That Looks Easy….

Jeff’s penchant for home improvement shows came in handy, sort of.

If you watch enough of them, you’ll absorb some basic knowledge. Most of that will need to be supplemented by online videos, step-by-step instructions or just jumping into the deep end to see how it goes.

Basic knowledge was enough to get me through numerous post Hurricane Katrina rebuilding missions with a construction based Michigan team, and various issues at home alone, later.

If Jeff was still here, he’d be telling humorous stories about some of our least successful attempts at home repair and renovation. We’d always start out thinking, “That looks easy enough.” We’d always end up bickering, and then, laughing at our bickering.

In mid-September, we finished an attempt to ‘easily’ replace the gate at the top of the back deck stairs. We needed one that  our dog, Sadie, wouldn’t be able to plow through, wiggle through or accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) open. She’d managed to escape a few times, in all those ways.

The installation, actually, went pretty well. We had it done in a little under an hour, and tested our work. That’s when we realized we’d installed it to open the wrong way, by setting it in place upside-down.

“I thought that seemed a little harder than normal,” Jeff commented. Also, more difficult than ‘normal,’ the hardware wasn’t easily removed. Parts of screws broke off or were stripped, nuts fell between the cracks and tumbled down our long flight of stairs.

A lot of banging, two trips to the hardware store and four hours later, we were finished. To celebrate, Jeff suggested we fire up our newly repaired grill and cook-out.

The grill had been another frustrating fiasco. A 15-minute fix turned into two-hours of gentle Jeff cussing while installing a new lighter thingy.

I was inside cutting tomatoes and onions and gathering impromptu picnic supplies, when I heard Jeff shout.

“What the?”

“WHAT the?”

“Hey!”

“HEY!”

“Come here, YOU!”

As I ran to the slider, his voice volume was over-excitedly escalating.

“HEY!”

“Ouch!”

“Come HERE!”

“OUCH!”

Stupefied, I watched him pull and throw chucks of sizzling beef over the 5-foot drop at the back of our deck.

“Jeff!” Alarmingly concerned about his mental state, I slammed the screen door open. Suspecting he was having some sort of serious negative medication reaction, I blurted out, “I’m right here! What are you doing?”

Startled, he turned quickly, giving me a incredulous look, like I was the weirdo in this situation.

His stop-arm reaction time was a bit slower than his body turning time. Set in motion for an airborne release, he lobbed a glob of barely cooked ground in my direction.

I watched it wobble in a somewhat graceful arc, my mental slow-mo calculating: no – that’s not gonna happen.

It happened. Direct hit to my face.

Quote for the Week:2019 03 19 Nothing is ever fool proof jakorte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

half-truths, whole lies, and the doubts that remain.

Reprise: The clinic visit biopsy result was clear.

Warning: You may not like what I have to say.

The container I discovered had a September expiry date. The package at the gas station,  also had a September expiration date; just a handful of days later.

The chew wasn’t old and I wasn’t angry. I was astonished and livid. I went directly to the den where the tv was blaring. Jeff was sleeping, so I startled him awake by shouting his name. “What! What?” he came awake, swiveling his head in a panic.

“Here’s what!” I slapped my evidence into Jeff’s hand. “The expiration date.” I clipped. Not completely awake, Jeff stared at me.

“Within a week of Speedway.” I continued. Jeff continued to look puzzled.

“I took it to Speedway, Jeff! It’s NOT old!”

Shaking his head from side to side, he rolled his eyes, and very rhetorically and quite dejectedly, asked, “Why’d ya have to do that?”

My reply was a throw-back, “Why’d you have to?”.

“Don’t do it again, Jeff,” I warned him. I didn’t specifically define which one he shouldn’t do – lie or chew. I assumed he knew it was both.

I have a weird sort of smile on my face as I look back at this one. My warnings were weightless, useless, and void of consequence. If he did it again, it wouldn’t result in any drastic action. I wouldn’t stop loving him. I’d never leave him. It happened. Again, and again. I’d be angry and he’d be sad. He’d be sorry. I’d be forgiving. That’s how it went. Every time.

The thing is… I can’t just leave it on that loving note. That’s not how the story ends for me.

It was a mission trip discussion that clued me in. I have no proof. I’m the only eye-witness. Everything I know, leads to an unpleasant theory.

One of the ladies I evening coffee’d with began a conversation about smoking that revolved around a male member of our team. I mentioned how I’d bugged Jeff to quit smoking way before I think he was really ready to. I shared that the next step for him, in order to avoid smelling like smoke, was a clandestine move to chewing tobacco.

