Saturday, February 16, 2008

Walworth Apartments

As long as I'm making recommendations for local businesses, there is a great apartment manager in Walworth. For those who are in need of an apartment to rent in Walworth, Fontana, or the surrounding areas, you really need to check out the complex on Allen Street.

It's a small complex, three buildings with 8 apartments each. I've been doing paper routes in Walworth for about a decade and have been very impressed by how this particular apartment manager takes care of the property and helps his tenants. The buildings are kept up well. The lawn is nicely cared for. The manager has been working his butt off keeping the parking lot and the sidewalks clear of snow this winter. The care he puts into his work and the pleasant way he interacts with the tenants really sets him apart. If I were to look for an apartment in Walworth, Village Commons would definitely be at the top of my list!

Auto Body Repairs

Most of you who read my blog aren't going to care about this, but I just gotta sing the praises of a local businessman, in case anybody in my area is web-surfing for a repairman.

Al's Auto Body and Arboretum is located south of Delavan, northwest of Walworth. It is conveniently located for people in Darien, Sharon, and Fontana too. Who wants to have the accident that puts you in need of a repairman? But when you do need someone to fix your car, you want somebody who is competent, reliable, and reputable.

After my accident last month, my insurance agent recommended Al Ritchey. Al has repaired his cars after mishaps, and Al has done work for many other clients of my insurance agent. Al can do the perfect repairs that many people want. But he's also wise about making less-than-perfect repairs if that's what the customer wants. For example, he didn't get new parts for my van, but pounded out the dents and repainted. This cost us only 35% of the estimated cost to repair the van "properly" and "good as new." I thought we were compromising on the van for the sake of cost, but when I picked up the van today, I was stunned by how great it looks and how well Al put it back together. He apologized that the back quarter of the van was more dented than he'd expected, so he was unable to get all the lines of the van doors to match up perfectly. (I would never have noticed the "flaws" had he not pointed them out.)

So for anybody in Walworth County who is looking for a person who does great auto-body work, I heartily suggest calling 262-275-2800.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Electric Bill

With Gary having a full-time secular job, the congregation is no longer paying for health insurance through Concordia Plans. With Gary having a full-time secular job, the elders have proposed (more generously than I had anticipated) to cut Gary's paycheck to just barely over half of last year's salary. This means that the church is paying only 1/3 of what they paid last year for their pastor. This means the church budget has been cut in half. HALF of their expenses have been eliminated.

Nevertheless, yesterday I got a phone call from the power company saying that the bill for the parsonage is past due. (Happily, it's not so far past due that there's any worry about the electricity being turned off in the next few days.)

Some of the folks at church are befuddled by what's going to happen now that the pastor has a full-time job. But from my perspective, seeing how much their expenses have decreased and how bills are still outstanding, I can't imagine what would've become of the congregation had their pastor NOT gotten a full-time job.

Happy Kitty

Late last spring, our cat Athena was getting to be so much cuddlier and schmoozier. She would occasionally jump on laps to be petted. She would let Andrew wear her as a hat or a neck-scarf. She was becoming so much more personable and part of the family instead of just Gopher-Killer-el-Supremo.

And then we committed the sin.
We got a kitten.
And we brought it into Athena's house.
An energetic and bouncy kitten, right into Athena's abode.

Athena was NOT happy.

Eight months have passed. The kitten has become a little calmer. The kitten has come to know her place and defer to the elder cat. But mostly, Athena has reconciled herself to the reality that the little monster is here to stay and that we like her, stupid though she be. In the last few weeks, Athena has begun to jump on laps again. She allows us to pet her again. She is becoming personable again. She's stopped the hissing and growling. Sometimes she will even condescend to let the kitten sleep on the same bed or couch that she is using.

Yesterday the kitten was taken to the vet. She has proved herself to be utterly and completely hopeless as a hunter. She doesn't even much like going outside. So the claws must go. The declawing procedure was today, but due to car/van unavailability, the kitten had to spend two nights in the clinic.

Athena is in heaven. Loads of attention. No kitten. And sunbeams shining through the window. (Hey, I agree with her about the sunbeams!)

Tomorrow the kitten comes home. In about three weeks, we disrupt Athena's life yet again by putting her in a car for over an hour (yikes!!) and moving her to a new house and new outdoor-territory (probably with significantly fewer bonbons gophers). I feel so sorry for my dear little huntress. She works so hard to keep us rodent-free. And this is how we treat her in return: one trauma after another.

Moving News

We're going to be moving. Instead of having Gary commute to work daily or live apart from the family, it seems better to us for the family to live together, near Gary's job, and commute back here on the weekend for church and confirmation class.

We found a house. Our offer has been accepted. The inspection showed the house to be in excellent condition, with many repairs having already been made within the last decade (windows, furnace, AC, water softener, roof, radon mitigation, electrical upgrades, and more). The sellers will be putting in a new septic system as soon as the weather allows. Closing date is set for two weeks from now.

