Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned mad at her roofer

Thanks Shakespeare, for telling it like it is, or was, even back in your time. Now if you don’t mind, I want to use the olde factoide my way.

This is how my story goes: I’ve known for the past year (which would be the second out of three years that were predicted to stay leak-less) that my triple wide manufactured home needs 3000 sq ft of new roof. In a free moment, I choose three roofers to climb a ladder, and give me their best bid. First one is way high; second just under high; third way too low and cash only. Not funny is that the first two come down saying I not only need a new roof, I needed it fifteen minutes ago J. This sounds serious.

I blur the vision of myself as a man-less little old lady playing on the roofing bid market,  spike my spine, pull up my jeans (and those genes too), and go at it. However, I can’t blot the thought that I should have a man handy to do the guy eye-to-eye thing at the choosing. Maybe I can stand up at Band of Brothers meeting and ask to “Rent a husband”…there are some 70-80 guys at those meetings, so surely there’d be one response at least (preferably a retired contractor). Or how about make arrangements to choose the bidder at the Senior Center at a lunch table of men only? Or contact the guy who runs the TV show “What Would You Do?”

Nuts. In a defining moment, I sign an Agreement that says half up front and half when finished, and he’ll start six days from now, finish the roofing in “two to three or more” days depending on weather, beginning next Tuesday. I’m ready for this to be done in ‘two to three or more’ days after Tuesday, right?, so that means by the weekend, right? Wrong. Didn’t start till Wednesday, roofing crew worked only 1 or 1½ hrs each day and was down on weekend.

My blood is getting pretty warm. I call the roofer who says, “Well, this is a really big roof,” as I interrupt with, “That’s not news to either of us…your crew is worthless; do

you know that they leave every day after less than two hours here? And your reputation

is being killed in this neighborhood for folks watching and planning ahead.” “I’ll make sure the guys finish today,”  hangs in the air as my voice raises to a pitch somewhere near a fishwife’s, “It’s too late for your reputation far as I’m concerned. Now what about the dormer you say you can’t do as a roofer? Who’s going to do that and how much longer will that be that wasn’t addressed at the start?” “I’ll call a subcontractor. He’ll be here next week.”

This is the Monday of ‘the next week’. It has now been a total of 13 days including two down weekends, and steam is coming out of my ears every time I think about this overhead job. All this time the roof has been crowned with assorted materials, untouched and basking in the good weather. In a moment of rising blood pressure, I tell myself I’ve HAD IT. I get on the phone to the roofer with a blast of heat from my burning hair: “You are now on borrowed time. I have had no contact with the sub, so the dormer is totally waiting to leak in my living room ceiling in the first rain that comes along. This is my final call to you. You need to get here NOW to finish your unsightly, untrimmed roofing job, or deal with my cavalry, and I’m sure you won’t enjoy that.

Roofer:  Well, I’m at the far edge of town, leaving for the Coast

Me:  In a few ivories below high E, I announce, NOW. NO CHOICE!

(Roofer turns up)

Me: (pointing to dormer) Look at this garbage “finish” job. It’s shaming my         home. Your sub needs to come here himself and make this right.

Roofer: Calls sub: ”He will be here this afternoon between 3-4. I’ll pay for the repairs and materials”.

Subcontractor arrives at 4:30, surveys both ends of the dormer and says he will come at 7-7:30 a.m. tomorrow to do all repairs.

Tomorrow, 8:30  a.m.  Not seeing any sub or crew yet, I cruise around in front of the dormer to note that the north end has been repaired (in the dark of night?), south with yawning hole, not.

And that’s the way it is, on Day 17. The cavalry is on notice.

Take it from a guy -less little old lady who was taken by the roofer who just now (way too late) has been reported to her as being “The biggest crook in the county”: if you need a new roof, go to the Library, study the part of the contractor’s manual which deals with ‘standard roofing and dormer finishing’, and furnishes a supply list. Then DO IT YOURSELF!

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Celebrating the Anniversay of US Navy WAVEs

Peggy received the Outstanding Oregon Veteran’s Award at the 2014 bi-annual Oregon Women Veterans Conference! “Was I stunned or what — but PROUD to be among those women veterans ranging from age 29 to 93 for two days.”

