THE HANDYMAN

Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal. Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal. Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

Though the day was bright and sunny, storm clouds hung in our front room. Lightning flashed from his eyes as JK sat on our faded flower couch with our handyman arguing the man’s bill was too high.

It is higher than I expected, but arguing about it is not good manners. Besides, I had spent a good year asking around for a handyman reference before I finally found Sandy.

The previous year, the same man had replaced a broken soffit and painted it. While blowing off the roof, he had also discovered a hole that let in the water that damaged the soffit. He patched it. His bill had been OK.

Hired work is getting more expensive.

Now the trim needed some caulking and repainting. The latter project had been a long time coming. Two years ago when I broached the job to JK he had said, “Never mind. I’ll do it.”

Once the heat passed last fall, I mentioned the maintenance again. He had said, “I’ll get Bob to help me.” (His son was coming for a visit in late February.)

At the end of March, no-thing had been done and I approached the subject again.

“How about I hire our handyman to do these jobs?”

When JK said nothing, I went on. “I already asked him if he could install the birthday toilet. He said, ‘Yes.’ All I have to do is call him back for a date to do the work. Is it ready?”

After a pause, my husband said, “OK, it’s almost done.”

Three days later JK pronounced the birthday toilet ready. I pulled out my cell and called Sandy. I did not mention the toilet’s break and repair. I’ll see how it goes!

Sandy arrived one morning the following week. After he shut off the water, he carried out two sections of JK’s old toilet. Next, he carried the two sections of the Birthday Throne into the small bathroom. He never said a word about the obvious repairs. In about an hour he appeared at the dining room table where JK and I were drin-ing coffee. “It’s done except for the grouting. I have to buy some.” Hooray! It’s all done. Maybe the repair will work out!

Sandy’s installation bill was less than I had paid my Indiana handyman when he put in a new toilet there. It’s fair. I asked the Florida man if he was available to tend our other maintenance needs.

He nodded, “I can start next week. I’ll do the toilet grout then.”

The next week Sandy began miscellaneous work we also needed as well as power washing the house, window casings and screens.

That day, I noticed a scrap of paper where JK was keeping track of the hours Sandy worked. JK doesn’t want to be cheated.

The following morning, Sandy put the screens back in –a tricky job –and prepared to paint. His brushwork began in earnest the third day and finished three days later.

JK used to run a painting business. The second day Sandy painted, my husband commented how slow Sandy was. It was a clue trouble lay ahead.

My mother and later, other women in my life, had in-structed me on how to “handle” men. When I was young, I made a few efforts, but they always felt wrong. If a man has to be handled, I am not the girl to do it. I didn’t know how to diffuse my husband’s brewing anger. So, I did nothing.

Between my lack of male-management, and JK’s upset over the hours Sandy brushed and rolled, tension built.

Once I showed JK Sandy’s bill, my husband put on his storm cloud face and confronted the other man about his price-per-hour for painting. (Next.)

Oh, no! I paced and JK’s lightning flashed. Once I ventured, “JK …” but he waved me off.

I heard JK holding forth as I strode to the office and wrote the check. The job is done, Now is not the time to argue.

When I returned to the front room, JK’s face had become red. Oh-oh! Sandy wasn’t saying much. I tried to break in again. “JK …”

He glowered at me, “Stay out of this, Frances.”

My stomach clenched. The situation brought back other events I lived through when men would not stop a harangue. I handed Sandy the check and left the house. Pacing, I waited in the garage.

Several minutes later the handyman thundered out. He called to me over his shoulder as he climbed into his vehicle, “Your husband insulted me!”

Looking innocent, JK ambled out of the house and went to Sandy in his truck. After a minute or two, Sandy left. JK passed me watching him from the garage and said, “You’ve been taken, Frances.”

I was livid. Not because I had been “taken,” I was angry because I had asked JK to stop his angry talk. Twice.

Due to my history of guys not stopping rude behavior when I told them to, my hackles were up. I don’t have to tolerate un-acceptable behavior. I reviewed my three choices: ignore, leave and confront.

Had JK been a visitor in my home, I would have told him to leave. But our house was half his, so I left. Had she been alive, I would have gone home to Mother. Instead, I grabbed my keys called to JK, “I’m going to the grocery.”

On the road, I changed my mind and called a girlfriend asking if I could come for a visit. She said, “Sure, come on over!”

My friend gave me a listening ear and nods of under-standing. She also made me a cup of coffee and offered me a cookie.

An hour later, I had shed the worst of my history-based upset and headed back home.

Entering the house, I didn’t say much. I still needed to gather more inner calm.

Did Sandy take advantage of our good faith? Probably. Was JK out of line to not stop his angry cross-examination? Maybe. Was I irrationally upset? Yes.

