Monday, January 31, 2011

This and That...

Yesterday, a young mother stood in my line. She had a two year old and a two week old, and she looked harried and tired. She was doing her debit card, and I prompted her. She blinked a little, and said, "Sorry. I'm not thinking clearly..." I said, "You're allowed. You've got two small children. It goes with the territory." She said, "I just told my husband the other day that I wondered when I would get my mind back." I smiled reassuringly. "My mind's coming back. My youngest just turned 21." Made her laugh, and I do think that she needed a laugh.

A very elderly man came in, and he was buying some top of the line dog food. He said, "I take good care of my girl." I asked him what kind of a dog he had, and he said a shih tzu. So I listened while he told me about 'his girl'. He wound up with, "Yes. I lost one of my girls, and that is hard." I said, sympathetically, "I know how hard that is. I had to have my dog put down last spring." And he looked at me and said softly 'that girl was my wife...' and I stood gaping. "I'm sorry," I said. And I asked him if he was doing okay. "It's hard," he repeated. I said, "Do you have family around to ease the pain a little?" and he said, "No." His daughter lives in Baltimore. I looked at him closely. "When did you lose your wife?" I asked. Turns out that he'd just lost her December 5th. "Listen," I said, grabbing for a piece of scratch paper. "Most of the people that I know who are dealing with this sort of thing say that meals are the worst, that sitting down to a table to eat alone is the very worst. You call me, okay? Because we surely would be pleased to have you come to supper some times. It's not good to be all by yourself." And he took that paper. He did not demur. He took that paper and he said, "Thank you." Poor man.

There is a father and a daughter who come in the store all the time. It sounds like they live side by side. The father is very frail, but good natured and funny. His daughter is very nice too, and drives her father around to do his errands. He comes in and he buys bird seed. The daughter bought a 50 pound bag of ice melter. She paid for her purchase as her dad went out the store. "Why don't you just pull up to the curb to load. It's going to be a struggle to wrangle a shopping cart with 90 pounds in it across a slushy parking lot." And so she did. She had her father wait for her, in front of the store, and she got her SUV. The cool thing is, I watched her stand back and let her father load the bag of feed. He staggered a little under the weight of it, and her hands were right there, on his back, and she did not stop him. That touched me. She's an able woman and she could have simply grabbed the bag first, but she didn't. She let her father be the strong man that he always was. I darted out, and grabbed a bag of rock salt off the pile at the door, and I carried that over to the curb and loaded it. The daughter smiled gratefully, and the father said, "Here now...I can get that!" and I assured him that the store expected me to help the customer when I was not busy at the register. I told him that the store hired me because I was strong as a bull, but only too late realized that I was no smarter than a bull. It always makes people laugh, and he did too. And from behind him, his daughter smiled gratefully and said nothing.

I had the baby shower for Brianna, and it was nice, if I do say so myself. Mary came early, and the two of us worked together, and it was a nice time to visit. We met as 12 year olds, and neither one of us could have envisioned the years flying by so quickly. A grandma! While shopping for the things for the shower, I had watched two very elderly women crossing the road in front of my car in the parking lot. One was using a walker and the other one, stooped and walking gingerly herself, had her hand on the other's arm, 'helping' her. They were talking a mile a minute. "That will be Mary and me someday," I thought, and I smiled inside to think of it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yesterday, I was working at Tractor Supply and a man came in. He was familiar to me. He's always been friendly, and he's always stopped to chat, if I don't have a line. He's a young man. No more than thirty, I would guess. He is rebuilding his motorcycle, and we are the cheapest store around to buy the nuts and bolts and all that sort of hardware that he needs, so we see him quite frequently.

This time, he stood in my line quietly, but unmistakeably, there was a gun in his pocket. A handgun's handle protruded from the pocket of his cargo pants. And I froze a little, even as I continued to wait on customers in a friendly cheerful way. Inside, I wondered at his motives. Did that cheerful chatter hide the mind of a psychopath? He's a loner, that's for sure, even though he seems friendly enough. And without looking at him, I tried to get a reading on his demeanor, even as I planned what I would do if he pulled it.

Finally, it was his turn, and he came up and lay his purchases down on the counter. I spoke with him cheerfully, and he responded cheerfully, and I was very, very alert. I asked him about his motorcycle, and he talked about that. I noted that he was not buying a lot of hardware, so I asked if he were nearly finished. Even as, from the corner of my eyes, I watched where his hands were AT ALL TIMES, and I listened carefully to what he was saying, how he was saying it. He said, "Oh, you know, I'll always shop at Tractor Supply. Always. It's not only the best place to get hardware, it's really about the most pleasant store I've ever been in. I love this place. Everyone is so nice here."

He gathered his stuff, and he walked out of the store, the butt of that gun sticking out of his pocket. I couldn't believe it. People have a right to have guns. That's the way it is in our country. Tim has so many guns that I could not put a number to it. Truly. But honest to God, I see no reason why a person would need a gun in the Tractor Supply. I don't get that.

And as stupid as it will sound, when he left, I felt like I had dodged a bullet. No pun intended.

Late Edit: Turns out that open carry is illegal in Pennsylvania. Some folks do have concealed weapon permits, and are allowed to carry a concealed weapon. However as soon as that weapon is visible, it becomes illegal.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tractor Supply

Yesterday, a little girl who lives down the road from me came into the store with her family. I never realized it, but her name is Anna. She was buying a playset with her own money. "I didn't know that your name was Anna," I said, while ringing her up. "That's my sister's name! Do they call you Anna Banana? They used to call my sister Anna Banana and it used to make her very, very angry." And Anna looked up at me and said, "They call me Anne Boleyn and I DON'T LIKE IT." And her little face got a very frustrated look.

Anna Banana. Anne Boleyn. Cripes. Playground name calling has gotten kind of high brow since I graced the monkey bars....

Merrill's mother was in the store yesterday. She was having a terrible time with him the last time I saw her. He had learned to crow, and was really making a ruckus at really ungodly hours. I said, "So...is Merrill an 'in-y' or an 'out-y' at this point?" And she sighed. "He's an in-y." He still lives in the house, and he still carries his little chicken doll along with him for comfort, but he's begun to peck viciously at her when she tries to clean his cage. He is always shrieking about something. He does go out with the other chickens, but he doesn't seem to realize that he is one of them, and pays them no mind. He wanders around for a time, but then comes and sits on the flower pot, waiting patiently to be brought back inside.

I listened to this, and I said, "Well, he's mean and yells a lot, and doesn't like a clean cage. He doesn't know who he is. By golly. Merrill has become a teenager!" Merrill's mother laughed and she said, "Bless his little beak..."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Logic

Last night, I worked on Anatomy and Physiology, and it was complicated, but step by step, I proceeded on. It was not the most fun that I've ever had in my life, but when I closed that book, I was relieved. Felt like I'd made progress.

This morning, I drove in for my class, and I looked at the starkness of the landscape, all black and white with varying shades of gray, and when I got to class, I sat there listening. Aquaporins transport water, small channels that carry the water directly from cell to cell, which is called transcellular hydration, logically enough. But cells are also hydrated by the water in the interstitial spaces, absorbing that water through the cell wall. That is called paracellular hydration. Also logical enough. But as I listened, a small light came on. It was LOGICAL that it was that way. The water pressure around the cells insured cell integrity even as the cells expanded with water from the inside. When I said this, the teacher smiled and said, "You are correct." Class went on. It was a small moment, but I marveled at that, that I was grasping the material well enough to see the perfection of it, the logic of it, the reasoning behind it, and somehow I just felt calmer about the class. The anxiety about it? Just gone. Gone.

