Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mish Mash

It's early in the morning, and cool. A wonderful break from the hot and humid weather we've been having.

People bring their dogs into the store, and I'm really enjoying petting a dog again. It almost makes me wish... Nah. No. Huh-uh.

Tim got his new car inspected. He drove me down so that we could pick up the car. I got home and in the driveway. "Tim?" I asked. "Do you smell brakes burning?" I thought it was me. He says he thinks it's the new car. The fun never ends, people. Really.

Other than that, not a lot to report. The grandbaby's heartbeat is posted on line. It is an amazing moment, the first time you hear that, and I remember vividly, hearing the heartbeats of my own three for the first time. Where have the years gone?

Folding laundry, and I came up with an amazing thought: all of those 'economic indicators'. We can do away with them. What do people do when the times are hard? They put off buying underwear. Nobody sees them but the person you love, and they love you even if your underwear is shot. So you save those pennies. And then life gets easier, you have money rolling in again, and what's the first thing you do once you decide that you're on solid footing again? You buy a package of Hanes. You walk around in new and comfortable underwear and you feel like a million bucks. So I say that all our government has to do is take a look at underwear stock. Are women buying underwear again? Then our economy is on the upswing.

(Note: you can not use Victoria's Secret as an indicator. There are too many men who buy the stuff in bulk because they've seen Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Anniston looking good in stuff like that. It's got to be the practical cotton panties that practical working women buy for themselves.)

That's it really. Gotta get ready for work.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Long Overdue Friday Weigh In

Things got nuts for a while, and between the stress of a five week Anatomy and Physiology course and the job where I did not fit, I began to comfort myself with food. A lot. I actually gained six pounds during that month, and it was embarrassing. I wrestled with food issues a lot. I felt very ashamed of my lack of self control. I was also feeling pretty guilty. On top of school and work, weight became one more thing for me to feel badly about. I began to avoid the scales, and also stopped posting the Friday Weigh In. In looking back, I see that my last post was June 18th. At that point, I'd lost 18 pounds for the year. My weight began to wobble. And then I managed to gain six pounds. Six. How bad am I? Pretty bad it turns out.

Well, class is over, and I got a B. I've also got a job that I enjoy a lot. The people are awfully nice. It's a pretty physical job, and I actually like that part. A lot. And magically, that whole eating for comfort thing has settled down. Just like that. If ever was a lesson to be learned, this is it. When my life is under control, so is my eating.

Now, I have not weighed myself, even though I knew that I was losing weight again. I mean, there was something just inherantly awful about losing the same weight that I'd already lost before. I just made up my mind to give myself a month, and then get back on the scale. When I got back to the weight I was when I posted that I'd lost 18 pounds, well, I'd begin posting again.

I'm there.

*bows*

You know, I have the funniest stories from work. I love that job. Just all sorts of charactors. I was ringing up an Amish man. The folks behind him said, "Are you Mr. Yoder?" For an Amish, he was pretty funny stuff. He answered, "Well, one of them." Byler. Yoder. Miller. Those last names are probably shared by more than half of the Amish here. But the people behind him said, "You're Eli's father right?" and he admitted that he was. And the people began to tell him what a wonderful boy Eli was, that he'd done some work for them, and they were quite impressed with him. So impressed that they treated him to dinner at the local Chinese buffet. The woman said, "We all tried to eat with chop sticks and couldn't. Except Eli. He figured them out with no problem at all." And the whole mental picture of an Amish man using chopsticks to eat his Chinese made the entire line burst out laughing, even Eli's father.

And there was this elderly lady who came into the store. She was about to begin volunteering at a local therapeutic riding place. It is a place where people with disabilities get a chance to ride, and physically handicapped children develop muscle control, or balance, or simply get stronger. Autistic children bond with the animals there. The animals are collected from abusive situations, and brought there to be loved on for the rest of their lives. The thing that I love is that I when I meet the people who volunteer there, some of them are pretty broken themselves, coming from very sad situations. They begin to volunteer at the Double Rainbow Ranch, and they find meaning in their own lives. They love the animals. They love the kids. They love Milton, the funny lively man who runs the show. Everyone wins there. The kids. The animals. The volunteers. The owner. It is amazing to me, and I'd like to volunteer there myself, if I ever have the time.

Anyhow this elderly woman came into the store. She was looking for barn boots, because she has just volunteered at the Double Rainbow Ranch. I show her our barn boot selection, which ranges from the $10. basic black boots to the top of the line Muck boots which cost over $100. She had a hundred questions, and it was obvious that she was a very lonely woman. She just talked and talked and talked. I thought to myself that she was a perfect fit for the Double Rainbow Ranch. I scooted back and forth between customers at the register, back to her, and it was getting kind of frustrating because honestly, a lot of conversation had begun to rotate around which boots she should buy, and that tends to be more a matter of personal choice. She just had to decide. And she couldn't. She waffled around. At one point, she came walking through the boot section taking mincing tiny steps. She wanted me to cut the plastic line that held the two boots together so that she could wear them around the store for a while. I was waiting customers, so it took me a minute to get to her with the scissors. In the meantime, she made hobbled little steps to get to me first. Finally, when we began closing up the store, she made her decision, and bought her blue boots, and proudly wore them out of the store. Bless her heart! You know, she called the very next day to tell management about my wonderful patience, and how pleased she was with my service. Ike couldn't get her off the phone and handed it to me. The woman told me, "You know, you are VERY good at your job. I'd never been in Tractor Supply before, but I'm coming back." Now wasn't that sweet?

But the thing that I love most about that job is this: that everyone comes through your line, and you have a few moments to speak to them, and in that few moments, almost always, we find something in common. A shared interest. A shared opinion. I love listening to their stories.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cars

Probably one of the biggest differences between Tim and I is this: that he hangs on to cars until they are used up and worn out. Completely. Both of our cars have nearly 200,000 miles on them. He fixes them up, patiently, many times going to the junkyard to get the replacement parts that they need. I've been driving the Oldsmobile, which is over 20 years old. It is also the 'work' vehicle, which means that he's removed the backseat from the thing so that he can haul stuff from job to job. Now, I'm not a 'car' snob. Really, I am not. As long as the car gets me from point A to point B, I'm kind of good with that. However, I've been driving this car and it has stopped doing that.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving it downtown and I happened to look over. The car was smoking from the passenger front wheel. I immediately pulled over. I could smell the brake burning as soon as I got out of the car. Later, when I saw Tim, I mentioned it. "Yeah," he says. "I think it's dragging. I've got the parts to fix that. Haven't had time." And he hasn't. Not really. The gear shift knob is always falling off. The passenger side window works...eeeeeevvverrrrrrrrrrr....soooooooooo...slooooooooooooooooooooowly. The trim around the moon roof has partially fallen off and is tucked up and pinned into place. Mostly. Except where it is hanging. The other day was the piece de resistance. I went to town. I parked the car. I sat there a moment thinking, "What is that burning smell?" I knew it wasn't the smell of brakes burning. As my friend Mary noted, "When you find yourself differentiating between burning smells on your car, well, that isn't good." She's right. I sat there trying to figure out what to do. Tim was not home. There was no smoke. So I got out of the car and went to breakfast, came back and the darnable car would not start. It wasn't all bad, because I met some interesting people. That's the upside. Got a ride in a patrol car. That was exciting, and probably initiated a bunch of neighborly gossip. And Tim did get the car started. But I discovered a weird thing. My radio does not shut off any more. Is that what happened? I don't know. I told Tim I wanted the radio disconnected, and I want the portable battery pack in my car at all times. He doesn't think it's necessary. (I do have the battery pack, though) And he's right. The car's started up fine since then. Still, the car makes me nervous. I don't want him driving it, because he drives a long way to work, over an hour, through very remote places. So I drive it, and I'm beginning to hate it. His Mustang will be dropped off to be inspected and aligned tonight. Next week, he'll be driving a good car. I'll get the Intrigue back that he's been driving. It's got nearly 200,000 miles on it...and...well...it's got problems too.

