Friday, December 30, 2011

Miracles

Been a hairy ride, that's for sure.

My clinical work was scheduled to begin next week. However, no one could seem to determine what I had to do to begin, and I've been talking to people since December 23rd trying to arrange something that was supposed to have already been set up. So much is riding on this. I need 640 work hours before May 20th to graduate, so I have been a little sick about this.

I prayed, and I prayed hard, and what I came up with is that I headed down this path in faith, and step by step, I was reaching my goal. In the words of my wise friend, "He's brought you too far to drop you on your head now." Last night at midnight, trying to print off a clearance that I needed, the computer froze and I received an error message. Of course, the help number did me no good, the help center being closed at that time of the night. I got up this morning and called only to discover that explorer 8 is incompatible with the state police website. Natch.

My work site had explorer 7, and so I was able to go there to fill out the paperwork once again, and to submit it on line with yet another application fee. This time it worked, and triumphantly I carried the paperwork to the appropriate department. Long story short? I have been cleared to begin work on Monday morning at 9.

I am so very grateful and relieved that there are not words to tell you.

Want to hear my Christmas miracle? My feet have been giving me such problems for just forever now, it seems like. After the last scan, and the good results, I had a decision to make about this pain. I took a deep breath, decided that I needed to be functional. I made the decision to avoid the pain killers, be stoic and deal with it, comforting myself with the fact that whatever the flip this is, it is not cancer. Dealing with chronic pain wears on a person though, and sometimes it did not appear that resolution alone was going to get me from one day to the next.

Christmas day came, and Mike brought me a pair of alpaca socks, from the alpaca ranch next door to his 'hunting lodge'. Tim read up on these socks, and thought they might help my poor feet, so he asked Mike to pick up a second pair for him to give to me. I opened their gifts, and I was grateful, because they are very nice socks, but as to helping my feet...well...logically I could not see how that would happen. Still, these are some very nice socks, warm and soft, and I've been padding around the house in these socks and loving these socks more every time that I put them on.

Long story short. I got up the morning of December 28th, and was darting around in the dark getting ready to drive to Erie with Tim for his pre-surgical tests and appointments. I'd been up for some time before I realized that my feet did not hurt. This is very odd, because generally speaking, I hobble for the first hour of the morning.

During the course of that day, we walked a lot. All over the hospital, and then we had time to kill between the hospital appointments and the surgeon's appointment, so we went to the antique store, to Hobby Lobby, to Target, etc. My feet were a little sore by the time we were headed home, but I woke up the next morning pain free once again. I worked in the afternoon, and my feet were twinge-y and uncomfortable when I got home, but this morning...well, I am on my third painfree day.

I do not understand this. I keep telling myself that it cannot be the socks. I keep telling myself that this makes absolutely no sense at all. But when I walk and wiggle my toes, I want to cry with the joy of it.

I have two things that I am so grateful for there are no words.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas at the Low-Tech Grandma's House

Balls. Lots of 'em. One got away. William is very concerned about this.



Boxes are a good thing.

He doesn't understand all the fuss about thinking outside the box.



Not all balls are created equal.

Some are created bigger than others, and those are fun too.

...plus they make interesting squeaky noises when you rub your hands on them,

and echo-ey sorts of noises when you hit them.
And despite our concerns, he knew what to do with his truck... He began hippo hauling immediately.

He likes Aunt Cara's taste in clothing.Shorts which do double duty as a hat. Cars. more cars.


Grandpa and Grandma got The Wizard of Oz, with holographic pictures.

Cara believes that flying monkeys have traumatized another generation.

Christmas 2011

Still here!

We had a wonderful Christmas. It was a mad dash to the finish line, to get things done on time. There were so many side trips, and distractions that came up that slowed things down. A death, some family news that made us concerned, the decision (finally!) that Tim would have surgery (he's a stubborn man, that one...) The days ticked by with maddening speed, and I was not once able to get everything I done that I meant to get done. I get a trifle ornery and worried in crunch periods. (Shut UP, Cara!) At one point, I'd gone looking for a dining set for Buddy and Brianna. I went to many stores, including a store that carries both second hand and new furniture. I found a set for them at a reasonable price, but I also found, tucked away behind all the ultra-modern furniture, a used sofa. A huge thing, over six feet long, with a firm seat and high back (just the item for a man with a bad back). It was a style that matched with the house, antique looking, muted colors. We have furniture in the library, but nothing in the livingroom yet, and this looked like it would fit the bill. Perfectly. I could tell this was an expensive piece of furniture, so I stopped dead at the price. It was only $169.

"Okay," I thought, musing. "What's wrong with it?" I began to look. All over. I couldn't find anything wrong with it. No stains. No missing buttons on the tucking in the back. No broken springs. I tried to walk away, because the last thing we needed was to be spending more money at this point, but on the other hand, the Christmas tree was in the living room, and it would be nice to have a place for us to sit while we opened presents...

That night I came home and mentioned it to Tim. He said that we should take a look at it. So for the second day running, we were back to the store. Tim waded through all of the junked and damaged furniture, and I could tell that his hopes were not high. He is very particular about this house. We got to the sofa and I waited. He looked at it and said, a little surprised, "Gees. This is nice." He sat down on it. "Wow," he said, bouncing a little, "this is really comfortable." He sat there musing. "I don't see anything wrong with it," and "it would go perfectly" and "this is an expensive piece of furniture." Finally, "I thought you said it was $169?"

My heart stopped a little as my eyes went straight to the tag. He was right. It wasn't $169. It had been reduced to $139. That was the clincher. We have a couch for our livingroom, and it is beautiful.

Come Christmas morning, we lounged around our sofa opening presents. Cara made me a darling calendar to count down my days until graduation. She gave Tim a history of our house, hand written deeds from 1850s and 1904, about the people who lived here, and the people who died here. Obituaries from microfiche. Maps of our town. A house that was here, and then disappeared, before our present house was built. She'd been busy in the court house and the library reference room. We loved those thoughtful gifts.

I have new earrings, and alpaca socks that Mike got from the alpaca farm right next door to his 'hunting lodge'. If you have never had alpaca socks, I highly recommend them. They are so very comfortable, I don't imagine the alpacas gave them up without a fight.

Cara got new things for her apartment, Netflix for struggling college students who will not have money for luxuries. Appliances and the like. Mike and Bethany spent the morning with us, so there was a tree stand and a portable heater for the season. Santa bought Tim one of them too. In the afternoon, Buddy and Brianna and little William came. They were pleased with their table and chairs and their shower curtain and matching towels. William got warm clothes that he can wear next winter. I am a practical grandma, and knew that he had way more than enough clothes for this one. Tim and I will be the low tech grandparents. He got a big dump truck, and a fascinator, a toy which lights up. He got books and clothing, and Cara got him a box of balls. He seemed very happy with these things that for the most part, made no noise, and did not light up. He is crawling now, and was all over the place.

At the end of the day, we collapsed on our sofa and watched a sappy movie about a dog named Christmas, and wept together (well, maybe that was just me...) and predicted the predictable ending. Then Tim and I went to bed and curled up together under our new electric blanket with the dual controls. And not a creature was stirring. Except for Cara who'd gone out with friends and knocked something down the stairs when she came in, waking up the entire house.

We have a family Christmas party tonight, but there will be a Christmas tour posted by the end of the week.

Bush Babe has her holiday post up. Wander over there to read her accounting of the day. I hope to read about the rest of yours as we continue on through the week. (no pressure!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Post

Cara's home.

Doing some serious Christmas shopping.

Went to scrapyard. Truck blew a tire on the way home. Long walk, pleasant talk. I can't imagine wanting to be stranded with anyone else but Tim.

Sister's birthday. I did the math. I'm still older.

Went to Erie yesterday to Tim's doctor appointment. When the doctor brought up surgery, this time, Tim agreed. January 12th. I'm much relieved.

Gotta run. A lot of stuff done. Plenty more to be done.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sticker Shock.

You know, today, I was out looking for a very specific piece of furniture. I compare prices, and I found what I needed at a used store. It was in perfect shape, and strongly built. It was $199.99. I was tempted, but I wanted to talk to Tim first, since we don't spend that kind of money without discussing it, and I wanted to stop at another couple places, including the one Tim asked me to stop at, one of those rent to own places.

Now, I hate those sorts of places. They prey on the poor, in my opinion. Yes. They offer low low weekly rates, no credit check, but you wind up paying triple or quadruple the prices by the time that you are done paying those low payments for extraordinarily long periods of time. The particular store that I was stopping at is owned by a former man of the cloth. He has painted scripture references on the side the trucks, but still, I find it hard to understand how those two mindsets 'fit', if you will. I cannot see how the operator of a store like this is much different from the tax collectors of Jesus' time. They made their living gouging the poor.

But Tim told me to stop in. Apparently they sell used furniture in there at times, inexpensively. I had my doubts, but I stopped in. Much to my surprise, I saw the exact same style piece I'd seen earlier at the other store over in the corner. I headed for it. I noticed right away that it was not as sturdily made. The wood pieces were thinner, and screwed together. The other had been good thick wood, and it had been pegged together. I stood studying it, and a very smooth young man came over to ask me if I needed help.

