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Grocery Shopping Under the Influence of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

When I was a young adult (and still am in the spirited sense) a lot of things were really important.  I mean really, really important… like guys, my weight, clothes and meaningful work…(emphasis on meaningful).

Things have changed.  Very few things are really, really important.  Other things are really important.  A few things fall into the important category.  Most things fall into the …”Oh, well…another day, another challenge” category.  Upon consideration, the “really, really important” category just doesn’t exist at the moment, but I’m open-minded about stuff….who knows?

While grocery shopping this morning, I’ve come up with something that falls in between the cracks of the important category, and the” another day another challenge” category.  I’m not really sure how to catalog this problem…My favorite grocery store –Ultra Foods – is closing, and the choices left in my community will be the high-end designer grocery stores – like Mariano’s, Pete’s, and the Jewel.  There goes the budget.  Ultra Foods was perfect for my needs.  The prices were competitive; the selection was decent; and it was within three miles of home.  I suppose a new category is needed…”the irritating fly in the ointment of life” category.  Yes, I do believe the closing of Ultra Foods is truly an irritating fly in the ointment of my life.  Oh, well.t 

So what to do.  Whenever I face some goofy challenge like this, my epileptic brain goes into hyper drive.  Yes, I have temporal lobe epilepsy.  As a sidebar, TLE’s seizures present as mood swings, self-talking, smelling things that aren’t there, and brain hyper-drive.  Rarely, if ever, do I get twitchy and lose consciousness. A little anticonvulsant daily helps immeasurably.  So if you see me in a grocery store, talking to myself…I’m not crazy…I’m having a seizure…No big deal.  Getting back to the story and my hyper-active brain.  While shopping this morning, I started planning…really planning about what future grocery shopping is going to look like…because I can tell you right now…I’m not paying designer prices for produce.   My brain was a whirling dervish, and I went into self-talking mode…People started avoiding me.  Oh, well…that happens a lot.  Despite the weird looks from fellow-shoppers, I came up with a plan.  Fortunately, I live in shopping paradise.  I don’t have to go very far to find just about anything I could possibly want to drag home.  Sadly, my grocery budget can’t support high-end produce…so here’s the plan – so far. Aldi’s will be the go-to store for detergents, paper towels, soaps, etc.  The Dollar store has always been a good place for saran wrap, and aluminum foil.  (Fortunately Aldi’s and the Dollar Store are across the street from each other – so no big deal there.) Produce and meats -that’s the challenge. Fortunately we have a really truly great

The carnicería/frutería on North Avenue that serves our Latino community – Villa Park Fruit Market.  If you have never shopped at a carnicería/frutería, you really need to go in one and take a look.  Fresh produce – and I don’t mean just the generic-garden variety you can get at the Jewel – the kind of produce that supports Latino cuisine….yumm!  The meat department is the same story.  Fresh beyond belief.

But, Marianne (you say), Villa Park Fruit Market is a good five miles from your current domicile, and Jewel is just down the street.  True.  Very True.  But the Jewel can’t hold a candle to the variety and freshness of foods at the Fruit Market.  But, Marianne, (you continue),  what about Pete’s and/or Mariano’s.  Well, I can’t get my shopping cart down the aisle at Pete’s.  There is entirely too much high-priced stuff all over the place, and I don’t need Mariano’s piano concert to enhance my shopping experience.  I need to fill the shopping cart with what’s on my list, and get the hell out of there.  (I am a very focused shopper.  I may be talking to myself while shopping…but that is when I am really, really focused.)   Another great thing about the Fruit Market is it’s proximity to PetPlus (a great lower-cost alternative to Petsmart) and Hobo’s – good competition for the big-box hardware stores.  I like it.  I can get the grocery, pet and hardware shopping done in one convenient location!  So what if it’s five miles.   

I think I’ve reduced this “fly in the ointment of my life” to problem solved.  And I have TLE to thank for it. 

Featured Image -- 419Featured Image -- 419

 

Grocery Shopping While Under the Influence of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

When I was a young adult (and still am in the spirited sense) a lot of things were really important.  I mean really, really important… like guys, my weight, clothes and meaningful work…(emphasis on meaningful).

Things have changed.  Very few things are really, really important.  Other things are really important.  A few things fall into the important category.  Most things fall into the …”Oh, well…another day, another challenge” category.  Upon consideration, the “really, really important” category just doesn’t exist at the moment, but I’m open-minded about stuff….who knows?

While grocery shopping this morning, I’ve come up with something that falls in between the cracks of the important category, and the” another day another challenge” category.  I’m not really sure how to catalog this problem…My favorite grocery store –Ultra Foods – is closing, and the choices left in my community will be the high-end designer grocery stores – like Mariano’s, Pete’s, and the Jewel.  There goes the budget.  Ultra Foods was perfect for my needs.  The prices were competitive; the selection was decent; and it was within three miles of home.  I suppose a new category is needed…”the irritating fly in the ointment of life” category.  Yes, I do believe the closing of Ultra Foods is truly an irritating fly in the ointment of my life.  Oh, well. 

