Friday, June 29, 2012

Interesting

We live on a quiet little brick street and two of our other houses are on the same quiet little brick street, and after a time, you begin to know the people up and down the street. We have many neighbors.

One woman wanted to rent from us, a loud and aggressive woman. She was insistant that she wanted a small apartment for her boyfriend and his child and herself. She was a landlord herself, she explained, but could not live in her own house due to the fact that she was having some repair work done on it. At the same time we had a rental application from the boyfriend, a boy much younger than she was who'd gotten custody of his little daughter and was looking for a place to live. He was very just as adament that this woman was NOT his girlfriend and that she would NOT be living with him. In the meantime, we had the 'girlfriend who was not his girlfriend' calling about our decision. The more she talked, the less sense the situation made, and in the end, we took a deep breath and decided to sidestep the drama. We rented to a sweet natured Indian girl who was a good fit with the other tenants in the building.

In the intervening weeks, the 'girlfriend who is not a girlfriend' sits on the porch of her house which shows no signs of being worked on. She has a new boyfriend. Today we opened the morning paper to read that she had taken $20,000 from her employer over the last month and has vanished. Tim looked across the street and her car is no longer parked in front of the house that is not actually hers but a rental.

We felt glad that we had sidestepped the drama. She portrayed herself as a business woman, financially secure. It was, it turned out, much the same persona she acted out in the local bars. How does a person expect to get away with a crime like this? What is the satisfaction of making people believe that you are something you are not?

People are interesting, aren't they?

Tim and I stopped at a yard sale, seeing a file cabinent that we could use. I also found, of all things, a cobalt blue gravy boat in the shape of an elk which tickled me to no end.

My husband looked at me as if he found me very 'interesting' as well.

But my sort of interesting cost him a mere $2 and my drama is minimal, so there is a difference.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's not that I haven't been doing anything...

I thought possums were supposed to play dead when they feel threatened?  The one in our hav-a-hart trap did not, hissing and snapping his little sharp teeth. And then I couldn't get him out of the trap. Finally had to turn it on end and shake him out. He scootled off in a quick manner to the woods without a backward look, but at least he did not attack. I also discovered that I can take up a defensive position behind a car in pretty in pretty short order.

I've stopped looking for Marty and the DeLorean. Turns out that he won't be here until October 21st, 2015. Disappointing. I wanted the future right nnnnnnoooooooowwwww!!!

I spent time with William. We came up with a little song. "If you're poopy and you know it, clap your hands, if you're poopy and you know it, clap your hands. If you're poopy and you know it, well your pants will surely show it, if you're poopy and and you know it clap your hands." We may market that little ditty to men who dress in primary colors. In any case, there was a whole lot of clapping going on, and at one point, Cara was screaming. It looked as if the child had exploded.

I spent time with Cara too. She came home for a visit. We went to the Thai-Chinese restaurant, and she had Drunken Chicken which was so good I'm going to try making it at home. We went to the thrift store and found some wonderful books. We began looking at things for her new apartment. I felt like we talked, really talked, for the first time in a long time. That was a bit of a relief.

I watched Charlie Chaplin in 'The Circus' and laughed until I could scarcely breathe. Oh my goodness, what fun. I also watched 'Brothers' and it made me a little sick inside, even though it ended, as Cara promised it would, "on a hopeful note".

It's been quite a week, dealing with both ends of the circle of life, grieving and rejoicing, and dealing with the stuff that comes in the middle, including another cold, my second since starting work.

I have to schedule my certification exam for OT. I have to get cracking on the studying. I'd like to have that done by summer's end.

We've company coming from North Carolina over the week of the fourth, and I am looking forward to that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nothing Much

Tim and I have settled in to a Saturday night routine. I work, am off at 2, come home, tackle some project, and then we clean up and walk downtown to the Pizza Hut, where Tim orders a medium pizza and I order the salad bar.

