Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shoes

You know, I shop in Goodwill a lot. I saw an adorable pair of clogs. Brown. I always wanted a pair of adorable clogs. I picked them up and saw that there were no signs of wear on the soles. These looked like brand new shoes. Did I mention that they were adorable?

So I bought them, and I was feeling like a very fortunate woman indeed.

Then I came home and put them on, and it was like my feet had died and been sent to hell.

 I've decided that I need to go shopping with other people. I need someone who can see past the whole "ooooh...clogs!...I like clogs..." People who will say things like, "Well, yes, moron, but did ya ever stop to wonder why an adorable pair of shoes like that would wind up in a Goodwill? Did you ever stop to wonder about why an adorable pair of shoes would show no sign of wear? Did you ever stop to wonder if, maybe, just MAYBE, these might turn out to be the most deucedly uncomfortable shoes known to all mankind?"

I need someone who will say, "Hold on a minute right there, sistah! Sit down and try those shoes on. You NEVER buy shoes without trying them on." I do know this little factoid, but sometimes, when shoes are speaking to me, I forget about it. This brings me to another important point: My shopping friend will have to speak louder than shoes.

I cannot tell you how many times I fallen under the spell of a pair of purty shoes simply because they look brand new. I just never seem to learn.





Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sound of Silence

It has been a busy time. I'm doing the last minute cramming for my test. (3 days away, but who's counting?) I've reached the point where I've stopped being anxious about it and am just wanting it done. Big things always tend to devolve to that. I find myself wearily looking at the thing close up and thinking, 'No matter what, at the end of the day, this will be behind me, and I'll be glad for that.'

In the midst of all of this, I've been helping Cara move, which was useful, because it gave me the fodder for my next column which I was able to sit down and tap out in an evening. I was feeling pretty good about it, and went to close it out, and somehow managed to click on 'don't save changes,' and lost the whole thing. It was the groan heard round the world. I wrote it again, while it was still fresh in my mind, and wound up staying up later than I wanted to.

You know, we've been having some wicked storms lately. Lots of tree damage. On the way to Cara's, I saw a mobile home that had three large trees fall on it. That's a bad day, there, when three trees fall on your home. We've been lucky. We have two very massive trees in our back yard that we've been contemplating. They keep the entire yard very dark, but they are ancient and huge, and they will cost a fortune to take down. Still, in violent weather, when they are thrashing and limbs are dropping off (one landed, like a spear into the ground, and stood there at attention) we find ourselves thinking once again, "What on earth should we do about those trees?"

Coming home from Cara's, travelling due north through the center of Pennsylvania, the mountains go on and on until they turn into nothing more than the very distant blue hint of mountains extending on into infinity. It was breathtakingly beautiful to watch the far away storms from that perspective, giant jagged streaks of lightning shooting straight down into those blue mountain shadows. All around me, wherever I looked, I could see dark dramatic clouds and far off lightning. I loved that trip home.

It got me to thinking about how I love to sit in my quiet house and listen to the rain trickling in the eave spouting, the hiss of a hard rain on the pavement. The rumbles of thunder. The sound of the wind. I haven't had a radio in the car for some time now, and in the quiet, I have rediscovered the joy of small sounds. I have discovered the joy of listening, and hearing. That pleasure has extended outside my car, and into my home. I rarely turn on the television or the radio, preferring instead to hear the small sounds that have always been there, but somehow managed to get lost in the noise.

The Amish regularly go by with their clip clopping horses and the rattle of wagon wheels, and I like that. It gives you a moment where you feel as if you shut your eyes, you might open them and discover yourself in another time.

I like the sound of train whistles in the night. They give you a moment where you feel as if you shut your eyes, you might open them to discover yourself in another place.

I like to lay in bed and hear the church bells downtown chime the hours through the open window even as my own clock in the hall chimes the hours as well. I must admit that happy synchronicity happens infrequently, because my clock has the habit of rushing on ahead, and I'm always slowing it down. Usually, my clock in the hall chimes, and then a couple minutes later, the church bells sonorously intone their correction.

I like the ticking of clocks. I don't know why. I always have loved that sound even as a young girl. Maybe that's the pleasure in it, the memory of other clocks in other places in other times. I have the keywound in the hall, but I also have a small key wound alarm clock in the bathroom. I lose track of time easily being a daydreamer, so I need a clock there, but I like getting ready for work with the ticking in the background, soothing me but keeping me mindful of the time as well.

