Category Archives: love thy neighbor

Just gives me warm fuzzies all over.

Warning: the following post contains a very annoyingly run-on sentence.  Grammarians proceed at your own risk.

Don’t you just love it when the other driver at the intersection smiles and waves for you to go first even though it’s not a four-way stop and he wasn’t supposed to stop at all because he had right of way but he’s still waving for you to go and you’re like why don’t you just drive already before you start holding up traffic and then he does go but as he does he totally flips you off?

Yeah, me too.


The Purple Lady in Michigan

I just got back from my trip to Michigan to see PL.  I could only swing a one-day trip with travel days on either side, but I was glad to get what little time we had.

I’d forgotten how tiny she is.  She doesn’t quite come up to my shoulder when we’re standing side by side.  Her hair isn’t purple now because she hasn’t had it dyed in a while, but all the purple with which she surrounds herself tends to reflect off of her grey hair, making it appear just a bit lavender.  I’ve got pictures.

Say hello to my readers, PL!


 I’m not very good at holding the camera steady, as y’all well know, so I set up the timed delay and took more pictures on the couch.

my buddy and me

That’s probably the one and only time you’ll see my photo on this blog.  (I’m kind of camera shy.)

Here’s another of just PL:

Isn't she sweet?

PL wasn’t up to doing a whole lot, but I did get her out of the house for dinner last night.  We went to Vango’s in Marquette for Greek food.  I had a gyro, but PL ordered something non-greek, a rib-eye steak sandwich.  She did like the looks of my tziki (?) sauce, though, and asked for some to put on her sandwich.  She also managed to wind up with fries on it, too, after several attempts to get the top and bottom halves of her sandwich together.  She started out by putting the top on her fries.  Then she realized what she did and carefully turned it over and started putting fries on the top half.  Then she changed her mind, carefully placed the fries on the bottom half of the sandwich, and finally got the top half where it belonged.  I know it’s kind of sad, but it’s also kind of funny.  She certainly thought it was.

Marquette is beautiful this time of year.  I wish I could’ve stayed a little longer.  PL didn’t want to go to bed last night because she was afraid I’d be gone when she woke up.  I had to promise five times to wake her up in the morning before I left.  Don’t worry — I didn’t forget.

Her little cocker spaniel, Coco (named after Coco Chanel) is adorable, though she’s getting on in years, too.  Every time Coco goes out in the backyard to…do her business, I guess I’ll say, she gets a “cookie” when she comes back in.  Just after she comes back in the door is the liveliest you’ll ever see Coco these days.  She loves her cookies.  When PL and I got back from dinner, Coco managed to escape out the front door.  When we finally got her back inside, she ran all over the place and jumped up and down.  She was expecting a cookie.  Sorry, Coco.  You don’t get a cookie for going out the front door.  She finally got tired and lay down, refusing to come when called.  She just looked at us reproachfully.

Here’s the only non-blurry pic I have of Coco:

PL's little Coco "nut"

Well, that’s my trip, in a nutshell.  Now I need to pick up BratzBasher at school.

Got a visit from the police today.

As part of what Merkin refers to as “shovel-ready stimulus”, the city is pulling up pieces of the curbs in our neighborhood.  There’s no apparent method to their madness.  They’ve seemingly marked sections willy-nilly because I honestly can’t tell the difference between the marked and unmarked curb sections (except for the markings, of course).  We’re going to lose our driveway pretty soon because the end pieces are marked for replacement.  It will take a week for the concrete to cure, so we’ll be without a driveway for seven days.

Work was supposed to commence on the 28th, but of course it didn’t.  When I saw the crews pulling curb yesterday, I thought I’d be proactive and park across the street — the nearest spot that was clear of markings.  They never did get as far as our house, but I didn’t think to move the car.  Apparently, that was very rude of me.

