Karen Kuhl

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I got my planters put together yesterday evening in the last hour of daylight, and it was sooooo nice to sit outside and work in peace and play with plants.

Haven't done planters in 2 years, and certainly haven't felt this relaxed outside while doing it in 4 years.

My one set of friendly neighbors told another set of newer neighbors about my parking situation (without my knowledge 😬) and they agreed that they have no need to park there again, and were very understanding!! I thought that was really sweet (and saved me some serious anxiety). How nice was that?

I think that's everyone, now! I have had peace and privacy at my house for 6 months, and it has been SO healing.

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What a soothing image. :)
You got it, sista.
This all sounds so good.

What are you planting/growing?
I like to do some reddish-orangish begonias with a spike plant behind it and a nice spray of vines down the front, this year is creeping jenny. I'll have to post pics when I get a chance!
Yay for planters, and super yay for having the ability to actually be outside and in peace again!
That little tidbit about the parking made me hug that woman right up.
As well you should! :D
 

Alright, I did it. I found some names for landscaping and handywork. Thanks, guys, for all the suggestions. (I knew about asking real estate agents, but totally didn't even think about librarians.)

Here's what I did...


A little bit of everthing:

  • Instead of Fb or Nextdoor (YourDogShitInMyYardAgain.com), I went to the subreddit for my area. Awesome suggestion. I was already subbed, but hadn't thought about it with all the whelm. Saw a few names I knew from ads, some I didn't. Gave me a starting point. And I could ask questions.


  • I looked at all circulars and Valpaks that came to my house for the last week. Great, there's a Clipper magazine, too, and they list a bunch, with coupons.


  • Here was one I have been tempted to try but wasn't feeling up to it until the mood was just right- walked right up to the house with my favorite deck on it and asked the guy for his handyman's name. He was more than willing, and gave me the guy's business card. Sang his praises. Big win. I can see his work, and get a first hand review. The guy also does everything else because he helped build the neighborhood and knows the houses well. BINGO BANGO.


  • LITERALLY JUST GOOGLED "_____ near me". Picked the first three landscapers closest to me. Called all three, left messages, followed-up with texts including pictures. One answered immediately, one a week later, and one, so far, not at all. Have seen one already and received a rough quote, got another coming Saturday.


  • Asked a real estate agent. Got a name. Saw it was a name already mentioned in the local subreddit. Booyah.


  • There aren't really teens in my neighborhood, it's more like a retirement community. Buuut, I do have the name of an elderly neighbor's adult son who comes around every day to help her and has ended up doing odd jobs for everyone else. He only does some stuff: weeding, clearing gutters, mowing (but no weedwacking), etc, but he's available and reliable, and relatively cheap. So, this idea is also a good one..


Some of it will take more time, some of it is being pondered currently, and some of it is already on it's way. w00t w00t. Broke through the fuzzy ???s and back into productivity-land. Much better.

Thanks, all! *MUAH*




p.s. - It is snowing right now. lolwut

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Wow! Such industriousness! Go you!
Nice. With you re nextdoor.
 

How do you find handymen and landscapers nowadays?

What do you use to search for them? I've had suggestions to try Facebook Marketplace, which seems like neighborhood groups of the same couple dozen people mentioning one or two names. Having tried this to find a cleaning lady, the results were less than stellar, and I'm out a hundred bucks from a woman who left halfway through what should have been a 3 hour job on a house that is not at all trashed. If she was the best out of the neighborhood group for my area, I don't trust the process. And I hate FB with a MFing passion. The lack of privacy with anything I do on there infuriates me. I don't need my second cousin, or my neighbor, knowing my business.

Whitepages doesn't seem to be a thing anymore, Craigslist is sketchy af, and I'm not paying to be pushed the company that bought the highest ranking on Angie's List. Unless that is really my only option, then let me know and I'll friggin do it.

My last guys, the last time I could afford real help, are from over 15 years ago, and a lot has changed, and they are not around anymore.

Please. I could use some advice here. Thanks.