So what to do.  Whenever I face some goofy challenge like this, my epileptic brain goes into hyper drive.  Yes, I have temporal lobe epilepsy.  As a sidebar, TLE’s seizures present as mood swings, self-talking, smelling things that aren’t there, and brain hyper-drive.  Rarely, if ever, do I get twitchy and lose consciousness. A little anticonvulsant daily helps immeasurably.  So if you see me in a grocery store, talking to myself…I’m not crazy…I’m having a seizure…No big deal.  Getting back to the story and my hyper-active brain.  While shopping this morning, I started planning…really planning about what future grocery shopping is going to look like…because I can tell you right now…I’m not paying designer prices for produce.   My brain was a whirling dervish, and I went into self-talking mode…People started avoiding me.  Oh, well…that happens a lot.  Despite the weird looks from fellow-shoppers, I came up with a plan.  Fortunately, I live in shopping paradise.  I don’t have to go very far to find just about anything I could possibly want to drag home.  Sadly, my grocery budget can’t support high-end produce…so here’s the plan – so far. Aldi’s will be the go-to store for detergents, paper towels, soaps, etc.  The Dollar store has always been a good place for saran wrap, and aluminum foil.  (Fortunately Aldi’s and the Dollar Store are across the street from each other – so no big deal there.) Produce and meats -that’s the challenge. Fortunately we have a really truly great

Carnicería/frutería on North Avenue that serves our Latino community – Villa Park Fruit Market.  If you have never shopped at a Carnicería/frutería, you really need to go in and take a look.  Fresh produce – and I don’t mean just the generic-garden variety you can get at the Jewel – the kind of produce that supports Latino cuisine….yumm!  The meat department is the same story.  Fresh beyond belief.

But, Marianne (you say), Villa Park Fruit Market is a good five miles from your current domicile, and Jewel is just down the street.  True.  Very True.  But the Jewel can’t hold a candle to the variety and freshness of foods at the Fruit Market.  But, Marianne, (you continue),  what about Pete’s and/or Mariano’s.  Well, I can’t get my shopping cart down the aisle at Pete’s.  There is entirely too much high-priced stuff all over the place, and I don’t need Pete’s piano concert to enhance my shopping experience.  I need to fill the shopping cart with what’s on my list, and get the hell out of there.  (I am a very focused shopper.  I may be talking to myself while shopping…but that is when I am really, really focused.)   Another great thing about the Fruit Market is it’s proximity to PetPlus (a great lower-cost alternative to Petsmart) and Hobo’s – good competition for the big-box hardware stores.  I like it.  I can get the grocery, pet and hardware shopping done in one convenient location!  So what if it’s five miles.   

I think I’ve reduced this “fly in the ointment of my life” to problem solved.  And I have TLE to thank for it.  Featured Image -- 419Featured Image -- 419

 

 

 

Marianne's Musings

When I was a young adult (and still am in the spirited sense) a lot of things were really important.  I mean really, really important… like guys, my weight, clothes and meaningful work…(emphasis on meaningful).

Things have changed.  Very few things are really, really important.  Other things are really important.  A few things fall into the important category.  Most things fall into the …”Oh, well…another day, another challenge” category.  Upon consideration, the “really, really important” category just doesn’t exist at the moment, but I’m open-minded about stuff….who knows?

While grocery shopping this morning, I’ve come up with something that falls in between the cracks of the important category, and the” another day another challenge” category.  I’m not really sure how to catalog this problem…My favorite grocery store –Ultra Foods – is closing, and the choices left in my community will be the high-end designer grocery stores – like Mariano’s, Pete’s…

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Grocery Shopping While Under the Influence of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

When I was a young adult (and still am in the spirited sense) a lot of things were really important.  I mean really, really important… like guys, my weight, clothes and meaningful work…(emphasis on meaningful).

Things have changed.  Very few things are really, really important.  Other things are really important.  A few things fall into the important category.  Most things fall into the …”Oh, well…another day, another challenge” category.  Upon consideration, the “really, really important” category just doesn’t exist at the moment, but I’m open-minded about stuff….who knows?

While grocery shopping this morning, I’ve come up with something that falls in between the cracks of the important category, and the” another day another challenge” category.  I’m not really sure how to catalog this problem…My favorite grocery store –Ultra Foods – is closing, and the choices left in my community will be the high-end designer grocery stores – like Mariano’s, Pete’s, and the Jewel.  There goes the budget.  Ultra foods was perfect for my needs.  The prices were competitive; the selection was decent; and it was within three miles of home.  I suppose a new category is needed…”the irritating fly in the ointment of life” category.  Yes, I do believe the closing of Ultra Foods is truly an irritating fly in the ointment of my life.  Oh, well.

