Eighty Five Years Ago Today…

Happy Birthday, Dad.  August 30, 1923.  Oddly enough, during my visit to The Park Friday to take Mom to see an estate planning attorney, she gave me a box of “stuff” from her recent excavations.  Among dusty story books i wrote when i was 9 years old, my Girl Scout uniform and the linens Dad’s mother made for her marriage bed?  Dad’s last drivers license and the ID card for his years teaching at the applied technology college… 

Rather than try to write something meaningful – while i remain up to my nipples in boxes and crates – i’ve dusted off the eulogy i gave at Dad’s funeral.  Not my best work – done in an overnight frenzy while i was frantically assembling illegally downloaded tunes for the visitation and service… The best words?  They are his… i had the first two rough chapters his own memoirs as a guide…

April 21, 2001 – In a Methodist church filled with about 150 thoughtful humans…

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T-Shirt Friday: Trailer Park Edition

Decided to play along with nursemyra and company on T-shirt Friday today.  Easier than writing on no sleep and adrenaline, and this is one of my all time favorite shirts!

On a visit to Arizona a few years back, i stumbled into a lovely bar out in the desert. Cave Creek, Arizona is home to nothing interesting a couple bars and souvenir shops.  On one side of the street is a bar called The Horny Toad.  Across the way and down a few steps?  Naturally, it’s The Satisfied Frog.

Although now under new, and disputed ownership, The Frog still operates… They have a ridiculous number of fine tequilas on hand, and give you a lovely souvenir t-shirt if you managed to drink your way through the list… 

Rather than see me drink through the list, then beat many innocent strangers into submission, my traveling companion decided to buy me a different souvenir shirt…

i rediscovered this one during my recent move… and although it’s a bit big on me since i dropped the weight, i still love it.  And will add this to my “clothes not to wear on dates” checklist…

whatever it takes...

whatever it takes...

EDIT:  And the ladies – on three continents and four countries – who are playing along today are nursemyra, silverstar and my uncanny twin sister in South Africa, ms. dolce vita…  And later today, Annie joined the party with a clever “studmuffins-made” shirt!

Blast from the past

As i mentioned previously, Mom is serious about uprooting – after almost 50 years in her home – and wants to move to “The Farm” with DQ and BJ.  Plans are well underway and an offer made and accepted on a 15 acre plot of land in the country.  i’m taking Friday off to drive to The Park and take Mom to meet with a probate attorney to lock down the best structure for the deal.

My excavations prior to moving were exhausting, but nothing compared to the amount of work required on Mom’s home*.  DQ and Mom tackled one bedroom over the weekend.  While i was finishing up moving The Girl to her new apartment, i received a photo text message from DQ:

TXT:  This wuz under your dads mattress!

What a fabulous find!  Dated 1976, this magazine was likely confiscated from my older brother, who had gotten divorced  that year from his first wife, and had spent some time back at the ol’ homestead until he got back on his feet.

Somehow this made me deliriously happy!  No idea why, but i asked DQ to hang onto it for me… Just a belated glimpse into my Dad’s world.  And a big ol’ grin about a week before he would have turned 85…

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* About 6 years ago, we launched a weekend ‘dig’ at Mom’s house.  Three teams were working through the clutter.  My sister, S, worked the spider-infested bedroom that used to be mine, my niece and her first husband worked the garage, and i was wearing leather gloves and waded through mouse turds and moldy cardboard boxes in the storage barn.  At the end of the day, we hauled three truckloads of decent stuff to Goodwill, hauled another truckload to the dump, and burned a mountain of old cardboard boxes.  Clearing out half of her garage was a major accomplishment.  We have no idea how she did it, but within 6 months, the garage was full again, with only a small path around the periphery… this is world class pack-rattery…. and i told mom that it made no sense for us to clear it out if she was just going to keep buying shit. 

Movement

Packing people boxed up my posessions on Friday.  Today, it was Four Men and Two Trucks arriving at my door at 7:30 AM.  Six hours later, it was as though those Four Men and Two Trucks took a steaming box-shit at my new home. 

