Thursday, March 31, 2011


When last you saw me, Dear Reader, I had my face pressed against the glass entrance door of the Dodson Bros. Exterminating Company in Richmond, Virginia, with eleven question marks in the form of undecipherable bug-like dots wrapped up in a trash can liner inside my purse.

My Yard Man was beside me as I moaned, "Oh, no! I can't believe it-- there's no one here! NOW whaddle we do?!"

That's when he, too, tried the door and found it locked, then leaned in for a face-smooshing look-see, as well. "Hey, there IS someone here! It's the really dark glass..." he exclaimed. And when I looked again, sure enough--I could see a shadowy figure approaching the door.

Oh! Reader Dear, the sound of that bolt snapping back in the lock gave me hope for yet more good fortune! The Yard Man and I were ushered into a warmly-lit, wood-paneled office, where it seemed that all occupants had been waiting-- just waiting for our arrival! At least the two women, and the man who walked in from a back room, greeted us in a friendly and interested way. What could they do for us?!

"Well," I said, hoping this wasn't going to sound too silly, "I don't know if this is something you can help us with, but we're from out-of-town, and we spent the night in a motel...these little black things...blah, blah, blah...brand new grandson...blah, blah... (I'm afraid, Dear Reader, that I went into far more detail than that Yard Man would've, but he prefers that I play the fool if there's a scintilla of a chance there will be one!)

Whatever Dodson brother it was who looked down from his portrait on the wall, these employees did him proud!
No one laughed at our bug bugaboo, or scoffed when I opened the paper. "We'll get you our bedbug specialist," they said. " She just happens to be here, and she knows all there is to be known about bedbugs!"

And sure enough--when she entered the room with a big smile, her long dark hair neatly braided in a ponytail, she did appear to be an expert. Everyone in the office was curious to hear her verdict.

She put her hand-held microscope to work, and did some serious scrutinizing. (Ah, ha! She didn't slough them off as a silly fear--"You thought THESE were bedbugs?! Ha-ha.")Of course, then, Reader Dear...I was nervous!

Oooohh, n-n-nervous. Come back tomorrow;
It's a little hard to talk right now--I'm holding my breath!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


SO THE YARD MAN AND I HAD TRAVELED to Richmond, Virginia, to see the new little celebrity. We were smitten! Our son had to say such things to the two of us: "Okay, now I believe you've had him long enough; time to give....(the other one) a turn!" We were like overeager kids with a new toy.

We ran out to buy a few things for the little guy, and we went ahead and reserved a motel room for the night. Well, it was The Yard Man who steered the car into the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel and came out with a key card for room 218. "Did you take a look at it first?" I asked.

"Take a look at the room? No," said the man. "It'll be fine!"

"Well, I hope so," I sighed. "Just so it's clean!" I quietly considered the possibilities. " Oh, and doesn't have a bad know, that real strong scented air freshener stuff. Ugh. I sure hope it smells okay."

We had a nice evening celebrating our grandson turning eight (uh, days, Dear Reader, eight days!) and then we made our way back to the motel. Trotting up the carpeted stairs behind The Yard Man, I studied the accoutrements warily. Everything looked passably clean. And when we opened the door and entered the room, thank goodness, it smelled finely odorless.

But there was one more circumstance upon which this night's lodging pended. When we 'd stopped earlier and reserved the room, I'd plumb forgot one must always consider the possibility of bedbugs. I only thought of it when we had gotten back to Only Son's house and mentioned where we planned to stay. "Oh, my goodness--bedbugs!" I'd exclaimed. "There might be bedbugs!"

"Just check for them,"
had suggested the new mother,  "You can see them. They look like crumbs in the bed."

So now I went straight for the nice big king-sized bed and threw back the covers. Ahh...nothing but clean white sheets! We could rest in peace!

And thus we did.

Next morning The Yard Man opened the curtains and sunshine flooded the room. He plopped into the upholstered chair by the window and remotely flicked on the TV. I was still in bed, but had thrown off the big slippery spread, thin well-worn blanket, and top sheet. The expanse of sheet we'd slept upon was a white sea around me......and that's when I happened to spy a black speck. Hmm. My eyes roved slightly, and I chanced upon another. And, gasp, another!

"Look here!" I said to The Yard Man. "I'm finding little black things--stuff--something! This might be bedbugs!"

"Ah, not likely," he responded. He wasn't even curious to see. He was watching some political pundit pontificate about a blathering by Donald Trump concerning the president's birth certificate.

"Well, here's another," I said. "Oh, and this one...!" My heart sank each time I spotted yet more. But they were so tiny--these little critters. Were they critters? I squinted and studied. They didn't all look exactly the same, but all were too small to be identified. "I've got eight or nine of them here! What if they ARE bedbugs?! You know we can't go back to the little grandbaby's house if they are! That would be dreadful!"

I showered and dressed, then nervously stuffed every piece of our clothing that had touched the bed or the floor into the plastic liner I pulled from the trash can under the bathroom sink. "Now ...what are we going to do?" I asked The Yard Man. I'd picked a couple of the black dots off the sheet and transferred them to the windowsill.

The Yard Man examined them. "It's probably just little pieces of dirt," he said. "This one here looks like maybe a tiny piece of fuzz."

"I have a small magnifying glass in the car, I think. Or maybe there's one in my purse..." I was rooting through my bag full of daily necessities--(amazing how many!) "Aha, here!" Peering intently through the card with the magnifying panel and the printed admonition: Take time to pamper yourself today, we couldn't make out much more than before. Except that suddenly
The Yard Man saw one of the specks move. He got a stub of a pencil from the night table where it lay beside a Super 8 note pad. Nudging this particular crumb with the point of the pencil as we both bent over the magnifying lens-- it jumped!

