safely in a burrow watching
us watching them be.
When I first moved into my house, I felt the strong need for a fountain to keep on my back patio. It has given me many hours of pleasant listening to the water bubbling over the rocks and back into the base. Two winters ago, I left it running in the winter and the water froze and burned out the motor. In the spring, Ben helped me get a new one set up. This year, I turned it off during the winter months, but now that it nearly feels like summer outside, even though it is still March, I wanted to get it going again.
This activity has proven to be more of a challenge than I bargained for. It wasn’t too difficult to uncover the outside faucets and attach the hoses. Then I managed to fill up the base. The tube connecting the motor with the top of the fountain had come loose, so I grabbed the motor and had a look. It just needed a fresh bead of caulk or whatever that stuff is and all would be ready. That’s when my troubles really began.
I had purchased a tube of this stuff some years ago in order to fix some damage to my shower. Apparently I hadn’t fixed it very well, because it now needed to be fixed again. I had found the tube in the garage, but when I tried to squirt out some stuff, nothing happened. I had discovered this problem some days back, but hadn’t taken the time to solve the problem. So, today I mended my ways and started trying to unblock the tube. After using a pin, a long needle, a pair of scissors and a paperclip, I finally managed to squeeze out enough to cover the places in the shower. However, by the time I had finished, I was squeezing it by putting my foot on it. As was inevitable, it started coming out the back instead of out the nozzle.
By now, it was all over my hands. I took my defective tube outside and started spreading some of the white goo on the tube. However, having finally accomplished that tricky task, the tube would no longer go into the hole on the motor. I couldn’t find where anything had broken off, but the nice smaller tube was no longer visible. I called on Ben, the engineer. He had a look while I went to get a screwdriver. After some digging, we realized the smaller tube had slipped inside the bigger tube. We were able to get that out, but still needed to get the goo around it. I squished and squeezed with all my might, and finally got enough on my finger to do the job. We left it to dry while Ben put away the screwdrivers and I went to wash my hands.
We’ve all been learning how to properly wash our hands in these days of the pandemic. I’m glad the COVID-19 virus isn’t like that white goo. I scraped it off one finger only to find it on the finger I was using to clean it off with. So, I’d start cleaning off that finger, only to find it back on the first one. After several minutes of this, I decided a paper towel was in order. I think I’ve got most of it off, but may yet have to unclog the sink.
In case you are wondering why things are taking so much longer to do even though you have so much time on your hands, well, this experience might provide an example. Be patient and keep moving forward. You can win in the end.
As the unseen enemy continues to prowl among us, and we shelter in our homes trying to avoid contact with other people, we need something to do. Being told to stay at home immediately makes us want to go out somewhere.
Last Thursday, Ben and I took Ben’s mom to the Atlanta airport to fly back home to Kenya before the borders closed. It wasn’t hard to stay six feet away from people as there were very few people there. Still, we wonder if that few minutes in the elevator were going to be a problem. Just being out in the world made us feel vulnerable. So, since his mom had been in a meeting with a lot of people and then on a plane, we decided it would be best to self-quarantine for 14 days.
However on Saturday, I had to pick up the groceries I had ordered on Wednesday. There was no contact and I didn’t have to go into the store. That was okay. But on Monday, I had to pick up an order at Sam’s Club. They don’t bring it out to you, you have to go in and get it. Once I had figured that out, I cautiously stepped inside and told someone I had a pick up. She called and I waited. She called again and I continued to wait as I watched 10-15 people walk past me. Finally on the third call, someone responded and I got my two items and left. That didn’t feel good.
I just went to Walmart to pick up a prescription and while there decided to look for a couple of things I needed and hadn’t been able to find elsewhere. I walked past an employee who was coughing, but not covering her mouth. I held my breath until I got well past her, but wanted to say “Go home!”.
Chances are, we will have no problem, but if I do get something, like the COVID-19 virus, no one wants me to share. So, I’m trying to make use of the time by getting some extra sleep, exercising, writing, contacting friends and neighbors to check on them. But it is becoming Spring, and I got into a bit of Spring Cleaning the other day. I reorganized my pantry. I had already reorganized my closet. So, a long, long time task that I’ve put off for several years suddenly became a priority.