I told him straight out that I would not do rent to own, that I objected to them on sheer principle, and that I wanted to know how much it cost to buy the piece outright. He did some checking for me, and said, brightly, "You can take that home for $469."

I was so shocked I could do no more than gape. "You must be joking!"

Seriously, people, you can go to Walmart, or Kmart, or Big Lots and buy that sort of furniture for way less, in the $250 range. If you've got $469. to spend, well, heck, you can get a VERY nice piece for that price, of much superior quality. (LATE EDIT: buying this piece on their payment plan would have cost an addition $200.) "No thanks," I said, "I'll get it where I saw it first." He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I buttoned my coat around me and I walked out of the store.

It amazes me. Tomorrow, Tim and I will go pick up the piece I looked at (it is a Christmas present, and so I am being circumspect here). The owner of that shop is a guy Tim used to work with. He offers used furniture. He has one set price, whether you buy it outright, or whether you put it on layaway. He's an older fellow. Rougher around the edges. He doesn't have trucks, but if he did, I don't imagine that he'd have Bible scripture on them.

You know, it's God's place to judge the heart of man, and judgement is not my business, but if God was looking for a sofa, I bet I know where he'd do his shopping.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today's 'Moment'

I was busy, and I heard a siren, and it sounded close. When you live in the big city (joke, people ~ this is a small town), you get accustomed to things. If I would have heard that siren out in the woods, I would have dropped everything and dashed to the window to see where it was headed, but not here.

Anyways, I was in the front of the house and I heard the back door fly open. I head Tim's voice. Excited, like a kid. I heard 'Santa' and 'firetruck', and the door closed.

What?

I went to the front window and looked and there was a firetruck in front of the house, moving slowly, with a little girl running along side. Sure enough. Santa stood on top with a elf (one that appeared much larger than you'd expect an elf to be, actually). I wanted to take a picture, but I couldn't remember where I'd plugged in the camera to charge. (Sorry, BB...)

But that's life in the big city. I love that I have a husband who finds that exciting stuff, so exciting that he'd climb down off a ladder to check on it, and then rush in to call out the news to me.

I wonder if he was a shepherd in a previous life?

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Joke

I got up this morning to make cinnamon rolls for one of the kids.

I met up with my sister for an appointment, and then I came home and whipped out 2 dozen pepperoni rolls.

My niece and nephew were coming to have supper, and to move Dylan's childhood bedroom outfit to a new place, to another little boy. Danny walked around in pants that were too big around for his non-existant butt, and we kept tugging them up. We all moved furniture, and talked and laughed.

While we were on the second floor, I said to little Abby, "Wait, wait for me. I have something that you will love," and I darted up the stairs to the third floor playroom to retrieve the two bags of balls. Their mother looked doubtful as I came back with them, but I assured her that it would be fine, that they were balls that could be thrown in the house, with no worries about damage.

What a fine time we had, throwing the balls about. I had an idea. "Let's dump them all down the stairs!" and we did. We gathered them up over and over again, and Sarah hauled them to the top of the stairs to dump them all. They bounced up and down, step by step, a primary colored waterfall richocheting everywhere. And the kids waited at the bottom of the steps wide eyed with the excitement of one hundred balls headed straight for them, and over them, and all around them. The looks on their faces was priceless.

We said grace, a never ending grace, because there are a lot of people that need prayer, along with a friend's lost dog, and supper eventually came, loud, messy, with spills. Abby loves pepperoni rolls and enjoys singing little 'dipping' songs to herself as she dunks her pepperoni roll in the sauce.

Abby recorded a new greeting for my answering machine. "Merry Chrissmiss. Leave a message," she said.

Danny darted everywhere.

There were calls for the potty, and shrieking and running feet.

At one point their father looked at me, and said, "So. Are you sorry we're here?" and I looked at him. "No," I said. I think that he thought I was joking.

They've left now. The kitchen is put back to rights. A dozen pepperoni rolls are cooling. 100 balls in their net bags carried back to the third floor. The house once again settles into quiet as Shadowfax plays quietly from another room.

No, Jim. I'm not sorry at all. No joke.

I did some small Christmas shopping today as I killed time between grocery shopping and my appointment. I walked into Cara's favorite book store to buy her some sort of a history book. While there, I got the idea to look at the children's books for William. I found a Winnie the Pooh collection printed the year I was born, and I had that in my hand. I wanted to give him the stories that I loved as a child. I had decided on Winnie the Pooh, but... but...then I saw...Uncle Remus stories! Oh. How I loved Uncle Remus as a child.

In these politically correct days, you do not hear much about Uncle Remus. A shame too. I believe with all my heart that 'all men (and women) are created equal', but 150 years ago, there lived an old man, a slave, and he told wonderful stories, and those stories kept him alive. Today, 50 years after I first heard those stories, I reverently pulled the book from the shelf, and flipped through the pages, looking at the illustrations, remembering, smiling, and today, in Warren, Uncle Remus breathed life once more. He will breathe life still once again, as a little boy sits before me to hear those stories for the first time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thinking in the Dark

Tonight, I began to decorate for Christmas. I put the tree up in the living room. I put another tree up at the window of the second floor. I put my the nativity on the buffet where it has always been, except that this year, the buffet is not in the dining room, but in the foyer, at the end of a stretch of gleaming hardwood floor, beneath a huge mirror. This year, my Christmas village is spread across a fireplace mantel. All these old things seem to belong in their new place.

I sit curled up on the sofa looking at my Christmas village. The first piece of that set was my own purchase. I remember looking at it way back when I first came back to Pennsylvania, when I had no idea how things would work out. Where would I work, where would we live, how could I take care of the children? The children felt my fear too.

I remember hearing Dylan crying in the bathroom once. I knocked on the door and he opened it. He looked at me and he was crying hard. He was afraid that I would never be able to afford college for him. He was afraid that we were always going to be poor. It broke my heart, but I held his skinny towel wrapped body close, and I promised him that it would be okay, that he would work hard and get good grades, and I would work hard too. I promised him that he would be what he wanted to be, and I meant it, even if I wasn't quite sure how it was all going to work out.

I was sick inside in those days. Filled with fear, self doubt. I was starting over, with three kids. In the middle of those hard times, I saw a ceramic house, a Victorian. I remember staring at it, and thinking how lovely it would be to have a house like that for my children. I just wanted a house, a place for us so desperately. On the spur of the moment, I bought that little ceramic house and I used it as a night light. I would fall asleep at night looking at it glowing in the dark, wishing. Praying. I just wanted to take care of my kids.

Over the years, it did work out. There was my Tim, and he was not afraid to make a new family. We both worked hard. We got four out of five through college, and now Brianna is taking classes, which makes me glad too. We have houses, and the house I sit in now is grander than anything that I ever could have imagined. My children are what they want to be. Come May, I will what I want to be as well. It amazes me how far we have come in these 15 years.

Looking at my little ceramic Victorian house in the middle of my Christmas village, I remember what it was like to be so afraid. How it would have eased my mind if, 15 years ago, I could have had a glimpse of what the future held. All these years later, I am ashamed at my lack of faith and my fearfulness. I am also awestruck at the sheer number of miracles in my life since then.

I look at that little illuminated house on my mantel, and I remember, and I realize once again how very blessed I am. My cup runneth over.

The Playroom

On the third floor, we are putting together a little playroom. It has a bed for dolls, and childrens books, a place to curl up to watch Disney movies, an old white desk. Art supplies. Stuffed animals.

My grandson William is not old enough for this room, but one day he will be. My grand-nieces have played up there and enjoyed themselves. Abby is a shy little girl with big eyes. She whispered to her mother in an urgent sort of way. She couldn't find the 'bunny room'. Where did it go? Sarah laughed. "What's the bunny room?" I asked, puzzled. It was the playroom. There were two stuffed bunnies that she had put down for a nap in the antique baby crib. It's a big house for a little girl, and she was unable to find her way back to the playroom.

I have bigger plans yet for this room, and in quiet moments I spin great and unrealistic plans. This room becomes like the Disneyland of playrooms. I have dreams of glow in the dark stars, and I want to make a little kitchen set. Not the molded plastic ones, but an actual wooden stove and refrigerator and sink like we used to play with when I was in kindergarten. I want sleeping mats for children to take their afternoon naps on. My list goes on and on. I want this room to be the stuff of dreams.

Yesterday, I headed out to buy curtains for the guest room. I'm a thrifty person, and so I stopped at the thrift store to have a quick look around, although I did not expect to find anything. That particular room has three windows, and you don't generally see that many of the same curtain. I was right.

I wandered over to the children's section, and...be still my heart...I found two large net bags filled with the balls that you find in a ball pit. I found a hanging mosquito net that could be used to contain two net bags worth of those sorts of balls. I found a large carrying case of those snap together pieces that go on the floor, the big padded foam tiles. They had numbers on them, and I envisioned hopscotch. My shopping cart runnethed over. Total expenditure? $8.00.

I was so excited that it was all I could do NOT to run home with my finds and work on the playroom. After all, there were other things that needed done...three sets of curtains for the guestroom, and a shower curtain and bathroom rug for the upstairs bathroom.