"Could be a flea," said the yard man. But was it? And what of
the others?! What were we going to do?! Clearly, one or more of these questionable smidgens was a living creature!

"Well," suggested The Yard Man. "We could find an exterminating company and stop by there...why don't you go online and look for one?"

"Can't do that," I said. "Didn't you hear me say last night that I couldn't connect--even though they told me at the front desk they have wi-fi." But it was a good idea. I tore two sheets from the Super 8 notepad and scraped together the small cluster of possible bedbugs. I folded them carefully into one of the pages and wrapped the folded up page carefully into the plastic liner I swiped from the trash can near the night stand.

"We could look in the phone book,"
was The Yard Man's next idea.

Well, okay. But I was very aware of time passing. If we left the motel right now, we'd only have an hour and a half with the grand grandbaby and his parents before they had to leave for their first post-hospital check-up. "The phone book?!" I protested. "We'd have no idea which company is closest! And no idea how to get there! By the time we found the place..."
But The Yard Man was already on his way out the door--heading for the front desk. He had his overnight bag in hand. "Bring all your stuff with you when you come down!" he said.

And what a guy! By the time I made it down to the motel lobby, there he was with a printed-out sheet--Dodson Bros Exterminating, and all the details to find them!

"Wow, how'd you manage that?" I exclaimed as we headed for the car.
"I just went to the front desk and asked if they could give me the name of an exterminator," said The Yard Man. "She looked up the closest one and printed out this sheet for me."

I giggled. "Do you suppose she had any idea why we'd want one? Oh, open the trunk, would you? I'm not putting anything we had in that room inside the car until we know!"

This was turning out to be a great solution to our quandary. As horrible as it would be to discover I had bedbugs tucked inside my purse, at least we would know. We wouldn't have to forgo seeing our grandson again just out of uncertainty.

Now I was on the edge of my seat--I would be navigating, and there was no time to waste driving around the city--lost.

We did quite well, missing only Hull Street--and not having to backtrack far. With relative ease, we found it--Dodson Bros Exterminating Company!

We didn't waste any time parking, running eagerly to the entrance door. No! The door was locked! I leaned in to peer through the glass, and it was dark inside! This couldn't be.

Ah, Dear Reader, what now?!!I'll have to leave you pondering this, same as we are.
It's just too much for me at the moment.
Are we going to have to drive
straight home without
saying goodbye to
our darling new
simply because we don't know?!

Even worse--when we
finally do find out--arrgh,
if they're actual, awful

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'VE MADE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF A NEW V.I.P! Oh, I was star-struck to meet him! It had seemed a long wait, but yesterday we finally shook hands! He gazed at me intently as I rubbed his head and examined his feet. (It's my typical celebrity greeting, Dear Reader--when I'm a privileged fan!) I babbled and gushed and effused and enthused...and he looked calmly on.

I immediately wanted to speed a new movie into production, and give him a starring role. "I'm sure you can do it," I whispered. "I'm looking for a cherubic infant, darling and adorable. Actually, you have lots of leeway in the role. Just be yourself and you'll far exceed all expectations!"

(Dear Reader, he did so well that I made loads of movies...sequel after sequel. I'm sincerely regretting the fact that distance will limit me from featuring him as often as I'd like in the future. Yes, indeed, he's a movie-maker's dream! (A grandmother's, as well!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I HAVE AN OLD FRIEND who was here to see me today. She came with her husband to visit the Yard Man and me. Because they arrived a bit earlier than expected, she took over the job of peeling apples for the French Apple Cobbler I was in the process of making. Their arrival slowed down my preparations to a snail's pace! (I can't visit and keep my wits about me simultaneously). By the time we had eaten the long-delayed dinner, that cobbler was coming from the oven--hot and nicely browned. I served it up, the Yard Man added a scoop of vanilla ice cream atop each serving, and my friend took the first bite.
"Mmmm, this is good", she declared. "It tastes just like an Amish kitchen!"

Hmm. Je suis fascinated.
It's supposed to be French apple cobbler. What would give it the taste of an Amish kitchen?

I plumb forgot to ask my friend--what does she know about Amish kitchens? She lives in the hills of West Virginia!

Later, while I loaded the dishwasher, she cleaned my big glass salad bowl. She spent a long time at it--fastidiously scrubbing and rubbing every little smudge and fingerprint (just as I would imagine a good Amish homemaker might do). And now! Now it is eye-poppingly shiny. It sparkles like a long and true friendship!


Saturday, March 26, 2011


but the thermometer says, Are you kidding?! (Temperature in the 30s today and down in the mid-20s tonight)
Plus, it's crazy--our huge stash of oak would make anyone think that winter is right around the corner!

But today the yard man lit a match to the riffraff from the fallen tree, and then hitched up his horses and plowed the garden!

Winter or spring?

I suggest you ask the croci, Dear Reader!


Thursday, March 24, 2011


OH, OH, IT'S AN OLIO! Yes, Dear Reader, what with the thing that came up (down) and the dang-blasted maniacal laugh...I haven't been able to show you much else since the aftermath.

So--here's a little double-feature for you, two movies I put together a few days ago.
The first stars the Little Actor, who has a high old time telling himself NOoooo, but drops his food over the edge of the high chair anyway.

And then the second is a sequel--
featuring a small, four-legged maintenance guy,
who comes in to clean up.