We live on such an interesting street. Today we saw a little girl cuddling her beloved guinea pig. I had a guinea pig as a child. We stopped to talk to her and it tickled me to hear the guinea pig making his little guinea pig noises. I fed him a piece of grass and marveled at his carefully painted pink toenails.

We continued on, down past the huge old church that has been converted to what? An apartment building? We really don't know, but are intrigued.

A shopping cart had been abandoned on the sidewalk, several blocks from the grocery store, so we pushed it back to the store, since we were headed that way.

We did some shopping, and then ate our supper and headed back home. We discovered a red squirrel in a hav-a-hart trap and we stopped to talk to the home owners, for two reasons. One is that we are truly up to our eyeballs in red squirrels and they are destructive. Now that we live in town, well, they frown on shooting them, as Tim did when we lived out in the woods. We bought two traps, but have not caught a one, so we wanted to learn their squirrel trapping techniques. We also wanted to tell them that we have a friend out in the woods who loves red squirrels and has offered to take any that we manage to catch because he love to watch them frolic.

It was a pleasant night, nothing much going on, just pleasant. A good day for a salad, a good day for a walk, a good day for meeting new friends.

There's also a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, which sounds temperamental, in addition to being unfortunately named.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wisdom

You know what sucks?

Having a strong opinion that cannot be expressed.

I'm a mother and there comes the time when children are no longer children, and they are facing big decisions.

I still my tongue, and my opinions stay right where they need to be...shrieking in my own head. I listen. I say, "You must be the one to decide. You have the power. You are only a victim if you choose to be."

The child wavers between the two choices, waiting to be pushed one way or the other.

I repeat, "The choice is yours. You must make it. You have the support of your family, no matter what, but you must make the choice."

It makes me feel sickish inside, but the days when 'mommy made it all better' are long gone. I know that I behaved wisely.

I also think that being wise sucks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Feel God Moment

I couldn't watch the video all the way through, but the fundraiser is beautiful. They wanted to give her $5000 to take a dream vacation. They are at nearly $116,000, most of it in donations of $25.00 or less. People apparently understand the pain of being bullied and helpless.

I'm a mom. I'd die a little if I ever found out that one of my children was involved in something like this. I just cannot imagine kids boldly addressing an adult, an elderly woman, in such a manner.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Work

Today, I left for work early. I had some errands. One of them was to pick up my diploma. I looked at it, but didn't really feel any excitement about it. I'm glad to have it, of course. I really don't think it would have entered my mind to actually go back to school if Tim had simply not said, "This is the right time. You need to do it." So I did.

I haven't talked a lot about the new job, but it's been kind of rough. I am working in a group home. It is not Occupational Therapy, but I am certainly using my OT skills. I know that the facility is where I want to work. I know that they are currently short an OT, but there is a hiring freeze on professionals right now. I am prepared to wait for the opportunity to step into that vacant job.

The bulk of my coworkers are young. 18 - 20 mostly. They are a tightknit group. Unfortunately, their socialization takes precedence over their clients in some cases. I am a stickler. Rules are rules. We've been told how things are to be done. To my thinking, you don't quibble with that. You do it. The younger people, well, some of them tend to BS their way through it, not doing the care that they say they are doing, or raising their voices, or whatever. It is not right. It gets discouraging, because being a stickler makes you a pain in their behinds. They argue. They make fun of you behind your back. Stuff like that.

I try to remember who I am there for. I am a mandated reporter. We all are. What makes me different is that I could lose my OTA certification before I even get it, so when things are done improperly, I have to point it out. In the end, it will be better for the clients, once we get everyone on the same sheet of music, but it's a hard job, and it is discouraging sometimes.

I know that the trainers love me. One of them has told me over and over that I am everything that she hopes to see in a caregiver. I am soft spoken and kind. Respectful. Follow the rules. Work hard. Team player. It has been noted that although we all have our assigned household tasks, I am always busy, and if I have a free moment, I just do what needs done, regardless of whose task it actually is.