So anyways, I gathered my colored pencils and my pens, my notebooks and my text book after class. The young man sitting next to me talked in a friendly way. An older man sitting in a row ahead of me introduced himself as Tom and we talked about the class. I mentioned that I was feeling more confident. Like me, his life has taken a new direction. He is in the nursing program. I told him how it just seemed that I was headed just where I was meant to be, although I certainly could not have predicted this direction my life had gone. And we smiled, both of us understanding what a good feeling that is, to be moving towards your own destiny, realizing the paths that brought you right where you are supposed to be.

I left driving home. I planned Saturday's baby shower in my mind, and I thought on my very pregnant daughter even as I headed up the hill to visit my friend who's begun treatment for brain cancer. I think about Daria's funeral today. About cells. About beginnings, about endings, about this dance that we do, pinioned as we are between the bookends of birth and death, moving from one thing to another, led by Something we do not yet know, not entirely.

It is all clear. We all have a season, and a reason. Our steps are guided, our path before us, our past behind us. I marvel at the logic of it all, and I marvel at its beauty.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Busy

I worked on a couple of homework assignments. Anatomy and Physiology I was such a mindbender for me that I really, really was dreading Anatomy and Physiology II. I cannot tell you how much I feared this class. But I have to tell you that so far (and I know that it is early), I'm understanding the material. Our lab teacher quizzes us each and every week, and I like that. I know whether I'm absorbing the material. If I'm not, I have an opportunity to get myself back on track quickly. Our lecture teacher has a test coming up this Thursday, but she does no preliminary quizzes. I never thought that I'd see the day when I was hoping for quizzes.

Slow and steady wins the race, I keep telling myself, and each day, I plug along, trying to keep myself organized. That's the worst part, especially for the OT classes. Because everything is in two rooms, because we have pretty much just the two teachers, because we are talking about OT in all of them and in some cases refer to the same textbooks, I find it very easy to confuse the classes. It's sorting out though, and I am becoming more organized. (Dylan, my son? One of my 1000 Awesome Things is my three hole punch. Thank you for that. It's made my life much easier!)

I ran into a woman I met last summer in another class. Ellen had to drop out due to family obligations. She takes care of her parents and her father was terminally ill. She works part time at the college, now, and she loves it. We talked about that, about being older. It seems to me that the young kids all have such confidence and vivacity and sparkle to them. I don't think that I have that. I think that I can get better in that arena, but I'm not there. I fret. "I feel like I have bits and pieces of what I need to know, but I don't know how to put them together." She allowed as how she had the same uncertainties. But in talking, we both decided that we had to have confidence in what is a very successful program that has to turn down applicants. We have to have confidence that our very enthusiastic teachers know what they are doing. We have to relax, and enjoy this journey we are on, and simply trust that we will learn what we need to know. Our own confidence will come. I walked away feeling...dare I say it?...just a bit more confident. There's another awesome thing.

I ordered a set of goniometers, and they arrived today. That was another awesome thing. The fact that I know how to use these simple tools makes me feel like I'm on my way, even though any person with half a brain could figure it out, I am sure.

I got a column written and in to the editor. The deadline is Wednesday, and I cut this one close. I threw it together in an hour, but it's a nice column about a 42 year friendship. I wrote it for my friend Mary's birthday, and as I wrote it, I realized that friendship is an awesome thing too. Mary's pretty awesome too.

I'm having a baby shower for Brianna on Saturday. I want it to be nice for her, and so I'm fretting just a bit about that too. If it is a success, I will add it to my 1000 Awesome Things list.

Bull.

Well, as Bill wisely pointed out yesterday, it is always today, and it cannot be anything else until it becomes yesterday. You can talk about tomorrow, but it never comes. You wait in anticipation for tomorrow, and then wake up to discover that it is still today. Just like it was yesterday. Until it became yesterday.

Bush Babe declared that we were messing with her mind. I would like to point out that I was innocently talking about yesterday, which was today when I was writing about it, and I said that I expected it to be a loooooong day, long enough that it might not actually get over until next Monday. It was Bill that started explaining about it always being today, so he was actually the one messing with minds.

And Bill? You want to be careful with stuff like that. It's probably just the sort of thing that would get you thrown in jail in Juarez. LOL.

Yep. Pure unadulterated bull here today. I might do it differently tomorrow, but you know, it's still today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Long day today. Loooooong day. See you folks at the end of this day. I fully expect it will wind down, oh, I'd guess this day will surely be done by next Monday...

:)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blogs

We have to keep a blog during our clinicals, on the college website, so that we can share our experiences and feelings with the other OT students this semester. We have to post at least once every two weeks.

Heh.

Shouldn't be a problem.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Yep. I'm still here. Let's go back to the '1000 Awesome Things' list.

The first thing on my list was sinking into a book, but even though I have not had a lot of time for blogging, I've been noticing other awesome things.

F'rinstance.

I was driving to school on a windy, windy day, and I was picking my way through a stretch of road that drifts badly ~ that is to say that snow blows across the fields and carries the snow into the road. In any case, one of my favorite things is when the wind catches the snow and blows it up into a minicyclone of snow that dances across the field like a white tornado. I love that. Anyways, last week, picking my way through the drifty part of the road, I caught sight of one of the snow devils, and watched it spinning out its short life, and suddenly I noticed that the field was full of snow devils, and they danced and spun right up to the sky before finally disappearing. It was magical.

And last night, we went to watch the football game with one of the kids, a pleasant night, quiet talk, (and the Steelers won, which I don't actually care about, but it seemed to make everyone else darn happy, so I was glad...), aaaaaaaanyways, Tim and I were driving past the refinery, and it was so cold that the cloud of steam had frozen and hung low, and driving through it was like driving through outer space, dark, but the headlights picking up the twinkling of a million frozen water crystals.

My amaryllis is blooming and it is white with beautiful salmon edging. I love my office with the ticking clock and the blooming amaryllis. My kids went together and bought things for that office, and it contains my favorite things, pictures by BB, and a drawing that Stevie Wren did. The office is awesome and my amaryllis is awesome, choosing to bloom during the coldest, most inhospitable time of the year.

The kids are awesome.

I had a nightmare the other night. I rarely do. I find that when a dream is truly, truly vivid, it generally means something though, and I generally try to puzzle it out. Like I said, this dream was a wang doodle and it scared me so bad that I jerked awake from it, gasping in the dark, and then lay there unable to sleep, trying to figure out what this dream meant. And I was glad for the warmth of my sleeping husband. My own breathing settled down, and began to match his, and I was soothed.

I am glad for our woodstove, and our nice warm house. This morning it is -11 degrees out. That is -24 for you who use celcius. I am glad to be cozy and warm and wrapped up in my wool blanket that snaps over my shoulders. My kids laughed at that present, but I love it. My bones love being warm.

I like the way the first sip of coffee tastes, rich and warm in your mouth, and I slip it slowly in my dark, warm house, sitting at the computer and having this time for me.

I like having a girl who knows how I want my hair cut, and she is sweet and we talk about anything and everything, and she simply cuts my hair and it turns out nicely every time. (Thanks, Amber.)

