Friday, January 30, 2009

Where am I?

As I was writing the last entry it reminded me of something that happened on Tuesday night. The memory loss thing just keeps happening...early signs of Alzheimer's?...I pray not!

A group of us that used to work together at Spiegel Catalog Store about 37 years ago (that's not possible...yep...I did the math) get together for dinner a few times a year. I have been able to join them over the last 8 years whenever I was in town. Spiegel's, I might add, is also the place where I met and fell in love with my honey!!

I coined the phrase "Spiegelettes" for the 5 of us several years back. There were 8 of us originally, but over the years a few left the group for various reasons...none of which were because we were not fun to be around, of course. I am certain I will mention this group of ladies in future blogs.

Anyway, we called a special gathering to help a former co-worker and friend through a difficult birthday...we won't mention which one, Joyce. I will mention, however, that I am the "baby" of the group!

My plan was to pick up Millie, our former assistant manager...brown noser!!...and bring her to the house before we ventured to The Colonial in our old stomping grounds. Millie lives just 27 minutes from me...well, not really...but that is how long it took me to get to her house. Being away for 8 years...and, of course age...were huge factors in my late arrival. I could not remember how to get there.

I have been to her house before, so I knew she was now a "neighbor". So off I went knowing full well where I was going...or so I thought. I made a few turns like I had remembered doing in the past...but could not find her development. Now, this is where one reaches for their cell phone....but, alas, mine was home on the kitchen counter. After about 15-20 minutes of this riding around stuff...maybe she is around this, this stopped at a gas station for directions...yes, guys, this really works.

Sounds like a good plan, right? Except I could not remember her address. So I asked the clerk for a public phone...remember the days of the phone booths...those were the days. She handed me the phone and said "you can use this!" There are nice people in PA, too! So I grabbed the all think I am calling Millie, right?? Wrong...I began to call home to ask Lex to look up her address. Wait...I can't remember our phone number!!! Do you think I was a bit stressed at this point?!

Seeing my confusion a few "nice local guys" started to ask where I was trying to go. I said, "I can't remember". Then, I thought...the phone book...duh! I could look up her address myself! (I am still not even thinking once about calling her.) So...I again bother the clerk, who is trying to assist the "nice local guys" with their gas and tobacco needs all the while being pleasant to the "crazy lost woman"...with Minnesota plates on her car, I might add.

I look up Millie's address and am informed by the clerk...and the "nice local guys"..who were all talking at once trying to give me directions so I would move on...that I had to go back the way I came, turning at the next corner, then traveling about 5-6 miles to the main road with a traffic light and turn there. "The development will be on the left shortly after you turn" I am told. Are you with me yet?

So, I get into my car...rattled but beginning to see the humor in all of this...and off I go...turning at the next corner....driving 5-6 miles to that "main road with a traffic light"...hold it right there! This is the very same "main road" I turned on to when I left my road!!! Millie is literally 2 minutes away from me off the same road as me!!! Yikees!!

I arrive at Millie's, where she is standing out in her driveway wondering where the heck I've been. After telling her my tale, she says "Well, it has been a long time since you've lived here...and you did not live in Bath before. I used to get lost, too, in the beginning."

You can always count on a friend to make you feel better. I think I'll buy a map next time I visit that gas station. Do they still sell maps at gas stations?????


If any of you have ever moved from one place to another you know how easy it is to misplace things...even when you thought you had it all organized. I am a very organized person by nature. Just ask anyone who knows me. I organize everything from my spice the clothes in my closet...hanging by color and type...oh, so soothing to me!

This move has really been a challenge for the normally organized side of my brain. I don't know if it is an age thing...a menopausal thing...or just that the Money Pit looks like an episode of Lucy (as my friend Denise pointed out)...I just can't remember where I put things I have unpacked.

Before we left Minnesota I organized a box to travel with us...actually it became most of the back of the truck...with all of the important things that we would need when we arrived here...without having to dig in boxes that are clearly not marked clearly enough!! Things like bills to be stuff (that's just around the corner, you know)...all the loose screws (teehee) and extra left over stuff I found when the 2 guys from Texas were done taking things apart...and, alas, any keys that were of great importance...such as for cars and the safe!!

