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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Didn't I tell you?

Cullman,  AL

A few weeks ago I posted about the renovations to our bedroom and bathroom.  I said at that time that I might find something else I wanted done.   There is no MIGHT about it. 

This latest project was the back porch.

It has needed painting for quite some time.  I hate to paint.  Len can't since he has no use of his left arm and gets out of breath easily.    We looked in the local Shoppers Guide and found an ad placed a man who said he paints.   Len contacted him and he came right over.

As always, you get what you pay for.  He quoted the entire porch for $200.00.   There was a type of insulation in the ceiling that has been slowly hanging down  and falling apart.   We said we would try to get it off before he returned in 3 days.     He said he would do it for $50.00 more.   This is how the ceiling looked.

We gladly paid the additional charge.

Unfortunately the 3 days he worked here were in the high 90s by noon.  So he worked from about 8 to 12 or so.  Also unfortunately when he got done we had to go behind him and do lots of repainting and touch up.  More unfortunate is some siding got splattered too.  As I said, you get what you pay for.   We want the front porch painted in the near future.  He said to call him when ready.   I don't think so.  We can do it.  It does not include overhead painting.  Just rails, decking and steps.

A view before and after looking west.

The view before and after looking east.

As you can see we moved the porch swing to give us more usable space.  Also the grill was by the back door.   Right inside that door is the laundry room with a smoke detector.   Need I say more.

Yesterday Len and I put up the lattice that was taken down from the bottom of the porch while it was being painted.   Then Len got on his tractor and bush hogged and starting knocking over brush and trees.   Yea.... I really want more grass to mow.

While we were working in the backyard our neighbor up the road came riding in on his mower.  Gary is the owner of the fenced in field across the road.   That fence keeps in his cow and 3 bulls and his pot bellied pig.  The guineas and chickens are in and out of the fence.   His 4 peacocks think they live here.   We all think so too.   They are here more then there.  They get along mostly well with my 4 ducks.

Due to very dry weather our pond is down really low.   I asked Gary what he used to get rid of the thick green duckweed from on his pond.   He told us what it was and said he had some left and would spray our pond.   A short time later I heard a weed whacker.   He was out there mowing and then weed whacking around the pond.   This morning he came back to finish up the weeds and spray the pond.   Gotta love sweet neighbors like that! 

As some of you know, Leonard is having some medical issues.  Our cardiologist made an appointment with a cardio - pulmonary specialist down at UAB in Birmingham.   We leave here in about on hour and head on down.  We pray that this doctor can help him.  As it is now, Leonard can do very little walking or manual work.   But he can sure knock down trees and clear brush all day.  It tires him out but it doesn't hurt his arms and cause shortness of breath.  And it makes him happy.

Until next time.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Love of Country Music

Cullman,   AL

If you love country music as I do, you might have watched the Ken Burns series that ran on PBS the last two weeks.   8 nights, 16 total hours.   I didn't miss a minute.    As with all of Ken Burns projects it was excellent.

It got me to reminiscing and thinking how Country Music has affected my life.  As a child of the 50's and early 60's it was Rock and Roll.   I was in love with Ricky Nelson.  I would listen through the static to the local AM radio station out of Philadelphia to Joe Niagara and Hy Lit on WIBG.

Then the year I graduated High School in 1962 Ray Charles has a crossover hit.... I Can't Stop Loving You.   Wow!  I was hooked.    I bought the Album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.  On the album were great songs such as You Don't Know Me; Half as Much; Born to Lose; You Win Again and Hey, Good Lookin.

Then he came out with Modern Sounds Volume Two.  More great songs You are my Sunshine; Oh, Lonesome Me; Your Cheating Heart;  Take These Chains from my Heart; Making Believe.   WOW.  Now I was really hooked.

Forget Rock and Roll.   I found my niche. 

In the late 70s and early 80s Country stars would perform at a local movie theater that used to house Vaudeville.    There I saw Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Pride, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Reed, Tom T. Hall, Don Williams, The Gatlin Brothers, Mel Tillis, Bill Anderson, Marty Robbins, George Jones, Tammy Wynette and I forget who else right now.

My daughter Amy knew all the songs of Tom T Hall and Johnny Cash.  I think she even has a CD of Tom T's  music that she would play for her daughters.