So that is my 'awesome things' list this month. Have you added to yours?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Afraid in the Dark

You know, it's a weird time. I flipped over to Daria's blog, and much to my shock, she's now unable to blog. I mean, just last week, she was blogging. I knew that she was having some difficulties, but she was functioning. She was living. This week, they're making hospice arrangements.

I feel a shiver of fear as I read her blog. The thing is, I go to school. I study. I work. I blog. I'm busy. I'm doing things. I'm alive. And I take comfort in the fact that I am doing all these things. Obviously, I'm not sick, or else I couldn't do these things, right? But last week, Daria was having troubles but marching right on, and then it all changed. The sheer speed with which circumstances can change frightens me, and then I get stupid. I find myself thinking, "I can't take the shrink wrap off my text books until I know for sure how things are going to work out at Tuesday's appointment. That way, I can return the books to the campus bookstore for full credit if things turn out badly." What kind of dip wad thinks like that?

The answer is me. I do.

It's not just me, even though I feel very alone sometimes. A friend was going to meet me at the cafeteria. I waited, but she didn't show. She called that night to apologize, and to tell me that she was taking the semester off. She's coming up on her third year. She's triple negative, and her understanding of things is that her cancer will likely come back, usually within three years, but if she can make it to five years, it probably won't be back. She's already had it twice. She's looking at this three year mark, and finds herself feeling superstitious and afraid. She tried to explain it to yet another friend who'd had cancer, and he said, "I know how it is. I got so afraid that I cried at work the other day." After much thought, she just decided to take a semester off, to pull herself together. So, no. I know it is not just me who gets scared.

The fear is there, and it is real. Everywhere I've looked, post treatment fear is normal, but I have to say, around here, it's not really addressed. No tips for coping with the fear. I just get the notion that I'm not supposed to be afraid. I was at work before Christmas. I saw a doctor in my check out line. I said to him, "Hi, Dr. ---- and his response was a mock shocked look. "You're still here?!!! Why, I'm shocked." I was speechless really. I didn't even respond, although my mind was whirling. What? I'm supposed to be embarrassed because I found another lump and insisted it be biopsied? I'm supposed to be embarrassed because I am trying to be vigilent? He'd told me in his office once, "What are you so afraid of? If anything, you were over treated." I stared at him. What does that mean? People are treated for cancer every day. The plain and simple fact is that it does come back sometimes. Trying to remember, I probably was asking him for numbers, for odds. Mary had just been diagnosed a second time, and her news had rattled my cage. I don't know for sure, but I know whatever was going on that day, I was afraid, and I had questions, and I walked out of there feeling like a big dummy. I walked out of there feeling ashamed of my fear. So what did the doctor mean by his comment? I don't know. I was afraid to ask.

I remember once talking to my regular doctor, and he asked how things were going and I said good, but then admitted that sometimes in the dark, I got scared. He said, "Well, of course you do." I'm telling you true, I got tears in my eyes, to hear that what I was feeling was normal.

I've been thinking about this a lot. About the fear. I deal with a lot of pain. It's pretty much constant. Sometimes, not so bad. Other times, it's horrible. I guess it's exacerbated by the cold. I don't know. All I know is that it is hard to be optimistic and positive when I feel like crap a great deal of the time. So sometimes I do get scared. Cancer is all around me, and every time I turn around, it seems like someone else has been diagnosed. Every time I hear of someone new, there is that prickle of fear. I've lost friends this year. Each time, there was a prickle of fear. Is this unrealistic? No. I really don't think so.

I'm a pragmatic person. I tend to look at things squarely. It is what it is. So what is it? Well. I'm 53 years old. I've had cancer. I'm trying to manage chronic pain. Perhaps it is just the weariness of dealing with that pain that makes me so tired. I don't know. It does seem that it has gotten worse. It is what it is, but I don't know what it is, not really, so sometimes I get afraid in the dark.

There. I've said it out loud. I'll say it again. Sometimes I get afraid in the dark. But every morning, I get up. I go out the door, and I do what needs doing. I guess that I'm a brave coward. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm heartily sick and tired of feeling like a jackass because sometimes I get afraid in the dark.

Today at the Tractor Supply

It feels like forever since I've been at work. Our hours have been cut. It is a slow time for us. But I worked today, and you all are going to LOVE this story. A young girl came in. She is maybe 11 or 12. She was with her mom. I've seen her there before. She is horse mad, and she'd bought a play set with horses. It was on sale for $9.99 and she was very excited about it. Today she came to my register with a horse magazine for kids. She opened her wallet and paid for it herself, and the young lady had quite a sum of cash. I knew she'd had a recent birthday, but still, that was a heck of a lot of money.

Her mother was watching her closely, and the young miss counted out the money carefully, and the tucked her change back into her stuffed wallet. The mother commented that she'd earned the money herself, and impressed, I said, "So how'd you do that?" Turned out that the young lady had taken orders for pumpkin rolls. She sold them for $5. each. She made over 60 of them during the holidays. Excited at her success, she was launching into bread making. "And what kind of bread do you make?" I asked. Whole wheat bread and english muffins among other things. Looking at the young lady I was all kinds of ways impressed, and I told her so. I also told her that I was going to tell her little story. Speaking with her mother, I said, "Once a kid realizes that hard work brings success, it doesn't matter what path they pursue, they will do well." The mother agreed. I watched the two of them leave, and I was amazed at what this little pippersqueak was doing, and on her own too.

Today at school, I met a very elderly lady. She's taking Anatomy and Physiology II. I stopped to visit with her, curious about her story. She's studying to be a nurse. She's got to be nearly 70. Her story? All her life she'd been a mail carrier. She never had the money for school. She was raising a family. Finally, it was just her, and she didn't know what to do with herself. It occured to her that she finally had the money for school. So she enrolled. She doesn't want to work in a hospital. She's thinking she'd like to be a missionary. I was amazed at what this elderly woman is doing, and on her own, too.

Age doesn't matter, does it? You can be a success no matter how old you are. Today I met two people that proved it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

About that job...

I know that taking on another job sounds crazy, doesn't it? But the thing is, this job is only 8-10 hours a week, and it is at the school. I have 3 days a week, where I have blocks of time between classes, in one case, from 9:45 until 1 PM. So it would be a way to fill up this 'empty time'. Yes. I could use that for studying too, and I will have the flexibility to switch back and forth if need be.

Since my discussion with my advisor last fall, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've also been doing a lot of people watching, assessing them (and myself). My strengths are that I am smart and that I am a hard worker. My weaknesses are that I do not have a lot of self confidence. I am also a very casual person, truth be told. I'm likable. I am funny. I am nice, but I am not professional. I am not polished. If I am striving to be a professional person, I have to learn the ins and outs of dressing professionally, of making a good impression, how to interact with other professional people. That sort of thing. I'm 53 years old and have never had a professional job. Never.

I had an interesting conversation with Cara the other day. We were talking about guys. She said, matter of factly, "I'm a great woman. The man who'll get me will be a lucky man." I was a little taken aback. I looked at her, and the words pushing to the front of my brain were all cautionary...'don't get big headed' or 'pride goeth before a fall'. But looking at her, what I saw on her pretty little face was, plainly put, what she thought of herself. And because she valued herself, she will not (and has not) fallen for the first fellow who's come by. She's well liked, with plenty of friends who are boys, but no boyfriends. She's dropped a boy who was fiscally irresponsible. She's dropped a boy because he didn't buy his mother a Mother's Day gift. Her thinking followed the line of 'his parents support him, his parents sacrifice to send him to college, he lives at home when he's not at college, and he is so selfish that he sees no need to buy his mother a gift on mother's day?!!!! Cara does not date selfish men!' I looked at this girl once again, and what I saw was someone who knew her own worth, and someone who would not settle for anyone who (number one) values her less than she values herself, and (number two) has substantially different values. Whoever gets Cara will have to be wise and considerate. That is not a bad thing. My cautionary words died on my lips. "Yes," I agreed.