So what to do.  Whenever I face some goofy challenge like this, my epileptic brain goes into hyper-drive.  Yes, I have temporal lobe epilepsy.  As a sidebar, TLE’s seizures present as mood swings, talking to myself, smelling things that aren’t there, and my brain starts spinning – faster than the speed of light.  Rarely, if ever, do I get twitchy and lose consciousness. However, I will start verbalizing…a lot.  Sometimes loudly.  A little anticonvulsant daily helps immeasurably.  So if you see me in a grocery store, talking to myself…I’m not crazy…I’m having a seizure…No big deal.  Getting back to the story and my hyper-active brain.  While shopping this morning, I started planning…really planning about what future grocery shopping is going to look like…because I can tell you right now…I’m not paying designer prices for produce.   My brain was a whirling dervish, and I started talking to myself…People started avoiding me, but all that self-talking resulted in the grocery plan.  Fortunately, I live in shopping paradise.  I don’t have to go very far to find just about anything I could possibly want to drag home.  Sadly, my budged will not easily support high-end grocery shopping a plan was definitely needed.  So here’s the plan so far…Aldi’s will be the go-to store for detergents, paper towels, soaps, etc.  The Dollar store has always been a good place for saran wrap, bar soap, and aluminum foil.  (Fortunately Aldi’s and the Dollar Store are across the street from each other – so no big deal there.) Produce and meats  that’s the challenge. Fortunately we have a really truly great carneceria on North Avenue that serves our Latino community –  Villa Park Fruit Market.  If you have never shopped at a carnicería , you really need to go in and take a look.  Fresh produce – and I don’t mean just the generic-garden variety you can get at the Jewel – the kind of produce that supports Latino cuisine….yumm!  The meat department is the same story.  Fresh beyond belief, supporting a Latino cuisine – as well as the generic stuff that everyone eats.

But, Marianne (you say), Villa Park Fruit Market is a good five miles from your current domicile, and Jewel is just down the street.  True.  Very True.  But the Jewel can’t hold a candle to the variety and freshness of foods at the Fruit Market.  But, Marianne,(you continue),  what about Pete’s and/or Mariano’s.  Well, I can’t get my shopping cart down the aisle at Pete’s.  There is entirely too much high-priced stuff all over the place, and I don’t need Mariano’s piano concert to enhance my shopping experience.  I need to fill the shopping cart with what’s on my list, and get the hell out of there.  (I am a very focused shopper.  I may be talking to myself while shopping…but that is when I am really, really focused.)   Another great thing about the Fruit Market is it’s proximity to PetPlus (a great lower-cost alternative to Petsmart) and Hobo’s – good competition for the big-box hardware stores.  I like it.  I can get the grocery, pet and hardware shopping done in one convenient location!  So what if it’s five miles away?
So, I think I’ve reduced this “fly in the ointment of my life” to problem solved.  And I have TLE to thank for it.

food

Up, Up and Away

up-up-and-awayup-up-and-awayup-up-and-away

I never knew I had phobias.  Pretty much not afraid of things.  During Christmas, I discovered I had a major phobia thanks to a very creative, thoughtful gift which eventually scared the hell out of me.

Our family has decided that experiential gifts are the best.  We’re all nearing retirement, or are already there.  No little ones creeping downstairs in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to discover what Santa left under the tree.  So as aging adults, we mutually decided that bonding experiences or consumable shared presents are the best.  For example, for about 20 years, my brother lived in the Deep South.  While there, he delved into local cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  But he really missed the good-old Chicago hot-dog, Italian beef, pizza experience that can only be enjoyed here.  Every time he visited, we would make a pilgrimage to Portillo’s so that he could chow down his favorite street food.  When he decided to move to Arizona in 2015, he’d already sold his home in Louisiana, everything was packed, and he was very clear about the no-stuff concept in gift-giving.  Not a problem.  Portillo’s ships. So guess what we had for Christmas Eve?  Guess who was totally delighted when we returned from Mass that evening?

Anyway, this year he and my sister-in-law came up with a truly inventive gift that took thought, care, and delight.  One that all of us could experience, share, bond over, and remember for the rest of our lives.  A hot-air balloon ride over the desert!!!  Cool! 

We departed the house at 6:00 AM to rendezvous with the Hot Air Balloon people at 7:00 A.M. Jammed into a small SUV, our chauffer traversed the scorpion-filled, snake-laden desert and deposited our intrepid group at Ground Zero. That’s when my fear set in.

Hot air balloons are big.  Small jet engines create the hot-air that fills the balloons.  The engines are noisy, but the open flames that they create are just plain scary.  Our guide told us that they generate 15,000 BTUs – more than enough power for a family reunion picnic.  As I watched the inflating balloon, I imagined what Joan of Arc must have felt when she was escorted to the stake.

After successful balloon inflation, it was time for our group of 12 out-of-shape adults to haul our rear-ends over the edge of the gondola and get set for take-off.  The gondola stands about five feet high.  There are footholds build into its side so that the fit and agile can step up into it, swing their legs over the edge and ease on down the road.  I am no longer agile and fit, and I am short.  I managed to get my right foot in the lower foothold, and my left foot in the higher foothold.  I was unable to hoist the rest of my aging, less than agile carcass over the edge of the basket.  My brother endeavored to help by ever so gently pushing me up by my rear end over the basket.  Needless to say, I was soon ensconced inside the basket.  Up, Up and Away.

I did not realize how really terrified I was of heights until the balloon took off.  Picture this.  We’re in a wicker basket 3,000 feet in the air, cruising over hostile terrain that is loaded with plants and animals that want to hurt you, and jet engines are blowing 15,000 BTUs of flame directly above your head into a balloon made of silk.  My knuckles turned white as I clung to the edge of the gondola.  I did not look down.

Everyone around me was snapping pictures, and marveling at the mountain and desert scenes below.  I stood stony-faced wondering where the parachutes were, and cringed every time the jet-heated air launched us higher into the stratosphere. 

