Monday, November 23, 2015

A Quick Note Before I Cry Myself to Sleep

Dear John,
It's past my bedtime, but I had to let you know. I was making one last check of Facebook
and found out that Alan died today.
It's hit me harder than I would have expected. Of course, we've been friends, and close ones, since way back in 1970 when we were sixteen. We dated briefly but stayed friends ever since. I remember the first high school reunion I went to, when you and Alan met each other.
He's been so happy these last years, since he met and married Marj. They adored each other just like we always did. I'm so glad he had that. And I'm so sorry for Marj, because I know what it's like to lose a love like that. 
That's all - I just had to tell you. Please go and be sure Mama knows. She always loved Alan. Be sure she's there to meet him when he arrives. Then go and find a quiet corner, and you and he laugh at all the funny stories about me. He knows some good ones. You'll love it. Give him a hug for me.
Be there when I can,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Churchill, Chamberlain, and Jethro

Dear John,
I had lots of other things to talk to you about, but current events trumped all of them. On Friday night, Paris was hit with several coordinated attacks from ISIS. So far there are 129 dead and more than twice that number wounded. Today France bombed several important strategic holds of ISIS in Syria. And we took in the first loads of Syrian refugees in New Orleans and Los Angeles. I do worry about the sanity of the planet.
The outpouring of sympathy and aid to France has been immense, as you can imagine. There are a few isolated voices blaming the victims and charging everybody else with racism. As I said, I'm concerned about planetary sanity. Everybody is on edge, including me, and that is to be expected. Some of it is coming out in general irritability on Facebook, so this evening I stuck my neck out and basically said, "Everybody out of the pool!" I don't want to see a common enemy divide us.
There are lots of discussions of Churchill and Chamberlain - you know, war versus appeasement. I was reading an excellent article about that on Facebook today, when the article disappeared. It was removed from Facebook. I can't imagine why. There was nothing extreme or inflammatory about it. Facebook has occasional censorship spasms that are somewhere between irritating and worrying. This one was also puzzling.
So please pray for all of us - for peace on Facebook and across the world. Maybe this will make people aware of just how serious a threat we are all facing. It's too much to hope for the death of political correctness, isn't it?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, your little family is fine. I put the winter blanket on the bed today, but not the flannel sheets yet. The dog and cats are fine and happy. The cats all slept on me last night, and when I took a nap this afternoon the dog came and lay on me, all sixty pounds of him balanced on my left side, head to waist, while I slept on my right. I can only assume there was some dread threat he was protecting me from. It was a bit uncomfortable, but I was tired enough to sleep for an hour that way. I wish you could have seen it.
It's bedtime now. I still miss you over there on your side of the bed. Try as he might, Jethro can't replace you.
Miss you,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

And The Vault Came Tumbling Down

Dear John,
The bronchitis went away quietly. While I was sick, I took a break from the computer. I hadn't even checked Pinterest until tonight. I've been keeping up with Facebook on my phone and have only been on the laptop to pay bills. It's been restful. But now I'm back with lots of news for you.
The weather has been lovely. It's November, and it was 72 today. The windows are open tonight, of course - after all, it is me we're talking about. A cool-down is expected over the weekend and these may be our last 70s for the year. But it's been one of the most beautiful falls I've ever seen. Remember how long fall lasted in Durham? It's been a bit like that. And the trees have changed slowly and the color has lasted a long time.
The demolition of the old bank building was more complicated than expected. It turns out that the vault was encased in concrete that had 3/4-inch rebar in a 5-inch grid all around it. They've spend the last two weeks trying to take it out. Today they used a hydraulic circular saw with a two-foot-diameter blade and cut the thing in half. There was running water and lots of sparks flying, and the entire downtown vibrated. Finally there was a thump and the thing broke in half and fell over. It looked like there had been and accident at Stonehenge. People kept suggesting using explosives, but it was right up against the wall of the pharmacy. And we like the pharmacy and don't want to blow it up.
The other big news is that we have a new roof. I mean us - our house. It turns out that Margaret's son has a roofing business. So I got an estimate from him, which was much lower than any other I'd gotten. And he could start on it right away, so it's all done. It isn't metal - I couldn't afford metal after paying $3000 to find out that I don't have breast cancer. But he used Owens Corning shingles that have a thirty-year warranty, and I don't expect to be here worrying about my roof in thirty years. It looks great.
So come and look at the roof! And while you're in town, stop by and see the new bank and the pieces of the old vault. And, of course, come and see me and your little family. You really need to meet your cats. Come cuddle with me and tell me all about your life now. I miss you lots and lots.
Adore you,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Faucets, Deconstruction, & Homeless Bats

Dear John,
Reporting in:
First, I fixed the kitchen faucet on Sunday. I took off the head and found a thick layer of lime scale, not in the filter, but between the head and neck of the faucet. I soaked in in white vinegar all day and had to use a brush and my fingernail to get all the scale off. But now I can run water without it splattering all over the kitchen. It was fun to figure it out.
Second, you need to get on this Cubs thing. They've lost their first two games to the Mets. Tomorrow night they'll play game number three. Pitching and hitting have both failed them. They're back at home tomorrow - that should help.
Third, I have bronchitis. I had a sniffle on Friday a cold on Saturday, and my lungs crashed at midnight Saturday night. I maxed out on Prednisone and inhalers on Sunday, and I was up until 3 AM sitting up trying to breathe. So today I worked until my lunchtime and went to South Bend to see Barb. There was really nothing to add but antibiotics. It will take me a few days to feel better, but I should be human by our busy day on Friday. She told me not to go to work tomorrow unless I feel much better, but I plan to be there anyway. They need me and I need the paycheck, and Tuesday is always a rather slow day.
Fourth, speaking of work, they started tearing the old building down today. The good news is that they got it separated from the pharmacy much more easily than they expected. The bad news is that they walked into the pharmacy at noon and told them they had to close for an hour. So they removed everybody and locked the doors at their busiest time on their busiest day. The town is peeved. But the town had a great time watching it come down, and most of the population was in attendance for some of it. We'd hoped to watch, but they put plywood over the drive-up windows so we couldn't see a thing. The next task is to dismantle the old vault. And when they get to the basement, the bats will go free. Poor homeless bats!
That's all that's going on here. I suppose it is enough. For the next few days I'll be up most of the night, feeling awful during the day, and doing as little as possible. 'Tis the price of asthma. I'll feel fine by the weekend. Better living through chemicals!
Adore you,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gift Exchange