I reiterated the mouth cancer biopsy story and how that’d turned out. Then, went on to share that he never did quit and that it became a sore spot between us. One of my friends asked, “Even after the doctor said it was benign? He didn’t quit?”

“Nope.” I said. “He just couldn’t do it.” I don’t think that he didn’t try. I think he truly did. It just took me a few years to recognize it for what it was; an unbreakable addiction.

Hours later, I thought about the word ‘benign,’ and the fact that I’d never heard it.

1.     Jeff went to the desk, he said, “To ask a question.” I assumed it was about the wait.

2.     He insisted on going without me. “You stay here.”

4.     Body language: as far across the room as he could get from us, arms crossed, looking at his feet, lips pursed, seemingly annoyed. 

5.     The doctor, curtly reporting, “The results were clear.”

6.      He never told us in what way, or which manner, they were ‘clear.’

6.     Those few words used did not include: cancerous, non-cancerous nor benign.

7.     The abrupt end to our meeting. One sentence, and we were dismissed.

8.     I hear the attending’s voice in my head in a different tone, now. A warningly sarcastic parting shot. “Good luck to you, Sir.”

Two years after Jeff passed, on a bunk bed in Slidell, Louisiana, I put two and two together and came up woefully short. I no longer believe we dodged a bullet.

I wonder if Jeff told the clerk that he didn’t want the doctor to say it in front of me if he did have cancer. I wonder if he maybe said, “I don’t want my wife to know the results.” I wonder if he already knew the results before we even got there. I wonder about the doctor visits he went to with his father. I wonder if he confided in anyone. I wonder if it didn’t matter anyway; if he was already too ill for treatment, or if it was just too late.

If it wasn’t for 8 years of tobacco half-truths, little lies and bigger lies, I wouldn’t wonder.

 

Quote for the Week:   (ps. yes, that’s a real onion. made a pot roast.)2019 02 26 You don't know what you dont know jakorte

 

 

The Hot Dog War

I don’t love hot dogs. I don’t hate them, either. A few times a year, I actually get a craving for one, although I honestly believe that craving is more attached to sauerkraut, mustard and a good ball game.

Let me tell you this: If I came to your house and you served me a hot dog, I would eat it knowing it won’t have the same life-changing impact on me as a young woman I know.

Let me explain: The biggest impression a hot dog ever left on me was after Hurricane Katrina. On mission trip 4 or 5, working on a roof, we learned our homeowner’s pantry factually consisted of two ingredients: eggs and rice. So, our team leader called and asked for a few more sack lunches to be made and brought out, and delivered them with the invitation to join the crew for lunch.

To thank us, the very next day, these people with nothing but rice and eggs spent whatever small amount they had to purchase and serve the entire team hot dogs. There was a declared vegetarian in our group, and to my astonishment I heard she ate a hot dog. She could have easily said, “No thank you.” No one asked her to change her beliefs for those 5 minutes, but for this young woman, the immensity of the gift outweighed her objection.

Let me point out: This was her choice – I am not advocating for or against. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do the same, and I do not know how or if her convictions remained or changed. I do know that disrupting an annual well-attended, televised hot dog eating contest isn’t doing anything to support a cause or solve the world’s problems.

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you saw carnivorous humans gather intent on disrupting an animal rights meeting with meat pelting, sausage face-slapping, hot-dog slinging, chicken chucking, egg bombing or storm a vegetarian restaurant blood-splashing, ruining clothes and chairs and livelihoods and profits and whatever else may be with complete disregard?

I Googled it – many different ways. Couldn’t find anything close.

Let me be clear: My objections are not aimed at or around the hot dog industry or animal rights activists. They’re aimed at the outdated media-created notion that any type of publicity is good publicity, and the truth that purposefully hateful and idiotic behavior isn’t going to drive me toward your idealism.

Whoever you are – whatever your point – stop wilding, causing confrontation and property damage in the name of conversion.  You’re just being bullies.

Yep, some of those who cry loudest demanding “respect” for whatever point of view they hold and complain about being bullied for their beliefs see no hypocrisy in attempting to bully others out of theirs.

Want to make a difference in this world? Stop being ridiculous.

Share intelligent information, intelligently.

Patiently, kindly, explain your educated point of view

Be passionately professional, calm and rational.

Remember no one’s perfect; we’re all works in progress.

Love your fellow humans without reserve and forgive them their trespasses.

Maybe then….