I was responsible. I did what I needed to do. And then I came home and did responsible things. Today, I have some more responsible things to take care of, but also, I'm going to play for a while in the playroom. I need to borrow a kid for a few hours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Funny the way it is.

Today has been another putzing around day. I moved the party to the second floor. The second floor bathroom is done now. I'll be heading out to do some shopping for it and to get curtains for the second guest room up there as well. Cara's friend Taylor is headed home with her, and the girls will be here for about a week.

I have been so happy and so contented, enjoying my little piece of peace. It is fun finding places for everything, and it is fun to stand back and have a look when you are done and realize how much you like the effect of it.

I've also been calling people that I haven't talked to in a while. Christmas cards are coming. I do so need to get started on that...yeah...started. You heard me right. Shopping. The tree needs to be up and it's not looking like it will do that on its own. So yes. I have a lot to do, but I just needed a moment to breathe deeply. So I took it.

In the midst of my joyful moment, a card arrived today, from a classmate. I sat down to read her newsletter. People complain about them. I don't. I like them, especially when you don't see the person often. So I sat down at the kitchen table with Cindy's newsletter and prepared myself to be entertained. It began with a pondering of her legacy. (What?) It went on...'stage four breast cancer, multiple bone metastases, nothing to be done, management'.

Fuck.



She's been remembering lately she says.

In my beautiful home, on this dark afternoon, in my peaceful place, I remember too. I remember being a young girl. I remember being surrounded by other young girls. We stood on the fringes and watched the popular girls, and the jocks, the important people, and we recognized that we were not important. We were quiet, but laughed together. We found our own space. We made our own niche. We were a small but happy subgroup. We couldn't imagine what it would be like to grow up, or to get old, and maybe that is why, when I look backward, I see us all as suspended in time...almost as if we were different people. I suppose there is some truth to that.

The woman I am bears no resemblance to the girl that I was. I sit in my home recognizing how blessed I have been, even as I wonder about it too. Why me?

There is no answer I suppose.

There is no point this post, I suppose.

It is just the thinking of a grown woman two weeks before Christmas, sitting quietly hearing the ticking of the hall clock, looking pensively out the window at the gray day, remembering the voices of young girls. And we are laughing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Party Continues...

Know what I did today? I got up at o'dark-thirty and went in for freight day and worked hard. I was in a good mood, and sang with the Christmas carols. Did I mention I'm done with school? I mentioned it a time or two at work as well. I wasn't sure they knew. So it was a fun morning. Lots of laughing.

On the way home, I stopped and picked up a bright red trashbin for the kitchen. Last week I bought a bright red clock, like something that you would see from the early 50s. It's not normally my thing, but the week before that, I'd bought two tea towels that looked very old, and it just suited the kitchen somehow. It just fit. So, I guess that the kitchen is headed off in an unexpected direction.

I also bought some furniture polish, and some cleaner for the floors. I spent the day cleaning. It felt great. I polished woodwork, and cleaned glass. I threw out a ton of school papers. I put my school books out in the office. I did laundry. I put things away, found places for things that had not yet been put away. Today I just wallowed in domesticity and it felt like a luxury, because I have not been able to do that. I played house today, and I loved our house all the more. I was able to cook a meal for my husband.

Tomorrow will start the great rush to get Christmas underway, but today was a quiet bit of sanity and I sure did enjoy myself.

Party on...

Wild Party

Yep. It was one wild party at my house last night.

I was tired. Really tired. I did have that celebratory glass of wine. Then I put on my fuzzy jammie pants, curled up in a chair and turned on the TV. I found a Walton's marathon. I vegetated.

Then I went to bed early and slept the sleep of the unworried.

Good night, John-boy. Good night Mary Ellen. Good night...

I'm a dork.

Monday, December 12, 2011

*clink*

Guess what I'm doing?


Nothing.


That's right. You heard me.


Not a darn thing.


And know what else?


I'm not going to do a darn thing for the rest of the night.


Raise your glasses, peoples, because there is some serious celebrating going on tonight.

It's here...

Today's the day!

The last day of school.

The day that all projects will be handed in.

The day of the final final.

I didn't know that a person could be so glad to see a day arrive that she'd been dreading so much. I keep telling myself that if I am standing at the end of it, we're going to call it a win.

Meet back here in...oh...say eight hours?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Well, now here's something that will give you a laugh. Remember when I said that I couldn't possibly be sick until after Wednesday? I woke up Thursday morning with a rotten headache. By Thursday afternoon, my back was killing me and I was so tired that I couldn't even focus on the homework I was trying so hard to finish. This morning, I got up, and still felt awful. I took a deep breath and stayed home today. It would have been an awful thing if I'd been coming down with something, and gave it to everyone before our final on Monday.

I have gotten a great deal of work and studying done. It seems hard to believe that in just 72 hours, I'll be done for the semester.

Completely done.

And then, by golly, bring on the holly, because I'll be anxious to throw myself right into Christmas.

Brianna got word today that she was hired on by the company she's been working for. I was so glad for her.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Still standing. Barely.

The date that will live in infamy.

December 7th is over. I got through the morning. It did not go as I'd hoped, but the fact is, sometimes it is not a good day for a client. It wasn't for mine. His attention was elsewhere. I had a hard time focusing him.

December 7th program went well. Very well. I was prepared, and I listened to a hero talk today.

Too tired to talk. Must. Go. To. Bed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Short.

This is a short one. Tomorrow is my 'crunch' day. I have one intervention, I've got a major presentation, I've got two big projects due (both of which are done). I'm so busy but...

Today at work, an Amish man walks in. He buys some hardware cloth, and some pulleys, and he says, "I'll take a couple boxes of those dark chocolate mints there." Being the wisenheimer I am, I said, as I was grabbing them from the basket, "I've learned never to get between anyone and their chocolate. A person could get hurt that way." He laughed a big laugh.

Now that's unusual. They smile. They are friendly. Still, most of them keep to themselves somehow. In this world, but not of it. That's how the Bible puts it, and I guess this applies to them, as well. Still, this fellow laughed big. The lady behind him said, "I just bought my husband a big candy bar. I'm hoping he'll share." I said, "Well, if I have to share my chocolate, you can bet bucks that I'd have bought the biggest candybar in the store." The three of us laughed together.

Mr. Byler says, "Well, now, I have a joke for you: There's a fellow goes into a train station, to buy a ticket, and when he comes out, he realizes that the lady at the ticket counter has given him the incorrect change. He goes back in, and says, 'You made a mistake when you gave me my change...' to which she replies, 'Well, it's too late now. You should have brought that to my attention when you were at the window.' The man says, 'but...' and she snaps, "I can't fix it now. There's nothing I can do about it now. You need to count your money at the window." He says,
'You can't do anything about this?' She's plenty mad by now, and nearly yells, 'NO!!' to which he replies, 'Well, then fine. I'll just keep the extra five bucks then.'

He laughed at his own joke, and I laughed too, just because he was so pleased with himself. I said, "Well, I can see now that I'd better count your change twice." He laughed once more as he put his money away. He went out the door in his somber black and blue clothes, and he chuckled to himself.

I like that, when a person surprises you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, when I finished with school, I went straight to work, and when I finished with work, I came dragging back into the house with a ton of books and assignments and wearily dropped them on the table. Which I hate, because I'm trying to make different habits for the new house. I am trying to avoid clutter. I want the house to look nice.

So anyway, I grabbed a bite to eat and sat down at the other end of the table to read the paper, and there at the bottom was a note from my husband. 'I love you,' it said. I wanted to cry. He works second shift, so my days are long and I come home to an empty house. It's not easy for him either, because he gets up in the morning to an empty house, and he eats his lonely breakfast and lunch and then he goes to work.

Lately, I'm feeling like I'm missing everything. I'm not sure how it happens. You get so focused on what is on your plate that everything else seems to fade into the background. It doesn't mean that stuff is not important. It is. It's just that it's not a priority at the moment.

So things happen like my friend's husband dies, and I miss the obituary (with the picture). A fellow from church dies, and I run into visiting hours, only to discover I'm at the wrong viewing. His is the following day, and I cannot make it because I have school followed by work. Cara calls, and after chatting briefly (way too briefly), I say, "I love you, but I'm in the middle of something..." Brianna calls, and leaves a message, and I get home late, and am not sure when to call her because she works irregular days and she works nights. Yet, I'm never around when she calls me. when Tim or I are home together, generally speaking, I'm working on an assignment. I'm really starting to hate it. I want to work on getting the house just so (I still have a pile of pictures to hang, for instance). I want to bake cookies. Get started on my shopping. But I don't have time. My hair is shiny, and I can't even figure when that happened. On and on it goes, life passing by, life taking me by surprise.

I have four more days of school. Four. I am so grateful for that. I need time to breathe. I need time to be more than a spectator in my own life. I'm so far 'out of the loop' as they say that I am not even sure that this is normal.