I have two metal boxes with plastic drawers in them for keeping nails, screws, nut, bolts, etc. Things were all mixed up and I generally had to look through about 10 of those dirty little drawers before finding whatever I was looking for. Many of the items had been in there for over 20 years and were rusty and nasty. I’ve now washed ALL the drawers, thrown out the rusty stuff and sorted everything, even labeling each drawer. They all fit into ONE of those metal boxes, so I have a spare if anyone needs one.
Having completed that chore, I’m now looking at the various curtains in my house and thinking of washing and ironing them. What are you doing to keep occupied?
It’s the time of year I really dread! It is time to take my second cat, Naima, to the vet.
We got Naima a year ago as a rescue cat. She was friendly and liked to be in someone’s lap most of the time. Then after some time, she got skittish, and we couldn’t even touch her. After determining that picking her up was a “NO NO” she began to let me pet her if she were on my bed. Gradually she would let me stroke her other places, and she loves to play. Recently she started jumping up on my chair and walking across my lap for about 30 seconds. At this point, I needed to take her to the vet for her annual shots.
She was lying peacefully on my bed, and my plan was to distract her by playing with her a little bit, and then swoop her up and put her in the cat carrier. I brought the carrier into my bathroom and opened the door. She heard that, and immediately became suspicious. She disappeared under the bed as soon as I entered the room.
I tried to tempt her out with her favorite toy, but that was futile. Both cats were under the bed. I got hold of one, but it was the wrong one. Then it was clear that Naima was my objective, and she’s really fast. I chased her around my desk, the curtains and the bed. I managed to close the bedroom door so she didn’t escape into the living room where there are WAY TOO MANY places to hide. I finally decided I had to get the robot vacuum cleaner to chase her out from under the bed. After about six tries, I got hold of her. By that time, she was totally stressed, and I was too.
She cried and panted alternately, all the way to the vet. When the doctor finally looked at her, even her little paws were wet. I didn’t know cats sweated through their paws. Fortunately, she was healthy, got her shots and claws are now shorter. She then cried all the way home, and I was glad to get her back in the house and let her out of the carrier. I then rushed off to another appointment.
When I returned, I started looking for the vacuum cleaner. It was not under the bed or under anything else. The cats were under my desk. After some time, I found it under the desk, and guess that Spiral had been lying on it.
Happily, after some hours Naima is speaking to me again and has even been up in my chair and lap for a few seconds. Hopefully all is forgiven, though she hasn’t been on my bed yet. I’ve promised her, only once a year will we go through this nightmare.
While I was at the beach recently, a friend texted to ask if I would be interested in a second cat. They had adopted a rescue cat from an animal shelter and after two days, her husband had shown signs of being allergic to the cat. Since he had been around a lot longer than the cat, it didn’t seem right to put him out. So, they needed a home for the cat. They tried their children, but no luck. So, on Monday afternoon, they brought her to my house.
We thought Spiral (our rescue cat) needed a playmate, and while there might be sparks at the beginning, they would probably adjust. They look very similar, Spiral is just darker and Naima has more tan on her. She was originally called Lilly, but Ben decided to rename her. Naima means ‘sleeping’ in Arabic. She does a lot of that.
Well, I put her in Ben’s room, as he wanted to be the parent of this animal. She quickly hid under his bed, and, confident that Spiral was asleep in my closet, I closed the door. We were talking when I heard some growls and screeches coming from Ben’s room. Apparently Spiral was in there, but we couldn’t find her. Shortly, Ben arrived home and explained that Spiral has been climbing up through a hole in the cloth under the box spring mattress and sleeping inside his mattress like a hammock. He had heard her moving around and seen her paws moving the cloth. (I must fix that hole!!!) Anyway, Spiral was in the mattress and Naima was stretched out on the floor just waiting for Spiral to come out. Spiral wouldn’t come out because Naima was there. Somehow, after a few hours of standoff, Spiral managed to escape to my room.
Naima has been curious about her new home, so she slips around sniffing things. Ben wanted to pick her up, but I told him to just go near her and sit down. She jumped into a nearby chair and he patted his lap for her to come to him and she did. He was thrilled. She has adopted him as her personal human, and doesn’t have a lot to do with me. She has her own litterbox and food and water in his room. He now sleeps with her, but sometimes she decides it is time to play, about 3:00 in the morning. She starts biting his feet and leaping around on the bed.
