tales of woe

Wishing you were here…..

so you could experience the fragrance that is filling the entire downstairs of our house!  Our Lilac bushes suffered from the severely cold winter.  Instead of being filled with loads of flowers like last year, the flowers made a sparse showing this year!  In fact, I also lost my two Butterfly bushes in front of the house over this winter.  I decided since there weren’t that many flowers on the Lilacs, I might as well clip them and bring them inside to enjoy!

Looking back…

I don’t know where this week disappeared!

It seems like it was just Sunday.  The kids wanted to do something special for Mother’s Day, so we loaded the car and took off for Watkin’s Glen.  It really isn’t too far from our home and it was a beautiful day to be outside! I had been sick for a little over a week.  It seems I had picked up a strain of flu that likes to hang around for awhile.  Although I didn’t feel “sick”, I felt weak and lacking energy.  I spent much of the days lying in bed reading.  So, the Mother’s Day outing was the perfect getaway!

On our way to Watkin’s Glen, we stopped in Penn Yan for takeout Chinese.  Once we got to the park, we walked to a picnic table and enjoyed our meal.  It felt so good to be outside breathing the fresh air!  (Even when I felt really tired when I was sick, I put on my winter jacket and sat outside on the porch swing. The oxygen in the air felt so good!) Even though we didn’t spend a long time out, it was a perfect day!

Mark and I spent Monday doing things around the house, knowing that Tuesday was going to be a very busy day!  We were up and out the door shortly after seven to take our pickup truck to the garage to have a brakeline replaced.  It had rusted through and one day, the brake pedal went nearly to the floor when Mark stepped on it.  He decided to have the garage do the work, so we had to drop the truck off by eight, then be on our way to take Mark’s mom to a doctor appointment. Everything went smoothly and we got home with just enough time to get ready to go out to Bill and Carolyn’s as we do every Tuesday night.

We hadn’t gotten together the previous Tuesday, as sicknesses were making the rounds….bronchitis, bad colds, and the flu!

Bill had made an awesome pan of Lasagne and Focaccia (bread) that was awesome!  Sue brought an antipasto plate and there was so much yummy food!  Afterwards, we were treated to a Black Forest Cake Bill made to celebrate Sue’s daughter, Dee’s birthday.  As we were finishing up, “it” struck.  My oh my!  The thunder and lightening put on a spectacular show!  The rain came down so fast and furiously and all of our cell phones kept making sounds to alert us to a flash flood watch.  We weren’t too concerned, as Bill and Carolyn live at about 2300 feet above sea level.  I did wonder about Naples as the evening progressed, but….

We were finally ready to leave a little after eleven o’clock.  We had had a very long day. But, when we opened the door to go out to the truck, the lightning stretched across the sky, the thunder boomed, and the rain looked as though it had no intention to let up.  We waited. And waited.  Finally, things let up a bit and we made a mad dash for the truck. As we drove off, we were wondering what it was going to be like getting home.  We didn’t wonder too long!  As we drove down the short road to the next road, we passed over streams glistening in the headlights where the roadside ditches were now overflowing onto the roadway. We turned the corner and less than a mile up the road, a large log probably twenty feet long was lying in the road. There was other debris there as well.  I got out of the truck and attempted to move the big log, but it would not budge. The water was over my ankles and I quickly moved the smaller debris and we were able to pass through.

We passed through several more non-intentional streams flowing over the backroads until we finally hit the major route between Prattsburgh and Naples.  We were pretty certain once we were on the main road, everything would definitely be better.  As we drove along, there were a few breaches where the road seemed to disappear under a briskly flowing waterway.  We were determined at this point to make our way home!

As we got closer to Naples, everything seemed much better.  There was no more water covering the road, and it seemed all was well.  Once we got to the other side of Naples, however, the water was rushing like mad off the hill where County Road 12 rises sharply up from the Naples valley.  Lights were flashing and volunteer firemen equipped with headlights on their hats seemed to be everywhere.  We were told Route 21 through Woodville was impassable, so we were advised to take County Road 12.  The firemen told us they had not received any calls about damage there. We drove up the steep incline and the only problems were where higher roads intersected the road and left deposits of dirt and rocks all over the road.  We were so thankful to have the truck!

