Thursday, March 31, 2011

Burned Out

You know our new house? Under all that snow, there is a garden with flowers, and a stone border. I was thrilled to see there also was little pathway that follows the garden under the trees. I find myself daydreaming about what other secrets wait to be discovered.

I have worked at the store every day of spring break. It's been crazy. Someone had been hired, quit, and then asked to come back, and then changed her mind after the new schedules for the next two weeks were posted. It has been this mad scramble to fill her shifts. I try to help out during the crunch times, but I was very much looking forward to finally having these two days off. Jeremy called from the store to ask if I would mind working. I waffled. I felt guilty as heck, but finally told him no, that I couldn't. I needed to work on these assignments. I did too. I spent over ten hours today, working on projects.

Good news? I knocked two more major projects out.

Bad news? I'm not done yet.

It's midnight. I'm headed for bed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Unbelievable.

It's snowing like crazy here.


Like so hard that I was not sure that I was going to make it home from work.


I did though. Spun my way right up the hill.


Honest to pete, I am heartily SICK of winter.


Ok.


I'm done whining.


(That's whinging in 'Strine.)

Break Time

Sorry.

Not posting a lot.

I'm on spring break, dontcha know.



When you're old, spring break is not a party, though.

That's what I noticed.

I had a nice weekend, but really...

...I have spent most of my spring break at the computer, consulting books, knocking out assignments, thinking, organizing, researching. Stuff like that.

I've gotten a lot done.


Alas, there is still much to do.


I picked up some extra hours at the store,

so yeah, I been working too.

I meant to get caught up on housework.

I did. A little.

I waxed floors.

darn lucky only Tim and I see our bedroom though.


Today, I'm going up to Mary's to play scrabble.

Man.


Oooooh. The excitement of it all.


This is why I haven't been blogging.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A nice weekend.

Little William came for a visit. I remembered that I had a camera just as he was headed out the door with his parents. I'm the worst grandmother ever. I got totally distracted by the charming experience of holding him. There's something that is very hypnotic about holding a tiny lump of a baby in the crook of your arm and watching him make little sound asleep baby noises and tiny little baby twitches. Next thing I know Buddy and Brianna are heading home and the trance wears off and all of a sudden I'm gasping, "Oh, Cuuuuuuuu-rap! I forgot to take pictures!"

Little William rolls his eyes impatiently at his grandma.

"Ay yi yi," he says. "When are you ever going to get the hang of this grandma thing?"

I hang my head a little. "Sorry William. You deserve better."

He says, "I sure do, grandma."

He begins to ponder the wording for his advertisement in the paper.

"Grandma wanted," it will begin.



Dylan and Brittani were in for the weekend. Brittani wanted me to teach her how to make pepperoni rolls. It was a nice morning, the two of us working side by side kneading dough, talking and getting to know each other. She is really a very nice girl.

Once again, I forgot to take pictures.

But we had piping hot pepperoni rolls, straight from the oven.

And cinnamon rolls, soft and warm and drizzled in cinnamon icing.

That should count for something.


I left for work right after that, and when I got home, I mixed up another batch of dough to make my own husband a batch of cinnamon rolls. I'd sent the first batch home with Dylan and Brittani. So once again, I kneaded dough and we talked about our grown children and our growing family. We're very lucky.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Today at Tractor Supply

This story actually started last night, just about the time we closed. A young girl that I knew from when I worked for the Conservation District came in and she was beside herself. She had lost her dog, Lily, a blue heeler, and she was hopeful that we might have heard a customer talking about a found dog. "No," I said, "but here's a piece of paper and a pen. Make up a notice and put in on the public bulletin board in the back of the store." She did, and they left, and I felt badly for her, because she surely was broken up about that dog.

I came into work tonight, and on my way back to clock in, I saw that she'd been back in, and she'd posted a picture of the dog, along with information on where to call. She had a bunch of those little tabs at the bottom to tear off with her phone number on. A man was studying the picture. I said, "I sure hope someone finds that dog, because her owner is taking it hard." The man said, in a musing way, "I hope I'm wrong, but there's a dead dog lying along side my road that looks a lot like that dog." I winced and hoped with all my heart that he was wrong too.

Fast forward. A regular customer comes in, and he is jubilant. I hear him talking to Mark about a found dog. Being a nosy nellie, I shot right back there. "Is it Lily?" I asked. "Are you talking about Lily?" and he said, "Yes, I am!" And we all had a little 'yesssssssssssssssssss!!!' moment right there in the middle of the store.

Here's the story. The girl is a farrier. A young girl, but really, salt of the earth. She trains this man's horses, and was at his house working with his horses. The dog was in the van, and managed to get herself out of a partially opened window. The customer said, "Well, I came home, and I saw a dog running, but I figured the neighbors had gotten a new dog." It was not until his horse trainer realized that her dog was gone that he realized that he'd seen it. "Gees, that dog was headed out of here and down the road about 20 minutes ago," he told the girl, and she was upset, and he felt terrible.

He continued, "This girl is such a good person. You just don't find kids like her much these days, and I felt bad about this dog. We looked and looked and called and called. We couldn't find the thing." This morning, he woke up, and checked in. The dog still had not been found. When his hired man showed up to work, the man told him to go out and try to find that dog. So the hired man earned his pay today by looking for the dog. He looked and looked and asked everywhere, but he could not find hide nor hair of the dog. At the end of the day, he reported back with the bad news. Then he headed to his own home which is probably a good 15 miles from the farm that he works on. He pulled in his driveway and got out of his vehicle, and saw, much to his shock, a dog on his porch. A blue heeler. Scarcely able to believe it, he walked up to her and called her name. Lily came right to him.

