Sunday, February 28, 2010

I read a lot of blogs. It is my 'me time', my selfishness that I spend an hour in the morning, usually, just reading, tripping through other blogs. seeing how other people think. Today, two in particular have hit a mark. DavidM's post on silliness, for one. How long has it been since I allowed myself to simply wallow in giggles? Two times come to mind...watching Mr. Bean with friends Mary and Danny. Nobody else 'gets him' in my family, but Mary and Danny loved him. We laughed until we were weak, until the tears flowed. Another time? The kids had all come home for Christmas, and they got into a reminiscing mood, and they were laughing heartily at their own foibles. It was the first time that I had heard many of these stories, and I sat there in my bathrobe, turban covering my newly bald head, and I listened, and I laughed just as hard as they did.

I think that we all have a great laugh inside of us, but that sometimes it gets trapped behind fear and guilt and shame and a host of other negative emotions. Sometimes we simply forget that it is there. I read DavidM's blog, and I clicked on his links, and I laughed. It felt wonderful. I have determined that I shall laugh more. Thank you, DavidM for your silly post!

Laura Janewrote about 'Hearing the Call', and I find myself intrigued by the idea of 'my secret self'. I have determined to find this out. I'm so busy 'doing' that sometimes I cease to 'be'. An interesting trail of thinking.

I think that it is an interesting thing. I read blogs and learn a great deal about you...but along the way, surprisingly, I am learning a lot about myself. Thanks.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Corporate America Believes in Life after Death.

I received this amazing e-mail:

My father died on Jan 02, 1995. He left no forwarding address. Therefore, it fell to me to collect his mail. I didn'texpect much, really, since my sisters and I had been careful to notify his bank, insurance agent, and a host of other businesses that one of their customers was no more. You would think a death notice would cut down on the amount of correspondence from those firms. Quite the contrary. Instead -- for months, mind you -- my deceased father continued to receive mail from companies that had been told of his passing but pressed on, determined to contact him anyway. The first to hope for a reply from beyond the grave was my father's bank.

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Our records indicate payment is due for overdraft protection on your checking account. Efforts to contact you have proven unsuccessful. Therefore, we are automatically withdrawing your monthly $28.00 service charge from you account. Please adjust your records accordingly.

Sincerely, The Phoenix Branch

Dear Phoenix Branch,

This is to notify you once again that Mr. Hanson died Jan 02, 1995. It is therefore unlikely he will be overdrawing his account. Please close his account, and adjust your books accordingly.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson

Later that same week, I receive this note from Dad's insurance company. Again, this is a firm that had been told in no uncertain terms of his death.

Dear Mr. Hanson,

It's time to renew your auto insurance policy! To continue your coverage, you must send $54.17 to this office immediately. Failure to do so will result in the cancellation of your policy and interruption of your coverage.

Sincerely,Your Insurance Agent

Dear Insurance Agent,

This is to remind you that Mr. Hanson has been dead since January. As such, the odds he'll be involved in a collision are quite minimal. Please cancel the policy and adjust your books accordingly.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson.

The next day, I went to my mailbox to find this:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Let me introduce myself. I am a psychic reader, and it is very important that you contact me immediately. I sense that you are about to enter a time of unprecedented financial prosperity. Please call the enclosed 900 number immediately, so I can tell you how best to take full advantage of the opportunities that are coming your way.

Sincerely, Your Psychic Reader

Dear Psychic Reader,

My father regrets he will be unable to call your 900 number. As a psychic reader, I'm sure you already know my father is dead, and had been for more than three weeks when you mailed your letter to him. I sense my father would be more than happy to take you up on your offer of a psychic reading, should you care to meet with him personally.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson

P.S. Should you be in contact with my father in the future, please ask him if he'd like to renew his car insurance.

A few months of calm passed, and then these arrived:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Our records indicate a balance of $112 has accrued for overdraft protection on your checking account. Efforts to contact you have proven unsuccessful. Please pay the minimum amount due, or contact this office to make other arrangements. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving all of your future borrowing needs.

Sincerely,Your Bank's San Diego District Office

Dear San Diego District Office,

I am writing to you for the third time now to tell you my father died in January. Since then, the number of checks he's written has dropped dramatically. Being dead, he has no plans to use his overdraft protection or pay even the minimum amount due for a service he no longer needs. As for future borrowing needs, well, don't hold your breath.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Records show you owe a balance of $54.17 to your insurance agent. Efforts to contact you have proven unsuccessful. Therefore, the matter has been turned over to us for collection. Please remit the amount of $54.17 to our office or we will be forced to take legal action to collect the debt.

Sincerely,Your Insurance Agent's Collection Agency

Dear Collection Agency,

I told your client. Now I'm telling you. Dad's dead. He doesn't need insurance. He's dead. Dead, dead, dead. I doubt even your lawyers can change that. Please adjust your books accordingly.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson

A few more months, and:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Our records show an unpaid balance of $224 has accrued for overdraft protection on your checking account. Our efforts to contact you have proven unsuccessful. Please remit the amount in full to this office, or the matter will be turned over to a collection agency. Such action will adversely affect your credit history.

Sincerely,Your Bank's Los Angeles Regional Office

Dear Los Angeles Regional Office,

I am writing for the fourth time to the fourth person at the fourth address to tell your bank that my father passed away in January. Since that time, I've watched with a mixture of amazement and amusement as your bank continues to transact business with him. Now, you are even threatening his credit history. It should come as no surprise that you have received little response from my deceased father. It should also be small news that his credit history is of minor importance to him now. For the fourth and final time, please adjust your books accordingly.

Sincerely,Scott Hanson

Dear Mr. Hanson,This is your final notice of payment due to your insurance agent. If our firm does not receive payment of $54.17, we will commence legal action on the matter. Please contact us at once.

Sincerely, Your Insurance Agent's Collection Agency

Dear Insurance Agent's Collection Agency,

You may contact my father via the enclosed 900 number.

Sincerely, Scott Hanson

It has now been a couple of months since I've heard from these firms. Either the people writing these letters finally believe my father is dead, or they themselves have died and are now receiving similar correspondence. Actually, there has been a lesson in these letters. Any one of them would be cause for great worry, if sent to a living person. The dead are immune from corporate bullying. There's nothing like dying to put business correspondence in its proper perspective.

Perhaps that's the best reason not to fear death. There's no post office there.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

I have to write an essay. A famous person is coming to my house for dinner. Dear heavens. I actually do not have much of an imagination. I don't write fiction, unless you're one of those folks in this world who disagree with my viewpoint. To you folks, I write nothing but fiction. Perspective is an interesting thing, and in the long run, not worth arguing over. There's room in the world for more than one opinion.

But I digress.

Suggestions? Who's coming to dinner? HELP!

PS: Do not suggest Mr. Bean. That takes way more description than I've got time for. I'm on my fifth page, and have decided that it's not going to work. I've uninvited Mr. Bean. I'll have to start over.

Friday Weigh In

Drum roll please. If I go by my regular method of counting only the pounds that I've lost, well, then I have an announcement to make. I lost zero pounds. Zero. That's a kick in the pants. I have actually lost 3/4 of a pound. I am one-excruciating-quarter pound from that magical 10 pounds lost. *sigh*

On the plus side, this has been a tough week for me. I've really had to wrassle with myself. I am an emotional eater. Child + problem = where is the chocolate? I do have to say that I did very well with that. On the worst day, I ate three yogurt/granola bars at 180 calories each (ouch), but I rallied after that, got hold of myself, and gave me a firm talking to. This would not solve her problems, and would only make me feel worse about myself. After that, I was pretty well on track again.