I like the sound of windchimes. I have a giant set of them that sound like churchbells. I have hung them on the back porch where the wind doesn't stir them much, just enough to make them whisper to themselves, so that they sound like the echo of distant church bells.

I found a small odd box at the Goodwill. I was intrigued with it. It has a magnet in the top of it, and it is filled with steel bb's. You turn the box upside down, and the bb's stick to the magnet. When you set it down, one by one, the bb's drop onto some horizontal tubing and makes the tiniest chiming noise you ever heard. It took me a time to figure out its purpose, but when I did, I was plainly delighted with it, standing there with a silly smile on my face as I listened to it in the crowded store. I could not wait to show everyone at home, and for a buck ninety-nine, it seemed like an affordable luxury. (For the record, everyone at home looked at me as if I were foolish.)

It IS a foolish post, I know, but I was listening to the quiet, and I wanted to capture it, what it sounded like to be me in my place, in my time.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Storm

Yesterday, we had a string of violent weather. I was in a class and the lightning struck so close it looked as if it struck in the parking lot. Driving home, I could see that the wind had done a lot of damage.

I got home and Cara was wild eyed. She got her new (to her) car the day Wednesday evening. She's very proud of it. Power everthing, and a working air conditioner and CD player. Plus it is shiiiiiiiiii-ny.  She decided that she did not want to pull it in our driveway, afraid that the little hump where the side walk is might cause her to scrape bottom a little, so it was along the street in front of our house when the storm hit.

Much to Cara's horror, a large branch fell from one of the big trees across the street on to a car, which sent Cara running hell bent for leather in the bucketing down rain screaming a little to move her car which was opposite the downed limb. The streets were flooded, so she drove it to the parking garage, where she parked it next to the two nicest cars she could find, a guarantee of sorts, since bad things do not happen to the well to do. She then ran the 10 blocks back home to make sure the house was secure.

The power had gone out, and a window had blown in, but did not break, oddly enough. The basement was flooded, but we know that this will continue to be a problem until we get the new roof and rain gutters on this month. Cara did not know this little factoid and was quite upset.

All's well that ends well. No damage to the house, and her little blue car is just as perfect as it was when the storm began. Plus it was a perfect excuse to go out to dinner, grabbing the neighbor kid as we headed out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Irony

Just kind of strange that days after I wrote that last post, we find that one of our boys is trying to find a new apartment for his girlfriend. She liked her old apartment well enough, but they came home from the races to discover that the landlord (who lives downstairs from them) had shot his wife, who was lifeflighted out of town to a big medical center.

Makes the fact that yesterday I witnessed what was almost certainly a drug deal happen right in the kiddy playground seem like nothing.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fearmongering

That whole shooting in Aurora Colorado was just awful, wasn't it? Some folks went to a midnight 'Batman' premiere, and somehow, 12 people end up dead. 58 wounded.

The shooter was a gifted science student who inexplicably dropped out of college. He'd been planning the whole thing for months, ordering ammo and explosives from the internet, stockpiling, purchasing weapons.

I don't get it. Like a great many other things that happen in this world, I don't get this. How can someone do such a thing. But he did, and now there are grieving families, and traumatized victims, and funerals being planned, lives changed simply because a group of innocent people decided to go to a movie.

The horror of this man's actions cannot be ignored. It's talked about endlessly, everywhere. The television. The radio. The internet. The newspaper. Magazines. No escaping it. This terrible awful thing happened. No matter how much reporting is done, though, the one thing that will never change is this: I don't get it. I don't understand his actions, his thinking. I don't understand why he did what he did. I don't understand what he thought his actions were going to achieve.

But here's something else I don't get. I don't get the mindset of people who live half a country away from this, breathlessly following every new update while mournfully pronouncing "It's not even safe to go to the movies anymore," as their little audience clucks and agrees about how dangerous our world is.

What the hell?!!!

The fact of the matter is this: This is not everyday life for most of America, thank God. It IS safe to go to the movies. Just that one awful day, in that one awful theater, something awful did happen, and believe you me, my heart breaks for those people and their families. But I don't understand people who are so quick to take a catastrophe and make it their own, to personalize it, to turn it into their own life changing event. That's just craziness, idle talk of the over dramatic.

I just have no patience for people like this. We are perfectly capable of realistically watching the news, and accurately assessing a tragedy like that as a terrible thing that happened, something that is not likely to happen on a regular basis, but a truly horrific event for those involved. We might decide to do something to help those people. We can avoid fearmongering. We are intelligent people, aren't we?