In 1980 my (at that time) husband and I worked for the same company.   We were sent to Missouri that summer to help open a new facility.   Missouri has fabulous county fairs.   We saw Crash Cradock (anybody remember him?) and Merle Haggard perform.

I went with a friend to see Crystal Gayle in the early 80s.

In the late 80s, being divorced,  on occasion I would go with girlfriends to a club that was known for country music.  OOPS.  Reminds me when I was not yet married the first time, I went to that club with my husband to be and another couple.   Kitty Wells was performing.    Back to the late 80s.  Tuesday night was singles night at the club.  Friends convinced me to go with them.   Well..... the rest is history.  Leonard was working in the area on a two week job for a company in Houston.  That was 1988.  He got out of New Jersey when we retired in 2010.

Through the years we learned many county line dances.  Len taught me to two-step.   He was dang good at it too.     Daughter Terri knows all the dances and has taught others.   She met her husband when he was playing in a country band.

Before retiring we occasionally saw more acts.   George Strait, George Jones, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Kathy Matea, Oak Ridge Boys, The Statlers.  Charlie Daniels, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash.    Probably saw more.

Then finally last January we went to a show at the Mother Church of Country Music.... The Ryman Auditorium.   John Conlee, Jeanne Seely, Vince Gill, Joe Diffee,  Ricky Skaggs, Crystal Gayle.

Bottom line...... The Ken Burns documentary bought back so many memories.   I remember when Hank Williams died.   I cried when Mary Robbins died.   I remember when Patsy Cline died.  The program dealing with her death left me with tears.  Then last night, the last show, dealt with the last years of Johnny Cash's life.  Again tears.  What a sad ending. 

Country Music has seen me through good times and bad.  It's brought joy and sadness.  My life has been enriched.  It runs deep in my being. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Bed,Bath and Be Done???

Cullman,  AL

In the two years and nine months since we moved into this house, I continue to think of, and make, changes.   Will it end?  Probably not.   

At the house I owned when I met Leonard we added shelves in the bedrooms, changed out part of the family room to a walk in closet for the master bed room and added a dining room with fireplace.

Then we bought an old farmhouse.   We added a den, 3-season room and deck.  Also a large metal Quonset hut for Len's shop and built a barn with two stalls and tack room.   Plus, added a fireplace, ripped up carpets and had 150 year old hard wood floors refinished.   We ripped out one bathroom and installed a new shower and flooring.  New roof shingles, new siding and all new windows. Etc etc etc. more projects than I can remember.

We've done a lot here.  The latest:

The previous owner had dogs and cats that lived in the house.  The house was clean and those animals left no odors.  Thankfully!   But the master bedroom carpet had many large stains.  I've scrubbed them, sprayed them, vacuumed them, and scrubbed them some more.  Still stains.  The master bathroom vanity top was laminate as were the other bathroom and the kitchen counters.  The other bathroom sink and vanity top we changed out last year.  Someday the kitchen counters!

I wanted new bedroom carpet and new vanity top and sink.   The previous sink never held water.  Neither did the one in the other bathroom.  They were the same style.  We tried everything.  No deal. Solution?   Replace.

Here are pics of the last two weeks of projects.

 Master Bath 

Vanity prior to this weeks renovation.

How it looked when we first toured the house.  Did not like the sticky tiles.

 After removing the mirror I started removing the tiles. And did they stick.  Layers of paint along with paper from the wall board came off. 

I roughed up the wall with spackling and painted.  Len made a new frame for the mirror. (Thanks daughter Terri for the suggestion.)   It looks better with the nice cultured marble sink and vanity top.   The green accent wall ties in with the new carpet in the bedroom.  (Another suggestion from Terri.)

Master Bedroom

The bedroom how it looked when we toured the house.

Len painted the room prior to us moving in our furniture.   Had to get rid of the blue.  This is how it looked until last week.

And now.

More projects in the future?   Of course.   Back porch needs painting.  We can't do it.  Len can not lift his arms.   I don't want to!   Need to find a painter.

 We also are leaving our large garden return to lawn.  Too much for us to do any more.   We are in the process of removing some holly hedges and stone from near the back of the house.  The  stone is filling holes under the carport.  Replacing the stones with top soil.   We will  have a much smaller garden next Spring.  Just a few tomato plants, etc. 