Here's the thing that bugs me. We've got cars. He bought a car to replace Cara's car. She doesn't want to learn to drive standard. I could be driving that. We just need to switch the license over at the notary. But he does not want to do that just yet. There are a couple things he wants to work on. We have an old Mercedes. Needs a new master cylinder. He's going to fix that. We've got a very nice Skylark, and I forget what the heck that needs. We've got a Ranger truck that needs a transmission. The transmission is sitting right there. It's been rebuilt. Just not installed. We've got our plow truck, which does carry a current license and could be driven, but it needs a new battery, and usually has to be 'jumped' to start it. "Really, Tim, you need to do something with those cars," I say. "We need to get rid of the Oldsmobile and the Intrigue." And he looks at me with honest consternation. "What?!!!" he says. "Those cars can be fixed...."

Men. They are a funny animal, ain't they?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Opening Doors

I guess that's something that I'm always going to struggle with a little. If God is leading someone in their journey, like Catherine, and He gives her an idea that she needs to make peace, to settle things, well, far be it from me to shut a door that God has opened. I listened yesterday, and I heard her appealing to me, to be a part of my life, to be a part of my children's life. It was puzzling to me. As I explained to her, my children are adults. Their relationships with others are their own. You know what I mean? I don't feel that it is my place to get in the middle of those sorts of things. She needs to take that desire and lay it before the children. She needs to establish that relationship with them herself. As far as a relationship with me, well, I guess the time for that relationship is past. The kids are grown. The need for any co-parenting has passed. She seemed to want assurance that our relationship was restored, yet since we'd never had a relationship, I'm not at all sure how we could restore it. Still. If God was moving in her heart, I didn't want to be shutting any doors.

I was cautious in my words as I spoke to this woman, because her history is to be a collector of words, to save them up and use them at the first opportunity. She spoke of reading my letters to my ex, confusing to me, since we have not corresponded in a dozen or more years. Longer than they have been married. We'd met in the army, and we'd written for some time before we'd ever run in to each other again. A great deal of our relationship happened on paper. She told me that she thought I was an angry woman. That narrowed it down. She must have read letters I sent to him while he was in prison. He'd written me, asking for information on the kids, wanting to know how they were doing. "I was angry," I said to Catherine. "That was a devastating time for me and for the kids." That's the truth. It was a horrible time. I remembered wanting to know why? Mostly why. The big burning question: WHY?!!!!!!!!! As if once I had an answer, I'd be able to make sure that it never happened again. I don't know. I can't tell you what went through my head during those days. It was a rough time. I answered his letters, and that was about it. I never received a satisfactory answer as to how he could have done this terrible thing. I never received any sort of satisfactory explanation of how our life had gotten to that point. I finally figured that I would not ever have that explanation, that he probably did not even know himself. When he got out of prison, he began to call the kids on the phone a couple times a year. The letters stopped. It's surprising to me...I kept none of his letters. They're gone. I did not want them. They did not bring me what I wanted to know, they did not fill in any blanks. I honestly don't remember what I wrote back to him during those days, but they apparently convinced his new wife that I was a horrible person. "Yes," I told her calmly. "It was a big betrayal, to our family, to me." Hard not to take personally. Inside, I wondered at a woman who would go through her husband's letters. What was she looking for?

I picked my words very carefully yesterday. This woman has told each and every one of my children that no molestation had ever taken place, that I simply wanted a divorce and so fabricated the charges. She has been vocal in her belief that Tim and I have not raised moral, Christian children. What does that mean, actually? They were raised in a church. They know what Tim and I believe. I also believe that they need to make their own choices. She sent me a very wicked piece of hate mail after Christmas. She apologized then, with many a tear (after I threatened to take it to the police), and I believed her to be sincere then, but within weeks, she was fired up again, this time outraged that Brianna had chosen to walk down the aisle with Tim and I on one side, her father on the other. She apologized later, telling Brianna 'but you have always been a liar, you have to admit that...' (in effect justifying her own bad behavior by pointing the finger back at Brianna).

With this history between us, I picked my replies to her very carefully. When she began to talk about the kids, I sidestepped that. To be a part of their lives, to know how things are going with them, she needs to be in contact with them. When the conversation turned to criticism of her husband, I plainly told her that I was not comfortable talking about my ex. If she has questions about him, she needs to work it out with him. My opinions do not, will not, should not matter. The words are best left unspoken.

I don't know what she got out of the conversation. I was not a perveyor of information. She's half a continent away. Would the kids be open to a relationship with her? "Ask them," I responded. Although my final words to her were, "If you plan on opening that door with Brianna, you better be sure that you are willing to keep your criticisms and your unkindness and your judgements to yourself. She is a broken child, and it is not her fault. I pray for that girl each and every day. If you believe in God as you say you do, you will accept the fact that nothing is beyond His capability to make right. Don't you dare step into her life and make things even worse because I. Will. Not. forgive you for that." Those words were fierce, because I wanted her to know that I meant them, so I said them and then I burst into tears. She cried at that, admitting that she had been awful.

I've been mulling over this conversation. I don't think that I have closed any doors that God might be opening in Catherine's heart. I've come to the conclusion that it is what it is, really. As with anything that God is trying to do in our lives, we don't see the end of the road. We are led, step by step. If we are His, we follow, not knowing where the road will lead us, but trusting that He does. We simply take that first step and wait to see what happens next. If God is opening a door in her heart, I imagine that at some point, He'll open that same door in mine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Conversations

It was an interesting day today. I went down town to meet a friend for breakfast and coffee. I've been looking very forward to this. She's got such a calm way about her that it is soothing and comfortable to sit at a table and talk with her. She has had her own bout with breast cancer, and we spoke of a mutual acquaintance who died of it. I was able to say, "You know, I think that I may be depressed right now..." She felt that it was probably a natural consequence. It was a relief to say the words out loud. It was a relief to hear her calm response. We talked about cancer and family, and books, and traveling, and when we went our separate ways, I felt better for our time together. I think she did too. We made plans to meet next month.

(late edit: No. I don't have cancer. It was being discussed in the context of 'post treatment' and life after cancer, and does it ever stop being an issue in your head?)