Before I left the house this morning, I wrote a note and I left in at the kitchen table. 'I love you more than..." and beneath it, I left a candy bar wrapped in a phony $1,000,000 bill. Tim won't find it until I'm gone, but when I walk into the empty house tonight, after school, after work, I imagine there will be a response.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Husbands

Tim has been sick with a stomach bug. He even missed two days of work because of it. He's back to work now, even though the symptoms have not gone away, not completely anyway. His stomach is making the most alarming noise. I have to tell you that I am sitting in one room. He is in another, watching television. I tell you true. His stomach is making such loud liquidy sorts of noises that I can hear them a room away. No exaggeration.

I have to tell you that I have responded sympathetically. Well, if 'sympathetic' sounds like this: "Stay away from me. I am serious Tim. I cannot get sick now. I have not got time to get sick." It's the truth. This is the last full week of school and I have so much stuff going on that I cannot possibly schedule the flu in until Wednesday evening.

And I hope that God believes me when I tell Him this.

Today at Tractor Supply, I felt so badly that I burst into tears. I saw a friend in the store with her sister. I'd not seen her in forever it seemed like. So being the wisenheimer like I am, I said, "Gees, since you've gotten married, I don't see hide nor hair of you..." She was a newlywed, having just got married last summer, just a few short months ago. She smiled weakly at me and said, "My husband died two weeks ago." I was so flabbergasted that I did not know what to say aside from the obligatory "Oh my GOD!!!"

She is such a shy person, and her new husband was even shyer than she was. The last time that they came to the store, I'd greeted them, and it tickled me that he talked. Usually he stood there shy and awkward and ducking his head and smiling. But that day he spoke, and the three of us visited at the register a moment. I had watched them leave and I was glad for them. If there ever were two people that were made for each other, it was them.

Today, I stood there at a complete loss of words and I reached across to give her a hug, and told her how very, very sorry I was. She cried. "We didn't even have six months..." I cried because it seemed like the only thing to do. Life is so hugely unfair sometimes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ooooh. Shiny...

I was up and running today. I had my presentation, and a meeting, and I hopped out of the shower, got dressed, and started blow drying my hair like I do every morning, and suddenly something struck me. It just stopped me dead in my tracks. My hair is shiny again. I'm not sure when that happened.

Sounds stupid doesn't it? It kind of felt like my hair had changed when it grew back after the chemo. It was there, but it was just sort of dull and lifeless, and I kept it short just so it would look neat. I was grateful to have hair. I tried not to think much farther than that on it, but sometimes, I'd find myself seeing women with pretty, shiny hair, and I'd feel a twinge of jealousy...and I am not given to jealousy.

And then this morning, blow drying my hair, I realized that once again, my hair was shiny and smooth.

This is a big deal to me, and when I put on my red coat, and wrapped my gray scarf around my neck, the one that makes my eyes look very blue, I stepped out of the house and I felt good about myself.

Just checking in.

Looking forward to getting this day under my belt. That's pretty much the way that I'm approaching every day at this point, with a head down, git 'r done attitude. There will be plenty of time for joy later. Monday the 12th is my last classroom day. Final grades will be in by noon on the 16th. I will be so glad to see the 16th. Even though it means that it will be 9 days before Christmas, and I haven't done jack.

December 7th activity is coming up quickly. I've got that pretty much under control. Sunday the 4th is our Christmas party. I'm baking the turkey breast. I have responsibility for the gag gifts. I did it last year, and it was pretty darn funny. I've got a lot of plans, but no shopping done.

Our store is so slow, especially when you consider this is a prime holiday shopping season. I think that people are being very practical this year. I know that we are. But because there is so little business being transacted, they are cutting hours. Also fine with me, right this minute. I've got way too much to do.

I've gotten a spate of spam from a Mexican pharmacy trying to hawk its wares in my comments section. The final one pointed out sternly that he was having a hard time accessing my site, and that he would return to see if I had gotten it fixed. Mr. Viagra? Not fixing it. Buh-bye now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Discoveries

After my 3:30 wake-up this morning, I snuggled back under the blankets and slept in. It felt good.

I was really dreading my morning. I was doing my first assessment on a client, and I am not a confident person. This was a class project, a two part 'practical' that will be our final exam. So it's a big deal, and I wanted to do well. I researched a lot. I tried to anticipate anything that could go wrong. I felt uncomfortable 'playing OT' with a patient but came up with the idea of using Bill's picture book "Gift of the Whales" as part of the therapy. It worked perfectly. It gave me a chance to watch him flip through the pages and assess his fine motor skills and hand pronation and supination. Talking with him about the book and the pictures was a chance to break the ice as well as assess his cognition and memory, his speech and his attention. This man belongs to the Seneca Nation and was interested to see a tribe he knew little about. I flew through the assessments. I finished up so early that it was a little embarrassing, as if I'd not been thorough. But I had. I'd done all the work, filled in all my little boxes, and because of the book, knew what sort of things interested my client, and was able to almost immediately come up with an activity that would work for him. I'd come with my own little box of supplies for sensory testing, and I had studied the tests long enough to know exactly what I was doing. All of that uncertainty? I don't know where it went, but it is gone. Today, everything clicked, and I knew that I was good. I watched my client clutch that book to his chest and shuffle out, and I felt like a success.

Wow. Who knew?

I also made another amazing discovery: Liquid Bandage. It's good stuff to have on hand if you own a piece of crap can opener. It's like super gluing yourself back together.

It snowed today. Tim's sick today. I'm set up for my nursing home visit tomorrow. I'll study tomorrow afternoon, and then I'll go to work. I have a presentation on Friday. I stood before the dry erase board today, and I began to mentally check off the things that I've got finished and turned in. I realized that out of all the things listed, I've got over half of them done and turned in. The rest are at least half finished, save one project, which I've not begun yet, but it is just a small assignment.

That was an amazing discovery as well. It's been so long since I looked any farther than the next project. Today, I got a clear view to the finish line, and it is a lot closer than I thought.

Good Morning.

Know what I love?

It's when you have a big day ahead of you, a big day that you're even dreading a little, and you go to bed, tired from typing for hours (with a missing finger tip), brain dead from trying to put it all together. You set your alarm, and finish the 17th century melodrama that you've been reading on your kobo, and fall promptly asleep. You awake with a jolt, grabbing for the alarm, horrified that it did not go off only to discover that you still have two more hours to sleep.

I love that feeling.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today

Today, I went to work at o'dark-thirty. For freight day, it was an easy freight day. I was walking out the door by 10.

I came home and settled an overdue bill, one that had been paid on September 28th. Good news? I had the receipt. I don't know where a lot of our paperwork is, but I happened to have the receipt for this neatly folded and in my purse. Aha!!! I called up and was prepared to do battle and emerge the victor, but unfortunately the nice lady said, "No. You have a zero balance. I'm not sure why it took your hospital over a week to forward that payment to us, but we got it on November 6th, two days after our bill was sent. You have a zero balance." I hate when that happens. Just once I'd like to do battle and emerge the victor. It's hard to do that when a pleasant lady on the other end of the phone is just as curious about what happened to that payment as I am.

Hallelujah, I got the printer fixed after a nice live chat with "Jacob". No accents on live chat. This works for me.

I got one class completely finished today. Completely done. All done. So done that I put the text book and my notebook on the bookshelf in my office, and if I ever look at them again, I'll be plenty shocked. (This was a class on Aging, and since I'm living that adventure, I doubt that I'll need to reference it.) I submitted the final, and two papers to go with it, via e-mail, which makes me nervous. I'd like to get an acknowledgement that she has them, but I doubt I will. I'll double check with her Friday, which is when this is all due.

I completed another assignment today, and wrote up a professional resume for Friday. (I'm starting to hate this computer.)

I have downloaded and studied a great deal of material for a patient assessment that I am doing tomorrow, my first real assessment. I will design an intervention for this patient and implement it next week. I've got my supplies assembled for that. Sounds darn professional for someone who is dancing awfully close to the "Gone Crazy. If my mind gets back before I do, please tell it to wait."

I have printed off my portion for a presentation to be done on Friday.

I will wash my dishes, and I am going to bed early. Tomorrow is a big day.

You know, I've only got five more class days. *Gasp*

The buyers contacted us today. We'll be closing in the next week or so.

Strikes me as hilarious...I walk through the livingroom, the place with no furniture yet. There's a small TV sitting there. Know what? Tim has watched a football game on it. That's it. Maybe some day we'll get a chance to sit down in front of the tube and 'veg out'. I can't wait.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Votes are In.

Remember when I discovered that I did not have a can opener? And I was forced out into a wangdoodle of a storm to buy one?

Well, the other day, Tim said, "This can opener is a piece of crap."

"It's alright," I said.

He disagreed.

Tonight I managed to peel off the tip of my finger trying to open a can of mushrooms. It was just as gruesome as it sounds. Dripped my way down to the bathroom. By the time I got bandages to stick, it looked like I'd slaughtered something there. I even managed to get blood down the outside of the pedestal basin. I cleaned up the mess in the bathroom. I made my way out to the kitchen, wiping the floor as I went.

In addition to making a mess, it also makes typing all these darned school papers kind of difficult.

Tim and I are now in agreement. The can opener is a piece of crap.