Dear John,
Happy 3 1/2 year anniversary yesterday. I can't believe you've been gone that long. What I really can't believe is that I've survived that long without you. I didn't talk to you last night because I was up late working on your anniversary present - the Cubs won Game 3 and are on their way to the League Championship Series. Or maybe that was your gift to me. Either way, it's wonderful.
I didn't have time to get the mail yesterday. When I went to the post office this morning, there was a flier from the Bradford Mint. I'm sure they got our names from some database somewhere - I know we've never ordered anything from the Bradford Mint. I looked at the flier and couldn't put it down. It was addressed to you; here's what they wanted you to buy:
Amazing, and amazing timing, coming on your 3 1/2 year anniversary. Did you have anything to do with this photo ending up in my mailbox? Is that your chuckle that I hear? I can't help wondering if I gave you the NLCS and you gave me this photo.
I know it's true - I know you love me and always will. You know that I feel the same. We each had our day to say that, and lots more, before you died. Thank you for saying it that day and living it every day that I knew you. As for your forgetting to take me with you, we've already dealt with that. Come get me soon?
Love you with all my heart,

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Welcome to October

Dear John,
I can't believe it's been a week. I've been coming home so tired that I haven't even gotten on the computer. I picked up a tummy virus that had me down for a couple of days. And now I seem to be trying to get the respiratory bug that everybody at work has had. I suppose our immune systems are responding to all the stress and fatigue.
It's been an interesting sports week. As you probably know, the Cubs are in the post-season. They beat Pittsburgh - with a stick - for the wild card spot, and are now 1-1 with the Cardinals after two game in St. Louis. Tomorrow afternoon they play at Wrigley. I hope to get home in time to see part of it. I've actually watched all of these two games - it's the first time since your death that I've been able to make it through a whole baseball game. I suppose I'm watching for both of us.
I always said that it was good that I was a Cubs fan, since meaningful baseball never conflicts with football season. That isn't holding true this year. Tomorrow I'll overdose for sure. The Cubs are on at 4:30 and the Steelers are on Monday Night Football. I'll go to work sleep-deprived on Tuesday. And Tuesday will be a horror of a day since we're closed tomorrow. Not that I'm getting a holiday. We have an all-day training meeting in Shipshe tomorrow, 7:45-5:00. Have I ever told you how much I hate all-day training meetings? At least I'll be off my feet. And they are letting us wear jeans and feeding us lunch. There are a few compensations.
Otherwise, all is well here. Hunter is finally over his urinary infection. I'll be giving him cranberry powder twice a week for the rest of his life, but I sprinkle it on his food and he doesn't seem to mind it. And he's on special food. All the animals are fine. I was gone all day yesterday, between Corn School in LaGrange, a benefit dinner for our fire department, and watching Notre Dame and the Cubs with Richard. So they've all been velcroed to me today. I spent today taking it easy, knitting, watching football, and blowing my nose. The animals seemed to be fine with that.
Think about me tomorrow, sitting in meetings all day. Come after I get home and tell me all about your day. I know it will be much better.
Adore you,

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fuzzy Jelly Beans, Part II

Dear John,
I have the next installment of the Saga of the Fuzzy Jelly Beans. You remember - the litter of kittens Jethro found just outside the fence under the arborvitae. Tonight I let him out and he wouldn't come in, so I knew something, probably feline, was up. I went outside with the flashlight and found him looking at something between the fence and the shed. I got closer and, sure enough, there was one of the kittens. It wasn't a jelly bean anymore, more like a fuzzy Death by Chocolate cupcake. I flashed the light around and saw Mama Cat nearby, arching her back and hissing at Jethro. So I got him inside and let them be. He still wants to adopt the entire family.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've had a good and restful weekend. Friday and Saturday at work were much better. We kinda sorta know where things are now and we're getting our rhythm in the new building. Everything is very different, and a lot of our routines and procedures are having to change. We're all tired and stressed and distracted, and nothing we do is coming automatically anymore. We're even having to think when we go to the bathroom, since there are no signs on the doors to tell us which is men's and which is women's. But there's still been no bloodshed and all is well. We will continue to adjust and, as we do, there are things we will like better. In a year, we won't be able to imagine how we managed in the old building.
It's been a hit with the town, too. What everybody likes most is a big stained glass window in the wall between the teller line and the drive-up. It's the centerpiece of the bank and it's beautiful. You may remember it - it was in the front of the old dime store. We salvaged it before the building was torn down, and the wall was designed to showcase it. Harold was even in last Monday to take photos for the historical society. The town appreciates the bank valuing history and making a place for it. And so do I. 
Please pray for South Carolina. There's a hurricane parked over it and the flooding is terrible. Up here, we've been around 60 during the day and 40s at night. I opened the house again today and it was lovely. We've gotten some rain from the hurricane but, unlike South Carolina, we needed it. We're having a lovely fall. I'm off work next Saturday and will be in LaGrange for Corn School. Maybe I'll ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with Elyssa again. She was no end impressed last year that grandma knew how to make it spin. Some things never get old.
Adore you,

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Not Really Ready for Some Football

