… on sidetracked time and a frazzled day

silver (well… red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) linings

Buckle up.

Yesterday started out pretty normal except when the alarm in my head went off several hours before the alarm on my phone went off and the alarm in my head said, “Oh dear lord don’t forget to put the garbage out!”

I was thinking that 7:30 a.m. was a good time to take it out, so told my alarm clock that.

My brain, however, decided 4 a.m. was more appropriate so we eventually compromised on 4:45 because my brain wouldn’t shut up.

So, after putting out said trash, I went back to bed.

Marshal Dillon Dingle and Princess Blaze were not excited about this idea.

By 7 I knew they were never going to let up, so the day started.

I explained the upcoming schedule to them:

Ball throwing, a few things to accomplish in the morning, ball throwing, two-hour conference call at 2, ball throwing, a little writing in between, ball throwing, and I’d be happily buzzing around cooking with jazz in the background by 4.


By 9 or so I was knee-deep in work on my computer, which sits next to a window at the front of the house. I had to do a couple of hours worth of stuff to get ready for my conference call at 2. Concentration was key.

The lawn guys showed up about twenty minutes later.

Huh. They usually come on Fridays.

I closed my window and got back to it.

And then I heard Granny go outside but didn’t think anything about it.

The lawn guys were all noisy with their lawn mowers and then the phone rang and I got up and was trying to find a place where I could talk but it was so noisy that I started laughing out loud with the person I was talking to. I walked into the kitchen and noticed the door to the screen porch was open, letting all the noise in. Then things got surreal.

Because there was Granny sitting – on a chair in the middle of the lawn – while the lawn mowers buzzed around her.

And then the cable guy pulls into the driveway.

So I’m trying to talk on the phone and motion to the cable guy and the dogs are freaking out (because, cable guy) and Granny is just sitting in the chair – as happy as a clam – with super loud, heavy machinery operating around her and all I am thinking is that, if we added a hamster scrambling across the lawn in one of those little plastic ball things, I would pretend the phone in my hand was a bullhorn so I could yell “aaaaaaaaaand… SCENE!”

That was the first time I questioned my sanity yesterday.

I sat back down to work and about ten minutes later the dogs went berserk and I spun out of my chair to see what was what and there was Miss Judy from next door – who is 86 and not super steady – and she is opening the screen door with about a hundred and fifty pounds of German ShepHerd bearing down on her!

So I rush to corral the dogs whilst shouting, “Judy! Judy! Don’t come in! The dogs!” and she doesn’t hear me because there are lawn mowers behind her.

It is then that I realize Miss Judy is holding a really big and red plant. I am talking the size of her torso.

And this is really scary to me because, as I may have mentioned before, I am a killer of plants that sit in pots.

But Miss Judy explains she is leaving for the season on Saturday and she can’t bear to leave this plant to die on her porch so I thank her profusely and do not tell her that now it will die on mine.

Then she says that her phone doesn’t work and did ‘my man’ – yes, she said ‘my man’ – know anything about that. And I’m wondering who ‘my man’ is when the cable guy comes out of the house and Miss Judy points at him and shouts, “HIM!”

And I don’t know what she is talking about.

She starts yelling toward him, but he can’t hear her (lawnmowers) and he comes over and he is about 8 feet tall and she is talking up to him and asking him if he knows anything about her phone service being out because she saw him on ‘that pole’.

And he says, “No m’am” and explains that he was on the pole working with the cable company’s lines and not the phone lines and little Miss Judy eyes him and says, “Well THAT is quiet a COINCIDENCE!”

And I am stunned.

The man doesn’t know what to do so I smile and thank him and Miss Judy seems worried so I tell her that I will get my cell phone and we can call the phone company right then and there.

So we do, and I have the call on speaker and we work our way through the voice menu until we get to an actual person. Miss Judy wants to know what is happening with her phone because it was working fine this morning and she got calls and placed calls and now it isn’t working and ‘their man’ is here and he was on the pole and he says he didn’t touch her line but that is too coincidental for her to be comfortable.”

And the woman on the phone asks who she is speaking to.

Because Miss Judy didn’t hear the “who am I speaking to” question.