About half way through our adventure, the balloonist had us face him as he guided us through a safety drill in case there was a rough landing.  I was already freaking out; now I was totally freaked out.  He informed us that if the wind kicked up, there was a good chance that the gondola would tip over on its side and we would probably have to crawl out of the basket.  In this event, we were to face him; stand shoulder to shoulder; crouch down and wait for more instructions.  I was ready to crouch down then and there…and stay crouched down.

Guess what.  The wind kicked up, and we crouched down.  Fortunately, the basket did not tip over, nor did we need to crawl out.  However, we still had to get out of the basket which was not an easy task. When there are twelve adults jammed shoulder to shoulder in the bottom of an oversized Easter basket, movement is restricted.  I would have appreciated a crow bar at that stage of the game because I literally could not move.  With much help from my brother, sister-in-law and well-meaning fellow voyagers, I toppled over the side of the basket and landed on the ground without falling on my head. 

After deplaning, our balloonist mentioned that the desert was dangerous – kind of knew that already – and we should not venture very far.  Stepping on the various rocks the wrong way could result in broken ankles.  Great!  Scorpions, snakes, unfriendly plants, and rocks that will land you in the hospital.  This is not a friendly eco-system.

I really think that Mike and Val are the sweetest people on earth.  And I really appreciated their creativity, thoughtfulness, and delight in planning this Christmas experience.  We laughed.  We bonded. We were family. Mike and Val took awesome pictures.  And I will never get into another hot-air balloon again.

balloon balloon balloon

 

 

 

 

 

To Do Technology Or Not To Do Technology…That Is The Question

I am really having a tough time deciding about the level of technology I allow to invade TNN.  I rely on a certain amount of it, but I  limit the amount so that the encroaching digital world does not overrun my life – and turn me into some kind of sy-fi human puppet battery zombie thing. 

Smart phones, for example.  I don’t own one, and I don’t want one.  I refuse to be absorbed by the Borg.  Because I am forced to have a communication device for emergency purposes, I have a Tracphone for my car. It serves the purpose, and all I need to do is purchase minutes every so often.  I seldom use it.  Frankly, I don’t even know what my Tracphone number is. 

Cell phones in general irritate the hell out of me.  People walk around glued to their electronic communication devices checking the veracity of every statement made during a conversation, texting during dinner, checking Facebook accounts during religious services. God knows what else.  I am particularly frustrated when guests walk into a home and immediately whip out their phones to converse with boo-foo land.  Aren’t the hosts and other guests worth a tiny bit of attention?  Or worse yet, I hate it when people get hit by cars because tweeting that bff something is more important than looking both ways before stepping off a curb.  Here’s a hint, when you visit me…check your phone at the door and do not take it out until you leave. No telephone call is that important when you are visiting.   No piece of information is that compelling that it needs to be verified at the dinner table. Let’s try and carry on intelligent conversations without constantly checking electronic devices to verify our sanity and intelligence.

Don’t get me wrong, digital information is revolutionary.  It has its place.  Our lives are forever changed because of the Internet.  But let’s understand that electronic devices are merely tools, and  – bottom line – I do need a few electronic tools for TNN. I need my Tracphone, and I  want Internet services so that I can access Facebook, email, my financial software, and Netflix . But I really don’t want more than that.  There are too many other things to do…like read books, write, gaze at stars, walk the dog, and talk to neighbors.  Human things. We remember what human looks like…right?

The funny thing about my love-hate affair with technology is that when personal computers first came on the market, I was all over it.  I can program in BASIC and COBOL. I’ve taken tech classes, created spreadsheets that Ace Hardware Corporation might still be using, and even worked as a programmer for a while.  You would think I would be ok with all this.  Obviously, I’m not. 

I guess I’m old.  I’ve lived without this particular tool for a long time, and I just don’t want to be bothered with it.  If you need to contact me, leave a message…I’ll get back to you.  We are both worth the wait.

My Evil Twin and the 7 Circles of Hell

I think I’ve read Dante’s Inferno one too many times. Or, perhaps it was the Bugs Bunny cartoons that crystalized my understanding behind the saying, “Let the punishment fit the crime”.  That rabbit really understood the subtleties of irony. When we studied Dante during high school, some of my fellow students came up with some really appropriate “punishments” for evildoers everywhere.  One punishment that really sticks in my mind was designed for those fun-loving TP folks who frolic around neighborhoods in the middle of the night when most people are sleeping  and throw toilet paper over trees, bushes, lawn gnomes, gutters and whatever else strikes their deranged fancy.  Wouldn’t it be fitting that those same toilet-paper fiends find themselves in some underworld cavern draped in TP during a rainstorm?  For eternity?

I had some elementary teachers who really understood Dante.  They could have added a few chapters. Spitball criminals, for example, were doomed to fill entire wastebaskets with spitballs before going home.  Since the offenders had to use their own notebook paper, not only did they have to waste precious after-school free time creating unused spitballs, they also had to explain to their parents what happened to all the notebook paper – a precious commodity – they had at the beginning of the week.  Paper airplane pilots and origami experts suffered similar fates.  

