Tuesday, June 29, 2010

15% Off -- jcarolek

I'm a big believer in truth in advertising.  Yesterday, while meandering through the local discount store, Ollies, I spied a sign that caught my interest.  15% OFF, proclaimed the sign.  I made my way down the aisle to the sign, and discovered the merchandise.  Scales...you know, the kind we, especially women, have a tendency to avoid, lest they let out the "secret" that our love affair with the likes of chocolate bars has resulted in extra weight to carry around...yeah, THOSE scales.

Well, I looked at the scales and they looked just like any other I'd seen.  So, I wondered, how does this whole thng work?  I took one of the scales and placed it on the floor...yes, still in its packaging...(really, you've NEVER done this?)  Now, when I stepped on that scale, I was quite disappointed.  The little weight indicator shot right up there...all the way to 126...now just one minute please...this scale is supposed to be 15% off... at that rate, I weigh, what, 148 lbs?  Dag, I don't need a broken scale!

The store clerk assured me the scale was not broken, but I held to my guns.  "It SAYS I weigh 126," I whined, indignantly.  "So what is your real weight?" the clerk asked, clearly at a loss for anything more intelligent to say.  "I weigh 126 lbs." I answered... The clerk looked lost...  I was going to have to play the role of Captain Obvious and explain that under no mathematical law of which I am aware, does 126 minus 15% equal 126....

Well, OK, we all know I didn't REALLY have this conversation with anyone but the silly smart Alec in my own brain, but, I'm sure it would have played out something along those lines, had I ventured to actually engage an Ollies' clerk in such conversation.  As it was, mental whiz that I clearly am, I DID realize the sign was indicating the COST of the scale was 15% off, but I ask you this... WHY would I spend good money, even at a 15% discount, on a scale that screams the truth, when, tucked in my bathroom I have my favorite pal...the old scale, retrieved from some neighbor's trash YEARS ago... the one that whispers soothing lies like, "112" when I consult her after stuffing myself wth cake and ice cream?  I mean, REALLY folks!  There IS a reason those new, accurate scales still sit on the shelf, being marked down week after week...

Nope, you can keep your stinkin' 15% off scale...  just as I won't trade in my years broken in, comfortable pillow, neither will I forsake my tactful scale... Sorry, Ollies... maybe another time!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Scorcher -- jcarolek

Today was another scorcher here.  100? 102? I really have no idea.  But it was hot, of that I am certain.  I'd had this plan of actually making it to church this morning, obviously, not being able to play the guitar as usual, but certainly I could still sing with the choir.  Joe agreed to drive me, drop me off, head to the house and pick up a load in the van, and then return to pick me up from church.

I went to sleep around midnight, and awoke at 3:30 AM...arm was hurting.  After getting a drink of water, I returned to the couch where I am spending my post-surgical nights, and drifted back to sleep.  At 4:15 AM I was awake again.  This time I took a helping of ibuprofen, along with more water.  Back once more on the couch, it occurred to me....ummm... I can't exactly bathe well, with my arm so completely out of commission...and it is really all I can do to dress myself in my overalls.... Sunday attire would be a real challenge...and, my left-handed attempts at pulling my hair up and securing it out of my face and off of my neck, are successful, but, let's just say, I look just a WEE bit unkempt.  

So it was, that as dawn was breaking on this fine Sunday morning, I decided that missing church today would be a better choice....for me, and for those who would be sitting next to me, should I attend.

And I never even left the property today...I did manage to get three loads of laundry washed and hung, a LITTLE gardening done and cut a lot of brush for the goats, who never left their yard today either!

After bringing in all of the laundry and wiping the sweat off my face for the 100th time, I decided it was time I retire to the cool of the air conditioning....

It's now nearly 11:00 PM and I am FINALLY feeling cool....  and tomorrow is supposed to be another scorcher!

