Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Second Look--August 31, 2016

Here on this last day of August, I heard that it has been the hottest August on record with 23 days over 90 degrees. And today is supposed to stay with the trend, so maybe it will be 24 really hot days this month. Many of the plants and trees are drying up and looking pretty stressed because the heat has not come with a lot of rain. The trees in particular are dropping a lot of dried leaves prematurely. We had a very wet spring which cause a lot of growth that the trees can't support now that the weather is not so friendly. Nevertheless, there are few pockets of color here and there. Most of the pictures this week were taken during a morning walk just as the dew was starting to dry. If you look closely at some of the pictures, you will see it.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Blanket Flower



I'm not sure what this insect is but notice the proboscis is orange like the color around its head.

Wild flower


Balloon flower


Day Lily

The geraniums I got on clearance finally bloomed.


Friday, August 26, 2016

This and That

Here it is. Just what you wanted. A small sample of the thoughts swirling in my head this morning. I'm trying to include only ones that might make sense to the outside world--meaning no explanation of weird dreams although I have done that before.
A few of my swirling thoughts
(or what happens when you drop your camera in water.)

--The paperwork on the house is slowing down. Yesterday, there were only two emails concerning the purchase, and two phone calls concerning work to be done. The day before we took a break with only one email. I've talked with several people and no one ever remembers having this much paper work when they bought a house. There seem to be a lot of new regulations, both local and national, to protect us--or annoy us depending on your perspective.

--The getting-rid-of-stuff continues in full force. Since we signed the contract for the new house almost three weeks ago, we have given away four loads to various thrift shops, two loads to charities who sent trucks to the house, 14 boxes of books to the library, various items to friends and family, and a truckload of things, including a boat, to a scrap metal yard. We are not being brutal with giving away our things, but after 19 years a in house, even with regular purging, stuff accumulates. There is plenty more to do in this area.

--Whoever thought hot flashes were a good idea? Probably the same people who thought up menstrual cramps. Sometimes these natural processes are not so fun.

--My book club recently read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and it got a thumbs up from everyone. It's hard to describe the plot without giving too much away or without it sounding like a depressing book that you wouldn't want to read. (That's what happened when I tried to tell Aunt Martha about it.) It is an easy, humorous read with a feel good message that just happens among some depressing situations. The main character, Ove, has had some back luck and decided that life is not worth living. However in his attempts to end it all, things happen until his life is transformed for the better. Ove is the type definition for the word curmudgeon, however I loved him. This was a book I read a little at a time because I wanted to come back every day and have a visit with him. As you can tell I recommend the book, but it's pretty popular right now, so it might take some time for you to find at the library. You might want to put a hold on now if you're interested.

--Oh my. I've just gotten started and my computer time is up. Time to get the recycling out, feed the cats, and get ready for work

Have a great day. That's my plan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Second Look--August 24, 2016

We had a break in the hot weather this week and it was wonderful. With temperatures in the low sixties at night and 80's during the days, it felt like fall was just around the corner. And I guess it is. The heat is returning with temperatures in the 90's for the next several days, but I enjoyed the break while we had it.

I learned something new about cicadas this week. There are periodical ones and there are annual ones. I had only ever heard about the periodical ones--the ones that come out every 13 or 17 years in great swarms with deafening mating calls. West Virginia and surrounding areas had one of these events this summer. However, there are also annual cicadas that appear every year. The life cycle of these are 2-5 years, so that there are some hatching every year. The periodical cicadas only occur in the Eastern US, so the rest of the world only has annual cicadas.

Now the reason I bring this up is that I've been seeing a few cicadas and occasionally hearing them recently. I assumed that they were out-of-place, leftover ones from the big swarm west of here. Thanks to What's that Bug, I learned they were annual cicadas. It all makes so much more sense now.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Zinnia. You are seeing pictures from this planter every week because it's one of the few things with color these days.

Notice the delicate pink and white flower among the coreopsis. It is growing on a "weed" that I usually pull before it blooms. However, this one got away from me and I'm glad it did. It was a nice contrast to see this among the surrounding yellow flowers. 

Another "weed" I enjoyed seeing was red clover.

I will miss seeing the cows behind us when we move.

This day lily continues to produce one bloom at a time. It's the only day lily making a showing in this heat.

Torenia. This is my first time trying this annual. I think I will use it again.

It's molting time for blue jays as you can see with this bald one.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My father's boat

Ward and I are in the process of buying a house. As part of this, we are getting rid of many things in anticipation of a move. With this discarding comes a whole set of emotions. There's the good feeling of cleaning up and organizing things. There's the angst of wondering if maybe we should have kept something for future use. And there's the sadness and nostalgia of letting a part of the past go. My father's boat is a good example of this.

