Archive for April, 2009

Mrs. Flusher

I used to hate it when someone called me that — a telephone solictiation person or an address on an envelope.  I told the former that no one by that name lived here.  The latter got tossed in the trash.

I got very careful about spelling my name on the phone with someone who didn’t know me.  “My name is Slusher — S as in Sam, L-U-S-H-E-R.  It rhymes with Usher.”  That worked most of the time.   What gets me it that people thought Slusher was odd — and Flusher wasn’t?  Come on. . . .

Anyway, I’m happy to be called that this week.  We’ve had plumbing concerns for more that a few weeks.  It got to the point that if we had a 100% flush, it was cause for celebration!  We’d had it pumped about 6 weeks ago and it still hadn’t improved much.  We were discussing and analyzing and  deliberating on our next move.   The worst case scenario was a tie-in to the city’s sewer system at almost $6000 or a re-do of our old septic system for about half that amount.  Either way wasn’t our first choice solution.  I’ve now lived in this house for 25 years (is that possible?) and we’d been here for about 8 years before we’d ever had it pumped the first time.  That’s not been the case the past few years.  Anyway — this past week, Bruce got on the phone and called around to check prices, availability, etc.  He finally settled on a business we’d not ever used before.  We set a day and time.

Up the drive came a huge tanker truck, with a driver who even backed up our long 300 foot driveway.  I was impressed immediately.  Out jumped two good ol’ boys who knew septic systems.  They got to work.  Their boss hated call-backs so they proceeded to do the best pumping job this system has ever seen.  Apparently the back line had not been adequately cleared in the past few years.   They pumped while I manned the flush handle in the back bathroom.  Bruce was the intermediary, who yelled instructions back and forth.  They pumped and pumped.  I flushed and flushed.  Bruce yelled and hollered.  Finally it ran clear –to their very exacting standards.  They were happy.  We were delighted.  Their boss wouldn’t be having any call backs.

I just love it when someone is number one in the number two business.


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An Angel or Devil?

Last night was the Easter Vigil wherein the church baptizes, accepts and confirms new Catholics to the faith. We had met earlier in the day to walk through the ceremony so all would go well. Our RCIA leader, a patient man, had everything organized and scripted. He had planned as well as one could. There were children there in the group and one little boy, a beautiful boy, a child of two or so, yelled whenever he didn’t get his way. We, who were sitting in the back section, said we couldn’t hear — several times. Finally, the father took the hint and took the kid out. I later said to the young father, “You might want to bring some suckers tonight, just in case.” He laughed. I repeated, “You really might want to bring suckers tonight.” (Plug up that cry hole, I was thinking. . . .)

Well, as could be expected the kid screamed through the first hour of the service — after all, he had practiced earlier in the day. He hit his mother and father and stomped on the pew and yelled at the top of his lungs! The father, unfortunately, smiled back at the kid when he swung at him. Grrrr. For all of us who were raised by firm strict parents, it was terrible. Not only did my siblings or I not do that, neither did either of my children. You did not embarrass your parents in public. It was a hard, fast, common sense rule. It was easy to to see why the boy behaved so badly in public; he did it at home. No firm looks, no harsh voice, no thumps on the head. The child was a tyrant. They tried to sweetly talk to him. One doesn’t reason with tyrants.

I knew as a parent that the reason you made your children behave was so they would be socially acceptable. No one — no one — enjoys a screaming bratty kid. The entire congregation wished the brat was about a mile away. Unfortunately, I was sitting several rows back directly in the line of vision from the devil child. The tension was evident from all the adults. You could feel it. I finally had to stop looking at the lttle monster and try to tune him out. That also meant I missed some of the service. I don’t attend church to hear a child yell. Catholic churches have wonderful Cry Rooms, designed for that very purpose. You can see and hear the service; the congregation can’t see or hear the bellowing child. A win-win situation.

Parents need to be in charge. Children can’t be in charge. Do we put the person with the least knowledge, wisdom and experience in charge of anything? Heavens no. Parents — burn the psycho-babble book about not hurting a child’s fragile self-esteem and step up to the job of firm leadership. Be a grown up. Take charge. Insist your children behave appropriately. Even two year olds can learn that.

Fortunately, today we sat behind a family with well-behaved, well-dressed children. It restored my faith.  Afterwards I complimented the parents on their children’s behavior. We all smiled. Praise be.