Until next time.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Thoughts on aging.

Cullman,  AL

Lately I have thought much about how life has changed and continues to change.  Leonard and I both feel the effects of our aging bodies.  There are many things we have realized we can not do and probably never will again.

I used to love the rides at amusement parks.  No longer.  This mid 70 body can't take the spins and bumps.  More than 30 years ago Leonard and I met Country Dancing.  We loved it and did it often back in those long ago days.  The last time we danced as we once did was a few years ago.  Impossible now.

Heavy lifting?   No.   Both of Leonard's shoulders are shot.  I can lift more than he can.   A couple of months ago I fell in the backyard.  He was not able to help me up.   I told him I could turn over, get on my knees and would be fine.  Which I did.    That Sunday at church he was telling people what happened.  It was then I learned if I couldn't get up he planned on getting out his tractor and lifting me in the bucket.     WHAT?????

Having the usual aches and pains is one thing.   But often I just don't feel well.  Nothing particular.   Just a feeling.   Leonard is a different story.   Gout (under control with meds)    High blood pressure (under control with meds)   Sleep apnea (uses a CPAP).  Blood clots (blood thinners for rest of his life)   Right knee that gives out on him (has had 3 operations for torn minuses and a knee replacement.... but almost two years ago a dog ran up behind him and between his legs and laid down, tripping him.   Pain getting worse)   And now what appears to be Pulmonary hypertension.  Will be seeing a doctor in Birmingham.   We trust with proper meds he will be back to his old self again.  Or close to it.

At this age we see the passing of friends and relatives.   One close friend passed in the last month.  I was with her when she met her hubby over 50 years ago.  Our parents are gone.   And so many others in the last years, including my beloved brother.    We know to cherish the time we have with the people we love.

My sister Debbie, me and my sweet brother Norman.

We realize life is short.   I have no plans on exiting in the near future but the older I get I find death no longer scares me.  I am okay with that.   I plan for it.... wills, disposing of unnecessary "stuff".   Making the best of the time we have left.   Gosh this is starting to sound sort of morbid.

I don't mean for this blog to be a downer.   Heck there are lots of great advantages to being old.  The senior discounts for one.   Gotta love them.

I found this out in 1992 when I was years from being a senior.   I was at a Society for Human Resource Management Conference (SHRM) in Las Vegas.  I was woken at 3 in the morning to the room shaking.  At first I thought it was the headboard in the next room hitting the wall.   I thought ...Just get done so I can go back to sleep.    Wasn't that.   An earthquake had hit Los Angeles area.   Then one in north Nevada around 8 am.   I went to the hotel lobby to the Burger King.   Got a croissant, OJ and coffee.   I looked at the receipt and the KID serving me gave me the senior discount.   It was a late night and I was awakened by two earthquakes but still......

Senior meals.    Another benefit.  The local senior center is open 5 days a week with various programs.  Included is a nice hot lunch.  At $1.25 a person.  Gotta love it.  We go only about once a week.  But if I ever really get tired of cooking $12.50 a week for the two of us sounds like a deal.

Another benefit I have come to love.  And this is available for anyone.  Walmart Grocery Online.  I go to their site, do my shopping, schedule when to pick up.  Then at my designated time pull up in the truck where they load my groceries and off I go.    Saves money too.   No impulse purchases.  If the item I selected is not available they substitute which is usually an upgrade and I am charged the lower cost.   For example.... once I ordered 10 pounds of bird seed.   They were out of 10 pound bags.  I got a 20 pound bag at the 10 pound cost.  Last week I ordered a one pound box of strawberries.  I got a 2 pound box at the 1 pound cost.    I always hated shopping.  Now I don't have to.  Ah...modern technology.

So now our life is slower.   We relax at home more.  We still think about doing a bit of traveling at some future time.   We can no longer do NOMADS projects as this involves manual work and walking which is difficult for us.  We value the 10 years when we could travel and volunteer with NOMADS.   We have met, and stay it touch, with so many folks we met while on the road.  We have two RV sites on our property where RVing friends can park.  We have a guest room and a futon in my office.   We have had many visitors over the past 2 1/2 years.  All welcome.

We have five terrific kids who are  healthy and doing well.  We are proud of all of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.   We love each and every one of them.