Quote for the Week:

2015 07 28 How to Change the World jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

The event: https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/859950344095091/

Duh: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-hot-dogs-bacon-pose-big-health-risk/

Study this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief

Grafted (3 Chicks with Sticks)

We double tooled and took a short trek to Chapel Street.

The explanation and demonstration made sense. Using the tools on-hand made sense.

I like sense. I like adaptation, too.

Teams spread down the sidewalks searching for X marks and O marks, and root-bagged trees that weren’t rejectedly rolled into the street.

There we were; three chicks with sticks staring at an off-center X over a shallow-welled median with a spade and a square, a spade and a rake, a spade and a pick-ax, a tree and a plan.

Fresh from a mini tutorial, feeling feisty, we set about it.

We measured and consulted, measured some more, got a rhythm going.

After a while, there two piles of dirt, a pile of skimmed grass, and a hole.

The hole wasn’t exactly round. We fixed that.

The hole was a little too deep. We fixed that.

The ball was a little too heavy for advised two rollers, so we used three to get it going and in.

We eyeball straightened our charge (assumed a tulip tree by the botanical tag “tulipifera”) from three directions.

Lacking a knife to break the binds, we waited, short-shoveling handfuls of soft soil in and around to perfect stance while assuring our homeowner we were enjoying ourselves, and it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.

Root bag ripped, unrecyclables corralled, wires de-bent, we ran into a problem. Everything was fine, until exposure. Then, suddenly, it might be all wrong, or it might still be right.

Lopsided, rooted more heavily on one side than the other, not knowing which three-fingers-below measure was true.

There were two knuckles; one previously hidden in burlap garb, angled slight degrees from the one we had been focused on.

Stem straight, angled roots uneven in a way that wouldn’t promote stability. Rocking the sapling in favor of rooting, the stem was oddly askew.

That’s when we learned something new. The tree and the root were established together post graft. Combining the best of both, strong roots, tall tree, for immediate success and future longevity.

Consultants called. Though our true root was a slight inch higher than preferred, no retraction was required. Adaptation meant lightly packed stability soil up a little higher, and cautiously tamping air-pocket caverns where water could possibly pool and encourage rot.

We raised our berm a little higher, for better protection, and watered away from the roots. When we were finished, it passed muster, earning a blue sleeve of advertorial protection.

And that was it; about three hours later, including stand-up breakfast pastries and coffee, finding the right Zone assignment, name tags, gift bags, tool toting, street scouring, instruction, demonstration and the command to go to it. We’d done what we’d set out to do, added our imprint as one group of three in a group of One Brick Volunteers planting one tree among 120 goaled.

My best guess is that it took nearly 200 people from many different community groups, instructors teaching, volunteers planting, and forestry-minded reviewing to reach that goal.

While that might seem impressive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 500,000 trees lost during a three decade Dutch Elm blight from 1950-1980.

Since 1989, The Greening of Detroit has orchestrated placement and replacement of 85,000 trees. Mathematically, that’s still a significant environmental shortage.

There are still at least dozen upcoming The Greening of Detroit events, and there’s room for you, too.

It all adds up. Make a difference in Detroit.

Quote for the Week:

It doesn’t have to be one or the other  04 14 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links: 

The Greening of Detroit: http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/get-involved/volunteer/

Urban Forests: https://www.americanforests.org/conservation-programs/urban-forests/

Top 22 benefits of trees: https://www.treepeople.org/resources/tree-benefits

On Twitter:

#OneBrickDetroit    @GreeningDetroit    #SocialForestry

Dear YouTube

Thanks to you, YouTube, the renovation of one tiny bathroom seemed like a workable solo project. A few simple prep steps, and I’d be on my way to easily saving three hundred dollars off a last-minute quote that came in at half the near $6,000 price of two others. Thanks to you, I could have what I wanted within a 10 x 10 space and within my budget. I got glittery-eyed when I realized I would not have to decide which elements of condo repair to put-off indefinitely. I bought in.

It’s not like I was going in with my eyes closed. Demolition in an unsafe environments, covered in Tyvek suiting, a construction helmet, steel-toe boots, long pants, safety goggles and working in 100 degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity had me envisioning November’s delightful little cool, easing into Michigan winter as a blessing. No sweat required, and even if I happened to break one, it wouldn’t come close to the New Orleans soakings post Katrina.

Thanks to you, YouTube, I gathered enough I-can-do-this confidence to tackle removing 1978 tackiness. Thanks to you, I knew I had to know what was underneath it all. Obviously water-soaked cabinet bottoms, the view from the basement up, cracked tiles and chips in the steel tub forewarned of scary issues that were better known than un. Scenes from The Money Pit and Mouse Hunt had me terrified of stepping into a fall scene.

