July 22
     It's been another hot, humid day.  I've spent a lot of time inside enjoying the air conditioning.  We've been getting terrible rain storms at some point every day for about a week now so I'm sure at some point the clouds will be rolling in.  I like summer better than winter, but these humid days are for the birds.  It's so miserable you just don't feel like doing much outside.
     It's been a tough week around here.  Tuesday my mom and I drove Megan to the airport in Pittsburgh and put her on a plane to Alabama.  She bought a round-trip ticket and it's only supposed to be a vacation to visit her favorite aunt and cousins, but as she informed me last Friday.....she'll be turning 18 while she's there and if she decides to stay there won't be anything we can do about it.  She's wanted to move to Alabama for a couple of years now and since we visited in November it's ALL she's talked about.  She pretty much gave up on friends and a life here and focused on how much better it would be down there. 
     I wouldn't have a problem with her going if she had a plan, but she doesn't.  The area she is in down there is very economically depressed and she doesn't have any special skills to make her stand out.  She's staying with her cousin and his girlfriend, who are living with her parents.  We tried to tell her it wouldn't be right to sponge off of them when the other two already are, but they keep telling her to move there.  She saw Tim's sister last night and they are having dinner with her again tonight so I'm hoping maybe she will be able to talk with her and make her see some sense.
     Tim pulled some strings and is pretty sure he has a job lined up for her if she comes back.  A darned good job that a lot of folks around here would give just about anything to have.  It's checking gas wells for Atlas Energy.  She'd have to hurry up and get her driver's license then she'd drive a company truck, get to ride quads, and start out at $16/hour!  Tim is trying to get his old truck fixed up for her to use, too.
     Oh well, you wish you could make them be smart and save them from mistakes, but I guess we all have to find things out for ourselves.  I just wish she wasn't contemplating doing it 900 miles from home.
     This morning I rode along with Pastor Jim to look at a property he liked for a home for our little fellowship.  The space was okay but it was going to take a lot of work to be usable and there was very little parking with 3 or 4 big churches surrounding the place and competing for the spaces.  On a drive around the block I spotted another property....a large house being used as a business.  Our agent called and got us in to see it.  It's in good shape inside.  We'd just need to open it up a bit.  Otherwise it didn't need any work.  It had plenty of parking, too.  I think we are going to take a couple of the others to see it soon.
     My friend, Star, and I were going to pick blueberries at Mom's husband's house up on the ridge, but when I called Star she wasn't feeling well.  We're going to go in the morning if Star is up to it.  In the meantime, I came home, had lunch, cleaned up the kitchen and got a batch of Crystal Pickles started.  I haven't made them for nearly 10 years.  They are so good, very sweet and crunchy, and our favorite.  It takes 8 days to pickle them, so next Friday I'll be canning.......hopefully AFTER I get home from picking Megan up at the airport.  The same man who gave us the cukes also gave us quite a few zucchini that I have to do something with tomorrow.

July 23
     Another hot, humid day.  The temperature this afternoon was around 91 degrees and the heat index was around 100 degrees.  It was so humid you could have practically wrung the water out of the air.  It poured three different times this afternoon.  It didn't rain long either time, but it did rain very hard.  I don't care what anyone says.....temperatures of 100 and above are bad, but they are much more bearable than when you throw in humidity.  Humidity just weighs you down and sucks the life out of you.  We have the air conditioning running all the time and while it's cool in the house you're aware of the humidity.
     Star didn't feel up to going to pick blueberries again today, but said maybe tomorrow.  I thought about it and decided to go this morning anyway since I'd planned on it.  I picked another 6 quarts....all off of
one bush.  Mom's husband, John, came out and picked with me.  He also got 6 quarts off a single bush.  We might have picked more but it just got too hot to take and it's uncomfortable as it is.  John has fenced the berries off with metal fencing and then covered the top with a kind of plastic or nylon chicken wire.  It's a must up in the woods where he lives if you want to get any berries rather than feed the wildlife, but all the rain has the wire sagging and you can't stand up straight under it.  It gets hard on the back.  I had a nice visit with John while we picked.  I think I talked more with him today than I ever have.  I stayed to visit with Mom a little, too.  She got a cataract removed last week and tries to stay out of the sun as much as she can till the doctor gives her the all clear.  She had one removed on the other eye last summer.  Both times she seems to have more trouble than anyone else I've known who's had it done.  I don't know if it's something with her eyes or just the doctor.
     I froze the blueberries this afternoon and spent a good bit of time on the internet looking for zucchini recipes.  I found a couple that I want to try, but in the end I've decided that tomorrow I'm going to cube some of it and shred the rest and freeze it all for later use.  I did fry some up for supper, though....that's a favorite of ours.
     Tim actually went swimming with me after supper.  That tells you how hot it is more than anything else.  He doesn't really like to swim and rarely ever gets in, not even when the kids were younger and begged him.  Now if you see him in shorts.....the end is near!  Ha, ha!