In this kind of situation there is no “right” and “wrong,” only a problem to let my Higher Power help me work through.

Thank God!

Frances Fritzie

Editor’s note: After reading my story, JK felt I had left out important details. He wrote up his version of the tale.

JK’S STORY

Sandy the handyman, had done previous odd jobs for Frances. She found his prices to be reasonable. She hired him to paint the outside of the house. Because his previous work seemed reasonable, she did not ask about the cost of painting.

When he finished painting, the bill he presented to Frances was more than she had expected. She wrote him a check for the full amount. When she gave JK the bill, he said he wanted to talk to Sandy.

When he asked Sandy what he thought was a fair price to do the painting, Sandy replied, “$88.00 an hour.” When JK divided the full charge by the twenty-three hours Sandy took to paint the trim, it came to $142.00 an hour.

When JK asked Sandy to adjust the bill to reflect the $88 pe hour, Sandy said he was insulted and left.

around the frame jun 2019 – our experiences

Dear Frances,

I never heard of the movie “Pay It Forward.” At ALDI, I have given my cart to others just to be helpful!

My activities are back to a routine. I go to the Senior Center every Thursday for a Bible study and lunch. After that we have Bingo. (I win money once in a while!)

I have made friends at the center. Two of the girls took me to see the movie, Mary Poppins Returns. Afterwards, we went out to eat. It was nice to be able to talk with other women!

Love and Prayers,

LindaSue

LindaSue (May ’19) adds, “I found out late last year my great-granddaughter has cancer. She is in a local children’s hospital. I pray a lot and try to make the best of matters. (I think I have done that all my life.)”

**

Dear Frances,

  I have been thinking about the comments regarding your “E-R-R” Adventure, May 2019.

I reflected on one of my own car repair experiences.

  A few years back, I loaded the car and prepared for the ten-hour drive from central Florida to my cabin in the mountains of north Georgia. In the pre-dawn hours, Red, my Australian shepherd who was named for his color, and I headed north. Several hours later I noticed my engine was running rough but I kept driving until I knew the shops would be open.

I got to the nearest dealership and planned to leave Red in the car as I thought dogs might not be allowed in the waiting room. About an hour later I went into the back to check on him. He was running around the shop enjoying himself. He had made friends with all the mechanics and helpers. He didn’t cause any trouble.

June

June Poucher (Apr.’19) says: “I have a real dread of being stuck somewhere with a broken-down car. If I have any doubt, I’d rather spend the money to get it checked.”

**

Birthday toilet repaired and installed

Birthday toilet repaired and installed

Dear Readers,

Several of you have asked if JK was able to fix the broken toilet. He was as you read in my story.

He took his time –nearly a month –and employed some very odd-to-me ways, but it is now installed in his bathroom.

The working part of the throne was not damaged, only the very front near the floor.

JK is happy with his birthday present and still thanks me for it from time to time.

Frances Fritzie

Frances Fritzie(Editor) says, “Even though the commode is working and looks OK, the whole ‘birthday toilet’ adventure is one I hope to never repeat.”

**

Dear Frances,

My husband Harry passed Friday in such a whirl of activity and distress all around.

Gail

Gail (April ’19) adds, “Oh Frances, I can’t open my email. One more thing I must call about.”

**

FrancaCaliforniapoppy,

 You asked about the betrayal situation which has had me so upset. The person who betrayed me is someone I have known just about the whole time I’ve been in California. She’s also someone from my religious community.

She managed to insert her-self into the sale of my house in Key West, Florida and then took a commission she told me she wasn’t going to take. That meant that my realtor in Florida got screwed. This California person also failed to inform me about the necessity of using a 1031 (capital gains tax deferral) exchange.

I have other friends in my religious community who I have been able to talk to about this. In addition, I have had a counseling appointment with one of the monks. Practicing yoga has also helped me deal with this situation.

It’s all been helpful. I am starting to feel better.

Lots of love,

Liz

Liz/Moascar (May ’19) adds, “As far as my tax problem, I filed for an extension while I’m trying to figure out all the paperwork. I will be glad to put this behind me!”

**

Hi Fritzie,

On Memorial Day I went to the Sarasota National Cemetery to visit my deceased husband. I felt more emotional than usual.

Although I absolutely do not believe we can communicate with the dead, I believe the very private things I say to him are cathartic. I plan to go to the cemetery more frequently.

       I texted a picture of the grave marker stone to my two sons saying, “Wish you could be with me.”

They each texted back and then one got silly. He said, “Isn’t that a Celtic cross on the marker behind Dad’s? Next time you’re out there, check to see the name on the marker – it’s probably Patty or Seamus.

So, so silly.