Yesterday the yard man and I set out for our tax accountant's
office; we had our facts and figures and paperwork at the ready.
It just happened to be the gloooomiest spring day we've had thus
far this entire calendar year. There was nothing about the
weather that would give you any notion of planning
a picnic, let's just say. Or any other outdoor event!
It was cold. gray. rainy.

I was doing a tiny bit of muttering under my breath--
something about how the unpleasantness of the day matched the
unpleasantness of the whole taxation-vexation-botheration.

And just like that, we came to an intersection where a
traffic controller, decked out in rain gear, had set up a
warning roadblock. He was preparing to direct a stream
of Amish buggies approaching from a side road.

"Wow," I said, "I wonder..."
"A funeral!" exclaimed the yard man, before I could finish. "There's been a funeral."

(This yard man of mine is a local expert on the Amish [I'm not sure how local--possibly within a pretty broad radius--but at least within the boundaries of our own property])

"That's something," I said, "they get someone to come and direct traffic." After I took a quick picture (showing only a short stretch of the caravan of buggies), I pondered it briefly. "Would there be any other possible explanation for this many buggies, near noon on a Wednesday? Anything else going on?"

"No, that's it. There was a funeral."
My yard man was confident of his

I sat quietly as we drove on through the rain, the car's heater turned up to HOT.

An Amish funeral would have included a burial, I thought.

Hmm. Kinda made our unpleasant chore seem like a picnic in the park--
(on a warm and sunny day, of course!)


This is a fair warning, Dear Reader: If you happen to be afraid of bugs--if they make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and holler, if they make your tummy do amazing aerobic feats --you'd better cover your eyes and read no further. Not only is the creature I'm about to show you not very lovable-looking (you know, like the dear little ladybug or the friendly lightening bug), it's got a downright awful nickname: Stinkbug!

Horrors! Just imagine, Reader Dear, going through life being called Stinkman! or Stinkgirl!
Well, at any rate, I'm trying to feel some compassion for these creatures. They are moving in with me and the yard man; they've been arriving for months now--more and more of them every day! They do not seem the least bit finicky as to where they sleep and eat--on floors, walls, ceilings, windows, window blinds, furniture... even bedcovers! The house is filling up. Each one--after it has lived here briefly--twitters to all 357 of its friends: Found a great place! Come, too!

It's getting to be too much, I tell you! My subtle means of showing them they are not welcome have become ever more harsh (think: death penalty!), yet their influx has slackened not one whit!

What to do?! Dear Reader? What to do?! (This is not a rhetorical question!)

That is the end of this olio. Please excuse me while I go sweep up some uninvited guests!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


REMEMBER THAT MANIACAL LAUGH, Dear Reader!? It's still reverberating inside my head! Yes, yes...all these days later!! From the time I lifted my bleary-eyed noggin off the pillow on the morning after St. Patrick's Day (and that was very early, I might add, as two of the big white trucks [which, in the full light of day, reminded me not at all of any equine creature, but looked ever so much like great big toys for men] arrived to perform total replacement surgery on one telephone pole, and a backbone alignment on another)...

...uh...from then until now (the most dreary of spring days--with signs of the aftermath looking dismal indeed in the cold gray rain), I've been suffering from Chainsautinnitus. It's a medical term for a condition that develops after: Being awakened four days running by the sound of a chain saw, followed by the intermittent sound of one or more of these beastly things ringing in one's ears for long portions of time throughout consecutive days.

This illness, I'm suspecting, can at times lead rather rapidly to a condition know as Insanity (I believe it's called). There are no known remedies for Chainsautinnitus, but I did my best to alleviate it by playing CDs at top volume, eating a lot of chocolate, and writing my will. (No, no, Reader Dear, I'm only kidding about that! The disease is rarely known to be fatal!)

Of course, while I was suffering from the sound of the chain saw, that yard man of mine had his work cut out for him! He had some of it cut up for him, it's true. But what a job awaited! Good thing he's a yard man and loves a challenge! Super good thing he didn't have surgery on the very day of the downfall!

He leaped into action....


...hour after hour,
day after day.

That's not to say
he didn't have a
little help with
the work!

but a good bit was done
by the yard man himself.
And he only grumbled,
Reader Dear, on the
rainy days! Geez, I
can't get anything
done when the
weather's like

I'm thinking--
any way you look at
it, this is one great
yard guy!

As for me--chances look good
I'll soon be over the weird
(and fortunately rare)
disease I've got.

This aftermath--
along with the laugh--
is being put in its place!

If I have my way, it will soon be burning in...

a fireplace,
of course!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'M ELABORATING. I'M going back in time--to finish up the story of St. Patrick's Day. Something came, uh, I mean something came prevent an earlier telling.

We left Philadelphia, my yard man chauffeur and I, and headed home. Our day in Philadelphia could hardly have been better! The mood at South Street had been an Irish TEN! The weather had shone!

Most of our drive took us through the countryside and the night was glowing, that effulgent moon in the sky shining over the peaceful fields. Yes, I was raving about it all.

And our good fortune stayed with us right up to the driveway of our house, where a big old truck from the power company sat flashing its lights, and the telephone pole across the road reached toward our property at an unhealthy pitch. "Whoa, what's going on here!?" my yard man exclaimed. And, as though in answer, the PPL* truck driver opened his window. "Is this your property?" he asked.

"A really big tree came down from the neighbor's yard!" he explained. Then he added, "It missed the house! It missed the barn! It missed your truck! Lucky for you!"