We have a portable safe...not sure how that really secures things since if anyone really wanted what was inside they could just walk away with the whole thing! Inside it we keep, you know, stuff that needs to be "safe" wouldn't be too smart of me to tell all of cyberspace what is inside. However, I will tell you one thing that is...our passports.

I need to get a Pennsylvania driver's license again. Even though it is considered a renewal license because I had one "forever" up until 8 years ago, I still need to come with proof of identity and a few pieces of mail...bills, etc...that are adressed to me at this new address. Now, that took some time. All of our utilities are in Lex's name. Well, that proves he lives here.

Finally, two days ago, our property tax bill arrived. It had my name on it since I did get to sign all the legal stuff regarding the purchase of the Money Pit. So off I went to get my passport out of the safe.

Hmmmmm.....where did I put those keys. I just had them in my hand the other day and announced to my honey "Here are the keys to the safe." From that second on, I have no memory of where I may have put them for "safe" keeping. I have searched everywhere that seems like a logical place where an organized person might have put them. Still no luck. Maybe they are in the safe!

I will continue the search, as I will have to get the driver's license eventually.

Heck....I can't even get my Sam's card until I have my license!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

something I've learned

A word of advice....NEVER get cardboard floors!!! They just don't ever get clean...and DO NOT hold up with normal winter wear and tear.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Dancing Machine

First off, I must give credit where credit is due…my honey chose the title for this blog…I used it because it was better than mine...thanks, dear.

Since I am now back “online”, I will try not to subject you to lengthy blogs. I can now post one every time my mind is tickled by something!

The construction process is moving along slowly…steady but slow. This week the drywallers are here finishing. I love that word! The flooring guy is here laying the remaining floor. By the end of next week we should be 95% contractor free!!..and I can begin the unpacking process. I am not sure if I am looking forward to that or not! I am hoping to post a few pics of “before” and “after” once all the construction vehicles are gone…so, stay tuned!

It seems that, as of today, each room has at least one unfinished area. The kitchen needs some trim under the counter and some baseboard…the master bedroom has a hole in the closet wall…the master bathroom needs to be caulked…the living room mantle must be hung…the great room ceiling needs a complete makeover (it was too cold when the drywall was hung so it is in great need of repair…I am glad because I did not like the color I chose and want to change it)…the upstairs 2 bedrooms and bath are….well, they are still as they were when we first saw the place. Hopefully the drywallers will take care of that today and start the ball rolling! And then there is the laundry room…sigh…

I have not visited a laundromat in many, many years. I found one in the small town of Bath…really quite clean, I must add. One week I did 5 loads at once. There is some benefit to laundomats, I guess. But, I miss doing my laundry in my own home.

I do have a working dryer thanks to Brian…the electric guy. But my washer is another story. I could have called the plumber or Sears where we purchased it to have it installed. But instead one of our contractor friends started the process. He moved it into the laundry room…prior to that it was in the great room next to the boxes piled up to the ceiling. It then sat in the laundry room, untouched, for several days. My honey, having heard me mention it maybe just a few times, decided to hook the darn thing up.

The little instruction book that comes with the washer was missing…lost somewhere between the great room and the laundry room…which is about 20 feet. I have searched, but it is nowhere to be found. “How hard can this be???” my honey asks. So my honey got out his favorite tools and went to work. I love watching him figure out stuff…if your guy is anything like my guy they don’t need directions to figure things out…right?

Well, within just a few minutes we were ready to go. Smiling from ear to ear…more because I was happy that I could now wash my clothes in the privacy of my own home than the fact that he successfully accomplished the connection process…my honey helped me load the first pile of clothes into the washer. We turned it on and off we went. But alas, when the spin cycle started we were summoned back by the loud noise of a washer that is unbalanced. Now ladies…you’ve heard this noise once or twice when you may have overstuffed the washer. But my washer was not overstuffed. I am certain of this. There the two of us were…lying across the top of the “dancing machine”…getting quite the workout, I might add…trying to keep it from dancing itself right out into the hall. I was finding the whole thing rather funny…and was laughing hysterically. Lesson learned…laughter is not always contagious!

