Our Patio Debacle

We decided that this was the year to hire someone to put in a new patio.We interviewed 4 contractors and chose one from Pittsfield (about 20 miles away).  We chose him because he was referred by a general contractor and he had a three ring binder with photographs of all the walls,fireplaces and patios he had one-really beautiful work.  He said he had thirty years of experience and we paid more than we had expected because we had seen his work and we wanted a nice job since we would not change it again in our lifetime. Well the short story is he did a rotten job-the material between the flagstones never hardened -causing the ashy residue to lay on top of the flagstones and when trying to swep it this material would sweep right out.  The slates would tip,the slope was wrong causing the water to run towards and settle at the base of the clapboards and the moisture wicked up the boards-I’ll not go on. We are now having all this dug out and a new masonry work will be done in several weeks. We felt we had been taken!! We had a contract with a license number, signatures of both the general contractor and “his masonry man” and a satisfaction guarantee.  OK sounds as if we practiced due diligence-I guess not.  Since the last day he told my husband he needed the money-we were assured the material between the flagstone would harden-he was paid the remainder of the contract price.  Now the “mason”will no longer answer our calls or letter.

We have a date in small claims court now. I don’t know how much good it will do other than give me some satisfaction. I keep thinking of my mother’s words”Sue a beggar ,catch a louse.” Beware of contractors in these economic times.I wish my hair was not gray because I keep hearing about contractors fleecing the elderly!!!UGGHHH We are so embarassed to be in this situation.

Patio slates

The next step-

Patio Repair


Autumn Lingers in My Home

It is very satisfying to be able to do the things I had never had the time to do when I was teaching.  This year I learned to crochet. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks(in fact I think even that has been found to be possible).I have had a vegetable garden and canned some of my produce-freezing some ,raised herbs,dried them to use until next year.

My home has the odors of autumn as I remembered my mother’s and grandmother’s did. The cut up peppers  for the sweet pepper relish,the cinnamony-spicy smell of chili sauce simmering on the stove,the apple crisp in the oven- rosemary,basil and thyme as they  dried. Such a homey feeling.

Our homes though are sometimes more difficult to work in even after using a food processor to help with the relish making.  My grandmother had a “summer kitchen” which allowed much of the canning with the boiling water for sterilizing cans and the hot water bath for the processing to escape.  My kitchen was so hot and steamy I had to use the AC-I bet grandma would have liked that. The old iron wood stoves had the warming ovens where bread dough was set to rise-I set mine in my oven with a pan of warm water .I have a glass topped electric range and big canners and kettles of water -not much room and I can use only certain pots and pans.  It was a different time but some of the most rewarding chores can be done in my modern kitchen.  I just love my canning cupboard at the foot of my cellar stair. I remember going into the root cellar for my grandmother to bring up vegetables or food from crocks.  I remember running because it was so dark down there. Creeping slowly down the stairs and racing back up out of the musty darkness. My grandchildren have a nicely lit cellar with carpet on the descending stairs. I wonder what scares

Autumn is a marvelous time.  I miss the odor of burning leaves wafting on the cool air and the baskets of apples fresh from the trees witing to be made into pies. Which my Dad enjoyed immensely with a slice of Vermont cheddar cheese-I can still hear him saying “Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.”

Teenagers and Old Folks

We have something is common with teens. Teens are usually so hard to deal with that when they move on into their twenties and out of their parent’s home it is a relief. I think that we seniors are sometimes viewed the same way. Seen as an obligation-“I should call Mom” “I should go over and help her with the …… The problem disappears when we move on.