Now, Dear Reader, I should tell you the house next door is empty. The aunt of my yard man lived there for many long years (she recently went to a retirement home; the house is for sale). The oak tree, however, had lived there for a whole lot more years! Every now and then it would drop a limb, as if to say, "Hey, look out below! I'm getting old! Better have me cut up and cremated before I fall on you!" The yard man knew that tree had to come down, but he'd been delaying.

The guy in the truck told us he'd be back later.
He said the phone company would have to come deal with the tree. They would have to remove at least part of the trunk so that the electric company could get to the transformer, so that they could repair it, so that we could have electric service restored.

Okay, we said. Then we carefully drove in the lower driveway. (Another stroke of luck--we've got a driveway that wraps around the house.) There to greet us was a massive pile of limbs and branches--the former top of the tree.

It was 8:45 p.m.

The house was dark and chilly. I lit a few candles, and we wandered around, instinctively reaching for the light switches. I had to watch the yard man like a hawk to keep his hands off the fridge and freezer. No, no! Keep those doors closed!

We dozed awhile, waiting for rescue. At 10:30 we gave up and went to bed.

At 11:07 the trucks arrived, beeping and flashing.
There was a loud knock at the door. Help had arrived!

At first it was exciting--running out into the chilly night (the temperature
had fallen precipitously). There were three trucks, like big noisy stallions, snorting and pawing as they stood at the ready; six brawny knights, their yellow shields reflecting back the brilliant moonlight, their swords (looking so much like chain saws) in hand; the massive tree trunk--that (already dead) dragon to be conquered!

But then, there was much conferring as to strategy,
while the yard man and I stood waiting for action.
I started getting cold. My romantic notions about
knights in armor were getting slayed. I wished to go
inside a warm house with lights and other electric-
guzzling amenities.

Eventually, however, the ramparts were stormed--
men swarmed all over the treetop, chain saws
whining. They worked their way up to the trunk,
cutting limbs, tossing small branches.
When they reached the trunk it was 12:23 a.m.

The trunk! Even if it wasn't a dragon, we could
see this was going to be tricky! Only one man had
a chain saw large enough to meet the challenge,
and that saw would have to be carefully wielded.
A lot more strategizing had to go on.

"There's just enough weight on there..." My yard
man was giving me a blow-by-blow account of the
dangers these men were facing.

"That's what happens, you see! " he told me
when the saw actually did get stuck.

About 2:15 a man in a red sweatshirt showed up.
"He's the boss," my yard man informed me. (He
was just guessing, but I'd deduced the same thing.)

Okay, now we were into the wee hours; it was really quite cold outside
(inside, too)!

Lyrics to the tune of the chain saw went something like this:
Did you hear a maniacal laugh?
You're not gonna sleep tonight!
With the falling tree and the aftermath,
No, you're not gonna sleep tonight!
Bwa ha ha!
Bwa ha ha ha!
By the bright moonlight, I know it ain't right,

but you're not gonna sleep tonight!!

At 2:33 a.m. the yard man decided he wouldn't
listen to the lyrics. He was going back to bed!

I watched the maneuvers a few minutes longer and then
followed suit. And, wow! Amazing to see how quickly
that yard man could start to saw wood, in spite of the real wood-sawing!
But...alas, as for me, those lyrics just kept running through my head!
I couldn't shut them out. Even when the chain saws stopped playing,
the noise went on.

I was wide awake when the little space heater in the bedroom
roused to life, and the lights came on! It was 3:36 a.m.

I gave a great sigh of relief. Now! I thought,
Now I'll go to sleep!

Oh, but...those trucks were still here.
It wasn't until 3:47 a.m. they went
snorting and, chugging
up the road.

For a long time after that I lay
pondering the luck o' the Irish!
and wondering what the time
would be, if and when I
finally dropped
off to.....


(*Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., Dear Reader--
oh, so fortunately, they own the electric lines!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


TWO MIRACLES TODAY--TWO FABULOUS ARRIVALS!! I can hardly contain myself, Dear Reader! Of course, one of these miracles has been coming along since time immemorial, or at least since Galileo--or whoever the heck it was that named the Vernal Equinox (I don't claim to know). Hundreds or thousands or who knows how many years ago (I don't claim to know that either, Reader Dear) folks knew this one miracle would be occurring on this very day, if the earth still stood!

Yes, springtime arrived in all its glory today! And--as much as I welcomed this new season (I've been longing, yearning, pining for it!)--it was definitely not the pending heart-fluttering arrival that had the yard man and me on the edge of our seats for the past thirty-four and a half hours (or pacing by the phone, or wringing our hands, or saying to each other, "Surely, surely, we'll hear the good news soon!")

No, this little miracle was much more fantastic! This little miracle's name is ARTHUR QUINN, and he came weighing nine pounds and one ounce, can you believe? Such a bouncing big baby boy! The son of the son of the son of my cute little mother-in-law! (Uh, you able to follow that line of tracks, Reader Dear? A brand new grandson for me!!) It pains me so not to see the new celebrity in person, not to have any photos to show you.

But just stay tuned, Dear Reader! When I can finally make that trip to Richmond, Virginia, I'll be able to see him, and you will, too--my fantastic miracle who lit up the world before the sun did this morning!


Friday, March 18, 2011


MY ST. PATRICK'S DAY LASTED UNTIL 3:46 this morning. It was so lovely and warm and carefree and green throughout the afternoon and evening hours, but then developed into a loud and unruly mess after nightfall--filled with hard hats and the whining scream of chain saws. My nerves are on edge, Reader Dear! So sorry to leave you in suspense (oh, you know that I am!) but I'll have to elaborate later...