Dear John,
I'm exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted. And my feet are killing me. And the Steelers are playing the Hated Ravens right now. I won't be up much longer.
Monday we got unpacked and moved in as much as we could, and got the bank ready for the new building to open on Tuesday. And Tuesday was The Day from Hell. It started when the internal phone system in LaGrange went down. Not only could we not call them; we had to re-route all phone calls to us. We had two people working all day helping people move their safety deposit boxes to the new building and one pulled to the Shipshewana office, so we were down three people. We had two days' work to do since we'd been closed on Monday. Nobody knew where anything was and there were a few technical glitches. We survived. They fed us pizza. We won't move into a new building again in my lifetime. I'm glad.
Wednesday was much better. We're still opening several drawers before we find what we're looking for, but it's getting better. At least the phone system was back up. And I figured out why my feet hurt so bad. We have the same carpet we did in the old building, but that was on a wood floor and this is on concrete. And our padded floor mats haven't been moved over. I plan to go get mine tomorrow, since I'm still the only one who has to work standing.
Tomorrow will be our grand opening, and a Friday. I'm expecting to get slammed. But we will survive, and after Saturday we'll have the first week under our belts. Oh, and we're having nights down to 40, so today I closed the house and turned on the heat. It hasn't run yet, but it will later tonight. I wanted you to know that I turned it on before there was ice on the walls. Be proud of me.
I'm off to bed now. I'll report in tomorrow if I'm not too exhausted to talk. I've had so much to tell you every night this week, but have been too tired to be coherent. I've just needed to cuddle up and go to sleep on your shoulder. After you rub my feet. Come by in about half an hour?
Adore you,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Dryer Dries & the Candy Corn is Out

Dear John,
The dryer dries. I got the switch changed with no trouble. However, it required unplugging the dryer. My arms aren't long enough to plug it back in, so Bob, being the tallest person I know, came over and plugged it in for me, bless him. I'll do a load of clothes after work tomorrow.
This afternoon I changed the curtains and decorations for fall, and your big wooden candy corn is out again. That thing was such a joke between us, since you love candy corn and I hate it. I found it when I was shopping with your sister, and just had to get it for you so that you could have candy corn whenever you wanted. I still get it out every fall and it always makes me smile.
I need to get to bed. I was going to stay up - we're having a super-moon eclipse tonight at 10:30 - but we have heavy clouds so there's nothing to see here. I'll catch it on line tomorrow. It will be a busy day at work, getting everything unpacked and set up, ready for the new building to open on Tuesday. I'll enjoy it because it will consist of organizing and arranging things. But it will be long and tiring. We get to wear jeans, so I'll wear my athletic shoes, too, and my feet won't hurt as bad as they usually do. I know, I need bunion surgery. But I can't afford the time off from work, so I'll just wear athletic shoes tomorrow. I can have surgery after I retire.
Right now, the dog is outside and Hunter is asleep across my knees. Abby and Maggie just chased each other up and down the hall. It's dark and cool and quiet outside, and time for all diurnal mammal to be asleep. I'll fall asleep thinking of you.
Miss you,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Big Move

Dear John,
It's been quite a day. After the bank closed at noon, we had the Great Move. The information that went out to the public was that we'd be moving on Monday. That was for security reasons - you don't tell everybody exactly when the money will be moved from one vault to the other. We will have stuff left to move on Monday, but the big job for the day will be unpacking what we moved today and getting set up to open on Tuesday.
It was quite a production. I was responsible for moving the drive-up, which includes two teller stations, branch capture, and lots of storage. I'll have so much more room now - unpacking things and putting them away will be a delight. The IT people were there late today. They had all the computers and monitors to move and set up. The goal is to have them up and ready by Monday morning.
And we did it all with no bloodshed. We're all housebroken - everybody is stressed but well-behaved. And they're treating us like royalty. Today they had a big lunch for us to eat while the bank officers, along with state and county police, moved the vault. Monday we get to wear jeans and they're feeding us pizza. And Friday is a fund-raising day for cancer, so everybody who contributes gets to wear jeans. And they're going to buy lunch for us again Friday to celebrate our official grand opening.
It's been challenging, and there are still lots of IT things that can go wrong. But everything essential is moved and everything is going according to plan. I hope you can see the new building - you'd love it. I've tried to talk everybody into trapping the bats and bringing them with us. They're been living with us for such a long time that they're part of the family. Sadly, no one agrees. So the bats will go free as the old building is dismantled. There will be more about that later.
And, speaking of late, it is. And I'm tired and sore and ready to go to sleep. I should sleep well tonight!
Adore you,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dryer Parts & Tattered Nightgowns

Dear John,
I changed my mind about the dryer. I talked to JJ yesterday, and today I called him with the model number and he's ordering the part for me. It's right at the top of the dryer and easily accessible. Bless him, he made of copy of the dryer schematic for me. The part will be here in a couple of days. And it will cost me all of $1.50.
And I'm even more into saving money these days. Today I got the final bill for my breast biopsy. I'm paying almost $4000 for finding out that I don't have breast cancer. The problem is that I hadn't paid much of anything on my deductible this year. So I'm getting it all in one big lump.
I've found another curious thing in the back of my head. And in my closet. Both places. I have a few old nightgowns that are absolutely threadbare. They're old and worn and stained, and it's time to get rid of them, but I'm not able to. It appears that I can't bring myself to get rid of any nightgown that I ever wore when I slept with you. Clothes I can get rid of. But nightgowns are another thing altogether. I suppose what you sleep in is a deeper layer of intimacy. That's obvious in a way, but the emotional connection took me by surprise. I may have to put them aside in a box or make a place for them in the other closet. I need to ponder this further.
Meanwhile, the bank will be moving soon. We all spent a good bit of today packing, and Tammy and Danielle moved all of the storeroom and most of the basement over. We got our new cash drawers, locker keys, and cabinet combinations today. We'll be closed Monday for the big move. There is great activity and even greater excitement. And we're reminding all our merchants that they won't be able to buy change on Monday, so they need to stock up before the weekend.
That's all the news: cheap dryer repair, expensive biopsy, tattered nightgowns, and the move. I suppose that is enough, isn't it? Except for one more thing. I've had nightmares the last two nights. They didn't involve you, but could you help out if you can? I'm afraid to go to sleep again.
Hope to see you tonight,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reason #1: The Dryer Died