Aren't we?

*crickets*

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cents and Sensibility

Sometimes, people will say things in a comment that set me to thinking, and Laura Jane did it this time. She said, "One day you will overcome your thrifty self and spend a few dimes more on that kind of soap, and lather up in memory of your mom." I spent the day pondering my thrifty self. Is there such a thing as being too thrifty?

I'm a very practical person. I grew up in a family where self-indulgence was considered a shameful thing. I grew into a woman who did not have the opportunity to spend on herself. Money was very tight. The children came first. Now I am 55, and I am in a strange place. I am at a place in my life where Tim and I are comfortable. We do not have to worry about every dime. We don't worry about every dime. At work the other day, I listened to a woman explain that she works because she needs the paycheck, and for the first time, I realized that is not the reason that I work. It was quite a moment.

Tim and I are not rich, not by any means, but we are comfortable. The reason that we are comfortable is due, in part, to the fact that we have been very careful stewards of whatever money we had. We were careful in our spending. We don't buy new, for the most part. That has been the backbone of our financial success, and it never ceases to amaze me what people sell. They sell a perfectly good couch because they are going with a different look. Or they rip out a perfectly good kitchen because they want  a new kitchen. They upgrade their cars when the cars are in perfectly good shape. And yes. When one bath soap is 20 cents cheaper than another, I buy the other soap.

Being thrifty can be a bad thing, I suppose, but I really do have a good time with it. I stop into the op shop a couple times a week just to see what they have. I may not buy anything, but sometimes, I find quite remarkable things that are just what I needed.

One of the things that I've been needing for some time is a cushion set for my wicker furniture. (Yes, it is the same black painted wicker furniture that was sitting in a yard with a free sign). I've been loathe to spend $50 on cushioning, and so I haven't. But I went into the Goodwill and was shocked to smitherines to discover just what I needed, a settee cushion and matching chair cushion.  I have never seen such a thing in that store before, but there it was. For a total of less than $4. I got what I'd been looking for right along. I love the thrill of discoveries like that, and it was fun to find accessories to match the cushions because they were not the color that I'd been looking for, and that required a few changes. Because I'd only spent four dollars, I felt entitled to spend the extra for the accessories. Total price of that entire little reading nook? About $35, including the white 5 x 7 rug, the wicker furniture, the cushions, and the white paint we sprayed that old furniture with. I already had most of the pictures for the wall, and a friend, knowing that it was meant to be a quiet place to read to small children gave me another picture of a small boy in a big chair sitting in a large open room engrossed in a book. It was the perfect final touch. I love that little space.

I'm assembling the other rooms like that too, seeing things that will fit. The guest room upstairs is slowly coming together, each purchase bringing it closer to completion. Tim's 'man cave' is done, with the exception of maybe a buffalo skin rug for the floor. We're still good naturedly arguing on that point. He's excited about his buffalo head, and he wants the rest of him on the floor. Me? I think they're ugly, and can you even vacuum a buffalo hide?

We've had a fun time, filling the house with things that we have searched out and bought carefully. Tim's as involved in this process as I am, and it tickles me because I never would have guessed that he was like this. He is though. I realized it when he painted the kitchen three times until it was just the color he wanted. The lines of a antique chair will draw him, and he will be the one who nudges and cannot bring himself to leave it behind, especially if the price is right.

Because we are careful, it allows us to be very generous with the kids on holidays, and we are. It allows us to help others, and we do. It allows us to go out to dinner once a week now. It allows us to plan for a trip to Australia. It allows me to buy the expensive soap, if I want it. Sometimes I do want the expensive soap, and I will buy it.

I guess that I look at it like this...if I have always had those things, it would not feel as remarkable to have them now. I would not be 55 and thinking myself the luckiest woman on the face of this planet. I would not marvel at my good fortune each and every time that I walk in the door of my house. I would not do my job for the pure satisfaction of it. If I used lavendar soap each and every day of my life, it would become ordinary and unremarkable.

Cara came home yesterday for a few hours. She's just gotten her first 'very own' apartment, a studio. She's very careful about what she wants. Tim and I are giving her a desk for graduation, and she knows exactly what she wants. As soon as she actually finds one that meets her exacting standards, we will buy it for her. But we went out and did some shopping. Bought some rugs. A toothbrush holder. Got more ideas than stuff, actually. It was a fun afternoon.

