Thursday, August 30, 2012

After Trying It All

It should have been an ordinary run. Start at the tool supply place (rent or buy), load the special kind of saw in the back, drive to meet the on-site electrical workers, working on some project beneath the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis, swap saws with them and bring the other one back. A phone number is included in case you can't locate the exact person on site.

It worked fine through the loading the old saw in my car and take out the new-to-them saw part.  Then the guy actually looked at the saw he was getting. He asked me to wait, refusing to sign for the new one until he checked out if it was going to work for him.

First he had to figure out if the different hose coupling would match what he had. I guessed from that and the fact that there was already one hole in the sidewalk that this saw was a concrete cutting one, where water was needed during the cut. Once he removed a weird looking coupling from his hose, the fitting on the new saw hooked up just fine. Apparently the old saw needed something to adapt it to a standard garden hose. This one didn't. A standard hose was what it was made for.

But he wasn't done yet. Would it start? He set it on the ground, braced part of it under his boot, and started pulling on the starter cord. No go. Was there a choke? Didn't seem to be. He checked it over twice. Still no go. It made plenty of noise, just didn't catch.

At this point dispatch called, inquiring how I was doing and letting me know he had a hot one that would work with my return run, and it paid $90. Seeing no start yet on the saw, I let him know what was going on and why no signature yet. I now had a major incentive to lose patience.

"Is there gas in it?"

While he stopped to check, he muttered something about not believing he hadn't looked at that first. It was full. Still no start.

"Got a pocket knife?"

As he gave me a look, I suggested the spark plug might be fouled and need a quick scrape to remove the carbon, something I'd had plenty of practice with many years ago working for a landscaping/lawn maintenance company. The boss was cheap, and a scrape was better for the bottom line than a new plug.

Out came the socket/ratchet  case, and after going through about 8 sockets he finally found one that was "good enough". Apparently it didn't have an actual spark plug socket in the set. But the plug was fine, so he put that back together. While all that was happening, a pair of women with babies/toddlers stopped to talk with him, flirting quite a bit. Apparently they thought he was fine. At least he didn't slow down too much while holding up his end of the conversation.

He apologized for taking so long, acknowledging my need to go do other stuff. I agreed, informing him that it was time for a decision: accept or refuse the saw and send it back? He indicated he would be refusing, and while I prepared the paperwork, he called his boss to let him know what was going on so another saw could be ordered. Then he pulled the old saw back out of my car - it at least ran, though it stopped under pull - and put the new one in. I didn't ask what good the old saw was if it stopped running just when it was being used, fearing a lengthy explanation. I was already running late. After I reminded him about the hose parts that needed to go with the refused saw,  he added those and signed.

Finally! As I drove off, I called dispatch to inform them so they could inform the customer, the tool supplier, what was going on.

By the time I rolled up to my starting point with the customer, the department head walked out to meet me. He wanted to see this malfunctioning saw for himself. I explained all the electrical guy had done to try to get it to start, and before I quite finished, it was roaring along quite nicely. No problems.

But I had noticed one thing the tool company guy had done that the electrical guy hadn't. Before pulling the cord, he grabbed the handle of the saw and included a little trigger in his grip. This saw had a dead-man switch! You let go or don't grab it in the first place, this saw won't run. Great safety precaution.

Apparently a good intelligence test as well.

Unfortunately, for the customer at least, I was now unavailable to repeat the round trip, returning a perfectly good saw along with instructions on its use. I had a $90 run to complete going the other way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lost. And Found.

It's not the fact of losing one, or even two or three, that's important. The really critical part is where they wound up. That, and how long it took until you located them. After all, ice cubes can do a whole lot of melting if you just lose them long enough.

Take Monday for example. It's not at all  unusual for ice cubes to slip through my hands and go skittering across the floor to play hide-and-seek with me when I'm pulling them out of the ice maker in the morning to fill my water jug before work. Found ice cubes on the floor wind up in the critters' water dish where they can melt away to their hearts content. Koda, at least, seems to be a mite thirstier after one gets plunked in. Monday was a two cube day.