This has been quite a run.  The physical stuff started two weeks before the trash dump garage sale in my front yard, and has been relentless since.  i hurt in places i didn’t know i had.  The blood blister on my toe from two weeks ago is still the size of a small New England state… i’ve been carrying “important papers” with me in a rolling briefcase for two weeks, because i’ve not been in the same place much, and have been coordinating this whole thing from the car via cellphone.

But…

A friend came by tonight and helped me create my “bubble” in the bedroom.  And it’s amazing.  Mr. Pickles has been retrieved from the kennel.  As expected, he sniffed the place from end to end, and christened the downstairs carpet with his special brand of ‘dog logs’*.  There’s beer in the fridge (food still in boxes), a bootlegged internet connection** from clueless friendly neighbors. 

Only major glitch?  i’d taken care of utility transfer – electric, water, sewer – on the day of closing.  As i ran the nice whirlpool tub for a much needed hot soak tonight, i soon realized there was no hot water.  Ummm…  Gas hot water here.  My old place has electric.  Oops.  Forgot to make that call.  May be a few days before i can get that sorted… 

On the bright side?  i discovered the lack of hot water tonight, rather than in the morning, while standing naked and swearing as i get pelted with cold water at 6:00 am.  i can swing by my old house with a travel bag on my way to the office in the morning.  No problem…

My ex-husband essentially moved out in 2002.  We were divorced in 2006.  My daughter has been away at school for four years.  My youngest left for university last September.  For the first time, i feel like i’m truly starting over.  And i like it…

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* i’ve never owned a dog that doesn’t feel compelled by some signal from the Dog Planet to take a dump on the carpet of a new home within five minutes of entry.  Pickles was a little slow (as is often the case), waiting a full ten minutes. 

** Apologies to my blogmates… i’ll still be a bit of a ghost out there in your comment boxes for the rest of the week.  At some point i really need to locate my food, dishes and other essentials.  Got the underwear and booze down, but a gal needs a little more than that to get by…

Darkness and Light

In the midst of real estate dealings at home and in The Park, not to mention packing and moving, i had a two day business trip thrown in for Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Other than a few blips with a canceled flight, leading to a two hour delay in getting home yesterday, it was fun and sort of nice to get away from the madness at home.

Sitting down with The Girl last night, talking logistics, and sorting schedules, she asked me if i’d heard from The Boy* since he got to Canada.  i’d sent him a text message on Wednesday morning, and got a note back that he was having a great time, met some wonderful locals, and was camping.  i’d caught him as he was headed out for his morning swim – in the river behind his campsite.

Her instantaneous response stopped me cold:  “What if someone stole his cellphone.  His body is floating in the river.”

Clutching my heart – while simultaneously laughing my ass off – i was stunned that my optimistic, warm and generally light daughter would ever think of such a dark scenario.

daisyfae: Holy Shit!  You’ve been watching too much “true crime” television.

The Girl:  Yeah.  But can’t you just see the story on 20/20 or Primetime?

So we yucked it up, laughed ourselves silly.  And she realized that i was just a bit bothered by the idea that someone had robbed and murdered The Boy, and was keeping the law at bay by replying to his text messages…  She offered to text him to check in and reassure me – so i could get to sleep!

The Girl:  How is Canada?  I’m moving on Saturday.  Assume you won’t be back by then.

The Boy:  I may be back by then.  Had a good time, but ready to come home.

The Girl:  That’s cool.  Dad, his girlfriend and Mom are going to help move on Sat.  Should be interesting.  Oh, so i accidentally convinced Mom that you are dead.  If you could text me back the name of the brown dog, or something else only you would know, that’d be great.

The Boy:  you’ll have to fill me in on that when i’m back.  i’ll text her and let her know that i am definitely not dead.

The Girl:  you didn’t answer the security question.  how do i know it’s really you? What’s the name of the brown dog?

The Boy:  Patches, eh?

The Boy (to daisyfae’s phone):  I have heard some rumors aboot me being dead, but let me assure you I am very much alive, eh?

daisyfae (to The Boy):  If you really ARE The Boy, what magazines are stuck together under your bed?

The Boy:  Tranny Truckers Unleashed 2

daisyfae: Yay!  It’s really you!  You’re ALIVE!

The Boy:  LOL, eh?

