I'm getting old. We were late for Jenna's school Christmas program this morning because it took us so long to scrape ice off our windshield. We got soft over the summer and were unused to taking the time to prepare to drive in cold weather. I don't know how many years will pass before I just give up on driving on cold winter mornings. Driving at night is difficult for us now; our night vision has disappeared over the years. Anyway, we arrived before the entertainment began.
We recently replaced our toaster. It was twenty years old; it still worked fine but the cord would get very hot indicating that the internal strands of wire had broken from years of use. I suppose I could have just replaced the power cord but Dorothy thought it was time for a new, modern stainless steel model. It's pretty fancy with settings for bagels, warm up, and you can even defrost frozen bread before it is toasted. I hope it lasts another twenty years but I don't have much confidence in contemporary appliance quality. And here's why: In 1976 we bought an upright freezer from Montgomery Ward (remember them?). That freezer gave us 34 years of trouble free service and then one day in 2010 it quit. We bought another one. We plugged it in, the light came on, and it began to hum. It never got cold inside. We called the department store and they picked it up and left us with an identical freezer. It works fine but leaks water. There is a copper line under the freezer that gets encrusted with frost that, during the defrost mode, condenses into a pool of water on the floor. There is a plastic reservoir that is supposed to catch the condensate but it doesn't. Poor design. Instead of insisting on a new freezer we just lay paper towels down to absorb the moisture. If we replaced the freezer we may get another lemon so we'll just make do. We bought a new refrigerator, all stainless steel, french doors and bottom freezer. It has more cubic feet that the old one yet holds less food. There is a water and ice dispenser in the door but I cannot get a full glass of ice without a cube or two flying off in random directions and onto the floor. It seems modern appliances are very nice to look at but are lacking in functionality. My daughter recently bought a new dish washer. It didn't actually clean the dishes. I checked it out and even called the customer service line. The service rep had me hold my phone to a location on the washer and an electronic signal was uploaded and used to diagnose the problem. It didn't work. So a technician was dispatched to her house and he replaced a part. It still remains to be seen whether that will be a permanent fix. We're living in an age where we are driven by rampant consumerism to buy expensive, flashy products that are nothing but junk in disguise. But isn't that true of our politics, religion, and most of our modern culture?
Small houses and cabins are popular these days. People are coming to the conclusion that huge living spaces are not only expensive to buy but to maintain, cool in the summer and heat in the winter; not to mention the taxes. My daughter and her husband are building an approximately 400 sq. ft. cabin on our land and they will live there part of the year and sail the Caribbean the rest of the time. Construction began a few weeks ago.
It's fall. The leaves are falling and the shadows are growing longer. I look back on the Summer and it seems that it was a short one. I've been neglecting this blog partly because of time spent analyzing the events of the summer of 2015. Because of a spring that was cooler and wetter than normal our garden was a dud. The tomatoes cracked and rotted; the ones that survived lacked that good, tart flavor I look forward to every summer. The okra was stunted. We did harvest some good green beans and potatoes. We'll try again next year. In early June I went to the doctor for my yearly wellness exam and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I immediately went on a carb counting diet, bought a blood sugar tester and started using it religiously. I'm trying to get more exercise. I was able to bring my body mass index down from 35 to 32.5, I keep my blood glucose level within normal range, I've lost 23 pounds and my blood pressure is normal. The doctor is pleased with my progress. I feel better however I do miss those donuts, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. At the end of June I had another surgery for a basal cell carcinoma on my nose. This is the second surgery in 4 years. This one was on the opposite side as the other one. The surgery required the removal of more tissue than the last time. I don't know how I let that slip up on me. So, now I have to see my dermatologist 3 times a year instead of just once. My 46 year old nephew died. His death is under police investigation. That's all I can say about that right now. And last but not least I turned 70 this summer. I don't see that as a negative life event, in fact I'm grateful for the years I've spent on this planet and the people that I've spent them with. But it has me turned toward contemplating the time of my departure. So I've been doing a lot of spiritual/metaphysical/philosophical ruminating to prepare myself for that final and irrevocable loss of consciousness. Please don't think I'm being morbid. I know, like every human being before me, that I only have so many days allotted to me and that I may have 20+ years to enjoy. I just want to make sure they are fruitful ones.