The first missing cube was easy. It hadn't made it any farther than the bottom shelf in the freezer, and simply joined its mates in my jug. But I checked all the usual places and didn't manage to locate the other one, and I knew I'd dropped it. I gave up, thinking it likely had landed on one of the soft bags in the freezer and was hiding in a fold of plastic. No matter. In a few days it would sublime.

I drove about 30 miles to my first stop of the day and unbuckled my seat belt. Odd, I couldn't imagine what I might have spilled on my lap, as I hadn't even poured out any of my water into my cup yet. But the side of my shorts under where the seat belt had been buckled was decidedly wet. As I stood up, I kept feeling around, finally reaching into the pocket.

Eureka! My missing ice cube!

Well, half, anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Appliance Wars

I'm getting kind of tired of these. It's not so much that I'm fighting the appliances as they're fighting me.

It started with the dehumidifier in the basement. Well, that's not the true start, but the first one to actually get replaced. I kept thinking all/most of my stuff is moving out of there to a dry climate in a couple months, so why fight this battle? I don't even go down there with my knees. But the mold is almost audible, it's getting so thick. When Paul brought it to my attention, I let him replace it. He did. I have enough expenses with the upcoming move, and this appliance will be his to keep.

The true start, had we been clued in, was the washing machine. Do you know laundromats charge $1.75 a load these days? I'm trying to locate a good supply of quarters.

The first symptom was the dark streaks getting left on the clothes. OxyClean didn't help get them out. I had gone out and bought some special. One of the first wastes of throwing money at the problem. Next wash cycle just moved the streaks around, which was a good thing as it indicated they weren't permanent. But still...

Next symptom was an increasing noise level during the spin cycle. Paul of course blamed his brother. Not that Rich was actually around doing the laundry, but he had been for months and years past, and Paul figured he just way overloaded the machine. Perhaps. Perhaps it was just the design of the thing, a water-saving energy-saving front loader. The last straw was a load with endless spin and no extraction. Plus lots of noise, of course.

We declared it broken.

Paul pulled the back off and investigated, thinking it was something in the belt. There was a funky spot, and it seemed to want to slide off the post it turned around. Not all the way off, at least not yet.

I called Sears. All my major appliances come from there, have for years, usually last decades. This one, not so long. Seven years. No warranty, of course. I am used to dependability. Why spend money on something that's going to last practically forever?

Sears could send a repairman out in a week and a half. Add two days because it had to be a Friday when Paul would be home. The cost to give a diagnosis would be $75. That included a quote to fix it, and they'd wait for approval before starting. Plus she assured me I could buy a warranty contract for less than $400. No thanks. Or the repairman could tour the house and give estimates on other things needing replacing for only $_____ since he was already there. No thanks, again. Paul would have to be up and dressed by 8AM, since they could be here that early. On his days off, that's a sacrifice.

I got his call shortly after 8AM. I'd asked him to let me know because I had a price in mind of what I'd be willing to pay. After all, I knew replacement costs, both new and via auction, and washers come through on a regular basis. One even was listed for this weekend, condition unknown. Paul hadn't even asked me before sending the repairman on his way. The problem was a bearing - both problems, actually, spin and streaks - and a diagnosis glaringly obvious in hindsight. Cost to fix? $1200.

Yikes! One tiny piece, that much? Or was this just the way the repairman had of letting us know he didn't really feel like fixing this machine this day? Whatever: he wasn't invited to fix it.

Yesterday's auction washer was a rust bucket, untried by the consignor who found it in the house he moved into when he arrived with his own new appliances. I wasn't up for the gamble and dropped out of the bidding. No sense asking the garbage company to haul two of the things away. There will be more.

But the appliances aren't done with me yet.

Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime reading a book Steve handed me. Sandpaper eyelids and all, I was determined to finish. That's rare for me these days. Not the finishing part, the losing sleep part. Lucky I did though.

I heard the icemaker water running. And running. And then I heard dripping noises, and got up to check. The filling part always seems to drag on forever, so it took a new noise to really get my attention.

We had a flood in the kitchen!

I yelled for Paul, thinking it would take him to shut the water off. He did, but simply by pulling the plug out of the wall for the whole 'fridge.

I'll have to remember that.

I raced (yeah, at my speed?) to the bathroom where we keep clean rag towels in a laundry basket at the bottom of the linen closet. Dumping an armload on the floor, I saw inside the freezer where the flooding had taken place. A few remaining ice cubes floated in the overflowing bin, there was a half inch of water on the bottom floor of the freezer section, and water was running down the door and all over the floor.

And running, and running, and running.

The towels were soaking much of it up, and Paul was squeezing them out in the sink to lay down again. I put the dogs out so they wouldn't think it was playtime, or just track-it-all-over-the-house time. Rolling the dishwasher out of the way, we determined it hadn't flowed under there, one piece of good news. Another is that the laminate is vinyl, not particle board. Mopping up was the only needed cure, floor-wise. Bonus is it had needed a good wash anyway. Eventually a load of towels went down to the dryer, and after a bit, making sure any previous ice cubes weren't stuck in the compartments, the fridge got plugged in again, with no further problems.

So far.

I can hear it dumping cubes and reloading now, and I'm listening very carefully. Water only squirts in for a couple seconds. Maybe it needed a quick defrosting. But I didn't sleep very soundly last night, for it could have been a true disaster had we (I) not been right there to catch it. Paul was in his room with enough noise from his video game to be oblivious. I made  him promise to recheck it just before he went to sleep, and I woke twice to go out and see what was happening.

Besides sleep, there was one other small casualty. We "lost" a Klondike bar, not big enough to keep its temperature through the shut-off. Knowing that would be the case, and having met my carb limit for the night ( another peach - yummmmmm!), I insisted Paul eat it before it went to goo. He graciously manned up and finished it on the spot.

What a guy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At Long Last, A Peachy Reward

When we moved here in '91, this area was firmly and of long standing embedded in horticultural zone 3. That's cold, folks. Lotsa stuff will never grow here because the winters are too long and too cold, and unscheduled frosts love to play havoc with what will.

Thanks to global warming, we now live in zone 4. The boundaries are said to have moved 100 miles north, meaning we are well within zone 4 now. I decided to take advantage of that a few years back.

First, understand that I live by choice in an orchard. It wasn't here when we moved in. We've planted all of it, Paul and I. Mostly Paul, especially as I've gotten older. I've done things like line the back of the car with a tarp and haul load after load of compost dug from the local leaf-composting site, mixing it with bales of peat moss in order to create a blueberry bed. Successfully, I might add. The first few years a lot of compost got added to my clay. The results include highbush cranberries, cherries of several varieties, apples of several varieties, raspberries, Saskatoon blueberries, elderberries, chokecherries, grapes, currants, and hazelnuts.

I could mention the birches, spruces, maples, dogwoods, ash, flowering crabs, Virginia creeper vine, weigelia, euonymous, clematis, ferns, and a host of bulbs and perennials. But you  basically can't eat them, nor the water lilies and other pond plants that have had residence in the yard, so they hardly count. Yes, there is a lawn, though not the sort the neighbors would like me to have. Whatever survives is welcome in it, mostly. We even mow around the wild daisies and brown-eyed Susans when in bloom. But they're not part of the orchard, so nevermind them. Chalk them up under anti-erosion.

A few years back I decided to try peaches. The garden catalogues offered a couple varieties which were supposed to be hardy here. I ordered four. Bare root.

Silly me, I figured that garden companies would ship to Minnesota when it was the proper time to do so. Three of the trees arrived while the ground was still frozen solid and snow covered. When I complained I was told to dig them in and wait.