Speaking of on track, Monday I finished one class, the one that followed my psychology class (which seems to be settling down, actually, thank goodness.) I began another course on Thursday. Initially, I was a little aggravated that one class ended at 9:45, while the other did not begin until 11:30. What to do with that hour and 45 minutes between class? I went over to the gym, and I walked 20 laps. I still had time to read the paper and eat my orange while I was waiting for class to begin. So I'll have two days a week at the gym. I guess this empty time slot has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I am a fast walker, and was able to maintain a steady pace which pleased me, and on the 19th lap, I even passed another walker (although the runners passed me again and again and again.) There are also weight machines there, and maybe I'll get acquainted with someone who would not mind teaching me how they work. We'll see.

Slow and steady wins the race, they say. This turtle continues on.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

At the Grocery Store

Yeah, so today, I got to the grocery store, and as per usual, was scrounging around for a quarter for the shopping carts. How a bright woman can be so dumb, really, I can't tell you for sure. But along came Abbie and Nancy, a mother and daughter from our church. Someone had given them their cart instead of returning it to the cart area and retrieving their quarter, so they passed the cart on to me with instructions to pass it along to someone else when I was done. I did my grocery shopping kind of marveling over the fact that really, the smallest thing can make the biggest difference, and vowed to myself to never miss an opportunity to say a good word, or to smile at someone.

While I was bagging my groceries, an elderly lady came by. "Now you'll have to go home and put all that away," she said. "Yep," I said, "and how lucky I am to have groceries to put away. These are hard times, and there are a lot of people in this world who would give anything to have the chore of putting away groceries. She stopped and looked at me. "Most people don't understand that," she said. She manages an apartment complex, and talked about how many young people were struggling to make ends meet. She said that she set aside a room and began to collect discarded furniture for people who needed it. She gives it away. I said, "Well, I've got a dresser and a twin mattress." She took my name and number. We walked through the parking lot talking about being kind, and about God, as if we were two old friends. Very suddenly, she looked at me and said, "Two years ago, my son was killed in a motorcycle wreck. Why? Why did God do that? I cry about it, and think, 'I'm old. Why didn't You take me?' "and she got quite emotional. I touched her arm. "I don't know," I said. "I've got a lot of questions myself. I cannot imagine anything worse than losing your child. I expect someday I'll be standing before God almighty Himself, and I'm going to whip a list of questions a mile long out of my back pocket. There's a lot I don't understand. But faith is simply believing that there is a reason. That's all. Just believe that He knew what He was doing."

And I unloaded my groceries into the car kind of marveling over the fact that really, the smallest thing can make the biggest difference, and vowed to myself to never miss an opportunity to say a good word, or to smile at someone. And when I emptied that cart, I turned looking for someone to give my cart to. There was another woman from our church. "Hey," I said, running to catch up with her. She said, "I've got to get change for a dollar. I don't have a darn quarter..." and I said, "Take it...Nancy and Abbie gave it to me!" and we both laughed big and went our separate ways.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tell me...

Last Sunday at church, I found myself in a very interesting discussion with other parents. I'm concerned about one of my own, but I've come to the conclusion that with adult children, you must stand back and let them make their own choices. 'Their way' might not be 'your way', but as long as they are happy with their own life choices, well, really, I guess that it's really not my business. So I've been struggling with that, and I've been praying hard, and, by the grace of God, I've been relatively close mouthed about my opinions on these things. Really, though, I've been quietly sick with worry.

Last Sunday, no kids showed up for Sunday school, so I sat in with the adults. One parent said, with gritted teeth, 'Pray for my son.' His boy is an adult too. So I said, "Well, let's add mine to the list," and I commented, "It is hard when they grow up, isn't it?" and every parent in the room sort of groaned and nodded. One mother said, "All you can do is let them make their own choices, and be standing by when they need you." I looked at her. "No," I said carefully. "I don't think that is right. It gets to the point where they begin to make choices expecting to be saved from them at the end. At some point, it must stop. They must begin to look at these choices that they are making. They must deal with their own consequences. We cannot save them."

This week the fecal material has hit the rotary oscillator. It's chaos. I guess that I should have asked for prayers for myself, because I am having a hard time right now. I keep reminding myself that she must learn the lessons of this time. What will happen? I don't know. But you all tell me what I already know...I need to stay out of it. I need to let her solve her own problems.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Routine

Well. I had a math test Monday. It seemed easy enough, but you know, I'm not confident enough to say that I aced that test. The frustrating thing about math is that I sometimes overlook really dumb things, make minor mistakes, the like. So I won't actually know how I did until next Monday, not for sure anyway.

One of my teachers (the one who wrote 'I'll be really proud to see you graduate,' on my first essay), happened to overhear a joking comment that the girl behind me made.
"She can't help it, she's from Pennsylvania." (The college is over the border in New York). The teacher said, "Hey! I'm from Pennsylvania." I looked at her interestedly and said, "Really? So am I," and I asked where she was from, and she said, 'Youngsville,' which is where I grew up. Strangest, funniest thing. I went to school with her mother. We rode the same bus. That was neat.

You know, I tossed and turned last night. I had dreams about psychology class. I've been worried about it. She had singled me out in class on Thursday, and I was worried that she would do it again. I made up my mind not to get in a 'pissing contest' with the teacher. Her behavior does not dictate mine. After a night of tossing and turning, well, strangely, she was better today. I wasn't the only one who thought so. What a relief! I was dreading that class more than words can say.

After school, I went to work. Four little old ladies who sit at the same table are so complimentary. They never miss a chance to say a nice thing. "They hired a good one when they hired you," they told me today. Later I commented to a coworker, "What sweet ladies they are..." They laughed hard. Turns out, these ladies are pretty darn hard to please, and are pretty grumpy.

So, all in all, it's been a successful kind of day. I'm tired, and I'm going to bed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sickening

WhiteStone sent me an e-mail, and it made me just sick. Just sick. It has not hit the news (no pun intended), and I don't understand why. The story needs to be told. The Pearl's 'ministry' needs to be discredited in one heck of a hurry. This article is shocking, but even more so are the quotes from the Pearls themselves that you will find in the comments section of this post.

Speak up! Share this story! Everyone should know the story of this little girl. Everyone should know about the Pearls. Here are some Pearls that should be cast before the swine.

The Concert

I prepared a couple posts in advance, because I knew that we would not be getting back until late last night. We saw Aaron Shust and Mercy Me at the Warner Theatre. We went with my oldest friend, Mary and her husband, Danny. We drove for an hour and a half and chattered non-stop the whole way. Even Tim, who is quiet by nature, did a surprising amount of talking. That's the magic of long time friendships, I guess. All I know is that I value my friends. So, yeah, it's like they say, it's not the destination, but the journey. We enjoyed that journey.

We stopped and had supper out, a rare thing for us, but what the hey! This was a night to splurge. The restaurant was just a fast food place called 'Hoss's' but it billed itself as the world's best salad bar. Since Mary and I are on the never ending diet, we were game, and the salad bar was excellent. Stuffed pepper soup, and all sorts of salads, and all sorts of things to make salads from, and all sorts of dressings to put atop those salads etc. There was a dessert bar too, which we will not speak of. I had a helping of honeydew but while I was getting that, a tiny helping of bread pudding found its way onto the plate. I was horrified to find it lurking there behind the melon, but I can't abide waste. I ate it. Three bites. As usual, after succumbing to temptation, I discovered that really, it wasn't all that great, and regretted it.



Aaron Shust was great. We had great seats, directly in front of the stage, 12 rows back.



Mercy Me was excellent. Truly excellent. By the time they launched into Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', everyone was on their feet and rocking it. It was high energy, with lights and smoke. There was music, of course, and there was God talk, and the most amazing thing was that the very same theater that rang with the thunderous music just seconds before would somehow manage to ring with the silence of hundreds of people. The contrast was a powerful thing.
The music was great, the message was awesome, and it ended like this: A hymn was begun, and the crowd began to sing. "let it be a sweet, sweet sound..." and very slowly, the lights went down. The band left the stage in darkness, and hundreds of people swayed together and finished the hymn. The message was clear. We had all come to hear a great show, and we had, and now it was our turn to sing out, and we did.