The house has mostly brick siding, with some vertical cedar up higher on the outside walls. It's three bedroom, two bath, with a larger-than-normal kitchen. No dining room, but does have a small breakfast nook. Living room has a nice big bay window and a fireplace. Basement has some room for storage. It's a 2.5-car garage. The house is smaller than where we are now, but not tiny, and we do have people growing up who will be making their own way in the world within the next few years so the size is just about perfect.

One of the downers about the house is the large size of the yard; it's too much to mow. But given time we can put in plenty of berry canes, a large asparagus patch, maybe some strawberries and blueberries, and a garden. (Is there something wrong with my brain that I see plowing and weeding and watering as a lesser job than mowing grass?) The other downer about the house is that it has a pool. Pools take work and I'm not sure I'm up to it. But several friends have already expressed some pleasure that they'll be able to come over and swim & play. And it will be good for one of us who is a water-lover and whose cardiologist said that she needs a lot more exercise. So we'll give the pool a couple of years' worth of try, and we can always get rid of it if we think that would be better.

It's been mind-boggling to keep track of all the appointments and all the paper work and all the legal documents we've been signing, with many more to come. And now it's time to start boxing up books. It's kind of nice to know that there doesn't have to be One Big Moving Day. It's close enough (a 70-minute drive from here) that we can carry up loads in the van daily, and maybe rent a small U-Haul for a day, and then another day a week or so later, and do the job of moving as it works best (and easiest) for us.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Psalm 145

We pray at mealtimes:
The eyes of all look to You, O Lord,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Sometimes Jesus is referred to as "the Right Hand of the Father."

This psalm-verse obviously means that God opens up His hand to disperse His blessings of food and rain and sunshine and other blessings. But could it have another aspect too? Jesus -- the Hand of God -- was "opened" by the spear of the centurion. And that is what satisfies the desires of all people as well as all creation.

Let the water and the blood
from Thy riven side which flowed
be of sin the double cure,
cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Our eyes look to Him, and the food of His body and blood is given to us.

Ringing Phone

Boy, John McCain has called me so many times tonight! When Gary called in the middle of the evening, I surprised to find it was my husband calling me and not John McCain or his supporters.

Guess which state votes on Tuesday?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pepper Grinder

I finally came up with a solution!

The pepper grinder we'd had for years finally quit. The gears were just worn out. I bought a cheapy replacement from Shopko; it lasted for 8 months before the handle broke off. For Christmas there was a nice new high-quality (HA!) pepper grinder from Bed, Bath, And Beyond. It worked well for two weeks. Today I was so exasperated with it, I timed it: three minutes of grinding garnered me a whole whoppin' 1/16 teaspoon of pepper. Now, I'm thinkin' that's pretty darn useless.

I got me a hammer from the basement. I got me a piece of paper out of the junk mail pile. I dumped a small pile of peppercorns onto the paper, folded in the corners to make a little package, and then hammered it to smithereens. When I opened up the little packet of junk mail, I had myself a nice tablespoon of smashed-up pepper for the bean soup. And it took significantly less than 144 minutes [do the math from the preceding paragraph].


That Ug-guy (the one who buys ugly houses) is in the business of taking fixer-uppers off the market. When Ug gets to them first and makes superficial repairs, that's great for the sellers, but a booger for the buyers.

Ug got to one of the houses we looked at a week ago. There were a lot of nice things about the house. But we didn't like the way the kitchen had been remodeled. If we had bought the place before Ug, we would've made very different decisions about where the new carpeting would go, and how much kitchen counter there'd be. But when something all new has been put in, it's hard to think about buying a house with plans to rework all those things that were just changed and made all-new. Such a waste of money. But putting in new carpet and new cupboards seem to be standard procedure when people are getting ready to sell a house. (One friend, though, who's improving his home with thoughts of selling in the next couple of years, he's doing high-quality work. That's different than doing what's needed to merely "flip" a house.)

New Schedule

Again this week, we shipped off Gary to Milwaukee with a suitcase packed for the whole week. The weather forecast looks like the only time safe to drive home will be Wednesday night, and that's church night. When you're used to having a husband/daddy around for meals, as well as five minutes here and there to pop in with the mail or to come get a refill on his water jug, it's pretty hard to switch over to seeing him for an hour on Friday evening, lunch on Saturday, an hour on Saturday evening, and some time on Sunday afternoon/evening. And then Monday morning you get to ship him off to live somewhere else for five days. I don't know how soldiers' wives and truckers' wives do it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Computer Woes

Our internet connection was down for 14 hours. And now that it CAN operate, it does so only with difficulty. It's very hard to check email or do anything on the Web, so don't expect to hear from me for a while unless it's via the telephone. Bummers....

Sunday, February 10, 2008


So cold that the tires froze to the garage floor.
So cold that the knob on church door froze, and the pastor's key was broken off in the lock which refused to move.
So cold that the thermometer froze again. It's trying to tell me it's 20º while the weather report online suggests it's -7º.