Friday, December 30, 2011

Miracles

Been a hairy ride, that's for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas at the Low-Tech Grandma's House

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



Boxes are a good thing.

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



Not all balls are created equal.

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

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

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

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


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

Cara believes that flying monkeys have traumatized another generation.

Christmas 2011

Still here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Post

Cara's home.

Doing some serious Christmas shopping.

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sticker Shock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today's 'Moment'

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

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

What?

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

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Joke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny darted everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thinking in the Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Playroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Funny the way it is.

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

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

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

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

Fuck.



She's been remembering lately she says.

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

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

There is no answer I suppose.

There is no point this post, I suppose.

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Party Continues...

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

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

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

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

Party on...

Wild Party

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

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

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

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

I'm a dork.

Monday, December 12, 2011

*clink*

Guess what I'm doing?


Nothing.


That's right. You heard me.


Not a darn thing.


And know what else?


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


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

It's here...

Today's the day!

The last day of school.

The day that all projects will be handed in.

The day of the final final.

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

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

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

Completely done.

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Still standing. Barely.

The date that will live in infamy.

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Short.

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

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

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

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

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

I like that, when a person surprises you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Husbands

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ooooh. Shiny...

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

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

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

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

Just checking in.

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

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

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

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