Retrieved from the trash bin

We were fifty minutes into the hour-long Outlander episode “The Deep Heart’s Core” when the DVD player stopped. Didn’t even give us any warning of weird blips or slow motion stoppages–just died. Just as Roger is about to escape from the Indians who are dragging him to New York far away from Brianna. Not only did it stop playing, but the disc wouldn’t eject. Visions of having to pay for a Netflix disc made us disgruntled, as well as the DVD stopping just at the exciting part. It might take us a week to find out what happened to Roger.

Mr. H.C. is handy with pliers and screwdrivers, so he took the thing apart and we physically took the disc out of the player. We retired to the bedroom and watched the last ten minutes on the laptop. Roger escaped.

Now, I can hear you saying, why do you even rent discs from Netflix anyway? Can’t you just stream like the rest of the world?

Well, thanks for asking, but no. We can’t, actually. Because we live in rural Pennsylvania, where there are hills and hollers, and the nearest 5G network is 50 miles north in Pittsburgh. We have three options for internet service: Windstream, whose fastest rate in our neck of the woods is 1 mbps (yes, 1); Dish networks, which everyone knows are worthless when it is cloudy (and let me just say, we have cloudy here); and a hotspot. Which is what we have. It’s serviceable. It works. Sort of. Most of the time. It’s expensive. We don’t have unlimited data. But I digress. This is not a post about our crappy internet service.

The next morning Mr. H.C. took a look inside the player and (unbeknownst to me) tossed it in the garbage.

Let me tell you, this is something that NEVER happens. Mr. H.C. keeps everything so he can fix it someday.

By the next afternoon we had surveyed our options and they were: 1. Buy a cheap one on Amazon for $45; or 2. buy the one they had left at Walmart for $150.  (I would just like to interject here, that when we lived in Pittsburgh, we had a very modern set up with streaming and a decent-sized multi-screen that functioned both as a TV and a media screen, and if we ever got discs we played them through the computer. It all worked smoothly.) DVD players seem so 90s. So I spent some time online the next morning to see if anyone could tell us how to fix it. The best I could come up with was a YouTube video on cleaning your DVD player.

“Maybe it just needs to be cleaned?” I asked him.

“Well, it’s in the garbage, so it really needs to be cleaned now,” he said, as he rooted through the trash and dug it out brushing off some crusted oatmeal. (No, that’s a lie. There was no oatmeal on the DVD player because we are a zero-food-trash- composting family.)

Genius husband then cleaned the DVD player and tried an old disc we didn’t care about, and then ended up watching the whole thing. DVD player is as good as new, which is a great thing, because now we don’t have to spend our Lockdown money on a 90s DVD player. It’s also a great thing, because now we can avoid the news and watch the last few episodes of Outlander. Unfortunately, we’re a season behind, because we live on a country road (almost heaven, but not quite) where there is no streaming (in heaven the light will be all the streaming we need). Oh, I mentioned no streaming already.

The moral of this story is Never throw anything away because you might have to retrieve it from the trash bin. Yes, our recycling place is closed too.

The real moral of the story is Don’t live in rural Pencilbania. Where there’s no recycling and no decent internet. And the yard signs are all for the wrong guy. (I’m debating about whether to put a Biden sign in the front yard, but I don’t want to start a sign war…)

The real, real moral of the story is Can our country be retrieved from the trash bin, cleaned, and fixed so it works once again?

 

 

All We Need Is Love…

All of March, all of April, all of May so far, posts have been swirling around in my head and then rejected. Too serious, too stupid, too sad, too banal, too ubiquitous, too churchy, too inappropriate, too depressing, too inconsequential… So instead I wrote an inconsequential post on baking dessert, and an inconsequential post on our bathroom remodel. (I confess that the beautiful new bathroom isn’t inconsequential to me!)

I kept thinking of the Lennon-McCartney line, Nothing you can say that’s not been said… but it turns out that isn’t the right lyric. It is close to a line from “All You Need Is Love” and that’s the lyric we all need to hear right now. “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need…” So have a listen to the song, while you’re reading my words that have all been said before.

This stuff we’re going through is scary. We’ve probably all read enough dystopian novels that start simply enough with oh, say, all the grass dying from a disease (No Blade of Grass, by John Christopher) or  women no longer being able to give birth so humanity is dying out (The Children of Men by P. D. James) or climate change causing  social structures to break down (The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler) or a viral pandemic that starts in one small area and spreads worldwide (Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; The Stand by Stephen King; )… It’s easy to look at what’s happening now and say, What if… Okay, yes. Too depressing.

I myself have been having trouble reading, concentrating. The librarian! So if dystopian novels are too depressing,  I told myself, read something light. So I chose 14 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, but all that did was remind me of the ten days in Scotland that is not happening. Non-fiction, I brainstormed, and soon after I was reminded that The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher was on my life to-read-list, but it had always been pushed to the bottom because I didn’t think I had time. Duh! There are no events on my calendar, and I’ve got time. I’m reading it now on my kindle and thoroughly enjoying it.