I walked back to my car afterwards, and discovered that it would not start. I got picked up by a fellow about my age, Richard, from Clarendon. He's newly retired from the phone company, and hasn't quite figured out what to do with his free time yet, because he assured me that helping me was not a problem at all, that he had nothing planned and could use the excitement. He cheerfully gave me a ride to a car part place. We talked about all manner of stuff while listening to his new Satellite radio, tuned to a station that played Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkle in the background. I couldn't get the car started, even with his help. A nice state trooper brought me home. We talked a lot too. About small town life, about coming back from the big city to small town life. I mentioned that I had moved back after years away, because it just seemed to me that it would be easier to raise my kids in a small town. He was an 'Army brat', and agreed with my assessment. Both of us had plenty of differences, I imagine, but both of us found plenty of commonalities too. We both are contented where we are. I love 'discovering' people. And I'm sure the neighbors were plenty surprised to see me stepping out of the back of a trooper car. *sigh* The fun never ends, people. The fun never ends.

I walked into the house and much to my surprise there was a message on my answering machine, from someone who has behaved badly. She left a cell number, and asked me to call her, that she wanted to make things right. I stood there thinking after I played the message. Should I call? Should I not? What was the motivation here? This woman is someone who thinks herself very clever, smarter than most anyone. She is also a pretty angry person, very judgemental. Most importantly, she is my children's stepmother. It took an hour, but I finally decided to call. She feels that God has convicted her of a need to make amends. This sounded very familiar, having heard her pieties before. She talks the talk, but she doesn't walk the walk. At least she hasn't up to now. So I listened as she cried. I said, "Well, I guess that I'm kind of at a loss, here. I mean, I'm not sure what you want. I'm not angry at you. I don't understand you, but I am not angry." Truth be told, I just kind of let it go a long time ago. I'm not trying to be cruel here, but really, this woman did not have the impact on my life that she apparently thought she did. I didn't know how to phrase that, without sounding mean. We spoke for a while. She wanted a relationship. What does that mean? I don't know. Cautiously, I said, "I can't say. I'm open to it, I suppose, but we've had similar conversations, and the moment I let down my guard, you're angry about something, and you say horrible, horrible things, and I never see it coming. I'm always surprised by it. I don't know what you want to hear right this moment, but I really can't assure you our relationship is restored. I can tell you that I harbor no ill will. What happens next will happen next. It will unfold as it is meant to." She then indicated that she wished to have a relationship with the children. I said, "Well, they're not children any more. That's between you and them." We discussed that. I hesitate to give a lot of detail on the kids. They're their own story, and they've a right to tell that story in their own words. As she builds a relationship with them, IF she builds a relationship with them, she will hear their stories in their words from their mouths. She commented on Brianna's wedding. I commented that she had been invited, but that she'd made the decision not to come. "I had a job interview," she said, defensively. "On a Saturday," I said. It was not a question. And she said, "As a matter of fact, it WAS." I said, "You know, you want me to speak with you mother to mother, but, I'm going to be very plain spoken here. A mother's first priority is her children. I could have found any number of things to do that day, but the fact of it is that this was Brianna's special day, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. You had a choice. You chose not to come, and you said that you weren't coming weeks in advance of the wedding. A mother would have been there." Long pause. "You are right," she said. She wanted advice on her marriage, and I think that what she wanted was 'dirt' on her husband. I told her that I was not comfortable discussing her relationship with her husband. Long pause. She saw a lot of similarities between him and his father, she commented. She also commented that he was dishonest. I said, "Listen. I don't think either one of you are really honest with each other. You try to deny your anger at him. At the same time, he's trying not to provoke that same anger." The conversation kind of ended on this note: that what happens next is on her. The relationship with the kids is between her and them. I in no way oppose it, but it's not my business anymore. They are grown people. I did suggest that perhaps it would mean a great deal to her husband to be able to have a relationship with his children. The conversation ended.

I've talked to a whole bunch of people today. A whole heaping helping of people. I think of Susan and our pleasant talk, and of my new friend Richard and our blabbing as the music of our youth played in the background, and the nice state trooper, peppering each other with questions. I think of Catherine, and the careful way I speak to her, weighing every word, trying to anticipate how the words will be used. It's not the same. It's just not the same. In a relationship, even a casual one, or a very new one, conversation flows. The words move back and forth between the parties, a give and take. This is not like that. This is not a relationship. Will it be? Dunno. Should it be? Dunno.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Night Walk

Tonight, I came home from work, and the moon was just gorgeous. It illuminated everything just beautifully, and so, on the spur of the moment, I went for a night walk. I walked down to neighbor Ken's field. I stood looking at the way the daisies and the Queen Anne's lace glowed by the light of the moon. I looked at the way the moon reflected on the surface of the pond. I studied my own moon shadow. I listened to the frogs and the crickets. As I walked back, I could smell the horses from the Saddle Club across the road. I looked at the trees silhouetted by the full moon. I picked out star constellations. I heard the snort of a startled deer in the brush wondering what sort of critter was out prowling this night.

I love my corner of the world.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Sunday

Tornados came through north of us. We were not affected, not really, although the road was washed out just over the New York State line. This affects Tim since this is the way he goes to work. So we drove up to take a look. The water is too much for the drainage pipes, and the force of it simply washed the road away.


Good news! The road crew has been working long and hard, and expects the road to be passable tomorrow morning. This makes Tim darn glad. It is his first day on first shift, and he does not want to be late.


Walking along the road, we met Gabby. Doesn't she have a sweet face? She's handicapped. She was hit by a car, and her leg had to be amputated. She was adopted by people who had just had their old dog euthanized. I thought about my old Buck, and I cried a little. You know, I do not want another pet. I'm not ready, and to be honest, I'm not sure I ever will be again. I'm glad that Gabby's people felt differently. All parties seemed very happy.
Geese. We went to Washington Park. This is the city of Warren. Look at how muddy the Allegheny River is. Water is high.
Tim and I like to daydream. This is our latest daydream. Wouldn't this be a great place for wedding receptions? Really?
Lots of parking.
It's just a daydream, I imagine, but it's fun to walk along with your husband daydreaming about the possibilties. Impossibilities, too.
This is Queen Anne's Lace. It was named for Anne Boleyn, and according to the story that I heard when I was still a young child, it is so called because the flower resembles lace; the red flower in the center represents a blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle when she was making the lace. The function of the tiny red flower, coloured by anthocyanin, is to attract
insects. Strangely enough, in the UK, this is called Bishop's Lace, not Queen Anne's lace. Despite the fanciful names, really and truly, when you get right down to it, this is simply wild carrot.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thunderstorm

The thunder is echoing through the woods as yet another thunderstorm approaches. The wind has picked up and the trees rustle and whisper. I have wind chimes on the back deck, big ones that sound like church bells when they ring. The rain is pounding right now. I love the darkness, and I love the wildness of this night. I pad around the house that I know by heart, and I do not turn on the lights, in part because I know where everything is, but mostly because I want to watch the lightning flash.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trying Again

These pictures actually loaded in backwards order. Dummy me forgot how it works. So you'll have to scroll down to the last picture and begin there.
*waits*
I'm serious. Get down there!

