Monday, August 8, 2016

Doing Nothing then Something

This was a weekend where I needed to recharge my batteries.  Work hasn't been going that well, I have to spend one day each weekend cleaning out my family residence, and then fit the rest of my life into a single day of the week.  Luckily, the weather was a bit dreary, and neither GFJ nor I had much drive to go out on our one day together this week.

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When I finished with work on Friday, I didn't have to worry about the usual commute home because I had a doctor's appointment earlier in the day and worked from home.  But I knew GFJ was coming over, so I picked up some stuff for breakfast while waiting for her to arrive. When I got back, I noticed that there was a police car in front of the next doorway. Was there a problem with one pair of neighbors - again?  (As a co-op board member, I can't talk about the nature of the problem. But as a co-op resident, I can say that I get concerned when I've seen police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other vehicles in front of their place over the years.  And I think that this is the limit about what I can say at this time, save that I have an interest in what's going on.)

GFJ got here shortly afterward, and instead of eating at home like we usually do, we decided to try Holy Smoke's new place in Croton. Although the food is as good as their place in Mahopac, the ambience is harsh.  Specifically, the noise level in the building is terrible.  There were only 4 tables seated on a Friday night, and we could barely hear each other talk.  There is no way that I'll go there as Marian, as I can't speak loud enough to be heard over the noise.  To be fair, this building has had this problem with each restaurant that has occupied the space - and the noise doesn't show up until the place is tolerably busy.  I wish that the owner of the restaurant chose a more quiet location - I'd hate to see both places fail due to an unfortunate decision by its owner.

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Saturday was Jammie Day!  Neither of us had the energy to do much of anything, so we lounged around and watched movies at home.  As much as I'd have liked to do something, this rest may be exactly what I needed.  Not only did I sleep without a 6 am alarm going off, but I was able to be comfortable all day.

The high point of the day was the seasoning of two cast iron skillets.  Although I took a couple of shortcuts along the way, I figure that this would be the best thing I could do for some of the things I may be cooking in the future.  Heat is spread around more evenly than in many of the cheap aluminum skillets I've used, and there is no problem with putting an iron skillet in the oven.

But the iron skillet was only used to cook breakfast today.  Today's evening meal was leftover barbecue with wine. Even on a second day, there was too much food for me to eat. So we settled back and watched movies for the rest of the evening.  Nothing that good was on the TV.  However, it was nice to have GFJ around - as next week will be her niece's wedding, and she won't be here....

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Sunday was a day that I'm growing to dislike.  Not only did GFJ had to leave, but I had to trek down to Long Island to continue cleaning out my dad's house.  I got down to Long Island later than I wanted.  As much as I'd want to be at the family homestead by 1 pm, this wasn't going to be possible today because I left the house late.  When I got there, my brother wasn't around - he was preoccupied with responding to a fire department call.  Just as I decided to leave and visit my dad (and come back to the homestead later), my brother called to tell me that he was on his way.

When we finally got together, he did most of the heavy lifting - and we accumulated the usual amount of trash to put out to the curb.  There is only so much that we can expect the garbage men to cart away at any one time, and I think we've figured out the magic amount we can get away with putting out to the curb at one time.

New York State and the Federal government has a maximum amount you can use of a person's assets to prepay funeral expenses.  It's roughly $14,500, if I recall correctly.  My brother got his first quote, and the funeral home gave us a quote of $17,000.  There are a few ways to cut down on the expense, but my brother is going to shop around a little for a decent price.  I recalled that there are a small number of chains that own a large number of funeral homes, and my late wife's proceedings were handled by an operation which was recently purchased by one of these chains. So I did some research for my brother, and we know that the 3 local funeral homes are likely to be in competition with each other.  This is exactly the situation I'd want when buying funeral services in advance - a competitive market.

Sometimes, one can get good advice from a person trying to sell you something.  This was true in the case of my brother's first visit to a funeral home. The one man my brother met said that you only notice a casket for 10 minutes or so, and then you never remember a damned thing about it unless something made it stand out from the norm.  My brother remembered what my friend Barbara told me just after I lost my wife.  She made me repeat the phrase "Plain Pine Box" until it was coming out of my ears.  But I was very thankful that she did this, as my wife was not in a position to be viewed, and I liked the central part of Jewish custom (my wife and I were not Jewish, but respected why the plain pine box is there - no one should be kept from being buried because of the expenses for the burial.)  So when I got to the funeral home, I ordered the pine box - and my brother will always remember that coffin.  And then, on the way home, I told the story to GFJ, and she related how her "then" husband ordered a hideous blue coffin for his mom's burial - and how she disavowed any participation in the decision making at the funeral.

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Thankfully, my dad is still alive, and we can still learn a lot from him.  He is more comfortable with us cleaning out his house than my brother is in mentioning things to my dad.  At this stage, my dad is a realist - and he couldn't care if we throw out all the furniture or not.  I don't talk to him about what we're doing about the eventual funeral, but I'm sure he'd tell us to do what we feel is best - and get on with it.  Hopefully, when his time comes, he'd approve (if he were to have been still around) of what we did.  But that's one thing I doubt we'll ever know....

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