The customer said, "I couldn't believe it when he called me and told me he'd found the dog on his front porch. I thought he was lying. He told me that he wasn't kidding, and that he was on his way back to my place with the dog. I busted down bawling. I was able to call that gal back and told her we found her dog." His eyes got watery just telling me about it.

I do so love a happy ending.

Winter Worlds

It's snowing still. We had about 5 or 6 inches on the last day of school. For the last two days, it has been lightly snowing. It is gray and dreary out there this morning, but two days ago, I was digging in the dirt, digging up crocuses to go with my tulips and daffodils. On my dining room table it is spring. That, and the memory of the smell of the good rich earth, those two things will get me through to days when, finally, I am warm again.

I read a thing on Zsa Zsa Gabor being admitted to the hospital from the stress of her friend Elizabeth Taylor's passing. At 95, she is fearful of being next. Her publicist said, "She isn't going to be next. She's a strong woman, a fighter." I've been thinking on that. I wonder about their world, a world that does not acknowledge that death comes for all of us, and that none of us know when. I wonder about people who believe that they can simply fight off death, simply choose not to die. I wonder about a woman being paid to make pronouncements of who will go first and when. I wonder if this elderly lady is comforted by those empty words. What a foolish and artificial world these people live in!

Mostly though, I find myself wondering once again, when it will stop snowing.

In the depths of winter, I learned that within me there lie an invincible spring ~ Camas

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a little longer........

In just 10 hours, I will begin spring break. Dylan and Brittani are coming in Friday night for the weekend. Brittani wants me to teach her how to make pepperoni rolls. Of course I said yes. And I was very touched.

Dylan has yet to meet little William, so that's what this is all about. Brianna and Buddy and William will come over for supper Saturday evening. I'm excited about that, too.

At some point, I will go to Mary's house to play scrabble. I'm looking forward to relaxing with my friend.

I've got a hundred little errands planned. Housework to be done. Cooking for Tim. Raking the leaves up at our new house. Planting an asparagus bed there, and some blueberry bushes.

I've got a lot planned for my 10 days off. I'm sure it's going to fly by.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

&%#$(^)!@!!!!!!!!

"It's snowing again!" she cried.

Literally.

The end.

Occupational Therapy Interventions.

I'm really running out of steam here. Probably because I know that spring break begins the day after tomorrow.

Today, I just have one class. I do not have my three hour lab this afternoon. This means I'll be on my way back home by 10. This is a good thing. I have three OT interventions to plan for the following day.

The first one is planned already. It is for preschoolers. My partner and I very quickly split it up. She's a craft master, one of those people with baskets of crafting supplies at home. This impresses the heck out of me. After my traumatic experience with a glue gun, I just. lost. interest. in crafts. Our letter for the day is 'W', and the activity for the day is measuring. So we settled on inch worms and her craft is to make a little worm, complete with googly eyes (fine motor skills). I am in charge of 'circle time'. I have "Inch by Inch" a story about an inch worm who measures. Then I have a lime green basket full of things (three china cups, three balls, empty pop bottles, rope, etc.) that we will compare. What is big? Small? Short? Long? Light? Heavy? Stuff like this is my cup of tea, and my partner and I work very well together. I think we put together a very good project.

The second two are for mentally ill adults. The first one is a group project. That project came together very quickly, even though two of the four group members are very difficult to work with. One has not shown up to one meeting. Even though he apologizes very prettily, he does not answer texts, he simply does not show up. I am working with 'young girl' again, and again, she took the written portion of everything, upset that it was not done to her satisfaction, and rewrote the whole thing allowing no one to have input to that but herself, and then waxes dramatic about 'the four hours' that she put into this project. This is a recurring theme for her. Her partner in the last project finally said, after she had rewritten things repeatedly, "That's enough!" He was making an exhibit to go along with it. She wanted changes made to go along with her new written portion. He said, "No. I am not making changes. Stop rewriting. We need to move on." The other person in the group is also a young girl. She works like I do, and she's having a hard time with our two impeding group members. But, we do have a good activity for our clients, and we can be proud of that.

My third intervention is to be designed for one person. My client. My first one. I tend to get tongue tied in one to one situations with new people. This is a mentally ill man, one who is about my age. I talked to him the first day, interviewing him to put together an occupational profile for him. "You're very intelligent," he said, and it was not a question. Surprised, I looked at him. "I don't know," I said awkwardly. "I very often feel stupid." And he peered closely at me as if something was written on my face that I could not see. He said, "Well, you're not. You're very intelligent. I saw that right away." I went on with that interview, and I said to him, "Do you like to read?" And he nodded his grizzled head. "So do I," I said. "What sorts of books do you read?" He said, "I like philosophy." I stopped. "So do I," I said. "Who do you read?" and he said, "I love Khalil Gibran," and once again, I said, "So do I."

