Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fact or Fiction?

To the five of you that read this forlorn and forgotten blog, bless you. In the last ten days, I ran into two of you I seldom see and you both mentioned that you've read my blog. I was humbled, appreciative--and embarrassed--I haven't published since July.

Truth is, this falls under the 'fact' category, I have been distraught on & off (not constant, so don't worry), by the news of Fannie & Freddie in late July. That followed by four birthdays, picking 3+ bushels of peaches (the deer easily ate another three) and trying to sell Scott's store in August, and the financial economic Meltdown in September and since.

I followed the financial mess with great interest (and often complete dismay), in part because of my former profession as a Mortgage Broker, but also because I am a home owner and a tax payer like many of you.

I made my first batch of peach wine in late August and racked it in September. Learned a new skill. Wahoo! Emerson gave public school a whirl for three weeks before stating he would not return, "It was not an efficient use of my time." Back to home schooling.

We hosted a field trip to Sinkland Farms for Providers and our live-in individuals in October and went to LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) in Black Mountain, NC. While at LEAF, Scott taught a blues class to a group of third graders, performed solo, and opened for Leon Redbone. What a great fest!

In November, after some anticipation, we voted! And even better, we liked the result! Not that I believe President-elect Obama can affect change overnight, sorry to say, but it will be a breath of fresh air to have a person in the highest office who speaks in complete, intelligent sentences and does not smirk. We drove to GA to visit family the weekend before Thanksgiving. Fact(s).

This month has been crazy busy, as it usually is in December. I learned to can venison, thus getting some manner of revenge on the deer. We went caroling at Skyline Manor (nursing home in Floyd) with a group from Wall Residences and were a hit in the Alzheimer's wing, despite some of us singing off-key (namely me). That moment made Christmas for me. It was so much fun that we're going back for a command performance of sorts, Scott decided to bring several of his guitar students (and his family!) to play Christmas music and we'll sing a song between instrumentals.

My annual Christmas letter was just finished and my cards are going out late. But better late than never; though with Christmas cards, the correlation seems to be the later you send them, the fewer you receive. No matter that you've faithfully mailed cards the last 20 years and written a two-page letter for 12. [Yes, it's two pages. I have a brevity problem. The first step is to admit it.]

All of the above blurbs are fact-based, not a lick of fiction in there. We truly were a hit in the Alzheimer's wing, that's not hopeful exaggeration. Emerson really stated public school was not efficient, though home schooling isn't much better. Some days it drags on until dark.

You're asking yourself (the five of you), what's the fiction?

My dear husband called from town an hour ago with a story to tell me. A woman he had never met before came up to him in a store and asked if he was Scott Perry. He admitted he was. She said "I'm so sorry," followed by "I've heard you're very sick and your wife has left you." Wow. I did?! Holy buckets, that's not good. If you read below, you'll learn that I don't even like to pack. So he set her straight. Scott asked where she heard such a thing, it turned out this ugly rumor came from a place in the heart of town, though there was no heart or truth to it.

This stuff has been ongoing for months, but has increased with intensity since September, the month The Pickin' Porch came this close (thumb and forefinger a hair apart) to being sold. I won't go into why it didn't sell, but it had nothing to do with us nor with the Buyer. Ever since, the rumors have been flying fast and furious.

The fiction has been entertaining. Did you know we're selling The Pickin' Porch and moving to _______ ? Some rumors say Ireland, which would be my fantasy come true, I have to admit, but is still not a fact. We are getting passports so Scott can gig in Europe and because one day I hope to live overseas for a year or two, but we'll begin with a vacation. People go 'on holiday' now and then. Moving to Europe--or even to Asheville--is another ball game and we're not playing now.

The very thought of moving makes me say "Ugh." We moved 42 cartons of books when we moved to Floyd. I don't like to say the "H word" but I hate packing. Fact.

Selling in this market? It can be done, but we have fruit, fresh air & clean water, and hold your horses, a 1984 John Deere 750 tractor bought after Thanksgiving. Scott won't bush hog the fields with a push mower anymore. Fact. Two days ago, Spencer installed a mail box purposely so he would receive a package he had ordered sent to our physical address (not the PO Box in town). How's that for motivation for a nearly 19 year old son? Fact.

Between a new, used tractor and a new mail box, after 8 years of living here on our farm, it looks like we're staying put a while longer. B'gosh and begorrah!