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A Good Friday

It rained last night, and blew, and hailed. In our pine forest that can be a cause for alarm. The good news with our recent heavy rains is that the drought is over; however, the bad news is that our septic system gets easily overwhelmed now. So, between worry about trees and toilets, our Good Friday night was exciting in a middle-aged, middle class kind of way.

We had spent half the day at church, with a Good Friday service at noon and the Stations of the Cross later after lunch. Somehow the thunder and lightening seemed appropriate on such a solemn day of the church year. (I was wishing I had ordered “Passion of the Christ” from Netflix, as it is a good choice for Holy Week. We’ve seen it before, but it’s one of those films people should watch every so often. It reminds us of aspects of the Passion we’d prefer not to remember.) At the service, the Veneration of the Cross exacts an act of humility that was moving. One of my gripes with modern society is that people think to be humble is to be weak. Quite the contrary. Only the truly strong can express humility and understand how it strengthens character. It is honest and true, and very liberating.

The storm is long gone. The house plants I placed on the deck got a good watering and this day is fresh and new. The neighbor’s tree that Bruce had feared would flatten his beautiful tool shed, actually fell last week — toward the neighbor’s house, damaging a corner of the overhang. I guess, the good news is that their insurance will fix the damage.

So with Holy Saturday today we move one day closer toward Easter. The very reason for this glorious season.

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LLBean – thanks

Sea Green King Dome Tent #4 is its name.

Our new tent arrived earlier in the week. It replaces the $20 tent we bought last year out of the classified ads — the one we got to determine whether we really enjoyed camping before we invested much money. It was fine, unless it rained real hard. Although it had a rather small fly over the top, it had lots of ventilation, yet we discovered that every single zipper is a potential leak. Add up several and you have a puddle, or two, in the lowest corners of the tent. So Bruce, the resident tent engineer here, erected a tarp over it to thwart the leaky seams. However, in our travels, we noticed lots of other tents — ones whose fly was large and extended way down to the bottom corners of the tent. They didn’t have extra tarps slung over the top. So, in preparation for the new season upcoming and four expeditions under our collective belts, we decided to upgrade. Bruce, who is great at internet research, found one we liked on the LLBean site. It has a screened outer room and an inner room for sleeping. We like to sit in the evening with our coffee and tea, away from the bugs and the rain and the wind (which sounds odd when I say that, as we are out in the woods, for heavens sake). I guess we want all the woodsy comforts of home, if that makes any sense. Yes, we do look for campgrounds that offer shower houses with hot water and flush toilets; I admit it. We have enough space in the outer room for our folding chairs and a tiny foldable table.

We also invested in two lovely deluxe cots to replace the inflatable bed. Although the bed was comfy enough, it took up almost all the floor space so we had little room to store stuff. Now with the cots, we have space underneath to stash our bags with our clothes and stuff.

I’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog regarding the odd way they determine how many people the tent can hold. I think of it as the Sardine Factor. If you’re a sardine, then sleeping with a sardine on each side and another at your feet might not feel strange. I, on the other hand, think three people side by side and another cross ways at the door of the tent, to be just a bit too tight. Even as a child I wanted more room than that! So I wonder who thought up the genius Sardine Factor. Obviously it was by someone who never, ever has to get up in middle of the night for a trip to the toilet. Oh, that’s right — sardines don’t use a toilet. I forgot.

Two people, two cots, two sleeping bags, two pillows, one coffee pot. That’s the Stephens Factor.

This past week we put it up in the back yard. One, to learn to erect it and make sure all the parts were there. Two, to check out the comfort quotient. Three, to check for water tightness. That night we had a granddaddy of a storm. Two inches worth of rain with lightning and thunder. The tent passed with flying colors. Other than a need for ear plugs and a sleep mask, all went well. It was a bit like sleeping under a spot where they were shooting off fireworks. Thankfully that lasted only for a while.

It’s funny to watch the reaction of Ginger, our Corgi-Beagle mix. Remember — she’s in charge of yards, both front, back and side, the area along the street and any adjacent areas that contain canines or felines or the sound of children playing. A large responsibility for a small dog. She was fine with staying in the house by herself. In fact, she slept on guarded our bed to make sure no one stole it during the night. However, she gives us this look as if to say, “Y’all want to sleep outside all night? You two must be in big trouble!” If she could roll her eyes, I think she would.

The internet reviews were correct. Yes, the poles can break. Bruce called the company and offered to buy a replacement one, but they are sending it free. Thanks, LLBean, now we’re really set.

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