I have never felt that way about myself. Never in my life. I have made bad mistakes because I looked for my value in the eyes of others, unable to see the value of my own self. I respond to everything on an emotional level ~ I take care of people, I love people: those are the good things. I also feel insecure and unworthy and guilty a lot. I feel as if everything is my fault. I've noticed that people who are polished and professional are able to, at some level, lay their emotions aside, to focus on what they are doing, and do it well. They exude confidence. They speak easily. Okay. Yeah. That part I have down. Maybe I need to focus on not talking so much. If I get this job (and I don't know that I will...as noted, I am severely lacking in professionalism), it would put me in an arena where I would be practicing the skills that will make a big difference in my life. In effect, I'd be getting paid as I learned them.

So, no. I'm not overburdening myself. I see a lack in myself that needs to be addressed. I see an opportunity to address that lack. I'm jumping at the opportunity.

On the edge of Change...

I was disappointed that the night before school started, I had a major sort of meltdown, emotional, and sure, to the very core of my being, that I was not up to this challenge. I just really thought that I was past all of that, but no. Today, relaxed and listening, I realized that I was really enjoying the discussion. Those pre-school jitters dissipated very, very quickly, and I am quite glad for that.

I applied for another job today, a small job that is flexible, and would work around both my school and my job at Tractor Supply. It is a professional job that would allow me to work among professional people, to interact on a professional level, to study how professional people conduct themselves. I think that I need to study that behavior closely. I think this would be a great opportunity to do so.

I don't have any real studying to do tonight. I made a few index cards, but really, not a lot to study. Feels weird.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Cara!

Cara turned 21 today, at 4:15 AM. Happy birthday!

How did this happen? I remember at time when I was up to my armpits in teenagers. Now they are all in their 20s. Well. For a few months anyways. Then Brianna turns 30. Then I'll get to be shocked all over again.

Where the flip are these years going?

Cara is standing over my shoulder yipping 'Dylan got a very nice post on his birthday...all I get is this???!!!!'

How old are they before they stop guilting you out? Just curious.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Day of School

Well, I'm killing time until the next class. Anatomy and Physiology Lab begins at 1:15, runs until 4. I went to the cafeteria and ate my packed lunch. Cara had put an encouraging note and a dark chocolate bar in my bag. She may be a better mother than I am. It made me smile. I ate one square while reading my Psychosocial Concepts homework for tomorrow. Lots of reading but I actually enjoyed it, and think this class will be something that helps me in my personal life.

Bill, previously known as Mr. Ammo On His Wrist, greeted me and flopped down. He quit smoking over break. That's pretty darn cool. His dad has lung cancer and he got sick over the holidays. It scared him so badly that he's given up smoking. 11 days smoke free. I told him it's the best thing that he could do for his little girl.

This morning when I went into Anatomy and Physiology class, I sat down at a table. The OT students all wound up sitting together in one group. There's courage in numbers and their presence gave me a little more courage. It's nice to have that comeradarie.

Time for class. Bye.

Schmuck

Tomorrow is the first day of class. I have Anatomy and Physiology II for an hour in the morning. I have a 2 hour 45 minute lab in the afternoon. Surprisingly, I'm nervous. I thought that I'd have gotten over that. Just trying to print out the course syllabi turned into an issue for some of my other classes. I began get tense. A girl from class popped up on line, and after talking, she told me that it was not just me.

I bought myself a little insulated lunch box at Walmart today. On sale. $3. I am ashamed to say that I almost bought a unicorn one because it was $1 cheaper. I gave myself a mental slap, and coughed up the buck.

Lunch packed. Books packed. I'm going to bed early. With a good book. One that has nothing to do with Anatomy OR Physiology. I just hate the fact that I'm feeling doubtful and worried. I'm such a schmuck.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Other People

Most Amish women come in the store and they are quiet. When they are with their husbands, they don't speak at all. They may smile at you, but most of them do not even make eye contact. There is one woman though, she's sort of the Amish version of...well...me, I guess. She talks. She comes to the register, and I said some darn thing, and then she said some darn thing, and then, wouldn't you know, we're blabbing away. Anyways, she came in the store on Saturday, and she held up three fingers. "I'm here for three things!" she sang out, "and don't you let me forget them." Before she could tell me what she had come for, Mr. S. had laid eyes on her and said, "Well, hi!" and they were talking away. Like I said: the Amish version of me. Mr. S. explained that her family had bought the family farm, and been doing wonders with it. It was hard to sell a farm that had been in the family for 71 years, but as he said, it does your heart good to see it becoming a working farm, a well run farm, once again. So she whizzed off (she moves quickly, like she's on roller skates) and soon she was headed for my register. I crossed my arms. "Three things," I said. "If you haven't got them, I'm sending you right back." She laughed. "I'm quite proud of myself. I got all three of them," and she sat down three things, one of which looked suspiciously like an electrical part, but I don't ask questions. She said, "I'm doing the running for the men today." I said, "Well, now that they know you'll do such a fine job of it, you'll be doing a lot more running, I'll bet." She laughed. "They figured that out already. I do a lot of running." She gathered up her purchases and out the door she went, moving at her quick clip, her skirts billowing beneath her wool cape.

I love people.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Laughing

It's been cold here. Anyways, I was at work, and a group of fellows come in. It was obvious that they weren't locals. Their deep accents gave them away. Anyways, one of them comes up to the register with a big pair of insulated boots. He was huge fellow. I looked up at him standing there in his shirt sleeves and said, "Gees, don't you have a coat or something. It's cold out there!" and he looks down at me and rumbles "Well, ma'am, I'm from Texas. In Texas, they got real men." Without missing a beat, I looked up at him and said, "...and evidently they've got their share of fools, too." Long pause. Then the whole group of them just about fell on the floor laughing and slapping each other on the back.

Remember my post about Tim Tams a while back? Laura Jane has taken a break from blogging, but she sent me an e-mail to tell me the old Aussie joke: How do you satisfy a woman eleven times in one night?

Answer: One package of Tim Tams.

Man. I didn't think they were that good.

Time to go watch a movie with my little fambly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How a Bill becomes a Law

Step One: The father of the house issues an executive order
that all Saturday activities will be suspended until the
garage is cleaned up.

Step Two: The children form a committee and produce a report
finding the order totally unconstitutional because it
violates the "Cruel and Unusual" clause.

Step Three: The committee report is voided by paternal
declaration.

Step Four: The ruling is appealed under the "This is stupid
nobody else has to do this kind of stuff" doctrine of the
"Equal Protection" clause. Specific examples are cited of
other children who are not cleaning their garages.

Step Five: The "nobody else has to" doctrine is rejected as
having no bearing on the case.

Step Six: Each child petitions separately for the relief
under the "why do I have to do it none of it is my junk"
theory.