The neighbors not only left a note on my vehicle (which included a plea to get my oil leak fixed (What oil leak?), but they also called the cops on me.  The officer was very nice.  He had been told there was a derelict vehicle parked in that spot and that it was leaking oil.  He’d taken a look and didn’t see any leaking oil, so he knocked on my door and asked if my vehicle was operational.  Yes, sir.  It’s only been there since yesterday afternoon.  Is there a problem?  No, the vehicle was legally parked and not leaking, but he did receive a call and had to check it out and file a report.  I gave him my name and number and thanked him before he drove off.  Then I put on my shoes and went to check out the note.  I even looked under the car for leaking oil — although the police officer told me it wouldn’t be an issue unless it was a serious leak that presented a fire hazard.  No leak.  Legally parked.  I didn’t move until I had to run an errand this afternoon.  I figured I’d park in the same spot again if they were working on my street when I got back, or I’d park in my driveway if they weren’t.

I’m parked in my driveway now, but there are those whatchamacallits that designate a “keep-off” area are now bracketing the driveway.  I guess I’ll be parking across the street tomorrow.  And for another six days after that.  My neighbors work all day and don’t get home until evening.  Parking on the street will be at a premium due to lack of space, and they’re not even losing their driveway.  Just because it’s in front of your house doesn’t mean you’ve got dibs on it.  Now, if I were parking on their lawn…

So what do you think?

The Purple Lady Is In the House!

Well, not my house, but definitely her house.  She called to tell me that the nursing home kicked her out for complaining too much.  Ha ha ha.  Actually, she got better and an inspection team deemed her house safe enough for her to live in as long as she has people to come in and cook for her and all that.  Anyway…thought y’all would like to know.

PL update

I spoke with the Purple Lady a couple hours ago.  She’s fine, health-wise, but miserable.  She’s considered a fall risk, so they have her in a bed with an alarm that goes off every time she gets out.  She has to have an escort to go anywhere — even the bathroom.  She told me yesterday was a beautiful day, but no one on staff could be spared to go outside with her.  She misses her little dog and her little house.  Not much I can do about that.

She got the cape I made.  Apparently, it arrived after she was moved to the nursing home because she says everyone there has commented on it.  She wishes she had a reason to wear it.

I plan on making a trip up there at some point.  Whether she’s in the nursing home or in her own little place again (which I highly doubt at this point), I’ll be visiting her in the near future.  I’m glad to know it won’t be an emergency trip.  I’ll have to be sure to get a picture of her in her cape.


Relieved – sort of

My friend the Purple Lady moved back to Michigan last year.  She’d been running out of savings and couldn’t afford to make the payments on her home anymore.  One of her sons found her a very cheap house near his home and moved her up there to be closer to him and live rent-free.  She didn’t really want to move, but knew she didn’t have a choice.  She was just glad that she wasn’t going back in an assisted living facility or nursing home.  She still had her little spaniel Coco (the german shepherd passed away last year), and she still had her own space.

I missed her very much, but I admit that I didn’t talk to her nearly as much as I thought of her.  I have a problem with calling people on the phone.  It’s a bit of a phobia for me, actually.  There are certain numbers I can call without any problem (such as Merkin’s work), but that list fits on one hand with room left over.  I don’t know what my deal is.  I can be absolutely certain that the person on the other end of the line wants to talk to me and would be very glad to receive a call from me, but it’s a struggle just to pick up the phone and dial.  (Receiving calls, on the other hand, is no problem for me — unless it’s a telemarketer.)  This is why I send an email newsletter to family and friends every Sunday.  I can tell everyone how I’m doing without picking up the phone or repeating myself (usually).

PL doesn’t have email, though.  It’s been a smattering of phone calls and a few written letters on my part.  I sent her a package just before Mother’s Day, and I thought I’d gather up the nerve to call her up and ask if she’d received it yet.  I was already calling my stepmom for Mother’s Day.  I thought I could handle one more.  PL’s phone number was disconnected.  I couldn’t find a number for her local son, or her daughter-in-law here.  I managed to locate an old number for her third son, but wasn’t sure it was still good.  The answering machine gave no clue — they rarely do anymore.  I left a message and then wondered if I’d gotten the right people and if they’d ever call me back and what would they tell me….

Two weeks later, I was convinced that PL had passed away and I would never hear about it.  I wondered what had happened to the package I sent her.  I thought I’d like to have it back, but didn’t think I’d ever see it again.  I’d sent her a handmade, black, velvet cape with dark purple lining.  She used to have one that her mother had made for her just before sending her off to college — a gorgeous, long one that reached her ankles.  She wore it every Halloween as part of her witch costume.  Her kids gave it to Goodwill when they put her in assisted living years ago.  PL cried over that.