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*  He’s a good kid.  Smart, funny, hard-working…  But there have been moments when i worry a great deal about his health, safety and well-being.  My mantra:  “Keep him alive til he’s twenty-five”.  (sigh)  The Girl just wanders off around the world, including her solo trip to Morocco last summer, and is headed into Beirut for 3 months.  Nope.  Nothing scary about that, either…

The family that moves together…

We’re all moving.  With The Boy starting at the main campus of his university in Sept, he will be joining The Girl as she completes her final year of her undergraduate program.  They will be sharing a two bedroom apartment*.  The Boy is still camping in the great north, and The Girl is finishing up final exams for the summer term.

She will be moving to the new place Saturday.  The Boy will move late next week.  i am moving on Monday.  This is getting really fucking old…  But onward…

The Girl coordinated the Saturday morning move with her father – whose hands are needed since her brother skipped the country** – and he will be meeting us at her apartment.  Today, The Girl mentioned that he is a bit vexed – in a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation” with his live-in girlfriend

Seems she is annoyed that he and i will be working this together.  She couldn’t decide whether it would drive her more batty to be there, and have to meet me face to face, or not be there, and apparently worry that i’m going to steal him back***.  He even politely offered to handle it without me, to allow me to deal with my own move.  Nice of him, but i’d promised to help her move.  i’m helping her move.

The Girl and i are both in agreement – “WHATEVER! This ain’t high drama, it’s moving shit!”  More hands are better, and it’s nice that she wants to help, and i’ll be polite and keep my breastages under wraps and all that…  Sheesh…  But it does present a bit of extra burden for The Girl.

The Girl:  I’ll have to go to the apartment tomorrow night and clean things up if she’s going to be there…

daisyfae:  yeah, probably a good idea.

The Girl:  I mean, you and Dad already know i’m disgusting…****

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* Yes.  i’m an evil mother.  Getting naked in public, posting my partson the interweb, and all of the other annoying things i’ve done has certainly toughened them up.  forcing them to live together during a year of college should finish the job, and make them numb to life’s twists and bumps… or send them into perma-therapy.

** Not to avoid moving us both.  He’d scheduled this long before we’d planned moves… but his timing in the avoidance of manual labor is impeccable, and he is truly destined for an executive vice presidential position somewhere…

*** “honey, if i’d wanted to hang onto him, you’d still be living under a rock, barking at neighborly rodents.  oh yes i did…. beyatch….”

**** not really “disgusting”, she simply has a high threshold for dishes piled in the sink… we’ve all been there. 

Trailer Park Archeology – Let the games begin…

After 20 years in the same house, my recent excavations have been daunting.  A “category 2” packrat, i tend to hang onto things that may have future utility, but toss out newspapers, broken things, many “sentimental” items and donate any knick-knack that is ugly or useless (or both) to charitable thrift stores.  Periodically purging things like college class notes, financial info and unused clutter.

Mom has lived in the same 1500 square foot home since 1960, and is a world-class “category 5” packrat, a true child of the Great Depression, unwilling to throw out anything.  That would be nearly fifty years of newspapers, plastic flowers, church bulletins, family heirlooms, desiccating school projects, collectible decorative items (ie: bells, eggs, plates, spoons…).  Co-mingled — wheat, chaff and goat hair macrame – and randomly stashed into boxes, bins, bags, piles and every available space in a 2 car garage.

Over the years, we’ve tried to help her de-clutter and organize, but she has an unhealthy attachment to “things”, even at the expense of human comfort and dignity.  Mom will be 80 next month, and is fiercely independent – to help maintain that independence, i got her a “Life Alert” system last January.  After bypass surgery she’s accepted that she is very dependent on others for her daily activities – primarily my niece, DQ and her husband BJ, who live next door to her. 

DQ and BJ are planning to move.  In an on-going series of discussions, i’ve been going over options with Mom:

    a) Stay in the house, deal with the solitude and make do as the house falls down around her.

    b) Stay in the house, invest in repairs/excavations and be willing to allow professionals in to assist her (cleaning, medical, etc).

    c) Move to an assisted living community, where she can dial-up additional support as needed and take more time with the excavations/repair of the house.

    d) Take DQ and BJ up on their offer – to build a “mother-in-law” suite on a new home in the country, and bring her with them.

