The 1988 TV Set

In an effort to tackle some of the growing list of chores that should be done before the weather nose dives into winter, I accepted the offer for help from my neighbor/friend, Marilyn.  Knowing that she has some arthritis issues also, I was reluctant to have her come here and end up hurting herself, but when she volunteered her son’s assistance, I accepted her offer and they arrived together late Thursday afternoon. In an effort to tackle some of the growing list of chores that should be done before the weather nose dives into winter, I accepted the offer for help from my neighbor/friend, Marilyn.  Knowing that she has some arthritis issues also, I was reluctant to have her come here and end up hurting herself, but when she volunteered her son’s assistance, I accepted her offer and they arrived together late Thursday afternoon. 

First he lifted the microwave and put it on a nearby chair, then he pushed the cupboard I had emptied earlier, so it was backed up to a rail that runs along the step down into the family room.  This had to be done to clear the area next to the dishwasher so I can have an apartment sized washer and dryer installed there so that the cousin who is always worrying that I will fall to my death going down the steps to the basement to do laundry, can breathe a sigh of relief.   

The other thing I asked of him was to take the television that my father gifted us when we arrived back in Ohio from Illinois in 1988 to the curb for trash pick up.  The old tv set had served me well over the years but finally konked out for sure early last spring.  It was too heavy for me to lift, but both Marilyn and her son said it was small and sure enough he hoisted it over his head as he passed the book case in the hallway.

He placed it on my tree lawn and then hauled the trash bin down the drive next to it.

I was both relieved and very grateful for the help and after they left I filled containers to water the snapdragons on the porch.  To my amazement the  television was gone.  It was such a short time between when Michael put it out there and left, I had to look twice to be sure it hadn’t just been pushed aside.  No, it was gone.  

A few minutes later I was laughing on the phone with Marilyn recounting the situation and she was amused as well, saying she would then call her son to let him know.

With the cupboard empty I am thinking I may re-organize pots and pans and put some of the heavier things I haven’t used in awhile into the cupboard. A couple of the things I took out have already been donated.   

A Ghost in the Garage

The first garage I remember best from my childhood was a single car structure not attached to the house and besides our car it housed my dad’s outdoor tools.  Wheelbarrow, hoe, rake, push mower and so on.  He laid large flat slabs of slate from the local creek along the side and ran a grape trellis from the far side of the slate stepping stones, to the garage roof.  There were no such things as garage door openers back then and it was okay because my father was young and strong.

Our California home garage was converted to a family room of sorts by the owners before us.  The roof was not insulated so it was too cold in winter and too hot in summer to be much more than a storage room for us.  

The Bungalow in Parma also had a single car garage, not attached with a pull handle for me to haul the door up or down. 

So when my son and I moved into the current residence the attached garage felt like a definite move up in the world.  The business of bringing home groceries and not having to battle the weather getting bags from the car to the house was definitely a welcome change. 

The resident policeman and his family across the cul de sac from us own three cars, none of which they keep in their garage, regardless of the weather. When the dad is mowing and leaves the garage door open, all I’ve ever seen there is their grill and other odds and ends, no boat or anything that large.

My friend Marilyn’s husband has a workshop in their garage which occupies so much space that it is difficult to walk from the garage to the door into the house and since she is not allowed to keep more than one bicycle there, she keeps her spare bicycle in my garage.  I am welcome to use the bicycle as I please and she walked me up the street to be sure I could ride it.  I was able to do so but was very nervous about falling off and with the further decline in my mobility, I never have ridden it since.  With the shortage of bicycles in shops during the pandemic I asked her if she wanted to sell it and she asked if I needed the space, which I did not. A good part of the floor of my garage has become a potting shed for me.  The car does fit as well.

One of my cousins uses her garage as a storage bin and the main exit and entrance of the house – so their garage door is frequently opening and closing.  It doesn’t matter for her because she has a brilliant husband who can fix or make anything. ANYTHING.

In our first year here we used a metal trash can for the garbage and my son would open the garage and drag the can down the driveway to the curb. One snowy evening when he came back into the garage and clicked the garage door opener/closer, the door came to the floor for about a half minute and then went back to completely open.  Letting him come in and get warm, I repeated this process a few times I wondered momentarily if the garage was haunted. My family is prone to such thoughts. 