So now I am back to square one and must reach out to my plumber or Sears to fix what is causing my washer to have such a lack of equipoise…that’s a real word…look it up! My honey…well, he’s done with the plumbing… and is off to build a workbench on wheels and shelves in the garage. His domain…his cave. Or in his words… “check out time”!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A few "ordinary" days in the life...

(It’s Monday AM…no internet hook-up yet…but I keep on blogging!!!)

This morning was my honey’s first day of work, so he was up at 5:30am to get on the road. The hour commute will get easier as the time goes on, I hope! Anyway, what do you do when the only one up is you and the roosters??...yes, friends from Minnesota, we do have roosters in this state…and cows…and lots of farmland!! I decided to sit at my kitchen counter, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the view of the freshly fallen snow. We actually have about 5 inches of the white stuff on the ground, and it’s been very cold (for here)….sorry, Pennsylvania friends, I guess Lex and I brought a little of Minnesota with us! I thought this was a perfect morning to slip a nice calming CD into my radio/CD player.

This past Thursday, after 4 days of unpacking and organizing the kitchen, I found my radio in the last box marked “kitchen”. Figures, right? We found the CDs in a box marked “videos” when we were unpacking boxes looking for a movie to watch last night. (you never know what you are going to find in boxes when you have movers packing you…it’s like Christmas as you open them!) After digging through the box, guess what Lex picked out to watch?...“The Money Pit”!!!! We hadn’t watched it in years, but found we really could relate to the story starting right from the beginning when Tom and Shelly show up at their dream house for the first time and were greeted at the door by a very intoxicated woman. I will have to share that connection in another blog.

Anyway…back to the CDs… I decided on 2 CD’s from my friend, Keith, from Minnesota….a guy that can “tickle the ivories” better than anyone I have ever known! His music is calming and sweet…just what I needed to start my day. Another one I chose was from Tony, another friend from Minnesota. I started thinking a lot about Tony today. I have been inconvenienced with an unfinished house and my space being occupied daily with strangers, and am certain I have done my fair share of complaining. But Tony has a greater inconvenience to deal with daily…he is struggling for his life. It was good for my soul to listen to him sing today. His music speaks right from his heart…and he sings openly about his life and his faith. Today Tony helped me put my life “issues” into perspective. Thanks, Tony…the message was loud and clear!!! You’re music is truly a gift from God.

(Tuesday AM)
This morning I will be traveling through unchartered waters (at least for me)…a place where I have not gone before…putting my life into someone else’s hands…having no idea what the outcome will be…my palms are sweating…my stomach is full of butterflies…I feel a bit faint.

I am about to entrust a most sacred duty to a complete stranger…someone who knows not my history…or what makes me tick. But I must go out on this limb and trust. I can wait no longer…there is no more time left. With knees knocking I will enter the door and pray the person on the other side will be gentle with me. Then, hopefully…if I make it through…when I walk back out the door I will be wearing a big smile along with my newly clipped and freshly colored hair.

The person has big shoes to fill Lisa! Miss you!

(Wednesday AM)
Just wanted you all to know that I survived yesterday’s ordeal, and may have found a new “do” maker. Although her feet are a bit shorter than Lisa’s I am hoping with time they will grow!

(Thursday AM)
Well, today is Direct TV day!!!! I will now be able to catch up on all my favorite shows... I am the ultimate TV junky!!!! Yesterday after lunch I began opening boxes…the ones still stacked floor to ceiling…looking for Direct TV boxes, TVs and remotes for both. Of course none of the boxes were marked with those items and Lex and I finished the search for the last two missing remotes at about 8:30 last night…just a few minutes before our new bedtime of 9pm. I found the TV in a box marked “computer stuff”???….the Direct TV boxes in boxes marked “items from hall”???... “papers”???... “desk stuff”??? get the idea…and the remotes in separate boxes, mostly marked “glass LR”….or “bar stemware”. Crazy, I know. I sure do miss the Two Guys from Texas. They continue to humor me even 2 weeks later!!