Thursday, March 17, 2011


ERIN GO BRAGH! Which means (and I only know because I looked it up, Dear Reader) Ireland Forever! It can also be translated: Ireland until the Day of Judgment (Yikes!) At any rate, I'm going to tell you about my St. Patrick's Day ups and downs, so I figured that would be as good an opener as any!

Because that yard man of mine was scheduled to have outpatient surgery today, and it was postponed on the penultimate day, I said to him this morning: "Top o' the mornin' to ya!" And then I said, "Since it's a fabulously warm day and you don't have anything scheduled, why don't we go some place fun?!" Which is precisely how we ended up on South Street in the city of Philadelphia, where as well as brotherly love, the love of all things Irish abounded today. There was the wearin' o' green, and the playin' o' bagpipes, and the drinkin' at the pubs!

(There was also the eatin' of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich by my yard man [which has nothing to do with the Irish, except for the fact that he'd likely dance a jig if that's what it took to get one!)

Of course, after we stopped for some Bailey's Irish Cream,
there was the sportin' of green beaded necklaces and shamrock stickers, too. It was all very festive.

And exceedingly warm and pleasant! As we strolled down the sidewalk I suggested to the yard man, "This beats hernia surgery any day, wouldn't you say?!"

We took a side trip over to the Italian Market, where I saw lots of food offerings for which I'd never dance a jig,

although most of the foods I saw there did excite me. And the yard man and I got our own private Olive Oil Tasting.

With the taste of olive oil still in our mouths
(and our heads full of olive-oil knowledge),
we returned to South Street to eat supper
at Supper (a restaurant so aptly named!)

Then we called it a day at Philly.
A very good day,
marred only by a parking ticket.
(We shouldn't have lingered so long
over our super Supper supper!)

We set out for home by the
light of a big fat moon.

And, ahhh, on St. Patrick's Day,
we had the luck o' the Irish with us!
(For the life o' me, Dear Reader,
I could never figure out if the
luck o' the Irish is good luck or bad; but either
way, we had it! Our day was not over.....)


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I HAD NO IDEA WHEN I DRESSED this morning, I'd be going to a wedding today. Not the slightest clue! I might have dressed up a bit, and perhaps brought a handful of rice. Not to mention a wedding present. I regret I had no gift for Sarah and Jay.

Though I hadn't gotten an invitation to the wedding, I did have another event I'd written on my calendar for today. This was one I myself had scheduled, and my less-than-ideal tenant (who appears to enjoy these confabs we've been having) was invited to attend. At this little meeting with the magistrate, she'd once again be invited to pay her rent. She'd also be re-invited to give her boyfriend a send-off to other living quarters.

I got to the magistrate's office in good time, and my somewhat-more-ideal tenant who lives downstairs from the less-than-ideal one was there to testify. He was there just to say, "Why, of course she's got a boyfriend living with her! He comes and goes every day. Yes, yes...there's no doubt he lives there!"

For a while, it looked as though my less-than-ideal tenant was not going to show up for this current hearing. But sure enough, she got there ten minutes late and slouched in a chair in the tiny room where one bides one's time until called to the judge's chambers. The three of us sat gloomily waiting. We'd already been there fifteen minutes when suddenly the entry door burst open and a small mob of people trooped in, filling the room to capacity. Lo and behold, it soon became clear that one of this joyful group was obviously a bride-to-be! It followed from that--one of them was soon to be a groom, as well!

Dear Reader, my two tenants were not overly impressed by this sudden influx of people and the eager and expectant air they brought with them. But it stirred me to action. I jumped right up and exclaimed to the downstairs tenant: "I'll be right back! I need to get something from my car!" I ran to my car and was back inside the building in a flash! My camera was tucked in my pocket.

"May I take your picture?" I asked the bride and groom, and they obligingly posed. Soon after, the clerk announced that the wedding party could enter the courtroom.

Uh, what? As delighted as I was about the surprising event, I and my tenants had been waiting for a half hour past our appointed time. "Wait a minute!" I said to the clerk. "Wouldn't we be first?"

"Oh," she said. "The judge said this will only take five minutes, and your case will take fifteen. So she'd like to do this first."

Five minutes?! Really? I was fascinated. Of course, I demurred and readily agreed that the wedding party should proceed ahead. The six to eight gathered guests and the couple were ushered into the courtroom and the door was closed.

Well, you see, Dear Reader...then I was curious! And I thought to invite myself to this wedding. The bride and groom had seemed flattered by my picture-taking, perfectly accepting of a stranger interested in their happy occasion.

I slipped through the door and asked the nearest woman if it would be okay for me to join the guests. "Oh, sure!" she said.

For certain, it was the shortest wedding I've ever attended!
(Smallest, too.) A three-sentence meditation. Exchanging of rings, and the vows. If anyone can show just cause why this couple should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.

No one spoke up.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife, kiss your bride!" The judge made it sound like a run-on sentence, and closed her black book as she said it. A ten-second kiss and the whole party was exiting the room!

Come to think of it, I wouldn't have had time to offer the couple a gift. I'd have barely had time to throw rice. "Congratulations!" I exclaimed, and smiled as the newly-weds left the room. The woman standing near me said, "That was nice of you to be here. Seems like you oughta be signing the guest book or something!"

But the clerk was already saying, "Okay, you can come in now," and motioning to my tenants.