In high school, (I attended an all-girls institution run by some really kick-ass nuns) we were not allowed to “rat” our hair.  Rats or backcombing is essential to achieve hair-do height.  Cheap hairspray, highly-ratted hair, and voila -indestructible helmet-tower hair.  The sisters, bless their hearts, traveled through the hallways carrying metal-fine-tooth combs in their pockets.  Girls whose hair resembled Marie Antoinette’s were pulled over for a public restyle.  Restyles were humiliatingly excruciating.  In really bad cases, Marie was sent to the showers.   OK… public humiliation, partial nun-scalping, a really bad all-day wet-look bad hair day, and week-end time in high-school jail.  Those sisters knew what torture looked like. 

I hate to admit it, but I have to say that my childhood Dante-experience has had a profound influence on my approach to working with people. I tolerate a lot of stupidity in silence.  Forbearance is the better part of valor.  I prefer keeping my mouth shut to arguing pointlessly with the seriously deranged. At the same time, if suffering injustice…I can wait a long time before striking back…Vengeance is best served cold.  Recently, my evil twin surfaced.  Forbearance flew right out the window, and vengeance was best served cold. (hee – hee – hee!)

Common property in townhouse communities are a blessing and a curse.  The wide-open backyard provides ample space for parties, gardening, a place to get to know your neighbors….well.  It also denies a sense of privacy.  There are no fences between overly-close patios. Fences, at times make good neighbors.

 One of my neighbors would put Martha Stewart to shame.  Her taste is impeccable.  Her back-yard-strip-of-dirt  landscaping is impeccable.  Her home décor resembles something out of Good Housekeeping.  (One year she actually organized all of us do decorate our doorways the same way for Christmas…Wreaths, lights, door hangings…the works.) My taste runs toward the more mundane.  My home is cluttered, my strip of dirt is weed-laden, my furniture is largely from resale stores, and a lot of my Christmas ornaments are straight out of a dollar store. My outside light display consists of a rope light around a door frame.  It works – for me.

 

For the most part, we get along just fine.  We collect each other’s mail, and water each other’s gardens while on vacation.  We wheel each other’s garbage cans in on Wednesday after work.  We share tools, gossip, and all the other trappings of good neighbors.  We do not share the same taste in gardening choices.  Karen’s taste is floral, feminine, and high maintenance.  My taste runs along the idea that we live in an area that supports prairie flowers – so go with the prairie flowers. They don’t require much watering, and thrive on benign neglect like the dickens.  They also look “weedy”.  Since our mutual strips of dirt butt up against each other, it is impossible to escape the taste-chasm that exists between us. I’ve got a lot of perennials, marigolds, and prairie flowers out there.  Low maintenance – works for me.  Karen has gardenias, hibiscus, petunias, and other things that require a lot of watering, weeding and pampering.  It’s pretty, it’s delicate, and it’s Karen. The problem started with my choice in floral choices for the shared front-dirt area.     

Karen wanted camellias. Camellias don’t like northern Illinois.  I wanted…you guessed it…Prairie Flowers!  I managed to talk her out of camellias, and we started talking about roses.  Karen didn’t want roses because we don’t get a lot of sun which means the roses wouldn’t bloom.  Personally I think she didn’t want a couple of rose bushes because at the time they were a little pricey because as soon as the price came down roses were suddenly ok.  Karen didn’t want hardy prairie flowers.  Karen didn’t want a lot of things.  We finally agreed to lilies, and I had a bunch in the back.  Frankly, I think lilies are kind of weedy, and they don’t flower for the entire summer…like roses and prairie flowers.  And lilies don’t solve a height problem.  Whatever was decided on needed to be taller than the bushes that create a barrier in the front of our mutual dirt.  Anyway, the lilies were planted, and the dirt remained…or so Karen thinks.

Prairie flowers abound in our HOA…I wonder why…Prairie flowers produce and abundance of seeds every year.  I walk Peanut at least one mile every day.  I wonder what will grow in our mutual front bunch of dirt this spring….hee-hee-hee.

 

 

 

Waiting For Gorilla Glue to Dry..

 I love Gorilla Glue.  Really – I love it.  Once it’s cured – It’s cured.  And whatever is sticking to it, is not going to move anytime soon.  I use it a lot.  I use it a lot because there are many times I do not have the knowledge, skill, know-how or tools to solve a problem.  Case-in-point Tir naNog’s porch door.

TNN’s screened in porch has two outside doors.  One has a dead-bolt.  The other has nothing.  Which means, anyone at any time can gain access to the screened-in porch and perhaps TNN itself – if the broom-stick in the sliding door’s bottom channel doesn’t hold.  If it weren’t for the fact that Woodsmoke is a private campground with guards at the entrance, I would be a lot nervous about the door lock situation.  Even with the entrance guard, I’m still a lot nervous about the fact that I can’t completely lock myself in at night.  Or at least create a barrier that will provide some kind discouragement to would-be squatters.  Peanut’s discourage button is always on…but he’s only eight pounds. Consequently, the last winterization chore was attaching some sort of door lock. I decided on a barrel-bolt lock.

Now anyone would think that a barrel-bolt lock would be an easy install on a door.  Screw the bolt on one side.  Screw in the striker plate on the other side.  No brainer…right?  Not so much.

The door in question is not flush with the door frame.  Someone already attached a piece of hard wood to the door frame to make the door handle work flush with the frame. A simple lock installation was not going to be easy-breezy. Engineering was needed, and I am not an engineer.

As my brother the engineer has said many times, plan the work…then work the plan.  So I planned.  There were many hurdles in the plan to be hurdled.