Well, perhaps I will sleep a little better tonight, but regardless, tomorrow we will head over to Williamsburg where the drainage tube will be removed from my arm, allowing me (I hope) to be able to do a little more work around here!  Oh, and taking a shower one day soon is going to feel SOOOO good!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slow Days -- jcarolek

Slow days... summer is full of them.  The sweltering heat and humidity just sap my energy.  Each night, as I look forward to another summer day, I have in my mind a long list of things I will accomplish.  Last night was no exception to the rule.  As I laid my head on the pillow, carefully ensuring my right arm was elevated in accordance with doctor's orders, I formulated my list....

Feed animals
Pack eBay orders for shipment
Wash bedclothes
Weed flower garden
Weed vegetable garden
Have Joe drive me to mail packages, run errands in town, etc.
Make supper

Well.....let's just say, no weeding got accomplished...bedclothes had to be rescued from the line when a huge summer downpour decided to break up the muggy monotony...Joe did get me to town to run errands, but I tuckered out faster than usual, and supper, well, hotdogs take a lot of imagination, right?

I comfort myself by using such excuses as, "you only have one good arm" and "you can't drive yourself this soon after surgery" but the truth is...it's hot, it's muggy....and I'm LAZY!

Welcome to the slow days of summer...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Elbows and Horns -- jcarolek

I don't play tennis.  In fact, I can openly admit to being completely without sufficient coordination to participate in any sport, much less have an injury as a result of such participation.  Nevertheless, more than two years ago, the doctor diagnosed the painful elbow as "tennis elbow."  Today, after exhausting all other treatment options, I underwent surgery, with the hope I will finally regain the full use of my right arm...and yes, I am right handed.

We left here at 7:45 AM and got back here at 4:30 PM.

I cannot drive.
I have to do everything with one hand, and my left hand at that....

Soooo...shorter stories will be the result!

My friend, the shutterbug, captured the doctor and the nurse, who were gracious enough to allow us to take their photos for my "surgery scrapbook" (better than the "Judy eating scrapbook" my friend insists on keeping!)

Upon arriving home, we went to check on the goats and discovered Joey, the gentle but stupid goat, had somehow ripped one of his horn nubs off.  I say "horn nubs" because the folks I bought the goats from had burned off the horns, but his burned off nubs have been growing.  Nevertheless, today, somehow, he ripped one out of his head.  The site looks as if it should hurt, but Joey is Joey, happy and fat and interested only in eating.

More tomorrow when my left handed typing improves!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Business Ethics? -- jcarolek

Call me naive, but today I learned something that saddened me.  There is a certain thing called "Business Ethics" which, at least as construed by the local employees at Lowes, means that thousands of dollars of trees are intentionally destroyed...

I happened on this travesty when I decided to stop in at the garden center of the local Lowes.  

One of my favorite challenges is buy the apparently dead flowering plants that are marked down to very low prices, take them home and nurture them back to health.  I started this pastime after separating from my husband, two years ago.  He had a ban on live plants in the house and even extended that ban to the front and back porches.  Once he was out of the house, I took it upon myself to bring to life the porch, and these poor, left for dead specimens were just the right plants to do the trick.  Certainly, I have had my failures, but for the most part, I have been rewarded for my efforts, the flowering plants responding so well, that when late fall temperatures made it impossible to allow the plants to remain outdoors, I had to bring them inside, where they "wintered over" in the sunny exercise room.  This year's porch is graced by the success stories of the summers of 2008 and 2009.

So, this afternoon, I stopped in to see what dead plants were being offered.  I was picking through the three towering shelves of dead or dying flowers, seeking those I wanted to start at the old farmhouse.  I overheard a couple of boisterous employees as they were throwing something into a large cart.  I looked over to see what they were doing and was surprised to see they were hurling lovely magnolia trees into the cart.  I walked over to see what they were doing, and could not resist the urge to inquire.  So I did. 
"Are you throwing those trees away?"
"Yep," they replied, as they hurled another beautiful specimen.
"Why?  What's wrong with them?  Do they have a disease or something?"
"Nope! They've been cashed out."

