a large chunk of time on the phone with them. They told him which body shop to take it to. It’s in the next town over (Des Plaines) so I followed him there in my car so we could get an estimate and drop it off.

As I’m driving behind Greg, we’re half a block from turning into the body shop. We’re both in the right lane, going to turn right into the driveway for the place. All of a sudden, at the intersection on the left, a guy with a truck and a small trailer behind (like they go around with for grass cutting in the area–they keep their lawn mowers and leaf blowers inside the trailer) pulls out just as Greg is going by the intersection. He was going way too fast and just watching from behind, I was afraid the trailer would go flying into Greg’s vehicle or he’d try to cut him off. You could just tell how careless a driver the guy was. He was in the left lane, right next to Greg and all of a sudden decided to get in the right lane like he didn’t see Greg was there! Greg laid on the horn and the guy finally stayed in his lane. Back in my car, watching all this, I BURST OUT LAUGHING. I almost busted a gut laughing. Of course, it wasn’t funny at all but the IRONY of this almost happening again to Greg in the span of a few hours was too much! That pretty much confirms that our life is like a live version of Family Guy. ;-)

The cop had estimated the damage between $500-1500. He said if it was over $1500, he’d have to fill out the back of the accident report and mail it in to the state. The body shop told us it would be more like $2500. Our insurance co. was going to pay, we have to pay our $250 deductible. Then our insurance co. is going to go after his insurance co. to get the money back. Besides it being an inconvenience, the expense and time lost to dealing with it, the worst part is that it’s going to take 2 weeks for them to get it done. We were planning to go for a short vacation from Memorial Day to the following Sunday. Possibly up to Green Bay, WI. Now we had to cancel that but hubby is still taking the 2 vacation days and we’re just staying home that week. We’ve got plenty to do but it’s still a disappointment. If this had happened a week earlier (OR NOT AT ALL), this wouldn’t have affected vacation plans.

The Sat. before this, I had finally taken my car to get a new battery. It had been dead for a couple of months and i knew I wouldn’t drive it until the weather got better so we just left it sit. We took it to Sam’s Club and it was still under warranty so we should’ve gotten a partial refund on a new one. Instead, the nice kid at the desk gave me the battery free. Greg & I were afraid to breathe when he said this. I couldn’t believe this! Things like this never happen to me! It put me on Cloud 9 for a few days straight. It turns out it was good that we didn’t wait another week or we wouldn’t have had a car that ran…

After we dropped the Jeep off, it was raining and dreary all day. That didn’t keep us from our usual treasure hunting. In fact, I drove us in my car all day long. I’m like the little old lady that only drives her car to church once a week. Instead, I might drive mine to the library or to get milk. It’s 21 years old and has 36, 700 miles!! It’s my baby and I love driivng and couldn’t love a new car as much as I love it. I only like to drive between 10-1 pm when the traffic isn’t bad and only when the weather is good and when I’m going somewhere I’ve been before. I wish I was kidding! So here I am out of my comfort zone, driving at all hours, in the worst weather and to strange places. It was so good for me and just what I needed. But I got my fill and on Sat. we only went to 1 place and I let Greg drive. Even though I’m a great driver, he dislikes being a passenger. I love being a passenger just because I don’t have to pay attention and can look at the clouds and everything else under the sun. So we were happy with that.