Step Seven: The father rules that the individuals of the
household are a family, that the junk in the garage belongs
to the family, and that the family has the responsibility of
cleaning it up.

Step Eight: The children attempt to stay the executive order
by evading subpoena.

Step Nine: The father retrieves the children from their
bedrooms and declares notice properly served.

Step Ten: The children plead pre-existing obligations that
preempt the paternal proclamation. The oldest is due at the
mall, the middle child has to go to a soccer game, and the
youngest is yeah me too.

Step Eleven: Clarification is sought from the youngest on
which of the two lame excuses is yeah me too: soccer game or
the mall?

Step Twelve: The youngest says the soccer game.

Step Thirteen: The father rules the soccer game cannot
preempt the garage cleanup.

Step Fourteen: The youngest says I meant the mall.

Step Fifteen: The father rules the mall cannot preempt the
garage cleanup.

Step Sixteen: The children pass a resolution that the father
is the meanest man in the world.

Step Seventeen: The father agrees to accept the "meanest
man" amendment and calls for an end to the debate.

Step Eighteen: The children submit an emergency appeal on
the grounds that there might be mice living in the garage.

Step Nineteen: The father issues an executive decree that he
has authority over all rodents and that there are no mice in
the garage.

Step Twenty: The children move for dismissal, claiming they
are exempt because they have homework to do.

Step Twenty-One: The father consults the official Cameron
family calendar and determines there is another day left in
the weekend in which homework can be done.

Step Twenty-two: The children file a grievance with the
Supreme Court of the house: their mother. A restraining
order is sought prohibiting enforcement of the father's
executive order on the grounds that he never listens, he is
ruining our lives, he's mean, and if he really wants the
garage cleaned up why doesn't he do it himself.

Step Twenty-Three: A constitutional crisis is averted when
the wife hands down a decision supporting the father's right
to order the children to clean up the garage.

Step Twenty-four: The children declare themselves no longer
members of the family. As stateless persons, they are not
subject to parental authority.

Step Twenty-five: The father agrees to expedite the
emigration of each child on the date they achieve their
majorities. Until the parents are released by the laws of
the State of Colorado from their obligations, however, the
family members are stuck with each other. Meanwhile, the
father identifies further sanctions to be imposed upon delay
of compliance with his order, including suspension of
telephone privileges.

Step Twenty-six: The teenagers file a brief equating
telephone cut-off with capital punishment.

Step Twenty-seven: The father further suspends all use of
the family automobile until the garage is cleaned up enough
to park the car in it.

Step Twenty-eight: The children petition for relief from
further sanctions by agreeing to clean up the garage.

Thus, with these simple 28 steps, a bill moves through the
checks and balances and becomes law.

It may not be the best system, but it's the only one we've
got.

(How a Bill Becomes Law
Copyright 2001 W. Bruce Cameron
http://www.wbrucecameron.com/)

List

Oooh. Mrs. Spit talked about a book that she is reading: 1000 Awesome Things. Isn't that the coolest idea? I found myself looking around for the first thing on my list of 1000 Awesome Things. And here is the first thing on my list. I love when you open a book that you find yourself easing into, like a warm bath, and you find yourself sinking into the pages and immersing yourself in the story, and your day is empty, and you know that you can soak there as long as you wish. That's my first joy for my list of 1000 Awesome Things. (And this gift was made possible through the generosity of Pam. Thanks for that, Pam!)

What is on your 'awesome list'?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Another Day

You know, a strange thing happened tonight. I was at work, and a local minister happened in, and I greeted him, and of course we blabbed, because that's what I do, and he said, "Do you remember what I told you at church?" and I had to admit that I didn't. And he said, "I told you that God was going to use you for something important." Surprised, I stopped. Yes. I did remember that he had said that, immediately. I remember that I was just as surprised the first time that I heard it as I was the second time that I heard it, and I think that it is a strange thing that someone would have more faith in me than I have in myself. I thought about that during the course of the night, what it would be like to understand what my God's purpose for me actually was. That would be quite a thing, wouldn't it? I don't know what God's got in store for me, but I do feel that I am on the way to where I'm supposed to be. Important? I don't know about that part, but I know He's at work. It gave me a pleasant thing to think on for the night, wondering what God might mean for me to do.

A lady came in tonight with her little grandson, and, gees, he was just as cute as a button, and a little chatterbox too. His grandmother was mad though. Really mad. She'd come in with a question about dog food, and one of the guys had walked over with her to answer her questions, and to point out several brands which might be helpful to her situation. She complained to me 'that he had not helped her load the bag into the shopping cart.' I was a little surprised at her level of anger, but I also know for a fact that everyone in our store is very helpful. That's what we are known for. I said, "Well, I guess that in his defense, men and women work shoulder to shoulder in this store. We have women who come in this store and heft feed like it's nothing at all. The guys are used to that. If you just grabbed a bag of dog food, no one would have given it a second thought. Anyone would be happy to assist you, but not everyone needs or wants assistance. I'm sure that he simply didn't know you expected help." She looked at me, surprised and still pretty mad. I said, "I'll help you load it into your cart though," and she snapped, "I don't expect you to do that. You're a woman." I said, "Yes, but like I said, we all work together." I picked up the bag of dog food and headed to her car, wondering where the heck she'd been during the '60s.

I was talking with a friend who'd stopped in to pick up a few toys for her grandson's birthday. We have quite a sale to move the last of the Christmas toys. She asked when I went back to school, and I told her next week, Tuesday. The next customer said, "Did I hear you right? Do you go to school?" and I said, "Yes." She asked where, and I told her at the community college. "Good for you!" she exclaimed. She then said, "I always wanted to go back to school but I'm too old." I looked at her. She looked younger than me. I said, "You're not too old. I'm 53." (and I will be for three more months, so you all just hush.) She looked at me closely, and she was surprised. She asked me what I was studying, and I told her. "That's a good field," she said. I bagged up her stuff, and told her, "Just do it!" and she smiled in a thinking sort of way. That would be darn cool to see her walking around campus next semester.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pray for Oz

I've been following Bush Babe since almost the beginning of her blog. Through her, I met Jeanie, her sister, and even her mother, too. I'm not sure actually, how it came to be that I began following such a number of Oz blogs, but I do. And there was the young man who came into the store. All these things work together to put a face on the flooding in Queensland. DavidM pointed out on Scotty's blog that three quarters of Queensland is affected and that that area encompasses a half million square miles.

It amazes me that just a couple years ago, BB's stories were about the terrible drought they were in the midst of. Just last summer (their summer is our winter), she was covering the dust storms that stripped away tons of top soil. And now the flooding. Looking back, I see that she's been covering the flooding since before Christmas, and the rain just never stopped.

There are the people who have been affected in the most horrible ways. Lives have been lost. Homes destroyed. That toll is great enough. However, there are also those as yet uncounted numbers who are being indirectly affected. Bush Babe talks about the food shortages, about trucks being able to get through. Her local store is completely out of milk. Jeanie talked about no bread at hers. And I read about these things and the one thing that I know for sure is that this is just beginning. Those shortages will only get worse. It will take weeks to sort out the damage and get everything up and running properly again. This is a widespread disruption in the lives of millions.

I pray for everyone there. Stop over and share some love with these folks. If you are interested in donating, Bush Babe also has a link to Queensland's national relief agency.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just call me Grandma.