Another: we're selling the store because Scott will quit teaching guitar students. Fiction. He has a roster of 43 students each week and when one occasionally stops taking lessons, he replaces the empty slot within two weeks. He usually has a waiting list. Fact. He loves teaching his students and finds it to be rewarding. (He also happens to be a great guitar teacher, though I may be partial). Fact.

Another: Scott is sick. Well, it's true he had a cold two days ago. And we each experienced a lovely 24-hour stomach virus before Thanksgiving, but no, gratefully, he is not truly sick. Though he likes to say, "I'm sick and tired," and shared as much with the poor woman who was a tad embarrassed after she commented on the rumor.

This rumor has variations: we're selling because we're broke, we're bankrupt or we can't pay the mortgage. Fiction. We aren't rich, we don't have a trust fund, nor do we have wealthy parents who regularly donate to our cause. Fact. We earn our money the old-fashioned way (hey, not that old-fashioned!), we earn it. Fact. We pay the mortgage and are not bankrupt. Fact, thank heavens.

Believe it or not, The Pickin' Porch is doing well. Store sales have been consistent with last year. Fact. We guess that people want to have a new banjo or guitar (picks, strings, and a music book) to play while sitting at home during the Greater Depression. [Okay, I hope I'm wrong about that last bit. I probably am, after all 'they' just announced the Recession, er, slow down.]

What's left? Oh yeah, that one. We are very happily married, as I say, 98.5% of the time. No one's perfect. There is that little issue of the 1.5% when we bug the living heck out of each other and have our annual argument. By and large, we're pretty dang lucky to be married to each other and to have got it right the first time. Our 20th wedding anniversary is on May 27. Fact.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Burning Down the House

I went to college in the early 80s. The Talking Heads were then a popular band; I attended house parties on campus (don't tell my parents!) where a packed wall-to-wall roomful of people swayed, with a barley pop in hand, to Take Me to the River, and a couple years later to Burning Down the House.

[We also sang Rick James' Super Freak, but that's another story. If you aren't familiar with The Talking Heads or Rick James, you skipped the late 70s to early 80s and haven't lived, my friend.]

Flash forward 25 years. Today's news stated that food manufacturers will raise prices by 20 to 25% by the end of this year. There could also be a cut across the board to state's funding by the Feds of up to 34%. Gosh, is that all? No, really, tell me the bad news.
Early this evening while listening to Market Place (NPR), I thought it ironic that the piece played at the end of the story was Burning Down the House. After all, IndyMac bank has failed. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those adoring GSE's (government-sponsored entities) of the mortgage world, have not failed (they say) but the bearded Ben Bernanke, the King Bee of the Federal Reserve Board, has pledged for the Fed to give Fannie and Freddie trillions of dollars if needed so they'll have adequate reserves. Trillions with a capital T. Give probably isn't the right word, but just where are the dollar bills coming from that generous Ben intends to lend? From you and I? From hot off the printing press, or both?

Burning down the house, indeed.

[Some of you know that in a previous life I was a Mortgage Broker, they have 12 Step programs for people like me. Thankfully, it seldom comes up in my current life, but when it does, I always state that I was ethical. Please forget my former job as I try to do. The recent news from the mortgage world scares me. No, it horrifies me. I never could have predicted a Nightmare of such epic proportion when I left the business two years ago.]
[Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daydreaming of Venison Stew

Before this summer, I had not considered deer a nuisance. Now, having had some experiences with them, I do. Lately, instead of thinking "What beautiful, graceful animals they are," my thoughts have tended towards "Wouldn't it be nice to have venison this winter?"

The deer have repeatedly leaped our garden fence and dined at their leisure, noshing on dwarf and espaliered apple trees (but never touching the pears), and an assortment of vegetables to their hearts content.

Last night they finished off the remaining--and nicest--two rows of green beans left of five. I. Was. Mad. Emerson and I replanted the beans July 6 after our first batch (using old seed) failed to germinate. It was late, but I figured we'd have a harvest in mid-September. I'd put up green beans weeks after everyone else, but the end result would still be the same: rows of freshly canned green beans in my pantry. Not this year. Unless I buy a bushel of beans elsewhere.