My father was an avid fisherman and spent most of his life fishing on the local creeks and rivers. He loved being on the river in his john boat whether he was with a friend or by himself. However the last few years of his life, he was not able to go fishing any more and his boat sat in my parent's backyard under the walnut tree. As my father became more and more feeble, my mother fretted more and more about how she was going to get rid of the boat. I think it was easier for her to worry about the boat than it was to think about my father's declining health. So during one of our visits, we said that we wanted the boat and would take it home with us. We didn't really want the boat, but we'd figure out later what to do with it.

And there it sat.
So we loaded the 160 lb, 14' long boat on top of our van and drove it across the mountains to our house. In hindsight, that was not a very smart thing to do, but everyone and everything made it in one piece. We put the boat in the backyard and there it sat.

At first, we asked around if to see if anyone wanted it. We asked Ward's family, we asked the neighbors, and we asked friends. Then I started asking every repairman that came to the house. Several people said they were interested, but never got back to us. So after a while, we moved onto other things and there it sat. Then after a while longer, it became part of the landscape and we forgot about it. That was until recently when we started to think about selling our house. If that was going to happen, the boat was going to have to go.

My first thought was to give the boat away to a charity because I didn't want to have to deal with people coming by to look at it from Craig's list. After a talk with a friend from work who is training to be an EMT, I found the perfect place. I could give it to the local water rescue team to use in training. My father would have loved that idea and actually would have loved being part of a team like that. I called the station and they said great. They could use the boat. I told my sisters and they were thrilled with the idea of Daddy's boat being used that way. It even brought tears to Miss Lander's eyes because it was so perfect.

The next Saturday, we borrowed Uncle Billy's truck to take the boat to the rescue station. I called before we left to let them know we were coming, and they were surprised. They didn't know who I talked to, but they couldn't use the boat. What a big disappointment.

Back to the drawing board. I started calling charities that took cars to see if they wanted a boat. No such luck, because as it turns out, we didn't have the title. We had done a fair amount of looking, but never did find it. So with no title, we couldn't sell it or donate it. What to do now? The best and only suggestion at this point was to turn it over and make a planter out of it. I didn't think that was going to help sell our house.

Then Aunt Martha had the idea that finally worked. Sell it for scrap metal. I hated the idea of scrapping a perfectly good boat, but when you're discarding things, not each and every piece is going to find the perfect home. The local scrap yard would take it without a title, so again we borrowed Uncle Billy's truck to transport the boat. However, I was not ready for the flood of emotions I had as they put it in the truck. All I could see was my father sitting in that boat and fishing. He's been gone for three years, but the memories were still fresh.

The trip to the metal recycling yard went without a hitch (except a pulled muscle Theo got lifting the boat). We were able to get a little money for the boat that we put in an account for my mother's care. I think my father would have approved of what we did with the boat. Because what he would have wanted more than anything is for my mother to be taken care of.

Monday, August 22, 2016

House Changes--Part 6

So Ward and I have decided that it is time for some changes and are in the process of buying a new house. We have a contract on one and are in the process of doing the thousands of details involved in buying it. It has been a short week (or long, depending on how you look at it) since I gave you an update on how things are going. So here it goes.
When we weren't signing papers, we made also some
 tomato sauce last week

We've had a septic inspection and a termite inspection and the house passed both with flying colors. The appraiser has come and gone with good news, and we've gotten a new home owners insurance policy. We've been drawing floor plans and contacted our contractor about doing some work. In the middle of all of these, we have signed dozens more papers from the bank. I think it must be someone's job there to figure out how to put the same thing on paper after paper in slightly different ways.

Back here we have been getting rid of stuff in anticipation of moving. There's nothing like the thought of moving something or paying someone to move something to motivate you to purge things. And we've been experiencing a whole set of emotions that go with this process. There's the good feeling of cleaning up and getting rid of things. There's the angst of wondering if maybe we should have kept something for future use. And there's the sadness and nostalgia of letting a part of the past go. And nothing typifies this more than my father's boat.

Unfortunately, I've run out of time. I've gotta go to work, so I'll tell you about Daddy's boat next time.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thankful Sunday--August 21, 2016

I am thankful for surprise lilies.

Every year in August, when everyone and everything is getting tired of the heat, surprise lilies pop up. They faithfully made their appearance again this year. Seeing them brought a smile to my face and for that I am thankful.

FYI: They are called surprise lilies because their foliage happens at a different time than their blooms. The leaves come up and die off in the spring and the blooms pop up a couple of months later seemingly overnight.  Surprise!