I went back into the house and immediately called Marilyn who, with her husband came over and pulled the handle to disconnect it from the automatic opener.  I don’t remember how we finally resolved the problem but since there is a door from the garage into the house I couldn’t leave the big door open and since it was a two car garage, I could not regularly be manually opening and closing it. 

The next garage door event was a very loud noise that brought me running to see what happened.  The door was closed.  Whew.  There is a very large black spring on either side of the garage door in the inside of the garage and one of them had maxed out its lifetime of ups and downs.  At least the door was closed and at that time I was still taking a bus downtown to work.

Upon the advice of one of my cousins I called the garage door company that does the work for the city and in a few days we had a brand new garage door.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Some helper put a small dent into the door during a snowstorm, but otherwise the door has been good – until this summer.  I backed out of the garage, pressed the button to close the door and backed out into the street when I noticed that the garage door had gone back up.  Oh no!  It isn’t that old!  I pulled back into the driveway and pressed the button again and then the door came down and stayed down.  

After that I never backed out of the drive until the door came down and stayed closed.  Not every time, but often enough to leave me wary this scenario repeated itself – each time partially closing and then pulling open, flashing lights.  Each time I waited until all the lights stayed off and I would try again.  After about three tries the door would stay closed. 

One day when I returned from some errands the garage door repeated this dance about ten times before it stayed closed.  I could not go into winter with this fiasco going on so I called the company that we got the door from.  They sent a repairman out and hopefully the job is done and the garage ghost is satiated for the time being.

A Loud Thump From Behind the House

At first I thought it was just a little cloudy and after several evenings of the daylight fading a bit earlier I had to admit that the sun was setting earlier and summer was signaling it’s conclusion.  

After about three weeks of daytime temperatures in the high eighties or higher and the humidity levels beyond comfortable, I was greatly relieved to find that with the beginning of September, almost right on cue, it felt more comfortable outside. 

The first Saturday of the month is the regular meeting date for the St. Padre Pio Prayer Group of Cleveland.  As I watched the garage door open, from the step into the garage from the house, I saw my regular passenger, my cousin Maryann standing next to her car in the drive.  As I moved the sun screen and umbrella from the passenger seat she backed her car out of the drive and I backed out of the garage. After she drove back up the drive, left and locked her car and got into mine we chatted about the usual things and in short order we got to the church, a little bit late.  

The group comraderie is important to me.  One of the ladies I met on the trip to Ireland in 2018 had brought me two little runners from her Rose O’Sharon and Trumpet Vines and said they should be planted right away, not kept for spring planting. 

The tiny plants had to overnight in the garage but looked fine when I put them into the ground at the far end of the back yard parallel to the three arborvitae, in the line where the ones that did not survive are long ago flat stubs now overrun by the lawn.

Another holiday slipped quietly into the past.

The front doorbell rang twice but by the time I got there the porch was vacant.  A few minutes there was a considerable thump in the back of the house where the air conditioner and all the wiring for the telephone and wi-fi systems are attached to the house.  

For about a full minute the power went out and then back on after another loud thump.  I walked from window to window and saw neither a person nor any power company truck or one from my phone/Internet Service Provider.   This was a bit disconcerting, but going out there is a job for me so I decided to wait until my cousin, Tom gets here later in the week and have him take a look back there.  

Analog vs. Digital

My father brought home our first black and white television when I was seven years old.  It became our entertainment for a few short hours before bedtime most evenings. While it was nice for us it was also an investment for my father since he supplemented his full time income by repairing radios, record players and now televisions.

My sister quickly got addicted to the Saturday afternoon Westerns and still enjoys the old cowboy shows.

Since my father worked rotating shifts at a local plant, it was often that my mom, my sister and I sat on the front room floor to watch I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners  and other 1950s programs that are still fondly remembered by the now elder generation.

There were only three channels and no remote control devices, no mute button.  One had to go to the set and turn a knob to change a channel or turn the machine on or off.  There were advertisements, but only a few and none as insidious as the ones that blast out at us today.