I consulted gardening books and web sites in hopes of finding something to deter deer. Nothing worked. What failed? A headless so-called scarecrow (a t-shirt on a hanger with a pair of Emerson's old pants safety pinned to the shirt) that I relocated throughout the garden, spraying old perfume all over said scarecrow (deer supposedly do not like varied human scents), a homemade garlic, liquid soap and oil mixture sprayed on plants and again on the scarecrow (deer supposedly dislike garlic), three grocery store plastic bags hung throughout the garden (to rustle and move), red pepper flakes abundantly sprinkled on rows of vegetables, citrus peels scattered with wanton abandon on the same rows of vegetables and around the suspect fence border. I even found an old hard boiled egg hidden under lunch meat in a fridge drawer and tossed that in the garden one afternoon.

I had yet to try a few tactics, which I'll attempt to save our green peppers. I will throw a sheet over the area of the fence that I suspect they are jumping, as deer supposedly will not go over a barrier if they can not see the other side. I will put down several feet of fencing on the ground on the outside of the fence, as supposedly do not like to get their feet tangled. I might even try a portable battery-operated radio, left on low all night in the garden. Perhaps I should have tried these ideas first.

A new, tall fence or a reinforced 'enhanced' fence is at the top of my Wish List.

And there is no supposing about it, though I don't eat much meat, I do enjoy venison.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stimulus Gardening

"Uncle Sam says -- GARDEN To Cut Food Costs," sound advice from a WWII-era poster. Would that our dear Uncle offered us this sage advice in 2008.

Instead the "advice" we've received from the Big Cheese, is to spend our Stimulus checks on cheap Chinese crap. (Did I say that?) We, the American Consumers, ARE the U.S. Economy. Without us spend, spend, spending, our economy begins to fall off the map. So, go on. Rush out and spend your 'free' check buying More Stuff you don't need and don't have room to store. That's it. Fill your big 'ole SUV with $4.09/gallon gas. Drive to Wal-Mart, the ethical big box store, and shop, shop, shop until you drop--or your check is gone. But hey, it's okay if you overspent. That's what the credit card is for!

Back to my reality. I'm growing potatoes for the first time. I have helpers who pick off the fat, rust-colored potato bugs with black stripes that would eat every potato leaf if I let them. Why it took me so long to plant potatoes, I don't know. We also have Roma tomatoes, zucchini (Eight-ball and Costata Romanesco), celery, onions, and green peppers. We enjoyed spinach and sugar snap peas that are finis. I planted lettuce seed twice but the seed was either too old or not stored properly. Emerson and I replanted green beans and cucumbers that deer ate when they discovered they could jump our 6' garden fence. They also got our cantaloupe and watermelon which are regrowing but it may be too late--or they may be munched again. Hope not. Before next spring arrives, we'll have a new 8' or 10' fence around our garden. This one is on its last legs and the deer know it.

Before this year we never had a deer problem. Now, we do. Our supreme Border Collies are now forced to stay outside at night to bark and hopefully Chase the Deer. They have the barking part down. This is reverse training going on because the last two years we worked on training the dogs to come in at night so we could sleep. They are confused. So am I.

But this much I know. Gardening is a healthier and more productive thing to learn and do with your time and your family, particularly in these strangely uncertain times, than going to Wal-Mart to spend your darn Stimulus check. If you must spend it, pay down debt. If you've already done that you have my congratulations. Buy more seeds (and store them properly), support local food producers (more than likely you don't grow it all yourself), buy used books, and while you're at it, support local musicians.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lone June Post

My brain has been stuck in mired muck since late May. But if you're the type that doesn't like to be left in the dark, especially when someone brought it up (me neither), let's say it involves everything from the grandiose (Peak Oil, the faltering economy), to the sublime (living with a bad haircut), to the gray middle in-between (which, I'm sorry to say, I can't reveal what I originally wrote here.) I had my husband preview this post. He remarked "Oh honey, I don't know. I think you better let it sit overnight," which meant that I should be less honest and change my post.

Everything on my mind was something that occurred that I probably should not publish. Blogs are interesting that way. How much can you or will you reveal about yourself, your family, your job? There's honesty and then there's HONESTY. It's a fine line.

In the writing book previously mentioned, it said to get every story, every item you want to discuss, out of your head. Don't leave it in your brain to gather dust like useless clutter. Write what you can't tell the world, even if you have to change names or alter the story. The author further suggested putting it on paper but not publish until a later date when it's "safe." I'd prefer to be 110% honest so that is my only option. I'll pull it out of my head because this brain clutter has been attracting snarling dust bunnies with glowing eyes. I'll put it in a notebook and gladly lose it. Years later I'll unearth the notebook. By then it should matter less, as I wish it did now.