This is Garnet. There really is nothing more pleasant than sitting on a front porch visiting with good people on a Sunday afternoon while petting the cats that jump up to say hello. Unless it's petting a little dog too. Thus ends my photo essay on my Sunday afternoon.
Gratuitous cat picture for Bill. Anyways, there is nothing more pleasant than sitting on a front porch visiting with good people on a Sunday afternoon and petting the cats that jump up to say hello. Okay. Scroll up.

Then I got the idea to head over to Karen's house, to show you the front porch I sprawled on while petting cats and little dogs, and visiting, earlier this week. Karen already had company. Her company is Karen, too. Gets a little confusing, doesn't it? Just say Hi Karen and Karen! That's all you need to know. Next thing you know, you'll be porch sitting and visiting with us, and believe me, there is nothing more pleasant than sitting on a front porch visiting with good people on a Sunday afternoon. Scroll up, please.


This is the view from the back deck of the rental. It's very peaceful, and the kitchen has a bank of windows that overlook the deck and this scene.
Makes me want to sing.
"Ol' black water, keeps on rolling, Mississipi moon won't you keep on shining on meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...."
*cough*
Sorry. I get carried away sometimes. Just scroll up.

Good.
You're here.
Sunday night, I was bored, after mowing the lawn and weeding, etc. (Tim was at work. So I decided to take a little ride and take pictures with my new camera. This is Tim's 'new' car. We're waiting on the tail light, so that it can be inspected. He also bought new bumper covers, front and back. He got new tires for it. The car is at one of the houses downtown. Okay. Now scroll UP.




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I was trying to upload pictures from my new camera, but alas: blogger is behaving badly tonight. After three tries, I give up.

Nothing to report, not really. Worked on the apartment this morning. Mowed a lawn. Killed the algae in my pond, admired my fish and two frogs, and my little water lilies. This is exciting stuff, ain't it?

It ain't?

Well, then I guess I'll just head off to bed to read awhile. We'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Instant

Today, on the way to work, a woman pulled out in front of me. She had a stop sign, and I think she must have thought it was a four way stop. It was not. That's the only explanation that I can think of because she pulled out directly in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and swung wide, going completely off the road but stopping before I went into the ditch. Traffic stopped all around us, and the people in the parking lot of a local produce store stood gaping. The woman and I exchanged terrified gazes for a moment, and then she drove on. I'm telling you, I was so scared, I had to sit there a minute, with my face in my hands to regain my composure. I think that someone from the produce store was headed to me, but I was so shaken that I was afraid that I'd burst into tears if someone tried to be kind, so I smiled at them and continued on my way. When I got to work and got out of the car, I was surprised to find that my legs were shaking and my hands trembled violently as I pumped gas.

As I walked into work, I thought the thought that I have thought repeatedly in the last couple years: "Cripes. Life can change in an instant, can't it?"

Winner

Postings will be sparse. I am ending one job while beginning the other. To top it all off, I had to work late last night. My co worker was sick, and went home early.

The new job is going to be a nice fit. It's just a far more respectful place to work. In fact, respect for one another is part of their productive work place policy. What they expect from their employees as customer service is very carefully outlined. Their vision, my vision ~ we are one. I enjoyed my morning yesterday, which goes along very nicely with their mission statement: "Play hard, Have fun, make money." (Anyone care to guess where I work?) I walked in yesterday, and said, "Hey, someone's looking at tractors out front." Immediately, someone shot out the front door. We are 11 percent ahead of the game, profit-wise for the month, and it is easy to see why. When I left a few minutes later (I'd stopped in just to show the boss my social security card, something I don't carry with me, and should have thought to bring that morning), I walked to my car, again passing the tractors. My co-worker had one foot propped up on the front wheel of a tractor and was leaning comfortably as he and the customer talked. We exchanged 'thumbs up'.

You know, the 'old' me would have struggled valiantly to fit into the old job. She would have been miserable, and anxious. It wouldn't have worked. There would have been tears. The 'new' me assessed the situation, decided that it wasn't going to work, that (moreover) I had absolutely no inclination to make it work. The 'new' me saw a chance to get out of there, and she took it. There was no agonizing, and there was no self recrimination. It is what it is, and I'm better off someplace else. And while there are a couple gloaters at the old place of employment, it makes me laugh inside every time I think of it: they're walking around feeling as if they 'won'. Fact is, I did.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday

Late edit: Just for the record here, peoples, when I say that this was a little bear, I mean just that. You are talking about something that weighed 150 lbs, and when he was on all fours, he was no taller than my hips, I'd guess. I'm short, btw. 5 foot 3. That white garbage bag? It's a kitchen trash bag. Use that for size comparison. It's not like having a monster sized grizzly in your back yard. Nothing to be a-skeerd of.





It's been a quiet day here, although it started a little too early for my liking. I awoke to the sound of the neighbor's dog. I also heard the sound of our garbage can be stealthily opened. Half awake, I muttered to Tim, "I think we might have a bear," but he was already standing at the window saying, "We have a bear." Not being a complete failure at blogging, I jumped up and headed downstairs, to get pictures of the bear. You see, unlike BB or Bill or Linda, I am not a natural born photographer. This means that I do not sleep with my camera. I was hanging out the sliding glass doors taking pictures of this bear who was happily munching watermelon and cantelope remains. He was also crunching on coffee grounds. Fruit and caffeine...hm. Me and that bear? Not so different, I guess. Tim headed out the back door to watch the little fellow, and he gave a short, sharp growl. "Oooh," I thought. "This little whippersnapper is kind of bold..." Then he ambled towards my bird feeders (which are empty this time of year, so as not to attract bears). "Oh, no," I yelled, clapping my hands. "You get away from those right now," and eventually he did, padding over to see the blueberries. Tim went out the door, taking pictures. The bear stood at the end of the deck looking at us curiously. "Go on, now," Tim said, and so the little bear went on.
Because I am a blogger, I immediately came in to put together a post. I've been promising you all bear pictures for ever so long, and finally I had them! And lo, they all turned out like this:
All of 'em. I tweaked around for some time, and was able to get the pictues cleaned up a little, so that you could see them at least a little. But I had a writing check sitting on the table to be deposited on Monday, and I said to Tim, "Know what? I've had it. Really and truly, I'm tired of messing around with this camera. Do you care if I buy a new one with my check?" And he said no, and so I did, this afternoon, after church, and after I mowed the lawn. It's so tiny, a little Kodak. The screen is much bolder, so old people can see their pictures better as they're taking them. I'm quite excited over this, imagining all the wonderful pictures I will take, although I figure that this new camera just about guarantees that we will not have another bear in the yard this season.
But, back to our morning: We tried to go back to sleep, but heck. We were wide awake and finally just got up and started getting ready for church. It's been a long time since I've been to church. At least a month. I lead the sharing of our joys and concerns and since I was up there, I let myself go first. "Gees. I've been away for so long. I've missed you all terribly, and it's a joy to be back." And then Pat stood up. "I'm with Debby. I've been away for a long time..." "Oh no he wasn't," I was quick to say. "He wasn't with me at all." To Pat, I said, "Don't go starting talk like that," and he laughed and made the motions of putting his foot in his mouth, and the church laughed together like people who love each other. Since I've been there last, we have yet another person with cancer. Gees, the church has been hard hit. I keep feeling like I'm supposed to use my own experiences to be a help, but quite honestly have not figured out what I am supposed to be doing. Our new pastor is a fire ball. We're heading into a new chapter I think, and I'm excited about it. The church was pretty full today, and you could feel the enthusiasm.
I left church, and I came home and mowed the lawn, and then bought our new camera, and then came home and weeded a couple flower beds. I'd intended to do some digging up, but could not find the spade. So here I sit.
Heck. Know what? I'm going out to take some pictures with my new camera. Like my church, this blog may be heading into a new chapter too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Getting Back on Track