One day, I went into work, quieter than usual due to yet another conflict with a coworker the previous day. I was right, she was wrong, but still it makes things awkward. One client is easily overstimulated by noise and activity, and so I volunteered to take him for a walk in his wheelchair. As always, as soon as we got outside, he settled down, and we walked for a half mile, slowly. I pointed out birds to him, and flowers. He doesn't know. He's not aware, but I do it anyway. Habit. I do it with all of them. He sat quietly, but occasionally, he would grab my hand for a moment. I like when he does that. It's the only sign that you ever get that he's aware that you're there.

I head my name, and was surprised to see a trainer running after me. It scared me. I thought that I'd done something wrong. I'd left campus with my client, but I was under the impression that we were able to do that as long as we had a cell. I had my phone in my back pocket, with the building phone number on speed dial should I need assistance, but when I saw her running, I immediately stopped, and began to turn around.

"Oh, no, you do not need to turn around. I just wanted to talk. You seemed quiet." So we walked and we talked. I spoke honestly about my discouragement, and she spoke very encouragingly. "You are making a difference," she told me again and again. She told me that she could see it. She gave me evidence.

We turned around, and headed back up the hill, me pushing the wheelchair. (Really, I am going to be thin again by the time this is done...) She chattered on, telling me what an asset I was. She couldn't have realized it, but her choice of words was a little astounding. Since going back to college, my prayer has been to make a difference.  I just wanted to make a difference, and there was management telling me that I was doing just that.

It's not easy, but you know what? You can't really pitch much of a fit when you realize that your prayers are being answered.

Tonight I worked hard, like always. Tonight, I had three clients, all of whom are early-to-bed folks, so after I got the last one down, I had the time to wash the dishes. It wasn't my job, but it needed done, and it was a busy night. I finished my own chores, and my paperwork, and in the cool of the evening took another client out for a walk.

We walked along amiably, with him swearing a blue streak. It's what he does. I don't think he understands that it is bad. He is probably repeating the words of his childhood, poor old man. At one point, I reached out to make sure that he managed a curb without stumbling, and he took my hand, and held it the rest of the way home.

When we walked in the door, a coworker said, "Debby!" in a stern voice. "What?" I asked, startled. And she thanked me for doing her dishes. When I left tonight, two girls told me to have a good night. It felt good.

Here's something else that made me feel good. Thanks, Novel Woman.

Just Sayin'

I get confused sometimes on why things are considered newsworthy. F'rinstance, that Rielle Hunter. Now, what person gives a rat's patootie about what that woman thinks? She had an affair with a married man while his wife was ill with cancer. She refers to that man's wife as 'being in denial' and being "a bitch on wheels". Sorry, but I'm of the opinion that Elizabeth Dole had every reason to be mad. It happens. Rielle, honey, when you act like a heartless, selfish person, you will piss people off. I also got to say this: You have just put your 'lover' in the position of choosing between his children and you. You're publicly slamming their dead mother, while hinting at the possibility of continued romance between their father and yourself. If only the good die young, well, you're destined for immortality.

And then there's this: John Meyer is humiliated by Taylor Swift. He's spent a lot of time embarrassing women, breaking their hearts, making stupid public statements that are surely embarrassing to them, and not giving one iota about that. What goes around comes around. He was a young man very on track with a red hot career, and then tripped over his own ego. Kind of sad that he never had a momma to jerk him up straight and tell him to get over his big headed self.

This stuff is celebrity gossip, and I'm not going to say anything against people who are interested in that stuff. I fully realize that for someone who doesn't give that proverbial rat's patootie, well I seem to know a lot about the subjects.

Ironic, yes?

No, actually.

These are CNN stories, and my question is "Why?" CNN needs to stick to the news. If I want to hear about these folks, I'll go to some breathless, stuperficial night time entertainment program.