When we finished, there was a silence and then the crowd headed for the aisles, smiling at each other, and praising God, galvanized by the show that we had just seen. It was joy, my friends, and it was electric. I can't describe it any better than that.

Flashback

Linda had a picture of the mammogram room on her blog. I studied the picture. It was in this very room that I sat listening to the radiologist say "This needs to come out, and it needs to come out quickly. You need to find a surgeon..." So it began. I've been back to that room. There are areas of activity that are being carefully followed. What does it mean? I don't know. I have actually gotten to the point that I am pretty matter of fact about it. I cannot break my life up into little chunks of dread like that. I just can't. So I don't. I'm moving forward, not looking back, and I feel much better for it. As Stu phrased it, "I'm in rude good health." Yep. Right this minute, I am. That's all I need to know. But I looked at Linda's picture, and the memories came flooding back. Oh, yes. I remember that room.

I was eating with a group of ladies at a soup and pie luncheon. One of them, Dolly, said, "I felt so much better when I read your last article. I'm tired a lot, and I feel dumb blaming it on chemo and radiation. You're so busy and bubbly that it made me worried that I did not feel like you seemed to feel." Dolly was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was still having chemo for mine. "How long has it been since you finished chemo? Radiation?" I asked, and even as I did, the memory of the blue chemo chairs, the port accessing that made Tim so sick (even averting his eyes, the mere thought of the needle going into my chest made him sickish). Reciting my birthdate over and over to insure that the medicine I was given was correct. Watching the drugs drip, drip, drip into my veins, the woozy feeling, as if I were moving underwater, not reacting quickly, every movement slow, a major effort, vision affected, nauseous but not quite, trying to be brave. All those chemo memories came rushing back, in a vague sort of 'oh, yeah, I remember that' sort of way.

Another person wrote of a problem she was having with the benedryl given to prevent allergic reaction. Again, a dreamlike memory of the first time I was given that shot after we began the second part of chemo, where they switched from two drugs to just the one. It was supposed to be easier, and that is what I was expecting, but the benedryl. Dear Lord. It was injected into the port, and I nearly passed out from it, like hitting a brick wall. Immediate. Sudden. I struggled to ignore this, but unlike most of the other side effects, this one could not be ignored. I could barely speak for the lightheaded exhaustion. Another dream sequence. 'Oh yeah, I remember that...'

Cancer seems so far away. I've described it before as sort of like looking through a telescope backwards. It seems such a distant memory, but then I realize that last year at this time, I was finishing chemo, and it surprises me. I've been thinking of cancer a lot, and I read through some of my own writings of that time, thinking over and over again, 'oh, yeah....'

I remember once looking up at the stars as Tim and I left a dinner holding hands. We were quiet. It had been emotional hearing other people talk about cancer. I looked at those stars and I thought of other times when I had studied the stars and did not have cancer, and it suddenly occurred to me that there would come a day when, cancerfree, I would study them again. It was such a hopeful feeling, optimism unfolding like a spring leaf. 'Oh yeah....'

It is strange to me that I find myself remembering those days and being just a little surprised by the memories. It seems so strange, almost as if it happened to someone else. A lot of people have been looking back at cancer on their blogs this week. Karen. Sara. Stephanie. Kerry. Alli. WhiteStone. Daria. The list goes on and on. I've met so many people dealing with this, and it seems all of us have collectively stopped to take stock of where we're at. I find it interesting that not all of us have had the same cancer, or the same treatment, or the same side effects, or the same experiences, but all of us seem to come out on the other side with the same sort of perspective. We are much more confident in ourselves, much more certain about what it is that truly matters in this life, much more determined to live, just live.

Tonight, I have decided to go out and just watch the stars. I will remember that night that Tim and I left the dinner. I will study the stars and I will believe that I am cancer free. Looking back at cancer is a far more hopeful perspective than being smack dab in the middle of it, and I am grateful.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mercy Me



I am taking the day off. After serving at church, we're headed to Erie. Dinner out, and then, we have tickets to see Mercy Me! I've been looking forward to this for weeks. It is a huge extravagance for us, but these are good friends who have stood by us through thick and thin. (No. I'm not talking about weight. I do that on Fridays.) Danny was taking Mary for a belated birthday, and we crashed the party.

Good music + Good friends + Good Food = Great Day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Redbox

Sorry! Edits are for those folks who are not familiar with the Redbox empire.

We rented a video from Redbox for Saturday night. As is our custom, we returned it on the way home from church Sunday. We had gone to soup and pie luncheon at church, so it was not until probably 2 PM. Tim is kind of compulsive about checking our balances and does so at least twice a day online. He was outraged to discover that we had been charged $4.24 on our account by Redbox. I called. They claim the movie had not been returned until Wednesday. *blink* "Um. No. It was returned on Sunday. Right after church." The young man taking the call had a terrible enunciation problem. "Becausewevalueyouasacustomer,we'llremovethosechargesfromyour account." I said, "Well, that's nice, but really, the big issue here is how did this happen to begin with? I mean, how can we be sure that this won't happen again?" "Usuallywhenthishappensthecustomerhasimproperlyreturnedthevideo,andsomeoneelserentsitandthe returndateonthevideobecomeswhentheyreturnedit." "But all you do is make a selection on the screen. It tells you to insert the video, and then you do. And it tells you that the video was successfully returned. How could it be improperly returned. You can't insert the movie until you're instructed to. I don't understand." *long pause. dog snored. crickets chirped* Finally understanding that it was his turn to talk, he said, "usuallywhenthishappensthecustomerhasimproperlyreturnedthevideo..."

Yeah. I think that we better stick to renting videos face to face. Depending on your take, Tim and I are so technologically handicapped that we can't properly use a Redbox, or there is a glitch in the system. It's either very sad, or very scary.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Weigh In

Jees oh pete! I almost forgot the Friday morning weigh-in. I lost two pounds this week, which brings my total weight loss to 9 lbs for the year. Next week I should hit double digits. Things will start getting exciting then, by golly!

Roland had a post about emotional eating. I'm an emotional eater too. In fact this week, I found myself craving chocolate. It's not an uncommon dilemma for me. When the going gets rough, I want a candy bar. What makes it different is that I know at the end of the week, I have to tell you all how much I've lost. The fear of embarrassing myself generally trumps the craving. Additionally, I've discovered that cravings don't really last all that long. Like a child's temper tantrum, a craving will quiet down fairly quickly if you simply ignore the initial impulse. My final little trick is pretty simple. I don't carry money with me. If I have money in my pocket, I might be tempted by the vending machines I walk past at school, or at work. If I don't have the change, I can't buy junk food impulsively.

I've got a second motivator to continue losing weight. My Brianna is getting married on March 27th. There will be pictures, I'm sure. I don't want to spoil them. I'm not sure what I'm going to wear yet. Buddy's mom is wearing mauve. I think that we are supposed to coordinate, right? I've never done this before, so I don't know. Lot to learn, and not a lot of time to learn it.

Weight loss is a slippery slope. Interestingly, I'm finding that as the pounds come off, it becomes easier and easier to tell myself no, to make good food choices, to exercise just a little bit more. I think that it also helps that I'm feeling good about school, and productive at work. Feeling good about myself makes it easier for me to continue doing what I need to be doing -- and it makes me feel even better about myself. And if those things fail me, if I find my motivation flagging, I've always got my secret weapon. I think about fat cells producing their tiny amounts of estrogen. I think back to those scary days of cancer. Yeah. I really don't want to do that again.

