Been a long silence on the blog, I know. Life has a way of happening, and sometimes all you can do is roll with the punches.

In this case, it began with a break-in at my stepmother’s house on the family ranch. While my siblings and I have been concerned about security for a while, it wasn’t our call. The ranch itself is in a family trust. My stepmother, at 95, has been in assisted living for several years, but would go down regularly with a friend to do things in the garden or just hang out. The friend would also go by almost daily to water and check up on things, and the guy who runs cattle on the property was also in and out. The combination gave the appearance of occupancy, and the house is at the end of a road with a locked gate and just visible from a nearby road. Not an ideal situation but not like it was where every passerby could see that the house was empty.

Unfortunately, the friend contracted shingles and had to spend almost six months recovering at her son’s in a different state. The cattle owner was also out of state for several weeks. At a guess, someone either happened to notice there was no one about or had been watching the place and jumped on the opportunity. So when I got the call that there had been a break-in, my reaction was a mix of “Oh, !#@*%^^!” and “I’m not really surprised, we’ve been very lucky it took this long.” Whoever-it-was heaved a large rock through the glass of one of the veranda doors, leaving an unholy mess. The shrieking alarm and quick arrival of the local police apparently sent the breaker-in off in disarray. However, when my husband and I went down to clean up and board the door with plywood, we found evidence that either the original parties or someone else had been back, loading up things that were salable. The house has a number of large windows that would be equally as vulnerable, none of which are visible from the road. There are no near neighbors and the closest folks are not what you would call sterling citizens.

We had two options – board the place up or find someone to live there. Stepmother didn’t want to go the rental route: “They’ll just trash the house.” Eldest granddaughter became the “someone.” We decided to make it formal, which meant an actual renter’s agreement. As any of you who have been through that sort of process know, it takes a bit of time to create such things to the satisfaction of all concerned. Then it was moving my stepmother’s belongings – actually more like condensing things – into part of the house. It’s a large house and there was plenty of room; better than having to pay for storage. Next we moved the granddaughter in.

Part of the rental agreement was that she would do the cleaning up outside – there had been a gardening service that evaporated in the wake of Covid. Plants were dying because the sprinkler system had leaks or programming issues, wisteria vines were trying to wrap up the house like Sleeping Beauty’s castle and there were a number of dead trees. Garden beds were overgrown, either with the plants that were supposed to be there or with weeds. Security issues – changing locks, security cameras, window locks, dowels for the sliding glass doors, etc. were also on the list. We had to deal with what we thought might be a roof leak but turned out to be condensation from the HVAC unit. Lots of minor maintenance stuff – all the sorts of things that happen when a house sits empty for a period of time.

In addition, I was/am still working about 10-12 hours a day at the clinic, where I am the only remaining RN where there used to be three. Hubby was dealing with ranch stuff and backhoe work, and granddaughter has a full-time job. And of course, it was the height of the season for watering my food garden and for harvesting/preserving. To add insult to injury, hubby got slammed with repeated equipment/vehicular issues, such as putting a new transmission in the backhoe and eviscerating the pickup to figure out why he kept finding oil in the radiator fluid.

Halloween arrived and we were just taking a deep breath, when I tested positive for Covid. Hubby followed suit three days later. We both had it in 2019, me before there were such things as Covid tests, so I based my diagnosis on symptoms. Tests were available when he came down with it, but they were still so new the health care profession didn’t know how much the timing of the test mattered. He tested negative but had classic symptoms, and in retrospect I realize that if we had waited a few days to test, the results would quite likely have been positive. So this year’s experience was a rerun, and recovery for both of us took several weeks (it was the longest stretch of time I’ve had off since 2019).

So that’s why the silence on the blog…

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