We got home and were so grateful! There was no damage at our house.  Michelle said it had been a bit hair-raising, but all was well. Murphy was at home with the kids and he was a bit upset, but was fine!

We got alerts on the cell phones that flash flood watches are in effect through Friday of this week. Wednesday, I went out and got groceries.  I have never taken the flood warnings seriously, as we live in a pretty safe place.  After the trip late Tuesday night, I am a bit more inclined to listen! We are all still in awe of the fact that the National Weather Service can alert people via cell phones….

Today was Ben’s last day of his first year of college. He has done well and I think he is pretty happy to have it behind him. We went out to a restaurant to celebrate and then wandered over to Seneca Lake State Park for a bit.  It was so windy and people were parasailing on the lake. Water was splashing all over on the breakwalls but it was warm and nearly balmy!  We have a front passing through now that is giving us some more rain and then the temperatures will drop some over the next few days.

Well, if you do come across the time I am missing from this week, please let me know!!!

Truck update!

Within seconds of Mark and his lovely assistant (who just happens to be our daughter!) peeking under the accelerator pedal in the truck,  the dilemma of the secret code “reduced engine power” became obvious!  There were broken wires! Mark had explained to me that there are actually a pair of these devices and when one malfunctions, the error code pops up in the dash. Redundancy. Mark always talks about it and it is used a good deal with mechanical gizmos and gadgetry.

So, the good news is that the truck is now parked in the driveway, awaiting a new part that Mark has ordered to replace the broken part. Thankfully, this one looks like a relatively easy fix compared to others!

In other news, it is snowing! We have been snowless for so many days, it seems almost strange to see white clinging to everything once again!  Oh, and I so am not complaining!!!

Let’s see….


Not very much has happened since my last post.  The day I wrote that, Mark received an email from a senator advising constituents to stay at home as the weather was so bitterly cold.  There were all kinds of warnings and advisories on weather sites. It really was very cold and truth be told, people and animals cold easily lose their lives in such weather.  Mark and I did a sanity check and headed out the door that evening.  Seeing our friends was of great value and seeing as our car is relatively new and running great, there seemed to be little danger.  We had a wonderful time!

Since then, we had a very strange incident in our not so new pickup truck!  We went to Canandaigua last week and after parking the truck at one of our stops, when Mark restarted it, a message came up on the dash stating “Reduced engine power”.  That was new to us!  We had some more errands, so Mark left the parking lot only to discover that our usually spunky truck wasn’t!  He pressed down on the accelerator and the truck acted sluggish.  We could drive around Canandaigua fairly easily as there are few steep roads and the truck seemed to do well as long as it could glide along.

When we finally completed our list of tasks, Mark thought a bit to try to discover the road with the least incline to go home. We settled on a route and found ourselves traveling well, cruising at some points, to 50 miles per hour.  Mark had chosen route 64 to head home and as we turned off route 5 &20, we saw a definite incline! The truck slowed down….and slowed down some more….until we were peaking out at about 20 miles per hour.  Mark had the flashers on and people zipped past us as the truck seemingly struggled up the road. Once we reached the top of the incline. we once again glided down with ease. And some speed!

We found ourselves feeling rather like sitting ducks just a couple of times more, then the big test was ahead of us. Yes, we had successfully reached the bottom of “our” road. As Mark briskly turned onto the road,  we could feel the truck slowing down.  We began at about 10 miles per hour and as the road increased in steepness, the truck slowed down further and further.  I sat, praying, asking that the angels push that truck up the rest of the way. By the time we (thankfully) reached the driveway, the truck was topping out at about 2 miles per hour.  The now overworked vehicle seemed to sprint up the driveway  (at 10 miles per hour) and I nearly jumped from it! How thankful we were to have reached home!

Mark did some research on the problem and discovered this is General Motors’ method of reducing risk of loss and injury when there is a problem with throttle control.  Mark bought a device that reads codes via a computer on the truck and displays them on his cell phone. He determined through this technology that there is a problem with wiring or connectors located near the gas pedal. I always giggle at Mark’s Mechanical Engineering skills….skills that keep him from tossing out broken things and skills that cause him to look into problem solving when most of us would throw our hands up and walk away!  I am so thankful for him and his skills! He is going to look at the truck today and see if he can discover the problem.

