(Well, obviously.) But—Karolyn, Rob, Eliza and Riley live here now. So do their cats. And their dog. And my dog. And my cats. And the new kittens . . . (because there is absolutely NOTHING I enjoy more than watching a large portion of my income disappear into the cash register at PetSmart, and most of the rest of it going to the vet.) They moved in after Thanksgiving, and we are [mostly] adjusted to each other—they live in the front of the house, I live in the back, and the cats and dogs migrate between. Eliza is taking an acting class, has a best friend just up the road, and has decided that we need to have afternoon tea every Sunday. Riley has discovered the joys of digging holes down in the goat lot (he has commandeered my little bulb-planting shovel) and climbing the chestnut tree, and is fond of standing in the back of the truck, using an old curtain rod for a microphone, and singing songs about how fat Ysabeau is and how much he loves her. Karolyn wants chickens of her very own (my chickens are not suitably pettable) and is busy deciding how she can raise dibs in the house with all the cats and dogs. She and Rob have a budding petsitting business (if anyone reading this is in town, and needs pets looked after while they're gone . . . so far she's done cats, dogs and chickens.)
Brian came up and spent most of the week after John died ferrying me to banks and whatnot, and fending off family who wanted to Go Through John's Things. I have acquired an attorney, because not only do I not know about dealing with an estate, I don't want to know. I want someone to whom I can hand things and ask, What do I do about this?, and be told, Just give it to me and I'll handle it. (Come to think of it, that's what I want for a lot of things, but I don't suppose I'm going to get it. Drat.)
We have taken load after load after load of stuff to the landfill, to Goodwill, to the place that buys metal, to anyone who would take it . . . John bought this house in, I think, 1962, lived here since then, and never, ever threw anything away if it might possoibly be useful for something, sometime . . . assuming it could be found, that is.
The roof sprang a leak, and Rob fixed it. It leaked again, and he fixed it again. It's leaking now, but just barely, and we have the stuff to fix it once more, as soon as it gets warm enough (roof patch needs 65 degrees to work, and it hasn't been anywhere near that for the past couple of weeks). I sold the big truck to Roger. We replaced the leaky kitchen faucet. We stacked wood on the porch. (And isn't it a good thing that John had bought three cords of wood already cut this summer, because he didn't feel up to cutting it himself?) The ancient oil heater in the front of the house (which John and I hadn't used in nine years) declined to work (apparently the carburetor had seized up), so I called one of John's friends for help and was referred to a man who rebuilds Monitor oil heaters as a sideline and had one which he brought out and installed, and charged me just about what I had to spend. How lucky is that?
The neighbor's dog killed a third of the chickens, so we reinforced the fence on that side and reconfigured the chicken lot to leave dead fenced-in space between the chickens and the neighbors. I don't blame the dog—after all, she's just being a dog, and they keep her up on the porch all the time and never let her run; I suppose it's too much trouble to just shut the damn gate so she can't get out of the yard. We still have enough for eggs, though, and someone else is raising two dozen [hopefully] hens for me, because I don't want to fool with John's cobbled-together dib-raising setup. (There's an awful lot of cobbled-together stuff around here that I will have to deal with. Later.) Plus there are seven game chicks that were born just after Thanksgiving (alright, what sort of stupid hen sets in November?), which show signs of staying in the chicken lot. Hooray!
I sold all but two of the goats; they are young and agile, and I'm not. Lucy and Jesse are still here, since they are old and [somewhat] biddable.
No big garden this year; I can't handle the tiller, and my increasingly-arthritic knees do not want to spend the summer weeding. Brian and Rob built ten 4x4 raised beds for me, and then Rob built ten chicken-wire covers for them, since we are still beset with wandering game chickens, and hauled innumerable bags of potting soil, and this week (I hope) I shall plant lettuce and radishes, cabbage, swiss chard (which I admit, I never eat, but it's so pretty), spinach, some more lettuce . . . and some lavender and rosemary and parsley and pineapple sage, and perhaps I shall meander down to Lowe's and see what else they have that looks interesting . . .
I planted the blackberry bushes John and I had planned for this year (though I only got twelve, and I suspect he would have bought twice that many), as well as half a dozen blueberries (we have blueberries, but they have gotten shaded out and will probably never bear, and I am not sure about moving them—must look that up, sometime—so these are in the garden space where it's reliably sunny) and a strawberry pyramid and three more rhubarb plants, and a forsythia, and two cemetery roses from Mom and Daddy's . . . I bought myself a new shovel that's more my size than the big one John used, and many pairs of cheap garden gloves (because I lose them, and make holes in them hauling wood and stuff; I've already gone through one pair and it's only March).
I have rearranged the back, where I live, so it's airy and plant- and book-filled (and yarn- and cat-filled, but we won't discuss that, OK? Or the fact that the windows need washing outside desperately. We'd planned to do that last fall, but never did. Now Rob and Karolyn can do it.); John's family pieces (the dish cabinet and rocking chair and little table that his grandfather made) are back here now. His jewelry making stuff and his painting things are up in the attic. No one wanted them now, but they may later. His tools are out in the building (along with half the stuff that was in the house. How in the world did we have this much stuff in one little house?), waiting for warm days to spread them out and go though them. I'm constantly going, wait, we need zip ties (or whatever) and there's a whole tub of them . . . in the building somewhere. Let's just buy a bag instead. I know much more about buying repair stuff and lumber and bits and pieces of tools than I used to.
We have put a new radiator, a new fan clutch and some other miscellaneous stuff into the blue truck (which Rob is driving, since his car died in Florida); a new radiator and new brakes on my car; and new brakes and new tires on Karolyn's car. Everything is running now, but I think I need another car; mine is twenty years old and beginning to have little stuff wrong with it (plus, I backed badly the other day and popped the passenger's side mirror off . . . ). Ack. I despise fooling with cars. (On the other hand, my mechanic LOVES me now.)
I bought a new camera, since my old one finally died, so there will be cat and dog pictures at some point. I finally made an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. (The previous one was the day John died . . . and then I had a more-or-less ongoing sinus infection for about three months, and there was flu in the house over Christmas. . . my gums are in terrible shape. The hygienist hygeinest woman who cleans my teeth is going to speak sharply at me. I'm going to lose those lower teeth, probably. In my next life, I want better teeth!) Still have to make an appointment for my physical, hopefully before my insurance runs out. (COBRA is not an option, not at $700-plus a month. I'll just have to be very careful—and lucky—until I'm old enough for Medicare.)
I'll never get over missing John, but life goes on. And on, and on, sometimes. We had the best ten years of my life (well, except maybe the year I was two and got two teddy bears and a cowgirl outfit AND a tin bank for Christmas.) and, from what I hear, he was a lot happier than he'd been before, too. I know there's a LOT of difference in pictures from the first year we were married and some I took a couple of years ago: he looks a lot more at ease. He's in a good place now; I'm not yet, but I'm getting myself there.
And that's the news for now, from the People's Republic of Oteen.