Dear John,
I haven't gotten much done today. I was up until after 2 this morning. The weather finally caught up with my fibro and I haven't hurt that bad in a long time. So I took pain meds, then played Sudoku until they kicked in and I could sleep. The poor animals complained about being kept awake so late. I slept until 10:00 this morning and feel much better today.
I had laundry to do. Washing it went well - the problem came when the first load was ready to dry. The little switch in the door is broken, so the dryer thinks the door is open and won't run. I got it to work once by taping the lever down, but that didn't work a second time. I resorted, of course, to the clothesline, bless it. I had one load of clothes and another load with the bedspread in it. Getting that bedspread settled on the lines was a bit of an adventure. But everything is dry and all is well.
I'll call Menno and he'll come and fix it. The challenge will be finding a time that he can come when I can be here. I have Thursday off, but have an appointment at the Social Security office in Elkhart. I'll call him at my lunch break tomorrow and see what we can set up. I'd just leave the door unlocked and have him come whenever he can, but Jethro hasn't met him. I'll keep you posted.
Once again, I was thankful today for the clothesline. I remember, back when the house was still being built, telling Al that I wanted one. The next thing I knew, here he was putting up one that he'd built himself. And in twenty years, all I've had to do is replace one of the four lines. The whole neighborhood has used it, either to dry really big things or when the power is out. I've used it less often now that I'm working full time. There are lots of days I have to do a load of laundry after work. But I wouldn't be without it.
So tell Al that I was thinking about him today. Tell him how much I have always appreciated all he did for us, especially the clothesline. I may be relying on it for a while, depending on what I can schedule with Menno. The dryer should be a fairly easy fix.
Love you great, huge bunches,

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Celebrating Progress & Finding My Marbles

Dear John,
It rained hard all night, so the trip to Nappanee was re-routed to Middlebury for their Fall Festival. There was less mud and general sogginess in Middlebury. And it was fun. Richard took me to a huge antique store on the north end of town, in the building where the old creamery used to be. And, being me, I bought a jar of marbles.
(I'm still buying marbles. Ever since Mama threw out my marble collection when I was away at college, I've been trying to remove the psychological scars by replacing them. Either that, or I just lost my marbles and am attempting to remedy the situation.)
Anyway, the festival was unspectacular but generally enjoyable. A better time was had at Varns and Hoover. It is its same old self but more so. The housewares section has expanded quite a bit. I was looking for a small whisk but didn't find it. And I discovered a lovely little restaurant in the back of the mercantile building. Their chai is excellent. You'd like it. Not the chai, because you don't like chai, but the restaurant. You know what I mean.
In the midst of all this festiveness, I had a realization of making progress healing from your deplorable failure to take me with you. There was music at the festival, and they played "Gone, Gone, Gone," and I stopped dead in my tracks. I still remember the first time I heard it. It was a few months after your death and I was on the way home from work. It was both cathartic and invigorating, and very painful, and I loved it.
Today I heard it and realized how far I've come since that day. I'm not moving on in the sense of dating and looking for a romantic relationship - I have no desire or intention to do that. But I have adapted to this new life you left me with. I've grown in competence and independence. But what surprises me is that I've learned to be happy. There is still a hole in my life and there always will be. But there is also a fullness. I love my job, I have friends and family who love me, I'm responsible for the house and yard, and I take care of animals who also love me. I have a single friend my own age to run around with. It's a bit inconvenient that he's male, but there's nothing to be done about that. I have a social life, and that is good.
So, to sum up: I'm not moving on, I'll always love you even though you're gone. But I've learned to be happy and have a full life. And I know that makes you happier than it does me. As you watch over me now, I can tell how glad you are that I'm adapting and doing well. At least, I am most of the time, but crashes are to be expected. They don't come as often or last as long. Thank you for wanting so badly, when you realized you were leaving, for me to be happy without you. This doesn't mean I'm not annoyed with you for forgetting to take me with you. But wanting me to be happy while I'm here is second best. So thank you for that, for your prayers, for looking after me, and for waiting for me.
Love you with all my heart,

Friday, September 18, 2015

Logistics, Carnage, & the Apple Festival

Dear John,
It's been an active day. We had a very busy Friday at work, but a good one. Plans are coming along to move into the new bank in a couple of weeks. We're all looking forward to it. It will be nice to work this winter in a building that has heat throughout. But I still think we should take the bats with us when we move.
I came home, fed the critters, ate dinner, and had a hard time staying awake.
Oh, I forgot to tell you! I figured out a better way to segregate the cats during mealtimes. Hunter is the one on special food; he's also the only one who can jump up on the kitchen counters. So I feed him on that small area of countertop between the fridge and the coat closet, and feed the other two on the cat tower. Abby's bowl is where I've always fed them; Maggie's in on her favorite platform. So the logistics challenge has been met.
Anyway, I was having trouble staying awake. So I bowed to the inevitable and came down the hall at 7:45. I caught up the financials on the computer and paid a couple of bills. Then I gave Hunter his pill. To set the stage for all this, there is a smallish thunderstorm going on. There was a big clap of thunder just as Hunter swallowed his pill. Jethro jumped into my lap and landed on Hunter. And my poor cat with the UTI lost control of a very full bladder. The towel and my bedroom shoe caught most of it. The rest was on my clothes, the fitted sheet and mattress pad, and the floor. Another sheet-washing was required. So I'm sleeping on makeshift sheets tonight.
After cleaning up all of that, I was brushing my teeth and heard an odd noise. I'd forgotten the bag of cat treats and left it on the bed. Maggie found the bag, ripped it open, and was helping herself. So the cat treats are now in a glass jar, one of those old Plochman's mustard jars we've had for years. I defy them to get into that without opposable thumbs.
All in all, it was just a small amount of carnage. Everything is washable. We're between two lines of storms now and may actually get a bit of sleep. I wouldn't mind. Tomorrow I'll be at the Apple Festival in Nappanee. It should be sunny and low 60s - prefect fall festival weather. Come with me if you can get away for the day!
Adore you,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How Treating One Problem Causes Two More

Dear John,
Hunter is home, everybody is happy, and all is well. His urine showed no bacteria, but a little blood and some crystals. He's on one more week of antibiotics. When I picked him up and swaddled him in his towel to give him his pill tonight, all the rest came and sat huddled around him to be sure he was alright.
In the interest of preventing stones, he's on a special food for cats with urinary problems. And, as usual, treating one problem causes a few more. I could give all the cats this new food, but it costs a good bit more than what they're on. So I'm having to segregate the cats at mealtimes. I'm feeding Abby and Maggie on the cat tower where I always have, and Hunter in the bathroom with the door closed. Hunter, calm creature that he is, doesn't mind this at all. He chowed right down. Abby and Maggie, on the other hand, stood outside the bathroom door whimpering. They'll get used to it, but they don't like it right now. We're having to do two meals a day, too - that will be another hurdle, since they're accustomed to being able to eat whenever they want to. I'll have to get up a bit early in the morning to feed them before I leave for work.
It's always something with the children, isn't it? And I have discovered that sleep is not aided by having the police on your doorstep at bedtime. I had a hard time winding down enough to sleep last night. It didn't help any of us that Hunter was gone. We all had a lousy night and I was so, so tired all day. We're all way past ready for bed - Jethro is asleep beside me and cats are draped in the window sills. I am rapidly approaching incoherence. So I will take your little family off to bed. Tonight we're all here and the police aren't, so it should be a much better night.
Sleep well,