But it is summer and the living is easy. Above is a picture of milkweed taken earlier, followed by our blueberries. We picked 5 gallons of blues on our Opening Day last Wednesday June 25. I love picking blueberries. Time will tell if we surpass our 2005 & 2006 total of 18 gallons. It looks to be a bumper crop, which we all deserve since the pre-Easter freeze of 2007 left Floyd County without fruit.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Grandma and Memorial Weekend

This time of night (long past Midnight) I'm fast asleep, though it is often aided with a Melatonin tab (to keep me asleep once I drift off).

Tomorrow morning (that is, later today) we're going to a wedding on the Perry side of the family, everyone is expected to be there. For the last 20 years since Scott and I have been a couple, we've driven to see my family in Indiana over Memorial weekend. Heck, we even got married in my grandparent's home town of Connersville on May 27 in 1989. This weekend has always been a Big Deal in my life.

Before that, I went with my family, and recall one year that I drove with my sister when we both lived in Connecticut. I was 25 and she was 19. We almost got a speeding ticket we were in such a hurry to get back home, but we lucked out when the nice officer gave us a reprimand and a warning instead. That was a lifetime ago.

It feels strange to not already be in Indiana. Stranger still when I think of how it keeps evolving, so many dear relatives have passed on over the years. Nothing stays the same.

This past Monday my sister called at 10 p.m., I had just turned out the light. I missed her call but called back and left a message that we'd talk in the morning. I went back to bed and was almost asleep a half-hour later when the phone made me bolt upright in bed. I missed it again but this time I got her on the phone. Now fully awake, I heard my sister tell me that our Grandma, who turned 90 just a few days before, fell and broke her hip in the hospital where she was taken last week for tests related to Alzheimers.

As we spoke, I recalled that three years ago this month my Grandma fell at home in her basement Beauty Shop and broke her hip (I still don't know which hip she broke this time). She went to the hospital then and never returned home. This was not just due to the hip fracture, but because she was also diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. As she recovered, she moved to a nursing home where she has since outlived the national statistics of a two-year stay.

Scott's parents and brother will follow us home from the wedding, so we've been 'cleaning for company' the last few days (they haven't been to our house in four years). When I put away jewelry in my bedroom, I was reminded again of my Grandma. One of her silver necklaces usually hangs from my dresser drawer knob, she got it when she went on a trip to Egypt years ago. Now it belongs to me though it feels odd to have her jewelry when she is still alive.

People usually divide another person's possessions after they die. When my Grandma's house was sold two years ago (you can't own a house if you want Medicare to pay for your stay in the nursing home), her belongings were divided, given away, and sold in a yard sale. I was aghast at the things I found in the yard sale that my family did not want. Old purses, decorative plates, spoons, lamps, candlestick holders and so much more. My sister and I kept finding interesting objects and felt guilty if we wanted to take them or if we left them for a stranger to buy for a fraction of its sentimental value. My Grandma's life was on display.

I kept my Grandma's black and chrome hydraulic chair used in her Beauty Shop. This was the chair customers sat in when their hair was washed and cut or permed and tinted a lovely shade of lavender. I also coveted the salmon-colored, sparkly hair dryer chair with the silver turn-on knob and the Jetson's style egg-shaped dryer hood. I loved that chair. As a kid I sat in it, pulled down the hood and my long hair went straight up. I debated and debated. Of course no one else wanted it, imagine having that 'thing' sitting in your family room? In the end, I did not take it and I have regretted it ever since.

This evening the live-in guy that we care for (our foster care provider job) reminded me of this weekend's car races. When he mentioned the Indy 500, it was my turn to remind him that I have family that attends every year. I told him last year, too, but he didn't remember. This year, when Jim Nabors sings Back Home Again (in Indiana), my heart will be there more than it usually is.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spencer's Ride

In the span of two short weeks this March, our oldest son, Spencer, celebrated his 18th birthday (which implies that he is now an adult); he passed the GED test, he attended the License Presentation Ceremony at the Floyd County Courthouse and received his permanent plastic driver's license--and last, but not least, he bought his first car.

It was a moment in time when every day was a Big Deal.