The first hurdle to be hurdled was finding a piece of wood that matched the wood already used on the door for the handle.  No problemo. A long remnant of the original stick was in the shed.  Hard wood, same dimensions…perfect!.

I sawed off a piece of the stick that would be attached to the door frame, and serve as the receiver of the bolt.  Sawing a piece of wood was easy.  Attaching it to the door frame – not so easy.  The electric drill I have is a battery-operated affair that does not have the torque needed for heavy-duty drilling.  It works.  But it doesn’t work efficiently.  I’m also really nervous about drilling into metal.  Wood is more forgiving than metal.  The door handle piece of wood was screwed in, but it was also sealed with silicone.  I had the silicone, but I couldn’t manage the gun part of the silicone tube.  So… Gorilla Glue and a clamp made a reasonable substitute.  It took about 4 hours for the glue to cure sufficiently so that I could start Step two – which should have been Step one – Drill a hole in the wood for the bolt to slide into.  Drilling a hole in a piece of wood that is stuck to a door frame is not easy.  I don’t recommend it.  Oh-well.  After much swearing, a hole was drilled. (OH – by the way – I have a colorful vocabulary when frustrated.  It is best to give me a wide berth when I’ve reached a certain level of frustration.)

Hurdle number two (or three if you count the hole-drilling step) – rig the barrel- bolt so that it is also flush with the door frame and the newly drilled piece of wood.  I’d purchased a stick at Home Depot before leaving.  It was the correct depth, but only 1/2 the width needed.  I cut two pieces of wood from the stick, applied Gorilla Glue and a clamp, and waited  – another four hours..

Once stuck together, the newly created piece of wood was ready for the bolt part of the barrel lock.  I tried the provided screws.  They were too long for the job, and cracked the wood.  Gorilla Glue to the rescue again. Lining up the bolt with the drilled hole that was already attached to the door frame and gluing and clamping it in place is not easy. So with the help of a magic marker, a clamp and some handy-dandy Gorilla glue, the bolt part was secured to the glued-together wood fragments four hours later. (Do you see a four-hour pattern here?)

Finally – time to get the bolt and wood scrap attached to the door.  More glue.  This time the clamps weren’t much help because the attached bolt did not provide enough space for the clamp to grip properly.  And the bolt’s weight continued to drag the piece of wood with the attached bolt down toward the porch floor.  Enter in Marianne’s other favorite adhesive solution to everything – duct tape. 

Duct tape gets a bad rap from the Martha Stewarts of the world.  It’s ugly, there are other less visible solutions that blend with the décor of whatever.  Hey – duct tape has its place.  It’s durable. It’s water-proof.  It’s sticky.  It holds big stuff together. It even comes in designer colors now.  I like it.

Anyway, where a regular C – clamp didn’t work…duct tape did.  The tape held my jerry-rigged barrel-bolt-glued-to-the-pieces-of-wood thingie to the door while the Gorilla Glue cured for another four hours. 

Once cured, stuck, and firmly in place, I finally felt comfortable applying the screws to the door.  I drilled pilot holes, through the wood, into the door and completed the job!

Voila!  After at least 36 hours of frustration, a higher level of security was achieved! 

Oh – I forgot to mention – the painting step.  Not to worry.  Before I started gluing, clamping, taping and screwing pieces of wood to doors, and barrel bolts to piece of wood, I did have the foresight to paint everything the correct shade of white.  Plan the work, and work the plan! 🙂

 

And The Research Question Of The Day Is: Do Possums Carry Rabies?

The research question of the day is “Do possums carry rabies?”  The next question might be..why is the research question of the day “Do possums carry rabies?”   Well…it has to do with Oreo the stray cat.

Oreo, my stray kitty, has lived outside since birth.  I have been caring for him since his first love, Mrs M, passed three  years ago.  We get along fairly well.  Part of the care and sheltering of Mr. Oreo involves feeding.  If you are caring for an outdoor/indoor pet, you know that leaving food outside …especially after dark is a great big no..no.  Other things come out at night.  Things you don’t want to feed.  Things like skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and the occasional possum.  So, if you are feeding the feral almost domesticated kitty on a regular basis, it is imperative to bring the food in before it gets dark…Otherwise who knows what’s going to be out there.

Last winter, as a result of the polar vortex, I devised a feeding station for Mr. Oreo.  It consisted of a sturdy cardboard box jammed under the patio furniture which was protected from  the elements by a patio furniture cover.  It worked pretty well.  Put the food in the box.  Mr. Oreo left his shelter – a  well-insulated Rubbermaid tote equipped with an outdoor animal heating pad and surrounded by concrete bricks – went into the food station  – the cardboard box – ate and then returned to his shelter.  I made sure the food was in before dark. Oreo had something to nibble on throughout the day. All was well with the world – until I arrived home after dark one day, and tried to get the food inside.

Oreo was on the patio waiting to greet me.  He was acting a little weird.  Truthfully I don’t understand cat body language as well as I understand dog body language. I didn’t realize he was in warning mode. I reached into the box, and immediately felt a bone-crunching chomp on my right index finger.  Then I saw the tell-tale tail.  Damn possum!