At my birthday party the family presented me with a framed poster with the following sentiments: Seventy Things We Love About You: The smartest person we know - Kelly - The best pops! - Kelly - You are funny - Kelly - Took me out on Fridays - Jenna - One time he ate a tomato and it squirted out all over his shirt - Jenna - He gives the best advice, both serious and funny - Tara - He's my best friend - Gracen - His New Year's resolution is always that he's not going to eat hot dogs any longer because the one's he's eating now are long enough - Kelly - He gives good books to read - Jenna - Is a bookworm - Hunter - Makes the best pico - Tara - Laughs at us grand kids even though no one else approves of our behavior - Tara - Taught us to love books and reading - Rachel - Took us to museums - Rachel - Letting me walk to school by myself in Kindergarten but following me the whole way, hiding behind trees so I wouldn't know. - Rachel - Time spent teaching me to ride my bike, holding on to the back and secretly letting go when you knew I was ready so that I would have the confidence to ride on my own. - Rachel - Coming home every evening after a hard day at work and a long commute and still find the energy to play with us - Rachel - Reading the funny papers before dinner - Rachel - Buying me a horse and the two of us learning about horses together - Rachel - Having the patience to teach me how to drive a stick shift and not getting mad when I drove the truck through the fence. - Rachel - Always making us your first priority - Rachel - Being the finest man I have ever known - Rachel - Patiently playing your guitar while waiting for the three girls in your life to get ready to go somewhere - Rachel - Keeping me updated on all the sayings and doings of G - Rachel - Making my slumber parties the best with.your hand writing analysis and horoscopes - Rachel - Takes us on great vacations with lots of special surprises - Kelly - Knows each one of us and likes to give gifts specifically for that person - Kelly - Tells corny jokes that make him laugh - Sami - Always has crumbs on his shirt making a good snack for Jenna - Sami - His love and support for us all is unconditional - Sami - He never tells us no. Instead he says "Ask Grandma". - Sami - Giving us a loving, happy home - Rachel - Giving all of us stability - Rachel - Giving me so many happy childhood memories - Rachel - Making sure I always felt loved - Rachel - Exposing us to all kinds of music - Rachel - The trip to North Carolina - Rachel - Bringing home the homeless man man from the bus stop to have dinner with our family and showing us how to be kind to others through example - Rachel - Taking us to church to have a foundation to live by. - Rachel - Being a guiding force in my girls lives - Rachel - Letting us ride in the back of the old yellow truck to Westville to get a Whatchamacallit! - Kelly -
(continued) Going to town on Sunday mornings for donuts and a comic book - Kelly - Lunch dates after pre-school - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - He can grow just about anything - Kelly - Letting us shoot guns at the creek - Burk - Driving to California and listening to Footloose! all the way. Threatening to throw black jelly beans at hitchhikers on the same trip - Kelly - Help with homework -Marley - He didn't freak out when I drove his truck into the fence - Marley - Introducing us to old movies like Laurel and Hardy, Old Batman, Frankenstein, and King Kong - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - Plans the best vacations and puts up with our arguing on the trip - Marley - Letting us sit beside him in the truck and shift the gears - Marley - Using the top of the carved pumpkin to sing "I'd tip my hat to you but I don't have a hat" - Kelly - Decorates the prize winning egg at Easter - Kelly - He taught us to find local restaurants while traveling. No eating at chains - Kelly - Always being my hero - Rachel - All the times you played the guitar and we sang. I think I was an adult when I learned that someone other than my Dad sang "The Train They Call the City of New Orleans", "Clayton Delaney", and "Bobbie McGee" - Rachel - Being the most sought after team member for Trivial Pursuit - Rachel - My first memory was seeing him drive up the street in his '57 Plymouth - Dorothy - I always knew what time he would be home after work - Dorothy - One time he brought a hobo home to eat supper with us. Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Gave him some clothes and shoes. Bought him a bus ticket and wished him well. - Dorothy - Because the first thing you did when you came home from work was to give Mom a kiss - Rachel - Shows us what a good marriage looks like by loving Mom so well - Kelly - Makes the best chocolate syrup for ice cream - Kelly - Cuz' I just love him - Gracen - He never ceases to amaze me with his talents. He is an artist, carpenter, electrician, and more than willing to help me with my projects - Mom - His sense of humor - Mom - Loves his family unconditionally - Mom - I love to hear him sing and play guitar - Mom - The way he always has time and patience for the grand kids - Mom.