Tomorrow is my last day there. He will be there for the rest of his life. Tomorrow when I go, I will have a gift for him. After our work, I will give him a gift wrapped volume from my own library...a big volume of the collected works of Khalil Gibran.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Glad

I am really proud of myself this weekend. I typed up one case map (which took two hours alone), I finished my part of two group projects, I completed one homework assignment and two hand outs, and have completed as much as possible of a reflection paper.

Is there more to do? Oh yes. Oh, golly yes. But each and every time that I 'knock' something out, move it from my red (undone) folder to my lime green (hallelujah it's done!) folder, I feel like I have accomplished something major.

One step at a time, I'm getting there.

And now, I'm going to bed, but I just had to take a moment to be joyful.

Late edit: You know, I also forgot to say that I got my washing and ironing and folding all done (and there was a ton of it.) I made a pot of spaghetti sauce, I watched a movie with my husband (while ironing, but still), had a conversation with Cara, worked Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and wrote an overdue letter.

I think that I have super powers.

It's Not Just Me

We were getting ready to go to bed. Of course, we were talking about the new house. I said to Tim, "I know that it's stupid, but I never expected to love that house. I really LOVE that house." He laughed, and said, a bit embarrassed, "No. Last night at work on break, I went to the computer just to bring up the realtor's pictures. I just wanted to look at it again."

When we went to bed, we lay side by side in the dark, talking. Dreaming long before our eyes ever closed.

So, it's not just me. Tim feels it too.

We don't have television, but still the pictures from Japan make their way to me. There is no escaping them. The face of an elderly Japanese man haunts me. I want to go there, and find him and make him safe, and comfortable, and fed. Everyone that I know has at least one picture caught in their mind, an image that is seared into our horrified brains.

Everyone wants to do something. It's not just me.

The moon is huge tonight. Just huge. Wrapped up in my blue bathrobe, I watch it from the window. The neighbor's dog barks and barks and barks. How on earth do you let a dog out and then not wait for him to come back in? I sit wide awake, watching the moon.

It's not just me awake and watching. I've got company. That dog just keeps on barking.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New House



I saw the house today for the first time, when we went to meet the realtor, put down our 'earnest' money, and sign the paperwork.

It has a portico at the side door and you step into a entrance way. The staircase is to your left. If you go straight back you find a remodeled bathroom, a huge room with a beautiful clawfoot tub. There is one bedroom on the first floor, right next to the bathroom. The kitchen is a large eat in kitchen with Corrian counter tops. It is to the left as you stand in the entrance way. To your right is a set of french doors which lead into a livingroom. If you open the french doors on the other side, there is a small library with a fireplace and glass fronted book cases. There is also a small room with a ceramic tile floor that would be an awfully nice room for exercise equipment. Except for the kitchen, the downstairs is hardwood floor which we will refinish. Upstairs there are three more bedrooms, plus a large room with (believe it or not) a little kitchenette. It would make a nice office/study. It is bright and you could make yourself a cup of tea or coffee while you study. It would be nice to have a small dorm refrigerator there. There is also a large bathroom (also remodeled) on the second floor. On the third floor there are two more bedrooms. Interestingly enough, the place has all sorts of interesting nooks and cubbies and tiny little rooms that are too big for closets but too small for bedrooms. The second and third floors are carpeted in berber carpet.

It is very dirty.

As Tim and the realtor talked downstairs, I roamed through this house and I was delighted. I could see us in this house. I could see our things in this house. I was thrilled with this house. I came downstairs and Tim said, "So what do you think?" He was afraid that I'd be turned off by all the dirt. I looked at him and said, "I love this. I really love this house." And he was pleased.

We've never had a house that was just ours. We moved into his house. He put a second floor on it, and it was nice, but really, it was not 'my' house. We were happy here, though. But this new house? It is ours. Truly ours. I looked at the old apple trees along the back of the lot, past what was a carriage house, and later became a garage. There a big old trees in the back yard.

This house is magic. I'm so excited about this, I cannot tell you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trivia

It's been a bit of a hard time around here. We love our children, but sometimes, lines need to be drawn. We want to save them, but we can't. The biggest gift we can give them is stepping back and allowing them to figure out that they can save themselves. However that 'gift' is never appreciated at the time. So it has been a sad time and a grieving time for me.

School has been hectic. Another group project. I am currently involved in three of them. Two of them are going well, actually. The third? Gah! Meetings are set up, no one shows, I do lots of typing. Someone else redoes all the typing. Lots of work being done that I didn't have to do. I've got a bucket load of assignments with varying due dates. I just try to knock them out. My A in Anatomy and Physiology is now a B.

Tim put a bid in on a house (sorry, I guess you have to click on the first house, the green one) yesterday. He low-balled it. We figured that if they took it, they took it. If they didn't, no harm, no foul. (It has not been lived in for a couple of years). Today that bid was accepted. It's a three story, six bedroom house. Hardwood floor, fireplace. Glass fronted book cases on each side of that fireplace. It will be beautiful, but it needs some serious cleaning up. No structural deficiencies on this one - good news - but it does need to have the heating system replaced. It has a garage out back. It looks as if someone began to rehab the place and then, for whatever reason, simply stopped. Interestingly enough, it's on the same street as the rental houses, dead center between the two of them. Cara said, "Are you guys playing Monopoly?" This will be my summer project, since cleaning and refinishing hardwood floors is something that I can definately do all by myself. Tim will finish the final rental apartment. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes....

Frustrating day.

But the frustrating day is now over.

The frustrated woman is putting herself to bed.