(Friday AM)
Each day I choose one of the contractors to be my “favorite contractor for the day”. It may sound silly, but they love the compliment….it helps to keep things moving along… and since they are all men…well, ladies, you know how a man needs to be told he is doing a good job! Yesterday, of course, was the Direct TV guy. Today I chose Verizon…even though they are not a contractor…because I just received a phone call that the DSL is connected! Yeah!!! I will no longer be separated from all of you…it has been a tough 2 weeks! Now, all I have to do is hook up my computer…as soon as the painters are out of my bedroom. Hopefully by the end of the day I will be posting this! And life here in PA may begin to be a bit more “ordinary”.

When I was a little girl Saturday was cleaning day. My mom worked fulltime outside the home, so on the weekend she organized the troops…me and my two sisters…giving us each housecleaning chores. We moaned and groaned like any kid would, but before we could go outside and play…remember there were no video games back in the day, and only 3 channels on TV so outside was always where we headed…we knew we were expected to help, and therefore just did what we were told. We all learned a great deal about cleaning from my mom, and when the time came to take care of our own homes we were well prepared. Except for one thing…vacuuming cardboard.

Now I learned all about the vacuum cleaner from my mom…like what all the parts were for…the big one with the brush that spun around was for the carpet…the big one with just a little strip of brush was for the hardwood floors and linoleum… the small one was for the steps…the small round hairy brush was for the window sills, baseboards and small corners…the long skinny one got between the radiator pipes just like it was made for that. I remember well what I was taught. But which one was the brush for vacuuming cardboard?? We didn’t have any cardboard.

Well, I have cardboard floors now!!! The 2 guys from Texas were generous enough to cover my wood floors with plenty of it when they were moving us in…also this really cool stuff for the carpets that was like a VERY LARGE roll of scotch tape that they just stuck to the carpets in all the walking areas. Anyway, before they hit the trail, I asked if they could leave all of the cardboard and the sticky stuff so my floors would continue to be protected during the construction phase.

But you see, the floors still need to be vacuumed so that all the dirt is not carried to areas that may not be protected…like the brand new tile. And here in Pennsylvania, unlike all the nice folks in Minnesota, it is not a practice to remove your shoes when you enter a home. Therefore we have daily debris left behind of mud, snow, gravel…you get the idea. So, I drug the vacuum out and stood there looking at it. I knew how to clean the carpet covered with the sticky stuff…it was still carpet. I knew how to clean the exposed wood floor and tile…since that was the “linoleum of the future”. But what was the preferred method for cardboard cleaning?????

Maybe I could call Mom and ask her. You know she would love it…you never stop needing your kids to need you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two Guys from Texas

Part 1-Minnesota
It’s Wednesday, one day before we are scheduled to hit the road, and I am sitting at my computer…about the only thing not packed yet. Although I no longer have internet, phone, TV…a life…I can still write my blog and post it later, right?!

I have been through this moving process before, but it is still a weird thing to experience. Talk about an empty nest!! I look forward to getting to the other end so I can begin to get my new “empty nest” ready for all the visitors from Minnesota!

Well, anyway, I have spent the last week watching 2 guys from Texas pack all our stuff and load it in a truck the size of Lake Mary…or, for my Pennsylvania friends…the size of Peck’s Pond. I have no idea why the moving company chose 2 guys from Texas to move us from Minnesota to Pennsylvania???

These 2 guys got to know us really well in just a few days, better than any of you know us…that’s for sure! They know all our secrets…you know…like all our hiding places for valuables and “stuff”…what kind, color, and size our under garments are (oh, wait, I think BG already knows that from the last move! Is my face still red??) many junk drawers we have…how much stuff we could stuff into any cupboard, closet, or cabinet…what kinds and types of “critters” may or may not have been living in our garage…and what kind of things we like to snack on when watching TV (remnants MAY be found under and inside cushions…come on ladies, I know you don’t clean there every week either!!).