Friday, August 19, 2016


Stir fry tonight.

(Thanks, Uncle Billy, for sharing your harvest.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Second Look--August 17, 2016

The very hot and humid days of August are continuing and most things are suffering because of it. However, the marigolds and zinnias continue to bloom and the birds continue to eat. I am seeing more goldfinch eating zinnia seeds. Another reason not to deadhead too fast. :)

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Zinnia growing among the marigolds.

Out of the dozens of day lilies in the yard, this is the only one blooming.

Among all of the giant yellow mushrooms I've been finding, I found this small white one.

Nearby was more fungus working on a tree stump.

In the middle of my walk, the clouds rolled in and it started to thunder.

And the wind kicked up.

I don't know what this bumblebee was doing, but it looked like it was just trying to steady itself in the wind.

On the way back to the house, I took a couple of more pictures including this hosta.

And these Blackeyed Susans. Fortunately, I made it back to the house before it rained. Disappointingly, the rain was very short lived.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Timing is Everythng

This summer we've been trying to catch up on some important things that we've been putting off. Ward's illness reminded us that you never know what is going to happen. Anyway, when he was feeling better from his surgery, we started to move ahead.

Wally and Theo were a lot younger the last time we did our will.
The first thing was to get professional advice to see if our finances are okay for a decent retirement. We thought they were, but you never know. We had a free, three hour consultation with a recommended financial planner who concluded we were okay and didn't need his help. However, we came away with a list of things to do to get things in order. I needed to rollover some of my IRA's, we needed to update our important paper notebook, get a bigger fire safe, etc. Actually I can't remember what all he said. On our today's to do list is to find the paper with the notes from that meeting.

In the meantime, we've been meaning to review and update our estate plan. It had been 13 years and laws have changed as well as the status of our children. We no longer have minors. So I made an appointment with the lawyer we dealt with before. We met and we had another list of things to think about and do.

So in the middle of these two things, Ward said that we should call our real estate agent and start looking a little just to see what's out there for when we want to downsize. Even though that was part of our long term plans, I think it was more of a distraction from the tedious work that was waiting at home than it was serious house hunting at this point. But be careful what you ask for. Because if you've been reading here, you know that we found THE house in under a week when we thought we might be casually looking for a long time.

So now, we are working on financial transactions and plans, reading trusts and living will papers, and trying to buy a house with the dozens of things that are required to do that.

Any one of these things takes time and concentration. However, all three of them have just about maxed out our paper handling abilities. Timing is everything and apparently, we're not very good at timing. Or we'd be a little less crazy right now. But despite the craziness, it's a whole lot nicer to be talking to banks and lawyers instead of doctors like we were a few months ago.

Until next time...

Monday, August 15, 2016

House Changes--Part 5

After a long time in planning and a short time in looking, Ward and I put an offer in on a house. And then we waited a couple of days to see what the seller thought of our offer. As expected, she countered with a higher price which we accepted. And we were off to the races.

There were document after document after document to be sent to the lender. Title companies to be contacted. Home inspections to be scheduled--first the house, then the radon, then the septic, then the termite,  Money for a survey. Money for this processing. Money for that paper. Money for this search, Money that inspection. Those of you who have bought a house know how it is. There is a lot involved. And a lot more after that. We have been meeting with our agent almost daily to sign another paper and follow up on contingencies.

The inspector found a badly leaking window here.
So among this flurry activity, the next big hurdle was the house inspection. The house looked pretty solid, but you never know what goes on behind the walls, so to speak. We met with the home inspector on Sunday at noon. (People buying and selling houses don't seem to keep any regular business hours.). He was a personable fellow that seemed to know his business. Luckily, Ward has some knowledge in the way houses work, so he was another set of eyes and ears that was examining things with the inspector. I tried to pay attention, but I have to admit, my mind was often in other places. I was trying to figure out how our furniture would fit in these new spaces and what I would want to change. At one point I took a trip to the closest grocery store to see how long it would take to get there--8 minutes. Pretty good.

The inspection that was supposed to take a couple of hours took almost five. I'm not sure why because there was no down time. I guess you could say that he did a very thorough job. The conclusion was that it was a solidly built house but it had some wear and tear on it. There were leaky windows, rotten wood, unsafe electrical panels, and high radon levels to list a few things on his report. Fourteen things in all that he recommended be fixed. But none of it was bad enough to scrap the deal. Things on houses wear out all the time. And safety codes change over time.

So we went back to the seller and asked for four things to be fixed. And she said she would give us a little money toward the fixes, but the house was good enough for her so it should be good enough for us. And once again we accepted it. It didn't sound like she was in a bargaining mood.