Elaine

My husband’s marker
My husband’s marker

       Elaine (Apr.’19) adds, “I don’t think grief ever really goes away. After nine years, it has faded in and out for me.

**

Fritzie,

  I am still having some problem, but I am at least gaining back some of my weight.   I am able to do more.  I started doing the washing with Bob’s help two weeks ago. 

 My doctor also prescribed meds for him since he has been unwell. Bob announced this morning he had gained two pounds back. 

It is rough, Fritzie, when things start happening that we have no control over.  I am so glad God is part of my daily life. I talk to him all the time.  I thank God every day for the mother he blessed me with.  She prayed constantly.  I know when she prayed for me.  I saw her and her relationship with God.  She passed it on to me and my sons.  She even passed it to my son Bryan who prefers to live in a homeless way. 

Take care my friend,

Patricia

Patricia (Apr.’19) adds, “The update you sent reminded me of some of our talks when we walked around our mobile home park in Sebring, Florida.  I really miss those times, Fritzie.  I really miss the sweet stuff we ate and coffee we sipped afterwards too.  Good and peaceful times.”  

**

Dear Fritzie,

Recently, my friend Donna was visiting from Madison, Georgia. We spent a day together on a Mystery Trip with twenty-four other people.

It was a bus trip to visit Amish businesses in and near Nappanee, Indiana. The Amish are a religious group who drive horse and buggies instead of cars and also do not use electricity or telephones in their homes.

We went to eight businesses. Several were: Diamond Harness and Sales, Clay Ridge Buggy Sales, Little Mint City Clocks and Millwork, Little Nook Christian Book Store, three country and variety stores and Miller’s Custom Boat Covers.

Finally, we ate at Rentown Restaurant where we were served two meats:Salisbury steak and chicken as well as chicken and noodles, hash brown casserole, tossed salad and choice of vegetables. Dessert was either of two pies: raspberry or coconut cream. Very tasty!

Being with my friend on this trip was a blessing!

Kay

Kay (Feb.’19) adds, “The trip was wonderful! I envisioned going to the Shipshewana, Indiana area which is somewhat like Lancaster, Pennsylvania was pleasantly surprised and the Nappanee area was less touristy. We passed several Amish schools. Bicycles were parked outside, their only mode of transportation to school. The guide said teachers often live nearby in a provided house.”

**

Dear Frances,

You asked if the other women in the house and I take turns cooking. (Nine of us live together.) We do. And some turns are adventures!

Last evening, I went out and lit the propane grill which happens to be rather cranky. I’ve come to call her “Old Smokey.”

After getting the chicken ready to place on the grill, and lighting Old Smokey, I carried my chicken outside and was very much enjoying grilling. It was one thing I did for sixteen of us brothers and sisters (through adoption) and two parents when I was growing up.

As I was sitting there watching the grill and reading my book, another young lady of our house came up. She watched me and asked questions. She was sooo interested I got in to trying to explain how too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good thing.

Meanwhile Old Smokey started bellowing smoke! I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness! Why did I turn my back on Old Smokey?” (I probably said it out loud, too!)

Sure ‘nuff! The chicken was black on the outside and raw on the inside.

The other young lady was still trying to “teach” me how to grill chicken. I was becoming cranky with the whole situation. (I think she finally figured out I wasn’t having any real trouble and she walked away.)

I thought to myself, “Now I can get on with things here.” I scraped the top layer of chicken and continued peacefully enjoying grilling.

The sunset was beautiful as I finished our chicken and carried it inside. We all enjoyed BBQ chicken, homemade mashed taters and steamed broccoli. (I heard no complaints. The food was gone soon with everyone calling out “Thank You!” as they left the table.)

We had used paper plates. I was taught clean-as-you-go and relax after dinner. I’ve stuck by that for many years and I’m sure the young lady who had kitchen duty last evening was grateful.
Blessings,

Meschelle

Meschelle Amber (May ‘19) adds, “I was tired after all my activities of the day, and even though there’s wasn’t much clean-up, I was thankful I didn’t have kitchen duty!”

THE ACCIDENT

Previously: After an accident, their RV’s towed vehicle was hit in a small Arizona town. Stranded in the large RV, Linda and her husband awaited repair. Linda experienced much sadness, disappointment, and consternation.

After three and a half weeks of waiting, our Jeep returned from the small town’s body shop.  The waiting was a struggle.  Miscommunication created anxiety. The insurance company sent the repair check to our home address in Michigan instead of issuing it directly to the body shop in Arizona. 

  In the meantime, Bill and I made a proverbial lemonade experience with our motor-home.  We were limited by where we could park because of the motorhome’s 35-foot length. However, we managed to find plenty of joy in southern Arizona.

