Wednesday, February 25, 2009


WARM WEATHER AND WILLPOWER worked their magic today to get me wending my way à pied to check on my infant orchard, a half-mile up the road.

It's been quite a while since I've given the young trees any solicitous attention (or even looked at them, if truth be told), so I was a bit nervous as to what I'd find. Would they be mauled or mutilated by wild animals? Chewed upon? Would the vagaries of winter weather have had any deleterious effects?

Happily, I discovered that nothing had plauged their healthy and upright condition. But a close inspection found no signs of development in the buds--something I was hopeful of seeing.

On my walk, however, I saw no lack of development on the part of my Amish neighbors. All winter they've been decorating the side of the road with mounds of earth as they build their "daudy house." (An add-on for Jakie and Rachel, patriarch and matriarch of the three generations of family.)

It's nearly complete, almost ready for move-in. Two young members of the family were industriously washing the windows and sweeping the floors as I passed by.

Of course, few are the times when I fail to see some form of cleaning--washing, sweeping, tidying up--going on about the place. I see them washing the windows, the walls, the buggy, the barn, the animals. They are often sweeping the driveway. Clothing frequently flutters on the line.

My brisk little walk notwithstanding, when the sheep in the meadow just beyond the barn turned their soulful eyes on me, I had to say, "I feel like a sluggard, how about ewe?"


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


FOR MORE REASONS than simply patting myself on the back, I wish for realization of the prophetic statement I made on Inauguration Day concerning our new president. So this evening I was eager to hear what he had to say to us all. I wanted to be favorably impressed and find his intentions and ideas for improving the health and welfare of this ailing country to be ones I could applaud. And I was not disappointed!

When he speaks, I hear a certain kind of wisdom that has been lacking in our head of government for...well, since I can't remember when. His sincere desire to dispense with partisan politics; his realization that he will need to bend to some degree, if he wishes to accomplish his agenda; his sense of the responsibility that we all share and his admonishment to that effect; his grasp of the problems we face and their roots; his determination to lead without the use of fearmongering; the speed with which he has taken up the authority vested in him and begun to deal with the monumental task he faces; and the confidence and cautious optimism with which he led this great pep rally...all inspired me.

Then, as he wrapped up his speech, he made mention of my children's children*. Now I have to say, I certainly share the particular story-telling dream he mentioned, for reasons that include--and go beyond--the need for America's rise to its present-day challenge. May the goal be attained, the wish come true--in all its aspects--not t00 many years from now!

*yet to appear on the family tree

Thursday, February 19, 2009



Yesterday I made a trip to Lowe's to pick up the knob that was traveling east from Iowa for your faucet while you were traveling (south)west to Mexico for your honeymoon.

On Monday, Tom, at the plumbing desk, called bright and early to inform me that the faucet's intended was due in sometime soon. But it wasn't until Tuesday that I got the news...the faucet's one and only had actually arrived. So yesterday, after a trip to the store, I was in possession of the longed-for knob, nestled in its exceptionally roomy box, waiting to be joined together with the faucet.

This morning with screwdriver, knob, and the keys to your door in hand, I've come to do the honors. Lest you leap to false conclusions, let me hasten to tell you that someone else has lurked about your apartment since you've been gone!

It was not I who did the mischief you will find!

No, I am only here to unite the two parts in one at last...

...the lonely male faucet and the lovely female knob. (Hey, I only go by what the master plumbers say.)

With the aid of just one good screw (It's right there in my hand! No snickering!),

they shall be forever united. (I mightily hope so. I do!)

And now, with this ring of metal--beautifully engraved with the words Price-Pfister--I seal this union.

What I have joined together, let no tenant put asunder.

(You may now kiss each other, and enjoy your complete working faucet from this day forward. And happily ever after).
Sincerely, the Landlord


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


YESTERDAY I MADE SOUP while the sun shone. Today I had some of that sunny soup to eat while it hailed. There was one burst of lightning and one rumble of thunder, and a few minutes later it looked for all the world as though someone thought it best to add salt.

(click on the pic for an xtra-salty view)

Friday, February 13, 2009


THIS BRINGS YOU CHAPTER V in the continuing saga of my quest, the tale of which is getting more than a bit tedious. Consequently, I will skip right over Chapter III, in which I spend an exhaustive forty-five minutes at Farmer's Supply in a tiny office with three desks, watching a store manager strive ever so relentlessly to search out the illusive faucet knob for me via catalog and computer. In that situation, the computer was the tortoise and the catalog was the hare, although neither made it to the finish line and the speed of the tortoise was excruciating to watch.

