Neighbors with Benefits

We continue to have a mutually beneficial exchange of goods, services, and goodwill with our neighbor who lost her son, as she’s sorting through his belongings, and fixing up the house.

Today Erin was scraping the garage door, cleaning up, and hosing down the area in preparation for painting.  Meanwhile I was digging a drainage ditch to direct water away from the garage, helping E, and improving upon the memorial bird sanctuary.  The neighbor had big bales of cedar chips that I used to mulch it.

Our neighbor is funding supplies, but also giving us lots of useful items.  Today she gave us some fresh corn and watermelon, and an old purple bike!  It just needs a little repair, and then I’ll have a bike to ride.

In between working, we all sat under the trees and talked.  She and E are able to relate to each other’s extreme losses and grieving process, so it’s a more meaningful exchange.  They take turns crying and laughing.  It turns out she is fairly knowledgeable about Jewish customs, having studied them for years, so that was a pleasant surprise.  We’re going to have her over for a Shabbat meal soon.

Here are some more scenes from around our expanded estate.  I was excited to see the first flowers on my sugar snow peas today.

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Short North Columbus with the Bobs

Today was a very auspicious day for us.  Robert and Bob (my brother and brother-in-law) were in Ohio, and E finally got to meet them, an event we’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  We all met in the Short North section of Columbus to eat lunch, walk around this fascinating old area, get coffee, and hang out, before they flew back home.  We had a fabulous time talking and checking out some unusual shops.  One was full of gorgeous Turkish décor.  We had a blast in a shop full of toys and novelties that took us back to childhood.  Mostly, we got caught up.  It was a very good day.

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Keeping it Natural, Here at the Almanac

Birds have finally found my bird sanctuary!  (Well, technically the neighbor’s, for whom I made it.)  So far it’s just your average common scavenger birds, but I’m hoping to attract more diversity to this neglected corner of the world.  I was spoiled by the vast assortment of species normally found in NJ and MD, but apparently discouraged here.  My work is cut out for me.  Even the squirrels here are few and not very proactive.  But we do have a big fat groundhog wobbling around eating everything, so that’s universal.

Here are some scenes around the yard after I mowed ours and the neighbor’s, just before it started thundering and misting up.  The birds are still too shy around humans to catch them in the act, but I’ll have them eating out of my hand in no time.  We ourselves have been eating lots of salads from the garden.  Out front I’m keeping it mostly annuals, since we’re not staying here long, but out back all my native and perennial wildflowers are coming up along the fences.  It should be looking even more colorful soon.

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Yellow Springs Brewery Benefit for Glen Helen

Beer for a good cause!  How could we say no!  Two flights and eight beer samples later, including one from the cask they had tapped today, we were feeling very public-spirited and philanthropic!  Also, they brew some very good beers.  We covered a whole spectrum, and E found some brews she could get behind.  They had the daily food truck parked outside, so we partook.  Later…we poured ourselves down the street to the Sunrise Café for coffee and pie.  Then we cruised  home in the beautiful sunset, dreaming of TN.  Pretty nice evening for po’ folks.

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Demented Persons

Living in working-class Ohio, I see a lot of slow people waddling around in a fog without a clue, but this was surreal even for here.

We heard someone pounding hard on our downstairs door, like a maniac.  We ran down to discover the old lady who used to live next door for years (on the other side), who had had to be moved to her daughter’s house for supervision, banging away, not at our front door, but at the side door only used for occasional access.  It appears her kids had brought her with them to visit her old home, which is being emptied and renovated, and somehow she had “escaped” (to go smoke a cigarette, or something) and wandered off in her demented state, and thought her daughter had locked her out!  She didn’t even recognize us, her old neighbors, or the fact that she was at the wrong house.

We got her sorted and sent back over to her family who were outside trying to figure out where she had gotten to.  The whole experience would have been comical, if it weren’t so surreal and disturbing, and a little too close to home, STS.

To review: just shoot me if I get like that.  It’s just wrong.


Grief Consulting

Our neighbor who just lost her son is trying to process and sort a lifetime of belongings, and feeling very alone and confused.  We seem to have come along at just the right time to be like, as she puts it, her guardian angels.  She doesn’t have much family left, so we’re listening, empathizing, helping her around the place, and just being there to help her go through stuff, both emotional and physical.

I’m cleaning up and maintaining her garden, including her son’s memorial garden as I call it, to which I added bird-friendly features.  He was a nature-lover.  E is offering her services cleaning up and painting the garage exterior and house interior, which the neighbor is funding.

When our friend gets overwhelmed with memories and guilt, we help her slow down and feel better.  There were some sad issues in her son’s life, and though she did everything a mother could do to provide a supportive place for him, she still blames herself for not doing more.  E can totally relate, and can also provide practical skills, so it’s a mutually beneficial situation.  I get to garden more, and I’ll be helping paint the interior.

E is going through her own grieving process, so it gives her someone to take her mind off her own struggles.  Our friend is glad to have some company and guidance through this frightening time.  It’s another instance of synchronicity happening in our lives.

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Back at the Gorge

We returned to Clifton Gorge today, where the Little Miami River races through the deep glacier-cut gorge and on to the Blue Hole, a beautiful pool full of leatherback (?) turtles, very large fish, and whole villages of Canada geese sailing upstream, then continues on through the rocks and forest.  The woods were ablaze with wildflowers.  Here are some samples:

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Garden Therapy

It turns out our neighbor and her son who died had a lot in common with us in many ways, so the gardening is really just a good excuse to commiserate and empathize, with lots of side benefits.  For example, we helped her break down and clean up some major trash, and she gave me a large woody night-blooming jasmine tree!  I could never afford one, and I love it.  Also, a piece of raw amethyst, my birthstone!  I also scored a long garden hose to extend ours, ferns to transplant, and all kinds of other gardening stuff.  E is going to help her out eventually with painting the garage and house interior.  The neighbor will pay for supplies and labor.  Mostly we just listen and help her process grief.  It gives new meaning to being neighborly and garden therapy.

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Doing the Town

For our 2nd, here’s what we did: visited three (!) garden centers and bought flowers at each (also a spouting turtle); the ducks are muscovies; went to YS and had a really good beer at HQ (the Tavern); had a very nice lunch at Aleta’s café (most of the photos are of their beautiful gardens); went to see an excellent Irish indie movie, Sing Street, about a Dublin 80s kid band (great soundtrack!) at the Little Art Theatre; and finished with huge dipped ice cream cones.  It was a good day.  And we didn’t even spend too much.

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Erev Menu

So, here we have: a German-style red potato and pea salad with a mustard caraway cider vinaigrette and fresh dill, chives, and parsley;  sautéd assorted vegetables with fresh herbs; roasted chicken with red wine, fresh basil, oregano, sage, and spices; and of course E’s fabulous homemade Challah. Not bad for living on a low fixed income.

(I should explain, in case it hasn’t become obvious by now, that we always eat our one daily main meal by early/mid-afternoon, so as to burn energy and calories earlier in the day.  It just seems to make more sense with our lifestyle.)

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