English Comp

I have handed in my first essay in English Composition. I think that it is a good one, although I did forget to title it. I always do that last, and, even then, generally it has set for a couple days, so that I can think about the title. We had one and a half hours in class to get 'er done. I was so focused on getting it written that I never did go back and title it. I was gathering up my stuff to leave the class when someone mentioned title and I thought, "Oh, crap..." but it turns out that because of the time constraints, he doesn't mind additions in pen. He let me add the title, and even had a good laugh about it. It will be interesting to see what the teacher thinks. I write for my own entertainment, and I seem to accomplish that and I will be forever gratified that I have people who are entertained by what I write, but it will be cool to see a grade attached to what I've been 'dumbing around' at for the last three years. It will be a new experience to have a professional writer evaluate what I should be doing differently. I'm very anxious to hear his opinion.

He figured out who I am. He seemed quite excited over the fact that I was 'published'. He thinks that I'm the professional. Life's funny like that, ain't it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Way to Look at It

DavidM had a post a couple days back about seeing things another way. Today was psych class. I'm beginning to dread that class. Truly. I go there prepared, to the very best of my ability, and I am doing okay. Today, she gave us a pop quiz. I was one of four to pass it. Then she asked us for our paragraphs on a movie that we had begun to watch. We watched perhaps 10 minutes and then she stopped it. Like most of the people in the class, I expected to see the rest of the movie at another time. Several days passed with no mention. My notes for the portion of the movie stayed in my notebook. She was amazed that most people had not written a paragraph. I turned in my notes. It will undoubtedly receive a low grade. I was listening to her today, when suddenly she said, "Are you alright?" It took a few moments to realize that she was speaking to me. Astonished, I said, "Yes. Why?" and she commented that she expected to see me writing as she spoke. I had already done so, and could not understand her singling me out. I perform well on the tests and my thoughts are that my notes are my business. My tests are hers. She asked a question and the other 'top dog' in the class raised his hand. Sarcastically, she said, "It's good to know that you have the right answer again, Joe." I don't bother to raise my hand anymore. I just don't. Just as likely as not, you're going to wind up looking like a fool for doing so. I listen. I listen hard. I take good notes in class. I take copious notes on the reading, and I make damn sure that I am prepared for a test of some sort each and every day that I go into that classroom. So far, my strategy has been working. I hover between an A and a B, although I fully expect to be slammed hard for the fact that my 'paragraph' was the notes I took for the portion of the movie we had viewed. I am anxious for my midterm grades.

On the way home, I thought of DavidM's post. Is there another way to look at all of this? I am a hard worker. My goal is the dean's list. It's not enough for me to do well. I want to do really well. I'm grabbing for the golden ring. I tried to see another reason for her behavior and I cannot, but what I can see is other ways for my own behavior. I can stop being rankled. She is not the first unreasonable person that I have run into. She will not be the last. I will focus on my performance, not hers. I will be prepared, always. I will also take a deep breath and accept the truth of it: she might be the difference between me and the dean's list. Simple truth of the matter is, even if I do not make the dean's list, I will undoubtedly do well this semester, and perhaps I need to learn to be okay with that.

Is there a difference between motivated and driven? There might be. Maybe I have crossed the line.

Encouraged

After a recent column about heading back to school, I received an e-mail from pastor. She had headed off to seminary at the ripe age of 54, and her e-mail was filled with encouraging words about the struggle ahead. Better than anyone, she knew that there will be hard times. She knew that self doubt would become my worst enemy.

Strangely enough, the previous night, I'd woken up in the middle of the night, my bones just aching something awful. I try hard to keep a good focus, but in the dark, when you're feeling like crap, well, sometimes your mind does wander off down the 'what if' trail. I found myself wondering what this pain means, and what if we've spent all this money for the first semester of school and find out that I've got problems again? Or what if I can't keep up with the studying? And my mind whirred away as my eyes stared off into the dark. I found myself getting scared and feeling overwhelmed. I took a deep breath, and I thought firmly to myself: 'You are keeping up. And the cancer? Who knows? God does. He's the only one who knows for certain what is going on. It is a time to put your best faith forward.' I felt better after talking to myself firmly. I fell asleep, and then woke up to Becky's e-mail, which closed with this: 'The Lord told me then that we are just to walk by faith and the end result is his. Whether we see the end or not is not the point. If we are called to the journey and are willing to take it--that is all he asks. I made a lot of friends on that journey and they touched my life, even as I touched theirs.' I love that someone I do not know took the time to send me encouragement. I saved that e-mail, because the day (or night) will come when I will need to read those words again. None of us know where the road ends, where the journey will take us. Becky's right on that.

Redlefty had a post about 'spiritual food'. I was surprised to read my name listed. The strange thing is that I always saw it the other way around. I thought that his blog was encouraging me. The idea that we are all feeding each other was immensely gratifying to me, and I think of all the blogs that I love, all those wise bloggers that I 'know', how lovely their words are to me, how encouraged I have been by them, and the thought that it works both ways brings tears of gladness to my eyes. And, thus nourished, I set out again, walking the walk, talking the talk, putting my best faith forward.

Thanks, everyone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just for Grins and Chuckles

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Head Son

A man was waiting for his wife to give birth. The doctor
came and informed the dad that his son was born without a
torso, arms, or legs. The son was just a head!

But the dad loved his son and raised him as well as he
could. Twenty-one years later, the son was old enough for
his first drink. The dad took him to a bar, tearfully told
him he was proud of him, and ordered the biggest, strongest
drink for his boy. With all the bar patrons looking on
curiously, the boy took his first sip of alcohol.

Swoooop! A torso popped out!

The bar was dead silent, then burst into a whoop of joy. The
father, shocked, begged his son to drink again. The patrons
chanted, "Take another drink! Take another drink!" The
bartender shook his head in dismay.

Swoooop! Two arms popped out!

The bar went wild. The father, crying and wailing, begged
his son to drink again. The patrons chanted, "Take another
drink! Take another drink!" But the bartender ignored the
whole affair.

By this time, the boy was getting tipsy. With his new hands,
he reached down, grabbed the drink, and guzzled the last of
it.

Swoooop! Two legs popped out.

The bar was in chaos. The father wept with joy. The boy
stood up on his new legs. He stumbled to the left. He
stumbled to the right. Then he stumbled through the front
door and into the street, where a truck ran him over.

The bar fell silent. The father moaned with grief. The
bartender merely sighed and said, "He should have quit while
he was a head."

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Gotta go. Darned annoying psychology book is calling my name.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another post about nothing.

Not much to say. Every bone in my body aches. The way I look at it is this: some people go to a gym and pay for their aerobic workouts. Not me. Nope. I work darned hard at work, in effect getting paid while I work out. It is worth it.

So that's it really.

What?

Well, if you want excitement, wander over to Bill's blog. He and Margie have a new grandson. Or to WhiteStone's blog. She's sharing pictures of her trip to Maui.

Move along, folks, ain't nuthin' happening here.

Snow Business

49 out of 50 states have snow right now. The only one that has escaped is Hawaii. We've missed the most of it here in our little corner of Pennsylvania. The eastern part of the state has been hard hit.

Tim has just commented that the barometer is falling. It has begun to snow.

Lilacs.