Since my last post, we have been down to our friends’ house once again for Mark to play music with his friends.  We had another lovely evening and the weather was so very much kinder than the previous week!  We currently still have no snow and had days above freezing. It would seem the weather pendulum is really swinging wildly out of control this winter!

Yesterday, Mark and I went out and I ran into WalMart.  I was picking up a few things and I saw a Mennonite mom and her young daughter, maybe seven or eight, shopping. They were coming out of an aisle as I was walking perpendicularly in another aisle.  The mother made a turn toward me, and the daughter turned the opposite way, now walking beside a woman in a long coat. The girl’s eyes were looking down and she continued to walk alongside the woman for awhile.  The Mennonite woman gently called “Twila!” when she discovered her daughter was going the wrong way.  I watched and when the girl didn’t respond,  she quietly called out again, “Twila!”. Suddenly the girl turned and looked, surprised she was no longer with her mom. She quickly walked back to her mother and the mother and I both giggled!  It was so cute.

As we left the store to go back home, I took a quick snap of the sunset. That is the photo at the top of this entry. For one reason or another, Word Press isn’t allowing me to arrange photos the way I want! Grr!!!


So, How was *Your* Day Today?

Mine?  Not so good….

I went out to drive over to visit our neighbors’…..problem is, when I got outside, my remote starter on the Subaru would not work. Drat!  So I climbed inside the car, turned the key, and….nada.  Nothing.  The car would not even make a tiny sound similar to a car being started.  Argh.

I called another neighbor and asked if she might give me a jumpstart.  She came down within minutes.  I was so happy!  We hooked the jumper cables to the batteries and….nada.  Nothing.  I was so frustrated and my neighbor told me to hop in and she would take me up to get her Jeep, which I could use for the day.

I only used the Jeep to visit the other neighbors.  That was so nice of them to let me have it for the day, though!  I don’t think I have ever seen a purple Jeep before.

I called Mark and told him about the Subaru and he called Roadside Assistance.  One of the great bonuses of buying a new car! (He had already left for the day so he didn’t know about my dilemma.)  Within an hour, a very nice man came with to try to jumpstart the car.  He first used a large battery, but it didn’t work.  Not at all.

He scratched his head, then went to the back of the minivan he was driving.  He came back with a set of jumper cables maximus!  I don’t think I have ever seen such an “elaborate” or heavy-duty set.  He secured the cables to the two vehicles and told me to give ‘er a try.  Boom!  She started…immediately!

I was tickled pink.

I went back in the house after my Hero left, and called Mark.  He told me to place a battery charger on the car after running it for half an hour.  He wanted to slowly charge it all the way.  No adventures for me.  Not today.

The weather forecast for today had called for some warmer temps, but we never made it a whole lot over freezing.  Ah well.  I had spent a few hours outside,  so I would happily retreat indoors.  I guess….

In looking at Murphy, I decided it was time for a haircut.  He was looking a bit “rotund”,  and I am so sure he hasn’t gained a lot of weight!  It is that fur!  I got the clippers and my poor little fellow obediently, albeit reluctantly,  came to me, head hanging so low!

I am so grateful I can do my own clipping….it saves so much money, plus,  I am pretty sure Murphy would be terrified by someone else doing the dirty work.  Because all of his “lines” for trimming are well defined,  it doesn’t take long to carve out a proper Scot!  The most time consuming area is his head, but he is rather comfortable letting me clip away.

I love seeing all his brindle-goodness after a haircut.  When it grows out, all the neat “stripes” disappear and he appears much darker than after a trim.  He was so happy, he posed nicely for me. (I did mention a cookie…do you think that helped any?)

As I took that photo, I noticed a basket we had decorated for Christmas.  Well, the ribbon is Christmasy!  The pinecones smell like cinnamon and cloves…mmmm! As I was looking at the basket, the sunlight streaked in through the windows and highlighted the basket!

Well, this is a day I am glad to put behind me.  It came with a bit of stress!  But, as my neighbor commented when I returned the Jeep,  it all worked out in the end!

The Joys of Ownership!