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In my case, I asked my next-door neighbor who does their lawn. Now he has a miniature empire of clients on our block. I'm glad because it means he only has to drive all of his stuff to one place, park it, do four lawns, invoice us, and leave, and that means that I only have to deal with lawnmower noise once a week for about an hour (nobody here has a big lawn). But, some of the folks on our block do their own or hire other people.

We used to pay $35 per cut, every other week, but one neighbor wanted hers cut weekly. So, he put his foot down and said, "there's been too much rain, everybody gets their lawn cut weekly for $25 a cut, take it or leave it." we all said fine.

I wonder if whoever's working the front desk at your local library knows anyone? Librarians seem to know everything.
The librarians are an interesting angle - especially since you have a library literally next door.
I concur. Neighbors and librarians. Also bulletin boards at local grocery stores/shops.

Also if any neighbors have responsible teens looking for work, that can be great. Pay them what you’d pay an adult, be clear with expectations, and they’ll do 10x better work—and teens are often fun company.
Well, teens are great for yard weeding and maintenance, and cleaning. I wouldn’t hire one as a handyman though.
Aside from asking neighbors or coworkers, my other thought would be whatever Reddit sub is most specific to your area.

Nextdoor (aka MyRacistNeighbor.Com) is actually pretty useful (and possibly at its least racist) for uses like that also.

I signed up for Nextdoor when I was staying in MD. Didn’t wind up using it very much.

They don’t have a region for my parents’ place (which is close enough that I suspect it includes Karen’s area) but it does seem like an interesting option.
 

It's been over a week. I picked up his ashes today, but didn't open the package. I received a memorial something from someone in the mail too, but didn't open that, either.

I did clean and put away all the sick-supplies: the water fountain, the feeding syringe, the meds, the list of symptoms with dates, notes from phone calls with the vet.

His food dish still sits out, filled, as does his water dish. His toys are all over the house. I came *this* close to tossing his litter box out with the trash tonight, but backed out at the last minute.

I keep his little blue hoodie on my bed. I have his first baby toy, a pair of dollar-store shoelaces, tied to the bedpost.


I miss him.


I'm upset that I'm getting used to the silence.


I made a short video of him. My (Roger's) nephew was going to make a longer, more professional one with the full song, but his wife is about to have a baby any minute, so that is probably off the table for a long time. If anyone knows a professional videographer who would take a commission to edit something together for me, please let me know.

Some of you have already seen the video from my Instagram, but the link is below. Sharing it/him makes me feel better.

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I have to find that thing that Harvey Fierstein wrote about grieving.
Please send it if you do. I find these things comforting. I was very attached this little guy, and during a time that was difficult already, so I'm really feeling the loss.

He was also just such a special character. One of those rare gems.
There is nothing easy about grief. It is not linear, and it is definitely a process. And when it hits you, it hits you with a fucking Sammy Sosa bat to the soul. I know there is nothing anyone can say that makes it better or easier; but I hope you know how much you are loved.

Oh; If you need a video editor person, I have a guy and he's wonderful... he's the one who shot our (only) music video. LMK if you are still looking for someone.
Yes, I still am.
Thank you. Tonight was one of those nights. I can't get the words right, at this moment, but I appreciate yours. Very much.
 

Alistair passed away suddenly tonight.

He had been hanging out with me like usual this afternoon, when something happened out of nowhere around 6pm. He started howling loudly and desperately, and then collapsed. We rushed him to the vet in a panic, but whatever was wrong was not fixable, and we had to quickly put him to sleep, as his lungs were filling with fluid. I don't think he was really with it as we were saying our goodbyes, but he was in our arms from the moment it started until the very end, except for maybe 5 minutes where they did a radiograph on him (which, unfortunately, didn't show anything.)

I am forever grateful this happened while I was home, with Rog done from a job early and literally walking through the door as it started, AND that my vet was still open and let us bring him in instantly. I'm also grateful that his favorite vet happened to be on tonight, because she did the kindest thing of all by side-stepping any panic-options and telling me it was over. We did all we could, it was time. I'm also grateful he loved the vet, so he didn't die in a scary place. He had people who loved him around him.

She thinks he threw a clot, and possibly to his brain, with the way he was crashing. He was struggling so hard to breathe in the 5-minute carride to the vet that he actually bit through Roger's forearm with all four canines and we had to get that checked at urgent care afterwards. Alistair never hurt a soul, and I feel he was already out of it by then. I hope he was, and yet I also hope he knew he wasn't alone.