The WAVES branch of the Navy was two years old when I enlisted in 1944. We all suffered through the same boot camp physical training as the men, and went on to advanced training in a specialty we had been tested for, including all the land-based jobs men held. The point was that each one of us could release a sailor for sea or combat duty. It has been said that the 350,000 of us women in all four branches, released enough men in that
turning point year of 1945 that we changed the course of a faltering War.

As for me, my two years in the Navy ‘grew me up’; taught me life lessons about responsibility, personal conduct, respect for authority and most of all, honor for my country and its flag. The military also gave me confidence in my emancipation — that freedom to move, as a single woman, into the social world full of choices; confidence
in making those choices/consequences.

I loved my two years in the US Navy WAVES for having made some small sacrifice to help our country at a most crucial time. I don’t claim any glory whatsoever, as it is the men — as always — who give their most, and some-times, their all. I just gave two years.

Margaret Parent Lutz
US Navy WAVES 1944-46
PO 3/C CTO (control tower operator)

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Today, on the 77th anniversary of the founding of the WAVES

Story excerpt courtesy of The North Platte Telegraph (Full story here: http://bit.ly/2YpDPtx)

Peggy (Parent) Lutz, 97

Born and raised in Oregon, Margaret “Peggy” Parent was a college junior in December 1941. Many male classmates at Linfield College in McMinnville enlisted ahead of Pearl Harbor and were among U.S. forces overwhelmed when Japan attacked simultaneously from Hawaii to southeast Asia.

“It was my senior year when I got really serious because of that flag” in Linfield’s chapel, she recalled. “The fact that there were white stars turning to gold on those flags, and those names (of dead alumni) being read in assemblies — they might have been people who sat next to me the year before.”

She graduated in 1943 and taught high school for a year. But one brother was too old for the draft. The other was rejected for medical reasons.

Besides, “I felt like being a high school teacher wasn’t really giving something to the war effort,” Peggy said.

Then 22, she signed up in April 1944 for the U.S. Naval Reserve’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — the WAVES. She was one of some 350,000 U.S. women in uniform during the war.

“When I made the announcement, my parents passed out from shock,” she said. “The reputation (of military women) was dishonorable.”

After basic training in New York City, Peggy was trained in Atlanta as an air traffic controller. She was assigned to a Navy airfield in Klamath Falls, Oregon, with orders to report on Christmas Day after a short leave with her family in Elko, Nevada.

She visited the Canteen between Dec. 10 and 12, arriving in a Union Pacific car with 40 apprentice Navy seamen. It was daytime but cold, she said.

“I was just thinking, ‘Do I even want to get off?’ And then I thought, ‘Yes, I will. This sounds interesting.’ And I’m hungry.”

The Canteen room had “three or four long tables put together,” Peggy said. “As I watched, everybody was just absolutely moving along, grabbing, and we were being encouraged by the ladies behind the tables to fill our pockets and ‘help yourselves and eat all you can.’ …

“I can remember looking at the food and thinking, ‘What can I manage from a female’s standpoint without getting all sticky and smeared up and dirty?’ … We didn’t have napkins, we didn’t have Kleenex.”

But Peggy did have an overcoat. At the servers’ urging, she filled its pockets with all she could reasonably hold.

“I never had any physical contact, never any hugs” from the Canteen servers, she said. “But I had such kind admonitions … ‘God bless you and travel safely.’”

After two months in Klamath Falls, Peggy transferred to the Navy airfield at Astoria. Discharged in March 1946, she took an alumni-office job at the University of Oregon.

But “I was dying of boredom, because I had been liberated by my service,” she said.

She bought a one-way bus ticket to Kansas City and enrolled in a radio and television school. That didn’t last long, but it did introduce her to Bob Lutz, a Californian who became a community college executive. They married in 1947.

Peggy taught high school language arts for 43 years, starting in six Oregon schools “up and down the Willamette Valley.” She and Bob, who died in 2005, also spent some years in Alaska and New Mexico. Their two daughters have given her eight grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren so far.