The cape I made wasn’t from her mother, and it wouldn’t cover anything below the hips, but it was made with love just for her.  I’d intended it to be a Christmas present two Christmases ago, but working with velvet was more of a challenge than I had expected. It took me three or four tries to fold and settle it to my satisfaction in the large purple box I’d found for her to keep it in, wrapped in tissue paper.  I’d even found a purple “handmade with love” sewing label for the inside.

You can imagine how distraught I’ve been over this since Mother’s Day.  What happened to her?  Why didn’t I call sooner?  Why didn’t I send more letters?  Why did I never take a picture of her while she was here?

I got a call from one of her daughters-in-law today — in response to that shot-in-the-dark phone call I made a few weeks ago.  PL is in a nursing home.  She’d been having trouble breathing, but she’s stable now.  I don’t know how much longer she’ll last.  She hasn’t really been happy in Michigan.  Her home was rather removed from most things, and her son prefers to order things online for her rather than take her shopping.  I know how much of a hassle a shopping trip with PL can be, but a girl needs to get out.  There was no senior citizen bus to take her to Walmart or any other place, and she couldn’t afford a taxi.  Her little Coco was thriving in her new home, but PL felt like she was wilting.

I tried calling her just now with the new number I’ve got, but she wasn’t answering her cell phone.  I’ll try again when I finish this post.  Her daughter-in-law promised to call me as soon as she’s seen PL (she’s on a plane in that direction now).  I’ll decide then whether it’s time to make a trip out there to see her one last time.  Send your prayers to Marquette, MI.  I’ll post updates.

The Parable of the Cookies

I just realized that I never posted my cookie parable.  Actually, it’s not my parable; it’s a personal experience of a woman in our ward.  I’ll try to retell it as best I can.

It was February in Dallas — a few days before Valentine’s Day, and there was absolutely no food in the house.  None.  Not even cold cereal without the milk.  So I bundled up all three kids and l0aded them into the minivan, wrestling with two car seats, and headed to Walmart.  It was bitter cold, and I did not want to be out on the icy roads, but my kids needed to be fed, so….  We did our shopping and then stopped at the McDonald’s inside the store to get Happy Meals for the kids.

There was an obviously homeless woman sitting at one of the tables, eating a little burger.  She was grimy and dressed in what must have been her entire wardrobe.  I was trying not to look at her as she bowed her head over her skimpy meal and said a prayer.  Suddenly I got this impression that I needed to buy her a bag of cookies.  I was like, no way.  I’m cold, tired, I’ve got two little kids and an infant.  I just want to eat and leave.  Buy her a bag of cookies. I ignored it again.  Buy her a bag of cookies. Okay, fine.  I’ll buy her a stupid bag of stupid cookies.  So I told my oldest to watch her younger brothers for a minute, and I purchased the cookies.  Before I could walk over to the woman and give it to her, however, the thought came into my head Have Katie give it to her. What?  No way.  She’s three years old!  I’ve been teaching her STRANGER DANGER! and you want me to tell her to walk up and give a bag of cookies to a complete stranger?  Have Katie give it to her.  Sigh.  Okay.

“Katie, see that lady over there?  Go give her this bag of cookies and wish her a Happy Valentine’s Day, okay?”  So I’m sitting there watching my little girl walk over to a stranger because I told her to.  Katie handed her the bag and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  The woman looked up in surprise and said, “Oh, thank you!  But it’s not Valentine’s Day.  It’s my birthday, and I just prayed to God to send me a message that he loves me.”

When I heard that, I was so glad I didn’t keep ignoring that voice in my head.  I felt like an idiot.  It was just a stupid little bag of McDonald’s cookies, and I’d been so reluctant to do this little thing.  Here I was with a house, warm clothes, a car, food to feed my family, and I was complaining about being too cold, too tired, and too busy.  I was so selfish.  I know that Heavenly Father would’ve found someone else to send the message if I had refused to listen, but I would’ve missed out on a valuable experience.  Because I finally heeded the promptings of the Spirit, I learned an important lesson about how much Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, and my daughter got to share in that experience with me.

I don’t think I can add anything to that.  I’m glad the mother felt comfortable sharing this experience with our Relief Society class.  I love this story, and I just wanted to share it with y’all.