With the advancement of technology television added color to the picture, then televisions got bigger and thinner and with the beginning of filling space with satellites, television went from analog to digital.  

With this major change in televisions came the addition of numerous stations and considerably more advertising between ten minutes of program segments. Now even products like women’s personal care items and lingerie boldly crossed the screens regardless of the age or gender of the viewers.  But that was not the all time low, in my opinion. 

Businesses that are lucrative enough decided they could get a bigger piece of the pie by advertising, legal services, dental offices, plastic surgery, and the list goes on.  Some of the car and used car salesmen hawked their wares like old fashioned medicine men. 

With the digital programs we have the constant disruption of little boxed messages crossing the screen with the words,”weak or no signal” when a cloud in Indiana floats across the path of the satellite.  The frequency of this occurrence is so regular it is difficult to get to see much or any programs in any week, when storms are en route.  The picture gets pulled apart like a puzzle broken to put back into its box.  The voice is a stutter to silence and to hear a full word much less a full sentence is rare at best.  

Sometimes this even affects local stations too. 

Personally, I’d sacrifice the extra channels for being able to see what is available if it were possible to go back to analog.  The digital television is not an advancement that has been worth all the hype, from my viewpoint.

And then it Was Dark

Leaning into the dishwasher to add one more item in the lower section, as my hand released the pan everything went dark.  Power outage.  I felt around for my cane and with that and my other hand feeling the oven door handle first, then I made my way through the hall back to my bedroom.  Sitting down on the bed, I reached for one of two tiny battery operated lights on the night stand and with one on I was able to change into my nightgown.  

The things I was suddenly grateful for included those two little lights on the night stand; that the dishwasher was almost completely loaded; that I had finished dinner and taken evening meds and that I was not caught in the dark down in the family room.  Whew.  My hope was that it would not become unbearably hot.  

Before sinking into my bed I turned the power off in the computer room so there would not be a power surge when the power came back on.  

I also left the bedroom drapes open because outdoors it was lighter than inside the house.

At half past one in the morning I was awakened by the brightness of lights on in the hallway, kitchen and bathroom, all of which I thought I had switched off, but apparently turned on in the earlier darkness.  I also turned off the oven light and reset the stove clock.  Fortunately there are two battery operated clocks in the house to set the others by after such events.  

The outage lasted for an hour and a half which I thought was not too bad since I was able to sleep through it.  Considering it has been very warm for the last two weeks, I’m guessing the electric company allowed rolling blackouts throughout the community in order to conserve a little energy.

Christmas in August

Each day for the last three days of the week, I hurried to dress so I would be ready to go to the front door to bring in the box that my daughter advised me she had sent.  From daylight to dusk each day I would periodically go to the front door and peek out the side window but there was no package.  The post office tracking said it would be here by 9:00 p.m. on Thursday and by ten p.m. that day I gave up for the evening.

Again on Friday I started the same routine to no avail.  In the early evening I knew I had to take a nap so I would not fall asleep while saying the rosary.  

Waking quite refreshed, I went to that door window  just for the heck of it and to my delight there on the porch chair sitting tall was a brown paper covered box.  I stepped out to carry the parcel into the house and sat down in the frontroom armed with scissors to cut the paper away and gently open the carton.  

I laughed aloud seeing the big furry lady bug smiling out at me, a reminder that tickled me to know she thought about it that one of her early childhood Halloween costumes, I assembled from material I had at home was of a ladybug. 

Next was a very large handbag of soft grey leather, with the Coach trademark on one side.  She did work for them for awhile right before Covid19 forced the business to close shop – it happened here as well – my friend Ramona had worked for them until then too.   Coach was very generous to all of its former employees giving them each a check to help until they could find other work. That act of kindness, no doubt inspires a loyalty about future handbag shopping.  

There was a bag of ginger snaps, quite good I found, a face shield since she found the goggles I wore home from Denver last year to be “funny glasses,” two tank tops in hot pink, a Hello Kitty ball point pen, a small notebook and a book she ordered for me by Paul M.M. Cooper, called  All Our Broken Idols.  She said he is one of her favorite writers of history.  It is interesting to me that both she and her brother are interested in history, maybe it was a carryover from my father who used to say that if he had a chance to go back to school again he would study history.