Peggy, who now lives in McMinnville, has written two books about her time as a WAVE. Her first, published in 2005, was titled “Never Salute With a Broken Garter.”

“I was thinking one day, ‘What have I done to leave my mark on the sand?’” she said. “I couldn’t think (that) I had done anything marvelous. And then I remembered I had been a woman in uniform.”



Story excerpt courtesy of The North Platte Telegraph (Full story here: http://bit.ly/2YpDPtx)

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The Sounds of Heartspeak

It is the first day of Easter Week, late afternoon, when a drift of smoke comes out from under the north roof of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in beautiful Paris, France. Immediately the wail of sirens gives notice that first responders, security, police are alertly on duty ushering out any people inside; and evacuating nearby residences as part of their master crisis plan. Everyone is safe; only a first responder is injured.

Quickly the north roof streams a line of flames its full length, indicating the burn is taking place in the empty space above the vault, inside the exterior stone walls of the wing, and forecasting that the roof may be an impending collapse.

A hundred or so strollers pause to attend their curiosity about the smoke, which by now is curling upwards in a blend of white, orange, gray and black billows. Quickly the watching numbers grow, as word spreads that Notre Dame is on fire. How can it be that this ‘mother’ cathedral, renowned the world over for her artistic elegance, and her having withstood the hazards of two World Wars – how can it be that she can be in threat of destruction from fire?

All streets are empty of traffic. Bystanders collect in great numbers on a rise a safe distance away, transfixed by the sight of the unimaginable. A camera fixed in place on their backs, notes bodies unmoving, heads lined up with the now huge orange smudge of fire that brings the twin towers into dark silhouette. Could this all be just a painting…tranquilized bodies viewing a frightening scene off in the distance. No, it’s real. But onlookers appear hypnotized.

Shoulders touch, strangers join in silence. Are thoughts wrestling with the  anguishing fear of fire, or simply how much will be spared? The Bell towers? The Spire? The Crown of Thorns reputedly worn by Christ as He hung on the cross? The many colored glass picture windows? The Rose Window? Paintings on the walls?

That horrifying solid orange blanket of fire now shoots a colored flame up the Spire and a red glow sets in relief the skeleton framework used by artisans as they have been repairing it. A low concerned murmur can be heard.

Then the collective silence is broken with a mournful wail from onlookers as the Spire leans, leans, then topples to its death. Within a few short moments the gentle strains of the Ave Maria ripples through the gathering, sung in perfect tones, tempo of a funeral dirge. Strangers are leaning; hearts are joined; souls are blended into heartspeak  by this moment of music. Hymns follow in low, melodious union, as if led by some phantom director. Folksongs are sung as if there’s balm in song.

Hours have passed. The dusk is settling, making more brilliant the fewer final flames that are now diminishing into embers. The smaller gathering now disburses, each individual with his or her memories, some unspoken, others shared in low tones as if in respect for what has been lost.

The Crown was saved. As was the Main Bell, as were the twin towers; and the Rose Window may respond to repair. Artisans and craftsmen will once again spin their talents across her damaged parts in loving nurture, making Notre Dame Cathedral come back to life in all her timeless elegance.


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Distraction Desperation

Can I have a couple of minutes of your empty time? This is about the word can. And this is about me, as I work on finding a big enough distraction that I won’t think about the forecast for a second government shutdown this coming Friday.

Join me if you need distraction too. See, the word can, harmless little three-letter job, is head of the Overworked Word list that I just made up, but I know has little importance in grammatical circles. In those circles, the word ‘may’ is taught to be used preferably because can denotes ability; may infers permission. Ooops. So when I just said, “Can I have…”, I’m saying I have the ability to – when really I should be saying “May” for your permission. Well heck, who ever asks permission anymore. They just take. Permission is old fashioned, hard to find, and doesn’t set well when refused.

That said, come follow me down this rabbit trail. The word can is most commonly thought of as a round metal container filled with food, that we find on grocery store shelves. Way back in time, a can was made of tin, which during WWII kids would go door to door collecting for the metal that could be reduced and renewed into items necessary to the War Effort. More recently, those little food holders have undergone some design changes, like shrinkage, while the price remained the same; and with canned fish, they have gone flatter with more fluid, plus a price hike.