This last class, as I moaned repeatedly, (you all are a very patient group) was haaaaaaaaaardddddd! I don't have a lot of confidence in myself as a student yet, and this challenge really wore me down. By the end of it, really, I was just at a place where, exhausted by the sheer enormity of it all, I found it hard to make myself study at all.

Struggling also to keep my spirit in an extremely petty and reactive work environment was trying as well, mostly because I have a long established pattern of feeling like everything is all my fault. When people are critical and angry with me, it fits in with how I see myself, 'validating' everything that I think about myself.

There is also the stress that comes with each and every medical visit. I'm a person who (yeah, this is shocking...) paid little or no attention to her health before, going to a doctor when something went wrong, waiting for years sometimes, between visits. Now all of a sudden even the taken-for-granted-good-health can no longer be taken for granted. There are symptoms and I don't know what they mean. When I wake up in the night sweating profusely and throwing off the blankets, is this menopause? Is this cancer? Is this simply the hot and humid summer we've been having? I don't know, and I don't know how to tell the difference. I worry about lumps. I can't tell the difference between the scar tissue, which is part of my new normal tissue make up. I find this all discouraging, because I have no confidence in my own abilities to stay on top of this: Cancer snuck up on me once, after all, but when I try to express my concerns and fears, I feel foolish and over reactive. This week, I went back to my regular family doctor for some routine stuff. I've always liked his quiet nature. He said, "You are careful about your BSEs, right?" and I said, "Well, I am, but I can't tell you what's normal and what's not anymore." Much to my surprise, he stopped everything to give me a brief class on telling the difference between scar tissue and cancer. A place that I'd been worrying about seemed not so worrisome to him, and he explained why, and showed me what he was looking for. I was really touched by that, even as I felt foolish. I said, "Thanks. I know it sounds foolish, but these sorts of things will bother me in the night..." and he looked at me mildly and said, "Well, of course they will." Unaccountably, I just felt like crying.

So things are settling down here. The class is over, I've gotten a B. I have a new job, and it seems as if it will be a much nicer place to work. I had a doctor acknowledge my fears and even provide me with knowledge that I can use to breathe just a little bit easier. I'm back on my diet (I majorly crashed and burned on that, gaining back six pounds in the last three weeks of class). So I'm re-losing what I previously lost, which makes Friday weigh-in kind of difficult to explain, so I haven't explained at all. So even though things are looking up here, I'm 'stuck' somehow. Not unhappy, really, just not motivated to get things done. I don't know why. I just want to breathe deeply, and to think, and to read, and to visit with people. I want to be with Tim. I want to talk with my kids (although, Dylan's story about having a gun pulled on him made me wonder precisely why this is so important to me.) I just want to immerse myself in my friendships, in my little family, in a good book. Writing. When the phone rings, I stop what I'm doing and sit down to visit with the friend on the other end (Hi, Stevie Wren!) Even as I'm ashamed of my lack of motivation, I can't seem to find it within myself to 'push' myself right this minute. It occurs to me that maybe, what I am trying to immerse myself in is, simply, life. Maybe I am simply trying to come back to life.

For the first time in a while, I feel like it could happen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Great Morning.

I have a 7:45 appointment at the cancer center, so I'm up early this morning. I woke up to the sounds of distant thunder and sitting at the computer, the storm has moved in big time, with heavy rain and dramatically loud thunder grumbles. It's a great time to be sipping coffee and watching it all move in.

Hindsight being 20/20, I guess I should have mowed the lawn last night. I could have scrubbed and waxed two floors on my hands and knees today, but it appears that lawn mowing is out of the question.

Oh. And something else I've noticed? A few weeks ago, Jayne (and probably others) commented on the wonderful 'new book' smell. That's all well and good, but last night, reading contentedly in bed before falling asleep over my book, I discovered that I love the smell of old books even more.

Really, there is nothing finer than having a balance in life ~ work, leisure, private time, friend time, sunshine, and storms.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quiet Time

I've been really stressing about a lot of different things lately. On top of everything else, I've had to work the past four Sunday mornings, so I've missed church. That's when I begin to lose perspective. At one point, tired and overwhelmed, I just put my head down and prayed, "God, I just need to see that you're at work..." And then I trudged on.

Well. A lot of things have changed here in just a few weeks. Tim is back to work. That's a big blessing. My class ended, and I did well. We have another apartment rented, and to a wonderful tenant too. I worried about Tim and his car and his late night commute home, and suddenly he has a nice Mustang AND a day job which will begin at the end of the month. I've got another job where everyone speaks nicely to (and of) each other. There is a lot of smiling, and I'm excited to begin work there. My poor house is finally taking on some semblance of order again after weeks of little time for housework. Yesterday, I was out running errands, and you know, everywhere I went, I ran into someone who was glad to see me, and anxious to know how things were going. Conversations with old friends are always cheering, aren't they? Know what else? Those wobbly tumor markers? This time they're down. That's good news too.

It seems as if my prayer has been answered. I again see His hand in my life. I can again look around, and count blessings, and tonight, alone in my quiet little house, I am filled with gratitude. I feel joy bubbling up from a place deep inside of me, and it has been too long. Thank God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perfect Day

It was a very nice day today. I got some housework done, laundry, the like. Not as much as I should have gotten done, but I'm slowly but surely catching up. I had to go to Jamestown for a drug test for the new job. I guess it's been a while since I've done that. Gosh. There are a whole darn lotta rules. The woman told me that if she heard water running, or the toilet flush, it was all over right there. The test would not be sent off. I was kind of mystified. I said, "Well, how do I wash my hands when I'm done?" She told me that I could go back in after handing off my sample. Very strange. If you are not a drug user, all the little rules just seem sort of silly, but the lab has come to learn all the little cheating tricks, I guess.

Anyhow, I stopped in with the paperwork to give it to my new employer, and had a nice visit. This is going to be a happy place to work, I think. Then I was in the car again, and headed to the nearby town of Youngsville, to pick up our computer from the shop. And then it was over to pay the electric bill, pick up some cleaning supplies from the dollar store. I popped in to see Mary and Danny, in the middle of extensive renovations to their 'new' house, which is actually Danny's childhood home. It's going to look great. You can see that already. They've got a couple Amish men doing the work.