She’s sick of her cluttered, messy house, and is terrified that it will collapse around her, so she’s ruled out option (a).  Adamant about not allowing “strangers” into the house*, she is not willing to invest in the repairs and cleanout required for option (b).  Getting back to that “strangers” thing, she doesn’t like the idea of being in an apartment alone – even if she has friends nearby, so the assisted living option is out of the question. 

That leaves one choice – and she has thrown the dice, offered to purchase the land in the country to get the ball rolling.  And away we go… 

Looking out for Mom’s best interests, including the financial side of the enterprise, will be squarely in my lap.  Managing the “family” perceptions with siblings – assuring that there is no exploitation, real or perceived as DQ and BJ build a house from the ground up, with Mom as the financial “underwriter”, buying the dirt and securing construction loan.

My recent “purge and move” adventure was just the teaser for the main event.  In this case, however, my first stop will be for legal consultation to make sure Mom’s interests are protected.  Then we can get on with the fun of wading through soul-crushing piles of plastic butter tubs, partial decks of playing cards and fossilized christmas decorations***. 

There is hope that she can get out from under the rubble, have some peace and tranquility surrounded by family and nature**.  This is the “future” she’s been squirreling away funds for most of her adult life… let’s hope she gets to enjoy it!  If she does this right, her last check should bounce…

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* After it was clear that he was making the final circle of the drain, Dad’s preference was to be at home, rather than in the hospital.  Embarassed by the clutter, and protective of her privacy, Mom wouldn’t allow “home health care” staff in the house, so it wasn’t possible to bring him home.  She also ruled out “hospice” care.  She was under the incorrect impression that in order to get hospice support, one had to sign over all personal assets…

** even though she’s a bit anxious, she is looking forward to being out in the country, having a vegetable garden, and riding around the property on a golf cart!  better warn the critters and drain the pond… or get her new glasses.

*** not to mention spiders.  oodles of leggy, hairy, juicy spiders.  did i ever mention that i HATE spiders?

Christening…

Committing to debt for 30 years.  Clutching my heart only when i saw the date “August 19th, 2038”.  Rational thought saying “i will have it paid off in less than half that time” but irrational chick brain saying “i’ll be 76-fucking-years old”*.

My friend, realtor, garage-sale maven and fellow trailer park refugee, KMD helpfully pointed at something shiny and distracted me.  Arriving at the new condo at 2:00 pm for the pre-closing inspection**, we walked the place making sure that all required repairs had been accomplished.  i was clever enough to bring the stepladder to inspect a disconnected sewer gas line above the master bedroom.  i wasn’t clever enough to remember to bring a flashlight, however…

One annoyance?  KMD noted that the seller had removed every single roll of toilet paper.  Just rude.  Upon further inspection, we found that the seller had left the washer and dryer.  Ummm… ok.  Fair trade.  They seem functional, perhaps same vintage as mine.  i can leave mine in place at the “rental”, and that’s one less thing to move and connect.  i can buy toilet paper.

After the pre-closing inspection, we scooted back to my house to allow me to change into something less smelly, and to load both cars to start the moving process.  Since the packing crew – arriving friday – charges for wardrobe boxes, but all other boxes/supplies are included, we decided to start transporting hanging goods.  And we started with the end of the closet where my “party gear” resides…

What was the first box i carried across the threshold?  Corsetry, of course!  Two carloads later, it was just a bit less empty.  i’ll be deciphering the light-switch structure for months.  Had a celebratory drink with KMD, and i returned to the current homestead, met a friend, and we hauled two more carloads – and a six pack – over to the new place.  KMD had left a rather spectacular – and wildly appropriate – gift for my new home.  What’s a Trailer without Tequila?  Woo hoo!

Still daylight, we made another run – and this time, i felt compelled to bring the guitar.  It won’t feel right without it.  Knocking back a couple brews on the back deck, overlooking the wooded creek, it seemed like a good christening.  Festive girl-wear, guitar, and beer.  Oh, and toilet paper.

Once the dog has acclimated?  It’ll be home… (sigh)

__________

* Ooops.  i think i said that part out loud.  Fortunately the seller – a pleasant woman across the table from me, and perhaps within tooth-spitting distance of 76 years old – did not hear the comment.