Moving right along, think of this political metaphor: Kicking the can down the road…not really, just a phrase used by politicians who need to fill time and space with more ambiguous noises. Kick the can does have another history, though, as a childhood game played on the neighborhood street; it involved running and kicking thus was considered gender-free, in contrast to Hide and Seek which was considered rather girly.

And then there’s the matter of “getting canned”. Who doesn’t know what’s involved with that phrase! Sometimes canned  may be spoken with a shrug, as a casual synonym for getting fired. But quite often those two words can chill, and be whispered behind a cupped hand. Either way, the phrase may be life changing to some degree.

On the side of universal happy, let’s look (yeah, everybody!) at the risqué Cancan  dance that originated either in France or Algeria, was executed brilliantly by 5’9” tall, high kicking Australian women to 2/4 time, or galup music, mainly in the 1840s. Risqué meant that high kicks and kited skirts exposed full coverage pantalets, this combination of female dress and activity considered quite naughty at that time.

All this leaves us with two untouched considerations: first, my daughter’s home canned peaches, potatoes, and green beans. And second, empathy for all those dedicated teachers of ESL who struggle with double meanings, let alone the layered word can.


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Buzzy and The Dream

(One special night in a therapy facility)

Just woke up from a dream. It’s Buzzy, a close relative of the cartoon figure Maxine, in a bikini, flip flops, kerchief tied around her head with a call light clipped to the knot, my car keys laced in her bra, and big screws sticking out of the side of her right hip and knee. She’s doing the white knuckle job on a 2-wheel walker with rear skids, air horn, sign reading OUT OF MY WAY UNLESS YOU WANNA GET CREAMED.

But wait. That’s not Buzzy, that’s ME. I remember Dr. A saying, “Your bikini days are over, sorry,” as I emerged from a post op haze. Two screws sticking out? Hope Buzzy had a different doctor. Whew! Mine aren’t sticking out. Boy, do I remember that call button up there on her kerchief. It translates as life line, help, rescue, bathroom, chaplain, hurry, OMG too late. Buzzy, you’ve got it right – up there like a coal miner’s headlamp. Man, I’ll bet the Pope even ranks the night time control button on a level with the smoke puffs from the Vatican.

But listen, here’s where it gets real. When I checked into my room at the therapy facility, a CNA snatched the call button from the wall, saying ‘this one doesn’t work.’ Deftly she stabs in the cord for call button #2. As it turned out, #2 with a broken clip must have cycled out of recycle, because for 5 days, 15 shifts, and gobs of free-flowing blue language, it was rarely where it could be found! Flung across the table; crammed toward the foot of the bed; flat on the floor caught in the table leg; stuck out of reach under the pillow “where it’s easy to find”. So how about we talk: if the paper work for the two bucks Corporate needs to buy a new clip should stall along the line, why not have maintenance set up a quick “group fund”, gather the donations and book it to Walmart.  Good grief, how tough is that fix for such a panicky issue?

A day later and in response to my insistent pleas, replacement #3 arrives with another CNA’s triumphant, “This one’s testing fine”, as she plugs and leaves. At 11:45 p.m. the button is pushed on ‘need’, and Chapter 1 of Demons, Sirens and Gargoyles starts to play out….15, 30, 45, 60+ minutes – no answer. At around 1:20 a.m., 75 overage minutes later and more leaks than the White House, I grab the telephone landline  direct to the crosstown daughter. She has a knack for stirring the Corporate kettle, daylight or dark, and right now it’s near daylight for Wall St. stockholders of the care home industry. Just then two CNA’s stroll in to our dark room: “Are you ladies needing anything?”  MY LIGHT HAS  BEEN ON FOR 2 HOURS AND 5 MINUTES, AND I COULD SINGLE HANDEDLY FILL  A WATER BED,” I yell.   “Really? There’s been no light ….”

