Monday Morning Blues

The good: I finished the prom dress.

The bad: it seems that my sewing machine is finished, too.

I just had it in for a tune-up about three weeks ago and everything was working peachy, but as is predictable, the high-tech gadgetry failed. In this case, the touch screen… just stopped responding to my touch.

No, it’s not the calluses on my fingertips (I tried using my pinky, which doesn’t suffer the familiar seamstress’ scarring).

I’m thankful that it waited until all that remained to finish the dress was the hemming — all done by hand — but I haven’t yet finished the cute little matching evening purse, for which I most definitely need my sewing machine.

Prom Hint: do NOT send your daughter with the safe, reliable little black evening purse. There will be at least 150 others just like it, and more than one couple has been sidelined when the purses got mixed up in coat check, leaving someone stranded at the prom with no car keys or cell phone (the other having left earlier in a limo or a date’s vehicle).

The Ugly: new touch screens are expensive. Having a certified technician install it is more expensive. However, it’s still much better than the cost of replacing the whole machine… and I’ve demonstrated over the seven or eight years that I’ve owned it, that this machine pays for itself.

The agony is waiting the ten days or so to have an hour’s work completed; it’s spring now, and time for new clothes for everyone. But like everyone else, I have to wait in line, and there isn’t an excess of sewing machine mechanics around here.

I guess I’ll get it back about a week a couple of days before the prom, but also just about the time that we’re expecting the bids back on contracting bus service. That’s another subject entirely, but an important one that will take some time and consideration.

The Audit

This afternoon, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office posted the FY07 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Anderson County.  While I haven’t thoroughly examined all 277 pages, I did skip to the "findings" beginning on p. 274.

Expenditures exceeded Commission’s appropriations in six major categories, and the Trustee’s office invested $1,454,042 in a mutual fund, which is a no-no.  Local governments (and school systems) are rather strictly limited in where they’re allowed to invest the public’s money, and while the mutual fund may have had a much sweeter rate of return, it’s also possible to lose money in a mutual fund (just like anything else in the stock market).

I might be able to write this off as a rookie mistake for a new trustee, but I do have some questions.  I’d like to know through whom the fund purchase was made, and whether the person who made the commission on this transactions (yes, securities dealers work on commission, and a $1.4 mil investment would undoubtedly trigger a good one) has any relationship to the Trustee or any other elected official in Anderson County.

More as I find it.

Christmas Eve’s Eve

I’m back now, but here’s a picture of where I was for the last week — what the week before Christmas should look like.

My dear mother-in-law is doing so much better than just a few scant months ago.  Once again, she’s up before the sun, cooking and baking and planning her day.  She’s now willing to get out of the house now and then, going to church on Sunday to show off her bountiful crop of grandchildren, and out to eat a couple of times.

We had to go out to eat a few times to avoid overeating, as her kitchen was filled with innumerable goodies — apple pie, apple cake, custard pie, brownies, fudge, applesauce cookies (can you tell that they had a wonderful apple crop this year?).

The kids had great fun tying an old plastic sled to the back of a three-wheeled ATV, pulling each other through the orchards and trails on the farm.  Oft as not, Dog was chasing behind, burning off some of his energy.

We left about 3 pm yesterday — seven people and Dog, ski gear, apples, and all our winter accoutrements — and drove through a driving rain for fifteen hours.  Coming across Jellico Mountain this morning was rough, with a brutal wind shaking the Suburban all over the road.  Watching the Weather Channel this afternoon though, I’m glad we left when we did, because all that rain is now ice and snow the entire length of Indiana and lower Michigan.

I love snow when I don’t have to drive long distances in it.  Now home, it’s time to finish preparations for the exciting days to come.


Gamma and Delta are enjoying winter break, this shot taken on a recent day trip.


It’s a bit odd having everyone back in the house; with Alpha gone to college most of the time, the dynamics just aren’t the same.  Beta, of course, is now fully accustomed to being the eldest in residence… but she’s usually out of the house more than in, between school activities and working.

Even now with everyone together, the elder two prefer to make their own plans more often than not.  Part of growing up, I suppose.  Even so, it’s nice to have them all together at least for meals.

With each year that goes by, I appreciate more and more that the younger two are exceptionally close, as much like friends as siblings.  We have a great deal of fun with them.



It’s harvest time, so NM and company have been busy in a world where there is no internet, TV, video games, etc.  The crop is a good one this year, and mechanical failures — a given challenge in farm life — have been minimal.

The days are long, both literally (darkness arrives about 10:30) and figuratively (we finished the last delivery to the plant about midnight last night).

Bad news arrived early this morning from home: my uncle Nelson finally succumbed to the cancer he’s battled for several years.  It is a blessing for his sake, but a loss for the rest of us.  I spent quite a bit of my summer time with his family as a child; it was he who taught me to catch crab with a string, chicken parts, and a net.

Picking sweet cherries this morning alone in a distant orchard, I thought about the nature of life, loss, and renewal.  Some of the trees were blown down or damaged by an earlier windstorm, but even with major branches gone, the rest of the tree survives and produces.  Even a few whole trees blown down, still manage to draw enough from the remaining strands connected to their roots to blossom and bear fruit.

I miss my father-in-law, gone six years now.  The very trees I harvested this morning were those he planted and nurtured throughout his life.  I cringe that I will be unable to comfort my aunt and cousins this week as they bury Uncle Nelson; the distance is simply too great for me to get there in time.  I think  of others who struggle to thrive in the face of tremendous loss, but know that, like the trees, they will persevere.

There are more stars here, both due to clearer air and a total lack of light pollution.  Sunsets last an hour or more.  It’s an excellent place to re-set the compass from time to time, and that’s what is happening in the midst of completing real chores with a real purpose.

I can’t bake a pie on the campfire, but I bet I could make fried pies.  It may just be time to try.

Lucky Shot

Leaving the Breakfast Rotary meeting this morning, I noticed a beautiful Blue Heron (I think) in the water.  At the same time I bent down to retrieve my camera from my purse, he ducked under the water, coming up with breakfast just as I brought him into focus.

Sort of puts a different spin on an otherwise ordinary summer day.