Dig them into what? A block of ice?

A fourth arrived after the season was well under way, roots thoroughly dried out in the bag along with a few strips of dirty excelsior no doubt meant as a moisture reservoir.

 Dead is dead. We planted them all anyway. Three shriveled and got dug up late summer. Amazingly one ("Contender" - how apt) sprouted a couple leaves along the trunk, so we let it stay. Winter came and it got well mulched with leaves. Spring came and the whole tree was dead. While we were busy being too lazy to dig it out, a couple small branches came up next to the trunk. We figured these were from below the graft, since so many fruit trees are grafted onto hardier root stock. What springs from that is generally useless. Whether peaches are grafted, we have no clue. We were still too lazy to dig it up, so just joked about our pretty little peach bush in the back yard. The leaves froze on the tree in late fall rather than turning color and dropping.

Next spring a few more branches sprung out of the ground, and we had a fatter peach bush. Nice leaves, nice form, no expectations. We still mulched it with leaves inside a chicken wire cage each winter. It we thought about it, and it was a dry late fall, it might even get watered.

This spring was freaky. Warm way too soon, and after the apple trees, cherries, etc. bloomed, we were treated to a late freeze. Several days worth. We never even bothered to spray the few baby apples that survived that. But we had peach blossoms! Only a bare handful, but nonetheless, blossoms.

We watched our peach bush like hawks. The petals dropped, the buds swelled. WE HAD PEACHES!

Then things got busy, and next time we looked, there were about 9 on the tree, marble to ping-pong ball sized. And absolutely full of little black spots and lumpy. Some kind of bug got to them. Who knew they needed spraying? Too late now.

Damn! Heartbreak.

And yet, they continued to grow. A couple weeks back they reached peach size. They were fuller, more rounded out, but not unblemished. They started changing color. Paul counted - he's the only one who actually knew where each one was - and they were all still there. No storms knocked them down, no more apparent feasting by hungry bugs deprived of their apples or perhaps plums, another stone fruit no longer growing in the yard.

Last night Paul walked in from the back yard and held something under my nose: "Smell this."

"Mmmm, ripe peach."

It didn't look too horrible. A finger swipe across the surface removed a very thick coat of fuzz. He took it to the sink, washed, sliced, and removed spots. I took a couple slices. Nevermind how recently I'd hit my carb limit, nothing was going to keep me from this!

Nothing, but nothing, beats the sweetness of a peach fresh off the tree, even one bred to survive in Minnesota. He took a couple into Steve, and finished the rest himself. One end was darker, as if bruised, but orange, not brown. He pronounced it to taste like candy.

I'm thinking by tomorrow another one must surely be ripe.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Who The Hell Cares Who Is John Galt?

I have a confession to make: years ago I actually read "Atlas Shrugged". Yep, all of it. Every interminable page, each excruciating word. (Feel free to mail your sympathy cards to....)

I have mentioned before that I tend to be an optimist. Part of what kept me going was the hope that eventually the book would redeem itself. After all, if it were this famous, it must get good by the end, right?


I never understood the romance, if that's what it was. Who'd want a guy like that? I mean, even knowing there is a certain type of woman attracted to power, just what about this guy was attractive? Or was it the bad-boy thing? I get the theory. Still, I never saw the chemistry.

But the real problem for me is that none of it ever rang true. From the beginning the book was a failure in logic, not to mention being counter to my core values. Obviously, I was raised with Christian ethical values, including helping the poor and unfortunate. In this book they are the villains, not by being evil, but simply by being unfortunate.  Helping them is what's killing this society. It's not a failure of my imagination, as I had by then read hundreds of science fiction books and stories with alternate world ideas. I tried to fit this into that kind of mold, without success.

Rand starts with a problem that doesn't exist, and describes it in as extreme details as possible. Then she "cures" it by imposing the extreme opposite as the only possible cure, with no leeway given for any terrible consequences. I'll repeat: it's a failure in logic.