July 24
     Tim worked today.  He won't be missing many Saturdays for some time, I'm sure.  Right now he is finishing up a project and the last weeks are always crazy with making sure everything gets done.  After that he will be working the overtime to help pay our taxes.  When we came out of the bankruptcy last year it was to a nasty surprise.....our property taxes, which our attorney had said would be paid through the bankruptcy weren't.  They were only put on hold.  So we owe 5 years plus the interest.  We tried but couldn't raise the money.  We even tried getting a loan, but with the new outlook on lending and the bankruptcy on our history no one would even consider it.  Tim finally called our bankruptcy attorney and asked if there was anything he could do, since he is the one who misadvised us.  Thank goodness he did that, because our attorney is friends with someone high up in the tax bureau and they agreed to take us off the books and let us make payments so the place wouldn't be put up for sheriff's sale.  Normally, payments can't be made on taxes more than two years old so this is a huge favor and we can't miss or be late with our payments.  The only bad part is that the payments are pretty big since we have to pay back 5 years worth of taxes in one year.  We are hoping Tim's Christmas bonus is back up where it was this year so we can use it to finish paying the debt and get out from under the payments.
     I didn't do a lot this morning, just some reading and playing on the computer.  This afternoon I shredded all but two of the really big zucchinis and froze them in bags with 2 cups (the usual amount for recipes).  The big ones I'm going to cut into cubes, parboil, and freeze for soups and such. 
     There was just enough time to get showered and dressed when I finished the zucchini to make it to church in time for services.  I walked in just as the opening music was starting.  Tim wasn't able to go because his brother asked him for help setting new kitchen cabinets in the house they just bought.  The church we rent space from looked really awesome tonight.  They'd had their Vacation Bible School all week and the front of the church looked just like the deck of a ship.  I bet the kids had a wonderful time with that!  Decorations aside, it was a good time of worship and Pastor Jim's message was good.  He is such a good speaker and teacher and always has a way of making things so clear.  I didn't stay for the fellowship dinner afterward because Star was finally able to go pick blueberries.
     Star was a little late getting to my place so it was after 7:00 by the time we made it up to John's place.  I picked another 4 quarts.  I'll freeze 2 tomorrow and I promised a friend from church some, so will give her the other 2 quarts.  Star probably picked about 6 quarts as she picked a little bit longer than I did.  She is hoping to get to go again this week.  On our way back out the road we saw that one of John's neighbors had a little stand set up by the road.  It was nearly dark but we got out to look.  They were selling fresh produce.  We both got bags of green beans for $1 and Star bought some gourds for $1.  They had something they called winter zucchini for 25 cents each, but I think I have all the zucchini I want.  They said they'd have cucumbers, broccoli and several other things coming this week so I'll be going back to look again.  They are just a family trying to make a little extra and the prices are good.
     Megan called today.  I talked to her for a while even though it was hard because there is very weak cell phone signal where she is at in Alabama.  She finally admitted that she doesn't plan to come home.  She considers herself moved there and since she has her clothes isn't too worried about when she'll get the rest of her things.  Tim is hoping the fun of it will wear off after a while when the reality of working and paying bills and not having money to do things sets in.  Right now she's still got that "vacation" mentality.  It's been hard for me (Tim, too) to accept.  I think it's because she is so young and really doesn't have a plan of any kind.  If she at least had a plan it would be easier to let go.  As it is, we can't help but worry a great deal.  Tomorrow is her 18th birthday.....it will be a tough day.
July 25
     Tim and I met friends from church for lunch.  We went to a smorgasboard in Somerset.  I had been there once before as a kid, but most of the others had never been there.  What a lot of food!  On Sundays you can choose to pay for just the brunch buffet or pay for the dinner buffet and get the brunch with it.  We all opted for the dinner buffet so had two full buffets to choose from.  It was priced very reasonably, too, which was a nice surprise....though our friends treated everyone. 
     We got to talk to Megan a couple of times today.  She is living with Tim's sister now, which we are glad about, but how that came to be is not so good.  She had been staying with her cousin and his girlfriend at her parents' home.  She'd been telling us they were "crazy" but nice.  Today "nice" went out the window and she ended up in the middle of a big domestic incident.  The police came.  Whatever the children's agency in Alabama is was on the way to get a younger girl in the home.  The dad fled out the window because he thought he had warrants out on him.  Our nephew got into it with the dad trying to protect the younger girl.  Megan didn't say so, but we think she was pretty scared....that was all new to her.  She said they wanted her to stay and she asked why on earth she'd want to do that because normal people, real families don't fight like that.  Tim's sister's ex-husband went and got Megan.  We owe him a big thank you for that!  Anyway, she is okay, but what a way to end up spending your 18th birthday.  Maybe this will help head her back home?