Cara

Saturday, Cara spent most of the day sorting through her bedroom. She's got a lot of stuff. She's always been a packrat. She says it is my fault. I kept a memory box for them, things from their childhood, pictures, clippings, momentos, report cards, the like. Cara's got several memory boxes of her own, boxes with notes to herself from when she was in the fourth grade, for example. She found letters she'd written but not sent. Toys. A pencil her fiance had used to do magic tricks with in gradeschool. (Yes. She was afianced very young. To this day, the boy introduces her as his first wife.) She moved enough stuff to get her bedroom furniture out, and we did so, driving it up, and setting up her bedroom here as she continued sorting through her things.

It's a lot of stuff, even though she's thrown a lot of stuff out. It got to the point where she was holding a broken object in her hand, and smiling at of the memory invoked. A very rational voice inside her snapped, "It's broken, for pete's sake!" She shut her eyes, and threw it out.

She woke up with a cold over the weekend. She went to the drugstore to buy cold medicine. It is now kept behind the counter. She asked for cold medicine, and the cashier reached behind her to grab a box from the shelf. It was brand name. Cara said, "Wait. How much is that?" The cashier told her that she would not know until she rang it up. She rang it up and said, "$30." Cara said, "I need something cheaper, please. Generic." The cashier got quite huffy that she "would have to call the manager to do a void." The manager was quite huffy too. Explained that she would have to take more of the cheap pills to do the same thing. Cara is her mother's child. She said, "I'd rather take four pills that would cost me a dime each than one pill that will cost me a dollar."

The girl is back to school now, but over the weekend, I have rediscovered the jumbled up mixture of practicality and emotions that is our Cara, and I see myself a bit more clearly.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tractor Supply

There's a couple who come into the store pretty regularly. He's funny, she's funny, I'm funny, so we generally exchange wise cracks and share a good laugh. I get a kick out of both of them.

Anyway, Tim and I were in the Walmart. We're talking, and I happen to see this couple. I said, "Gees. I cannot get away from you. You're everywhere!" And just as quick as a wink, the fellow says right back, "I wasn't sure whether I was allowed to speak to you in public or not. Your husband knows about us?" and he made a motion with his finger pointing to himself and then me, a couple times for emphasis.

I do have to say, I am seldom at a loss for words. I didn't have a clue how to answer that one, and his wife stood laughing her self silly at the produce section. I haven't a clue about Tim's face. I was gaping.

I finally got my speech back, and uttered some lame comment about "Oh, great, now I'll be the talk of the neighborhood!!!" That's always a danger in the Walmart, too, some gossip hanging around hears something like that, you're the pariah of the county quicker than you can blink your eye. I don't really give a crap, because to be perfectly frank, I'm getting quite used to being the pariah. I mean, gees, I've got family.

I was back at the register yesterday, ringing up a customer, and blabbing like I do, and I turned to hang up my scanner, and there he was leaning on the little partition. I jumped, because he scared the mess out of me.

"I'm supposed to apologize to you," he said.

"Why's that?" I asked. I'd forgotten the great Walmart exchange. Shoot. It was like a couple weeks ago. I have a mind like a sieve.

"For embarrassing you. I hope your husband wasn't mad." He had a very sincere look on his bearded face. His wife stood there with her arms folded.

I laughed out loud at her stern look. "No," I said. "You did not cause any problem. My husband and I have been married a lot of years. He knows me well enough to know that I would never, and I wouldn't either. He's a good man, and I would never shame him. You didn't cause a problem."

His wife came over. "I nearly died," she said. "Your husband looked so surprised. I was very relieved when he finally grinned."

I laughed at the two of them, and loved them too. Most people don't care about other people enough to even give a second thought to something like that. To stop and consider whether they'd given offense, or caused an argument or whatever, well, it means that they think something of you. I was very touched.

"Don't give it a second thought. In fact, just to show you there's no hard feelings, here you go." I reached into my apron pocket and gave them a Friends and Family coupon. "You come on back on December 5th, and you'll get my employee discount for the night."

They were very pleased with that and thanked me. I looked over at the husband and said, "Yeah, don't be getting the idea that I'm going to claim I know you all the time, but for this one day only, I'll admit it." And once more, we all laughed together, and away they went.

I love the people I meet at my job. Really. Salt of the earth.

This Weekend

This holiday weekend was all I could ask for. Grandbaby. Kids home from farflung places collecting their childhood memorabilia from their rooms to take back to their homes. Talk of childhoods. Dylan and Brittani will have a tree for the first time. Dylan was home to collect 'his' ornaments. We had a fun time going through the boxes of ornaments to separate them. "This ornament was made by your grandfather's mother" and "this ornament was from your grandparents' first Christmas tree and was on every tree every year that I can remember." Stuff like that. Relatives visited, and we laughed our hindends off. We babysat a three year old. Dylan read her "Walter the Farting Dog," and we talked about Dixie and Bob who'd sent the book. And we had a tea party with the pretty blue espresso cups. They played in the playroom after I left. Cara said, "Did you see the dead tarantula under the crib?" Dylan said, "Yes I did. And I thought to myself, if Brittani had seen that spider, she would SO not be sitting on the floor right now" and Brittani said, wide eyed, "What spider????!!!!" And everyone laughed.

Cara said, "This house is such a happy place. Everything just flows from one room to another. It's just perfect for company." Last night, she said, "I wish you would write these stories down. We never talk about what it was like when you were a child anymore, and you tell such good stories."

It just felt perfect, this first holiday in our first house.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving at our House.

The 'it's-at-the-other-house' syndrome struck a couple times as we prepared the Thankgsiving meal, but over all, things went pretty smoothly. We figured out how to make do without what we didn't have.

At one point, I heard Cara say to her brother, "You can't put in on the table like that. It looks so 'redneck'." Without missing a beat, Dylan looked at her and said, "Cara. We just opened a bottle of wine using a power drill and a pair of channel locks. You don't get much more redneck than that."

We about fell over laughing.

It was a good day with lots of laughing. Except for little William, who was having an unhappy day. Too much noise for the little guy, I guess. I hope he gets used to it. We are not a quiet family.

Okay. Now I need to know. Is this funny or not?



And what about this?



I thought it was "Laugh and the world laughs with you." I laugh 'til I cry. Every time. And the rest of the world, at least the ones sitting in this house look at me like I've lost my mind. And no one laughs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The kids are home.

The phone rang, and Cara answered it as I was baking. She talked although I could not hear who she was talking to. I heard her say, "Do you want to talk to my mom?" (pause) "Well, she's not impaired if that's what you want to know." 'What? Who in the world is she talking to?' I grabbed the phone quickly. It was a telemarketing call. Our last phone number was listed on the do not call list, and we did not receive them. I hadn't thought about it at the new house. She was selling ADT security systems. I interrupted, and said, "No, we're not interested, but I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving at your house," and I hung up.

I looked at Cara. "What was the whole 'she's not impaired' about..." Cara grinned and said, "When I asked her if she wanted to talk to my mother, she asked if you could make decisions for the house. What kind of question is that? This isn't the 1950s. So I told her you weren't impaired."

Yep. Cara's home.

Dylan's home too, with Brittani.

Brianna called, and the three of them will be coming in tomorrow.

Mike's coming for dinner too.

I'm grateful for Thanksgiving and families gathered around the table. The turkey is stuffed and in the fridge, and fortified with two glasses of wine, I'm ready to hit the hay.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Questions Answered.

I drink two cups of coffee every morning. Doctor says "Do you really need two cups of coffee in the morning?" At the time, I was struck speechless contemplating mornings without caffeine. There were no words. I just sat there. The picture in my mind was not all that purty.

It is now morning. I'm sitting here in my bathrobe, drinking my coffee. I'd like to answer that doctor's question: "I'm afraid that you would have to show me clear and convincing evidence that two cups of coffee is negatively affecting my health, because this girl needs caffeine in the morning." (That or jumper cables. One of the two.)

What are we doing for Thanksgiving? Cara will be home this morning. Dylan and Brittani will be in this evening (they both work nights.) Buddy, Brianna and William will be over tomorrow. Mike will be here too.

Will there be pictures? Well. I'd like to think there will be, but they will likely suck.

Pete and his wife will be stopping in towards evening or so. We will play a rousing game of Scrabble.

Do I shop on Black Friday? Good heavens, NO! I did, once, for a deeply discounted computer. Dylan and Cara, and her friend Sarah went along. It was actually so crowded that it was scary. I don't like mobs of people. People trying to save money are the most ruthless people of all. We witnessed people fighting over things. I am not talking about verbal disputes. We are talking about actual physical confrontations. It's not truly Christmas until you see a young woman kicking at a little old lady who paused to look at a cart full of Milton Bradley games, thinking it was a display, not realizing that it was someone's shopping. That being said, I will be at the store on Friday. All day. I actually had a really good time last year. We all bring food in and eat out back. Because I am the cashier, the customers part like the Red Sea parted for Moses. I am allowed to proceed to my register, and they are all glad to see me. The best thing is that people are tired but in high spirits, and it is a hilarious day with a lot of laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Posting will likely be sparse as I get right down to celebrating our first holiday in our new house.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do We REALLY need television?