Spanish Mission
Spanish Mission

Both of us saw and walked among saguaro cacti for the first time, visited a Cold War missile museum, toured a marvelous old Spanish mission dating from 1797 and walked the famous old western town of Tombstone.

We found a very welcoming community of RVers at a resort community in Benson, Arizona, and hiked through a nearby “living cave” called Kartschner Caverns.

With the return of our Jeep “toad” (RVer slang for the tow vehicle that travels behind a motorhome), we spent time finding the places that we wanted to visit in Arizona before the accident.  My sadness and disap-pointment gradually drained away. 

Linda Rosenthal (May ’19) adds, “We picked up where we left off in our adventures in the Southwest.” 

PERSONAL SPACE

I’ve heard people with autism characterized as “cold, and unloving.” I am on the autism spectrum and I DO love others.

At the same time, I need my space –quiet time alone. Being around people all day wears me down.

When I say this, others tell me this is not unusual, they feel that way, too. I accept that. However, my need for quiet is how I deal with what’s called Executive Function Syndrome.

I work so hard (like an “executive”) to do what is expected of me and to fit in. I am not just tired at the end of a work day, I am totally exhausted.

Bookworm (May ’19) adds, “Being ‘around people all day’ is not just being at work. It also applies to being at church, an art or music festival or even big Christian event.”

BRINGING TASHA HOME

A year and a half ago I adopted a Siamese cat. I have no idea about her first year of life –what she experienced, whether she was kicked out or ran away from her first home.

When I met her at the rescue place, I picked her up and hugged her. Mistake. She growled. Adopting her was a back-and-to decision. I couldn’t make up my mind at first, but I went through with it.

The day I brought her home, I carried Tasha and walked around the house –something I have done with my older cats. I held her snugly in my arms. She turned her head until she could see me. She growled at me, at every room, at the other two cats and at life in general. I figured her life must be in turmoil and she had seen too many changes.

When I let her loose, she jumped down with a mix of a high soprano scream and a hoarse hiss. She disappeared somewhere and I didn’t see hide nor hair of her for two weeks.

One evening I decided to cook up chicken. I had cut up the breast and stirred pieces into hot oil. I turned around to get some-thing and lo and behold, the Siamese sat on the floor a couple of feet away watching me. She licked her lips and said, “Me-ow?” She sat prim and lady-like, not the hissing harridan of two weeks before.

I asked, “Do you want a piece of chicken?”

A smiled curved her lips. Tasha replied, “Me-ow!”

I gave her several pieces.

For the next several days when I cooked, she ate, then disappeared again.

Malaina (May ’19) says, “My older Siamese had passed away a year earlier. Like losing family members, I have always mourned the death of each cat in my life. Adopting Tasha was part of that process.”

perfection

Perfection is elusive.

James (May ’19) adds, “Doing your best is a good substitute.”

STRONG WOMEN

In the May 2019 issue, I mentioned I liked the author Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her main characters are usually strong women.

Editor Frances asked for specific titles I liked. I keep a notebook of titles I have read and looked through it with the following results:

        I loved these: Allie and Bea; Take Me with You; Worthy; Say Goodbye for Now; Where We Belong.

            These were good: When I Found You; Pay It Forward.

         I liked these which are listed in order of preference:  When You Were Older; Ask Him Why; Love in The Present Tense; Leaving Blythe River.

        I didn’t care for these: Heaven Adjacent; Becoming Chloe; Second Hand Heart; Language of Hoofbeats.

June Poucher (May 2019) says, “Catherine Ryan Hyde is a prolific author, but not all of her books struck me the same way.”

A NEIGHBOR’S LOAN

This past winter a neighbor loaned me Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. It’s a short book and good story. It is based on an Indian legend passed along for many generations in Alaska.

It is a suspenseful, shocking and ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a winter famine. After reading the book, I bought a copy and have loaned it to other women.   

Elaine adds, (April’19) adds, “I’ve also sent the book as a gift to a few people.”

GREAT ALONE

I finished Great Alone a while ago.  Just loved that book.  It deals with severe alcoholism in the family and the difficulties of living in Alaska. It also touches on the bonding of the people who live there.

 The story had a surprising ending that one could not guess.   The author’s emotionally charged words made me feel what the main character was going through.  The romance side of the book was well written as well.

Kristin Hannah is a great author. 

Dottie (May ’19) adds, “I’ve ordered Leisure Seeker a book by Michael Zadoorian that my sister recommended.”   

JUST BE

A labor of love doesn’t have

to be hard …

It just has to BE!

Simon Stargazer III (May ’19) adds, “I have recently been reminded of both the emotional and physical benefits of hugs. As humans we need them several times a day. To be most effective they should be at least twenty seconds long. They work!