Oh, me. Now I have to turn around and get on with the depressing affair that I had initiated.
But, hey... you don't have to turn around, Reader Dear! I'll leave you to continue on into the happily-ever-after. You get to dwell on the five-minute wedding, if you choose, and to ponder the chances of a life-long marriage for Jay and Sarah.


Monday, March 14, 2011


CLOUDS ARE BLOCKING THE SUN this morning. Sometimes, however, the sunshine prevails--poking through the cloud cover. In much the same way, my optimism at times trumps my pessimistic thoughts. It happens to be my less-than-ideal tenant clouding up my meditations today.

This less-than-ideal tenant, she's the one, Reader Dear, who smiled a triumphant smile when the judge peered over her glasses and intoned, "If you pay, you can stay!"

Well, then...after that decree at the Magistrate's Office, the court had issued me an invitation to rendezvous at the home of this ornery tenant. The date set for it was eleven days later. One o'clock. If the hostess at this small get-together had not paid her rent (nor had she and her permanent guest deserted the place) by that time, I was not to worry. A constable would also be attending the event!

On the appointed day, I'd pulled into the parking lot at one o'clock sharp, my heart doing a little thump-a-dump, curious as to what would transpire! I didn't see any official-looking vehicle, but as I got out of my car, I noticed a great hulking guy climbing out of an SUV. He walked over to greet me. "I'm the constable," he said, and shook my hand. "Has she paid?"

Dear Reader, this situation had filled me with suspense to the very last minute. I'd imagined quite a few scenarios. But now here we were This was it! And the answer was......NO.

The constable and I walked together to the porch and I rang the bell. Just like that, the door had opened narrowly and a wad of cash was thrust my way. "Here's your rent!" my less-than-ideal tenant had informed me. The constable stood calmly by as I counted it out--all that the court had decreed she must pay in order to stay.

"And how about February rent?" I had asked. "It's now the middle of month. Do you have February rent?"

"Nah," she told me, "I'll pay that later."


Well, Dear Reader, on this day full of clouds and sun, it appears that my less-than-ideal tenant had a later day in mind than I might have suspected. It appears she intends to pay on a much later day....


Sunday, March 13, 2011



Dear Reader,
there is

for a
to the question!

Furthermore, my yard man and I are sitting in heart-fluttering
expectation of a miracle which, though relatively tiny, will be of
gigantic proportions!


Friday, March 11, 2011


A LITTLE MIRACLE OCCURRED HERE today on my kitchen windowsill.

Now, I don't mean to be ungrateful;
I mean, WOW, the miracle of new grape-tomato life!

But (were I to have had a choice) I know I'd be six-point-six times more thrilled were there to have been a little miracle on the floor outside the closet I painstakingly groomed this afternoon (Poof! Sudden disappearance of all items!)

As I ponder it further......(Aaargh, what a job, that grooming!) I reckon I'd be downright delightfully delirious if the miracle had just gone ahead and taken place right inside the closet!


Thursday, March 10, 2011



it was so gray and gloomy, wet and windy,
and there was so much rain, that the weather
forecasters, announcers, and commentators
finally brought out the "F" word!

And once they got started, my goodness, they
couldn't seem to quit!

It got them so worked up and excited, they
somehow veered off into a geography lesson!
(Today we learn the counties of Pennsylvania)

Followed by Social Studies, Science and Math!
I was almost expecting they'd tell us about
William Penn. And perhaps explain all
grammatical uses of the "F" word!*

*Calm down, Reader Dear,
this time it's FLOOD! floods, flooded, flooding, will flood

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


TODAY IS SHROVE TUESDAY, THE DAY before Lent. That means, Dear Reader, that in this Amish-dwelling area where I live, it is Fasnacht Day.

Goodbye, self-control!
Hello, large morsels of fat and sugar!

Late in the afternoon, my Yard Man showed up with a box of six fasnachts, and explained how he had followed a small hand-lettered sign that read "Homemade, deep-fat-fried Fasnachts" into the basement of an Amish home.

"Wow, it smelled good in there!" he told me, as he set the container on the kitchen counter.

"Uh, huh, the Devil's workshop," I murmured, but I took care not to let that Yard Man hear me. Instead I crowed about this absolutely irresistible treat, this fatty, pack-on-the-pounds delight! And when we sat down to eat our supper an hour or so later, and he commented on the missing fasnacht, I advised him he'd do well to eat one quickly while there were still any to be eaten!


Monday, March 7, 2011



When I stepped out onto the kitchen porch, the rushing creek far below was sparklingly visible, which I well should have known was due to its swollen condition--which in turn was due to the solid day of rain we received in these parts on the Sabbath.

As I left the house in my euphoric condition, I simply was not thinking of impromptu lakes! A detour was imperative.

Hmm, I tried my best to think of some clever and applicable life analogy, as I turned the car around and headed up the road. But...Nope! You'll have to scrounge for something yourself, Dear Reader of mine.

(I do hope the sun is shining on you as you contemplate this.)


Sunday, March 6, 2011


SO, YESTERDAY I WAS FRANTICALLY TOSSING around my options as to who would dig this grave for me (not my grave, you know; it was a grave for my tenants. Of course, they would not be lying in this opening in the earth, either [just to reassure you, Dear Reader, in the event a severe grimace is starting to form on your face, and you are fearing for my welfare--not to mention the welfare of my tenants!] It would be the rabbit loved by my tenants laid to rest here; but that was only going to happen if I could find someone to wield the shovel!)