The satellite dish was supposed to be installed on Saturday. The young man came to the house, but decided against installing it. He decided to call in the experts. We figured that he needed a truck w/ a 'cherry picker' or a tall ladder or something. He said that someone would be in touch with us within 48 hours.

We did not receive a call, so today, after over 72 hours, I called Direct TV myself. The young woman said, "Well, I don't know why he would have told you that. You have to call us to set up the appointment."

Me: "Well. We did, for the initial appointment. But he told us that someone would be contacting us to make arrangements."

She tells me that this is not the way it is done. I need to call to reset the appointment.

I was a little grumpy about this. Seems like someone would want to speak to the young man about this error. I explained carefully that we had been told something different, and that when someone comes out but does not complete the installation, it seems only right that they follow up with me. I mean, we were expecting to have service by now.

She cheerfully says to me that if I'd like, I'm welcome to call over the next few hours, repeatedly, and see if someone cancelled and I could get an installation done.

Very carefully, I said, "No. I am certainly NOT going to do this. You are going to provide me with a service date, and we will arrange to be home on that day. I am not going to waste a whole evening trying to get you to come out and hook up my television. I have lived without TV for a number of years, and I am completely prepared to continue living without it."

Long pause. She curtly tells me that someone will be out Sunday between 12 and 4.

I hang up wondering just what in blue blazes has happened to customer service.

Just keeping it real.

This clock has chimed the hours in every home I've lived in since 1986. This is my kitchen table. Please ignored half unpacked stuff. You asked for settling in pictures. You've got them.
This is Tim's mirror, hung over the sideboard at the end of the hall. Please ignore boxes and unhung pictures in front of it. Use your imagination, or something, okay?

I don't know why this picture is so crappy, but it gives you an idea, maybe....I don't know. You want pictures, head over to Bush Babe's, or to Novel Woman's place or to Linda's blog. I'm not a photographer. This is my cheerful little kitchen with the pot of cream of potato soup simmering patiently waiting to be delivered.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Grateful

Today was my only class day for the week, but it was a long day. Mondays always are. I had a presentation today, and my group worked so well together. We did a very nice presentation, one that was so nicely done that when we were finished, the instructors had no questions...we'd answered them all during our talk.

I headed for home, and I was glad to be headed for home. I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a ham steak and a 10 lb bag of potatoes. I will deliver a heapin' helping of homemade soup with bread to a lady having chemo. I'll be taking along a jar of my mother in law's homemade jam. It was one of those things that tasted so good to me during my own chemo. It was easy to toast a slice of whole grain bread and have some homemade jam on it when I was too tired for anything else. It never failed to hit the spot.

I opened the door with my skeleton key. I brought in the groceries and my school books. I stood in the middle of my cheerful yellow kitchen chopping the ham, chopping an onion, and setting it to simmer in the crock pot.

The smell permeated the house while I worked at (and completed) 3 homework assignments (yay me!)

Justin stopped in to blab a while. I just finished chopping up 5 lbs of potatoes to put in it before I head out to work at o'dark thirty (freight day...)

My boss called from where I am doing my fieldwork, and you know, I like her so very, very much! I'm lucky enough that they want me back next semester, when the classes are done, and we simply go off to work every morning at our fieldwork site. You can't possibly imagine what a gift that is! I'll be going to a place where I already know the people there, a place I am familiar with. I'll be able to walk in there and immediately begin to focus on the work that I am doing. No nervous jitters! I'm so lucky.

I am very happy tonight, sitting in the dark in front of the fire. My clock ticks away in the hall. The house smells like ham. Dishes are done. Homework set aside. I'm taking a moment to savor where I am, this very tiny moment of a very busy day, the people in my life, the impending holidays.

I am so incredibly blessed.

I am so incredibly grateful.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tim's Eye for Design

You know what makes me smile? The fact that Tim is just as taken with this house as I am. He's begun to fret about things that I never knew Tims could fret about. He notices things that he has not noticed before. Things that he's always kind of left to me to figure out. Things like this: 'Those drapes are too light colored'. He was right. I found it out after I hung them, and then took them down and followed his instructions. There is this huge old mirror. I didn't like it. He did. He knew also where it was going to go. The old side board is at the end of the foyer. I hated that mirror, but hung above the side board, I discovered a) it matches perfectly, b) it reflects the light brought in from the side door which is about 23 ft in front of it and c) as Tim said, several times, "That looks grand, doesn't it?" Tim was right. For a man who never seemed to take note of his surroundings, it does seem that he has quite an eye for that sort of thing. Perhaps a better eye than my own.

We've been in our house for a full week now. This weekend was spent finding homes for our things. But this morning, I got up and padded barefoot to the kitchen to make my coffee. I padded into a library that has curtains up. I am once again typing in the dark as I sip my coffee. I am surrounded by the pictures of those that I love. I am surrounded by the old familiar things that I love. Routine by routine, thing by thing, the place slowly becomes ours.

Yep. I know. Pictures....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Train Trip

Here is something I keep forgetting to tell you, a neat discovery about life in the new house. I wake up in the night all warm and drowsy under the blankets and I hear the sound of a train. Isn't that cool? Like the church bells I hear during the day, the sound of the train is not a sound that you hear in the woods. I like to hear that train, and it always makes me smile.

I remember being a small child, hearing the sound of trains in the dark. This will sound very stupid, but the sound made me feel strange, even as a child. The best way to describe it is that it made me feel like I wanted something very very badly, something that I could not have. I was only 5 or 6, but I remember this restless itchy feeling and I did not understand it. I remember trying to explain it once, and my mother thought it was funny. I heard her telling my father in the other room. I remember laying in my little white bed, and wondering why this was funny.

Now, half a century later, a grown woman lies in her bed, next to her husband, listening to the train, and remembers being a child.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Story of a Boy.

Once upon a time, there was a very well to do woman who never let you forget that she was well to do. She had two sons, very spoiled young men who had everything that they ever wanted. I cleaned their house. I used to feel badly that those boys had everything. I felt bad about the things that I could not afford for my own.

Today I saw one of those boys. He's been in prison twice since I knew him. He's still immature and loud, and silly. I looked at him and realized how lucky my children are that they did not have everything they ever wanted.

It's snowing like crazy outside. Three inches. If school was canceled tomorrow, I would not cry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reporting Live!!!!

Reporting LIVE from the library! Yep. We have the computer hooked up, which is darned good news because it was very difficult trying to keep up with school stuff without it. Plus, I missed having my morning coffee with you all!

Last night, Tim hooked up the new phones we got. They are the fancy schmancy things. I was sprawled across the bed with some heat and vibration going on my legs, reading when the phone rang. I reached over and grabbed it. It was Tim who said, "I need you to come to the library please." Smart aleck. But the intercom thing will come in pretty handy. Especially between floors.

Today, I went to school. Tim stayed here, and managed to hook up the washer and dryer. Every new chore that I can do makes me feel as if we are one step closer to being settled in, really and truly settled in.


Tonight, we got some grocery shopping done. We had tomato soup and grilled tuna melts for supper. (I know. Not fancy, is it?) I've also got a crockpot with broccoli simmering in chicken broth. Tomorrow, we will have my famous (well...we like it...) cream of broccoli soup. Feels like home when you can cook.

I really love this house, and still, I find that I am pinching myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming. So far, I am not. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.

Update

It's been very nice staying at the new house. Very exciting. Also very frustrating. We have a lot of conversations that go something like this: "What shall we have for a quick supper? Mexican pizzas sound good?" After the agreement, we pick up a can of fatfree refried beans while we're out and about looking for a clothes hamper. I already have the salsa, the cheddar, and the jalepenos in the fridge, as well as the tortillas, so it seemed like a logical supper. We get home and stand there looking at each other, me holding the can of refried beans. The can opener is at the other house. Back out to get a can opener.

Last night, we just decided to get a pizza, since I had to run to the store to get shelf paper. Neither of us was actually hungry hungry. So I get the shelf paper and the pizza and get back home. I find myself standing stupidly (yet again) in the kitchen holding the shelf paper. "We don't have scissors here, do we?" (Of course we don't...) We also don't have the baking sheet for the pizza. (Oh this is getting better by the minute...)

That is one of the downfalls of moving a little bit at a time. What you need is always at the other house.

We had one wangdoodle of a storm the night of the can opener debacle. I drove down our brick street and watched the water rushing from the uphilll driveways like actual rivers with currents. (We are one of the uphill driveways, btw.) I was in water so deep that it 'threw' the car as I moved through the water, which was a little frightening. The lightning was brilliant and the rain so torrential that inside the store it was all that you could hear, the rain on the roof. Tornadoes touched down twice just over the New York State border. (We are about 12 miles from the New York State line.) I tried to remember. I don't believe that we've had a storm this violent during the whole course of the summer. We kept the radio on, since we do not have the internet hooked up yet at the new house, nor the television service.