They are great guys who work very hard AND fast…of course Lex was putting the pressure on a bit so that we could leave sooner…then, only to find out that it really doesn’t matter because the Money Pit won’t be ready for the Texans until Monday…and that’s stretching it!!

So, today they work at a slower pace. At this moment I am hiding out in the master bedroom, the only room with a place to sit (an old green recliner chair) watching “Oprah”, waiting to get kicked out so they can begin packing my sanctuary. A few of you that stopped by over the last couple of days got to visit with me up here….weird, I know, but it was quiet.

I have learned from experience that you get asked very strange questions when you are moving, even stranger than some of the whoppers your kids ask you when they are growing up. I guess they seem so strange because they are coming from grown men. Questions like... “Ma’am,”…in their best Texan drawl… “what should I call this room?” or “Ma’am, is everything in the garage going to be moved to the other garage?”, wait just a tick…I wasn’t sure how to answer this one…did he mean maybe we were leaving some of it here?…or did he mean I wanted it moved to…let’s say…the living room of the other house??? These 2 guys are sure entertaining!

Uh..oh…I am hearing the horn from the golf cart…sounds like it’s stuck. Maybe they will figure it out…nope…still beeping away. Guess I’ll have to continue this later.

“Ma’am, how do you stop this thing??” Beats me….LEXXXXXX!!!

Part 2-Pennsylvania
It is Sunday evening, my honey’s birthday, and I am sitting in my NEW master bedroom…seems like that’s the place to hang out lately…watching him build shelving in our closet. Not really a great way to spend one’s birthday, however we are preparing for the Texans who should be arriving tomorrow morning (not sure where they have been since Thursday, but glad their GPS is working!!) I spent the day cleaning cabinets, and pondering why the wood floors just won’t get clean.

The house is only partially done…we do, however have heat, electric and running water, which was not working until a few hours after we arrived. Trying to find a place to put all the furniture and boxes will be a big challenge tomorrow as none of the trim…I called it woodwork, but Lex told me the proper term... has been hung yet, therefore, everything must be kept away from the walls. I am certain that it all will go smoothly…just as certain as I am that Lex is celebrating his birthday just the way he dreamed…and without a cake or a card from his Doober (that’s me!). Tough day…the Giants lost to the Eagles, too!...but he only pouted a little.

More later…stay tuned!

It’s Monday….FINALLY after riding around Bath for several hours, the Texans found a place to park their horses. Because the monster moving van can not cross the bridge to get on to our property, they needed to find a large parking lot and have to shuttle our stuff to the house using a smaller moving truck. The unloading process will now take 2 days.

Highlights of Day 1-
 I am relaxing in my “Oprah chair”, as the taller Texan called it…you know, the old green one from the master bedroom in Minnesota. It is the only one unpacked so far. I think that this is the first time I sat down since we arrived on Friday!
 Today was the day that many of the contractors decided to show up for work. We had electricians, painters, drywall hangers, and roofing/siding guys all doing the two-step with the Texans. It was a bit like musical chairs without the chairs…I’m not giving up the green chair, and all the others are somewhere in Bath on a big truck!
 Lunch was getting cold, and the movers were in transit between the monster moving van and the Money Pit. My honey thought he would be nice and warm up the pizza for them. After pushing several buttons to figure out which ones turned the darn thing on, he put the pizza in the oven, and went on to the next task at hand. Uh…oh…I smell smoke! The pizzas, which were still in the boxes, had caught fire! Wait….wasn’t there a fire in the kitchen in the movie “The Money Pit”?! This is surreal.
 Today our friend Jeff from Alexandria came to see us! He was working at the Verizon office and decided to pop in. It was fun to see him…wish Laura had been along! Anyway…we were on our way to one of the several very convenient and extremely high calorie eating establishments, when Lex spotted one of the old tires from the golf cart sitting by the side of the road across from our driveway. Oh, dear…I wonder what other items of ours have been “dropped” in the tiny town of Bath. The Texans are quickly losing their “star” status.