Sat. we went to the most interesting estate sale in memory. It was a 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse type building in the Wicker Park area of Chicago. It was a single family residence of 2 artists. I can’t imagine having that much room or being that rich! It even had a courtyard that was once a sculpture garden. Talk about eclectic taste. We got there about 50 minutes late and when we went to get a number, we were 109 and 110. They were on 40! So we walked a couple blocks away to Division St. and went to the bathroom in Starbucks. By the time we got back, they were only on number 50! We expected to wait most of the day but it was only about 40 minutes total. Instead of the usual crowd, it was mostly neighborhood people who walked there and had never been to an estate sale! So like 20 people or more just left without waiting after getting a number. We went in and took our time (about 2 hours) walked through the place! We spent some money ($129) but didn’t go hog wild. I was looking for one unique art piece for us to keep to remember being there. I didn’t see it until a woman had it in her hand and was taking it to someone to get a price quote. A lot wasn’t marked. The guy told her $60 and she left with it. I was heartbroken. It was a cross made out of bottlecaps and had a doll face in the middle and said Lean on me. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t even get a picture of it. A lot of the art pieces were expensive and at first they weren’t giving any money off the price. As time went on and depending who you  dealt with (there was a different person running it in each room), you could do better. A few things were more than I wanted to pay but then we got a few things so cheap, I’d be embarrassed to say!! We left feeling really good about things. :-)

In the next few weeks I’m going to branch out to selling vintage sheets and pillowcases and ephemera like postcards and old greeting cards with cool graphics. Prior to seeing all this on Instagram, I had no idea people were in the market for any of that stuff. They want the sheets from the ’70′s or older with the funky floral patterns but also any loud pattern. I’ve been hoarding them when I find decent ones at a sale. Not all estate sales have sheets, maybe only one a weekend, if that. Then they might not be any good. You really have to look through them. I’ve had a hard time finding any postcards or greeting cards that aren’t being sold singly for $1 or more at an estate sale. I try to get a handful or box for one price and usually can’t. I lucked out and got a bag of greeting cards from the 1960′s and a handful of postcards from the 1910′s this past weekend. Such fun to look through! :-)

So just like the weather improving, parts of my life aren’t so bad. I’ve got reason to be thankful and happy despite the hard times. I hope everyone else sees it that way too.

 

 

The more I want to sit down and write, the more things get in the way. I was literally fantasizing about being able to blog the other day. Writing is something that costs me nothing but time and makes me so happy. Yet time is in great demand in my life. So much happens from one day to the next, I’d easily have enough for a blog post daily but I have to just hit a few of the highlights of the past several weeks when I’m able to get on here.

My husband doesn’t hear from his family very much except when someone dies. Even then, they don’t always tell him. I’m not kidding. The entire family “forgot” to tell him one of his Aunts died. That went over well. Last Friday, he got a phone call that the younger brother of one of his closest childhood friends had died suddenly. His brother told him Paul was only 48 and it was a massive heart attack. Paul had been a meteorologist in Milwaukee for many years and about 10 years ago started working in the financial planning field. That’s quite a jump in occupations but I’m all for whatever makes people happy. Paul was in great physical shape, was married with 3 kids. Later that day, one of Greg’s other brothers called to see if he’d heard the news. This time he was told that Paul was 50 and had a massive stroke. Of course, now we don’t know what to believe. I guess the details don’t matter when the outcome is the same. It’s typical for him to get conflicting information from different family members.

We saw online that the wake and funeral are on Friday. It’s really unusual for Catholics to have it all in one day. At least in WI. All of the ones we’ve gone to have the wake the night before and funeral the next morning. Having it all in one day works out more conveniently for people like us who are coming from out of town. I know my hubby’s first reaction was to attend the funeral. I hate funerals but if hubby decides he needs to go, I will try to support him.

On Mother’s Day, hubby was at work and got a phone call from his older sister. Their cousin Bernie was found dead at his mother’s house that afternoon. He was only about 49 yrs. old. We don’t know what he’d died of but he’d led a troubled life. He was a felon and couldn’t find a job. Now we have to wait and see when the funeral will be. I can’t see going up to WI twice in one week or even 2 days in a row. Maybe we’ll luck out and both will be on Friday so we can pay our respects at both.