Somewhere between Chapter III and IV, I get a call from the tenant, inquiring of me just when I plan on getting his faucet fixed. He's getting married this weekend, after all!

Chapter IV, in brief, picks up the next day with a quick jaunt back to Wienstein's for directions to the Centerville Tru-value. Mindless of the fact that it is Wiener Wednesday, I can't tell you how tickled I am, Dear Reader, when I enter the store, to see all the real plumbers gathered round the roaster.

With directions firmly in my head, I drive all the way across the city to Centerville and every traffic light is green, which I see as a very good omen. Except wait, maybe that is the good luck of the day and I've now exhausted my supply! Well, here I am, and the helpful young man examining all the knobs with me urges me to buy one, or even two or three. "Just return them," he shrugs, "if they don't fit." I have a little debate with myself, but no! There will be no long return trip, and besides, none look at all promising. The stay was brief.

Chapter V begins just as I think the story's reached its conclusion. I'm on my way home to call a real plumber and order a whole new faucet to be installed in time for the groom to wash his face before the wedding.

It's as I head down the road, a different route than the way I came, it hits me. The Lowe's Store is just ahead. I'll be passing right by. I hesitate. What are the chances? Zero to none? This quest has ceased to be an interesting challenge. In fact, I'm quite sick of it! (As you may well be, too, my Dear Reader.) But I enter and head for the plumbing desk. Yes, they have a plumbing desk, I'm told when I stop at customer service.

Mark is the man for me and he's friendly and nice-looking with a little gray in his hair. He doesn't claim to be a plumber, but he escorts me to the knobs, where we hobnob for a while before coming to the conclusion that what I need is definitely not there. Back at the desk, Mark drags out fat catalogs. Geez, have I not already seen every plumbing catalog that exists?! And shouldn't they be an anachronism, already? Hopefully, I ask, "Isn't this stuff on the internet?!"

But Mark says no, that's not the case with these replacement parts, and we pore over the pages.
Suddenly Mark says, "Here we go! This one looks like it could be the one," he singles out one of the sketches and studies it intently. "Hmm. No measurements listed though." He searches for the phone number, ready to call the company, and it turns out to be one of those cases where the phone number is spelled out with letters. "Oh, this drives me crazy!" Mark grabs a note pad, studies the phone and carefully translates into numbers before dialing. "My wife can tell you-- it's a pet peeve of mine!" He waits a few moments with the phone to his ear, and then mouths to me, "They're saying it'll be a long wait."

I wander off to look at the faucets again and come back about ten minutes later as he is making arrangements to have the knob shipped. Turns out he has made a total of three calls, but triumphantly informs me he's found the right one! "It'll be five dollars," he says. "You don't even have to pay shipping." He records all the specifics and gives me a paper to take to the front desk, where I will pick up the knob after notification that they've received it.

I'm in a daze. Can it be true?! Just when I'd given up hope! As I turn to go, he remembers something, "They told me there is's in Iowa."

I do an about-face. "ONE!? Do you mean, like, one manufacturing plant? Or...only one place to obtain these?"

"No," he shakes his head. "Just ONE knob. They searched the country and found it in Iowa, the one they're shipping. But it's the ONLY one!"

"Really?! I'm getting the ONLY ONE?" I walk slowly to the front of the store, mulling over this astonishing fact. Finding this ONE knob? Surely it was meant to be!

there's more...)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LEFT ON PLUM. LEFT ON Farnum....and, yes! Wienstein Supply reads the sign. My hopes ratchet up a notch as I pull into the parking lot. Hadn't a real plumber sent me here? Didn't that bode well for finding a faucet knob to replace the one my tenant broke last week? I am at yet another brick warehouse, and peer around for an entrance as I climb from the car. Showroom? Hmm. That doesn't sound promising; and, strolling amid the fancy new tubs and exotic-looking unplumbed toilets, my chances of happening upon a single little knob do seem remote. But, as in any good showroom, a salesman quickly materializes and is happy to direct me across the parking lot to a more suitable arm of the establishment--to a door I'd overlooked before--Parts Supply.

Parts Supply. Here's another antique building, but this one is old inside as well as out. The cement floor is dirt-colored, and there is hardly an uncluttered space to be found amid the shelves and tables stacked with bins, boxes, bottles, and plumbing tools of every description. A ramp leads down to the counter that divides the room into the 'help yourself' side and the 'we get it for you' maze of floor-to-ceiling shelving. Advertising posters and banners paper the walls, and there is a calendar featuring a well-antlered buck. Tacked up behind the counter, a homemade sign proffers free hot-dogs from noon to two on Wiener Wednesdays. A white electric roaster crowds the space on the end of a folding table nearby. I've discovered a handyman's dream, a plumber's paradise! But a feminine spot it's not--I try to imagine a woman coming in to pick up soldering paste, checking out the sign for Tool of the Month, and leaving with a toothpick in her mouth and two wienies under her belt.