Spring break is 7 days away, but who's counting?

Me. I am.

Guess What Today Is?!!!!

Today is Hinckley Buzzard Day! I saw turkey vultures last week along the west side of Rt 62 on the way to school. I'd forgotten that they were migratory until Karen at work began to discuss it.

I find myself wondering about why it is the robin picked to represent spring? It could have just as easily be a big old vulture with a big strip of road kill hanging from its beak. Must be that the robin had better PR. I don't know.

Anyway, today is Hinckley Buzzard Day! Everyone celebrate with a heaping helping of carrion.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You know....

Yesterday, at the Tractor Supply, a couple little girls came in with their grandfather to see the chicks. The ducklings are gone. We still got bunnies, though. So people bring their kids in to see them, and really, the darn things are soooooooo cute. Fun to watch, and the peeping of the chicks just makes me think of spring. Even though I can look out the front door of the store and watch it snowing. But that's another whine for another day.

So these two little girls came up to the counter with their grandfather to check out. I asked them what they thought of the chicks and weren't they cute? etc. etc. etc. And excitedly they chattered about chicks, and how they wanted one, and grandpa smiled indulgently, but told them no. I said, to smooth it all over, "All I want is two chickens, but I'm not allowed either." The littlest girl, about five years old said, "Why can't you have them?" very interestedly. I looked down at her. "Well, my husband told me no." (He did too. He's afraid they will bring coyotes into the yard, or that our neighbor's dog will get them, and there will be problems. Best just not to even open that door, in his opinion...just buy the eggs at the grocery store...) So I looked down at this little girl, just the cutest thing, and I told her, "Well, my husband said no," and that little pippersqueak leaned forward and said, "You know, you don't have to do what they say..." as if she was imparting great wisdom to me. And grandpa and I burst out laughing.

Later, as the three of them were walking out the door, the littlest one got side tracked by the Schleich horses. She wanted one in the worst way. Grandpa said, "Well, we'd better go ask grandma. See what she thinks about this." I walked past them, and the littlest one said, "We're going to ask my nana if I can have this black horse!" very excitedly. And grandpa took their hands and they headed for the door. Grandpa said, "I have to listen to grandma. I know better."

I went back to building the decorative display windmills, and I chuckled to myself at that exchange. And not much later, the girls returned with a very sweet faced grandma who loved them as dearly as their grandpa did. And the littlest girl got her black Schleich horse, as the adults laughed once more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cara Writes

On the way over to Korea, Cara's brand new luggage was damaged. Those suitcases were packed chock full and did not survive the indignity of airport handling. Once she hit the ground in Daegu, her first days there were spent up to her armpits in paperwork to justify her stay. Finally, she had time to turn her attentions to the matter of her luggage and discovered that she was too late to file her claim.

But Caras will have their satisfaction, and so she crafted a letter. Cara's letters are a thing to behold, truly. You should see her letter of resignation from Tim Horton's. After very prettily thanking them for hiring her, and for the opportunity to work with them, she states: "In recent days it has become clear that the food industry is not in keeping with the altruistic pursuits of my youth and as such is best to be abandoned at this time." She goes on to apologize for any inconvenience her two week notice might cause and she states that she will continue to be a reliable worker to the end and will be happy to train her replacement.

Well. As I said, Cara crafted a letter to the airlines.

To the Poor Soul Who Reads the Bitchy Emails and to the Airline that Causes People to Bitch,

Greetings, I am writing to you from Daegu, South Korea where I have just recently landed. I am doing well, thank you for asking. My luggage, not so much. When I arrived in Chicago I was given the wonderful news that while I made it over in one piece, my luggage was not so lucky. There was a rather large hole, exposing my cardigans (for the world to see, I might add) in my brand new, very pretty suitcase. How could such a travesty happen, I ask myself? It seems odd to think that an hour long flight might massacre my luggage in such a way, especially when I had such a fantastic baggage check clerk who was apparently preparing to be a quarterback. (By that, I mean that she heaved my luggage onto the conveyor belt). I understand that you have a "blink twice and you miss your chance to file a baggage claim" policy, however I wanted to give you an opportunity to write me an epic poem, buy me lunch, or at the very least provide me with a very sincere and heartfelt apology.

Thanks in advance for your undoubtably wonderful and charming response,

Cara *******

P.S. I know that I only provided three means of apology, but I would also take a variety of others. I happen to love coffee, long walks on the beach, and reading on rainy days.

I don't hold out much hope for a response, but if she gets one, I will let you know.

Side note: although she is very close to Japan, she has been unaffected by the earthquakes. I am worried about the radiation issues, but she is not. She is listening to American Forces Network news, and feels quite certain that if there were any danger, the military would be moving the dependents and civilians back stateside.

If they do not, well, I have a good idea who will be the recipient of Cara's next sarcastic letter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Giving up coffee

Yesterday, I got up and man, I was a tired puppy. I had not gone to bed until after midnight, and I was having trouble getting myself going. I lay in bed and silently whimpered to myself about being tired, but then finally I got myself up and going. I wanted to get to class early. It was our teacher's birthday. Someone was bringing cupcakes. We had all decided to wrap our homework papers on Therapeutic Groups, and I was bringing wrapping paper.

I said to myself, "Self, you'll have to skip your coffee this morning. Just grab a cup on the way in," and so I got ready and headed out.