So much of my blog feels like it’s about death or dying. I never wanted it to be that way. May 3rd, one of my slam friends I’ve known since 1993 passed away. She had been plagued with health problems on and off for years. She’d had back problems and various skin cancers that kept growing back. April 3rd she’d sent out a group email to everyone in slams that she now had liver cancer and only had a few weeks to live. She told everyone not to send her any cards because “Get well soon” doesn’t quite cover it. I never knew exactly how old Shirley was since she’d never wanted to give her age. Now I’d guess she was about 25 years older than me. It was still shocking. Even though I didn’t  have time to blog, I took the time to write her a really nice email. I told her what she meant to me. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I wanted to let her know she made a difference and would be missed. Not to speak ill of the dead but I’m going to. I didn’t know if she was in a ton of pain or was bedridden or not. I didn’t know if she was spending her last weeks doing things she loved or was confined to her bedroom. She told me the pain hadn’t started coming yet but didn’t elaborate further. I knew she was angry and had an attitude about being in an impossible situation with the only way out being death. I offered her a chance to write a post on my blog about anything she wanted. How she felt about dying, what she wanted to be remembered for, memorable moments from her life, etc. She basically answered with “No need to email me anymore. I’ll be closing my AOL account this week.” Ok, I know when to let something go. I had simply made an offer which I’m assuming only another writer could appreciate. If someone offered me that opportunity now, I’d be euphoric. I get that everybody’s different. She either didn’t want to vent or didn’t see the need to do it publicly. I was closer to Shirley than anyone in slams or so I thought. The way I found out she had died was getting a forward of a group email from someone else in slams. Apparently, she had kept emailing this one person up until her death. Good for her. But then this person (who I’ve known well) didn’t even bother to send me the email that she’d died. Ok, so I’m not in slams anymore. But I was a big part of them for 30 years. I know I shouldn’t be bringing this stuff up but I need to get it out of my system. I have so many conflicting emotions about people and relationships, I don’t know where to turn.

Over our vacation, on my Mom’s birthday, I got a nasty email from one of my half-sisters. I have 3 half-sisters (S, J & D) and one half brother. My mom helped raise all but the oldest girl (D) who introduced my parents to each other. The middle girl (J) who was 14 when my parents got married, has always hated my mother. All the kids had a seething anger that their mother had died of brain cancer when they were young. They resented my mother trying to replace her. They couldn’t have treated her worse if she had stabbed the woman to death in front of them. They would’ve resented anyone that came into the house that still held their mother’s presence. My mother bent over backwards for those children, was generous to them but tried to discipline them as well. My father stayed neutral and didn’t back my mom up. He didn’t want to get involved in a dispute of any kind. It was just a horrible situation. In addition to working as a long distance telephone operator, she did all of the cooking, cleaning and laundry for the entire household. She also had to help my father “handle” S who was diagnosed as schizophrenic in her early teens. Not much was known about the mental illness in the early ’70′s but it was a nightmare to say the least. Anyone else might have crumbled under the pressure. To say it was a thankless job was an understatement. She had to host holiday dinners, buy gifts, sew clothes, you name it. To add to her stress, she had me when she least expected it. To give you an example of what her life was like, she had to walk to the hospital to be induced to deliver me. I was 2 weeks late. She had to walk to the hospital which was at least 10 blocks away. The 2 youngest girls walked with her but she (at 9 mos. & 2 wks pregnant.), had to carry her own suitcase to the hospital!!! A decent human being would offer to carry it. Or just carry it without offering. But no. They wouldn’t do a thing for her, it was all for them. There is so much more to this story but I’m only telling this for background. This middle sister (J) badmouths my mom at every turn, even though she hasn’t seen her in over 30 years. Talk about not letting something go!! We have emailed jokes but I would really rather not be in contact with her. She is pure evil. The worst thing is she calls herself a Christian. She is a bible banger. She has been my main inspiration for being turned off of organized religion. She spouts bible verses but leads a life filled with hate and has a tongue that spews venom. She has never forgiven anyone for anything in her entire life. I get how hard forgiveness is. It has taken me decades to forgive some things. She lashes out at everyone she’s ever known. She regularly attacks her oldest sister for her weak moral character & sins of the past. This oldest sister is very religious too and repeatedly forgives J for her viciousness.