** Minor repairs, but necessary.  Found by the smokin’ hot, deliciously irish home inspector i’d hired, i had provided the seller the option of making the repairs, or cutting a check for $3500 at closing to cover the cost.  They chose to repair the items.  Damn.  Might have made a nice pool table fund…

Butt Probe at the Canadian Border?

After a summer of slaving away in the kitchen at a poorly run family pizza parlor, The Boy took off Saturday for a short adventure in Canada.  Tent, sleeping bag, cooler, passport and his iPodand that’s about it…  A few days “into the wild” on his own before starting another year of college.

Researching border crossing issues, he was pissed off to find that upon returning ot the US, the border patrol could – should they happen to feel like it – confiscate his laptop, copy contents, and generally do whatever they wanted with the laptop.  Without probable cause.*

So he took my cheap, but wicked cool, Asus EeePC – which has nothing on the hard drive that we’d miss, and can be replaced for less than $500 if necessary.

i’d asked him to let me know when he got settled in for the night.  Got the following text message around 1 AM:

Made it.  Wouldn’t you know i got searched at the fucking border.  Took an hour.

Knowing he was probably profiled – young man, traveling alone.  Long hair, bandana.  Tattoo.  They’d certainly assumed "drugs". 

On Sunday, i got a follow up e-mail from him.  With the comment:

“… apparently not knowing exactly where you are going or exactly what you are doing is a tip off that they should search you”.

Oops.  Suppose i should have coached him on what to say to the nice armed folks at the border… Canada isn’t keen on folks from the US just coming over, wandering around a bit, and staying until they feel as though they’ve seen enough.

Lucky he didn’t get an international colonoscopy….

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* Constitution?  Huh?  Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure?  Oops… we forgot about that when we passed the ol’ Patriot Act!   And hey – if you don’t like it?  Then you’re a al Queda-loving terrorist sympathizer who hates America.  And we know where you sleep…

Anatomy of a Garage Sale

For the first – and probably only – time in my life, i moved the contents of my trailer onto the front lawn.  Piling items into my garage for the better part of the past few weeks, advertising in every imaginable venue, and preparing signs for posting at strategic intersections, i was ready Friday morning to face the Great Sociological Adventure known as “the garage sale”.

After two days of this – combined with some heavy home renovations as Trailer Park Superhero, BJ, returned to finish the deck and renovate a bathroom – and i’m pretty whipped.  Some quick vignettes from the past two days…

– The Lawnmower Underground: My ex-husband collected lawnmowers.  i contracted this service out – first to The Boy, and then to professionals after he abandoned me left for college.  Clearing my storage barn, i discovered five mowers: Riding mower (oil leak), two gas push mowers, one electric mower, and one old fashioned push mower.  Knowing this would draw some bargain hunters, i put the lawnmower info in all advertisements.  Although my sale was not to start until 9 AM, the Lawnmower Men started showing up at 7:30 AM, as i was setting up.  They seemed to know each other.  Retired gents, they loved to barter, swapped stories amongst themselves about their latest finds, and argued the merits of this mower over that mower.  The mowers were mostly gone before i “opened” at 9 AM.  i just have the feeling there’s an entire part of the economy i know nothing about…

– “Get outta my shit!”: The Lawnmower Men were also a bit aggressive.  i was still setting up, hauling boxes and tables onto the lawn.  They would wander into the garage.  Coming back from dumping a load* out front, i caught one wheeling my bike out of the garage, asking me “how much”.  Explaining “that’s not for sale”, i caught his buddy in the back of the garage, looking over BJ’s pressure washer.  Shit, folks… wait til i open, alright?

– Thrifty:  After selling a man a small item for 25 cents, he paid me with three dimes (30 cents).  i gave him a nickel change.  That’s 5 cents.  Change.  From a quarter.  And he stood there and waited for it….  Maybe he’s going to buy himself a…. no…. wait.  you can’t actually BUY anything for a nickel.  Unless there was a better bargain somewhere else…

– “What’s the matter?  My stuff not good enough?”:  This is shit that i don’t need.  Stuff that i don’t want.  Odds and ends, but not really that important.  Well, except the unicycle (next nugget).  Within a few hours, as the Friday morning deluge of bargain hunters** swamped us, i found myself getting really pissed off when people would arrive, wander through the “aisles”, and just get in their cars and drive off.  “Hey, motherfucker!  i got that in Germany, for fucksake!  it’s a handcrafted dragon on a spring**!  You can’t get those here….”