Since we’re on the topic of song lyrics, how about John Prine’s song, Spanish Pipedream: Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country, build you a home. Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try to find Jesus, on your own…)

Garden for Joy

Plant a little garden: We’ve already covered that in this post, but just in case you didn’t read it, go out and plant something. On your patio. In your back yard. In your front yard. Grow cosmos. Or lantana. Grow yellow tomatoes. Or seven different varieties of basil. Grow a lemon tree…

Turn off the Television: I admit to wanting to blow mine up.  24-7 broadcasting of Covid-19 statistics and scares is not good for anyone’s mental health…Neither is 24-7 broadcasting on the current president’s stupidity. Sorry. I just had to throw that in there because that has me as depressed as the virus statistics. So turn off the news, turn off the president, turn off the divisiveness. Play games, go for a walk, make homemade ice cream, order pizza delivery for a friend.

Try to find Jesus: Now is the time. Do you need hope? Do you need comfort? Do you need the ability to get rid of the belief that you are in control? Take comfort in what Jesus told his disciples: So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring fears of its own… There are you-tube church services abounding right now, and you don’t have to actually walk into a church. I remember how daunting that was when I was finally ready to take that step. It took me a month to get up the courage.

Pray: “Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage, family and addictions therapist. “They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves.

Giving comfort to someone else brings comfort to you: Find something to do for someone who is worse off than you. Donate your time. Donate your talent. Donate your money. We were going to donate our stimulus check, but we haven’t received it yet. That’s okay; it’s giving us plenty of time to decide how to donate it…

So yes, all of this advice is everywhere. And frankly, I’m tired of those sappy commercials of “We’re all in this together”. I appreciate the sentiment; it is true. And I’d rather see one of those commercials than the tv news of protesters dressed in camo carrying guns. I admit to being a child of the sixties: I want to walk up and put daisies in their gun barrels.

I took this picture today when I was outside decorating my house for spring. These ajuga and lilies of the valley are growing together and cooperating beautifully in the same space. Even though they are different colors; even though they are different species. When will humans learn from them? In truth, some of the most beautiful landscapes are those with incredible variety. With all that is going on the world, we are being called to rise above the division, the noise, the ugliness and reach out in love to someone who might be different from us.

Take one step forward today. Be kind and love on someone. Be kind to yourself. Pray. Be grateful for what you do have. Love isn’t love till you give it away

 

 

The bathroom project: planned 9 years ago, completed (almost) during quarantine…

It’s a bit ironic; the online articles and posts suggesting that perhaps you should do a home project while you’re quarantined at home. Or the other articles that snidely suggest you’re an overachiever if you even attempt a DIY project now. (The good thing about a quarantine DIY is that no-one is going to show up at your house, when there is junk, tools, and sawdust covering Every. Single. Surface.)

Dueling ladders…

Our bathroom has looked like a third world bathroom for 9 years. When we inherited this little cottage, it was the room we planned to redo first. The smallest, the most-in need, the most bang for our buck… Plus, the kitchen was daunting because, well, it was the kitchen. Truth is, the bathroom has the access into the attic, and it took us a long time to figure out how to get an attic ladder in such a small space. Before, one had to bring in a ladder, and push a piece of plywood away to get up there. Here is how the access door finally turned out:

The attic access door that stopped all progress…

Nine years later, after Covid-19 has relegated us all to our houses, we tackled it. No excuses, nothing else to do. So we’ve actually utilized our time well. Of course, there were times of distress, and interruptions, and arguments, but that’s just routine in DIY projects, and anyone who has ever done a home project knows that to be truth.

It was a great day when this old sink went out for garbage pick up. We put it out a couple of days early, but no one was in the market for a sink and cheap faucets.

When we uncovered the bathroom vanity that we had purchased at a Restore in Pittsburgh, we found a sticky note that had the date of purchase: Sept. 9, 2011. We had gathered supplies in fits and starts since that date.

  • We bought floor tiles for the shower early on right after the vanity and the mirror;
  • a round copper sink that we found in Deep Creek Maryland one summer on vacation before this little cottage was even ours;
  • Mr. H.C. got a pricey toilet for free, and we had it for such a long time, we gave it away to someone else who needed one;
  • we had tile for the top of the vanity for so long that when we got it out, we couldn’t figure out how we had thought we were going to put it on, gave up, and bought a new wooden countertop instead. We went to Burton, Ohio to pick it up, two days before the PA lockdown started;
  • that same weekend we went to a small independent plumbing place to get some pipe and ended up buying a commode from him. He was so grateful, and it made us aware of how much we just shop at the big box stores because it’s easier. Nothing is the same now, and we all need to think carefully about what stores we want to support.
  • Faucet, sink drain, and shower fixtures were purchased a couple of years ago when we thought we were getting ready to do the bathroom. We did the ceiling and some electrical work, and then we ended up doing the back porch instead.
  • the replacement window came in just after the PA lockdown started. We have been grateful that plumbing supply and hardware stores are considered essential…

We still don’t have the shower in, but here are some before, during, and after shots:

THE FLOOR: (tongue and groove yellow pine, still available at fine lumber yards everywhere…)

THE HEATER VENT:

THE TOILET ALCOVE:

SAME SHOT, DIFFERENT YEARS….

THE VANITY TOP, SINK, AND FAUCETS:

Here are some close ups:

We still have the shower to do…But we’re taking a short break to recover, and try to remember: how was it we were going to put the shower in, anyway?