As she was leaving to head back, she went to drop something in the garbage. "What's THIS?!!!" she exclaimed. "It's a one dollar coupon for toilet paper! THE GOOD TOILET PAPER!!" She was getting louder as she fished it out. "Gees, you people get your fancy house, and your fancy stuff, and suddenly you're throwing away dollars in the trash can!" It made me laugh.

Thriftiness is a tool, one that has opened doors to things that I never would have dreamed possible. I suppose that it can be overdone, as Laura Jane pointed out. Thriftiness could suck the pleasure right out of life, but after thinking it through, I realized that I never have truely deprived myself. Sometimes I defer my small pleasures, but in the end, I lead a very pleasant life.


Note for Local Readers

According to the buzz on my facebook, the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to come and picket a military funeral here in Warren. This is unverified, since the funeral is not listed on their website, but I think that it is important to be there if you can, so that if they do show up, there is a solid wall of people between their hateful signs and the soldier's family and friends.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soap

I studied and then I headed into the bathroom to take a shower. I reached into the shower, and got the water running. I was about to highstep into the clawfoot tub when I realized that I needed another bar of soap.

When I went through the things at my mother's house last month, I took her soap. Sounds funny, doesn't it? It was a brand I like, but when I buy it for myself, it is generally something I do to treat myself. It's more expensive then the soap I usually buy. She had bought a six bar package of it. Two bars were missing. Impulsively, I took the package with the remaining four bars of soap.

I've been using that soap, and I've been thinking of my mother. Today, when I realized that I needed to grab soap, I stepped back from that tub and reached for the shelf. When I grabbed that package of soap from the bin, I realized that there was one bar left. One.

I stood holding it as the bathroom steamed up. I thought, "Mom bought this soap never dreaming that she would not live to use it up." For some reason, that made me sad. I threw away the plastic wrapping that the six bars of soap came in, but I put the box with the last bar of soap back in the bin. I grabbed a bar of aloe soap, highstepped over the clawfoot tub, and took my shower.

I don't know if I can bring myself to use that last bar of soap. And for the life of me, I don't know why.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Friends.


Mary and Danny came to visit, and we drafted Danny to help us wrassle the buffalo head to the wall. The poor thing had been lying on a reload table that had been hauled into the library for that very purpose. It's been what? Three months now? and the reload table was showing every sign of becoming a permanent part of the decor.

So Mary and Danny stopped by to return the cell phone that I'd accidently left behind at their house when I went to spend the day with Mary. I did not leave that phone there for the purpose of getting them to our house so that Danny could help wrassle a buffalo head to the wall, but it's pretty cool actually when things work out, isn't it?

Mary and Danny are both hunters and have a home filled with taxidermied things. Mary was anxious for Danny to see the buffalo, because she thinks that it is pretty cool herself, and that gave us the perfect segueway. "Danny!!! Old friend!!! You can help us hang a buffalo!!!" Danny is always up for the chance to do something he's never done before, and lucky for us, he'd never hung a buffalo, so he was enthusiastic. Kind of rare when you draft someone to help you and they're enthusiastic too. It's pretty cool when things work out, isn't it?

In any case, we heave'd and we ho'd and Mary had to take a miss on all the entertainment being on postsurgical restrictions. She sat on the couch and supervised, and the buffalo was slowly moved into place.

It's been quite an ordeal because the darn thing is so heavy. The buffalo was hung before, and quickly unhung because it was evident that the hook was not sturdy enough. Tim then created his own hook out of rebar and reinforced that. He did some work on the actual back of the mount, where the blacksmithed metal hanger had given way.

This time, the buffalo went up, and (miracles of miracles) he stayed there. We stood gazing at him, holding our collective breath a bit, but he showed no signs of wandering off. We heard no ominous sounds that the wall was about to give way. Emboldened, Danny reached up and plucked the curtain valance off his horn.

Tim said, "I did that wrong." I said, "What?!!!" Tim said, "Well, I centered the hook on the wall. I should have put the whole thing about a half foot to the right to account for the curtains. Long pause. Nobody said anything. We knew he was right, but the idea of wrassling that buffalo back down off the wall was a bit more than any of us was willing to think on at the moment.

I also knew that if that head came down, it would be placed back on the reload table, and it would sit there for another several months, because Tim would have to remove his homemade hook, with all the reinforcement. He would have to patch the damage to the wall. He would have to paint the wall. He would have to reinstall the hook. He's a busy man, and I hate to nag him because I know how hard he works, but still. Oh...still!...I was darn sick of that table.