WHO am I going to call upon?!
I tell Mary and her husband I will find someone to dig this grave, and walk up to the parking lot, intending to knock on the door of Dave, the tenant who occasionally does landscaping jobs for me. Surely he'll be willing. But, alas, I see his vehicle is not in the lot.

What to do?! What to do?! I fish my cell phone out of my pocket as I'm mentally scanning my roster of tenants, and suddenly I recall there's a message waiting for me on this phone. Back when it rang--an hour or so ago--I was just too busy to answer. Hmm, I hate to keep the bereaved couple waiting, but... I quickly punch the numbers to retrieve my message.

It's Josh, Apartment Fifteen...."Could you call me back at your earliest convenience?" he asks.

Ah! Josh! This tenant is young and strong. As fast as I can, I ring the number, and pray he's right there behind door Fifteen. He answers the phone, and thanks me for calling. I'm hoping he gets to the point quickly. He hems and haws just a bit, but then says: "This may sound a little strange, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but the other day I got so angry I punched a hole in the wall. I'm really sorry!"Before I could stop myself, I giggled. I just couldn't help myself--this made TWO landlording firsts on the very same Saturday morning! Quickly recovering, however, I allowed as how this was no laughing matter. We discussed the repairs, and Josh asked if I wished to view the damage. "Well," I said. "I happen to be right here in the parking lot. I guess I could come in and take a look, but...(here I paused briefly, Dear Reader, as I thought how best to word my request)...

"This may sound a little strange," I said...

Ten minutes later there are four persons in attendance as I lower the body into the ground. Josh has done an admirable job of digging the grave. "Just let me put my shoes on," he'd said. "I'll be right out!" And then, as he had shoveled up the earth, the four of us had discussed the logistics...the needed length and width, the depth. Josh was having trouble with tree roots and rocks. The soil was hard. I envisioned a black-suited man from the NFDA*, gazing at me and sadly shaking his head.

But, now...Mary has handed me the box. I stoop with it to test the opening.

"Wait," says Josh. "Maybe I can get those edges a little cleaner." He tidies up the grave and I place the box inside. Mary kneels to help me. With a little shifting around, we are able to make it fit. The grave is shallow, but we know that this obliging tenant with the shovel has already had a good workout; it will have to do.

"That should be fine," I say, standing up. And Mary stands up, too. Briefly there is a pause. I know that Yikes, now what?! would not be a proper sentiment to express, so I skip those words. I don't say, "Am I still directing?" Nor do I ask if a eulogy is planned. But, finally, I ask Mary's husband, "Would you like to cover the box?" and he takes the shovel and plunges it into the loose soil that Josh has dug up. He tosses the shovelful onto the white cardboard box. Again and again he does this, working so strenuously that now I suddenly fear for his health--oh, goodness, spare me THREE landlording firsts today! He's really exerting himself, huffing and puffing, and he's not a young man.

I'll just tell you quickly, Dear Reader, it all ended well. Josh helped to finish the shoveling, then tramped and tamped the dirt well. We placed a medium-sized rock atop (one he'd unearthed while digging the grave). Then heartfelt thank-you's were said, and we all left Missy to R.I.P. *

*But then, you see, that's what worried me--Suppose she should not be Resting In Peace when next I happened to see this grave?

I came home, Dear Reader, and gathered up one of the concrete stepping stones that lay beside the porch of The Yard Man and me--the one with the flowers etched on the top. I hauled it to the apartments, to the evergreen tree. When I set it in place on the freshly-dug earth beneath the evergreen boughs, I could see that NFDA member again in my mind's gently nodding his approval.

(Yes, Dear Reader, that would be: National Funeral Directors Association)


Saturday, March 5, 2011


THE OPERATIC MUSIC PLAYING ON the car radio didn't sound funereal, I mused. And here I was, on my way to help do a burial, a shovel on the back seat of my car.

Mary (is what I'll call her) and her husband have been my most enduring tenants. When I was a complete greenhorn of a landlord, they were there. And so was their pet bunny--their dear little Muffy (fake name, as well). "Yes," I had told them. "Yes, of course you can keep your dear Muffy. There's a 'No Pets' policy for all others, but you can keep Muffy."

It was a few years later that Mary had sorrowfully informed me--Muffy had died. "We had to have her cremated," she said, "since we had no place to bury her."

"Oh," I said, "I'm so sorry. There are lots of places here on the property where she could have been buried."

That was eleven long years ago--eleven years during which another little rabbit (I'll call her Missy) frisked and played and grew quite old in the apartment of Mary and her husband. (Yes, yes, I had said, for all others, it's still 'no pets'; but for you, I'll allow another rabbit.)

Now this morning Mary had left me a message on my little white business phone. "We have to take Missy and have her put to sleep," she said, her voice filled with grief. "She cried so much last night, and she's in so much pain." She paused. "I was wondering if we could bury her here at the apartments. I remember what you said when Muffy died...."

I remembered it, too. "Of course," I called to assure her.

"Well, we're leaving right now," Mary said, when I spoke to her. "We'll probably be back in an hour. Can you come and show us where...? don't have a shovel."

"I'll be there at noon," I said.

And so it was, Dear Reader, that I found myself contemplating the loud operatic music and mulling over possible burial spots as I headed for the apartments.

Fifteen minutes later, Mary and her husband and I are standing at a spot we have jointly chosen for Missy's eternal resting place.
It seems ideal to me--under the boughs of an evergreen tree, out of the way of lawnmowers, and only a stone's throw from the front door of those who are grieving her passing.