Okay. *puts soapbox away*

"Just stooooopid. Lots of newsworthy stuff in the world, don't know why..."

William Visits.

I had the opportunity to babysit William overnight. It was great fun.

We went to Goodwill. He picked out a bright yellow truck with googly eyes and corn popper action. Great fun! Big smiles!



He waded in a puddle and loved it. Great fun! Big smiles!



He came home, had a snack, and then chased balls around the livingroom. Great fun! Big smiles!



We went outside and rolled the truck downhill several times. Great fun! Big smiles!

Grandpa came home. Great fun! Big smiles!

There was supper, during which little William dozed off. He was layed down for a short nap, but roused up after 45 minutes, because his grandparents definately had plans for sleeping that night.

We went to the playground. There were three little girls who were quite taken with 'the baby'. Great fun! Big smiles!

We went for an ice cream cone and William fed the ducks. Great fun! Big smiles!

We went to the grocery store. Great fun! Big smiles!

We came home and William had yogurt and raisins for a bedtime snack. Great fun! Big smiles!

There was a bubble bath. Great fun! Big smiles!

The power went out. William toddled around in the rapidly fading light, having one last play session with his truck and with his ball ramp, and with his pool noodle, which he likes to swing around. Great fun! Big smiles!

Then it was bedtime. Grandma rocked him for a while. Sensing that something was up, this is about the time when the fecal material hit the rotary oscillator. He began to squirm and howl. He was placed in his little bed which had been set up in the cool library (it has been exceedingly hot here). His grandma sat waiting for him to fall asleep. William cranked it up to full volume for several minutes. Then the power came on, and the ceiling fan started. William is a big fan of ceiling fans. He laid down to watch it in the dim light, and he dozed off almost instantly.

The last time he stayed overnight, he was up at 4:30 for a bottle, so when I woke up at about that time, I slipped out of bed and down the hall to the kitchen to get him a bottle. I sat in the living room and waited for him to wake up so that I could slip him a bottle allowing his grandfather those precious few moments of sleep before the alarm went off. Except that William slept straight on through to 7:30.

He is up now and all smiles. We have watched the birds as we ate our breakfast. He has rung the windchimes repeatedly. He has tossed our balls behind every piece of furniture in the house just to be able to run to grandma with alligator tears and fake sound effects. (Watching grandma crawl around on the floor is apparently some pretty entertaining stuff.)

He's a lot of fun, but goodness! I had forgotten just how much energy is contained in one small form.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Cara Graduates! (Finally)

The 'finally' in the title does not indicate that it took Cara forever to graduate, but that it took this long for me to upload the pictures. We've had some troubles with the internet. It has been slooooooowwww!

 Cara approaches the stage as her name is called.
She receives her diploma with a big smile.
See all the cords?
Magna cum laude.
High Honors, history.
Honors courses.
 She does a bit of glad handing with one professor...
 ...and then another
 She comes off the stage and looks for her family in the crowd.
 She finds us and notes that her brother is the one taking the pictures.
Great news.
Oh, happy day.
My picture taking skills are legendary in this family.
(This is not a good thing.)

 Dylan and Brittani got a new Canon for their trip to London and Paris this fall, and really, I don't think that anything this gentleman snaps will be better than the pictures Dylan took.
 The young lovers post graduation.
Portrait of a young mother. With my grandbaby.
Probably the highlight of the day was that while we were taking family photos, who walked by but Dr. Frakes, a professor that Cara thought a great deal of, her advisor and mentor. He stopped to shake her hand and congratulate her personally, and we got a picture of the auspicious moment. It was perfect. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Key Marital Duties

Mrs. Spit made me laugh today. She has proof that she has now achieved adult status because she killed a spider. With her bare hands. All by herself. She comments that this is one of Mr. Spit's key marital duties. That and lifting heavy stuff.

That got me thinking about why there is a 'Tim' in my own life. What are his unwritten marital duties? I don't believe that we've ever mapped it out before, and after 14 years, it is probably high time that we did.