He had passed out six weeks ago and we discovered he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but was supposed to be okay on meds. However, he kept passing out and two weeks ago he had a mysterious episode and nearly died. It was then we realized he was in worse shape than we originally thought, but we couldn't risk leaving him alone in a cardiac unit an hour away near Philly for a weekend of testing and intensive care when the cardiomyopathy was already looking like a death sentence. He passed out during anything that made him too wriggly (holding him still to clean an accident off his back legs and tail, or holding him down for a scan), so I made the decision to keep him home and nurse him myself, and then he made a miraculous recovery.

The last two weeks he was better than he'd been in months. He ate with gusto, he had more energy, I brushed him often and babied him even more than usual. I'm so grateful we had a chance to even take him on a short walk on that warm summer day we had last weekend. He was alert and playful and looked like nothing had ever happened. I was cautiously hopeful to have at least some more time with him. More time than this, anyway.

He was only 12. He was a truly amazing friend. Absolutely loving and so affectionate, bold and curious. And absolutely beautiful. I wish I could write more, but I'm exhausted and my head is spinning. The house is too quiet. There is an empty spot next to me I cannot fill.

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I am so sorry to hear about your kitty. I am glad he had a good innings.
Thanks, Tom. He was my heart and soul. I hurt.
Aw. I'm sorry to hear about Alistair. 12 does seem very young! Tuxedo kitties are just the best. Alistair was so handsome--and by your description every bit as lovable as every tuxedo I've ever met, and then some.

I've very glad for your wise and kind vet, too. Alistair was surrounded by good and kind humans supporting him at the end.
Thank you, Anne. From the time of the first collapse, to hearing that initial diagnosis, I fought to keep optimistic, but I also was becoming pretty aware of the odds. You can't ever be ready for it, though. And it doesn't get easier with age.

There was no one like him. He was taken too soon.

I miss him so much.
My condolences, dear. I'm so sorry. Get more rest because whoa nellie, do our furry friends leave a hole in our hearts. Is this the cat that's a big mush?
That's the one. He's been my one and only sidekick since 2009, when I brought him home from the shelter on Valentine's Day as my special valentine.

He was amazing and did really great stuff like walk on a leash and enjoy the heck out of carrides. He wasn't skittish, and in fact was bold around loud noises like the vacuum, lawnmower, and once even an antique plane engine at the car show.

I could take him everywhere with me. Super friendly and cuddly with everyone he ever met. He was once the life of the party for a little boy's birthday party, and he let them pick him up and toddle him around over and over.

Never hurt a fly, well maybe a bug or two. But never showed anything but love and affection. And he was so beautiful. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have him in my life. He was special. I just wish it had been longer. He didn't deserve this.
I'm so so sorry. Let me know if/when you want to talk, or if there's anything else I can do.

He's a great cat who's well loved by great people.
Thanks, bae. I want to talk, but have not been able to without lots of tears. I seem to be occupying myself with making little video posts and memorials on my socials.
Totally fair, and I kinda presumed that was the case. I'm around when you're ready.
I’m so very sorry. I know how very hard it is. I know I don’t often comment here—in fact I’m not sure if I ever have—but I couldn’t pass by this & not say something.
Rachael 3/10
Aw, thank you, Rachael. I really appreciate it. The support really helps. I've been particuarly crushed by this.
 

Cold as balls at 16° in Macungie. We got 4" of snow today.

This morning, had a lucid dream. And a "Groundhog's Day"-type dreamception, which is how I was able to have the lucid one.

I was in my house, starting to wake up, when I thought I heard the neighbors shoveling. So I got up, got my stuff on, and opened the front door, only to find a bunch of groceries on my porch, which was probably from my neighbor who does that sometimes. But there was also some strange guy, in his 30s, standing there, who wanted to come into my house, like to sell me something. So, I had to talk him back outside of the house, which I did.