Needless to say, I was not happy about the situation.  What to do?  Well..since I was not suffering from a traumatic injury…ER seemed a little over the top, so I took myself to Elmhurst hospital’s walk-in clinic, and stated upon arrival, “I’ve been bitten by a possum!”  I was immediately taken into an examination room, and I could hear the doctor clacking away on some search engine most likely about possum bites.  The nurse came in…The nurse liked cats.  She understood.  The doctor, on the other hand, was not sympathetic.  “You were bitten by a possum?” (include a pregnant pause here) “Where were you bitten by a possum?”  I held up my now bloody right index finger and pointed to it with my left index finger….He had never dealt with possum bites.  He didn’t want to deal with possum bites either. He also told me that most mammals were capable of carrying rabies.  I pointed out to him that possums are a different kind of mammal..they are marsupials. He did not know what a marsupial was. I lost confidence in him immediately.  Any one of my students can tell you marsupials carry their young in pouches – like kangaroos. And they have been around longer than your average, every day, run of the mill mammal – like primates, for instance.   Anyway, the nurse cleaned the wound, wrapped gauze around it…and I was sent to ER at the other end of town.  I could hear laughing in the office area…I was not amused.

I get to ER…The clinic had already called ahead.  The nurses were nice – they liked cats too.  The doctor didn’t want to deal with possum bites, cats, or marsupials. I wanted to know if I needed to begin rabies shots, and get out of there. Again..loud clacking could be heard on many search engines…Do possums carry rabies?  No one knew.  Everyone was scratching their heads. More laughter could be heard from the office area.  Apparently I had chosen a very quiet night at the emergency room because the entire team was trying to figure this one out.

Well, here’s the answer, folks.  Possums are incapable of carrying the rabies virus because their body temperatures are too low to sustain it –  most likely because they are marsupials. I did not need any rabies shots, nor do I show any signs of rabies.  No howling at the moon, no fear of water, no irrational behavior. 

Although the medical profession and the possum-loving people do not believe that possums carry rabies, I do not recommend that you pursue a possum to test this hypothesis.  Possum bites are particularly painful, and who needs to listen to medical primates who are laughing their asses off because you fed a cat? 

Chapter 10 – I Can Get A Lot Done in Two Days

I’ve discovered that if left alone with specific tasks –   can get a lot done.  My biggest concern is winterizing Tír na nÓg.  The winterizing guy did his thing.  I have to do my thing. Sadly – I’m not really sure what all of “my thing” is yet.  So I am trying to identify and deal with issues that can be easily resolved in a few days each week.

I have a fenced-in deck with a gate which is perfect for Sir Peanut. But because he is so tiny he easily fits through the gate’s slats and escapes from the relative safety of the deck into the back yard.  In order to discourage his adventurous nature, and still provide him with more freedom than he normally has, I brought some screening from home and stapled it to the back of the gate.  I don’t think he’ll get out of Dodge anytime soon. 

I have this three-season screened  porch. One of the doors does not have an interior lock. And because it is  a three-season room, it has a lot of windows.  It has three walls of windows.  These windows have a vinyl product called EZE BREEZE in stead of glass which are pretty drafty. So I need to accomplish two things. To cure the drafts, install shrink-wrap window insulation for the windows.  To increase security, install a barrel bolt lock on the lockless door. The shrink-wrap plastic was a piece of cake.  The barrel bolt lock is its own chapter.        

Plastic baby caps  in all the outlets stop drafts.  And if I had the time, I would remove the switch plates  and install switch-plate insulation.

I did try to replace the compression thingie on the porch door, but the fitting that came with the new one doesn’t fit on the door jamb. After some research, I realized that I have to buy this part from the manufacturer. This will be another spring chore. 

Raked leaves – of course.  Burned leaves – of course.  Most of the leaves are off the trees, so my efforts are seeming less futile and more effective. I still need to learn how to use the mulcher.

Played around with the ancient tv the seller left.  I brought a digital converter and an antenna from home in order to see if it would pick up any stations.  The antenna picked up five religiously-oriented stations, and the converter worked.  Before purchasing a lot more equipment, I’ll work with what I can bring from home – a booster and two different antennas. The other choice is a smart tv with seasonal internet I can always stream in Netflix, or YouTube, and smart tvs come with network news..  

TNN  is totally wired for communication with the next galaxy.  There are speakers in the ceilings, coax cable all over the place, and AB switches in the kitchen and on the porch.  Apparently, the seller liked his stereo systems, satellite TV, and internet.  I’m not a big fan of cable or dish networks.  I don’t watch enough television to justify that kind of expense.  Antenna is fine.  As long as I can get the news and a few stations…I am quite content.  I really want to rid this place of all the unsightly coax, but I need to get a handle on how the speakers function.   And unless I can use the ugly dish on TNN’s front porch as an antenna for the ancient tv, it will be disappearing this spring as well.  