First and foremost, Tim is reponsible for the mechanical things. I am quite good at 'holding this right there, like that' but my mechanical skills extend no further than that. In fact, one of the first things he ever did for me was to take a look at my car. It was going through a phase where it would either start on the first try, or not at all. Despite the fact that it had been to a mechanic twice who put one of those computer thing-a-bobs on it and pronounced "There's nothing wrong with this car". Twice, mind you, which led to me beating my head on the steering wheel of a car that would not start and repeating over and over, "It could be worse. There could be something wrong with it." Yep. Tim fixed that, and that was a very important thing to a single mother working a probationary factory job (janitor) that could fire me at will for missing work.

Secondly, Tim is responsible for the whole snake removal/killing thing. Even if he is on the toilet when I discover one in the basement. This is non-negotiable. He must come when I scream.

Those two things. Those are key. In return, I do solemnly swear that I will eat all of his tomatoes. He does hate tomatoes, and sneaks them over to my plate. I cover for him.

I suppose there are other things too, but this is all about the key marital duties, and I think we have covered the big stuff.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stuff

Ever so slowly, things from my parents' home are migrating to where they will belong in my own home. I rearrange, and move furniture and I am using a hammer on walls, which probably causes Tim to wince a bit.

This has been a productive weekend. I like to stop into the consignment shop, just to browse around. This weekend, we stopped in. I needed polo shirts for work, something w/ short sleeves that looked a bit more professional than a tee shirt. So I picked up five shirts. I also found an entertainment center. Tim did not want it because it was heavy, because we'd have to run home for the truck, because, because, BECAUSE, but because of the wonderful things I does (Think Wizard of Oz) I insisted. We also found a neat coat hook. Christmas ornaments. A toy for William. An antique mirror. Spent $45.00 in one crack, and then went back and spent $15.00 the next day.

Ridiculous, I know. It just gave me more stuff to find a place for.

Since I have to work today, let me get to it!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Long Day

Today, I went back to my mother's house for the first time since she died. My sister and I went through the house room by room, selecting what we wanted from it. The things that I wanted were mostly things that I'd give to my parents over the years, a cuckoo clock, a picture, a bronze sundial from the garden, silverware that matched my own. The exception was the music box which my father had given to my mother when I was 18. Because of the memories, I wanted that music box. We agreed that we would put our names in a container, and that my uncle would pick. With my sister on the phone, he drew the name and it was mine. I was in the other room. I just couldn't bear to be there, in case it was not my name drawn, and I embarrass myself by bursting into tears or something. My sister Anna burst into the room with her arms wide to tell me that I'd gotten it. I took it to the car, and I am looking at it now.

After that, we went through the rooms, and we reminisced, and we talked. I took a rocking chair. I took a small table that my father had made. One of my parents' year books from highschool. Christmas ornaments for the grandchildren to each have one. Room by room, we searched and made discoveries. I found my mother's typewriter from her highschool days, an old Smith Corona. I remembered typing on that as a small child learning my letters. It was a great treat to play with that typewriter. I took that too. There was no rhyme or reason to my taking. I saw things, and I remembered them, and sometimes they stirred memories that I could not walk away from. I imagine that it was the same for my sister. We were careful to leave the plenty of memories behind for the siblings that were not there, and we tried to replace everything neatly so as not to create conflict.

One of the things we found in the basement was my grandparent's old percolator. It was old and elegant looking, with sheathes of wheat etched up the side, and a daintily curved spout. I took that too, and brought it home. I was glad to find that it still worked.

I forgot what a friendly sound a percolator makes, and the sound of it reminded me of being a child drowsy and half awake in my bed, listening to the Chapel of the Air, an early morning radio program with a preacher who preached about hell a lot. (My father said it was because he liked to swear, and being a preacher that was the only damn way he could get away with it.) My mother would sing along with the hymns and get my father's lunch packed and make his breakfast. All these years later, I remembered the hiss and burp of their percolator. Now I have one of my own. I polished it in a dreamlike way, remembering other mornings, and imagining mornings yet to come.