So the whole thing was becoming real and I started to aggressively get rid of stuff in our current house. There was a LOT to be done before this house was ready to go onto the market. The task seemed impossible to me. Especially in the middle of the night.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thankful Sunday--August 14, 2016

Lucky was the first one I found this morning.

I am thankful my cats.

These days, things are pretty hectic around here. One day I was talking to Wally on the phone about everything that was going on and he gave me this advice, "Mama, stop what you're doing and go find a cat. A cat on your lap always makes you calm." He was right there's nothing like petting a purring cat to calm everything down. So for Wally's advice and my cats, I am thankful.

Friday, August 12, 2016

House Changes--Part 4

After house hunting for only a short time, Ward and I thought maybe we had found what we were looking for, so we decided to make an offer.

I spent another sleepless night before we met with Tom, our agent, to begin the paperwork. (In case you don't remember, spending big money makes me anxious.) I began the session with putting my feelings up front. I wanted to put in a very low offer because that's all the money I wanted to spend and was feeling anxious about the whole thing. However, I said that wasn't exactly what I was going to do, but I wanted to put it out on the table where my thoughts were coming from. We started filling out lots of papers even before we got to the offer part. At one point, I was getting cold, so I told Ward I was going to the car to get my sweater.
I wonder how long our 94 year old seller has had this oil?
Notice the pictures on it.

When I returned to the building, the door was locked. I knocked to no avail. Tom and Ward were in a conference room not close to the door and didn't seem to hear me. I knocked some more. I knocked on the glass, I knocked on the wood. I knocked continuously and I knocked in patterns. I went around the building to see if any other door was open. No luck. I figured sooner or later they would come looking for me, so I waited. I should also mention that my cell phone was in the conference room with them. I was only going to the car for a minute, so I didn't think to bring it. I waited some more and knocked every little bit until my knuckles were getting sore. Finally another agent showed up and let me in. I joined Tom and Ward and they exclaimed, "There you are." I told them the door was locked and I couldn't get back in.

They hadn't heard me, but they thought I was so stressed that I had left the room to gather myself. Ward said I was probably calling one of my sisters for emotional support. All the time I was trying to get back into the room, they were giving me time to collect myself. And all I wanted was in.

We all had a good chuckle over it and I was feeling better. A short 3 hours later, we were finally done with all of the paperwork. The offer was ready and Tom would present it tomorrow to the other agent. Now it was a waiting game. Interestingly, we learned that the person selling the house was a 94 year old woman, who just moved into a 55 and over community. If she is any indication, we could live a good long time in this house.

Well, we had done it. I don't know if you are keeping up with the timeline, but after only four days from our first meeting with Tom and seeing only two houses inside, we put in a offer. Yes, my head continued to spin and a good night's sleep was eluding me.

So what did our 94 year old think of our offer?

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

House Changes--Part 3

My husband and I are in the process of house hunting. 

The Hunt

Nice trees helped make this house attractive.
After discussing it for a a couple of years, Ward and I were finally sitting around the dining room table with our real estate agent, Tom. Ward had given him general parameters of what we were looking for in geographic area and style. We wanted one level living with a workshop for Ward or a good lot to build one on. We still wanted a little land around us, but something definitely easier to take care of than we have now.  We also wanted to be within 30 minutes of my work. Tom came prepared with maps and listings for us to look at.

At first glance, it was discouraging. They rarely build ramblers in this area any more. They were common 40-50 years ago, but not so much now. Two-story giant houses are the name of the game around here these days. Many of the ramblers built long ago were chopped up with small rooms and needed a lot of work. However, he advised us to drive around some of the communities within our chosen radius and see what they look like. He also sent us with four listings he had found that we might be interested in.

The entire weekend we drove around looking at houses for sale. We saw at least a couple of dozen. And among all of those, we found two that we wanted to actually go into. We scheduled appointments for the next day and just a few hours before we were to see them, both were taken off the market. That was very discouraging because we had fallen in love with the pictures we had seen on the internet of one of them.

However the next day, Tom found one that was actually on the market for us to see. It was a flip that had been beautifully done, but it was not for us because it had a swimming pool. It was hard to walk away from because we knew it was a rarity, but we did.

And then it happened. When widening the search parameters (meaning going up in price a little), we saw a house that just might work. It was a well-built house in a nice neighborhood with all living on one level--even the laundry. (Not a common thing because most laundry rooms are in the basement.) But more importantly, it had a HUGE detached workshop. I think Ward's eyes glazed over when he saw it and the house faded into the background.