We finally arrive at the fact that there is trouble on her line and we are put in touch with the service department and they will be out tomorrow.

So we hang up and she says she has to get back home to pack and be ready to leave on Saturday.

Then she gives the cable guy the evil eye.

She totally did!

So now I am laughing and the cable guy is too (but he also looks worried because what if he has been hexed or something by my 86 year old neighbor) and I head back inside to get my work done.

Which is when I see the e-mail that I missed my conference call.

So I write to the person I was calling with and profusely apologize and we say we will reschedule for next week and I thank him big time.

But I can’t wallow for long because I have another hour’s worth of work to do and then I have to get to Hannaford’s to buy ingredients for dinner so Granny does not starve.

I get about half of a something done and Granny is reading on the screen porch so I grab my bag and I tell her I’m going to head to Hannaford’s and she says okay and I head out the door.


As I head down the driveway it occurs to me that Miss Judy doesn’t have a phone and what if the phone company hasn’t come yet and maybe she is worried and I should check on her. So I turn my car off and head over.

And she is there and she says to come in and I ask her if the phone company has come and she says, “of course not” and then she tells me all the calls she needs to make and the things she needs to do before she can go back to New Jersey with her niece Kierstin and have I ever met Kierstin an I say I don’t think so but maybe.

So I offer, “Why don’t we call the phone company to see when you are scheduled?”

And then she tells me her postmaster in New Jersey has had a heart attack.

I say “Oh no!” and she says “Oh yes!” and then says that is why her mail is “all screwed up”.  She says she hasn’t gotten her mail in three weeks but she does have this bill from August where she got a shut off notice for her phone because she was late paying her bill because it got delayed in her forwarded mail to the island. But she has a sticky on it that says it was paid over the phone and there is a confirmation number and she says, “They cut off my phone on purpose.”

And I say, “No, you paid it over the phone.” and she says that the woman in service must have not really logged that she paid it, even though she gave Judy a confirmation number and “that woman is clearly incompetent”. So I say we should not blame that woman yet, because we called the phone company earlier and they didn’t say there was a billing problem and she said “Well they messed up too.” And I say no I don’t think so and she says she does and I say that maybe we should call the phone company and she says okay and I dial.

We finally get a person on the phone and Miss Judy says there was a billing problem last month and she has a disconnect notice but she paid it over the phone and has a confirmation number right there and did they shut off her phone?

And the woman on the phone asks who she is speaking to.

So we tell her she is speaking to Miss Judy the woman assures us there is no billing issue and Miss Judy tells the woman to…. DIG DEEPER”.

I don’t even know what that means.

So we finally believe (well, I do) that there is no billing issue and we reconfirmed that someone will be there tomorrow and Miss Judy makes a face at me and I smile and thank the phone lady.

It is clear she is frustrated and I am hungry and realize right then that I have not had even a crumb to eat all day and now it is 4:45 and my plan is to start cooking for Granny at 5 because of the potential starving thing.

But Miss Judy needs to make some calls and she is leaving Saturday and I pause and I think, ‘fluck it’.

So I sit down and ask Miss Judy what calls she needs to make and she says she need to call her plumber and her car service and her house cleaner.

And I think, ‘Totally cool. A quick 10-15 minutes and I will be on my way to Hannaford’s.’

So Miss Judy gets a piece of paper and a magnifying glass and reads me the number for the plumber and we put the phone on speaker. ‘Bill’ answers and she says it is Judy and she has not used her heat all summer and does he still need to come out and add antifreeze to her system or not and Bill says he has a meter or something to do a reading and he will do that and they agree that he will come out any time after Saturday so on to call two.

Gary at her car service knows Judy and asks how her summer went and Miss Judy says fine but now she doesn’t have telephone service and isn’t it so fitting that the timing is so horrible for that and of course they can’t tell her exactly what time they will becoming out to fix her phone service. Then she says she needs a car for her and her granddaughter Kierstin and does Gary remember Kierstin and Gary says he does and how is she and she is fine actually and thank you very much and then Gary asks what time Miss Judy needs to be picked up from the airport and Miss Judy says hang on and goes to get another piece of paper in the kitchen and comes back and gives the time and Gary asks for a flight number and Miss Judy goes back into the kitchen and gets another piece of paper and reads Gary the flight number and this back and forth happens for the time Kierstin needs to be picked up to come back to Maine and then again for her flight number home. Then call number two is done and onto call three.