Driving to school, I recognized a car. It was a couple of young kids that I'd seen on campus. I watched them turn up a side road, and once again, I thought to myself, "Self, you are getting to school early, and this is an opportunity to find a new way to school." And so I also turned left and followed their car. I was right. It was a twisty road, up a hill, unlikely to be affected by flooding ever. However, it was covered with drifting snow. I drove along slowly and carefully. I lost track of my friends. Finally, however, I got to the intersection, turned left once again...and then realized that the road I was on was not the road I thought it was. There was a moment of panic (after all, I had the wrapping paper) but then I took a deep breath and scanned my surroundings from the hillside, figured out where I was in relationship to where I needed to be, and got myself there.

"Better not stop for coffee," I thought. And I made the supreme sacrifice: I drove past the convenience store. "I'll get my coffee on first break."

First break came, and one of the kids that I am coleading a group with came over to discuss our project (we are presenting a simulation of what it is like for a kid to be sensorily defensive). We've all been so busy that we just don't have time to meet. So we had a little meeting right there.

Class was over at noon, and I hightailed it out of there to get home and make lunch for Tim before he left for his second shift job. Two days a week I am home to prepare him a lunch. The previous day, he had sighed as he dug in, and said, "You are the best cook. I really miss being fed," and I felt bad. He's so good and patient, and really, he doesn't complain. But I'd made a vow that when I can cook for him, I will cook his favorites. So that day, I was headed home to cook. There was no time to make coffee, because just a few minutes later, I was headed out the door to start work at 2PM.

By the time, I got to work, I was craving me some caffeine. Ooooh. It 'twar bad. Ike said, "Well, run on back and get a cup. I just made a fresh pot in the break room." And so I hied myself back. Only to find that we were out of styrofoam cups. And who does not think to have her own cup at work like everyone else? Me. That's who.

At that point I decided that the powers that be had decided 'no caffeine for me', and I trudged out to the register wondering what I had done to anger the caffeine gods. It was a long night, but Gary stopped by. He cited the health benefits of giving up caffeine. I listened interestedly. "What do you drink in the morning?" I asked. "Juice," he answered.

I've been thinking about it. I gave up cigarettes years ago. I gave up carbonated beverages too. I wondered what it would be like to give up caffeine. I already had a good start. I'd gone all day without my customary cup.

I came home, washed a few dishes, headed straight for bed. When I woke up this morning, I pondered the whole idea of giving up coffee once more.

For about 30 seconds.

MMMMMmmmmm. Coffee? How I do so love thee in the morning...

Friday, March 11, 2011

*rolls eyes*

It's been raining like crazy here, just miserable weather. I'd signed up to do a fundraiser for the Blind Association called 'Dining in the Dark'. I thought that it was going to be in Jamestown. Instead I found out that it was in Mayville, about an hour from here. Gosh. What a drive! The shoulders have washed away from the road in some places leaving great trenches. There are some horrible potholes. Water washing across the roads in some places. But I got there, and I was glad to be there.

The premise behind the event is that people come in and are blindfolded. They eat their meal 'blind'. I worried that my table would be a quiet one and I would find myself struggling to keep the conversation going, but no need to fret. It was a cheerful group, and everyone was wonderful. I was their sighted guide, and so I explained to them that, for instance, to keep your hands low to the table while reaching for your water glass, since it was stemmed, and could be knocked over. I explained about their meat being at 6 o'clock and gave helpful advice like, "Your plate is empty now...you can quit looking for food."

When it was done, I headed back home. By then it was awful. You couldn't tell whether you were approaching one inch of water or six inches. I drove pretty slowly. The pot holes were hidden by the water and darkness, and at one point, I hit one of them so hard that I was sure that I had to have broken something on the car. However, I did not, and made it home safely.

The Conewango creek gets higher and higher. Tim picked up a washer and dryer today. He drove it to one of the houses downtown, one that is right on that river. It has probably a 14-16 foot embankment from the deck to the river. The basement door is under the deck. This house has no back yard. It's just pretty much a straight drop to the creek. Tim backed right up to the edge of that yard to move the washer and dryer into the basement. It made me just sick to think of it, that the saturated earth could have given way. The mental picture of our big truck sliding backwards over that embankment and down into the swift current of the Conewango creek, with my husband in it was too scary...I pleaded with him not to take such a chance again. Tim said, "Oh, I wasn't worried about that. I was afraid I'd leave ruts in the yard."

What do you do with a man like that?

PS: Now it's snowing again. Will this winter NEVER end?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wow. Just...wow...

Mrs. Spit had a blog post that sat me back in my chair. Do you suppose the guy embarrassed himself? I hope so. It's even worse to think that he did not even understand that it was a faux pas.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

She's got the look...

Cara was telling that the international building is very noisy at night. She thinks the fact that everyone speaks a different language makes them speak louder to make themselves understood. (It is not just an American trait....) At midnight, she was awakened yet again. Going into full RA mode while still not awake enough to realize that she was not an RA in Korea, she leapt from her bed and threw open her door, and with her best RA look, stared them all down. They looked back in (now) silent amazement, as the realization finally broke through the fog of Cara's mind ("...wait...I'm not in charge here....") I laughed at the picture her words made. "What happened?" I asked. Cara said, "Well. My 'RA look'? Turns out that it an international super power." In response to that glare, the people at her door immediately slunk off and it was quiet for the rest of the night. She said, "I e-mailed my old boss. I told him I was documenting some people in Korea and would send him the paperwork." She's a hoot.