We love our home.   We love sitting on the porch watching our ducks on our pond and the neighbors peacocks, cows and chickens across the road.   We enjoy our beagle Biscuit.  We love our new home church here in Cullman.    We have been blessed beyond what we deserve.   Life is slower, but life is still good.

Until next time.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Two recent trips

Cullman,  AL

Trip One:  August 13 to 15

As I was sitting watching TV about 7:30 pm Leonard came into the living room, turned off the TV and locked the front door.   What's up?    Chest pains.

Off to ER.     As anyone knows when you go to the ER and complain of chest pains you are treated
 immediately  (or should be).    After lots of tests, blood drawn, etc. he was found not to be having a heart attack.   Thankfully. 

The ER doctor admitted him for further observation.   Of course, no sleep that night.  Or much the next night.   He was looked at by various doctors including our cardiologist.   During the day he took lots of naps.  While I sat there watching him sleep.  What did he do during waking hours?


The night I took him to the hospital I didn't get home until after 10:30.    We had left Biscuit in the house.  This is strange for him.  We are seldom out at night.   The next day I found this.

There was also a lamp upset from the end table by the door.  He has never messed in the house.  We always let him out for a few minutes before going to bed.   It appears he was trying the get outside.  Sweet boy.  Can't be mad at him.   And he didn't do his business in the house.

Bottom line.....  Len is still short of breath.   Cardiologist says looks like pulmonary hypertension.  This was caused by the blood clots he had in his lungs a few years ago.  They caused the right side of his heart to have to pump harder.   He will be referred to University of Alabama in Birmingham.  The specialist there can prescribe medications that our cardiologist can't.   After getting out of the hospital it was time for

Trip Two:   August 16 to 21.

We left Alabama the morning of August 16 and drove as far as Hattiesburg, MS (285 miles) to overnight.   I had gone online and reserved a room at a Microtel.   I checked Pet Friendly on the booking site I used.   As I checked in I remarked about having a dog.  NO DOGS ALLOWED.   The desk person was really great.  This was to be a no-refund room if we did not use it..   He assured me they would not charge my card.  (They haven't).  Then he called nearby LaQuinta.     It was a lovely room.  But the hitch......  The Microtel was $77.00 a night.  Having a pet ($20 additional fee) and making last minute reservation it cost $147.00.   Ouch.    .

The next day we drove the remaining 300 or so miles to Len's brother Royce and SIL Susies house in Sulphur, LA.    We so appreciate their always welcoming hospitality. 

That night 15 of us met at L'Auberge casino in Lake Charles for their buffet.   Nice time but expensive.   $42.00 a person.    And Len has no appetite.   Hardly ate anything.  I am thinking I made up for it.  But worth being together with the family.

This is Len and his brothers.   Oldest to youngest  Royce, Leonard, Jerry, Bobby and Myron.  Notice something in common.  Baseballs caps?   It's an East thing.

And the now the sisters included.   Sissy, Lydia, Laura and Alice

Finally... spouses included.  In no particular order.

 The next day was great.   Daughter D'Juana,  SIL Joe and granddaughters Alex and Lindsey drove over from Pearland (near Houston) for the day.   She brought a delicious lemon cake she had made.  Also treated all of us to Pizza, etc.   We had a lovely time all visiting at Royce and Susies home.  We appreciate that they came to us.  We had originally planned on driving the 150 miles each way for the visit.  D'Juana was considering her father and wanted him to rest that day.   I wish I took pictures.

On Monday we visited with our friend Diane for a while and the rest of the day was spent at the house.   Royce and Susie have a fenced in back yard as they usually have dogs.  (Will be getting a pup soon).   Saturday and Sunday Biscuit was fine in the backyard.  He would come in and out of an open door to their enclosed patio. 

 But on Monday he managed to find a hole he could squeeze through in the fence.   Off he went.   Royce was running through a wooded area in flip flops. Len and I were about ready to get in the truck to look for him.   Royce called to us that Biscuit was on his way back.    From then on it was a leash.

We left in Tuesday and drove to Laurel, MS.  about 307 miles.  We stayed at a Quality Inn.
 It might say Quality but was no where near as nice as the LaQuinta.   

Biscuit never complained

Biscuit woke me at 4 am.  He wanted out.  I got up, got dressed and we went for a walk.  When I came back Leonard was outside waiting for us.  Since we were up...... let's get home.   We arrived at 10 am. 