Fears rallied commitment; commitment rallied knowledge. Knowledge decided YouTube would be the way to go. Numerous DIY tile removal blips demonstrated quick tap-taps scoring and popping off tiles in rapid succession, no special tools required. Any old putty knife and mallet would do. Did I mention with ease? Because, truly, YouTube, your guides were perfect and thorough, promising ease of removement as if life were a PG rated Disney movie, and wearing a ball gown would only aid my efforts.

Less than a dozen tiles in, my YouTube visions crumbled, unlike my walls. There was no firm tapping to score grout. Full blown arm and hammer swings sent miniscule shards flying, caused flint-arcs, smoke puffs and concern. Somewhere around a dozen and half down and three hours later, the putty knife gave up. The handle withdrew, but a major piece of flimsy metal remained lodged behind another stubborn tile, leaving the tool with some wicked curved edges and sharp points I theorized would make the goings easier.

My dear YouTube, the recommended rubber mallet scuffed up the neon turquoise walls a bit when I tried to come in at a closer angle, or when I full-out missed the shortened putty knife. I rarely missed, though. I mean, before the mallet head bonked me in my head and the handle flew past me in trajectory. It was a rather old mallet. I’m estimating its demise at 40 years or so.

After four hours, according to YouTube time, I should have been much further along, and not nearly tool-less. Resolute in non-deterance, YouTube savvy once again, proved not every demonstration employed a rubber mallet, and that the removal of tile is truly a cinch. My ancient ball-peen and I continued pounding brittle, yet indestructible, porcelain. Imagining life without the use of the top two digits holding the smooshed plastic putty knife handle I’d been less-surface-area-with-which-to-hit-the-target miss/whacking out of sheer won’t-quit stubbornness called an end to evening one.

Quote for the Week:

The smallest thing can be our biggest challenge

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Every Tile Was Like The First: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ML3wo4vYPI

Comedic-born Fear: https://www.google.com/search?q=gif+from+money+pit&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS483US483&espv=2&biw=1600&bih=775&tbm=isch&imgil=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%253BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.tumblr.com%25252Fsearch%25252Fthe%2525252Bmoney%2525252Bpit&source=iu&pf=m&fir=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%252CRqHT1-5NDap3kM%252C_&usg=__WFryHpZnZPiOcOR9JiSFL3xzUF4%3D&ved=0CDEQyjc&ei=Vc2QVPrHE9LZsATfvoGIBQ#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=rRk-Xf0S3tOxhM%253A%3BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252F38.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_lp5puciWMi1qze9ylo1_500.gif%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.tumblr.com%252Fsearch%252Fthe%252Bmoney%252Bpit%3B500%3B256

 

Better, Pickles

While most people are wrapping up presents, wrapping up the year, I have found myself a good way off-cycle. Having already started my new start in October, I missed the thankfulness kick-off. With Christmas racing up, I’m far-behind in spiritual matters.

Charity in passing has been this season’s theme. My regular yearly list is lacking check boxes, but I’ve been catching opportunities here and there. Food Gatherers were in the right place at the right time last Saturday. A $10.00 donation seemed just about right. I planned to get cash at check-out, but as I walked the aisles with my coupons and sales flyer, I decided to get personal.

I’m not actually sure how the organization prefers to receive their donations, but I choose to shop. I shopped as budget-follower, as if I were shopping for my own holiday table. I shopped as if I were the one who longed to set a celebration table, as if I would be beaming at the gathered, providing the feast.

$10.00 wasn’t going to make that happen. Doubled, there was possibility. There are foods that always speak to me of holidays. They’re not the normal ones, or the big ones; they’re the indulgent ones. Mini gherkins, black olives, pickled beets, marinated mushrooms; specialties passed over in favor of basics. I settled on smaller versions of olives and pickles, at 99 cents and $1.50. Per placard, the cost-per-ounce for less was more. It did not make economic sense, but spending less meant buying more.

The canned vegetable aisle required study. Each brand featured a special; none of them seemed to be the same kind. Fiesta corn, red beans, sweet peas with pearl onions, green beans made it into my cart. $7.00 in, around the corner pasta and tuna were pulled. 2 bags of macaroni at 50 cents each and one can at $1.00. Tomato sauce was 1.75. Just under $10.00, I had nothing like a feast.

Pre-made, shelf-stable pie crust and a can of fruit filling won over dough mixes and pumpkin, which would have required eggs and oil, milk and spices. I chose cherry for its festive red. Those two items took up as nearly much of my budget as the first ten, but I wasn’t going to put them back.