Highlights of Day 2-
 Well, they appeared again at 9 am with all the rest of our stuff. I now have the center of every room of the house filled from floor to ceiling with furniture and boxes.…since the trim won’t be hung until Monday-MAYBE. There are boxes in the living room marked “kitchen”, boxes in the bedroom marked “living room”, and boxes in the kitchen marked “Will’s room”. There is barely enough room to walk, and for sure no order to this madness!! Where’s my daughter Leigh when I need her? She would be really good at making sense of all this!
 The only rooms we had planned for the Texans to unpack were the kitchen and master bedroom/bath. I informed them that they could not start unpacking because the kitchen cabinet guys were doing the finishing touches and would be here most of the day. I had already unpacked the master bedroom and bath yesterday, while they were busy shuttling our stuff back and forth through Bath, stopping to pick up the things that had dropped along the way I’m sure!
 With nothing left to do the 2 guys from Texas said “Thank you, Ma’am…enjoy your new home” as they saddled up and rode off.

Tomorrow I plan to unpack and organize the kitchen, and put the marked boxes in the correct rooms. After that, I just may cook our very first meal in this house. Or, we may venture out to one of the many great steak shops or pizza parlors on just about every corner.

Now, in my best east coast accent…Yo, Mary Lisa, we’re home babe!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The next chapter

Lex and I love to read. We can sit by the ocean and be lost for hours in a good book. But, although we share the love of books, we do not share the same reading style. My honey is a very fast reader, and is able to absorb what he has read and quickly go to the next chapter often times starting and finishing a book in the same day. I, on the other hand, like to read a chapter, and sometimes go back and reread a favorite section, pondering on what I have read…analyzing it…slowly savoring the words and enjoying each one. I am usually not anxious for the book to end, but want it to go on forever.

I enjoy many authors and many types of books. I enjoy reading a good mystery, a good love story, simple stories about life experiences and especially a good series of books. You can really get to know the characters in a series. They become close friends whose lives you share on each page.

There is one author that I enjoy the most….the One that is writing my life story. He writes some chapters that although I may not really enjoy, I must experience them from the very beginning to the very end. So often there is quite a twist at the end of the chapter if I can just hang in there day by day…page by page.

Lex and I moved our family to Minnesota in August of 2000….8 ½ years ago. We had lived in Pennsylvania most of our married life and our four children were born there. All my family lives in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area. I was born and raised in New Jersey….so all of my childhood friends are there. Needless to say, none of us were very excited to move away. Except my honey, who was ready to turn the page and start the next chapter.

I fought the change internally for a couple of years after the move but on the outside I was showing my kids what a great place Minnesota was. My family and friends back east only knew it as “Minnefreakinsnowta” during that time. Unknowingly, each day God was showing me that Minnesota was actually a great place for our family….a great place for me. It was, after all, a chapter in His book. His plan for our lives, but definitely NOT a part of my plan.

You’ve all been there. In charge of your life…or rather thinking you were in charge. Funny how He uses events in our life to “Shake us up” only to “Wake us up”. God shook me so hard that I finally got it…and got my priorities straight. I’ve become a better person since I’ve lived in Minnesota…a better wife and mother…a better friend, and I’ve grown closer to my Lord. What a great plan! What an awesome chapter this has been.

But this chapter is ending. God’s plan is taking us back to the place I have always called “home”. We are moving back to Pennsylvania. I am happy to be moving back to family and old friends. But, He is not ending this chapter without a twist.

This chapter that I fought so hard not to like has touched me in a way that will be with me forever. This weekend has really been hard for me. I said goodbye to some very good friends. The Minnesota characters in my book…the book of my life that He has already planned out to the very end.

I will take these next few days, and reread a few favorite sections, analyze all the good times, and savor each memory . I have really gotten to know these characters….and they have become lifetime friends. This chapter has been a mystery, a love story and also simply about life experiences.

But I am approaching the next chapter a bit differently. I am hoping that each of the Minnesota characters will show up in this chapter and all of the ones to follow. And, if that’s the case, this time I can’t wait to turn the pages quickly just to see who’s there!!!