Well, forgive me, but I fail to understand what that even means, but I get the gist that these lovely trees are destined to die.  So I ask,
"Why aren't they just marking them down?" (I mean, these trees were not cheap $89-109)
They explained the obvious to me,
"The suppliers of these trees guarantee the sale at the price.  If they don't sell, they cash us out.  But the contract requires that we destroy the trees that have been cashed out."

I couldn't believe my ears.  "So, you can't sell the trees to me at a reduced amount, or give them away?"

The self-appointed spokesman of the trio informed me, "No, that would be against business ethics..."

So, no matter that the 30-40 trees I saw them take to be destroyed could have been donated for a variety of good causes, forget the fact that there are many who would gladly work to plant those trees, if given an opportunity to acquire them for free, or at greatly reduced price, apparently, "business ethics" mandate the destruction of these lovely southern magnolia trees...

There is something very sad about that.  And, even if I had wanted to pay FULL PRICE for one, I could not... they had already been "cashed out."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giant Sycamore -- jcarolek

One of the features that drew me to this old farmhouse was the gigantic sycamore that dominated one side of the yard.  I'm guessing the tree was planted about the same time as the house was built, which, from all indications, was 1880.  When first I saw the tree, it was the dead of winter and she was impressive, even without leaves.  I could only imagine how lovely she'd be in the spring and the shade she'd provide in the heat of the long summer days.
Sycamore in Winter

She did not disappoint me.  Spring brought the green leaves that eventually created a huge shaded yard.  But it also became apparent there were some dead limbs that would need to be removed, for safety considerations.  Last week, while shopping for a used car, the seller (I did not end up buying his vehicle) and I got into a conversation, which eventually led to the discovery that he does tree cutting for a living.  And so, the next day he came out to see the tree and quote a price for his work.  We struck a deal.  He returned today to do the job.
Sycamore in Late Spring

I was not here when the work was being performed, as I was the doctor's for my pre-op visit.  So, my friend was here and monitoring the work.  I can say only this about that... I am SOOOO glad I was NOT here, because I think I would have been completely stressed out by their approach!

To begin with, the job, as bid, was to be performed by the guy and one other guy... I met them both last week.  Today, the guy shows up with a different guy, his wife and two of his four children...  Now, our deal was that he was to remove dead portions of limbs, not simply cut any limb off that was dead on the end.  I wanted to preserve as much of the tree as possible.  Well, as I am CONSTANTLY reminded in EVERY transaction at this old farmhouse, whatever I want is only good as long as it agrees with their ease in getting the job done.  Thankfully, when my friend saw the first live branch cut and lying on the ground, he called them down and reiterated the deal.... if the job was too big for them, they could just say so, and no hard feelings, but please, cut ONLY dead pieces...

By the time I returned home from the doctor's, they had "finished" the job.  In fact, they left less than five minutes before I drove up.  And, typical of the workers I have been dealing with here, they left a huge mess for me to clean up.  My friend admitted he was just so ready for them to go, he'd had all he could stand of them, that he resigned himself to doing the cleanup.  I don't blame him.  There is something odd about bringing kids to such a dangerous work site anyway, and I believe I would have been ready to see them go too!

As is his practice, my friend captured the whole thing with his camera.  From the whole family trying to hoist the one tree cutter 30 feet into the air, to the mess left in their wake...  Enjoy!

Sycamore with my son-in-law, Sunday, June 20, 2010
Benoit climbing the  rope, while Jenn and Steve watch

"Tree Cutting Crew" attempts 30 foot hoist...
Tree cutter, hoisted using truck....
Yes, he's "up there"....
We have a little clean up to do.... tomorrow, there's always tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Unexpected Twist in the Road -- jcarolek

My attorney called today. He told me my husband's attorney called and told him a member of my husband's family called and informed him that John passed away last week. My attorney wanted to know if I had heard. I had not. John passed away June 9, 2010, three days after he turned 55. He was buried on June 12, 2010.