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why the Police are Here & Hunter Isn't

Dear John,
It's been a rough day. This morning I picked Hunter up and he screamed, his bottom was so sore and tender. I put him down and he hid behind a door and cried for ten minutes. Then he came to me for an affection attack - he cuddled and rubbed and purred, and generally let me know that he loves and trusts me and knows I didn't mean to hurt him.
So he needed to see the vet. I called first thing after they opened, and the only way June could see him without me missing work was for me to drop him off over my lunch break today and pick him up after work tomorrow. And I think that is good - it will let June spend enough time with him to evaluate things, and let her get a urine specimen. I do hope we can get things fixed this time. Poor baby, I hate to see him feel bad.
Everybody is uneasy around here. I figured the rest of the animals would either be velcroed to me or not speaking to me. Neither has been the case; they're just restless and uneasy. And I miss him so much! Don't tell the rest, but he's easily my favorite. I love that cat ridiculous amounts. I really, really hate having him gone overnight.
And, to top off a not-so-good day, just as I was going to bed tonight, the police showed up at my door. He was very nice, and he concluded that I wasn't the problem, so all is well. It seems that most of the neighborhood has called the police complaining about a barking dog. They were all certain who it was, and it wasn't Jethro. Somebody has been barking for an hour or so every night, starting at 9:00. That's after my bedtime. And I listen for him when I let him out, and bring him in right away if he starts to bark. The policeman was sure it wasn't him when he found out that Jethro is an inside dog. He asked what I've heard, since I almost always have the windows open. I said that I've heard all of the neighborhood dogs bark on occasion, but none of them have ever bothered me. After all, I went to college and lived in the dorm. Neighborhood noises aren't a problem. And if something does keep me awake, I just turn on the fan. I was no help. But I'll keep a very close eye on Jethro for a while.
I do believe that's all for the day. And that really is enough. It's not surprising that I'm tired. I'm a little wound up from having the police at my door, but not enough to keep me awake for long. Please do pray for your little family tonight, especially for Hunter.
Miss you,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Regarding Unladen Swallows

Dear John,
It's Monday, so today was busy. And it went by very fast. I had one remarkable experience that I have to tell you about.
I was helping a customer in the lobby, and he had on this shirt:
I love it. I took one look at him and burst out laughing. He seemed surprised but very happy when I told him how much I loved his shirt. He seems to think I was too old to understand; I thought he was too young. So much for stereotypes!
And that reminded me of all those Saturday nights when Jen was in college, and she'd bring two or three carloads of friends home for the night. We loved them all and would stay up way too late. Inevitably, when we decided that we absolutely had to go to bed, they'd put on The Holy Grail and we'd have to stay up for another two hours. Wonderful times.
I haven't seen the movie for a number of years. But I still get into quotation marathons on Facebook, and with friends of all ages. I suppose liking Monty Python is more a matter of a warped personality than of any certain generation. And warped we are!
I forgot to ask him if it was a African or European swallow.
Love your warped personality,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Being Sexually Below Average

Dear John,
It's Sunday, and I've been happily overdosing on football all weekend. Notre Dame and Kentucky won yesterday, Packers won today, Steelers won last Thursday. All is well. And I got a whole sock finished
I don't want to moralize, but OMG, WTF! I saw a post on Facebook today saying that the average person has eight sexual partners during his or her lifetime. I commented that, as usual, I am happily well below average. I know I'm old fashioned, but for goodness sake, what's going on in the world? Sometimes I feel like this cat.
Of course, sex, to us, is a sacramental act and belongs only within the sacrament of marriage. Not everybody believes Orthodox Christian doctrine. But sex is not a casual act, no matter how hard you may try to make it that way. Something profound happens during sexual intimacy. You're completely vulnerable, physically and emotionally, a degree of vulnerability which should be entered into with some degree of caution. And there's the risk of pregnancy - why on earth would you risk bringing a child into the world with someone who hasn't made a life-long commitment to you? Confining sex to marriage certainly makes life much simpler.
Well, as I've said, I'm old. The human sex drive was no different when we were young, but the societal messages were, and it's a very different thing for kids now. Waiting wasn't easy even then. But I've always been so thankful that we did. Neither of us ever had to wonder how we compared with anyone else; there is great security in that. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing, but we figured it out just fine. It is good to know that I was your first, last, and only, as you were mine. Thank you for saving yourself for me. Thank you for thinking I was worth it. Before we met, thank you for believing that there was someone out there who was worth it.
I love being below average with you,

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cat Nests & Hot Chocolate

Dear John,
I think I just hit the wall. It was a busy Friday at work, and I just ran out of energy. So this will be short - I'll try to end before I start to babble.
I have to tell you what Hunter did Wednesday night. I was sound asleep when I felt him jump up on the bed. He walked up me - he never walks up the bed, he walks on me. I expected him to drape himself over my ribs like he usually does. But he kept walking - up my shoulder, across my face, and onto my hair, and proceeded to lie down in it. He moved it around a bit with his feet and took hunks of hair in his mouth and pulled until he had it arranged the way he wanted. Then he purred for a bit and went to sleep. When I woke up over three hours later, he was still there in my hair.
These guys are adorable and I'm so sorry you're missing them. Hunter is all cuddles and affection, Abby is loving but not as cuddly, Maggie loves to cuddle but is still kitten enough to play a lot. Tonight Hunter was in my lap and Jethro walked by; as usual, the cat smacked him on the bottom. Abby follows Jethro around and begs for his attention. Maggie comes up and tries to groom him. They're adorable.
That's all for tonight, just cat stories. It's 56 and raining, supposed to go down to 48 tonight. The trees are starting to turn and it's completely dark by 9:00. We're headed for the autumnal equinox. I'm ready for fall, if not for snow yet. But I love every season and I'm ready for each one when it comes. For now, the windows are open and I'm listening to the rain. Jethro is asleep at my feet and the cats are in the windowsills. And, as usual, all that's missing is you. And maybe you could bring hot chocolate when you come by tonight?
I'll leave the light on,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Crises Ancient & Modern