Yes, we have settled on the spot. And I have the shovel. Mary is tenderly holding Missy in the white cardboard box--(Such a nice box! she says. So nice of them to give it to us!). But... hmm...Mary's husband has a bad back. And...hmm, the soil contains a lot of clay.

I'm struck with the sudden realization that I am the funeral director here. And, Dear me, I have no one to dig the grave! (That Yard Man of mine is not available, but he had offered this helpful advice as I fetched the shovel from the storage shed--The most important thing is, make sure the hole is DEEP! You don't want some animal digging up that bunny!

(I'll have to continue this later, Reader Dear. I'm frantically pondering this unexpected hole--I mean role--I've dug for myself.)



Friday, March 4, 2011


SPEAKING OF FILMS. My Yard Man watched the Academy Awards ceremony on TV with me last weekend. We took note of the movies that won awards, and there were quite a few we had not seen. It may have been a contributing factor when he called me on his cell phone in the late afternoon today to suggest that we go see a movie. "Sure!" I said. "Which one do you have in mind?"

Well, me and this man who has six mares and a stallion, we decided to see the movie with the most horses. It was True Grit. "There's a showing at 5:25," the Yard Man told me, studying the schedule of movies playing at the multiplex cinema just a few miles away. "Are you ready to go?"

I glanced at the clock. It was 5:17. Now, fortunately, slap-dash is a trait that we sometimes share, that Yard Man and I. "I'm ready! I said, and ran for my coat.

"We can go eat somewhere after the movie," the Yard Man suggested, as we sped toward the theater. He dropped me at the door, parked the car as I bought the tickets. Can you believe it, Reader Dear, we didn't miss one minute of that movie!

Except...hmm...that's not quite the truth. I guess I missed a minute or two when that man shot that man and...his mouth...aagh...well, it was when I had my eyes squeezed shut and had a vice-like grip on the hand of that Yard Man. And then again when that girl fell into that...and there was that...inside that...(more muffled noises I can't reproduce)...

But here's the thing, Reader Dear, it's a very good movie. You'll have to see it for yourself...I recommend all but a minute or two.

And then--if you wish to make up for the moments you missed while your eyes were squinched shut--you can do as I did, and watch to the very tail end. (Although, it's best if whoever accompanies you has not been deprived of popcorn as the two of you streaked through the theater lobby; and has already eaten dinner, so as not to be standing hungrily by the exit door as the long credits roll!)


Thursday, March 3, 2011


I DID NOT GET TO FILM THE LITTLE ACTOR with his great-grandmother yesterday; but tonight, when the yard man and I had the high honor of keeping company with the little celebrity while his usual caretakers went out for the evening, he agreed to let me go into production mode almost immediately. The outcome--our latest joint movie (a trilogy):
Grandfather Laughs.
(And what a coup for this producer-director, the role of grandfather was played by the Little Actor's actual grandpoppy!)

Part I--Grandfather Laughs

Part II--Grandfather is Highly Amused and
is Certain His Small Grandson is the Most
Clever Little Man Around

Part III--Oh, Those Goodnight Stories! The
Foot-High Stack of Books, and Grandmother's
Question and Grandfather's Answer: Well, He
Me All These Books to Read--
He Just Kept Handing Me More and More
of Them!

(While it's true the movies' titles are rather lengthy,
I'm hopeful that will not be a deterrent when under
consideration for next year's Oscars.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


TODAY I GATHERED UP A STACK OF MAGAZINES. A SMALL ITEM FELL TO THE FLOOR. It was a media card. Well, well...I had suspected, Reader Dear, that I would find these photos of the gardening workshop eventually. It's just that I had searched high and low! Turns out I hadn't searched in the middle (not in the middle of the magazines, anyway). So here you have the real picture:


and this:

And, sorry-I-missed-the-wisecracks, this:

That's probably enough to give you a good idea of how I spent
my day on Saturday.

However, I have nothing to show you of today's excursion--
a trip with my yard man, the Little Actor, and his mama
to see the Little Actor's great-grandmama.

You see, worse than losing the media card is losing the camera.
Although I didn't really lose it--I just neglected to take it along
on the forty-five minute journey to the nursing home, where my cute
little mother-in-law is so happy to see us.

She demonstrates for us how even losing the camera would be nothing compared to losing
one's memory...though she does still remember her son. Before she soon forgets, she is delighted to know that the adorable little tot trotting up and down the halls and calling the elderly women ma-ma and the elderly men pa-pa and waving so charmingly to everyone is her great-grandson.

So, we had a very nice visit. This director thinks it would have made a fine movie. But it's not one you're likely to see, Dear Viewer, unless and until...we bring all the actors together again and replay the scene with a photographer who's equipped for the job!



Tuesday, March 1, 2011


A LAMB! IT'S A LAMB! Of course, that means March is going to go growling and tossing its mane when the time comes for it to say goodbye. But that's okay (by me)...for now, it's wooly-coated.

There was something about the piece of music that was playing on the car radio, and the fact that the sun was shining as though spring were crouching ready to spring--I unexpectedly pulled into the park, hopped out and took a walk. It was my first time back since the trees were dropping their britches...oops, I mean their leaves.

It felt fantastic to be striding along on the straight and narrow again,
although there were soggy places to remind me life is not an easy trail, even when I'm doing what I know I should do.

Just to reinforce that idea, a tree had thrown itself across the path. I had to crawl under.

But then, on the other side,
there was smooth sailing.

and birds were singing and little Amish children were making their way home from school.

It seemed to be the UN-BLEAKING of winter.

It worked for me!