Other breaking news? Well. We've got curtains in 5 of the 26 windows. (Woot!) We've got our bedroom set up and it is nice. I've got my cappuccino machine there. The newspaper is switched over and coming to our house downtown. When I called to change the delivery address, the person verifed the old address, entered the new address, and then said, "Where do you want it delivered?" Me: (blankly): "Um...at the 417 address?" The person, patiently: "I mean, where do you want her to put your newspaper? Front porch? Back porch? Driveway?" In the country, they just put it in your newspaper box at the end of your driveway. I've never had a choice before, and it made me laugh. Life in the 'big city' is going to be different alright. Remembering the water rushing out of the driveway, I told them to leave the paper at the side portico, to insure that my paper didn't wash down the street during the first storm. The side portico is covered, and there is no need for the paper person to walk all the way to the back of the house.

This morning, I was ironing my 'professional attire' for school. There was a knock on the uncurtained window that nearly made me jump out of my skin. Justin stood outside the window grinning. I let him in and he blabbed to Tim while he finetuned the flame adjustments on the gas stove. Somehow, our neighbor had managed to miss that we were living there now.

At school, under the advisement other students, I just decided to meet with my advisor, the one who had gotten so angry. We'll discuss the situation. It is unfair for me to be in a situation where I feel that one wrong word is going to get me pulled from field work next semester. I've got too much invested in this to lose the opportunity to graduate. My grades are solid, and I've done the work. It should not all hang on one disagreement over a letter to an elected official. I've also been advised that there is a counselling center, where you can request an advocate attend the meeting with you. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, that she also spoke hastily and angrily, saying things far more strongly than she meant to. If however, this meeting does not go well, I will request another with an advocate.

Tim has an appointment with a neurosurgeon in Erie next week for his back/leg/foot/pain/numbness/burning. He'll be released to go back to work this week, which I don't quite understand, but we are hopeful that this can be 'cured'. He's been miserable, and so have I.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Move.

Last night, we 'officially' made the decision. We live in the other house now.

We don't have the phone hooked up yet, but we have the cell phone. I made lots of lists, lists of things we absolutely had to have at the new house. Like pillows and blankets. Yep. We had those. And soap. Shampoo. Conditioner. Towels. You know. The basic necessities of life. Blow dryer. Clothes. The like.

Stopped to buy toothbrush and toothpaste on the way home from family party yesterday. Made up the bed in a guest room when we got there, because our own bed is at home.

I had a 7 AM meeting at the store. Guess what? The alarm clocks were at home. By our bed.

Luckily, I have leapt into the previous century. "Tim, we can use our cell phone!" That little endeavor took 15 minutes to figure out, and I did not sleep well, waking up repeatedly to see what time it was because I had no confidence in my abilities to set the alarm on my cell phone.

This morning, the alarm went off on my phone, a sweet little sound, not harsh and annoying like my regular alarm. Despite the gentle start to the day, I ran out of hot water in the shower while I still had shampoo in my hair. I discovered that I had no caffeine, the coffee pot still at home. I had my blow dryer but no hairbrush. No make-up either. I made the meeting. (Looking like death warmed over.) The french toast the manager made contained no caffeine, but God bless Ike, he had the coffee pot going. (Note to self: bring bigger cup to work.)

Someone asked, "Are you all moved in?" surprised.

No. We're not. However, the balance is tilting. We've got more of our stuff there than we do here, and so the scale has tipped. We live there now. Kellie said, "75-25?" Me, thinking, "Nah. 60-40." That probably isn't even right. More like 51-49, probably. But we're getting there.

And it IS very exciting.

Today the kitchen appliances, the washer and dryer, our bedroom, a couple toolbenches and a wheeled tool chest will be moved. Maybe some other stuff. We'll see what time allows. We're getting there.

The final papers for this house have not been signed yet, but the good news is, we will not be moving in the dead of winter, which was Tim's worst fear. We'll still have sixty days after the papers are signed to continue moving our stuff out, one load at a time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where'd he go?

We're going through stuff at an amazing clip. Questions come up. What do you do with that box of unmatched socks that sits in the laundry room? Do you take it with you? Because as soon as you throw that box of socks away, you're going to find the missing socks. And now is the prime time for finding stuff, because we are finding a ton of stuff. (Most of which causes us to scratch our heads and think, okay...so just why were we saving this....?

The washer has been running nonstop. We're washing all the bedding so that everything is clean and fresh in the new house.

The burn pile has been burning all morning. Reminds me of the store advertisements: "EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!"

We've got lists. What must absolutely be at the house tonight. What absolutely must be done before the end of the day. Responsibilities are divvied up. I've got to go to work.

In the middle of this chaos, my beloved looks at me and says this:

"You know, people should move every ten years."

Me: "I know I've said it before Tim, but this time I really mean it. I don't want to move anymore."

Tim: "Well, you don't know. You can never tell what the future holds." And out the door he goes grinning happily.

Okay. What happened to that man I married. The quiet guy. The one who didn't like change. The one that I thought would live on the top of the mountain forever, his roots wrapped tightly around the Scandia rocks?

I wonder if I'll find him during this 'redding out'?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leaping Ahead

Big news from the woods:

Tonight is our last night in our old house. We will be living in the new house from tomorrow forward.

We signed up for our new internet service, and got Direct TV too. We have leapt into the previous century, by golly.

If we can adjust to that dramatic change, we might consider joining this century as well.

Maybe.

*drums fingers nervously*

Moving kinda fast, ain't we? My neck hurts. Might be that there whiplash I hear tell of.

Arrgggggh! (revisited)

I've got multiple group projects going on at this point, and really, I have to say that the majority of them are going well. However we have one due on Monday. MONDAY! I have never worked with this girl, but you kind of figure at this point, everyone has learned how to work in a group. Lord knows we had plenty of projects to practice on.

We divvied up the work, and I got mine knocked out because that's how I roll. She was not so prompt, but she did seem to have a handle on things.

I have taken criticism from the instructors for not allowing the contributions of other team members. At the time, I felt it to be unfair. The instances they referenced were groups in which members were either not doing the work, or simply waiting until it was done, and then wanting to change everything at the last minute, because they were procrastinators. It was frustrating, but when I tried to defend myself specifically, I was interrupted. She didn't want to hear it. She told me that this was a complaint heard repeatedly from the rest of the class. Really kind of undermined how I felt about fitting in to the class.

I took those lessons. I've tried to apply them. I do not critique the work of my teammembers. We just pool our work. I don't add to theirs. They don't add to mine. I just keep quiet. I don't think its the best way to do a group project, but I can't figure another way to handle things without appearing to take charge of the group.

Now after a year, I have a pretty good idea of who is best to work with. Other students, the older ones, usually, are anxious to get things hammered out as quickly as possible. I look for people who have a lot on my plate, like myself. It's worked pretty well. Most of my group projects have been successful this year.

In the van coming home from Buffalo, my classmates were talking. I was daydreaming, looking out the window, wondering about the lives of the people who lived in the big houses in the gated communities we were passing, or the lives in the rundown trailer parks that we were passing. The lives of the people in the (mostly neat) tiny square homes that went on for miles and miles, divided up into a gridwork of homes that looked basically the same. I gazed out the window imagining stories to go with the homes that I was seeing.

I felt a nudge, and jumped a little. Andrew, sitting next to me said, "We know about that, don't we?" I said, "What? I guess I missed it." They were talking about groups. About difficult people in groups. The like.

I said, "Groups are hard for me. I got slammed for being controlling, but when you're working with people who don't do their share, it seems like someone has to take charge, and I simply do it. I'm not so good at groups." I sidestepped the complaints that were circulating about specific people saying only, "I hope that the teacher sees their shortcomings, and that their grades reflect this." I noted that I try not to talk about people, because I know that I have a reputation as well.

It was a gratifying moment. Other students looked at me and said, "The only people that complain about you are the same people who complain about EVERYONE, and they complain because they are slackers and want to blame everyone else." It's true. The names that they mentioned were people that everyone tries to avoid working with. Proscrastinators, inflexible people, or people who simply don't do their part of the assignment. It was just nice to hear that from my peers. I've been walking around feeling like I had a problem. A big one.

That night, I got home to an e-mail from my partner on a group project. She attached her portion of the project. To my horror, it was not done. Not even close. It's due Monday. It is so half assed that it doesn't even make sense in places. I noted my corrections politely. All sorts of grammar issues on top of gaping holes and undone portions. My comments were longer than her entire report. But I didn't rewrite it.

I noted that I was very afraid for this project.

I know that she expects me to rewrite it. I'm not going to. One portion of the report goes for one class, the other portion for the other. Her portion, as it stands now, will probably get me my first zero.

I took a deep breath, e-mailed the instructors. Let the chips fall where they may. I can rewrite part one, but it will not be done by Monday. I can rewrite it, but I will be submitting it in my name, not as a group project. If that solution is unacceptable to them, well, I've gotten a zero, and I do not know what this means for my overall grade.

I'm not sure what this says about me, whether this attitude is a good one or a bad one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy

Today, I had the nicest day.

Really.

I spent the day setting up my new kitchen. It looks so very nice. Our appliances are still at the old house, but still...We hung the curtains we'd picked out last summer, and we moved in my baker's rack, and arranged the antique bottles and tin collection. Tim sat at our old table at the new house, and he said in a wondering sort of a voice, "This is really nice." The new paint glowed and the wood floors shone softly in the light. It is nice.