Maybe it takes a completely different example with the same kind of "logic" imposed on it to show how nonsensical this book is. Take your bathroom. To start, let's claim that it's completely flooded, floor to ceiling, and you are about to drown. This of course would be bad, were it to ever happen. But let's just roll with the "logic" here. Since a completely flooded bathroom is a bad thing, then the only possible cure is to shut off all water to the bathroom, completely and forever.  There is no fixing a leaky pipe in Rand's world. You are left with no washing, no flushing, no showers, but it's still a bathroom and by Rand's logic it now functions perfectly. And don't forget, Rand's female protagonist falls for the plumber, who convinces her not only was the bathroom completely flooded but being completely dry is the only solution.

The really scary thing is that the people who think this way want to run the country!


My ears perked up when I caught this over the radio last week. A motorist in Norway explained the cause for his car accident: he had to swerve to dodge a moose and ran into a bear instead. According to the announcer, the car was totaled, but moose, bear and driver are all doing fine.

Obviously the roads even in Norway are getting too crowded.

But what I really want to know is just who checked out the bear to determine it was OK?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

If He's Superman...

The business had two reserved parking spots at the front door. Neither for me, of course. In fact, the only empty space, the handicapped one, was halfway down the building. I pulled up semi-illegally in the fire zone.  Of the two reserved spaces, one had the company name on it. The other sported a sign reading, "Superman Parking Only. All others will be turned over for justice."

The vehicle inhabiting the place of honor was a honking big black Hummer. As I passed it, carrying my package in, I noticed that the tires were big enough I could probably take a bath in one. Well, my knees would have to cooperate better than they have been lately, because I really couldn't stretch out inside one. But huge.

Must belong to the boss. One doesn't mess with one's boss. But then, he wasn't my boss.

I couldn't resist. As I approached the receptionist, I informed her, "I have an impertinent question for you."

Her smiling inquiry,"What?" was all I needed.

"If he's Superman, why does he need a Hummer?"

Seriously: Need A Copy?

Rich stopped home Tuesday after serving the day as election judge, before heading back to the new spot in Owatonna. We were talking about his newspaper interview, now that I'd actually read it and we were actually talking instead of texting second hand. He added a final grace note on the story. Yet another of the Austin cousins stopped by to visit him for a minute while he was down there ... and brought three copies of the newspaper for him!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Need A Copy?

It started with a text, from Rich, to Steve, for me. (I disabled texting on my cell once telemarketers got the number, and actual cell calls Rich has to pay by the minute for on his plan.)

Would I call the Austin members of the family and let them know he was in town at the fair and which booth to find him at?

Of course.  See

I texted back, via Steve, which cousin I contacted,  the offer to stop by, and her willingness to notify the rest of the local family.

Next day, another text: Could I call that cousin and ask her to get a copy of the local paper? He'd been interviewed by them, wanted a copy.

Well, why bother her with it? I had Steve get me their phone number so I could call the paper and order a copy sent to the house. On second thought, make that two: one for me and one for him. $3 and done. Plastic is great.

Five minutes later, Steve calls. Rich has texted don't bother with the papers, he's gotten three copies. His interview is on the front page.

OK, but just a little late. Oh well. Stuff happens, and this way there'll be copies here, safe and intact.

Today a little envelope arrived in the mail. Return address is one of the Austin cousins. Inside is a card with a quick little note that she stopped to visit Rich, only for a minute because he was so busy.

Enclosed was a clipping for me of the article with his interview.

Official Diagnosis: "Wha...?"

One would hope that spending half a day in the ER would result in some sort of treatment for what brought you in in the first place. Failing that, at least some kind of a diagnosis. At the very least, something better than, "Wow, I've never seen anything like that before."

Steve has never had the results he wanted from his second replacement of his left knee. The first, short implant was loose. The second was longer and was an actual prosthesis, doing away with frayed and painful tendons.