In the end, he decided that we would leave it that way. For now. That's the way he puts things. "For now." It leaves his options open.

We trooped back to the kitchen and had cold drinks. Danny was entertaining Tim with a story about how he had a groundhog in his yard, and they've been doing quite a bit of damage to the garden, so he got excited, grabbed a 30.06 shell and a gun and went flying out the back door, loading as he went. Unfortunately, in his excitement, he'd grabbed his bear gun. He pulled the trigger and the shell exploded inside the gun, spraying his face with debris. He's really quite lucky to be telling the story with two eyes. He also got a dandy souvenier out of it: the shell casing with a jagged tear about 1/3 of its length.

Mary wanted to see the gravy boat that I'd gotten, and I pulled a chair to the cupboard to reach it down from the top to take over to the table. She examined it, and Danny looked over from his story. "That's a gravy boat?" I said, "Yes." He said, "And the gravy pours out its mouth?" Once again, I said, "Yes." He said, "Hmmm," and studied it before coming to the conclusion that it would be one heck of a lot more funny if gravy poured out the other end of the bugling elk. We about fell on the floor.

Danny and Mary came to visit. I got my cell phone back.  We also ended up with a live version of Comedy Central in the kitchen and a well hung buffalo in the library.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today

I've been stressing a little over this upcoming certification exam...coming up August 2nd. I'm studying for it, but I am tired of studying too. I want to do other stuff, *whine* but I've spent too much money for to get signed up for this test to not take it. At work, I need to take a med-passing course that will allow me to work without direct supervision. Originally, this was planned for mid-August, but suddenly, they wanted it done ASAP. They need me to have that certification to move into my next postion, and now, I'm taking this course next week. NEXT WEEK! Before my big test, not after. There's pre-requisites, everything's top priority. (*pant, pant, puff*) Suddenly, everything is about books and studying, and...well...ACK!~ Just ACK!

This morning I got up stressing about the deadline on a column. No real ideas on what to write about, just a few half thought through notions. There on the front page of the paper was my inspiration. I sat down and wrote that column out in one hour. I believe that it was a record for me.

Unexpectedly, I received the message that a sale for a Lane cedar chest had fallen through. I'd put my name in line for the item, but never figured that I would get it. I leapt into the shower and left the house with wet hair. I got it. For $20, believe it or not.

I got home and sat down to study for my allotted two hours.

It's all the time that I had. I have to head out to meet a lady. I'd made another on line purchase earlier in the week. Two of the coolest antique chairs that I'd ever seen. $10 ea/$20 for the matched pair. I already know where I want to put them.

I'm working hard, but all that stress and pressure I felt has eased back from this morning. What I feel, instead, is...well...productive.

Two other exciting notes. The buffalo head is finally hung, and my library is put back to rights.

I have begun taking pictures of the house, in full light. Unfortunately, right this minute, I don't have time to assemble them into a post. You've all been so patient...I hope you will give me two more weeks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fireworks.

Our county contains a number of small towns. Some of those towns have a great civic pride, and their people work very hard to promote the place that they live.

Tim's a preacher's son, and when he was growing up, the church moved the ministers every couple of years, so Tim has lived around the western part of Pennsylvania, but the place that he calls home is the last place he lived as a boy. Sheffield is about 20 minutes from us, and it is one of those towns whose citizens are very proud to live where they live. It is a small town, and they graduate maybe 40 kids from their highschool every year. It is a place where people seem to have lived for years.

One of the biggest events that they do is a benefit for the fireman. This thing has grown through the years getting bigger and bigger every year. The culmination of this benefit is a fireworks display that knocks the socks off of anything that I have ever seen in my life. We live in Warren, and they have a good July 4th display, but this show goes well beyond that.

Tim and I rarely miss this, and this year we got there a bit later than usual. We still had time to sit on our blanket and people watch.

I watched a rough looking tattooed biker guy carrying a huge ice cream in the semidark, his head turning this way and that in a confused way. He seemed to get his bearings, and strode off purposefully, his long hair flying behind him, to give that cone to a hugely pregnant woman sitting uncomfortably in a lawn chair. She smiled at him as she took it, and he knelt in front of her as she ate it, and they talked, and there was no one else there.