I hung my clock in the front hall and wound it. I moved the furniture into place in the library. I put William's playroom together on the third floor (someday that room will be his favorite room in the house I think.) I assembled beds and daydreamed. The wicker furniture has been painted white, and tomorrow it will be set into place. I hung pictures.

I'm so happy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting it done...

I have my portion for two of the group projects done.

I'm working with the most awesome group right this minute. Everything just worked so perfectly, just flowed. Everyone pulled their weight and was truly creative. Good group dynamics make for a truly excellent presentation.

And I only have 14 more days of class.

*fist pump*

BOO-YAH!

Finish Line, Ruby Slippers, Whining.

Over the weekend, I discovered that I have 15 more days of school.

15 more days.

One would think that would galvanize me. That I would be thinking, "15 more days?!!! Shoot. I can do that standing on my head!" That I would be a ball of energy, flying through these projects, getting things done. I mean, I have a crap load of stuff to do, and I've been pecking away at it daily, getting it done, one smidge at a time. Seems like seeing the finish line would be a big encouragement, that I would be tearing through this like my tail was on fire.

You'd think.

Mary called. She and Danny are out yard-saling. "Hey," I said. "If you come across a corner cabinet, wooden, let me know. It can be either white or oak finish. We need one for a bathroom."

My friend said, (almost wailed, actually) "I can't wait until I can just call you and ask you if you want to do something, and you'll be able to just pick up and go with me. I miss that!"

I do too.

I think of doing things with my sister. Or my sister in law (and my two cute nephews). Or my friends. Of taking part in church activities once again. I think of just sitting to read a book and not feeling anxious because I should be doing something else. I think of what it would be like to have a tidy house. To have time to fix a meal instead of simply grabbing something quick (preferably that I don't have to cook so that I can hit the books.) I think of standing in the yard and visiting with our new neighbors instead of flying in the door and back out again, waving gaily.

I am so busy. This is a very exciting time in my life, but I am tired and frazzled, and I simply want to be done. My life has been hijacked, and I want it back, thank you.

*sigh*

No matter how I click the heels of my ruby slippers, when I open my eyes, it is still not done. But I figure the only thing standing between 15 and 14 is this day. I'll heist up from my chair, carry my empty coffee cup to the sink, and I will get the party started.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Git 'er done.

Well, we've gotten the furniture from three bedrooms and an office moved. Tim stayed home because I wouldn't let him come. This pinched nerve thing (or whatever it is) has been an unending source of grief to him.

Justin and I ferried the stuff down the hill on the truck, making four trips. It was a good day, and this house is emptying out. We'll move a carload at a time this week, and then next weekend, my sister and her husband are helping. That should be the bulk of it, except for the kids' stuff. Dylan is coming home at Thanksgiving, and will load up his things. We're hoping Mike and Brianna will come home. I've got a box for Mary to take. Stuff for Goodwill. Boxes of books. I advertised them on Freecycle, and someone eagerly claimed them all...and then asked me to deliver them. I hate that. For heaven's sake, if someone is giving you something, seems like you could at least make the effort to come and get it. Cara's got to hoe through her room too. That will take some time. We're hoping that Buddy and Brianna will come up and sort through things and take what they want for their home.

I've got a busy week coming up at school. A trip to Buffalo on Wednesday. Practicals (again!) on Friday. I go to school three days a week. Somebody pointed out that we have fifteen more days of school. 15! I figured it out, and she is right. We have 15 more days of school, and then the semester will be done. Next semester, we will be working 5 days a week at a work site. If we begin our work program as soon as the holidays are over, not waiting for the school break to end, we'll be finished with our semester in April.

Wow. I'm coming into the home stretch.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stuff



Tim is a guy who likes his 'stuff'. And Tim has lots of 'stuff'. Lots o' stuff. He's got a three stall garage. Full. He's got a shed. Full. He's got two more smaller sheds. Also full. He's also got a garage in the basement. That's (surprise!) full too.

We've had some discussions. We are moving, and he has a two stall garage, with a second floor. He's got a shed. He's also got two garages at the rentals. He began to fret that he did not have enough room.

I said, "So, maybe you don't NEED all this stuff."

The man was outraged. He actually said, "If I can't take my stuff, I'm not moving," and off he went in a huff.

So, I figured not to worry about it. He'll figure something out. Tim's been working away as best he can with his back. He can't lift. He's been cleaning out the garage. I haven't see it, yet, but he said to me yesterday, in a surprised voice, "You know, I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff. There's a lot of it I don't need."

He may have been surprised. Me? Not so much...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Project

Today I went to the nursing home where I will be working for the next five weeks. I really like the activities director there. I have to assess a need, and design a program for it. That's easy enough. I knew what the need was going to be before I even walked in the door. The need is that the staff is too busy to do a lot of interacting one on one. The need is that patients need that one on one interaction. The director was quite excited to hear that. I'd hit it dead on in her opinion. We talked quite a bit during my orientation, and we found that we had a lot in common.


Walking the halls, I ran into a lady from church, and then the mother of one of Cara's friends, and then one of the girls from Dylan's class. There were people that recognized me from the paper. People I used to work with at other places. Even a woman I work with now. Lots of customers from the store. It was kind of cool, like old home week.



What sort of activity would I like to do for my project? December seventh is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. I know a Pearl Harbor veteran. Larry sure likes to talk. I know the veterans are quite proud of their service, and enjoy talking about their service. Wouldn't it be cool to set up a 'canteen' with period music, and we could run documentaries on Pearl Harbor. The old soldiers could sit and talk about their service time, and drink coffee or tea or whatever. I think it would be great fun, very interesting. I'll bet that I could get a couple of actresses from the local theater group to be 'waitresses' for a couple hours. I'll bet some of the local veterans would love to come in and listen to the old guys and swap yarns of their own. The activities director thought it was an excellent plan. I wonder if I can pull it off?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

William the lion-hearted


Little Lion Man.




Wonder

I love that there are still people left in this world who understand 'wonder'? This is totally stolen from Novel Woman. (Thanks for sharing it, ma'am!)

Doesn't it just make you want to do something mysterious and wonderful, just for the sake of bringing joy to others?

I have a plan to do just that.

No. I'm not telling. It wouldn't be mysterious then, would it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A post about nuthin'

I got nothin'. Really. Last night was Halloween. Little William was a lion. Cute as a button. Did I get pictures. No. I was scrubbing the bathroom floor at the new house and putting down an acrylic finish. I didn't think to bring a camera. I'd come straight from school.

Justin clattered in, in his gawky big footed teenage boy way. I get a kick out of him. He chattered on, and I listened, glad to have a kid around the house, again, even if he is just borrowed. He's got it all planned. We need a giant plasma TV, and we 'need to put it right here'. He stands in the livingroom making giant plasma TV motions with his hands.

We had a few trick or treaters, not many. The house has been vacant for so long, I don't think that anyone expected someone to be there. Still it was fun. Trick or treating is not permitted out in the woods. I'll like that part of living in the city.

Latest amazing house discovery? The carriage house is made of chestnut. The sheeting boards are a foot wide. Why is this remarkable? Chestnut, once common here, was wiped out, made completely extinct by a blight in the early 1900s. Chestnut trees do continue grow up from the root system of old trees, but they die young, victims of the same blight. To have a building made completely of chestnut, is quite a find. Foot-wide boards means that they were taken from old trees. There is no such thing as old chestnut trees in this day and age. Tim carefully saved the old wooden stairs. Those pieces of chestnut are rare and precious. In the hands of a craftsman, they could become something beautiful.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What the HECK?????

She hasn't blogged it yet, but I gotta say, I think that Bush Babe has lost her ever loving mind. Truely. On facebook, she showed a picture of a very large snake in a crock, which is being held by Mr. Incredible.

She has shown us all manner of wildlife in Australia. She even takes photos of goannas and snakes. However this snake was a seven foot python. It was on the top shelf of her pantry. In the house.

She points out that the snake is not venomous.

I point out, once again, that it was seven foot long and on the top shelf of her pantry. In the house. INSIDE the house!

She pointed out that it was pretty placid.

I'm starting to worry about her mind people. I will point out once again, that it was seven feet long and on the top shelf of her pantry. Inside. the. house.

There are little details of this story which are disturbing to me. Now BB is a fairly tall drink of woman, but my question is, can she see the top shelf of her pantry, or is she like me in that she gropes blindly, locating what she's looking for by feel? And if you, in the course of grabbing the tumeric or the coriander, grab yourself a seven foot python, I want to point out that python is not listed as a substitution for any cooking ingredient that I am aware of.

Allow me also to say that if I ever reached up on the top shelf of my pantry and grabbed a seven foot python, I would have immediately peed my pants and then dropped over dead on the spot. Yes. This is correct. I am sure that at some point there would have been the scream heard round the world, but then I would be history, on my way to meet Jesus wearing wet pants.

Another little detail of the story is that apparently he made quite a mess up there, knocking things over and such. But it also is pointed out that the placid little fellow was not housebroken. Now that brings up another picture. Seven foot python...just how big...oh...never mind...

Anyways, I think that you want to hie over to her blog right now and demand that she post that story with its accompanying pictures. Demand it I say!