At least that was how it was sold to him.

It's never gotten even as good as the first implant, with all its faults, had been. And pain- free? It'd be laughable if it weren't so -pardon - painful.

A year later, and things changed. For the worse! Suddenly there was something poking outward, pushing against the skin from the inside. It's about a half inch across, smooth and flat and about 1/16" wide. My best guess, having never seen the implant or a picture, and only guessing at its construction, is some piece of it that's supposed to be tucked in under a main piece has sprung loose and is trying to push out in its preferred position. Whether it is or no, one thing sure is it's extremely painful.

I tried to get Steve to call my orthopedic guy, or anybody in the clinic. For sure he wasn't going to work with the surgeon who put it in: trust has been lost. Besides, Hutchinson is a long drive from here. When he finally called my clinic, all he got was a request to have his info faxed over to them, and they'd get back to him. Two days later, no-one had gotten back to him. He called again. This time he was advised to go to the ER, and once there, they'd bring the ortho guy in to consult. Otherwise, well, appointments are a month out.

Paul drove him in. They both were warned to bring a good book. One of the first things to happen was, finally, some really good pain meds. Enough to last a week, since ultimately, that's how long he got pushed off to. And my ortho guy never poked his head in, so Steve wound up with a visit scheduled with the hospital's ortho guy. A week out. Nobody could figure out what's poking out. Nothing showed up on X-rays, though a nurse speculated the protruberance might be a calcium deposit. (Sure, one grew overnight with a sudden burst of pain, and calcium suddenly doesn't show on X-rays? Stick to your specialty, honey.)

Till Thursday Steve is enjoying the momentary bits of relief Percoset can give, trying not to get too discouraged about ever getting a useful knee, relatively pain free. Maybe then somebody can explain what's going on and come up with a solution.

Yeah, I'm an optimist.

Meanwhile I have yet one more reason to stick with my originals, however worn out they may be.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No Bad News This Time

It says something about how often and why I contact one of my cousins when I start the conversation with a reassuring, "No bad news this time." The calls these last several years have been about funerals. Mom's. Dad's. A cousin's wife's. It's almost a necessity to start an actual normal conversation with this disclaimer.

Rich is traveling with the carnival, not news if you've been following this blog. This week they're in Austin for their fair. Besides being the home of Hormel, it's the home of a lot of cousins who actually stayed in contact with our branch of the family.  Dad was one of the youngest of ten, and one of his eldest siblings had children just a tad younger than he and Mom were, so they socialized a lot cross-generations. When I was five and Mom was too sick to care for an unruly kid who wasn't in school yet, I spent some time living with them. One of the few pictures I have of myself as a kid is at their house holding the largest Easter basket I'd ever seen up to then, and still the largest I've ever gotten. It was in their house I was exposed to the wonders of Howdy Doody and Pinkie Lee. Not to mention actual TV, something not available in our home until I was 12.

Rich texted his location and a request to pass along to the Austin branch that he'd be there this week, and where to find him at the fair. (It's called The Big Cheese, specializing in four flavors of cheese curds served with marinara sauce. Brenda should be nearby in the lemon, and I'll let you guess what she's serving from that stand.) Cousin Eileen was happy to hear how to find him. They'd known he was there last year but had no idea how to locate him. Now they do.

We went on to talk about other family members, and share our own news. I got to tell her about the new house and packing for the move in October, something she'd otherwise have had to wait for the annual X-mas card to hear about. I heard about visiting family, a daughter's upcoming wedding in Texas later this month (her 3rd, but a keeper this time), a grandson who seemingly recovered from autism at age 17, keeping everybody scratching their heads in wonder but delighted in the changes.

It lasted about ten minutes longer than I expected, as we both kept finding more news to share. And when it was all over, these still had been no bad news this time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our Wonderful FBI

Our wonderful FBI, when categorizing terroristic threats, lists those against Muslims and Sikhs in the same list. No separation. No difference. So when we want to separate out those against Sikhs to find out just how big the problem is, nobody knows.