I washed dishes while Mary zipped around setting the rest of the kitchen to rights. Of course, the blabbing was nonstop. I'd come there to ask a question. Mary is very wise, and she gives good counsel. It just seems so friendly to work alongside someone, to know where things go without asking. To be able to finish each other's sentences, sometimes. After a short visit there, I headed back down off the hill to my own hill, stopping in the valley in between to pick up a few groceries. And then I was out the door again, with a lease for our new tenant to sign, and to meet up with friends to attend an exhibit of paintings done by the child of other friends. Of course we ran into even more people to talk to, and so we did. Laughing and telling jokes. This exhibit was at the library. On the way out, I stopped, as I always do, to check out the books for sale. I got Pat Conroy's 'Beach Music'. Although I had not cared much for 'South of Broad', I figured that since he's such a renowned author, maybe I should give him another try. Since the book was on sale for a mere dollar, well, what the hey. I also saw a Salmon Rushdie book, 'The Ground beneath Her Feet', and I was tempted, even though I'd plowed through it once already. That book is a record for me. It took me several weeks to read it, and I had to renew it twice. It's never taken me so long to read a book. Ever. It was only a dollar as well, but I knew that I would not read that book again, and so it would be a waste. But then I saw a set of books, the Ainsworth Novels, historic romance novels from the early 1900s, and I wanted them. There were seven of them at 50 cents each. When I went up to pay for them, the librarian said, "Oh, just give me two dollars for them." I stood there shocked. "They're old," she said. Like it was a bad thing. So I bought an armload of books, and spent $3. Walking to my car, talking with Karen and Kathy, I said, "You know girls, if I go home, I'll have to clean house. And like the good friends that they are, we got cold drinks and took an hour and a half walk around town admiring the old homes, and talking about how lucky we are to live in our quiet little corner of the world. The crescent moon followed us where ever we went, and the lightning bugs twinkled.

Now I'm home, and I'm not cleaning house. I'm going to bed to read, to curl up with my old novels. I can clean house tomorrow.

New Job

It's no secret that my job at the gas station is not going well. It's a mean place, a complaining place, a back biting place. I don't like it much, and I've been very unhappy. A customer came to the store the other day and mentioned that he was looking for help. I was on that like a big dog on a bone. "Pick me," I said. "I'm begging." He told me to stop by and talk to him the following afternoon and so I did. He hired me on the spot. They are looking for 'stellar' customer service. He wanted an example of what I considered 'stellar'. I mentioned making a pot of flavored coffee on Saturday, even though we don't offer them, generally speaking. The self same thing that made my coworker so angry at me, made this manager very happy. And THEN....a cashier walked into the office. She looked at me and knew who I was. I was the one who stopped what I was doing to get the keys to the shed. I ran out to bring in sweet tea for her, since there was none in the refrigerator. I had pumped gas for yet another employee the previous night, and she remembered that she was quite shocked to see an older woman pumping gas (ouch.) and she was amazed that I was so cheerful as I waited on her. I guess that what goes around comes around. I try very hard to be a polite person, to avoid mean-ness. It's been a rough few months, but when I walked out of my new place of employment, I was shaking hands, and everyone seemed so glad to have me on board. Everyone was so cheerful, and we all joked. This is such a huge relief to me, I cannot even tell you.

I left there and headed to 'porch-sit' with my friend Karen. She's got a lovely front porch that you can sit on, and call out to people as they walk by, with their dogs or by themselves. They stop to exchange a few pleasant words. In between visiting with the walkers, we visited with each other, or watched the birds, as I petted the cats who leapt onto my lap. Her little Yorkie stood expectantly at my feet so I lifted him up as well, and he curled up beside me, giving me something to pet in between cats. It was a peaceful night with a good friend. I was so very content there. I think I could have sat there the entire evening. But, I had work to do at home, and so reluctantly, I got up and left the 'porch of dreams', and headed home. I want a front porch. I have a back deck, but I haven't even gotten that set up yet. I've made up my mind to do it today. There will be no walkers going by, but I can swing on the porch swing, and read a book, and listen to the birds and the sounds of the woods. If a bear strolls by, or a deer, maybe, I'll call out in a cheerful way. They'll bolt and head the other way. It will be just like Karen's front porch, only different.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Work

Yesterday, I was working at the gas station. The full serve guy did not show up. He's done. That's sad. He was a good worker, I think, but he was sick, and when he called in sick, he was told to find his own replacement. He called people, but no one would work for him. He did not call me. I would have worked for him. Anyway, so he was written up as a no-call, no-show, even though, that wasn't quite factual. Yesterday, however, he was. He simply did not call. He simply didn't show up. I imagine that he decided that he was going to be fired anyway, so simply did not bother to make the trip to the store. It's a mean work environment, that's for sure.

So, anyway, I was pumping gas at the two full serve pumps and waiting on customers, scooting back and forth. It was humid and getting disheartening. At one point, a woman was waiting in line for me to pump her gas. She pulled up and said, "My daughter has taken my card into the store to buy cigarettes." I said, "Okay," and went around to the other side of the pump to wait on the customer there. The woman who had no credit card was outraged that when her daughter returned with her credit card, she still had to wait for me to finish the customer I was waiting on. I came around and took her credit card and ran it through the machine. I asked her how much gas she wanted. Very angrily, she said, "You never asked me!!!" *blink*. "Um. I'm asking you now. How much gas would you like?" And she again complained that I had never asked her. "Ma'am," I said, trying to be patient. "I have a number of customers waiting here. I don't want to argue. I do want you to tell me how much gas you would like me to put in your tank." And she snapped, "Fill it up!" I said "Thank you." Interesting, isn't it? I mean she had this idea how everything was supposed to be done. I deviated from her idea of the right way to do things, and she was mad. I approved her card and asked her how much gas she wanted as I waited for the pump to approve the purchase. She felt that I should have asked that question before I even took her card. I imagine that a lot of people disappoint her.

Later, there was another elderly woman pulled up to the pump. She waited patiently. She told me what she wanted me to do. She wanted exactly 10 gallons of gas. No more, no less. Enough to get a stamp on her card. She also had another card that she wanted to cash in (when you get ten stamps, you can turn it in and get $3. off your tank of gas). So she wanted me to pump $27.49 in to her tank. She gave me $24.50, and the filled punch card worth $3. She wanted a new punch card started. So I carefully pumped exactly what she wanted. I jogged to the store to get her penny and her new card, and I jogged back out to her vehicle. To my surprise, she was standing at the back of her car, waiting. I handed her the penny and her new card and thanked her for her visit, and headed back to the other side of the pump. "Wait," she said, and she handed me $3. I was gobsmacked. "Really, ma'am, that's not necessary." I figured that she was a careful and frugal person, maybe one that had to be. Someone keeping track of all her pennies. A $3 tip seemed very extravagant. "Keep it," I said, "Really..." and she looked at me. "Listen," she said, "I'm old. What do I need this money for? I'm not giving it to my grandchildren, that's for sure. I'm giving my money to the people who do things for me. I'm giving my money to people who know how to work." She was getting emotional. "You people are my people. You people are the people I understand." And she stood there looking at me fiercely, with the $3 in her hand extended at me. I took the money, at a complete loss for words. I took it because it was important to her. She put her penny and her new punch card away and snapped her purse shut. "Thank you," I said, and I gave her a hug, because it just seemed like she'd had a discouraging day. Her arms very quickly went around me, and she patted my back, and whispered 'Thank you.' Then she got into her old car and drove away.