And the call has come in. Buddy and Brianna are on their way to the hospital. It's a hour and a half drive, so I'm a bit nervous about that. The weather stinks, so I'm nervous about that too. But there is a baby on the way. We'll meet William very shortly. January 12th is a good birthday, don't you think?

Late Edit: William decided that January 12th was not a good birthday after all. Good test drive, I suppose.

A Reminder

Yesterday, I was going through my old e-mails, looking for one which had addresses that I needed, for another which had a phone number I needed. I was deleting a bunch of old e-mails. I do that very seldom, really, and so there was tons of stuff there to get rid of. As I was repeatedly hitting the 'delete' button, my finger twitched and then stopped, and I looked at my friend's name. Then the date. The e-mail was six weeks old. Only six weeks. Within days, my friend would be diagnosed with a brain tumor.

I thought of us, and summer, and how three of us had gone somewhere. I can't even remember where, but we'd had such a nice time we decided not to go home, and we'd met, and we'd walked, and talked as we walked, laughing heartily under starry skies. I am lucky to live in a place where three women can walk the streets at night laughing their middle aged hind-ends off. I am lucky to find two other people in this world who also call this 'entertainment'. These two friends were very kind to me when I was ill, and now, shockingly, suddenly, the shoe is on the other foot. My friend has had surgery, and she will have chemo and radiation every day.

My finger paused over Kathy's previous e-mail to me, a cheerful forward about the power of women friends, and my eyes water a little. Just six weeks ago, I received this e-mail and read it and smiled a little and thought no more about it. Now, I cannot bring myself to delete it, and I think how thrilled I would be to receive one of her cheerful little forwards now.

It's a confusing time for me, personally, right now. A lot going on (I do not blog everything, believe it or not). But in the middle of this time, there is my friend. I grieve for her, but I also celebrate her tenancity, because God love her, she's defying the odds. What is the point of this blog post? I don't know, not for certain. What I do know is that life changes. It changes quickly. Sometimes it changes on a dime. We should be kind to one another.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dylan brought his girlfriend, Brittany, home for the first time. Women cycle in and cycle out of Dylan's life, and they have for years now. He hasn't brought them home before, so bringing Brittany home to meet his parents felt like a really big deal, to me at least.

In the days leading up to this visit, I'd been nervously cleaning and dusting, and preparing. I have to say that I'm not awash in self esteem. I can talk the leg off a total stranger, but when it comes to meeting someone who may well be an important person in my life, I get nervous and self conscious and worry about what they think of me, etc. Gave Cara a lot to laugh about.

Long story short, Brittany is lovely. Just lovely. She's soft spoken and funny. She's a night shift nurse at a psychiatric hospital, an intelligent girl. Brianna and Buddy came up Saturday night so that we could all have supper and celebrate (belatedly) Buddy's birthday. I had made up a double batch of pepperoni rolls, which are the ultimate comfort food in my family. We talked and laughed over a long leisurely supper, and it seemed as if Brittany had been with us forever. The other thing that I loved was watching Dylan. He's always been kind of impatient and quick to criticize since he became an adolescent, but I watched him lean back in his chair, laughing, one arm draped lazily across the back of Brit's chair. It felt as if I'd been given my boy back, in a way. I don't know how to describe it really.

Later, Buddy and the very pregnant Brianna left, and Dylan and Cara got the idea to watch an old Disney movie from their childhoods. In fact they were quite enthusiastic about this movie, and so we sat in the livingroom. Brittany and Dylan sat side by side, holding hands, and in the dark, I watched his foot stroke her foot gently. I saw that they loved each other a lot, and it made me happy inside.

I spent a whole evening listening to my family laugh together. I worry about Buddy and Brianna, about the job situation, the new baby, all of it. I've worried about Dylan and his aloneness, and his sharpness. I worry about Cara because she is headstrong and confident and fearless, and I find myself worrying about what that could lead her into on the other side of the world. But Saturday night, I listened to them all laugh and reminisce together and I realized that Buddy and Brianna are choosing their own life. Their life is not my life. Dylan has Brittany, and they both seem content. Cara's intelligence will save her from her stubborn nature. All of us sat around the dinner table, passing bowls and it occurred to me. We had all gone, quite naturally, to our regular seats, Dylan sitting where he'd always sat, right next to Cara, except that their chairs had been moved apart to make room for Brittany. Brianna sat at the end of the table, where she always sat, and Buddy sat next to her, next to me. We all just positioned our chairs to make room for the newcomers, and when we laughed, the newcomers laughed easily too.

It was a family night, and all of us were family...whether we were related or not. Gosh, it was nice.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Think about It.

You've got some of Tea Party extremists and Sarah Palin throwing around the word 'revolution' like it's nothing.

I just want to say, for all you who believe this country needs a revolution, take a look at yesterday's shootings in Arizona. If that makes you as sick as it makes me, well, maybe, just maybe, this country doesn't NEED a revolution after all. Maybe, just maybe, there's a better way to do things. Next time you hear someone calling for a revolution, think for a moment on what that really means. Would you really like to see Arizona's violence breaking out all over your country? Because that's what a revolution is, people: Violent overthrow of your government. People die. Innocent people too. The next time you hear someone calling for a revolution, take a moment to remember Arizona.

Late Edit: interesting link for 'anonymous'. Just saying.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lennie's Diary.

Something that has always fascinated me is time. The concept that each life contains 'x' amount of years, and that each one of these years has 365 days (unless it's a leap year). The idea that each year has 12 months. That each month is made up of days. I have days that are important in my life. September 18. September 8. January 19. May 21. April 21. October 6th. May 22. September 12. And so on, and so on, and so on. And the cool thing is that these days have been lived before. There have been other Septermber 18, and September 8th, and January 19, and May 21. April 21, etc. My days have been the days of others. In other lifetimes, those days have belonged to others. Those who have come before me. Those who will come after me.

Does this make sense? I think sometimes these things only make sense to me, in my world of daydreaming and pondering.

If I see a old picture of people, and maybe there is a clock in the back ground, I find myself stopping dead to check what time it was when the picture was taken. There is an abandoned old gas station in a community not far from us. It's chock a block full of junk, but you can see through the dusty glass front, that there is a calendar hanging on a back wall. I always want to stop and peer in the window. What year is it? What month is it? Is there writing on the calendar? Diaries are neat, and someday, I imagine blogs will be a small glimpse of another time. Anyhow, these small moments were captured, for a moment, and then time rolled on, as time does. When the picture was taken it was 'now'. Looking at the picture now, I'm seeing 'then'. Someone sat down to pen a few words, to capture the moment, and all these years later, I'm seeing history.

Anyways, for this reason, I love WhiteStone's new blog. 'Lennie's Diary' is a small notebook in which, faithfully, daily, WhiteStone's grandfather in law, Lennie, used a few words to capture his day. It's neat that in 1898, January 5th fell on a Wednesday, just as it does in 2011. Lennie sums up his day as: "Slid on hill (Lennie loved sled riding), Messer had a scrap (one of his friends had a fight), hot time (what a great day!) " Just a day in the life of a high spirited 17 year old boy living in Wakefield, Nebraska.

You can follow along too, if you are so inclined. WhiteStone and Lennie won't mind at all, I bet.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Elizabeth Edwards

Headlines have been trumpeting the fact that John Edwards was not mentioned in his wife's will. They were estranged. He left after cheating on her even as she dealt with cancer. He fathered a child that he denied. He lied about all of it. And after all the denials, backed into a corner, he had no choice but to admit it. How foolish Elizabeth Edwards must have felt, how duped.