Know what I love? Yesterday, I was slipping and sliding across a parking lot to get to school. Yesterday afternoon, walking across that self same parking lot to get back to my car after a long, long day (3 hour lab practical for A and P), there was no ice. It had melted off during the course of the day. Spring! Spring is coming!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Aussies in America

The amazing Bush Babe and Mr. I are packing up in Houston and heading back to LA. If you have not been following along with their adventures, you need to get over to their blog and start reading. They've had quite a trip while here. There was NYC and Mamma Mia and cheesecake and Starbucks and the Statue of Liberty and snow and winter coats and Macy's and then there was Houston and rodeos and Tim McGraw and mutton wrangling and cowboy boot shopping and then there was Oklahoma and Ree's lodge and cooking for Ree. And they're not even done yet.

I love this adventure, and it is great fun to follow along. I'm starting to realize one thing. When you approach life eagerly with an open heart, life responds open heartedly right back. These are great, great people, and I've no doubt that they're leaving a trail of admirers behind in their travels.

Violet confided to Cara in NYC that she desperately wanted to see a squirrel. Cara was amused at that and they talked about it. Violet asked about their size. Cara allowed as some of them get pretty big. Violet got very wide-eyed. "As big as me?" she asked. And it made Cara laugh in delight.

Dash was picking out a toy in FAO Swartz. And he is a very careful boy. He doesn't decide anything in the blink of an eye. He pondered, picking one transformer after another. He certainly did not want a Decepticon. It was all Greek to me, I'm afraid. My own experience with super heros ended with Dylan's love of the Power Rangers. In any case, he finally chose his toy. At the end of the night, my Dylan said to Dash, "So, are you pretty sure you got the right toy?" and immediately, Dash's little eyes got thoughtful and his finger went to his lips. "Don't you dare, Dylan!!!" I said, and I pushed him on.

We had so little time to sit and talk, and I spent most of the afternoon being amazed that they were here, and that I was with them, but I do have to tell you that Bush Babe and Mr. I are just plainly, good, good people. Probably the thing that most defined Mr. I was this exchange: We were speaking about the fact that there is a market for horsemeat. I had just commented that Mikey has horses that she'd saved from slaughter. In Australia, they are used for pet food. "I did that once," he said, "and I could never do it again. When an animal serves you all its life, it deserves better than that." I loved that about him, because I feel the same way. The last hands that one of your animals should feel is yours, and the last voice that he hears should be your own. You owe them that kindness.

Bush Babe? Oh, don't believe one self effacing comment the girl makes. She is gorgeous. A beautiful woman. She is a devoted mom, and I loved watching the quiet interactions between her and her husband. They are a team, and there is no mistaking it. She has a beautiful smile and she smiles often.

I walked along on the streets of NYC with them for a whole afternoon. A cold and windy afternoon. I cannot believe that I met them all in person, and I'll be everlastingly grateful that I had the chance to do so. It was a wonderful surprise.

I'll meet up with all of you in Oz, 2012! Jeanie? Barb? Be there, or be square! I'll be bringing the glasses and a good local wine.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Group

Know what scares me? It scares me when you are part of a group, and someone in that group makes a decision that something is wrong. Wrong. Maybe even evil. He begins to push his viewpoint, and the driving force of his argument is simply, "Well, this is the way that all good group members would see it." The implication being, of course, that if you don't see it the same way that he does, well, you, my friend, are obviously not a good group member. Since you are not a good group member, well, by golly, you are not important to the group, and perhaps you just need to go and find your own group someplace else.

I don't understand that a group has to be in lockstep in their thinking, and setting aside my own beliefs just to be a good group member is intolerable to me. I find myself thinking nervously, perhaps that IS the thing to do, because this group is part of my identity, even as I know that I have principles, that they are hard won, much prayed over, and that those principles are also a part of my identity.

Tim and I talked about this yesterday. I'd been keeping it to myself because he is part of this group too. He listened. He read the offensive document. He pondered it for some time. He came out into the kitchen where I was making omelets for supper, and he talked. I listened. Somewhere along the line, I realized that although this group is a big part of who I am, it is not all that I am. I am Debby, I am the wife of a good man, the mother of good children, the grandmother of William. I am a student, and a reader, and a friend, and a funny woman. The list goes on and on. The group is a big part of who I am, however it is not all that I am. Leaving it would not be the end of my world.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SCREEEEEEEEEEAAAM!

Last night, going to bed, I was discouraged. My whole body ached, and I worried a little about that. The bone pain had gone, but now it was back? So I went to bed, and I was discouraged. I woke up this morning with a lousy headache and I understood. That flu that had been going around our classroom? I got it.

Big Anatomy and Physiology Lab Practical on Tuesday.

I guess that I should have begun studying earlier. Now I am trying to study while sick.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

At the Tractor Supply.

I worked today. At 11, though, Karen came in to cover for me while I took care of the meeting that I'd managed to write in...on the wrong darn day. When I returned, an hour earlier than I expected, I had a bouquet of flowers for her, a yellow batch of sunshine. On her way out the door, she called back, "I'll work for you anytime. Especially if there are flowers involved!"