People are an interesting mix, aren't they? I wondered what made the first customer so angry and mean. I wondered what was breaking the elderly woman's heart. Everybody has a story. Everybody in this world has their own story.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A and P

I got a B in Anatomy and Physiology! I have to say, I'm as proud of that as I am of that whole pile of As in the first semester. This was hard. REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEally hard. And I got a B!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More about Nothing.

It's late, and yep. I'm still wide awake. We had a nice weekend. We had the birthday party for Rita. The bread baking outside in a big brick oven. This year we also had stromboli and homemade pizzas. This year we also had music. Guitar and mandolin. People were picking and singing, and little kids were dancing. No pictures, because I haven't gone to pick the good computer back up from our computer guru's shop. It just takes too long to load them on our old computer, so you'll just have to be patient. They're a-coming, though. They're a-coming. 'Til then you can browse through 2008's pictures.

We rented the apartment, to a widow. Tim felt that she was the right one. We went over to where she lives now, to meet her little dog. Tim wanted me to meet her too. To see if I got the same feeling. It was a nice little visit, and I did feel a kinship. The she mentioned her sister, and my ears caught something. "Wait," I said. "Are you talking about Marie? Marie's your sister?" and I burst out laughing. Marie is married to Mr. M. She's also related to my family. (It is a strange thing to see pictures of 'your' family in a stranger's family album!) So, in another amazing coincidence of small town living, I've discovered that I'm related to our newest tenant.

It was a nice weekend. A very nice weekend. I had Saturday off, a whole day to spend with Tim. Today, I worked, and had a fun day with Heather and Colby. Tim and I went over and worked on the house, finishing touches. Then we came home and curled up on the sofa to watch 'It's Complicated'. It's been a while since I lay with my head on Tim's chest and listening to his heart and watching a movie. Too long, maybe. It sure felt nice.

Tomorrow, I need to find out that flipping Anatomy and Physiology grade. I've been quietly going nuts over that.

Right now, however, I need to get my hinder back to bed. To sleep. Perchance to dream.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nothing Much

Oh, so much excitement here I scarcely know where to begin. Our computer picked up AV Suite, something that touts itself as being a security program. It took over our new computer and rendered it useless. This within 24 hours of installing the latest McAfee. So our computer is sitting in Youngsville at our computer guru's place. He's got another computer with the same problem, and he says the thing is a pain to get off the computer.

We're in the process of renting out another apartment. This one has great meaning to me, because it was the one that Tim and I were working on when I found out I had cancer. It sort of got put on the backburner for a while as we dealt with everything else. Now it's finished, finally, and somehow that seems kind of like a big deal to me, personally.

Tim bought a new (to us, anyway) car. I'd been worried about him driving back home in the night after his second shift job. The trip home takes him through some real remote country, with no cell phone service. The car he's been driving has 200,000 miles on it. I've been worried. He was driving down the street and found a car, a 2002, with 59,000 miles on it. The girl was very nervous about the car. She'd lost her license and a family friend had borrowed it and put it in the ditch. To Tim's eye, the damage was cosmetic. A new bumper cover, and a light cover. To the girl, this was major damage. She tried to take $500 off the price. Tim split the difference with her, because he felt bad for her. She only wanted $2000 for it to begin with. What kind of car is it? It's a Mustang.

Other breaking news? Tim got a day job. He was shocked spitless over that. It will make life a lot easier for him. He was not fond of second shift, but so glad to have a job again, he was not about to complain about the small stuff. So that is nice.

I haven't gotten my grade from Anatomy and Physiology yet, but I did get a very nice certificate for making the Dean's list this past spring. Tim wants to frame it. I told him no and stuck it in my desk drawer. I'm thrilled with that little piece of paper, but it's something that will simply look like bragging hanging on a wall.

I finished 'South of Broad'. I did not like it all that much. It was brutal and ugly and mean, and I really felt that a great deal of it was simply not believable, but I slogged through it and the ending was well written. I treated myself to a book. I'm reading 'Sea Glass', and it seems like it will be a pleasant read.

It has been scorchingly hot here. One of those times when simply getting out of bed and making your way down stairs in the morning causes you to break into a sweat. A fellow came into the store today, and bought himself a cola. He said, "I've got a terrible caffeine headache from not drinking any caffeine today. I need to drink this soda before my wife catches me." We discussed the weather for a few minutes as we waited for his check to process, and he commented that he had been miserably hot working outside all day. He then said, "My wife would tell me it is because I'm overweight and out of shape." I looked square at him and said, "You know what you tell your wife? You tell her you saw skinny people all over the place today, and they were sweating just as badly as you were." He liked that and laughed hard. As he headed out of the door, I did say to him, "You know, it sounds like you're scared to death of your wife," and he got wide eyed. "Oh, yeah. That woman terrifies me." He made me laugh. Some day, I imagine that I'll meet his wife. I'll bet she's just the sweetest thing ever.

When I went out the door to work today, I was thinking about Lydia, who's left comments here. Her last one mentioned that she was going on a mission trip. I was thinking to mention in a post that I'd like her to e-mail me. I wanted to hear about her trip. I got home from work tonight, and there was an e-mail waiting for me from Lydia. I was so happy. Lydia, you made my day.

On that bright note, I'm going to brush my teeth and head off to bed to read a while before Tim gets home. Goodnight, peoples!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Colby

I worked last night. My co-worker is a huge strapping friend of Cara's. Colby is a really good kid, hilariously funny. I enjoy working with him. Last night was one of those crazy nights. He was doing full serve and running register, which meant he was in and out a lot (in all that heat), and I was often by myself on the register. We were not as crazy busy as we had been over the holiday weekend. Things were finally beginning to calm down.