Dear John,
Work today was filled with difficulties ancient and modern. So now I'm thinking about that venerable reference book, "Hymns Ancient and Modern," that I met when I took Mary's hymnology class. That book is a treasure.
Anyway, work today. The ancient crisis actually happened yesterday. The closers stayed late because LaGrange was running behind getting our work processed. Just when they were done and ready to go home, somebody spotted a bat flying around. So Frank grabbed a broom and chased it. For almost an hour. This morning I suggested that, if it happens again, he leave and come back around 7:00 the next morning. This time of year, when we're ready to close, the bats are ready to start their day. By the next morning, the creature will be hanging somewhere sound asleep. It will be easy to catch it and take it outside. And everybody freaked out at the thought of leaving a bat in the bank overnight. It's not like it's going to open the vault and help itself. I don't get it.
The modern crisis started last night and continued this morning. The computers were running slow by the end of the day yesterday so our IT people had them worked on overnight. That made it much worse, and all the branches lost internet connection this morning. That sounds like no big deal, except that all of our transactions happen over the internet. That's how we connect with the central account records and information. We all went to our back-up program, which allows transactions but can't access information. We can't check balances, look up account numbers, open new accounts, and a myriad of things we do all the time. Thankfully, it was only down for about an hour and it was at a slower time of day.
And the day was not slow - it was very busy for a Wednesday. Yesterday I had 125 transactions; today I had 132. That's one transaction every 3.75 minutes. And when you figure in how long it takes to count and process the average merchant deposit and the fact that I process all of those, I had a very busy day. I enjoyed it and it went by quite quickly. But I do believe I'm ready for my day off tomorrow.
It's 10:30 now, so we all need to be getting to sleep. The windows are open and there's a cool breeze out of the north. I mowed after work and my hair is still wet; I'll put a towel on the pillow and it will be dry by morning. Jethro is right beside me and the cats are in windowsills around the house. The night sounds and smells are wonderful. As usual, all that's missing is you.
Adore you,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Status as Symbol

Dear John,
One of my dear widowfriends passed a milestone yesterday. She changed her Facebook status to "widowed." It's a significant thing and difficult to do. We all reach that point in our own timing.
It is terribly meaningful, but we're having a hard time expressing just what that meaning is. As I told you when I did it, there is something so dreadfully final about it. It puts our worst nightmare down in black and white. Widowhood isn't just a legal or social status; it's an existential reality. It is something that we deeply ARE, an indelible part of us, sometimes overwhelming everything else. There is some little piece of all of us that hopes that things will somehow go back to the way they were before; bearing the title of "widow" reminds us that they won't, that this is permanent. Needless to say, that is extremely unpleasant.
I changed my Facebook status on April 22nd, nine days after your death. I wrote you about doing it and how it felt, but not why I did it when I did. Now I'm trying to remember. I do recall wanting to be sure all my Facebook family knew that you had died, and I knew that a status change would show up on my timeline. That was probably my primary reason. But underneath that, for me as for all of us, was an awareness that if was the right time. It was the right thing to do.
So this is both organic and existential. No wonder we can't put it into words. Widowhood is deeply part of who we are. And it defines us completely for a while. I'm just now beginning to grow an identity alongside that - never apart, just alongside. That is another thing we will all do is our own time.
Thanks for listening, once again, to my existential mutterings. I wonder how many hours you spent listening to me trying to figure out what was going on in the back of my head. Bless you, you valued and enjoyed my head, and I'm certain you still do.  All feedback is welcome. You know my phone number, and you know where I live!
Adore you,

Monday, September 7, 2015

Musings for Mama's Birthday

Dear John,
If you haven't already, please go find Mama and give her a big birthday kiss from me. She would have been 94 today. Tell her how much I love her.
I had to make a Walmart run today. (By the way, they're rearranging the place again. It's a mess. It's hard to find anything. I'll have to learn the whole store over again. Bummer.)Anyway, I went to Walmart. I turned on the radio on the way, and heard Anne Murray's lovely contralto singing a song I don't believe I've thought about since it was on the charts. It was good to hear it, but one line jumped out at me:
You gave me strength to stand alone again, to face the world out on my own again.
And you did. In all the years we were married, you prepared me to be without you. I doubt that it was intentional on your part, and it was certainly unrecognized on mine. But all your encouragement to grow, to change, to learn new things, to be independent, to be who I really am no matter what anybody else thought about it - all of that was groundwork for the life I live now without you.
And Mama was the other part of that. After watching her mother be widowed young, she made sure that I could support and take care of myself and a family if I needed to. She taught me how to run a home, take care of a house and car, and manage finances and legal issues. She taught me to stand on my own two feet, to be strong and independent, to do things for myself, to be an independent, capable adult.
What wasn't deliberate on your part certainly was on hers. Sometimes I can feel her smiling as she watches me be on my own for the first time in my life. I know that you smile, too. And I know that you're saying that you didn't do anything remarkable, you just loved me. But that's the point. The way that you love is special. You love without trying to own or control. You love me by wanting me to be myself. I was loved by other men before you came along, but rarely like that.
So thank you both so much. Go get a cup of tea together and celebrate. And know that I love you both so very much.
Adore you,