Ouch.

That must have hurt.

A lot.

I try to imagine what it would be like to deal with a betrayal of that magnitude in the blinding white hot glare of an eager media. I think back to my own hard times. Even without the media spotlighting me, it felt as if the world was watching and judging. In some cases they were. In some cases, they still are. I've just stopped caring about it. It doesn't matter anymore.

I remember one of the things that shocked me, in the early days of all of my own hard time, was listening to a woman blast her ex. She was a bitter, angry woman, and I remember thinking plainly, "Oh, God, please don't ever let me be like that." I thank God for seeing what I saw that day, and making up my mind that bitter and angry would make me a poor parent. And I've tried very hard not to be bitter. I'm not a fighter. I'm more inclined, if you are angry, to step away, and let you have your mad. I sure don't want it. To me, it's a simple thing. I don't want to fight. I won't. I won't defend my feelings. I won't try to explain. I simply back away and turn my attention to the things that make a positive difference in my life. That's all.

Back to Elizabeth Edwards. She conducted herself with dignity. She did not argue, no matter what the provocation was. And Rielle Hunter, while dumb as rocks, was a mighty provocation. But Ms. Edwards was not bitter. She had every opportunity to blast her husband but she did not, and she did not for one simple reason. She had terminal cancer, and she knew that her children needed their father when she was gone. She did not destroy that relationship because she loved her children more than she hated her husband.

A friend has cancer, and we talked by phone. He was bereft, missing his wife, needing her at this lonely juncture of his life. She's not there, having died some years back. At one point, he wanted to give me a sum of money, to take care of Cara's college. He thought it an excellent gift, something that would allow me not to have to work for a while, to focus on school, but that his beloved Cara would be taken care of as well. "No," I said, gently. And he cried. He really wanted to leave this world having given us all a gift. "Why can't I?" he asked. I explained to him that part of the beauty is in the struggle. That, really, Cara was paying one half of her college, but that she was very responsible, and managing to pay off those debts semester by semester. As Tim and I struggled to meet our end of the bargain, hopefully, Cara knows the depth of our love and commitment to her. The struggle has brought us closer. He listened, and then he said, "What do I need the money for?" in a hopeless kind of way, and I said, "You are not dead. You don't even know for sure how this is going to go. So I would say that you use this money to visit your children and grandchildren, to make memories, to do nice things with them, because in the end, it is what matters, don't you think? The money will not matter. The relationship will be what you are remembered for. Let's focus on making relationships. That can be your gift." He cried some more. Cancer is an emotional time, and I totally understand that, and discovering that you have right before the holidays, that really makes it all the more emotional, I think. He'd also consoled himself with one too many mixed drinks. So we talked on the phone, and we cried together, and talked about the blessing of our own friendship, about his place within my own family.

All the headlines are blaring the fact that John Edwards was not mentioned in his wife's will. No. But the man was left something far more valuable than a share of his wife's estate. Likewise, what she has bequeathed to her children is far more than what is written in that will.

Wise people. This world could do with a few more of them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Wonder as I Wander

The tree is down. I'm ready to haul the things back into the attic for another year. I wonder about next year, about how life will be next Christmas, when there is a grandchild. Buddy and Brianna are moved back to the area. Dylan is bringing his girlfriend home this weekend. Brittany is the first girl that he has brought home for us to meet. Cara will be back from Korea. Tim's job is, surprisingly, looking secure for the foreseeable future. What will the year bring? Next Christmas, I'll have one more semester to go before I graduate. So will Cara, strange to think. I pack these ornaments up trying to imagine the woman I'll be when I unpack them next year, the family we'll be next year, when we decorate once again.

Life's funny like that, isn't it? I pack up the boxes of ornaments collected through the years, smiling at the memories evoked, yet, I can't help looking forward to next year at the same time. Today's one of those strange days. Caught between looking back and looking forward, like Janus. I know, at some point, I need to come back to the present, but it's been a pleasant sort of day wandering in my mind.

Oh, and I got my laundry and ironing done, too.

Yeah. I'm awesome.

Wondering.

Today I am from Big Run, Pennsylvania, according to my globe. I wonder why this is? I wonder why I'm 'moving around'? Yesterday, I wondered about the folks in Chest Springs, Pennsylvania. Now, I guess I'll daydream about folks in Big Run.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Look what I found!

I had a nice holiday. Kids were home. We went to parties. I have a nice place to work, and I enjoyed the Christmas rush. It is nice to have a break from school. But there has been the other stuff. I have two friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, and I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that every time cancer strikes close by, I find myself flinching, a shiver of fear running up my spine. One is far enough away that I can only be helpful by phone, but the other is a friend, a close one. Last month, she was working. She was getting ready for the holidays, just like me, and then, just that quick, she had cancer. Biopsy before Christmas. Tumor removed after Christmas, back home New Year's Eve.

I haven't seen her, and it's been bothering me. She was so very helpful to me when I was sick. I've got a cold though that has settled into my chest, and the last thing that she needs is a sick person visiting her, and so I haven't. I did call Karen, and she got a large basket to set up at the back of the church, so that we can all drop cards in, and small gifts.

So today I went shopping with my chest cold. I looked for things that reminded me of my friend. I got a pot of paperwhites which had been forced and were ready to bloom. My friend likes flowers, and the thing is, after these plants bloom and wither in their pot, she can take the pot outside and plant the bulbs in her garden. The idea of her back outside digging in the dirt was such a hopeful image that I couldn't NOT buy the flowers, and so I did. I also found a bluebird, a resin bluebird, the symbol of happiness, and my friend is a vivacious and happy woman, quick to laugh, and always up to her armpits in her grandchildren. That bluebird seemed appropriate. I bought her a lilac candle. Lilacs are the symbol of spring, of renewal, of rebirth. The idea that her brain could rewire itself, growing around the damage, past the dark season, that made me feel hopeful too. I bought lip balm, remembering how dry my lips had been during chemo. Then I got the idea to buy her a packet of Milano cookies too. They are kind of pricey, but the thing is that sometimes, just sometimes, a person needs a treat. So I headed to the cookie section.

I stood there, looking at cookies, holding my small armload of things, and thinking of my friend and I saw the cookies and reached up for them when I saw this: Jeanie talked about Tim Tam biscuits a while back. I'd never heard of them before, but she got a lot of comments simply by mentioning Tim Tam. Those things have quite a following there. I laughed when I saw the package. "Australia's favorite cookie" it read. Jeanie had explained to me that they were not a cookie, they were a biccie. All of her commenters raved about Tim Tams. About the fact that the best way to eat them was to nibble off both ends, and to suck a warm drink through the middle until the biscuit dissolved into gooey deliciousness.

I stood in the middle of a crowded supermarket with the armload of gifts for my good friend, and I bought Milano cookies for her. I also bought cookies for me. Jeanie had complained that they were $1.99. Mine were $3.29 for those eleven cookies. But I came home, and I looked at the presents for my friend. I looked at them and prayed a little prayer that those things generated the same sort of joy inside of my friend as they had generated as I picked the things out. While I was thinking of my friend, I had a cup of coffee, and I nibbled off the ends of a Tim Tam, and I sucked warm coffee through the middle until the cookie disolved into gooey deliciousness.

Tim Tam therapy. I watched the sky begin to darken, and I ate my cookie, and I thought of my friends, and I smiled.