Anyhow, I happened to glance out and saw a large pile of things sitting along side our store. "Where'd that stuff come from?" I asked, blinking a little. (We'd just had a rush, and I'd been busy.) Colby started to speak, and a dredlocked, deeply tanned young man cheerfully said, "It's my stuff. Need me to move it?" He was returning the restroom key. "No, it's okay, no rush. I just had not seen you walk in." The 'non-gathering' of the Rainbow people is starting to break up, the tribes are heading for home, where ever that might be. So this kid and Colby talked for a minute before he left. He was a polite kid. Good looking. Bright clear eyes. Looking to catch a ride to New York State. He went out the door calling, "Thank you!" as Colby said, "Nice meeting you," and spontaneously, I found myself saying, "Hey. Be careful out there." Because people aren't nice sometimes, you know? The boy has a mother out there, I imagine. One who probably worries about her boy like I worry about my own kids, and like my own kids, this one assured me that he would be careful. Anyways, he gathered up his things, in all that heat, and stepped down the road a piece to an empty store, to wait along the highway with the ubiquitous cardboard sign. Spontaneously, Colby bought him a jug of iced tea, and went out across the parking lot to give it to him. (It was a hot, hot day, up in the high nineties.) I watched the two young men talking animatedly for a couple more minutes, and then Colby returned to the store. He stood over by the coffee machine, watching him for a time. He said, a little wistfully, "You know, if I was not working, I'd totally give him a ride." I smiled a little. "What?!!!" he said. "I know what you're thinking," I said. "What?" he asked again. "You're just the teensiest bit jealous right now." And Colby said, "Yeah. I am. I'd love to just take off. Not like that maybe." No. Indeed not. Colby has a mint condition Monte Carlo sitting in the parking lot. If he ever took off, it would be in his car. But I watched Colby, long hair down around his shoulders, criminal justice major, all around good kid and hard worker, staring out the window at another young man with long hair all down around his shoulders, watching him 'take to the highway', and I smiled to myself. I recognized the look on Colby's face. I used to have those same longings, and I am not so old that I have forgotten that.

Later on, Colby came in, and he said excitedly, "Oh, he got a ride. Somebody stopped for him," and I said, "I hope it's a good person," and Colby said, "Yeah, I know what you mean." The two of us went back to work.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainbow People

Okay. I'm back. We are busy at the store. I worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and I will go to work today in a few hours. We've got extra people on duty, because the Rainbow people are having their annual 'non-gathering' of 'non-members'. I'm not against people thinking differently than me, but this is an interesting group, people who come from all over the United States to dance naked and smoke pot on Federal Property. I don't like to stereotype, but there are many of them who seem to make a living pan-handling. Tim was driving home one night and there was a red Mustang at the side of the road with its four-ways on. He stopped. It was a carload of Rainbows from Virginia. They had a flat tire. Seems the one tire was going flat so they put the 'donut' on and then ran that until it blew. They professed not to have a jack. When they went to the trunk to get the 'soft tire' that they had taken off earlier, he noted the cardboard "Hungry" signs. There was no flashlight, and so Tim used his cell phone and the driver's to light the underside of the car to get the tire changed. When it was done, he gathered up his cell phone and jack and headed back to the car. "Hey...can I borrow your cellphone?" the girl asked. Tim is a suspicious charactor. He looked at her in the dark and said, "Well, you've got one of your own." She said, "Oh, it's not working." Tim said, "Mine's junk. You don't want to use it." He put his stuff away and started to get in the car. The boy reached inside the car and said, "Oh. The battery's dead." Tim was very much on guard at that point. The young man had stuck his arm inside the car, but had not reached in nearly far enough to reach the ignition. There also had been no momentary flicker of light as the car attempted to start. Tim stood at his open door, wary. "It's dead?!!" He looked at the blinkers still flashing regularly, brightly. "Yep. Dead. See?" and again the young boy stuck his hand in the car, but Tim knew instantly that he was not reaching across the steering wheel to the ignition. He got in his car. "Don't you have jumper cables?" the driver called. And Tim said no, and drove away quickly into the darkness of the Seneca Nation.

There have been lots of arrests made. Five pounds of pot was intercepted. A Rainbow walked up to a local and asked to use their address for a package. The folks called the police, and so the shipment was intercepted. How dumb is that? Just walk up to any old stranger, and ask to use their address? Probably the biggest problem with them (that I have heard of) is that they simply do not respect the rights of others. One person in Sheffield supposedly came home at night and as he got out of his vehicle, he heard voices coming from his backyard. He walked back and found Rainbows in his pool. Mother Earth may belong to everyone, but the man paid for that pool with his own money, I imagine.

They've been a problem at the Walmart. They came in and stripped down and were bathing in the bathroom. A mother walked in with her child, naked people everywhere. She walked right back out, and the police were called to round up the naked people, get them clothed, and run them out the door. There's also the story of Bi-lo supermarket, which is unverified. A group of Rainbows went in, squirted a handful of shampoo, and then rubbed it into their hair. They were supposedly rinsing their hair using the produce sprayer when they were caught and run out. When the store employees were hauling the produce out to the dumpster, the Rainbow people were waiting. The fast food places have actually resorted to locking their dumpsters to keep people out of them. I don't know. To me, the thought of eating from a dumpster is horrifying, but if there are people who want that food, well, what's it hurting? I'd probably be more inclined to just set the food in a box and give it to the people waiting. I mean, the food's being thrown away anyhow. What does it matter?

The ones that I've met have been okay. They want something for nothing, always. They came to our store for ice, thinking we had fountain drinks. We don't. They asked for ice. I said, 'Seven pounds for $1.69 or 22 pounds for $4.19." They did not need that much. Didn't I have some ice that I could give them? "No," I said (because I did not), and so they left, returning a few minutes later to get boiling water from the coffee brewer. They didn't make a scene or anything. I saw another woman who could not look at me when she spoke to me, and I thought of mental illness right away and felt sorry for her. The world is not kind to you if you are different. I was kind. I guess that my own take on things is that you always treat people kindly.

These people are, for the most part, dredlocked and unbathed, deeply tanned transients. They come to Heart's Content every year and create a nightmarish situation, leave a mess. We have Forest Rangers brought in from California and Texas and other far flung areas. This is at taxpayer expense. (There aren't any extra rangers closer than that?) The Rainbows claim 'harassment'. I'm sure that they are being harassed. I'm just as sure of that as I am that there are a number of them behaving very badly.

Still, though, there was a report that one of them had given birth, right there in the woods, with a midwife at her side. A customer, upon hearing that, said in disgust, "They should've drowned the thing in a bucket." Just like that. I gaped a little, in shock that someone would say something so awful. One of my coworkers said, "You don't know. Maybe that child will grow up to find a cure for cancer." The old man said that he sincerely doubted it, and stuck to his guns that they were all worthless, undeserving to live. I was busy, but I did think to myself that I would much rather deal with Rainbow people than mean people, any day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yep. It's done!

It's done. It's over. I walked out of the lecture hall, and I was just as happy as any child on the last day of school. I felt like twirling, my arms outstetched, reaching to the sky, calling my gratitude to the great gray sky. But I did not. I walked with the dignity befitting my years.

I came home and made dinner for Tim, a rare thing indeed, and after he left for work, I went out to mow my lawn. You know, when lawn mowing is just another chore you have to get done because you've got a thousand other things to do, it's drudgery, but today, because I was free, because I had time, I took my time, and I enjoyed it, the smell of the grass, the neatly cut lines.

And then I went out, to visit with my old friends, and we sat around a camp fire talking, our words playing out pleasantly, much like the sparks that spun into the night sky.

And now, I will brush my teeth and go to bed, and as I wait for sleep to come, I will read Pat Conroy.

Man~ time with my husband. A freshly mown lawn. Laughing with friends. Watching the flames dance and shimmer in the darkness. Reading a brand new book. Truly, this day was just about perfect.