At the moment there are three flannel-shirted, jeans-clad, work-booted men in sight, and they all look up as I enter. One sits astride a vinyl-topped stool, in a row of them that line the customer side of the counter, each emblazoned with the brand-name of a different plumbing supply product. Across the counter an employee is accepting the customer's lengthy order for couplings, nipples, and various male and female plumbing parts.

(Now if you've never been initiated into the world of plumbing, don't let this shock your sensibilities. It's simple--a male plumbing part is any that fits inside another. If it's a female, it's one that receives a male part. It was my father, himself a master plumber, who provided me with this birds and bees explanation. As for a 'coupling,' Dear Reader, you'll have to figure that one out for yourself.)

So, there I stand with the waiting customer, who generously gestures for me to go next when a second employee appears behind the counter, offering assistance. All four men are focused on me when I hold up the broken knob. "I'm looking for a replacement for this. I went to Home Depot, and they sent me here."
"Don't tell me they're doing THAT to us now!" his fellow order-taker exclaims.

"Oh, sorry,"
the assistant behind the counter tells me, "we can't help you. Only Home Depot and Lowe's sell that brand. I don't know why they sent you here."
One of my fellow customers shakes his head."You're going to have a hard time finding that," he says. "Couldn't they order it for you?"

"I don't know. I already bought and returned one knob from them. The guy at the store just said 'we don't have it. Go to Wienstein's.' " I pause. "He told me he's a plumber."

"A plumber?!"
he gives a little snort, and the others shake their heads and laugh in an eye-rolling way, as though this were a sorry joke they'd all heard before. Ha-ha. This guy claims to be a plumber! It was an affront to all true plumbers everywhere!

"If he'd really be a plumber," the man with Mitch on his shirt explains to me, "he wouldn't be workin' there!"

"You need to try Farmer's Supply Tru-Value," the man behind the counter tells me. "They'll probably have it. They have a lotta stuff like that. It's not too know where the high school is...," and he gives me directions, of which I make very careful note. "Your best bet," he adds, just calling it to mind, "is the Tru-Value at Centerville. It's a little ways over there, but if Farmer's doesn't have it, try there." He seems quite confident I'll have success. All of them, these real-for-certain plumbers, are wishing me luck; but I'm by no means optimistic. As I head off in the direction of Farmer's Supply, the replacement knob is looking more and more like a wild goose.


(to be cont'd)

Monday, February 9, 2009


THIS AFTERNOON I BEGAN a quest. Well, actually, it started last week when a tenant of mine called to tell me that he had broken the knob on his bathroom vanity faucet. I stifled the urge to say "However did you manage to do that!!?" and went right off to the Home Depot store to find a replacement.

The aisle that I needed was closed for restocking, which entailed a wait of about five minutes. Hum-hum-de-dum. (It's my special Home-Depot refrain.) When the aisle opened up, I quickly scanned the available bathroom fixture knobs, of which there was an extensive array stretching high on the wall. I squinted. I stood on tiptoe. I tried to read all the fine print. I gave up and searched for one of the always-illusive employees.

Now, today I was back, the replacement knob in hand, standing at the Returns counter. From there, I searched the aisle where Pete had seemed so knowledgeable just last week. "This one ought to do it," he'd said. No Pete to be found, of course, but eventually I found another employee, Mike, who looked me squarely in the eye and gave me this advice: "You need to go to a plumbing supply store!" then helpfully added, "I'm a plumber."

"Any suggestions?"
I asked, premonitions of a haystack with needle enclosed.
"Sure, go to Wienstein Supply. It's on Prince Street."
Where on Prince Street?" I quizzed him,
"Oh, just before you get to the ball stadium."
"On the right or on the left?"
I was determined not to wander around the city streets.

Which is precisely what I ended up doing. Here I was--passing the ball stadium for a second time! Not about to fritter away more time driving in circles, I turned into a side street and parked at Penn Stone. Entering the first door I came to in the old brick warehouse, I found myself in their Patio Shop. Lovely! The mid-afternoon sun fell from the high windows onto a pleasing array of patio tables, planters, and other outdoor accoutrements, and for a minute or two I basked in the warmth and quietness, gazed at the copper-topped bird feeders and pondered the agreeable tinkling sounds poised within the wind-chimes. There wasn't a soul around to present with my query, "Please, where is Wienstein Supply? Do you know?"