Packaged potatoes, the just-add-water type were a compromise. Fresh fruits and vegetables spoil. It’s as simple as that. One envelope seemed so small, so I started to reach for a second. A different brand’s ‘buy two, get one free’ caught my eye. I took in three traditionally butter flavored packets at $2.00 total.

$1.63 shy of my budget, I realize I was off-cycle again. Meat and poultry, fresh or frozen, are also a short-lived, requiring refrigeration. Ham in a can would do. Don’t think for a second that I was able to find a $1.63 ham in a can. The smallest and lowest priced was $5.49. I scanned the package knowing the ingredient list would be the same as the other higher priced offerings. Debating with my self is practically a sport, these days. I pulled out my contractor estimate philosophy, and decided a ham is a ham much as a fuse box is a fuse box. Don’t need the fanciest, just need it to perform.

$3.86 over budget. I could have re-shelved the un-holiday-like tuna, one bag of pasta, and the fiesta corn. I could have slid the gherkins back into the display. But, I couldn’t bring myself to. Instead I grabbed another can of indulgent olives, thinking, “why not?” Closer to $25.00 isn’t going to break me any more than $20.00.

I imagine the volunteer sorter wondering what kind of person buys frivolities for a food pantry. It’s one who doesn’t think giving involves only basics; one who believes special is important, too. I realize the likelihood of my festive planning unit materializing in one home as a romanticized Norman Rockwell feast is slim.

I just hope that little-bitty jar of pickles makes someone really smile.

Quote for the Week:

To call it charity 12 09 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

1 Carrot Way: http://www.foodgatherers.org/

Pickle Timeline: http://www.nyfoodmuseum.org/_ptime.htm

Giving is Good, and Good for you: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you

Amazon Platform

I may have mentioned this once or twice, or a few times more than that.

That’s how it goes when I get excited, entrenched, enthusiastic. I’ve found an organization that needs me, even when I can’t get to many of the many events scheduled during the dark months of Michigan winter.

Activated in October 2011, One Brick Detroit is part of a larger, nation-wide 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. In June 2014, I made a long-term commitment to an organization that doesn’t require one.

Listing over 229 calendar events since 2011, One Brick Detroit has been successfully serving Detroit and the Metropolitan Area by scheduling an average of 6 events per month.

One Brick provides support to local non-profit and community organizations by creating a unique, social and flexible volunteer environment for those interested in making a concrete difference in the community. We enable people to get involved, have an impact and have fun, without the requirements of individual long-term commitments.

‘Commitment-free volunteering’ allows One Brick members to choose when to volunteer, rather than having to make commitments for a certain number of volunteer hours, or agreeing to be available every week at a specific time.

We create a friendly and social atmosphere around volunteering, and after each volunteer event — which typically lasts only 3 to 4 hours — we invite volunteers to gather at a local restaurant or café where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting.

One Brick chapters are 100% volunteer-run! We have no employees…we don’t even maintain offices! But we do have a lot of dedicated volunteers who make it all happen. We’re very proud of that and thankful for the wonderful, caring individuals who arrive at each One Brick Detroit event ready to step-up to whatever tasks are needed.

Having been given the creative freedom to be the representative voice behind the One Brick Detroit weekly newsletter, a contributor to the One Brick Detroit Facebook page, and as Marketing and Publicity Director for One Brick Detroit, I’d like to point out the one little thing that makes what I am going to suggest matter.

Southeastern Michigan is not much different than the rest of the country. We’ve had hard times, we’ve had large needs. The thing is, need is always there. Before the holidays, during the holidays, after the holidays, One Brick Detroit will be helping.

As we enter the giving season, giving thanks and gifts, there is simple way to help us do what we love to do: volunteer, help others, meet like-minded people, and make our little corner of the world a friendlier place.

So, here it is: my first blog platform pitch:

Amazon Loves One Brick!  When you shop using our special link Amazon donates 7% of the total to support our work.

Please bookmark this link: onebrick.org/amazon, and use it each time you shop.

Click here for more details.

_________________________________________________________________

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Visit my chapter, and see for yourself what’s so awesome about One Brick and One Brick Detroit:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Brick-Detroit/108983815861413?fref=photo

Website: http://detroit.onebrick.org/

If you don’t usually shop Amazon on line, there is another easy donation avenue open: http://www.onebrick.org/IL1B

Quote for the Week:

It’s so much easier to commit 11 25 2014