Yeah. The new camera really is cool. It is tiny compared to my big D-SLR, and takes great photos.  Especially if one knows how to burrow down through the many, many layers of  adjustments!  Not being very intuitive  concerning things like computers and electronics, I find myself aimlessly pushing buttons and hoping for the best!  Mark, on the other hand, is very logical and can figure his way through a new *toy* quickly. Bah!

So, last night, while we were out and about, I saw a pretty church in Geneva and asked Mark to stop for a moment.  I hopped out of the truck and took a photo.  I looked at it right after taking it, and to my dismay,  I had changed the picture from “standard” to “monotone”.  Oh joy.

Definitely an “oops”!  BUT,  I was determined to figure out how to get the color back,  AND, I refused to humble myself to the point of asking Mark if he could help!  I got back in the truck and fumbled, er….”worked” my way through the menus and, lo, and behold…..color!

Yuppers, doesn’t *everyone* drive around with an invertor plugged into their vehicle so they can plug in their toys? ….er, electonic necessities?  (that is the eerie green light!)

Okay, so I have shown you some crummy photos taken with the Micro four-thirds.  How about a “good” photo taken a few days ago from the porch?

Don’t you love the colors?  I do, especially since we rarely see anything like this because of the trees and surrounding hills.

So, the bottom line is this…..along with those fun new devices comes the frustration of learning all about how they work!

Hanging in there.

Today was a nail-biter.

We are in need of a new washing machine, but perhaps that will be put on hold for just a little while longer. Yesterday’s entry explained how the transmission fluid from the Explorer ended up in a puddle at the end of the driveway. Well, the Ford garage said that we need a (deep gasp) new transmission.  The price?  Well, without any negotiating, $3,500.00.

We just don’t have that much money. I am flabberghasted and feeling a bit on edge…..

Mark spent most of today on the phone, calling every transmission specialist he could find nearby. He spoke to the Ford garage last today and they might have a less costly solution. We will know tomorrow.  This one will be more along the lines of maybe $1,500.00?  Which we still do not have.


Excuse me….

while I cry my eyes out!

Yeah, I am being totally wimpy today and I just feel so overwhelmed!

I had no idea that the weather was going to take a one-eighty degree turn. While it has been so warm and unusual here lately, it very suddenly turned FRIGID.  No, not even cold. Beyond cold. Frigid!  As in, Arctic cold!  Now, I don’t mind cold weather at all, but shouldn’t the transition be a little longer than a day?

All right. No more bellyaching. 

I shoveled the ramp and knocked the four or five inches of snow off all three vehicles.  I got the Explorer all uncovered and part of the truck.  Then I went in the house to get something ready for dinner tonight. I had thawed a roast, so decided to make just the perfect meal for a bitter cold day…..Hearty Beef Stew, from my book, Slow Cooker Revolution.

Ben and I worked on finishing getting the vehicles cleared and then came inside. The temperature remained well below freezing all day.  I am housesitting so I went to check the house. I decided to take the Explorer. Ben was going with me. We stopped at the end of the driveway so I could grab our mail.  I shifted into drive to go on up the road, but the car refused to move.  Ben hopped out and told me to stop the car right away…..transmission fluid was leaking everywhere!  As we walked up the driveway, there was a streak of fluid all the way. Apparently, a piece of metal broke in the driveway and the gasket fell off.

Mark ended up calling AAA and they sent a flatbed to grab the car.  It was so cold….there is always, always a brisk breeze at the end of the driveway. The operator loaded fast and took the Explorer away. What a pain that was!

Ben and I checked the house I am housesitting and then we came home.  By this time, it was getting near dinner time. I made up a batch of dumplings and put them on top of the stew.  As it worked out, ev eryone loved the stew and it really was the perfect dish for this cold day!

I finally warmed up by taking a hot bath.  I had spent so much time outside today and I felt like I was never going to warm up again! Tomorrow, it is supposed to be warmer….I sure hope it is.  We have so many little tasks that still need attended to.  Mark and the kids just finished putting up the final boards on the new ramp yesterday. The kids were so glad they did it then, instead of today!

So, I will leave you with a couple of birdie photos I took today.

So…tomorrow will be a better day!