After we saw that house, we spent a sleepless night thinking about if we wanted to put an offer in on this one. While there were drawbacks (needs some work), we knew this was it. It fit every important criteria we had for a house.

But could I overcome the fact that it was a above the price range we had hoped for?

Until next time...

A Second Look--August 10, 2016

Here are a few things a saw this week 
during a Second Look.


Marigolds. I have a lot of marigolds this year and they all came from last years seeds as volunteers.

More big mushrooms/fungus sprung up almost overnight. Notice the 12" ruler for scale.

I got several begonias at the end of the planting season for half price and they're doing very well. However, the geraniums I also got on clearance don't look so good. But I'm still holding out hope for them.

Hydrangea. You can see that it was sprinkling when I took this picture.

Most of the coneflowers are drying up and turning to seed. Here's one that is a little behind schedule.

This box is full of noisy baby wrens. However since it only opens in the front, I haven't looked in. Several years ago I did that and all of the babies fell out. I managed to put them all back with success, but I don't the open box any any more when there is nesting going on. Just before I snapped this picture, the mother bird was peeking out the hole. Timing everything and it wasn't good this time.

However, I did manage to get a picture of the mother when she flew out of the box. The babies were really loud until she called something to them and then all of the cheeping stopped at once. I guess I represented stranger-danger.

How many butterflies can you see in this picture?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

House Changes--Part 2

My husband and I are in the process of house hunting.

The Beginning

Getting the floors redone in the present house
Yesterday, I said that Ward and I are pretty good about making long term plans. Well, sort of. We are good at making them, but I am anxious about implementing them if they involve any big changes. It's the the known vs. the unknown thing. So if I can deal with what I am doing today, I'm afraid to venture into the unknown. What if it's worse? What if it doesn't work out? What if something happens that we didn't anticipate? Some people are invigorated by change and actually need it. That's not me. Predictability is the name of the game as far as I'm concerned.

So when the discussions about moving started a few years ago, I was hesitant. (Ward may have another word for it.) But I agreed in theory, so I cooperated.  We talked about what we wanted in a house. We pointed out the look of houses we liked as we drove by. So while I was nervous, it was so far so good in our action plan.

Then we started to put a timeline to the whole thing and the anxiety level shot up. Tied to the house change timeline was retirement for Ward (another story about whether the stress of the job is worth the money). We wanted to do this while there was a decent salary coming in. We called in a real estate agent to tell us what we should do to the house to get it ready to sell in a couple of years. That would give us plenty of time to work on what we needed. We carefully noted his suggestions and then set about getting caught up in everyday life and ignored the list.

As Ward was recovering from surgery, his suggestions that we call the agent back and start looking at houses became more frequent. I said not yet. I wasn't ready. He said there's not a commitment, let's just see what's out there. I said we haven't done anything on the list he gave us. We're not ready. He said, it's okay. I said we will waste the agent's time.  He said let's just look. And finally, I agreed because I knew I was balking for no good reason except I was anxious. And just three days later we were sitting around the dining room table looking at listings .

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 8, 2016

House Changes--Part 1


Ward and I are pretty good about making long term plans, not the best but pretty good--especially if the stats I hear in the news these days are true. Most Americans aren't ready for next month let alone retirement, but we're in reasonable shape.

We have always put maximum into our retirement plans and lived below our means. This was whether we had two jobs, one job, a good job, or a mediocre job. This has allowed us to mostly live debt free.

We're now in our late 50's and retirement is becoming very real--particularly for Ward who has talked about retiring for a few years now. So besides making sure our finances are in order (a trip to the financial planner recently confirmed this), we have been talking about what we want to do, where we want to live, etc. And the conclusion has been, that we want to stay in the area we are in to be close to the family here.

However, what we do want to change is the house that we live in. We want to get a house where we can age comfortably in place. And that mostly means, no steps. We have watched our parents age in houses that were not good for this and the subsequent problems that occurred. So while we love many things about where we live now (just look at the Second Looks to get an idea), three level living with a two acre lot to take care of is not the way we want to do things in the future. And this is a change we want to make before we need to, so it is not made in a pressured situation as we have seen both sets of our parents deal with.

So you can probably guess where this is going. We're in the process of house hunting, etc. This was what I eluded to in another post when I said I was pretty busy these days. I will be chronicling here, some of this process.

So, until next time...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Thankful Sunday-August 7, 2016

I am thankful for my family.

My family, both extended and immediate, have priority over everything else in my life. I am lucky that I have a supportive and loving family because I know this isn't always the case. (Actually, you don't have to look very far in my extended family to see this.) 

So what brought all of this to mind is that both of my sons are here today visiting. These days that doesn't happen very often. So for family and their visits, I am thankful.