*sigh*

Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe for Romance

Lavinia is back after a long absence and we are all glad to see her up and writing again. Lavinia and I are two different types of women, to be sure, but there is something beguiling about her posts, about luxuries that I know little about. She's unabashedly feminine. I'm a woman, but that fact has always come in somewhere after all the other adjectives in my life. I work at Tim's side. I'm a mom. Now I'm a student. I'm a writer. I guess that I have to say that out loud, although every time somebody refers to me as the writer, well, it makes me laugh a little. I'm the cook, and the house cleaner, and the world traveler who travels via the New York Times and blogs. I will tell you a secret. I have never spent a lot of money on myself. It's not only that we don't have it. It's also that I am ashamed to do it. I don't feel 'worth it'. I have never spent a lot of time on myself. It's not just that I don't have it, it's also that it makes me feel guilty about my vanity. My strengths have always been that I am a worker, and that I am smart. I have never spent a lot of time clucking over clothes, or longing for pieces of jewelry. I don't collect teddy bears or dolls. (I do have a pretty nice collection of rocks, and I collect bird figurines). I'm a woman, and I know it, but I've never felt especially feminine, and I've always wondered what that would be like. Sometimes I meet a woman who's confident and the very epitome of feminine, and I wonder what makes a woman that way, why I am not that way, if I could be that way.

Cancer has changed a lot of perceptions about myself. A cancer that appears in the most obvious 'woman parts' makes it kind of hard not to see yourself in a more womanly light. Although I know men who have had breast cancer, the overwhelming majority of us are women. I was encircled by women, supported by them, encouraged by them. As we shared our fears and our concerns and our feelings, I began to see myself in a different light. I discovered that I was one of them. Suddenly, I found that wearing dangly earrings and high heels was a great mood booster. It makes you feel differently about yourself. It makes others see you differently.

Yesterday, getting ready for church, I fussed with the scarf Bush Babe sent me a couple years back. I gave my hair a final approving touch up. My dangley earrings brushed against the sides of my neck as I turned my head to survey my make up. Like I said, cancer has changed me. I find myself spending more time on my appearance, and not feeling ashamed or guilty about it. I primp. I take the time on myself. Not huge amounts of it, because I still don't have it to spare, but I do spend more time on myself. I use scented soaps in the shower, and I have lotions for when I'm done. I spend more time fussing with my hair maybe because I'm so pleased to have hair to fuss with again. So something has changed, and even though I can't really express it, not well, I am a much more feminine woman. I am still all the other adjectives. I'm still what I was, but somehow being a woman is now coming up higher on the list of things that I am than it ever has before in my life. What does this all mean? Shoot. I don't know. I couldn't tell you. All I know is that I really like the way my husband looks at me when I am done, when I walk into the living room to shrug into my long red wool coat. I like his looking a lot.

My Valentine's Day was different than Lavinia's. Tim and I exchanged cards. He bought me a new pair of dangley earrings. (That after we had agreed not to exchange gifts. I had only bought him a package of marshmallow hearts. He loves chocolate covered marshmallows.) We went to church together, we worshiped together, and then we went downstairs to join everybody for soup and pie luncheon. I chattered with a bunch of women at the table as Tim and Rod talked about rentals. When we were done, we came home for a moment to get the dog out, and then headed out again, to drop off a valentine. To take scholarship information to my sister. We drove through the snow, big swirling flakes of it, and Tim and I talked easily and comfortably, sometimes holding hands. When we got home, the smell of chicken filled the air, and I fixed pasta to go with it, and garlic bread. We had a quiet supper and then sat on the couch together watching 'Camilla'. And then we headed to bed and lay talking in the dark until someone fell asleep first. I cannot tell you who that was, actually. It was a very nice day, and as recipes for romance go, I think that it is a good one.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If...

If you've ever read my blog and thought, dang, I wish that woman would take some pictures, well, I've got some excitement for you. A local reader commented on my blog yesterday. She has a blog, and she is a picture taking fool. (Linda? Have you met Bush Babe? Bill (warning, warning: Bill has a new grandson, and he's as adorable as the first one)? Novel Woman? Stevie?) Anyways, if you've ever wanted to know more about where I live, you might want to go to Linda's Photo Journal and take a peek. Warren is about closest to where I live, but I'm familiar most of what she's photographing. Thanks for de-lurking Linda!



Oh, and here's a PS I've been meaning to do for some time. I don't 'do' facebook. I did for a short time, but then our computer crashed, and although I cannot say for sure that one caused the other, I've avoided it like the plague ever since. I'm still getting facebook requests, and people still sign on to follow me on Twitter, although, I only tweeted once in my whole life. Please don't be offended. I simply don't do facebook, and although I am a twit, I do not twitter.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pringles of Scotland

I went shopping. I always pop in to the Goodwill to see what they have on the 29 cent rack. Today was also 50% off. What can I say. We're frugal in this house.

Anyways, I found this on the 29 cent rack.

Blew my mind.

A Novel Woman had just posted their little advertisement. It was the funniest darn thing and I laughed myself stupid over it.

Now I have a Pringle 'jumper' of my own. It has no wear, and is plain brown and very soft. And to think that I'd've had no idea what it was except that I read a blog. I also bought a Liz Claiborne buttondown shirt, white with blue stripes, and a new 'WPSU Listener Supported Public Radio' long sleeved black tee. I bought Tim one pair of Land's End pants, and a pair of Ralph Lauren Black Label dress pants. The only thing that shows wear at all is the Land's End khakis, but he likes that brand and they will be good for working in. Total expenditure, 73 cents. When Tim tried the pants on at home, he found a quarter in the back pocket.

Itchy Feet

I was standing in line at the local Aldi's grocery store. You pay a quarter for your carts, and then when you take the cart from the parking lot back to where they are stored and link the little chain from the cart in front to yours you get that quarter back. It's a great plan. There are never carts left in the parking lot, they don't pay for a 'cart person', carts aren't stolen, or damaged, or damaging vehicles. Such a simple plan, but very effective. I'm much impressed with that. Only one problem. I am forever heading off to Aldi's and discovering that I have bills, or that in that pile of change in my pocket, I don't happen to have a quarter. I could always go in and get change from the cashier, or whatever, but usually, I'm in a rush, walking at a fast clip. More often than not, I'll just head inside to get the few things that I need. Anyways, yesterday, I rushed in, grabbed my half and half, my chicken broth, cheddar cheese, a couple whole wheat baguettes, and a cake mix, and I headed for the line.

There was quite a line, and the elderly woman in front of me saw me standing there with my armload and began to rush to get her groceries loaded on the conveyor so that I could set my things down. I told her not to rush. She clucked a little. "You've got such an arm load I'm afraid you're going to drop something." "No," I assured her. "I'm a mom. I'm used to juggling." And that made both her and the woman behind us laugh out loud. So we began to blab, mostly because I can't stand quietly to save my life, and because I was sure that I knew that elderly lady from somewhere. When I asked her, she timidly said, "You're not that lady that writes in the paper, are you?" and I said yes. She grinned big. "I'm Nancy from the Scandia Church," and I remembered her instantly. There was a flurry of talking then. "Where's Pastor James headed to?" I asked her, and she told me that he was going to Iron City, Michigan. I've been there. It's a town in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Michigan's upper peninsula is a remote area. I was living in Michigan when the entire peninsula finally received phone service, in the very late eighties. Used to be that they would travel an hour just to use a phone. This was in the old days, before cell phones became ubiquitous. It is a flat heavily wooded area. In the old days it was a mining area. Copper, iron ore. A lot of shipping industry too, being right on Lake Huron. As we passed through Munising in June, we were amazed to see, even still, massive sheets of ice pushed up against some of the banks, standing on their edge, dwarfing the buildings in front of them, a souvenier of a bitterly cold winter. It was the first time in years that Lake Huron, the coldest of all the Great Lakes had actually frozen over, completely.