It's been a long day. It was not as emotional as I expected, but still it was strange to open cupboards and see things there that my mother had bought, and did not live long enough to use. It was hard to see their clothes, things that they had used or loved. And when the two of us walked out of that house with our husbands, after five hours of remembering, we shut the door behind us, and both of us knew that we were closing that door for the last time. We went out to eat, we hugged in the parking lot, and then my parents' things went in two different directions.

Now that I am home, and I have begun to fit these things into my own home, they look like they have been there always, and in a way, I suppose they have. They have been in a home that was once my home, and now they are in my home once again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pay Day.

Turns out I had a paycheck waiting for me. I thought they'd let me know if I had one. Turns out I was wrong. So I went to work for a three hour meeting, and then had an hour and a half before the start of my shift.

I sat in my car and opened that paycheck, and it was for a lot more money than I've made in a while.
It just seemed like such a momentous thing, to be holding a nice check. Like it ought to be celebrated.

I went to a new Thai restaurant, and I ordered green curry w/ shrimp, on the advice of my waitress. I ate it slowly savoring the flavors, the heat of the food making me sniffle, sipping a big glass of unsweetened ice tea as I watched the traffic go by.

The sweet waitress checked on me sitting peaceably in my corner. The restaurant is new, and there were only four tables. She made a real effort to be attentive. She said to me, "It is good?" I said, "Yes, very good, and she smiled sweetly. "Then I make good recommend?" I smiled right back. "Yes you did."

They serve chinese food as well, and I got a fortune cookie with the check.

I opened it and it said, "Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do. Skill is knowing how to do the right thing. Virtue is doing the right thing." That was a good fortune, I thought.

It was a happy lunch, just me, celebrating myself, and when I left I took my good fortune with me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shifting

I chose to work second shift, because that was the shift that Tim was on. We've always been on opposite shifts, and for some reason, this has become increasingly difficult for me. So I worked second shift, and we had one blessed week with lots of time together. We were working on projects together, and spending time together, and...well...it was pretty darn nice. Then Tim's bid for another second shift job was accepted. He began training on day shift, first shift. Just Friday, he found out that the day shift fellow who is training him has taken a third shift job, which means the first shift job is open. They told Tim that if he bid on it, he would get it, (seniority-wise, experience-wise).

He has worked second shift for years now, and soundly hates it.

It might be years before he ever gets this chance again.

He gets up for work at 4:45, leaves the house at 5:30. I go back to bed for a little nap. I get up about nine. I leave for work at 1:15. He comes home to an empty house and a prepared supper which he needs to microwave or fish something out of the crock pot, or something. I get home about 10:30. He's sound asleep by then.

Our new schedule is a lot like our old schedule. Just backwards.

Will this ever end?!!!

You know, when you have a non-verbal client burst forth with great big huge belly laughs, it is a truly blessed moment. For that one period of time, you know for sure what they are feeling. The other times you are only guessing. It is a great feeling to be a part of that. Such a great feeling, and I am very fortunate to do the work that I do.





Monday, June 4, 2012

Joy

The unbloggable has taken over the bloggable in my life right now. That does not mean that I have nothing to say. Quite a lot actually.

Here's a snapshot for you: One of the men I work with has a vacant look. He is nonverbal, and he rocks, gazing at nothing with a sweet look on his face. But he understands that his mother is coming for a visit, and he smiles when we remind him of this. I studied him thinking, "On some level, there is an ability to understand..." so I began to speak to him, to get close to his face, to repeat his name, to smile at him.

I saw his eyes focus. There was a look ~ astonishment? ~ and very slowly, his hand reached up, hesitated...and then he touched my face. And he smiled.

My heart nearly burst with the joy of that small and perfect moment.