So  basically I’m coming up with new lists…(of course)

To do Before Winter

  • Kill as many ants in the shed as possible..
  • Stuff cracks in shed with steel will to discourage rodent infestation.
  • Successfully  install barrel bolt lock on interior porch door

 Spring stuff – Relatively Inexepensive

  • Compression thingie
  • Pressure wash deck and skirting…restain
  • Play around with the TV
  • Furnace check
  • Toilet wax ring
  • Propane tank fill up

Long term – expensive

  • Replace rotten wood on shed…Mike said he would help
    • I noticed that a few of my neighbors have their sheds up on concrete blocks.
  • Save for new roof (5 years max)
  • Driveway will probably need to be replaced in a couple of years
  • Shed repair due to fire ant munching
  • Fire pit 

These lists just keep getting longer, but at least I’m getting a better idea of what will be needed to make TNN more my place than the sellers’.  It will take time.  Infrastructure is a lot more important than eye-candy…but the eye-candy is a lot more fun.  Oh well.. Another day, another adventure.

 

 

Chapter 9 – To Gutter Guard Or Not To Gutter Guard

Tír na nÓg sits on a wooded lot next to a lot of other wooded lots.  In the summer, all those wooded lots provide oodles of shade which keeps TNN nice and cool.  In the Fall, all the shade (produced by countless leaves) changes into brilliant colors begging to be captured in some kind of art work. Eventually the brilliant colors fade, and the leaves fall off the trees and down to the ground creating the raking of the leaves chore.  It also creates the cleaning out the gutters chore.  I’ve lived in condo land all of my adult life.  I’ve never cleaned out a gutter.  However I know that if the gutters aren’t emptied, ugly roof damage occurs. 

I’ve been warned that cleaning gutters is dangerous business.  I need to be careful up on that ladder.  I shouldn’t take any chances.  I could fall.  I could die.  I could be permanently injured.  I get it.  I still need to clean out the gutters. 

After some consideration, because I really don’t like the idea of constantly cleaning out the gutters, I’ve decided to install gutter guards.  More admonitions.  Gutter guards really don’t work.  Make sure you get the curved ones.  It’s a scam.  Maybe so, but somehow or another, hauling out an extension ladder to dig debris out of the gutters on a bi-weekly basis has absolutely no appeal either.  So I am going to try the gutter guards.

One thing to understand here.  TNN is really small.  Maybe…maybe there are 36 linear feet to deal with.  No corners.  No mitered corners.  I needed to figure out the options.  A trip to the hardware store was in order.

Turns out there are many DIY options.  Most of the options slide under the shingles and clip on the edge of the gutters.  They have various features. Some are screens with big holes.  Some have mesh under the screens with big holes. Some curve a bit.  One version totally envelops the gutter with vinyl, and then rain slides in some slits by way of a bull nose construction.  Pretty slick. 

I settled on two different style of guards….largely because I have two different kinds of gutters.  The first gutter guard is fairly standard.  It comes in three foot lengths. Slides underneath the shingles and snaps on the gutter rim.  Below the standard screen is a finer mesh that makes it difficult for any debris to actually get into the gutter.  It slants forward a bit, so that the leaves should slide right off in a good breeze.  Great news…it’s about $2 a section.  So for about $10 I was able to take care of the first half of the gutter guard chore.

The second part wasn’t so easy.  The gutters for the screened in porch are not the standard type.  I didn’t even know that there were gutters at first because these gutters are really disguised well.  At first I thought I was looking at a flat roof without gutters.  Then I saw the downspout.  These gutters are only about three inches wide, and four inches deep.  They appear to be part of the soffit, and if you don’t get up on a ladder to really look, you would miss these completely.   Standard gutter guards won’t work. 

I looked at all sorts of options.  The two biggest problems were the flat roof and the narrow opening for the gutter.  Standard gutter width is around five inches.  These puppies are maybe three to four inches wide.  Because the screened porch has a flat roof, there is no way you can slide these guards under the shingles.  There are no shingles, and no gutter edge to snap on to.  Enter the “Gutter Worm”.  Really – it’s called a gutter worm.  The gutter worm is a great big bottle brush.  You can smoosh it into any gutter out there.  You can bend it so that it can be shortened or fit around gutter corners.  The engineering idea behind it is that debris will be trapped on the top part of the brush, dry up and blow away.  Larger debris like acorns and helicopters will be trapped by the brushes and will need cleaning periodically. The rain water will simply filter down to the gutter.  I’m concerned about the cleaning out “periodically” statement.  I’m surrounded by oak trees that produce thousands of acorns.  Although this gutter worm thing will most likely work on the leaves, I’m afraid I’m going to be on a ladder regularly to shake out the acorns, helicopters and what-not that are trapped on the brush bristles.  I do have confidence that the leaves will dry up and blow away rather than drop down and rot in the gutters.  We’ll see.

About my ladder.  I have a “Little Giant” knock-off.  It’s pretty amazing.  I can turn it into step ladders, an extension ladder, a ladder that works on stairs, and two supports that can act as trestles for a really big plank to stand on.  (I’m afraid of the trestle thing.)  It is versatile. When I dragged it out of the car, the winterizing guy was impressed. I opened it up, turned it into an extension ladder, propped it up against the TNN’s side, confidently climbed that puppy, and started scooping out gutter leaves. I’m thinking about adding another one to the “list” because dragging it back and forth from home is a pain. Maybe I can find a reasonable facsimile at an estate sale.  I’m going to have to put on my research hat and see what’s out there.

For now, I am content with the idea that the gutters are a non-issue for the winter season.  Keeping my fingers crossed, as always, I hope to stay off of extension ladders and roofs until the spring.  More projects loom as winterization continues, but I am confident that these too will be vanquished.

gutterworm