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Only Thing Missing is You

Dear John,
College football season is here. Notre Dame trounced Texas last night. It was lovely. And it was good just to be watching football again. Thursday night the Steelers are on. I will be so sleep-deprived on Friday.
Yesterday seemed like two separate days - today feels like Monday. I worked Saturday, came home and had lunch, and was sleepy. So I stretched out for a nap and woke up almost three hours later. If the dog hadn't wanted to go out, I may have slept until morning. So I got up, fed them and myself, and watched the football game. It was well after midnight when I got to bed.
I wasn't feeling very good when I finally went to bed last night - headache, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes. We've had a nasty cold going around at work. So I didn't set the alarm, and I woke up at 11:20 this morning. Jethro and I both slept through Richard dropping off a bag of fresh corn for me.
I did finally get up. I emptied the litter boxes, took them outside, and hosed them out. And I swept, dusted, vacuumed, and cleaned the bathrooms. The house looks great, even if the yard doesn't. I needs mowing, but I'm not doing it at 90 degrees and high humidity. The grass will still be here after the weather breaks. I'm not the only person in the neighborhood who has reached that conclusion. We have lots of tall grass around here.
Tomorrow is Labor Day. It's supposed to be 90 and - you guessed it - humid. So I'll be staying inside enjoying the air conditioning. As always, there is plenty to do around here. And I have lots of knitting to get done before Christmas. I just started another pair of socks yesterday evening. This weekend is the calendar end of summer, and it seems to also be the meteorological last hurrah. I'm ready for fall.
Tonight it's warm and humid, and the crickets and tree frogs are singing their hearts out. There are lots of lightening bugs and fewer mosquitoes than earlier in the summer. The sky is clear and there are lots of stars. All my life I've loved summer nights. This one is a beauty. The only thing missing is you.
Come get me,

Friday, September 4, 2015

Of Dogs & Days Off

Dear John,
I had a busy day off yesterday. I took Maggie in for her yearly vet check-up and vaccines. She's doing wonderfully, and weighs seven pounds now - not bad for being less than a pound when Jethro found her! When I got home, I went through the bathroom cabinets and drawers. I threw out some outdated stuff, moved some to the linen closet, and reorganized the rest. The last time I went through everything in the bathroom was when I moved your things out of the bathroom, well over three years ago, so it was time. It looks and works much better.
I did some other housework then settled down to knit in the evening. I was so tired when I got ready for bed! I sat down to write to you and found that my brain had quit for the night. I just stared blankly at the screen for a bit, then decided neither of us would benefit from anything I'd manage to say. So I turned out the light. At least, I guess I did. I don't remember doing that, but it was off this morning.
We had a busy Friday at work, with Labor Day weekend upon us. We seemed to get a lot of our Saturday traffic today, probably because people have travel plans for the weekend. We're all in favor of a slower day tomorrow. On the down side, we had no more bats. It's a shame.
We've had some thunder tonight and the power went off for a bit around 7:40. The radar has shown rain for the last three hours, but none of it has reached the ground. Jethro is responding to the thunder in his usual manner - crawling all over me. It is extremely difficult to type with a big dog head on your right arm. The cats, on the other hand, are chasing each other up and down the hall.  I do hope they let me sleep. I have the fan on to muffle the thunder a bit.
Sleep good tonight. I love you so much, and still miss you the most at bedtime. Your little family loves you.
Adore you,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Multiplicity of Furry Black Creatures

Dear John,
Mama cat moved her babies during the night. I checked this morning and they were all gone. So Jethro has the run of the back yard again. But he's disappointed that they aren't there anymore.
How can you not love
that face?
I had a good, busy day at work, enlivened by an adventure at mid-morning. Suddenly Marcie came running out of her office making squeaking noises. She'd looked up and seen a bat hanging from the ceiling. I checked it out - it was a tiny little brown bat, sound asleep. Charlie headed for it with a broom. I suggested catching it and letting it go outside, so he did. He got up on a ladder with a tin and a piece of cardboard. He let it go about a block away, hoping it doesn't find its way back in. We have had bats in the basement for years, but this is the first time in anyone's memory that one has come upstairs.
So we got into the whole bat discussion. I've always been baffled by the fear of them. They can't hurt you, they eat mosquitoes, and they're absolutely beautiful - what's not to love? People that are afraid of them can never give me a reason for their fear. I don't get it.
I was thinking about that today and realized something important. My parents didn't teach me to be afraid of anything, certainly not an animal. They taught me to respect things and be cautions where it's warranted, but not to be afraid. I learned early how to recognize poisonous snakes and how to handle a rip current. I know how to handle myself when I'm alone in an unsafe area. I know how to take down a dirt dobber nest safely. And I certainly know that bats won't hurt you. Mama always called me to come and see how wonderfully God made things. Bats must be the pinnacle of His creation. And I have a lot of my grandfather Keistler in me, too - I love animals just like he did. Especially bats.
Thank you for loving bats, too. Thank you for all those hours we spent together in the Nocturnal Animal House at the Cincinnati Zoo. I'm glad you were a zoology major - we could speak sciencese to each other. Thank you for being so kind-hearted toward all creatures. It occurs to me that bats go to Heaven when they die. I can't imagine how many there must be for you to watch. Do you get to play with them? How wonderful to be there where they aren't afraid of you anymore! 
For now, I'll have to be content with wandering kitten families and a bat that escaped with its life today. And Jethro and his three kitties, and his designs on every cat in the world. And the hope of being there with you someday.
Leave the light on for me,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jethro & the Fluffy Jelly Beans

Dear John,
We are in the midst of a mild adventure. It had the possibility of turning into a cataclysm, but at the moment it's just a mild adventure.
I let Jethro out this morning and he wouldn't come back in. He was whimpering at the arborvitae, so I thought the orange tomcat was there tormenting him again. I went out the with broom, poked the bushes, and was surprised to see a small black cat emerge and run off. I went back inside and called the dog, but he still wouldn't come. I went to see what was up, and found a kitten less than a week old, eyes still shut, just inside the fence.
This is just what they
look like!
I've never seen a kitten that young before. I picked it up just as Carrie walked over from across the street. It seems that the black cat had kittens in Carrie's yard a few days ago and moved them to my yard last night. When I put the kitten back, I saw at least three more under the shrubs. I dragged the dog inside, went to work, and wondered all day what was going on under those bushes.
The first thing I did when I got home was check. All the kittens are still there and mama has returned. All is well, but the geography of it presents some challenges. The only way I can keep Jethro away is to put him on a chain. So I got out an old one and figured out that he can't reach the kittens if it's looped around the clothesline post. He can, however, get himself wrapped around the dogwood tree. He's never been on a chain before, poor baby, but he has adapted well so far. I'll check the bushes every day. I can't let him have the run of the yard until mama moves her babies.
I'm so relieved that she came back. Of course, I'd have to take in any abandoned babies. And this morning, Jethro wanted to adopt all of them. But taking in a litter of less-than-a-week-old kittens looks a bit daunting. They're completely adorable, just like black fluffy jelly beans. Don't worry - I'll keep close watch over them and be sure they're alright. I hope mama continues to take good care of them. But you know I'll step in if I need to. With Jethro right behind me.
Tonight you have a few more cats to pray for! Please continue to pray for Hunter as he recovers from his UTI. And pray for mama and babies. And, if you have any free time, for me, too.
Adore you,