Day Dreaming

I don't know how these things work, but when I travel around looking at blogs, I show up as from, variously, Tyrone, or State College, or someplace like that. Today, I was surprised to see myself denoted as entering from "Chest Springs, Pennsylvania." I've never heard of Chest Springs, but it struck me as humorous. I have a chest cold right now, and I woke up early this morning, coughing. I simply got up because Tim has to work this afternoon, and I didn't want to disturb his sleep. So I got up and I came down stairs and discovered that I was coming from Chest Spring, Pennsylvania today.



I did a little looking around and Chest Springs in in Cambria county, some distance from here, a small 'map dot', population 110. Isn't that something? And in that little borough, there is no one who lives below the poverty line. That's something too. Furthermore, I discovered that there are 49 homes there, and that 42 of them are lived in by home owners. I discovered that only 11 of them carry mortgages, the other seven occupied by renters. I read on and on. There's a wealth of information on that little town of Chest Springs.

I'm a daydreamer. I have always been one. I remember, as a child, watching a woman in a full skirt shaking out rugs on the big concrete front porch of her home. It was just a glimpse of her, as I rode past in the back seat of the family car. But even then (and I couldn't have been more than ten), I found myself wondering what her life was like, what it was like to live in that house, whether she had children. Did she work outside the home? Was she happy? That sort of thing.

Even today, I still do that. I drove past a woman in Russell. She was pulling weeds from a small garden. Fresh laundry flapped on the line. Her laundry basket sat in a little red wagon. That glimpse told a story. She was elderly. She cared about how her property looked. She was having increased difficulties doing her chores, but had cleverly managed to figure out ways that enabled her to stay active and busy and taking care of herself.

Yesterday, going to Erie to meet with a financial planner (?!!), we drove through a small town in New York State, full of old homes, all well taken care of. I caught a glimpse of another elderly woman, this one sweeping the snow from her steps, from her sidewalks. To sweep the snow...now that's something you do every day or else it packs down and becomes ice. Sometimes multiple times a day if you are getting a lot of snow. She had an old fashioned wool scarf tied around her head and under her chin, and she busily swept the snow away. I daydreamed about what it was like to live her life, to walk in her shoes, to see out of her eyes.

I don't know what this means. It is just something that I found myself thinking on yesterday as we drove to Erie for a business meeting. Today, I'm daydreaming about the residents of Chest Springs, PA. What they're like. About living there. About their little corner of the world. I wonder about quiet people, about quiet lives and quiet places.

Hey. If you live in Chest Springs or know of it, drop me a line.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Time Travel

A couple years ago, Cara became obsessed with finding a record player. A record player. Yeah. I know. I don't get it either. She just feels that classical music is more 'authentic' when played as a record on a record player. I remember my experience with records. Skipping. Popping. Repeating. Yeah. I wasn't a fan of the authentic nature of the record player, much preferring my CDs. But like I said, Cara became obsessed, and when Caras are obsessed, they generally get what they are aiming for, so she found a record player. Interestingly enough, she wound up buying a new record player with a MP3 dock. For 20 bucks or something insane. She really is quite a wheeler and dealer, and no, I've no idea where she got that wheeling, dealing gene from, so don't even ask.

So now that she's got this record player, she's been collecting records, and you don't get the new stuff on records. So she gets classical music, and she has become a fan of musicals. I found "The King and I" for her for Christmas. Last night, she and Taylor went thrift store shopping and discovered "South Pacific." Now Cara received quite a bit of money at Christmas, and so she also bought herself a new lap top. It was a display, and she argued her case so effectively, that she got it for $150 off, and several upgrades. (No. I've already said that I have no idea where she gets that from, so why are you even asking?!!! Gees!)

In any case, last night, she and her friend, Taylor, listened to South Pacific, singing along as they played with the new computer. Tim and I were already in bed when we heard the front door, and then her car, and the two of them were gone into the darkness. Much to my surprise, it was a midnight 'craft attack,' and they went to Walmart to buy material to MAKE a laptop case for the new computer. I listened to this and said, "This is not like you, Cara," to which she replied, "I KNOW!!! All I can say is that we were magically transported back to 1949 while listening to 'South Pacific', and began to think of things like sewing."

It must have happened like that, because I know for a fact that she gets her artsy-craftsy gene from me, and sad to report, I have none of those genes to bequeathe her.

Just in case you cannot make yourself believe in time travel, here's proof positive.



Still not convinced? What about this?



If you add all of this evidence to the simple fact that one genetically non-artsy/craftsy girl is suddenly moved to sew a quilted case for her new laptop just as girls did in 1949, you'll see that the evidence is unequivocal and scientific.

Time travel exists.

And don't look under the kitchen sink.

That too.

I rest my case.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's not Times Square, but...

We went out for supper last night, and sat next to the most awful family ever. The children were old enough to understand how to behave but did not. The mother was ill tempered, at one point telling the father who was trying to correct his son, "All you'll do is p*** him off. Keep it up." Yes. I know that there are disorders which lead to acting out in public, but watching the parents' ineffective attempts to handle the children, I don't believe this was one of them. The parents were extremely rude. To the waitress. To each other. The mother sent her meal back, and then complained because her family finished eating before she did. The little girl stood up in her chair and began to scream 'DONE! DONE! DONE!' until the mother gave up and got a box for the rest of her meal, so that they could leave. The husband was very cranky at a misunderstanding about his meal. The gist of the misunderstanding seems to be that he did not want his side dishes on the plate with the entree. He wanted them in their own little bowls. The waitress thought he did not want them. Period. It was probably hard to hear over the children who spent most of the time before the food came kicking each other under the table and screaming to their parents about being kicked (even as they kicked the other back). By the time they left, the mother was calling her children darling and honey. The father simply left them. Everyone in our corner of the restaurant was staring in amazement.

At the restaurant, we saw a pastor friend and his wife, and visited. They'd spent the day trimming goat feet, and were having a quiet New Year's Eve supper and then heading home to comfortable chairs in front of the TV. I saw a woman who'd done chemo at the same time as me. Her blonde wavy hair looked beautiful, and I told her so. We saw neighbors from one of the houses downtown, out with their grandaughter who has grown a lot since I saw her last summer. We visited for a moment too.

Don't laugh, but we came home and curled up on the couch. I was working at a crossword puzzle as Tim watched "Pale Rider". Tim loves Clint Eastwood. Major shocker to me. After 13 years of marriage, I didn't know this. So he watched his movie, and I worked on the puzzle. And then, about 10, we went to bed. We are in the middle of a warm up here. Mikey and Susan are freezing their appendages off in Arizona, and we have let the woodfire go out in Pennsylvania. It was 52 degrees. The rain pelted the roof, and the thunder rumbled, and I thought about rains in Australia. I fell asleep dreaming of walking through chest deep water as large Australian sized snakes swam past looking for higher ground. Thanks for that visual, BB. *shudder*

Today, it is a quiet day. I made a big pot of cream of potato soup. Buddy and Brianna have come back, and we will probably see them today. Cara and Taylor stayed up to bring the New Year in, and are not up yet. Tim is working on a project in his garage, installing the eight foot lights that he'd requested a couple years back, and Dylan and I had bought them for him. So people will wander in and out, and have a bowl of soup when it strikes them. I will work on a puzzle, and visit with my family.

And you know what? I'm good with that.