For several days now, the two cats have avoided each other. When they do meet there are some growls and bushy tails, but so far they have not had an out and out fight. The other evening, Naima was in my lap (for a change) and Spiral came to get in my lap. She looked up and saw Naima in my lap and about had a fit! She went off in a huff.
So, I will be taking Naima to the vet for her wellness visit on Tuesday, or rather Ben will be taking her. He might as well learn what is involved in caring for another. Today he left the house without feeding her. That is not going to go down well. Life promises to be interesting in the coming days. Our next task will be putting Soft Paws on both cats so they can’t hurt the furniture, my mother’s hooked rugs or each other.
For several months, I had noticed that my iPad was unhappy. It wouldn’t do email anymore and playing games was a test of endurance as it kept shutting down unexpectedly. Every now and then I got a message saying it was almost out of space and I should manage that in my settings. I deleted a bunch of things, but it didn’t really get any better.
Then my iPhone began behaving similarly. It said it was out of room. Things were getting desperate. I backed both machines up on my computer and headed to the T-Mobile store for advice. The solution was a rather frightening option – reset! Reset means it erases EVERYTHING and you start over! YIKES!
I’m not the techiest person you know, but fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I pressed the RESET option with some trepidation. It rebooted and started up, but of course my information was not there. I tried to locate the download to my computer, but I got a message that it couldn’t upload to my phone. Thankfully, there was another option to get the information from the Cloud (wherever that is), and I took it. Within a few minutes, my phone was restored and had space! Whew. I think almost everything is there.
Having been successful with the iPhone, I did the same with the iPad. Likewise, it is now happy and functioning much better. I breathed a sigh of relief and rejoiced that my problems were over. BUT it was not to be.
The next week, just as I was getting comfortable with the idea of having saved two electronic devices from destruction, I attempted to upgrade my email program. The first time I tried that, it was taking DAYS to download, and always failed somewhere along the line. I tried again, and this time, I succeeded. The only problem was, none of my data transferred over to the new version. Oops.
I contacted my computer support person and he had me export my email, which is HUGE, and put it on my hard drive. Then we tried to import it into the new program. Guess what message I received from my computer! The 500GB hard drive is full! This seems to be a recurring problem. This is the third computer, and maybe the fourth that I’ve simply added to. I guess it is time to clean up! Further research indicated that 250GB were full of documents. Oh dear!
Well, he cleaned up enough of the junk files to get my email loaded and functional, but warned me I needed to do some serious housekeeping. I’m pretty good about keeping my physical things down to what I need. Unfortunately, I’m a hoarder when it comes to computer files. I guess that habit has to change!
I ended up spending some money to have tech support optimize my computer. That took about 15 hours of work over several days. By the time that was done, I had more space, but the writing was on the wall (or on my computer). So, now, after nearly a month, I’m spending my evenings deleting document files. I’ve found one from 1999 and lots from 2002. If I delete 100 files a night, I reckon in two years, I’ll be finished with this task and can start on my email! HA!
First, you have to realize, I don’t “play” well. I don’t like going places alone and being seen alone when I go out to eat or really to be in public alone. It looks so pathetic! I can almost hear people saying, “You can’t find even ONE friend who wants to be with you?” Mind you, I don’t mind BEING alone, just being seen alone.
Also, if you want to “play”, you have to plan. You have to find out what there is to do in places you may want to go, and then decide if you want to do any of the available options. Those decisions take time and thought, and it make a chore of planning a vacation.
However, I am blessed with lots of friends all over the US and around the world. So, my vacation planning is developing into “visiting friends”. About a month ago, I decided I needed to plan a vacation, so I picked a date almost out of the air, and decided on a direction. There were at least four people in the Grand Rapids, Chicago area that I hadn’t seen in far too long. It is cooler up north than heading south, so that seemed the logical direction to aim for. I wrote to them and found there were five people I could see, three in Grand Rapids and two in Chicago. They were going to be home during the specified time, so I made flight reservations and my work was done.
I’m at the end of my visit now, and it has been very successful. Some days have been very intense as I hear the stories of what my friends have been through over the years. Some are dealing with caring for an elderly parent, some have struggles with siblings, many have health issues. As you probably know, it is always easier to solve other people’s problems than it is your own. So, as long as I’ve had some time alone to replenish my reserves, it has been enjoyable. I’ve seen lots of new things. I even found a $1.00 bill in Lake Michigan as I was wading in to go for a swim.