So you know I just have to ask, don't you: is this simply an acknowledgment of the laziness and ignorance of the typical American hater, insomuch as they are unable to distinguish both groups?

Or is it their own perpetuation of ignorance and laziness in their ability to distinguish between both groups?

Follow? Or lead?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tidbits From One Day

Truth In Advertising

I saw a sign today that stopped me in my tracks. Literally. Well, maybe the red light did the actual stopping, but I did pull over after getting closer to the sign, get out, and take a cell phone picture of it for proof.

There is a gas station in Minneapolis on 46th street between Hiawatha Ave. and Minnehaha Park. Prices have been climbing again lately, but I hadn't realized how bad until I read the sign.

Unleaded  $3.65
Super Unleaded WOW

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Wedding Card

One of my new granddaughters - via Steve of course - is getting married tomorrow. It was my task tonight to pick up a card. I went through a plethora of sappy ones, inspiring ones, boring predictable ones. Then finally... OMG! A funny wedding card! I hope Hallmark won't mind my describing it to you.

Picture a wedding party, all standing together as if posed for a formal group portrait. Only in this card you get to see into everybody's thought bubbles. The flower girl is hoping she'll get lots of candy for this. The ring bearer is wondering where the ring is. Maid of honor thinks the best man is a dork, and he's thinking she's really got the hots for him. One of the bridesmaids is planning to catch the bouquet this time, another thinks her dress makes her butt look big. The groomsmen are thinking the tuxes are uncomfortable and they're never getting married. Opening up the card, the bride and groom are both thinking how completely, incredibly happy they are. The caption under them reminds them it's their day: forget the drama, remember the love.

This, of course, was my pick.

*   *   *   *   *

All Coming Together

With so much packed and so much chaos, it's been a challenge to figure out what to wear tomorrow. One top won't do because the neckline and my current bras don't line up discretely. That may be fine for folks 40 years younger who learned their "style" from Madonna, but no. I still hail from those strict injunctions that nary a dab of lace (as if I still wore that) must show. Ever. The pants I think will work for the wedding still have to be tried on. Yeah, a bit late, but... blame too many 14 hour workdays. Anyway, they were bought before I lost a lot of weight. They were actually ordered online from the store because the size that fit came in the wrong color. The right color arrived too small to wear, so I'm hoping they'll fit now, and without a belt. I have none. As for shoes - well, just don't look at my feet, OK? There is no meeting of comfortable and dressy in the world of women's shoes. Actually, there is no meeting of comfy and women's shoes, period. I shoe shop in the men's department. Comfy will probably trump the day.

Ahhh, but what about a necklace? I know what I've worn with this black silk shirt before, but I just got a nice new pendant in the mail the other day, and it's been singing its seduction song to me since. It's a black druzy plume agate, meaning black with white feathering - not banding - through it and a central opening lined with white crystals. The thing is, it's mounted in a gold setting.

I bead in sterling silver.

That's where my head's been stuck at for a couple days. You'd think I could figure something out, wouldn't you? After all, even the bride is getting one of my necklaces as part of the wedding gift. I can do that and not make something for me?

Suddenly I remembered a few glass beads that came in a flat of beads I picked up at an auction a few weeks back. Much of what was in the flat was junk:  plastic beads, cheap wannabe crystals, base metal findings, etc. They were set aside for beading with the littler granddaughters, once I get time and some elastic beading string. But one of the things I tossed then reclaimed on second look was a bunch of glass beads, barrels in clear glass with gold and black running through them. Not high quality, but they possessed a certain something.

Suddenly while driving tonight it clicked into place: the pendant, those gold-plus beads, silver spacers, black & white regular agates, white crystals... It'll be a great way to integrate gold and silver in the same necklace.

Considering that we're wanted at the church at noon tomorrow, I think it's time to go get busy.