So I got back to work. Some people came in with their dog, a thin dog with a reddish coat. He had a muzzle. I said, "Am I allowed to pet your dog?" and they said yes, but explained that they'd only had him a couple weeks, that he'd spent most of his life in a shelter, that he'd been exposed to so little that he was exceedingly shy. I reached my hand out and spoke softly, and he looked square at my face, curiously. And then he stepped forward. I petted him and told him what a sweet baby he was. He rubbed into my hand, and then amazingly, he came to me and leaned against my leg as I petted him some more. His owners were shocked. He had never responded to anyone like that before, except for his new 'mama'. As for me, I had tears in my eyes. I'd forgotten what it was like to have that 'ken' with a dog, and I missed my Buck something awful.

After work, Tim and I went grocery shopping, and then picked up a video. We saw one called 'Hachi' with Richard Gere. We both enjoy Richard Gere, so we made that our pick of the night. I cried. Even Tim had tears in his eyes. What a sweet, sweet movie, based on the true story of Hachiko, a dog from Japan.

Cara has her own blog now, if you care to follow her adventures in 'the land of the morning calm'.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicks and Children

Oh. My. Gosh.

A couple with five kids came in the store today. It was crazy. They walked around the store screaming their heads off. Twirling the Leaning Tree card rack, snatching the sparkly cards from the rack to clutch to their chests and wrinkle. They were grabbing the baby ducks and the baby chicks by their necks until Bob made them stop. They fought with each other, they screamed at their parents, their parents screamed at them. They wanted toys. Over and over, the tattooed mother said, "When we leave. We're not done yet. When we're ready to go." The youngest threw a full scale temper tantrum. They began to go in and out of the dressing rooms slamming the doors on each other. "Don't take the cards out of the rack please," I said. "Put down the ducklings right now," Bob said. The parents just roamed about the store obliviously. I think they liked the attention their brood was attracting. A volatile little red haired girl began screaming for what seemed like the 100th time, and a customer said, "That's awful." "I'll say," I replied, "but I'm telling you, these are not horrible kids, these are horrible, horrible parents." The customer agreed quickly. "How long have they been here?" another customer asked. "Over an hour," I said. And our banshees screamed up and down the aisles, fighting nonstop. When they left, Mom and 'Steve' got black cowboy hats. The kids did not get the toys that they were promised repeatedly. There was more screaming at the register. The oldest girl fixed her mother with a look and said sternly: "You just wasted $40 whole dollars!"

We got a new shipment of chicks in today. Much to my horror, there was one chick that was being attacked by the others. Customer after customer reported it. I stopped inviting kids to go back to look at them, because a couple kids were upset by the sight. The chicks are under stress and it takes them about 24 hours to settle down, Dave explained.

I thought of those aggressive stressed out chicks all night long. I decided that children and chicks are not all that different.

Is it just me or....

It never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I feel my confidence rising, well, right on the heels of that, there's a dumb thing just waiting for me to do it.

*sigh*

Now, is that just me or are you all like that too?

(Please say it's not just me. Even if it is. Lie to me if necessary.)

I signed up for a meeting. My scheduler was in my book bag in another classroom. I did not immediately write it down. I made the mistake of waiting until after I got home from school to write it in. Yep. I wrote it down for the wrong day. Today, Nichole said, "I'll see you tomorrow."

Me: *blank stare* "Why? What's happening tomorrow?"

You know, I'm grateful today for my co-worker Karen who said, "Sure. I'll come in for you..."

On that bright note, off to work.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cara in Korea

Cara has been in Korea for five days now. I think. The international date line screws me up. She left her on our Sunday, got there on their Monday, and now it is their Friday. I fretted a little before she left about the saber rattling that was going on over there. Across the table, she said, "I'll handle that." With her best RA voice, she leaned forward and said, with intense and staring eyes, "So how do you think that made the rest of the world feel when you threatened to use nuclear weapons? Hmmmmmm????? And have you learned something from this maybe? How are you going to handle things next time? Goooooood...." It made me laugh. Taylor (who is also an RA) said, "I've seen this play out in person. Really, it's very, very intimidating," and she shivered a little. Kim Jong Il handed over power to his son for a reason, I guess. He heard Cara was coming. Her hair is not as tall as his, and she's not much for high heeled shoes, so I imagine he has the height advantage, and he may have nuclear weapons, but she's got an RA voice, and heavens! the girl certainly knows how to deploy it. Thinking it over, I'll put my money on Cara.

There have been no international incidents as of this writing. I got a cheerful little e-mail from Cara. Her stomach has been giving her fits since she's been there, so I asked how it was going. On her latest adventure out, she found Maxwell House coffee and ham and egg salad sandwiches. For the first time since her arrival, she was able to celebrate with her traditional 'coma of food'. She found the proper adapters for her computer and is now on the internet (which makes me feel much better...). She found shampoo and conditioner that smells good and is looking for a good facewash. Classes begin on Monday, so she's still got the weekend. She closes with 'things are looking up, as they often do when one's life is suddenly enriched by coffee products and sandwiches.'

She cracks me up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Going with my gut...