My friends in the Chicago area have taken me to a Lapidary Museum, the architectural cruise in Chicago and Saturday night we went to hear the Chicago Symphony in Ravinia. I’ve had a tour of Wheaton College and eaten some nice meals both at home and in restaurants. In addition to the expected visits, I’ve had at least two unexpected ones. One young lady is planning to go to work in North Africa in a few months, and we got together for a chat. I was able to answer some of her questions and help her learn some Arabic sounds. Another young woman is about to start her MA degree at Wheaton. She had studied under me in Africa, so we got to catch up on life over lunch. She will go to the concert with us later tonight.
It has been good not to think about my own problems and plans, but to focus on others for this 10 days. Vacation is as much a rest of the mind as of the body. I feel a closer connection to each of these people I’ve visited, and have a great appreciation for the way God has worked out each timing so perfectly. Hopefully when I get home, I will arrive with a new perspective, new energy and a good plan for scheduling other vacations.
Have you ever washed your pillows? Yes, I mean the ones you rest your head on each night. My mother informed me it was a good idea. She did that years ago, and I have since, on occasion, washed my pillows.
The other day, I decided that some of my pillows were in dire need of freshening up. So, I put two of them in the washing machine, gentle cycle, low spin. After some time, I went in to move them to the dryer. As I did that, I noticed water on the floor. I don’t normally see water on the floor in the laundry room.
Moving a large top-loading washing machine which was magically wedged in next to the dryer is not an easy task. It is also impossible to hold the washing machine up and look under it at the same time, if there is only one of you in the house. For some strange reason, water seemed to have run down the side of the machine. Why it would do that remains a mystery. I mopped up the water, and cleaned a LOT of dirt under the bits I could get to.
As I had to go out, and was expecting company later in the evening, I decided to leave things as they were for the moment. However, comparison shopping for a new washing machine was engaging my mind.
The next day, I decided to run a test on the washing machine – just a small rinse cycle to see what would happen. Other than discovering a few feathers from the “Dry Clean Only” pillow, all seemed to be well. No water, no leaks. That was good because washing machines, even on the 4th of July sales, are pricey. This one has been in use since the mid-1990’s.
I’m now running a small test wash, and will see what happens. Hopefully all will end well, with no more water coming from anywhere. So far, so good.
Today, May 30 2018, marks the end of a bottle of shampoo! Why should that be remarkable, you ask? Well, my mother was using this bottle of shampoo when I arrived back in the US in 2004. I’m not sure how long she had been using it before I got home, but it wasn’t new. I’ve used it regularly since that time, at least while I was in the US. After I moved back to Africa, I only used it when I was visiting, so that made it last even longer. It is now 2018. Finally, TODAY, I finished it. Admittedly, I had added water to the contents to get out the last bits, but the contents of the liter bottle finally came to an end.
Is there a moral to this story? I believe there is. In the US, bigger always seems to be seen as better. It is possible to buy almost anything in HUGE quantities, but then where do you store it until you need it? What if it passes the expiry date before you can use it? There are just some things that do NOT need to be purchased in vast quantities, and in my opinion, dandruff shampoo is one of them.
My aunt had been bedridden for six years. She was joyful in spite of her situation. But it was difficult to watch her slow decline and her failing memory. Last week, her body finally gave up and she passed on to her eternal life. This week, her daughter had arranged for the funeral service. She had asked several men to be pallbearers. One of the men has recently lost a lot of weight, and his mother told me that he was having difficulty keeping his trousers up. Apparently he hadn’t invested in either a belt or suspenders. He shall remain nameless to protect the “innocent”.
In talking with my cousin today, the day after the funeral, I mentioned this trouser challenge. We spent some good moments considering what would have happened had his trousers slipped their moorings.
Imagine if he had been carrying the coffin to the hearse using both hands when his trousers dropped to his ankles. What to do? If he let go of the coffin to grab his trousers, the whole group might drop the coffin. That wouldn’t do.
If the trousers slipped down around his ankles and he couldn’t pull them up, then he would have to shuffle bare legged to the hearse. It might be the beginning of a whole new funeral dance.
I can’t imagine what the relatives would have said or done had that really happened, but the image of that predicament gives me a smile, and I hope it will cause some joy when sadness threatens to overwhelm.