This time, out of the blue, J sent this scathing email about what a horrible person my mother is. She did this simply because it was her birthday and she couldn’t forget that. She couldn’t just move on with her life and be glad she hasn’t seen Mom in 30 years. Instead she feels the need to inflict pain on me, probably hoping I tell my mother what she said. Obviously, I’m not about to do that but it did ruin my day. It was just so sudden and unnecessary. I’m not going to repeat the vile things she said (which were untrue). My first reaction was to forward the email to my older half-sister and half-brother and tell them because of this I want nothing more to do with any of them ever again. I had it written out and decided to wait and not hit send. I decided to do nothing. I wasn’t about to email J back because she wanted to get a rise out of me and I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.

I would like nothing more than to cut off all these half relatives from my life. Is it the right thing to do though? My happiest years were when I had no contact whatsoever with them. I don’t have other relatives though. It’s not like I have so many relatives that I can disown some and still have a bunch of others. Aside from them, I  have 3 cousins and that’s IT. I don’t hear from the cousins either. My mom gets a Christmas card from the 2 girl cousins. I’ve tried to keep in touch via email with them but they don’t hold up their end of it. So I gave up.

J is the type that if I blocked her email, she would make it her life’s mission to track me down and heaven help me if she ever found my blog. I shouldn’t have to defend a 93 yr. old woman to someone who has no concept of what life was like then for her or what life is like now for her. In the throws of Alzheimer’s. I’m not about to tell J that Mom even has that. It would probably delight her to no end. There are many people who I feel have wronged me over the years and no matter what, I’ve never wished them ill. I just don’t want them anywhere near me. I don’t sit around thinking of ways to extract revenge or poking pins into a voodoo doll in their likeness. I try to enjoy what life has to offer because if you’re busy hating, you’re wasting time and missing out on some really good stuff. Stuff is the technical term. ;-)

Which brings me to the matter of in-laws. My hubby has a huge family as I’ve said before. I have FEELINGS about most of them. Some good, some not good. I’m not going into detail at this time. I wrote this 2 days ago and debated even posting this stuff. I really don’t want to make things worse (none of them read the blog or even know about it as far as I know) but these feelings keep surfacing over and over. Maybe if I exorcise my demons by writing about them, they will go away?  I’d really like advice on how you reconcile when you try but the other person doesn’t or maybe you both try and the relationship isn’t what you want. How do you live with it not being the way you want? I can’t control how others act or how they treat me. I have to either take it or not associate. Or is there a middle ground that adults who aren’t me can deal with?! I assume I have high expectations of people but other times I think it’s not me at all.  I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive but I hate to sit by and watch them treat my husband differently from his siblings. I have to pretend I don’t know we were shunned from a party or some event. I’m not saying we would go, I’m saying we are treated differently. Well, we are very different. We like to give presents to his family which they never refuse. Yet, I don’t think I’ve gotten a single thing from any of them in over 20 years. Obviously I don’t need anything and that’s not the point. I guess what it comes down to is they don’t think of us. Which on some level, I think we like. We like living removed from the hometown most of them still live in. We like having a life away from them but I know that even if we lived in town, we wouldn’t be treated the same. Does everyone have these complex family relationships? Do you feel ill at ease around some relatives? I know it’s hard to get a grasp on what I’m talking about without being told actual specifics. I used to have high hopes that the weird relationship dynamic with the in-laws would resolve itself over time. I’m not that naive anymore. It will always either be like this or maybe worse.

Maybe I should carry a pie bird around in my pocket. So at least when I’m venting, it will look pretty…Thanks for hanging in there with what was basically a gripe session. I don’t want it to sound like I’m that unhappy, I’m not. Just a whole bunch of things culminated at once to bring these thoughts into my head.

 

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