When Spencer sailed through the GED, it was no ordinary feat. This kid enjoyed 1 year of private school, 2 years of public school and 9 years of home schooling through 11th grade. We were all invested in his education. I mean blood, sweat and tears invested (okay, no blood), from both parents. We joke that he'll need counseling when he's 40 to recover from his hybrid education, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Or rather, he will.
As the story goes, he didn't return to Floyd County High School for his senior year. He opted out (oh, the scandal!). He went to the Prom in his Jr. year and was a member of Marching and Concert Bands (he was the tall, thin guy on baritone). He felt like he had his high school 'experience' and was ready to move on. In January he enrolled part-time at Virginia Western Community College and he finished his first semester two weeks ago. He's working this summer at the Harvest Moon.

I'm not gonna lie, we parents have days when we understand why parents in general are overjoyed when their older teen moves out, but we're mostly glad he's still living at home.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The growing peaches need to be thinned, they are the size of almonds or olives. After having zero fruit last year due to the five-day killing frost that occurred near Easter, I look forward to becoming a fruit-processing-fool this summer. Thanks to the bees, this will be possible. And this year, I swear, I am going to learn to make fruit wine from my own fruit! Whoo-hoo!

This photo was taken April 14 though the peach tree was in full bloom on April 9 (but I didn't post in April). It's the only fruit tree on our farm that has pink blossoms and we have lots of fruit trees, in fact, we are 'fruit rich.'

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WaMu has trademarked "Whoo hoo"

I had to give it a second look. It was a banner on top of Calculated Risk, a website I read about economics and finance.

An ad from WaMu, short for Washington Mutual Bank, advertised their WaMu Free Checking (trademarked). As I glanced at the ad I thought I saw a trademark symbol after the word "Whoo hoo!" but wasn't sure. I clicked on the ad which became large enough for this reader to see while wearing glasses with an outdated prescription.

Sure enough, at the far right of the ad (the green area) it appears they have trademarked the word "Whoo hoo!"

This can not be. It's not right.

Trademark or no, I'm going to keep saying my own style of "Whoo hoo!" whenever it feels appropriate to me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Writing Alone...

I'm reading Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider. I'm on page 33 but it is the best book I've read thus far on the subject. The first chapter, "Feeling and Facing Fear," contains three exercises, one of which I did today during a long soak in our claw foot bathtub.

I ran into a friend at Emerson's soccer game this past Saturday. He mentioned that he read my blog and, while I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit a tiny thrill, I immediately felt like I had to apologize--and did--for not posting in two months. He "noticed" and asked if I "lacked initiative." Ouch.

I explained that I need a chunk of uninterrupted time to clear my head and 'process', it's a struggle for me. I lamented that the 'Floyd bloggers' are people that regularly post (as bloggers tend to do). Shoot, most are published authors and/or former professional journalists. If the 'club' doesn't intimidate me, then posting daily certainly does.

The thing is, I just want to do my own thing. I struggle to keep my teeter-totter balanced, but don't we all? Some days are better than others. Like today.

Getting back to the writing exercise, it was fruitful and will be posted soon. I have two more exercises to go before I'll allow myself to start the next chapter--which I'm dying to read. Ms. Schneider understands my dual fears of success and failure pertaining to writing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Almost Spring Cleaning

Yes, indeed. It's almost Spring, wahoo! We have tackled major house cleaning for a visit by my Dad, not for the return of Spring. A relative is coming to visit!

There are various levels of cleaning:

1. Cleaning for Everyday - vacuuming downstairs & putting stuff away and/or stowing it somewhere to put away later.

2. Cleaning on Sunday - add bathrooms, putting away stuff on the stairway, seasonal yard work, and vacuuming upstairs every other weekend.

3. Cleaning for a Job-related Visit or Friends - add bathrooms the day of the meeting, put on a fresh tablecloth on the kitchen table, double-check the downstairs is 'tidy,' make the boys' put away belongings, maybe even light a candle or make a pot of tea, and last...

4. Cleaning for a visit from family - add dusting (my favorite!), wipe down woodwork & kitchen cabinets, clean the fridge, mop the kitchen floor, eliminate leftover dust bunnies & cobwebs from under beds and high on the ceiling--including standing on tiptoes on the bed or at the top of the stairs to dust ceiling fans, put away 'stuff' scattered about the farm, and in general give the place the illusion of a clean and clutter-free home....