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Happy Cat

Dear John,
Thank you for praying for the cat. About half an hour after I asked you to, he started getting better. I called the vet this morning, and instead of bringing him in, they had me pick up some antibiotics. I got them over my lunch break, came home and gave him one before I went back to work, and he was his normal self when I got home after work. Right now he's draped over my legs, purring his little heart out.
He was so glad to feel better tonight! After I got home, fed them and myself, changed clothes, and sat down, Hunter came and shared a prolonged affection attack with me. He head-butted me, purred, rubbed, and nuzzled. Then he curled up in my lap and when to sleep. I'm very happy and relieved to see him so much better. He's eating and drinking well tonight, too. He has two weeks of antibiotics to take. I'll keep you posted on the pill-taking issue. So far, so good.
Thanks again for praying for him. Sometimes I forget to ask you to pray for things. I'm used to you praying for me, and I know that you still do. But I can ask you when there's something special like a sick cat. I'll try to be better at remembering that.
Adore you,

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Where Prayer is a Local Call

Dear John,
Thank you - no nightmares last night. I got a good night's sleep with normal dreams. It was nice.
Please pray tonight for Hunter. He has another bladder infection, poor kitty. Late last night I picked him up. He wasn't purring, which is odd. Then he shifted in my hands and started crying. I put him down and he licked his bottom and cried for about ten minutes, then peed some pink urine. Today he's still eating and drinking - otherwise, I'd have had him to the vet ER in Fort Wayne - and peeing in small, frequent amounts. He's spent most of the day in our closet cuddled up on the carpet. Bless the other cats, they've been going in and checking on him and grooming him every little while. As with the last bladder infection, Jethro just wants to sniff his rear.
It's so hard to see him feel bad and not be able to fix it right away! I love this cat so much. This morning I texted Danielle and told her I'd be taking lunch whenever I can get him in to see June tomorrow. She said she'd put two of us at the drive-up so I could be gone whenever I needed to. I promised them I'd never need maternity leave, but I never said anything about veterinary emergencies. It's wonderful that everybody is so nice about it, since I don't have anyone else that can take them to the doctor.
It's time to turn out the lights. Jethro is asleep on my feet, Maggie in the windowsill, Hunter under the bed, and Abby going back and forth between the front window and checking on Hunter. Thank you for your prayers. You can pray so much better now, it being a local call and all.
Love you so, so much,

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Afraid to go to Sleep

Dear John,
Once again, we need to talk about your visits. Last night I had one of the worst nightmares of my life. I do believe there are better ways for you to get your points across to me.
I dreamed that you were sick and dying - of heart failure, like you really did - but you wouldn't let go of life. You were working so hard to stay alive - like you really did - and you were suffering so. I asked why you were fighting death so hard, and you said it was because you didn't want to leave me - just like you really did. I told you to think about the kind of life we'd have if it was taking that much struggle for you to stay alive and that, much as I wanted to have you here, it made me unhappy to see you suffer. So I told you to go ahead and leave, that I'd be okay, and that I'd be there with you before you knew it. Then I watched you die - just like you really did.
It was one of those dreams that followed me. An indication of how much it bothered me is that I didn't tell anybody about it all day. But tonight I realized that this dream may be healthy and important. It's still about your death, and that's an awful nightmare. But instead of fighting it, I was telling you to leave your suffering behind and move on. I've always known in my head that your death was the best thing for you; now it seems that I know that on a deeper level.
Was this awful nightmare a good thing? Maybe it was. I'm still learning this new world of widowhood so I don't really know. But it feels like a healthier dream than my many other nightmares. In any case, can we just do something fun tonight? No death, disease, or cataclysm involved? It's almost midnight and I'm a little afraid to go to sleep. Come and cuddle with me tonight.
Love you more than life,

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Screens, Dustpans, & Benadryl

Dear John,
I've had a lovely day off. I took Jethro in for his yearly vet visit today. He is at his ideal weight, and June says he's very fit and muscular. And his teeth are perfect. He's a healthy, happy dog.
After I got back, I took two of the screens out of the windows and had the hardware store re-screen them. Well, not the store itself. JJ and Dave. But you know what I mean. It's lovely to have intact screens in the windows. I have one more to get done, but it isn't as bad as those two were. They got clawed up one day when Murphy decided that he absolutely had to get to Abby. I came home to find him hanging from the living room screen by all four feet, yowling at Abby, while she spat and hissed at him. Unrequited love, I suppose, like Abby's for Jethro. We have so much drama here.
I made my monthly Goshen shopping trip today, and I found the most wonderful thing. I got one of those long-handled dust pan/broom sets. When I got home, I took about two minutes with it, walked around the house and swept up the animal hair from the usual places, and it looks wonderful. It will help keep the house clean and tidy between cleanings. I'll probably use it every day in the workroom. Hunter has decided he has to have an open litter box - he's really too big for a closed one - and he kicks litter all the way across the room.
So this is a good time for a visit! We are mosquito-free and there's no cat litter on the floors! And I'm tired and happy after having a lovely, domestic day. Jethro is sleeping off his shots and the cats are in the windowsills. I'll be taking Benadryl again tonight - I got bitten twice by a spider at work yesterday, and my right wrist is red and swollen and very itchy. Don't worry - I'm keeping an eye on it and taking Benadryl when I can.
I'm off to bed now. Do come and visit me tonight if you can. I love and miss you immense amounts.