Now it takes us two days to travel about 580 miles.   At one time it took us a day and a half to go the 1,200 miles from NJ to LA.   Those days are long gone.

So two trips in one week.   Which do you think we enjoyed the most?

Until next time.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

History Lessons at the Lyric

Cullman,   AL

Last night Leonard and I attended, with our friends Vic and Stephanie Buchanan, a talk at the Lyric Theater in downtown Birmingham.

What a lovely venue.  The Lyric was built in 1914.   It is not a real large building but quite stately.  I am so sorry the pictures came out blurry.

Looking up at the  balcony.

Box seats

The ceiling in the lobby

We were on the ground floor, center section only 4 rows from the stage.   Terrific seats.

The speaker for the night was Brian Kilmeade one of the hosts of the morning program Fox and Friends.

Brian grew up on Long Island and still lives there.  His childhood dream was to play professional soccer.   He played in High School and then for a short time in college.  He related that he was really not that good but he was determined.   When he realized that dream was not going to happen, he looked in other directions.  Being a talker, he tried interviewing.    He would send out resumes only to get back rejection letter after rejection letter.

Through perseverance he started getting some attention.  All the while he was studying the history of this country.     After being a stand-up comic for a short while and  during some interviews for minor TV stations,  he started making a name for himself. Then he got the position he now is in.  His basic message is that we all get knocked down but need to get back up.  And this country provides the opportunities for each of us to strive for our best.

He has written two books about famous people and what lessons playing sports has given them.   Most of these people are not professional athletics but business people, politicians, doctors, etc.   Each have a story to tell.

Other books he wrote are about three people from our history.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.   He stressed that each of these people were flawed just as each of us are.  But they did what they were called to do at their point of our history.   And their efforts have contributed to the greatness of this country.   He has a book coming out about Sam Houston.

His talk was for about an hour and forty-five minutes.  Then he took questions from the audience.  Following that he was in the lobby where his books were being sold.   He signed books and took pictures with anyone who was interested.

He was never political.   He was there to celebrate with us that we are fortunate to be born in this country.    Even through there is what seems like so much political strife at this time, Brian says he still believes this is a good time for this country and we will continue to be strong and a beacon to the world.

We look good.... don't we.

Until next time.

Friday, July 26, 2019

One month visit

Cullman,   AL

This summer the visit from the Granddaughters was shorter than the last two years due to daughter, SIL and girls leave this weekend for a vacation in Canada.  We picked them up in Maryland on June 22 and took them home July 24.   We met the SIL half way to "make the trade".    We stayed the night at our nephews and his family's house in Rural Retreat VA and headed back to a quiet house the next morning.

It was a busy month.

Ate out several times.   Golden Corral.   A local Amish buffet.  At Abby and Charlottes used-to-be favorite place in the area, Jim and Nicks BBQ.

Their new favorite...... Buena Vista.  So much so we had to have a second visit the day before they went home.  It's our favorite too.

There was fireworks on July 4th at the local park.  Waiting for the show.

There was lots of swimming at Hidden Cove RV Resort. 

There was a trip to the Hunstville Space Museum.

They attended two Vacation Bible Schools.   One that Aunt Lois (our daughter in law)  took them to at her church and then another that their friend Nathans family (live up the road) took them.   They enjoyed them both.  Thanks Lois.

We felt bad for our lone lonely duck.   We wanted she/he to have friends.   I asked around and was told there was an animal exchange the next day at the local feed store.   People were there selling goats, rabbits, geese, turkeys, chickens and yes ducks.

Charlotte with a rabbit.

Abby with a rabbit

No rabbits came home with us.   But we did find three friends for our duck, who we had given the permanent name of Baby Duck.

We now have Four Happy Ducks. Baby duck and friends.   They are Muscoveys so will grow larger than Baby Duck who is a Pekin.   And they give us great pleasure.

A nightly habit.... feeding the neighbors cows.   They make good use of our vegetable scraps, apples fallen from our trees, etc.

And lots of fun with Biscuit.    This is a chorus of Four.... Leonard, Charlotte, Abby and Biscuit.  Do your ears hurt?

OOPS!  Sorry can't get it to play.   But Biscuit has a great howl!!!

Until next time.