More breakage

IN JANUARY, I wrote a post about broken things… specifically, my car, my DSL connection, and Seth's foot. It was just one of those "bad things come in threes" times, where it just seemed everyting was breaking at once.

Well here we are again, friends, it's the sequel, and it's bigger and badder than the original! The biggest issue right now is our roof. You know, the one on the house that keeps the rain out. It was aging when we bought the house and we've been talking about how one of these days we'll have to replace it. We even joked a little bit after last year's fire about how if only the firemen hadn't been so prompt, we might have gotten a new kitchen roof. But we didn't really mean it.

Apparently we have a big bullseye hovering over our property that says MOTHER NATURE AIM HERE!, because there a rare derecho muscled through our area on June 29, and it sent one of our neighbor's fire-weakened trees right into our roof:

2012-06-30 13.54.23

…and it punched a small-ish hole right through. A nice man with a chainsaw happened by, took some of our cash and removed the thing from the roof, then Curt went up into the attic and ghetto-patched it while I started calling roofing contractors. Please know that in a couple of weeks we will be inviting everyone to a party here, where we will make everyone scale a ladder to admire our new car kitchen  major dental work roof. We will serve drinks up there – Solo cups only! – and we will be expecting you to shower us with compliments on shingle color selection, the new skylight, and in particular, the jammin' new roof vents. Bonus points if you also compliment us on our new gutters and downspouts. 

That's the biggie. But at the same time, there was a series of smaller malfunctions: Our high-end Simple Human trash can's lid stopped working. (Don't judge; how many times do you go into your trash can each day? It's worth spending money on a good one.) One bolt that secured the toilet seat in the main bathroom broke clean off, and the plastic nut on the other bolt is stripped and we can't remove it. That was enough to send Curt outside to grill dinner, only the gas line seems to have stopped working. The grill's old anyway; we can try cleaning the line, but it needs new burners again and till you buy four new cast-iron burners you may as well buy a new grill. After that frustration, he decided to mow, only he ran the push mower over a small stump and it… broke. The mower repair guy flipped it over, took one look, and said, "You know, we sell mowers here, too…"

So there you have it. Things breaking left and right. But things can be replaced. When the CHILDREN start breaking, it's a whole new ballgame:

  Eli cast2

Peezer fell off the monkey bars at camp last Thursday. He cried, but "hockeyed up" and hardly complained. He went to camp Friday, then we dragged him up to PA for a family weekend. Saturday afternoon, I noticed he was still holding his arm still and it was still swollen. So yesterday, Curt ran him to the doctor, then for X-rays, then back to the doctor, then over to the orthopedist, and now Peezer has a full arm cast to protect the aligned distal ulnar fracture. And of course, I'm feeling like Mother of the Year for telling him to take a Tufferin and quit complaining. 

And that's the second broken bone in our family this year. But at least it wasn't a BAD break! And now Peezer has a cast – he chose red, for the Washington Capitals and Nationals – and he thinks he's pretty cool. Of course, this puts the kibash on swimming for a few weeks, and also puts taekwondo on hold for a while. 

I don't like to wallow in self-pity or bitch and moan too much, because when it comes down to it, we really do have it much better than so many people. Things could have been so much worse! That said, we've had more than our share this year. I'm done with breakage. OVER. IT.


Weeds in the flower bed

ANSWER: This is the maximum amount of time between blog posts before BlogHer pulls their ads from your blog.

QUESTION: What is three months, Alex?




Poor neglected posies. Photo from here.

I'm afraid my blog has become something like a neglected flower patch. Oh, it's all fun and exciting in the spring, when it gets warm outside and you get out there with your trowel and your flowery garden gloves and your bug spray and you weed and dig and aerate and prepare the soil for that lovely flat of  impatiens you just bought. You gently tuck them into shallow holes in the earth and pat them securely 'round their roots, then drench them with Miracle Grow-laced water. And the sunshine kisses them and the rain soakes them and they Grow.

 Spring turns into summer and you get Busy and it gets HOT and somehwere along the way, it stops raining. You water your flowers for a while, but then you go away for a week of vacation and forget to ask a neighbor, and by the time you return there are Weeds and their leaves are beginning to shrivel and maybe, just maybe, you decide that this year's impatiens are a lost cause.

And you promise yourself you'll be a more diligent gardener next year.

That's kind of how I'm feeling about my blog. I wrote some good stuff for a few years, but lately I'm not feeling those regular flashes of inspiration that used to drive – no, compel – me to write and spend time on growing my following. I'm not ready to throw in the towel, not yet. Part of the reason I started blogging was so my kids would always have a piece of me, even if all the boxes of mementos were to vanish. So at least, there's that. I also wanted to document for myself my own evolution. It's fun to look back on my early posts and see what was going on.

Also, I've been working more hours and the boys have new activities and there is just SO MUCH TO DO before I get to "write blog post" on my Triage List.

Anyway… I don't care that BlogHer pulled my ads; I was going to dump them anyway, once I got around to it. I was never one of those bloggers who made any kind of income from that. But if you're actually still reading, or you've just been compulsively checking back here, wondering what's become of me, please know, I'm still here. I'm just… refocusing. Recalibrating. Refreshing.