You know that story about the boiling frog? I think I was a little like that frog. Looking back at my own words, it was clear to see that I began having pain within weeks of beginning the tamoxifen, the maintenance drug for premenopausal women with estrogen receptive breast cancer. Tamoxifen is supposed to be taken for five years, but the pain became more and more of an issue. Since it was not constant, at least initially, I tended to ignore it, to push on through and keep going. I have a high threshold of pain, and I always felt this was a good thing. It got more and more severe, but like that frog, I simply endured the changes. I really didn't feel that I had a choice, I guess. I don't want to sit through a repeat of cancer, and Tamoxifen seemed to be what you do. So I did it. At least for a year and ten months, I did it.

This winter, when it began to get cold once again, things got very, very worse. So much so that my sleep was disrupted. Debbys, short sleeped, are not very high functioning critters. Keeping up with anything became a struggle. I was getting discouraged. Worst of all, the more tired I got, the more unable I was to ignore the pain, which had moved from my legs, into my hips. From my hips, it began to badly affect my back and neck. I knew that I had a problem one memorable night. After a day of classes and four hours of work, I came home, my neck so stiff that I could not turn my head.

When the oncologist asked, "Have you ever thought of stopping tamoxifen?" I could have answered 'Yes. Every single morning when I take it...' I didn't. I didn't want to sound like a smart aleck, but it's the truth really. I thought about not taking tamoxifen every day, and every day I thought, 'But gees. I don't want cancer again...' and I took that pill. This time though, hearing the question from her mouth instead of my own thoughts, my reply to her was not the same reply I'd been giving to myself. This time, I looked across the room, and I said, simply, 'Yes.' When she said, "We could give it a try, just for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference," my answer was immediate. "Yes," I said again.

Sometimes, I guess, a person just has to 'go with their guts,' and that's what I'm doing here. Initially, contemplating this decision in my own heart, fear guided my decision to suck it up and continue on. But Friday, there was no fear, just relief that the decision was made. I walked out of the office relieved. I walked to the car, and I was relieved. I called Tim and we discussed the decision. I think that he was relieved too.

Today just five days later, I cannot believe the difference. Most of the pain is just gone. I'm sleeping better, so I'm not so flipping exhausted. At school today, I knocked out another project, and I posted it on line. Going through my assignments, I realized that I'm getting ahead. That's a good feeling. At home, I polished my kitchen cupboards. Tonight, I'm folding laundry. I'm getting ahead here, too, and that's a good feeling. I took on a couple projects for myself: I'm sitting on a panel to encourage other adult learners who might be wavering about coming back to school. I'm working as a guide at a 'Dining in the Dark,' where people pay to have a gourmet meal, but eat it blindfolded to experience what it is like to have a visual impairment. In short, I'm feeling productive again, and whoooo boy! I cannot tell you how marvelous it feels. I'm coming back to life again, and I feel like spring personified.

Today at school, I had a 'moment'. I was eating my yogurt and marveling at how the pain has really, in large part, simply disappeared. I was busy being grateful for that fact. I thought to myself, "I will not take the tamoxifen again." I froze a little, holding my spoon, waiting for that prickle of fear, that little 'but...'

There was none.

Sometimes, sometimes, you just gotta go with your gut.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Smart and the Stupid (hint: It's me...)

Who's currently getting an A in Anatomy and Physiology? (hint: it's me. I am!)

Lest I get too big headed, who forgot her lab manual this morning, with the all important lab handouts, the lab handouts that we are being tested on today? (hint: it's me. I did!)

Who could blow that average on today's test? (hint: dammit. Me again! I could!)

*sigh*

Back to the studying...
Cara has arrived in Korea safely. Her suitcases 'exploded'. Funny, since she joked the night before she left that she was actually afraid this might happen. KAL taped them all closed, and so she was able to get all that stuff she could not live without to where she will be living for a semester. She loves her little room with its own bath. (The shower head is directly above the toilet...) She is a little upset that she can't plug her computer in, and that she cannot hook up to the wifi there, but she found public computers and she was able to send word home. She was, after a day of traveling very glad to get off the plane. She was met in Daegu, and taken to her room where it sounds like she face planted on her bed for some time. She has found food, and she has found computers. People are very nice, she says, but they don't speak English. She's there to teach English, so really, that's pretty handy, don't you think?

Yesterday we had a warm up, which brought with it flooding. I was late to school for the second day in a row. Traffic was stopped as heavy equipment tried to clean the ditches and redirect the water that had flooded the road. As I came off the hill, I saw that the little town was flooded too. I got myself to school. Friday I was late because of the snow. Monday I was late because of the flooding (nothing compared to the recent flooding in Australia, I know.) At least my excuses are creative, hey?) I was embarrassed to leave early, but I had a dentist appointment. By then, a number of roads had been completely closed. I dumbed around the detours and finally got back to Pennsylvania too late for my appointment, which made me upset...they rescheduled my cleaning to JUNE now. Oy.

We have chicks at the Tractor Supply. Live bunnies too. Tim says no.

Interesting thing. Three women talking. They are very well dressed, and made up, and bejewelled. They are blocking the entrance to the restaurant. They are talking earnestly between themselves. We wait for them to move, but they do not. Our hostess is waiting on the other side of them to take us to our table. We finally say, "Excuse me..." and try to step around them. They did not stop in their speaking, nor did they move. We squeezed around them, literally. I'm a pretty oblivious person, and I do stupid things sometimes. But I know this. This wasn't obliviousness. I also know that people who think they are important seldom are. We sat at our table, and watched them. They did not move for anyone. Nor did they acknowledge anyone who was trying to get by. At all.