When I got back to the computer, after depositing Ms. Ladybug on the pillow next to mine on my bed, her new home, there was an e-mail from my daughter saying that the tracking indicated that I received the package.  I explained all of my enjoyment as I went through one item after another and how I felt like a little kid at Christmas time.  She wrote back that my delight took her “beyond happy!” 

The View From the Underside

In the last twenty years I have driven down Canal Road (parallel to our canal) countless times, looking upward at the underside of the east-west highway 480, which is a connector to some of the north-south highways.  Over the years I have shuddered seeing good sized gaps, holes, tears in the rust red metal structure supporting the concrete road above it.  

I have never checked the statistics to find out exactly how many vehicles speed back and forth over this highway, but there is enough of a drone to suggest a high level of  traffic at all hours of days and nights. 

About five years ago I decided that the turn off from that road which is the closest to my town, with its incoming cars flying in 2 parallel lanes to the exit I wanted, which I would have to cross past to get to the exit was so treacherous that while I had not heard reports of pile ups, I could no longer take the risk of using, so I get off the highway in Parma, thus avoiding both the scary turn off and driving over the seriously damaged understructure visible from Canal Road.  This safety measure adds about twenty minutes to my commute, but the peace-of-mind is well worth the delay.

With all the debate and rhetoric reported on regular newscasts about the gigantic Infrastructure Bill suggested by President Biden and being intensely argued about, I was greatly relieved to see that a massive metallic sheet has been pulled under the bridge and a clear indication that repair is underway for this very precarious condition on this section of Highway 480.  There has also been some change on the exit for my town which is also a welcome improvement.  I am for the infrastructure work that needs to be done – while the vast amounts of money required to do at least most of the way overdue projects are so enormous that I cannot begin to comprehend the numbers.  I would rather fork out the money than to hear or even be a victim of catastrophes of neglect.

In early spring the winding two lane road I use to get to the Padre Pio Prayer meeting once a month had become one lane with traffic only going South.  The road was closed to northbound traffic.  

The  potholes and other damage to this road were something I had grown accustomed to as my little car bumped along every month.  It was with great relief that this month found us sailing smoothly on the newly completed and re-surfaced road, the job nearly complete and it isn’t even autumn yet.  

With finances probably coming from the new infrastructure bill, not only is work getting done faster, I’m guessing it is also approving more of what needs to be done so each project is not being dragged out from spring to snowfall. 

A Touch of Lust

The first paper shredder I had was a simple machine and when it sputtered it’s last, I did not replace it because I was working where the compay shredded such a massive amount of paper that they farmed the job out and I just contributed my scant items to the collective.  

However, once that job ended I spent countless hours cutting my name and address, Dear Ms. and all internal references to name, account, deal numbers and whatever personal information was contained in any piece of junk mail.  The volume was enormous and I could hardly stay on  top of this chore as stacks of uninvited scraps of mail piled up in my foyer.

Finally last week while I was in Walmart, I succumbed to the idea of another paper shredder.  The little bugger was heavy considering it is no bigger than an office waste basket.  I wrangled it into the house and out of its people proof box, set it up and in short order was in my glory feeding it as if it was a starving animal.  Perhaps there was a silly grin on my face as the heap dwindled.

I do not consider myself a fickle female and it is with clarity I recall, after spending hours hand washing dinner dishes and cutlery and wine glasses that I was beyond joyous when I got a dishwasher installed and I felt like I regained my life.  To have a couple of dozen coffee mugs and a clean pan to cook something in was my idea of happiness.  It still is, but I have to say this paper shredder may just be my newest toy, but it is also a source of genuine happiness.

I must confess that while in the store, the corner of my eye was quickly focused on and dismissed the round dancer the diameter of a dinner plate and about three inches tall, a roomba, that self propels around the floor vacuuming all in its path.  

A Quilt of Tears

As  I headed to the door from Dave’s Market after Mass this evening, I noticed that the entire parking lot was wet, like it had been hosed down.  Then I noticed both how bright and dramatic the sky looked with an assortment of blue tones.  Ah, there had been a downpour and looked like another was about to burst.