Perhaps I need to spend a little time weeding my inner flower bed. I have neglected to nurture the blossoms in my soul. I must tend to them for a little while longer. I'll pull the weeds that choke them out so they can bathe in sunshine. I'll quench their thirst with some Miracle Gro. Maybe then they'll start to flourish again. And when they do, I'll write about it.

I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'm not going anywhere. 

Hide and Seek

LAST WEEKEND, I dragged took my neighbor Stephanie up to my old stompin' grounds. My aunt and uncle built a sweet cabin on the ridge above what used to be my grandmother's (her mother's) farm, and they kindly allowed us to invade for a girls' weekend. Steph's sister Dory and Dory's friend Diane met us there. Our mission: A whole bunch of geocaching, a ride on the Millersburg Ferry and a visit to the Ned Smith Nature and Art festival.

I provided nonstop running commentary and shared interesting facts spouted minutiae about my hometown. I pointed out where my relatives live. (Which was, like, every third house.) I told stories from back in the day.  I wouldn't shut up was probably pretty unbearable, but I was their chauffer, so they were my captive audience.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is a worldwide game of hide and seek. You can find lists of "caches" on the website, enter the coordinates into your handheld GPS, then use that to guide you to the exact location of the cache. Along the way you can get sunburned hike, learn local history, and you get to see things that are miles from all civilization off the beaten path. My companions are all quite experienced geocachers, but they were patient and willing to train their chauffer.

But enough of my prattling on and on and on. I'll let the photos do (most of) the talking.

Dory fishes a microcache out of its hiding place while Steph logs our find.


One of the caches we found was hidden in state gamelands, high above the Susquehanna River… 

Susquehanna river valley, looking north 
…and Routes 11/15. This was just north of Liverpool, PA. 
High above 11-15 along the Susquehanna 
We found caches at two covered bridges - 
Aline covered bridge sign 
…the Aline Bridge, just up Route 104 on the way to Middleburg, and…

Red Bridge Liverpool PA
…Red Bridge, outside of Liverpool. Please don't tell anyone that I grew up maybe 4 miles from this bridge but never knew it was there.  Adjacent to this site were an old outhouse–

Outhouse next to Red Bridge Liverpool
—and a long-abandoned house:

House next to Red Bridge Liverpool PA

There were also cemeteries (which, I just learned, is from the Greek word that means "sleeping place"). There was the one out by Barners Church –

Barners Church
…where there are, in fact, many tombstones bearing the name "Barner."

Barners Cemetery 
(…even though this photo features a "Meiser" grave marker. You'll have to take my word for it.) 

Then there was the cemetery at the site of the former St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pfoutz Valley. It's an equally peaceful "sleeping place":

JewishCatching July 2011 118

 This cemetery used to be adjacent to a church, which has long since been razed:

St Michaels Church monument 
St. Michael's is next to the farm that was my aunt & uncle's, and the next farm after that one was was my grandmother's – where my dad grew up. So you see, I can't even count how many times I've driven by this place. And yet, I can remember only stopping and visiting it a few times. It's so peaceful and quiet there, and as I surveyed the plot's location amid corn and soybean fields, I got to thinking how this would be such a nice place to spend my eternal rest, because the chances are next to zero that they would pave over this particular slice of paradise… but then I remembered the other cemetery we visited earlier in the day –

Sarah Catharine Shuman's gravestone
The cache was nestled next to Sarah Catharine Shuman's grave. She died when she was only ten. And that was next to these —

Grave stones at Tombstone cache
–which were sequestered way up on top of a slab of earth that was flanked by a highway on-ramp and an off-ramp – the Millerstown exit of Routes 22/322. The highway was built in the '60s, and my cousin Julie tells me that her dad protested the original plan to relocate those graves. The highway was redesigned to leave this small family plot intact. And I am sure that when Catharine's grieving parents buried their precious daughter there, they couldn't have imagined that her resting place would end up overgrown and inaccessible to all but the hardiest, most adventurous hikers. I mean, you really have to wanna get up there.

Now, this cache –

Nekoda Cache
…was called Nekoda. The cache was hidden in an overgrown area across the road from an old structure that once housed a general store and a post office. Until recently, it still showed up on maps of Pennsylvania, even though the post office has been defunct for decades. The building sat abandoned for many years. I could see it from my bedroom window. I spent 16 years looking across the corn fields at it, wondering if it really was haunted, as was the rumor.  A family has since bought it and fixed it up and I'd love to see what it looks like inside – I bet it's great fun to ramble around in there. We, however, were focused on navigating 'round needle-sharp bramble bushes to locate the cache that was tucked into the overgrowth near an old stone wall that may have once been the foundation for a barn or other outbuilding.

Geocachers at St Michaels
My fellow seekers – Steph, Dory and Diane. And yes, that's a Busch Pounder in Dory's hand. This was our 15th and final cache of the day, and we decided to linger 'neath the evergreens and enjoy a refreshing cold beverage to celebrate our finds. What a fun day – I enjoyed showing my friends around my hometown and surrounding area, and really liked learning some new things, too.

I have more to share, including the Millersburg Ferry photos – but those will have to wait for another day. Until next time –