I finished my visit with Nancy, and I bagged my groceries and headed for the car, daydreaming about Michigan. It is endless fascination to me, other people's lives in other places. When I was younger, I wanted to see everything. I wanted to live everywhere. Now I am 52. It's not practical. My Tim is settled in where he is always going to be, and I love Tim. Our ordinary days pass by in our corner of the world, just as they do for every one else on this planet. I read blogs now, and they usually fulfill that longing in me, but on this day, walking across the parking lot, that restless longing hit me full force, and I envied Pastor James and his family heading off on their new adventure.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Weigh In

This week I lost another pound and change. It's a nice chunk of change, amounting to between a quarter and a half pound. That made me feel some better. In any case, that brings my total weight loss to 7 pounds for the year. I'm sticking with the whole numbers thing, so I have a pretty nice head start on next week's weight loss.

What do you think of a psych teacher who before starting a test, discovers she does not have enough papers for everyone. So she has to leave the room to go across the hall to the copier. She cannot stand cheating, so she makes a big deal out of the fact that the answers to the test are on her desk. (We would not have known if she had not said). She assigns one person to be in charge to make sure that we don't 'rush' her desk as soon as she is gone. She also cautions us that she is leaving her purse. She then makes a big deal about having us all close our eyes so that she can select someone to 'spy' and report back to her privately about our behavior while she's out of the room. Only then does she leave the room.

We sit there silently. I sit at a table with two other students. I don't want to compare us to anybody else, because I don't know the rest of them as well as I do Erin and Joe. I can tell you that Erin and Joe are workers. They take college very seriously. We looked at each other. Joe leaned forward and whispered 'Nucking Futs is what she is.' One of the young men behind us said, sarcastically, 'Oh. I wonder if anyone is going to rush to her desk...' and I leaned back in my chair and said, 'Probably not, but I'm going to tell her that you tried, and we all stopped you, just for grins and chuckles.' Wide-eyed he said, 'No, don't. She won't get that it is a joke.'

The teacher came back and questioned us. Satisfied, she began handing out the tests. She gave us a lecture on cheating. She told us all to 'hunker over our papers'. She told us to put our arms up to cover our papers. I'm sorry. At that point, she lost me. I made up my mind. I am not a child. I would not cheat. She is at the front of the small class (maybe 20 students) and she knows full well who is keeping their eyes on their own paper. I know Joe and I know Erin well enough. They would not cheat. I did not hunker over my paper. I finished it, very careful to keep my own eyes on my own paper. I turned the papers over, and sat quietly with my hands folded, studying the world map posted to my left, studying Australia. Pondering Brisbane, and Sydney, and Adelaide, and the vast expanses of Queensland where massive cattle stations are, daydreaming about the day when I will see the country with my own eyes. Several times, the teacher bellowed 'SOME of you are not hunkering over your papers!' A couple times, she looked at me, and I looked squarely back at her.

I do not like this teacher. In all my other classes, you know exactly what you have to do to get an A. Exactly. However, this teacher changes the rules constantly. She asked how neurotransmitters work. A group in front of us gave their answer, and she criticized it, saying it did not provide enough detail. She asked our group, and I began to answer. She stopped me, rolling her eyes. "That's the long version," she said. I replied, "You know, I'm can't tell where your fine line is." At another point, she criticized Joe's answer, because she had not given that information in class. It was in our reading assignment. He was right, mind you. I listened incredulously. We're being penalized for reading the assignment? When it came time for that test yesterday, I studied our notes primarily, since that was how she'd been running the class up to that point. She was the one telling us what was important, and what was not. The test yesterday was at least 25% based on what was in the book, things that we had not even discussed in class. I think that I did alright, but after we handed in our papers, Erin whispered, "I'm so screwed. I studied our notes." I whispered back, "At lot of it, you could infer, if you just puzzled it out. I'll bet you did better than you think. Don't worry yet."

At my next class, I ran into my advisor. She'd been invaluable to me in the beginning and helped me out a lot. She even accepted me into one of her classes even though it was, technically, full. She asked me how it was going, and I told her how much I loved school, that I hadn't expected to enjoy it. She was glad to hear it, and asked questions about my classes. I told her that, really, it is easy to be a good student. The syllabus tells you what you need to do, and once you 'learn' the teacher, you know what they expect, and you do the work accordingly. I said the only class that was a challenge was psych, that I had not been able to determine what the teacher expected, that those expectations seemed to change daily. I don't want to make the instructor mad by challenging her directly, so I wasn't sure how to handle the situation. She said, "It's ------ ---------, isn't it?" Surprised I said, "Yes." She did not gossip or tell any tales out of class. It was not like that, but simply based on the fact that she could immediately identify the teacher leads me to believe that there have been complaints before. She told me that I should challenge the teacher, that everyone should. And if the problems in class persist, we should make an appointment to speak with the head of the department. She gave me his name.

I don't know what I will do yet. Still it's nice to know how problems like this should be handled.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Post about Nothing

Applicant for our apartment: "Well, I'm not employed, but my mom will give me six months rent, and by then, my boyfriend will be out of jail, and he'll be moving in too, and between the two of us, we'll be able to make the rent. I'm hoping to have disability then too, because I'm schizophrenic. I really need to get another place because while I was in jail for shoplifting, somebody broke into my apartment and my landlord is blaming me. He thinks that I'm a security problem, and he's evicting me."

*slack jawed stares of astonishment*

This is an actual conversation. She was just so jubilantly matter of fact about everything. It amazes both of us. Tim 'googled' her name when we got home. She has a pretty extensive number of entries on the police blotter.

The good news is that we do think we have a very nice tenant picked out. He'll fit in well with the rest of the building. That's a relief. We have not told him our decision yet, but he'll be relieved too. He's been looking, and been getting very discouraged. He said that the last apartment that he had looked at reeked so very badly of cat urine that it made his eyes water.

On a totally unrelated topic, the sky is interesting tonight. I wish that I was a photographer. We're getting some pretty steady snow and the sky is heavily clouded. It was actually reflecting the town light back down, adding a mysterious glow to the night. It was just cool. One of those small remarkable moments that you'll never forget. I've just been sitting here thinking about other remarkable moments. There are so many of them, and strung together, they are a life. I am a wonderfully, wonderfully blessed woman.

That's it really.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making the Grade

That psychology test last week? I missed one, so I got a 97%. So it was not a perfect paper, but it was good. She also gave us a pop quiz, but assigned us to work in a group. My group got a 9.5 out of 10. I got three papers handed back in another class. 24/25, 25/25, and a 20 out of a possible 20 points on an essay. The teacher also wrote a very nice comment about how she loves my attitude, how much she enjoyed reading the essay, and how very proud she'll be of me on my graduation day. Wasn't that nice? I was really touched by that. School is going so well that I'm almost afraid. Really. I mean it's early on, and I'm sure that I'm going to have bad days too, but really, I love school. I'm really, really enjoying it, and I did not expect that, not at all.

Smoking Math Class

Okay.

Numbers and I have always had sort of an uneasy relationship. When I was in elementary school, in fifth grade I was reading at a second year of college level. Verbally, I've always been able to blow the socks off everybody, but numbers...well...ew. Turns out that my math is problem solving math. It is basically a book filled to overflowing with word problems. Word problems!!!!! I remember crying in frustration over word problems. I simply did not 'get' them. By the time that I'd struggled through trigonometry, I was done with math. I did not have to take Calculus if I did not want to, and I did not want to. On a most visceral level, I did not want to.

Last night was math class. 2 hours and 45 minutes of fun with numbers. And really so far, it hasn't been bad, although last weeks homework made me want to begin hacking at my own jugular. Problem was, after all the writing, the pencil was too dull to do damage. One problem took me 45 minutes. Turned out, I had oversolved. The question asked me to come up with all possible combinations of four even numbers totalling 24. So I gave him 141 possible solutions. Heh. Turns out that, f'rinstance 10 + 2 + 8 + 4 and 10 + 2 + 4 + 8 and 8 + 4 + 2 + 10 ad nauseum was one answer. For each combination, I listed every order I could come up with. Two pages of numbers. I'm telling you. Math is not my friend.