Mind to Body: better go back to the dream where it’s safer right now for everyone involved! As the image of the Buzzy of the Dream fizzles and fades, blotting out the call light debacle, I give the right hip another gentle sweep. Good.  No porcupine screws. Ahhhhh, there goes the bikini, car keys, ugly control button, fading, fading…gonnnne…

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The Touch: To Homeless and Back

It took just one second – well, maybe two seconds – for my disease-free, chemical-clean, well balanced body to move through space from the booth’s platform to the Diner restaurant’s floor. With some instant clarity on the way down, I remember saying to the space I was moving through, “no, No, NO.” Then BAMM. The length of my right side connected with the floor, my shawl sweater and new Liz top settling over my pencil form like a shroud.

Not in any normal moment of any normal day could I have reproduced the primal childbirth shrieks that I let go on the 911 gurney. But there they were, unfettered, full volume, shattering appetites right and left as we left the restaurant on wheels.

That step into space with its full stop on the floor, was the Moment, the hallmark two seconds when I bridged from health to helpless, from serene to surreal, from known-home to no-home. Weird, I know.

Fast forward to day 2 after surgery: the fuzz of post op is gone. Surgical success is evident. Now the ball is in my court to get it all back together again with the recovery game. I get that. But buried deep down inside and among my scattered thoughts is a renegade that says that somewhere there’s a loose screw that has disconnected, left me afloat in the Universe. Over these couple of days, my thoughts have plunged to a strange place I’ve not been to before. Never ever have I felt so not belonging, not able to visualize a place that is mine in the big scheme; a place where me fits. Never before have I felt so unattached, so unseated, so weirdly dock-less. I’m thinking that I don’t belong  in this hospital room; I won’t fit in skilled care where I’m headed; I’m not good  for home. Therefore I’m homeless, right?

Without warning I melt into silent tears. No seeming cause like self pity or fear, just an unstoppable surge from a widening crack in an inner dam. They flow. In a moment in between tissues, I sense someone in the doorway of my room. I blot, look up and it’s Jamie, my beautiful, compassionate day nurse standing motionless, framed in the light of the corridor, watching me. When our eyes meet, she moves into the room, kneels down beside me and places her hand on my shoulder. With that touch her warmth moves through me like an infusion; with that touch I am given an anchor. I’m drawn out of limbo back into peace.

I begin a spill-over babble of sorts. She listens, then at the right time Jamie tells me about how at age 17 she had been in a crash that in a heartbeat (like mine) had destroyed both her current world and her career dream. She was devastated, depressed, on the bottom rung. As she talks I’m visualizing. I get her message.

The deep, dark place I had gone into, is at this moment offering me back to where I belong…where I fit. I’m sensing that I’ll morph back to my centered self before long. That this event was a customized crisis intended to remind me that I am still a work in progress, that I still have places to go and things to do for a Higher Cause.

Best of all, that a broken 96-year-old femur in the early Twenty-First Century, isn’t an automatic two-step through pneumonia to death as in generations past. Au contraire.

Furthermore, this event is to be forever classified as a SPACE WALK, not a FALL!

To send a message directly to Peggy please use the Contact Form


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A Brief History of Texting

In the beginning was the cave wall with a stick figure without pants, and a stick figure with a skirt. The one without pants was a man, a Mr. – mister, a noun, and the other was a Mrs. – noun, missus; the start of two problems, bad spelling, and her later on wearing the pants in the family. This was when noun text messaging began – people reading the pics on the cave walls and going forth with the gossip.

Then when writing was invented, along came spelling problems that made learning to read hard for anyone who was American. Daniel Webster tried to show us the definition of every word, its abbreviation, its source, its gender, on and on, but that made writing in school too slow and drove the teachers crazy correcting papers with their red pens.

So students went directly to spell check on their keyboards, and skipped learning vocabulary, let alone spelling.

Teen people got used to doing their own thing with the noun text.  For instance, they simply shortened the word textbook by dropping the book part because everyone knew those were getting too big and heavy for backpacks.  And a lot of books were ending up in the college book store, unused, for which the students got only a pittance back.

Oh yes, and the noun text  has historically been taken over by preachers who are inclined to announce in dead tones, “The text for this morning is found in Romans …..”, and who then drone on at a length comparable to the full textbook  mentioned above.