"Hello!" eventually a young woman entered from a side room, welcoming me to the shop, and apologizing. "We're not ready for spring yet! When we had that really warm day last week, lots of people came in, but we want to set up our new display...put out new items. It will look so much better then." She was clearly pleased to have someone in the shop, even in its dusty winter state, and it didn't matter that I was only stopping by for directions. Ordinarily, they can't possibly have much business in the middle of winter, I mused.

As a follow-up to my pressing question, I told her of my surprise at finding this shop and the wealth of patio furnishings. "How long have you been here?"

"We've been here ninety years. Well, not the Patio Shop," she quickly added. "It was only started five years ago, but the business has been here ninety years!" She was obviously proud to be an employee of such a long-standing business. "But Wienstein? I'll have to call the guys...the guys next door," she explained, as she punched in the numbers, "They'll know."

Undaunted when 'the guys' didn't know, she was determined to be helpful. She searched on the computer, then pulled out a phone book and looked up Wienstein's number. I listened as she made another call and watched as she jotted down: left on Chestnut. left on Plum. left on Farnum.

"Oh, thank you! So nice of you!" I was grateful. I was reluctant to leave. This was so much more enjoyable than trotting around in a cavernous hardware store.

As I stooped to examine a door mat made of small stones, she relished my admiration of it.
"Aren't they great? And look, there are pla
ce mats made of pebbles, too!" She chattered on about various things, and I enthused agreeably. "Come back again soon," she said as I was leaving, "now you know we're here." Then added, "I think it was meant to be, your getting off-track and finding this place!"

Well, I don't know.
I contemplated that as I turned left onto Chestnut. Was the broken faucet knob meant to be, as well?

...(to be cont'd)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


FRABJOUS DAY!! NO DOUBT about it. I'm chortling.

When the weather so quickly pirouettes from winter to spring with a spritely flounce of warm air and sunshine, and there's the sound of snow gurgling down to its underground coffers, it leads me right up the steps for my sneakers and right back down again to pick up my camera and out...out...out the door! Sans all winter wear...not even a sweater!

Yes, I went for my walk today, for the first time since winter set in...oh, away back in November.
And the day was breathtakingly beautiful in an ordinary "foretaste-of-true-spring" way.

And I went to church today, too, although not in the usual Sunday morning sit-in-a-pew, sneak-a-peek-at-the-clock-as-the-pastor-holds-forth tradition,

but as the farthest point of my walk, where the loop through the cemetery leads me to contemplate all the dear departed souls, whose flights to worlds unknown have foretold the future for all of us.

Past the back door, where the mounds of snow have the warm hand of death upon them, as well. Across the parking lot, where the brief little sermon meandering through my head brings up visions of the trees and shrubs bursting forth with new life.

And then the final hymn of praise for this spirit-lifting day. Hallelujah!

Hallelujah. Amen!


Thursday, February 5, 2009


WERE YOU ALIVE DURING the bi-centennial year of 1976? It was a grand year for this country, turning all of two hundred years old! There were special celebrations and commemorative money and stamps were produced, along with many other items marking that milestone in the history of our nation.

The year was monumental for me, as well, all unrelated to the birthday of the country. It did, however, have to do with a birthday. Make that a birth day. One that would change my life forever. It was on this precise day of that bi-centennial year, at this precise moment, that I heard the words "It's a boy!" and celebrated the life of my son--a thrill unlike any I had previously known.

Thirty-three years hence, the celebration continues. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, dear Justin!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


SO MUCH FOR BAD-MOUTHING the snow. Just like that, I wake up to a most lovely snowfall, the deepest of the season. It's the kind that inconveniences me not at all and everywhere I go there is excessive beauty.

The snow arrived during the wee hours of the morning. The plows tidied up the roads early. The husband cleaned off the porch and walkways. The sun came out.

I think how interesting it would be to have a bonfire in the meadow now.

And if we needed extra tables, perhaps we could borrow them from the store where I go for groceries. Interestingly enough, they have no customers at their little ice cream shop eating area.

On my way to the grocery store, I had passed my Dr. Seuss tree, wrapped in a winter blanket.

Then on the way to the bank, my next errand, I was delighted by this perfectly decorated evergreen.

When I went to the bank's drive-through, I was impressed by the enhancements that had been made to the building.

I had one more errand...over to Fair View to collect a broken knob from a water faucet. Along the way, I collected these sights as well:

And at the bridge:

This would be a wonderful way to wrap up winter weather, I think. Darn that groundhog!