Last night we were solving problems like WOW + WOW + SO = COOK. W = 7. What are the other numbers. Or GTOM + PNAG = EGOAT. They'd assign a number to one of the letters, and you'd have to figure out the rest of them. Or ABCD x 4 = DCBA. What are the numbers ABCD stand for? The like. So I was struggling away, and here's the thing. I was solving the problems. A girl on my right kept saying "What are you doing? How did you know that? Why did you try that number?" And really, I couldn't, if my very life had depended on it, told you how I was solving these problems. I simply was. I found myself trying to explain by saying, 'Well, it fits. It has to be. It's the only number that fits' and that was it, really. The numbers all fit together like pieces of a puzzle. It wasn't a fluke. It happened over and over again. I understood how the numbers went together without understanding how I understood at all. I tried to demonstrate how this was happening at the chalkboard, and although I could do it, it was hard to explain. I felt a little like 'Rain Man'. It fits. It just fits. I don't know. I can just see that it fits, and I buy my underwear at Kmart.

When class was over, I was glad to leave, because I was stressed out. Nervous. Jittery. My hands were sweaty, and I was exhausted, and I had a headache too. It was the wierdest thing. I've never been good at math, but I am smoking this class (at least so far), and I don't understand why.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Voices Get Raised.

Tim and I had an argument, which is actually something fairly rare for us. We are remodeling a kitchen in one of the vacant apartments and getting it ready to rent. He was set to rent to an older woman. Seemed nice enough. Anxious to rent from us. In a hurry to move in. Problem number one. She had a cat. We don't normally allow pets. Then after discussions, after the decision to allow the cat, Tim called to let her know that she had the apartment. Suddenly she did not have the money for the rent and deposit. Furthermore, she now had two cats, neither of which she could bear to part with. She was also getting very rushed about moving in there. We have seen this before. If they do not have the money before they move in, they will not come up with the money after they are in. I don't care how nice the little old lady seems, financial problems do not go away overnight, and the fact that she was not upfront with us about the cat situation did not bode well in my opinion. In my mind, we had a woman who would not hesitate to fudge on the truth if it suited her, that on top of the financial issues. "Tim," I said, "I know that you liked her, but really, remember Nancy? It's the exact same thing." He agreed with me, but when he called her back to say that we had decided to rent to the next person on the list, she began to try to argue with him. Amazingly, even as I mouthed the words (repeatedly) "Your situation is not as you represented it to us. We're sorry," I heard him begin to waffle. She told him that she would call him back later to discuss it further when it was convenient for her. My gosh. I was mad at him.

A young man called from McDonalds. He asked where the apartment was. I told him. I mentioned that Tim was there for the afternoon if he wanted to go take a look at it. The boy said, "No. I don't need to see it. I'll take it." I began to speak and he cut in to explain that he needed the apartment right away, and assured me that he would take it. "No," I said. "That's not how it works. We need to meet you. We need to decide if you are going to be a responsible tenant that will fit in with the other tenants already in the building. We need references." This seemed to come as a surprise to him.

We even got a call from Nancy. Too good to be true Nancy. Nancy of the sad, sad stories. She'd like to rent the apartment too.

We're getting a lot of calls, but oh my gosh. Very few of them sound real promising.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Normal

Last night, I woke up. Tim was having a restless night (it always happens when he has caffeine after 5 PM), and in his tossing and turning, he managed to steal the blankets. Shivering, I sat up and grabbed my share of the blankets back. Then I burrowed back under them, and tried to get warm again. Suddenly I realized that I've been cold a lot lately. Freezing. I've begun taking a sweater with me. I am cold a lot. Out of the blue, it hit me. Those wretched horrible hot flashes are starting to taper off. They started a little over a year ago, shortly after I began chemo. They were unrelenting, one after another. And when summer rolled around...gees...just miserable. Enough said. But somehow, without me even noticing, they've eased off. Last night, I laid in the dark marveling over that while I shivered.

Another thing that I noticed is that my wooly tufty hair is now shiny and smooth again. It feels soft when I touch it. I guess that initial 'chemo hair' is gone. After two haircuts, I guess that the hair that was damaged by those toxic drugs has been cut off, and it has been replaced by healthy hair.

My life is going back to normal. Day by day, the fears recede. Day by day, I get more practical about the joint pain. Day by day, I get better and stronger. I'm losing weight. Friday, I read about neurotransmitters, and synaptic clefts, and dopamine and glutamates and GABA and norepinenephrine, and I realized that I was comprehending it. I'm clear minded again, and that is a great thing too. Last year at this time, I was not sure that my life would ever again be normal, but it has been happening, without my noticing, even.

Last night, I shivered and tried to get warm again as my husband tossed and turned, playing tug of war with the bedding. I felt so darn lucky that there were tears.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bullfeathers

Although, we have never voted straight ticket, Tim and I would have to say that we consider ourselves to be democrats. Don't bother responding and criticizing or attempting to persuade us 'where we are wrong in our thinking'. Our affiliation, our thoughts come from our own life experiences. We are what we are. In return, you're allowed to be what you are. Deal?

Anyways, for the past week, the National Republican Party has been trying desperately to get in touch with us. While I was doing homework, the call came in again. 'Natasha' had an important message from the Republican Party for me, "and my support was urgently needed." I explained that we don't support the Republican Party because they do not hear what America is saying. She assured me that they are attuned to the voice of the American people. "Huh," I said. "I've been telling you for years now that we are democrats in this house and we would like to be taken off your phone list. That hasn't happened. You're not listening to me..." And she assured me again that I would be removed from their phone list. I hung up the phone and got back to work. That's yet another line of Republican bullfeathers that I've heard over and over again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weigh-In

Disappointingly enough, I only lost a pound this week. One little pound. And that was even with the head start of the fraction over the two pounds I'd lost last week, when I was too lazy to get my reading glasses and 'do the math'. I'd learned to content myself with a two pound a week loss, but ONE POUND! *grumble* *mumble* *rolling eyes* In any case, this brings my weight loss total to six pounds.

I've got three chapters for English, one chapter for psychology, two math problems yet undone, and another paper to write. I'm hoping to get that done today. This is a big weekend. Tonight, we think we're having company for supper. Tomorrow, during the day, I'll help Tim work on a kitchen that he is re-doing. Company coming for supper tomorrow night, although Buddy is bringing the meal in, a 'white lasagna', and I am simply providing a salad and bread to go with it. Church on Sunday morning, and then we're getting together with friends on Sunday for the Superbowl. I am not a football fan, but Marsha and I will have a nice visit while the guys watch their game. Today is the only big chunk of uninterrupted time I've got to get the bulk of my homework done. What I am doing on the internet drinking coffee and discussing my weight with you fine folks, I don't know. Let me get my hinder in gear.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Counting my Eggs.

You know that whole 'don't count your eggs before they're hatched' thing? Okay. Well, I'm going to count those eggs anyway. Yesterday, I had a rotten cold. Pure rotten. I also had a psychology test today. Yesterday, I wrote two papers. Yesterday, I read two chapters. Yesterday, I tried to study. I was so tired, though, and I had cold chills, and I just felt so stinking bad that it was hard to focus. I finally gave up, made a pot of cream of potato soup, just so that I could drink a cup of the broth. Lot of chopping for a cup of broth, but like I said, I was miserable. Anyhow, I went to class last night, and when I got home, I went to bed, I went directly to bed, and I slept like the proverbial log. This morning, I got up early, and I studied for an hour. I felt better. I seemed to be remembering more easily, thinking more clearly, which was comforting, but still I was nervous, because this test stuff is all new.