That's when I realized I was still in bed sleeping. So, I got up, got my clothes on, opened the front door and started trying to shovel, only to realize that I was still dreaming. And then I thought, well, if I'm still dreaming, I can just do whatever the fuck I want. I can't remember what I did in detail, but I did something really crazy like fly around inside an acid trip (never had one) like that scene in Big Lebowski. I could feel my stomach drop from flying straight up into the air and everything. I was having a blast  It was only for a few seconds, but it was definitely lucid dreaming. My third time ever.

Then, I finally *actually* woke up and thought, this is real. Except I didn't get up and get my clothes on yet and go out, cuz it's fucking 16°. I'm dragging my feet a little right now.


Oh, and the neighbors aren't home, they never were. I knew that when I went to bed last night.

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I frigging love it when I notice I’m lucid dreaming with enough control to fly around. Happens so rarely for me. Good for you. Once or twice I’ve been able to say to myself, “this is a dream, therefore I can climb a ladder into George Harrison’s room at the Four Seasons George V in Paris,” but I wake up by the time I’ve set foot on the 4th rung.
I believe this is my third or fourth lucid dream ever. I also seem to wake up before I want to.
Back in 2015 or so, I was sleeping in the loft of my pal’s cabin in the Olympic rain forest when I had one of those dreams that I was desperately looking for a place to pee.

I know, in the waking world, that dreams like that are often my unconscious mind trying to say “hey - wake up! You need to pee!” and that, if ignored, will end up tricking me into peeing the bed by leading dream-me to think I found a suitable place to finally go.

This time, dream-me was like “hey! This is one of those pee dreams! You should wake up, climb down the ladder, and go outside to pee.”

So I did.

But just as I was outside and about to start going, I thought “wait a second…I think I might still be asleep and this is just a much craftier pee dream than usual.”

So I woke myself up again, thought “whew…that was close…” and headed down the ladder and outside to pee - for real this time.

Except it wasn’t real! I was still dreaming! And again I caught on and realized it at the last possible second.

Finally I actually woke myself up for real and completed the (e)mission - but every once in a while to this day, I occasionally find myself wondering if everything that happened for the past few years has all been a dream and I am actually, right now, lying asleep in the rain forest in a pool of my own urine. It would certainly explain a few things.

CM Adams 1/30edited
Great. Potentially, I am living in Adams' pee dream.
Yes! I had this thought. And I see we have another dreamception-er, here.
You people.
Lucid dreaming people? Or people who feel compelled to shovel as soon as the whole neighborhood is out there? Like a race?

Because both are certainly "you people" types. (For the record, I used to shovel if and when I damn well felt like it, but then I guess I got curmudgeonly and adultish as I got older. Boooo.)
You people for whom every conversation eventually ends up being about pee. And by “you people” I mean my people.
Conversation inception. ^
Tell me more about the pee talk.
 

Originally written for Instagram, so apologies if you're seeing this twice.

I keep wren houses, and I had announced on IG the chirping of newly hatched chicks a few weeks ago. And...

My wrens didn't make it. Something happened to the first batch of eggs, or the female had difficulty, and her second batch came late. And then they hatched... but it got quiet. Something wasn't right. I thought maybe it was the heat.

Yesterday, I came out to (who I assume was) the female, hanging from the birdhouse, her claw stuck in the nest inside. She was gone. She looked beat up, or maybe she fought to free her leg. I was so heartbroken when I found her, I didn't think to check her for sticky eyes, one of the symptoms of this mystery songbird illness. I was busy pulling her down and laying her to rest on the hill behind me.

Today, I gathered up several gorgeous blooms from my hydrangea in an effort to honor the situation, and also cheer me up. The hydrangea is having a banner year, surprisingly. I did nothing to protect her from the horrible winter we had, and did no spring prep on her at all. And yet, she is prolific in bloom and variety of color.

It helps.

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7/23 '21 7 Comments
Oh, Jesus, I'm so sorry.
We reluctantly took down our birdbath and stopped filling our bird feeder, based on the advice of PA Fish & Wildlife. I've noticed that robins and cardinals are looking unhealthy when I see them. They look like their feathers are greasy & dirty.