Nobody from his family let me know. I don't know how he died. I know only what I can read in the on-line
obituary. I called the Coroner's office in SC to see if I could find something out. They confirmed they had "worked the case" and told me the investigator who worked it would call me. I have not yet received that call.

We were to be in court on Friday for the "pre-e.d." conference in the process of getting our divorce.

I was stunned to hear the news. Since I did not get contacted by his family, I can presume only that they are not interested in hearing from me. Sad. I have nothing against his family. I always liked them. I hope John is finally at peace.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend -- jcarolek

My weekend started out on a better note than I had anticipated.  Friday, meeting with my attorney at his request, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was filing two of the motions I had requested he file.  The first was a motion for reconsideration of the Pendente Lite order, and the second, a motion to SHOW CAUSE, for the telephone threat received 5/5/10.  I don't know why he changed his mind from two weeks ago when last we met, and at which meeting he indicated these motions were not how things were done in this court.

Nevertheless, whether this court shoots me down or not, at least I am trying to get justice from those who, at least I had always believed, are sworn to administer such.  We shall see.  One thing is certain.  My attorney's decision to file these motions, later than I would have preferred but filed nonetheless, gave me a much better outlook for the weekend.

The weather here was HOT both Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures rising into the 90's and humidity thick enough to cut with a knife, but I was out in it, cutting the lawn at the "marital" residence, trimming shrubs, transplanting flowers, planting sunflowers, repairing septic system at the old farmhouse, packing boxes and boxes and more boxes, bringing carloads of these boxes from the "marital" residence to the old farmhouse.  And each afternoon, just as I thought I would surely melt into a puddle, the big dark clouds boiled up above, the winds picked up and the thunderstorms cooled the air.

The "marital" residence is about to burst forth it flowers.  Two weeks from now, I am certain, the garden will be nothing but a mass of yellow flowers.  It truly is a beautiful place, and it is sad that it is just sitting there, not being enjoyed by anyone.  I do hope the court allows me to list it for sale soon.  I'd like to let some family enjoy the summer there, on the pond, in the woods, surrounded by nature.  But for now, I am spending about four hours a day there, keeping everything up, and getting all of my "stuff" moved out.

And, at the end of the weekend now, I can look back and see I did get a lot accomplished.  I have a LOT more to get done, of course, but it was a really good weekend, and for that, I am grateful. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Graduate -- jcarolek

My niece, not yet 25 years old, has completed her coursework, internships and all else that culminate in her being awarded that degree she has earned.  She is officially, a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  

I will miss the graduation party her parents are throwing for her, but I know all who attend will have a blast.  Friends and family are traveling from near and far to share time, stories and congratulations for the guest of honor.  The party will be next Saturday in Pennsylvania.  Since I will not be there, I think it only appropriate to give my congratulations ahead of time.

To be honest, it is hard for me to even imagine she is nearly 25, much less, completed seven years of post high school education.  In my mind, she is still that adorable little girl with blonde curls.  One of my fondest photos of my brother Ted, who passed away nearly 23 years ago, is of him holding the bundle of joy, his niece Heather.
And the photo of Heather and her cousin Richard, oh, probably two years old or so, walking, buck naked in the backyard, oblivious to the world, the photo that still graces the hallway in my Dad's house, is another favorite.  That absolute innocence of youth that, once lost, can simply never again be regained, is captured in that photo.

Over the years I watched Heather as she grew into the beautiful young woman she is today.  Always industrious, I was not surprised when, once she decided she wanted to work in this field, she stayed the course and reached her goal.  
I had to laugh this afternoon when I read her Facebook entry of yesterday, and I quote,

"At the news of my being single, my grandfather asked me if I have given any consideration to becoming a nun in the catholic church... This is after I've had three coronas by the pool and two glasses of wine with dinner. And then he told me I finally look healthy after getting a mild burn from laying out... Never a dull moment..."

No, Heather may not yet be married, but a nun??? I just don't see THAT!  

Congratulations Heather!  You have made your aunt proud!