Okay. Now, about those eggs, the ones that I'm not supposed to be counting, etc. etc. I gotta say, I believe that I smoked that test. I may have even aced it. I'll find out next Tuesday for certain, but I know that I did better than okay on it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bully Blog

Yeah, so that classroom situation that I've been agonizing over for the past week? I had the class last night. Turned out that the situation had already been handled, sort of. My post? Your comments? Someone in the classroom reads my blog.

I'll be darned.

Ground Hog Day

Yesterday was Ground Hog Day. Big deal if you're a fan of furry hibernating critters. Or if you're in elementary school. But Punxsatawny, PA has a whole tourist industry set up around Punxsatawny Phil. Who am I to argue with this? People come from all over the world to see this momentous event, while I have never bothered to travel the couple hours required to get myself there. But, according to Phil, we will not have an early spring. It's just that kind of talk that will get a little furry critter shot, so Phil might want to think about that. Interesting side note: I once saw Punxsatawny Phil in a parade. He was being pulled in a little wagon by a man in formal evening wear with a top hat. Phil was stretched out lazily in his little cage, sound asleep, exposing his woodchuck genitalia to all the children pushing up to catch a glimpse of the prognosticating phenomenon. We all received official Punxsatawny Phil coins to commemorate the occasion. I think Phil is a perv. Sorry.

You know the Bill Murray movie 'Ground Hog Day'? How the poor man is stuck reliving the same day over and over again. I saw the saddest real life example of that: The elderly woman sat at the main entrance of the nursing home with teary eyes. I'm a sucker, and could not pass by things like this without stopping if my very life depended on it. Of course, I stopped. Of course, I talked. Of course, she talked back. She told me her name. She told me that she was disturbed by the thought of all the orphans in Haiti, and that she could not help crying each time she saw their little faces on the news. She was ashamed that she was such an emotional person, she told me. Her children call her 'Mama BooHoo'. "Oh, I'm a sap myself," I comforted her. And then she told me the story of how her husband had to have kidney dialysis, and he was in such discomfort, having such an awful time. The doctor told them, "Now is the time to start praying for God to save him." She looked at me fiercely. "I did not," she said. "I prayed for God to take him, and God did, the very next day, he died." And the big tears rolled down her face. "Listen," I said, "I think that you prayed the right prayer. I think that it showed that you trusted God enough to turn your husband over to His care. Don't feel badly about that." And she looked so relieved. She grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. I told her that I was beginning work here, and that I would look for her, and then I went on about my business.

Later, I was walking out the door, and she was there. The tears rolled down her face. I tried to walk past, but I could not bring myself to do so. I sat down on the bench next to her. She told me about the children in Haiti, the poor motherless children. And she cried. And she told me about her husband. The doctor told them, "Now is the time to start praying for God to save him." She looked at me fiercely. "I did not," she said. "I prayed for God to take him, and God did, the very next day, he died." And the big tears rolled down her face.

I walked out of there trying to imagine what it would be like to live the worst day of your life over, and over and over again. I couldn't. Her pain was so great that I could not even begin to wrap my head around it.

Ground Hog Day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So tell me...

...what would you do if you had a class with a older gentleman who was actually, er...not bright, and what if this gentleman showed up with his book and paid very close attention, but had to ask a lot of questions, because he just simply couldn't understand. And what if, after a couple weeks of watching this play out, and reaching your own conclusions on the subject in your own quiet little way, you started to notice that other people in the class, younger people mostly, had started to titter and roll their eyes when the aforementioned person spoke? I hoped that the teacher would notice this, and handle it, but he has not. I guess that the fellow is there for a reason. Obviously, there is a desire to be more, an awareness of his own ignorance. I remember feeling ashamed of myself for what I was not, and so it bothers me to watch this play itself out. It bothers me a lot, watching people mock him. It is not covert, not by any means, but maybe the guy hasn't noticed it. I mean, the teacher seems to be missing it.

I don't want to make the professor mad. I don't want to embarrass the man. I don't want to watch it either, because the next person they are mocking might be me. So. I'm taking a poll. What would you do? I have an idea, but I want to see if anyone else out there might have a better one.

What a World We Live In

Sunday, a friend substituted for one of the other Sunday School teachers. My class was feverishly at work on a Valentine's surprise for our church. The substitute teacher only had one child in her class, and he was uncomfortable being the only kid in class with an unfamiliar teacher, so she quietly asked me if we could combine classes. "Of course," I said cheerfully, "but we are working on a surprise. Can he keep a secret?" Turns out that you never want to say that to a kid. In this day of 'stranger danger', kids are specifically warned to be wary of adults who want them to keep secrets.

I looked at this little boy, beautiful, big dark eyes, and really, it broke my heart a little. Remembering the Valentine's secrets of my own childhood, it seemed terribly sad that a little child should be afraid to keep a secret that involved construction paper hearts and glitter. And yet, I would not want, not for a moment, to try to talk him out of his notion that an adult who asks you to keep a secret is a bad person, and someone you should get away from.

What a world we live in!

Monday, February 1, 2010

On The Road Again...

Sunday started like most other Sundays. We went to church. It was wicked, wicked cold. -9 when we got up. (That's -23 celcius). So we came home from church, changed clothes, and set out... leaving our mountain once again....
... and right into Warren.
Tim wanted to make sure that the pipes had not frozen on the houses down town. Everything was fine. So we continued on...(Side note: These are not our houses. They are random shots of some of the historical houses in town.)
It strikes me that pictures can be misleading. We've got some beautiful historical homes, but there's also some ugly parts of town.
The main drag, Pennsylvania Ave, which winds alongside the Allegheny River.
This brick, with the star? 'They'll give you $5.00 for them.' I've heard this all of my life. Since I was a child even. The price has never gone up. It has never gone down. 'They'll pay $5.00 for them'. To any locals reading along, if you know who 'they' are, the mysterious 'they' who will pay $5.00 for them, call me right away. Tim and I have a couple hundred of them.

Anyhow, there is a town called Starbrick. It used to have a brick factory where they made those bricks with the star in them. It is gone now. Some day, I should just travel around taking pictures of places where people used to work. We've lost a major portion of our industrial base here in my neck of the woods. This is the old generation plant in Starbrick. It works on a smaller scale. We get most of our electric from the Kinzua Dam now. This used to be a school. Starbrick School. I went to fifth and sixth grade there. The windows have been redone. The blue framework shows how big the windows used to be.

The window on the second floor? I remember the lucky days when I was chosen to be the one to run in the side doors and up the stairs to grab the big old bell with the wooden handle and reach out that window with it, ringing it to signify the end of our recess. We all vied for that opportunity.

So that's Starbrick.

Then we headed towards Youngsville. I used to work in this building. It is part of the Rouse Estates. You can read about Henry Rouse here.
There is a great and powerful computer guru who lives in Youngsville. Dan Ralston brought our computer back from the brink of death.
We went to Pittsfield to drop off Mary's birthday gift and card. We couldn't stay, so we didn't get any farther than the laundry room. Mary and I have been friends for 40 years now. We met when we were 12.

This is the church that Mary and her husband Danny got married almost 26 years ago.
And this farm? This is where Mary grew up. I spent some happy days here helping at her family's dairy farm when I was a kid.
And from Pittsfield, we headed to Garland. This tiny house here, this is where my own grandparents used to live when I was a kid. Past Garland is Torpedo, where they used to make explosives for the oil fields. But now all that is left is a church, and Torpedo Wire Company, and a few houses. We headed on towards Grand Valley, to celebrate Rachel's second birthday. Rachel is my great niece, the daughter of my niece, Kelly. The boy is my great nephew, the son of my other niece Kristi, who stands behind her boy. The fellow in the background is my Tim. We stopped by my sister and brother in law's place...
and came away with fresh-from-the-farm brown eggs. They have cows and chickens.
***********
It was a nice weekend.