Did you bury the bird? I read that you should only handle them with disposable gloves, put them in a sealed plastic bag, and dispose of them with your usual trash, because there's a concern that whatever these birdies have could jump species.
No, I used plastic to pick her up and send her to the hill, an area I can't easily walk to. She did look a mess, but I couldn't say if it was grease or from a struggle.
Karen Kuhl 8/9 '21
Usually I'm sad that we can't have bird feeders up in the summer (because BEARS), but this year not so much.
Anne Mollo 7/23 '21
Sorry to hear about the birdies. The hydrangea is lovely.
Thomas Boutell 7/23 '21
The blooms are still alive and going, and bringing such comfort indoors.
Karen Kuhl 8/8 '21
You're such a good soul.

Also, the flowers are lovely.
Anne Mollo 7/23 '21
Same to you, Anne.

They are a little piece of my heart.
Karen Kuhl 8/8 '21
 

Dunna Vetta

(or: My Life as an Insomniac)


It's lightening and thundering, though I can't hear it too well with the earplugs in. But the air is charged, and the cool breeze through the window is welcome. The soft boom and roll is comforting.

Rog is here in bed with me. (That feels oddly TMI and yet, why?) Anyway, we are test running the sleeping arrangements in prep for my family vacation in one week. He has the CPAP, the chin strap, the other sleep apnea device (Inspire), and I have the earplugs, the sleep mask, the sleep meds, and the cat locked out.

I think it's working.


I mean, actually working.



I am cheered by this thought. I don't know how the entire night is going to go yet, but I'll just take this little feeling and hold on to it.

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6/14 '21 9 Comments
This resonates for me. I have a feeling there's a CPAP in my future.
It's definitely an adjustment for all involved.
Karen Kuhl 6/15 '21
I read somewhere recently that there's new data that indicates certain types of night mouth guards may be as effective at keeping your airways open for some kinds of sleep apnea. Can't find it at the moment, but it's probably worth investigating or asking about if it looks like you need a little better O2 intake at night.
Anne Mollo 6/15 '21
Not to hijack someone else’s post but , I know it’s something concerning my throat.
The mouth guard is a relatively cost-effective first shot. If it works, your partner will know pretty fast. Rog was not a candidate for that.

His particular situation was that he has a large tongue and a small pallet. Hahaha, the jokes we made. Anyway, he relaxes and his tongue plugs up his throat like a ball-valve (doctor's phrase). Top that off with weight gain as he aged, and the freight train comes through our neighborhood every night.

There is a surgery for it, but the first line is usually CPAP. With the mask that covers the nose AND mouth.

I am not a doctor, so you'll want to see one, but I hope it's an easy fix.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21
I can't see this comment.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21
How’d it go?
It went swimmingly until he rutched around to scratch his arm and I immediately woke right up. Ten minutes later, when he moved his foot, I woke up again. We tried some more for a half hour until we gave up and he left for the other room.

Not thrilled. We share a king bed at the motel, so here's hoping that's an improvement over my wee double bed.

This experiment made me realize how much worse my sleep is. Even if I may be getting more hours lately, I'm barely asleep.

The good news is we definitely have improved the noise (freight train) situation, and in separate beds (like most hotel rooms), we should be pretty awesome, and that's a relief.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21
 

There's a lump in the carpet in the hallway, no bigger than a quarter, that I only find wtih my bare foot once in a strange while. It's an, "A-ha, I remember you," moment that plays in the back of my mind until I reach my destination. I wonder if there's a name for that kind of thing.

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9/1 '20 2 Comments
If anyone has a twenty-syllable compound word for it, it'd be the Germans.
Anne Mollo 9/1 '20
This is true. So says Lichtenwalner, which is only 4 syllables, but you get the idea.
 

During bad times, you think of better times.


music: Led Zeppelin - "Ten Years Gone"

mood: Chicken Lounge waitress/bartender, circa 1996

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8/29 '20 3 Comments
Nice! That gave me a little happy flashback.
Remember when I served Ben because he had a full beard at 17? Oops.
Karen Kuhl 8/31 '20
LOL! Indeed! When I first went in with him, I introduced him to PH as 'my big brother' (or maybe I fully lied and called him 'my older brother' ? Been too long to recall). He never had a problem getting served there after that! :P
Matt Lichtenwalner 8/31 '20edited