Cleaning for relatives is a killer.

My Dad isn't getting the full treatment that was given for a visit by my Sister last July, my Aunt & Uncle last August and for my Mom & Step-Dad last November. We cleaned for five days before my sister & mom got here. "We" was mostly me, with assistance from The Guys. Scott always cleans the fridge for which I am grateful.

This time we cleaned for two days. Maybe it was because of those visits that we didn't need to clean as much, or it could be that we weren't such filthy people this winter.

The house almost looks good enough to sell, in an 'as is,' this is Floyd kind of way.

Scott's parents are coming late May. We'll add 'pressure clean the outside' to #4. There'll be colorful flowers and the grass and trees will be green. The illusion of the bucolic farmhouse in the country will be in full force, and as it is said, may the force be with you.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Summer of 44 to 45

[Note: This was a draft post written 7/13/07. Today I decided "What the h*ll, why not?!" That statement reflects my current frame of mind and is apropos.]

I spent the month of June wearing lavender, or at least I tried. In July, it's red. Today it's red with hot pink--with purple eye pencil to boot. And I think I look good!

I'm too young for the purple and red hat ladies, but I'm getting there. I eyed my dark pink pants in my closet and this funky red sweater I recently picked up at Goodwill (my favorite store), and thought, "Hey, how about wearing that new cool sweater with them?"

Red and pink usually go together only on Valentine's cards. Not today. So simple that wearing something like red and pink together makes me feel like George in that semi-famous line from Seinfeld, "I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm loving it!!"
[Photo courtesy of freelancebloke at Flickr]

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whoopee Do

Is that how you spell it? I don't know. I haven't said that in years, and yet, it just came out of my head and I KNOW it shows my age. Who cares.

I like my age, mostly. Actually, I do like my age--being 45 is so much better than being 35 (for me), but it's the sagging jaw line and the rest that I can do without. I heard on NPR recently--of all places--that Botox did $1B in sales last year. I told my husband that one of my two railroad track furrows, the lovely twin parallel marks between eyebrows, is named "Spencer."

Spencer is a good kid, really, but not a kid so much anymore. He's been a great son. Parenting this stage when he's nearly 18 and most decisions are biggies while trying to nudge him towards life without pushing too hard, well, my left furrow is deeper and more furrow-like than it used to be.

Whoopee do.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Down, Up and In-between

A new year can feel exhilarating and so full of promise.

We're barely into 2008 but we've had enough 'life experience' that it seems the first month should be over. Bring on February, please.

We knew this month would prove challenging; our new individual "L" (male, age 37) moved in 12/29 and we're knee deep in adapting to new schedules, meds, and appointments, our oldest son began attending Virginia Western Community College two days a week (we are his sole transportation), and my husband is juggling giving guitar lessons (a newly condensed schedule) with helping with the new guy (and counting inventory at his music store). Simply put, we have a lot going on.

The year lost its zing and fresh appeal on the second day. I received one of those crappy phone calls, my Uncle had passed that morning. His death, at 54, was unexpected. In fact, when I heard the tone of my Mom's voice I thought she called to say my 89 year old Grandma had passed and braced myself (as I have been for a few years).

Instead of reorganizing my office (which we pulled apart New Year's Eve - Scott encouraged me to empty the room of every pile of paper and stack of 'stuff' to purge, file and organize), the first weekend of the year was spent driving 1000 miles to attend the viewing, funeral and burial of my Uncle. Spencer came along to share the driving and doubled his previous highway driving mileage (with noticeable improvement).

We returned home Sunday feeling physically and emotionally drained. Spencer's first day of college and a dr's appointment for the new guy were the next day.

The last two weeks have been a blur and the few dreams I've had have been weird.

We're getting better at the new routines and I'm keeping up with double paperwork. We've lined up regular respite care two days each week for the new guy (with his previous Providers). Emerson (youngest son) has been a trooper. I'm slogging through stacks of my jun--stuff wondering why I keep so darn much and doing my level best to listen to my sweet husband who was born Naturally Organized. We've watched some football (understatement), whoo-hoo Patriots! I talked to my Aunt last Thursday, she feels numb but is surrounded by caring friends and family. Thank heavens. Spencer takes the road test for his license this Friday and inventory is complete at The Pickin' Porch and the store is up for sale. Fingers crossed!