Stuffing the blue bags with my purchases into the back seat, I got into the car and was back onto the road in minutes and back home unloading the car with no sound of another rainfall.  

It came as I was happily munching dinner from Dave’s and watching the tail end of the PBS news hour.

Just after seven-thirty this morning I opened my garage door a minute or so before my cousin Maryann arrived.  Backing out and watching to be sure the garage door closed and stayed closed,  it now frequently comes a quarter down and goes back up, then comes down (after I press the button again) halfway and goes back up, and then by the third try it stays down.  Once I am over as far as I can safely get to the edge of the drive Maryann pulls her car into the drive and locks it and gets into my car and once she is buckled in we head out to the Padre Pio Prayer Group meeting.  .

There was an interesting quilt on the steps of the altar and only after I went up to get a photo of the flowers and chat with Karen and Marcia did I learn that it was made of shirts that belonged to Marcia’s late husband.  In a deluge of tears Marcia told me she has not emptied his closet yet and Karen, her dear friend and a quilter, suggested that making a quilt of some of the shirts might ease her pain.   Father Brown blessed it for her.  Maybe letting the tears out helped as much as anything else.

Maryann was struggling with her own sorrows, as this is the five year anniversary of her 43 year old son, Mark’s rather sudden death.

Friday I met with my regular doctor in person for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.  Whenever I go to any doctor where I have to step on a scale, I eat or drink nothing before the visit as this always adds two pounds to my weight.  Having eaten nothing means I also take no pills before I leave the house.  This process serves my purpose, but without the anti-inflamatory pills, my arthritis dominates my moving around until I get home.  This would not be a big problem if I would go straight home, but it was my intent to go to the Parma Snow Library for their big book sale.  I did find 2 books which lightened my pursee by one dollar, but I just did not have the stamina to spend more time purusing the massive  collection on sale.  

After all that hard work and the doctor visit I pulled right into the fast food joint next to the library and bought 2 whoppers – the price was buy one get another for $1.00 – not quite as good as two for the price of one but close enough.  Add a small fries to the order which I ate all the way home. 

Sweet Potatoes Are Sweet

Doris and I met at Cracker Barrel at noon for lunch.  This was our second lunch together this summer and we hope to meet a couple of more times before autumn.  Normally we would continue a monthly luncheon until the weather gets bad.  However, this year we will have to play it by ear depending on how bad the virus gets this fall.

We both get the same meal every time we are there – grilled trout.  Before Covid19 the meal came wth 3 side items but now it is just 2.  I have decided to have a sweet potato even though they charge $1.59 extra for it, because I don’t bother to cook them myself, so it is worth the charge.  Last time I wondered at the 2 white globs on the potato and found that they had melted 2 marshmallows onto the potato, so this time I said “no marshmallows!” and wondered what the glob on the potato was as it arrived.  It turned out to be brown sugar melting.  Not bad, but at home I never put anything on a sweet potato because it tastes sweet enough without anything on it.  When we finished eating we decided to continue our visit on a bench outside because the clientele was pretty loud.  Outside we were startled to find we were right under a speaker and a high pitched voice kept squeaking into it the names of guests waiting for tables.  It was not crowded inside but the restaurant was short on help, both servers and kitchen workers.  This seems to have become a sign of the times.  City swimming pools have stayed closed even on very hot days because of the shortage of life guards.  Where have all the people gone?  The generous unemployment benefits have ended and still there are not enough employees to fill the vacancies left by the pandemic. 

When we gave up trying to hear each other over the noise, Doris and I headed to our cars and waved each other off,  I stopped at a Walmart I usually just drive by on my way home and I bought a small paper shredder to help me deal with the mounds of junk mail that seem to accumulate faster than I can beat them down and alas, a universal remote control which I have yet to take out of the bag and put to work before the television set.

After a visit to my podiatrist today I stopped at my favorite pizza place in Parma – a family business I have long thought was the best in the area.  

It was a real treat to enjoy a couple gooey slices with cold beer from the fridge.  This is definitely the good life!!