We call Miss Judy’s house cleaner because she is driving Miss Judy to the airport. Cindy is not home but Miss Judy tells her answering machine that the house phone is broken and she is sitting with her lovely next door neighbor Lisa Dingle and isn’t that nice that she is letting her use this cell phone. She says her flight is at 12:30 so Cindy might want to come by 10 on Saturday and Miss Judy hopes that is okay. Also, she says, she has to get all those things out of the garage so if Cindy can come over right away and get that done Miss Judy would appreciate it and did Cindy hear her? She said right away. And then call number three is done. But we then add a call 3A to Cindy’s cell phone.

But there is a problem.

As Miss Judy is reading Cindy’s cell phone number she realizes the last two numbers have been written over and are completely illegible.

So we have to guess

More than once.

Finally we get Cindy, and Miss Judy repeats – nearly verbatim – all the things she left on Cindy’s answering machine (which I find impressive).

We are done and it is now 5:30. 

I ask Miss Judy if she has any other calls she needs to make tonight and she says yes that she needs to call her cousin Margie and she goes to get the number.

We call Margie and Capt, her husband, answers and Miss Judy asks him how he is and he says, “not good” and explains they are dealing with a ‘boat emergency’. Miss Judy is not deterred and asks to speak to Margie. Cousin Margie picks up another line and Miss Judy asks her how she is and Cousin Margie says well fine and they were very lucky because Irma skirted west and all but missed their home in Florida and can you believe that and Miss Judy says no she can’t but that is wonderful and Cousin Margie says they were not actually in Florida but were up in Maine. But either way, she says, they are very grateful and they were so sorry that the schedules didn’t work out and she could not see Miss Judy before she left. Miss Judy agrees that it is too bad but oh well they will have to talk on the phone as they always do. Cousin Margie says she tried to call Miss Judy two times that morning and Miss Judy explains her phone service is out and her wonderful neighbor, Lisa Dingle, is letting Miss Judy use her cell phone and Cousin Margie says she loved meeting young Lisa (because we met at Miss Judy’s birthday party) and I start to laugh and say “I’m right here Margie, you are on speaker!” and Cousin Margie laughs and says, “Well hello! We just love all the work you have done on that old house and would love to come in some time!” and I tell her she is very welcome to do just that and then she calls Miss Judy “Beloved Cousin” and they say their goodbyes.

By 6:00 I am driving my car to Hannaford’s when it steers itself into China by the Sea.

I go inside and order my usual and ask the nice boy taking my order what shrimp dish he would recommend for Granny who could really, at this point, be starving at home.

When it is ready, I grab the big bag and rush out and drive all the way home and walk inside and realize I still have to let the dogs out and feed the dogs and then maybe I can eat so I whisk into the kitchen and Granny is sitting her chair at the kitchen table that she comes and sits in each night to watch me cook.

I have no idea how long she has been there so I am guessing since I was supposed to be cooking.

I plop the bag on the counter and say, “I cannot serve, help, or otherwise provide service to anyone else today so go ahead and dig in. I have to take the dogs outside.” And Granny laughs from the start to finish of my statement so I have no idea if she heard me or not.

I take the dogs out and feed them, which means I stay in the room because Marshal will not eat if alone with Blaze… until Blaze finishes her food and then he will eat his in a passive aggressive point-making way (I have food and you do not).

I finally get into the kitchen and Granny is still in her chair. She has not gotten out a dish or napkin or fork or knife and the big bag of Chinese food with her specially ordered shrimp dish is still sitting right where I put it and I look at it and I look at her and she smiles at me and says…

“I’m not hungry.”

And inside my brain I laugh out loud and think, “Oh my God.”

But you know what?

It was a great day.

Over the course of multiple phone calls at Miss Judy’s house…

I was called lovely.

And wonderful.

And young.

I know.


Thanks for readin’.

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