But listen. This is when the noun turns into a verb, an action word, texting. It probably came about pretty much during Sunday church service when the captive audience sat with heads bowed, looking prayerful, but more like checking the screens of their Iphones which were mostly turned off…except for a hallmark occasion in which one would accidentally go off during the morning prayer, or communion. Then all heads would go up — to see who did it.

Well, whatever the truth may be, as any reader can tell, I don’t know thing 1 about texting. The above is all speculation on my part. I just know that yesterday, when I got a ‘forward’ called Texting For Seniors, I read all the letter codes with their definitions, and knew right away that according to that mockery, I am a confused, plastic, incontinent, lazy, unfriendly oldster of classic description.

Okay. Well that does it! Just let me text right back:  DYDETATMKA – don’t you dare even think about taking my keys away!

Did I do it right?

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The Trump’s Tsunami, Day 500-something

The Tsunami (metaphorically The Donald himself), is near to reaching its peak, having flooded ‘the swamp’ that was declared would be cleaned. Not surprisingly the swamp is now in overflow with a wash of hastily named and unqualified crocodiles, numbers of them having quickly sunk or smartly debarked to higher ground. The great majority of us Americans have followed suit on the latter, seeking oxygen and altitude to stay above the rabble-ish mess.

However, what we see from higher ground is heartbreaking. The tsunami has rolled in, smashing and smothering all in its path. The government landscape has been scraped clean of motions, ordinances, decrees, statutes put in place purposefully to keep all humans and animals safe from dangerous drinking water; polluted air; toxic sprays; GMOs, ad infinitum. Plus the disaster is threatening to clog financial arteries to the arts and humanities, meaningful for the joy of life. Joy? Where has that word gone – along with spontaneous laughter, and the comfort of living with no fear of tomorrow.

Before ebbing with its giant sucking sound, the now stagnant tsunami is seemingly focused on eradicating the written word, aka ‘the Press’. Think for a moment all that is implied in the word ‘eradicating.’ Reporters withstand insults and harassment while persisting in their endeavor to keep us informed thereby prevent that word from getting a life. Journalists range the world to connect us with other countries, cultures and conditions, all the time concerned that the facts they send back might get edited, altered, shrunk to fit ‘policies’, aka politics. In a Democracy, the Press is an artery to be left alone.

In our culture, libraries house written words which are stimulants, provide opinion, offer knowledge, history, wisdom. Libraries are to be funded and left alone, along with Public Radio and TV. Words, whether written or spoken, form us into who we are from infant to adult. They propel us from thought to action. The printed word is to be left alone.

Donald, be advised that your tsunami runneth the swamp over. Why don’t you just say, “It was a great ride, the greatest in the whole world, there was no collusion, I didn’t do anything wrong, the bad stuff was all done by Obama before I got in office, I won the electoral college by a big margin, and all I did was roll everything back.”  Then step down. That will save both your face and your bucket. And when you do, take all your emoluments, along with Stormy, Mary and twenty-plus other identified accusers, your money-making, lawsuit-prone family, and all your unread daily advisories. We want back our White House, government, reputation, allies, status as Leader of the Free World. And clean air. And our National Parks. And progress on climate control. And funding for medical research. And most of all, cohesiveness.

You can have Putin.

See related post: The Trump’s Tsunami


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Announcing Peggy’s New Book – 3 years in the making …

NEW — Between Sun Set and Sun Rise

Contact Peggy to Order Your Copy

As family caregivers are released from duty by the passing of their loved one, they can find themselves in the dilemma of combining mourning with conducting closures; again, uncharted territory.

Between Sun Set and Sun Rise The Family Caregiver’s Shift From Service to Self, covers the struggle of healing. Twenty-eight personal quotes and/or stories are told, a few in depth, all with commentary. Sixteen pages of glowing sunsets, inky dark clouds, fragile sunrises portray the movements of the caregiver’s progress toward renewal.

Included is a document entitled “The To Do List After The Passing”, a step by step advisory to keep business closures well sequenced. Between Sun Set and Sun Rise can be called a hand rail for those “graduate” family caregivers finding their way to their new self.

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