– Unicycle:  When The Boy was about 12 years old, he decided that all he wanted for his birthday was a unicycle.  So he got one.  Learned to ride it (sort of), decided the novelty wasn’t worth the pain, and parked it in the garage.  This item was a great conversation starter as customers walked up…  i was mortified that after a day and a half, no one was seriously interested in the damn thing!  i mean, what is cooler than a unicycle?  Finally, two marginally dorky teen-aged girls arrived on bicycles, with helmets.  While i was off catching up with a neighbor, my friend KMD managed to find a perfect home for this treasure – “She was so excited i think she wet herself”.  Sold!  Watching them ride off – one carrying the stand, the other carrying the unicycle – i was delighted to know it had found a good home…

i sold dirt:  In the pre-sale frenzy, i was just piling things into the yard.  A three tiered plant stand, with three dirt-filled planters.  it went early, and the woman even wanted the dirt.  $10.  Who knew…

Children That Don’t Suck:  KMD is a goddess.  She worked the crowd, reminded me repeatedly that the goal was to empty my house, not become wealthy, hauled shit until she was wobbly – and brought her “monkeys” to help.  The Monkeys – about 11 and 9 years old – were beyond delightful.  Not only do they actually work, but they were festive and fun, and brought me (and my own Monkeys) great joy!  Two favorite moments:  M, the miniature diva, placed a vintage wedding veil on her head, and grabbed my whip**** saying “I’m a bride with a whip”.  i believe i heard her mother say something to the effect “honey, we all are…”.  Later, J, the adorable helper monkey, was making a last minute sweep for items he desired before we packed things up to take to Goodwill.  The single slalom ski was wobbling across the yard toward KMDs car as she explained “J, dear, we don’t have a boat and don’t even live near water….”.  He gave up.  Momentarily.  i later saw him attempting to put it in her trunk.  And eventually, it found it’s way into her backseat… A happy home!

– Pool Table Karma:  Mini pool table – about 1/8th scale.  Suitable for use on a table top.  No one seemed interested.  Until this morning.  A beautiful young man (with his parents, middle-eastern descent) got very excited and couldn’t wait to buy it.  For his 5 year old nephew!  How sweet…

– The Magic of Craig’s List:  We hauled all remaining items to the local Goodwill drop off location.  To be told that they don’t accept furniture, exercise equipment or most of the stuff we had loaded into BJ’s truck.  So, hauling it BACK home, we parked it on the curb.  The Girl recommended “Craig’s List: CURB ALERT”.  We watched from the front window – no less than an hour later, the trucks started arriving.  It was fascinating to watch as a near fight broke out over a disagreement regarding who arrived first.  The women did not come to blows, but there was much arm flapping…  Five trucks later, there isn’t much left.  They even took the guinea pig cage. 

In the end, about $400 was collected, my shed is empty (except the sailboat), close to a ton of stuff is out of my house (happily recycled).  Had a chance to chat with neighbors***** i don’t see often, too.  The Helper Monkeys were apparently tickled with their cash, new-found treasures and a ride in the jeep.  KMD and i both got quite a workout.  Perhaps not enough to negate the junk food we’ve been subsisting on for two days, but the ass muscles got some tone…  Mr. P enjoyed the adventure, and loved the attention of two wonderful kids.  And i can get on to finishing the home repairs, and packing… 

Onward…

______

* No, not like that…

** the “professionals”, as my friend K explained to me, come out on Friday mornings.  “family” shoppers come out on Saturday.

*** purchased for $0.50 by a delightful dragon-worshipping older lady on Saturday!  he found a good home…

**** a toy whip.  the good one is not for sale…

***** Great neighbors, working-class suburb.  Mrs. E (who helped me rake leaves last fall), is typical.  Folks are friendly, smart, considerate (except for me and my damn parties), and generally keep to themselves… there’s a quiet, attentiveness – but no serious busybodies.  Most of us have been her for 15-20 years (Mrs. E?  Almost 50 years).  i am going to miss this…