I saw two men, Native American, probably brothers, sitting by each other, and they talked non-stop. I watched their long pony tails swish back and forth as their heads inclined to each other again and again. Never knew that men had so much to talk about.

I saw an old bearded fellow asleep on a blanket, and his wife sat patiently, cross legged on the blanket. He woke up when the fireworks started, and their teenage boy came, and the three of them sat close.

I saw a woman who used to come into the Tractor Supply all the time. She'd come in a hour before we closed, and then proceed to try on every John Deere tee-shirt we had, asking our opinion on how she looked, how it fit her. We'd have to tell her, every single visit, "We closed 15 minutes ago..." and every single visit she'd answer..."Oh. I did not know you closed at 8," and then head to the register, taking her time, stopping to peruse the items on the promo table on her way. She sailed past carrying a blanket, with a man that I also saw regularly at the store, although I never saw the two of them together. He was carrying two lawn chairs and struggling a bit in the dark, stumbling. She stopped and looked back at him, and under her white cowboy hat, I could see that she was not happy. Her tone was sharp although I could not hear the words.

Small children cried in frustration, tired from a long day of carnival rides, up past their bedtimes.

Big children ran through the crowd. They'd taken two or three of those glow in the dark necklaces and linked them together to make great big glow in the dark hoops that they were throwing like frisbees, trying to 'ring' each other.

There was the fireworks display, and once again, it was the best display I'd ever seen, once again surpassing the fireworks display that I'd seen the year before. The crowd applauded and whistled and cheered their appreciation.

When it was done, Tim and I walked back to our car hand in hand so as not to lose each other in the crowd, and we watched a fellow on a motorized mobility scooter for the handicapped. He darted in and out of the heavy traffic. He had no lights, although Tim said he saw some small flash lights on the front. He managed to not get himself hit (we'd have read about it in the paper.)

Around us, up in the mountains and in town too, illegal fireworks continued to go off sporatically. People knew that the police were too preoccupied with traffic control right that very minute to do anything about them, and so they took full advantage.

The crowd began to thin out the farther we got from the fireworks site, and by the time we reached our car, we could, once again, notice the friendly flickering of the fireflies in the tall grass.

We did not get home until after midnight, and when I got up to go to work less than five hours later, I was a tired puppy. But it was totally worth it.




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doubting Debby

I've been studying for the certification test. Two hours a day is what I try to stick to. I've been using a manual. It has 300 practice questions. I answer the questions, and if my answer is wrong, I look the topic up in one of my text books, and I summarize vitually everything about the topic. It is a time of memorizing the Rancho Los Alamos scale, the spinal cord injury information, what damage happens at what level, manual muscle testing scale. It is reading and writing about the complications of diabetes and cerebral palsy. What part of the brain controls what. Every day I open those books, and I get a little sickish, because there is so much in there. I am familiar with it, but how familiar do I have to be? Most astonishingly, I find references to things that I must have studied, but don't remember at all.

I will be taking the test on August 2nd. We are given five hours to finish it. I have paid $500. to take this exam, and if I fail it, I'll have to wait 45 days, and then give them another $500. I wasn't too worried about it until I heard that a friend had failed it. Ack! My heart dropped, because really, of all the people in the class, I figured she'd be one of the ones who sailed on through it. Immediately, my brain went into "Oh MY GOD!!!! I'm gonna fail this test, and I will be working my hind end off for nothing, and I'll have to tell Tim that I need to take $500 MORE and then..."

I went up and spent the day with a friend who'd just had surgery. She was my scrabble partner during those dark cancer days. We spent a lot of time together then, and this was my chance to pay her back, at least in part. So we were playing scrabble and talking about God, and about our lives, and our husbands and our kids. We were talking about feelings. I told her about my test anxiety.

She looked across the table at me and she said, "You always do that." ("Do what?") and she said, "You always look at big thing and you say, 'I'm going to fail,' but you never do, and you're not going to fail this."

I studied her. "Really?" You see, my friend knows me better than anyone on this planet, even Tim, because believe you me, Tim does not want to talk about feeeeeeeeeelings. Her husband's the same way, really. We are each other's confidant, and we have been so since we were 12 years old. Now we are 55. She smiled at my own doubt.

Yesterday, I was studying, away, and I found myself feeling a little hopeful. Superstitiously, I thought, "Don't get over-confident," and tucked that away. I wonder sometimes if my own doubts are the key to my own success?

Oh, and although it means nothing, I beat my friend at scrabble that day, big time. I even had a seven letter word that fell on a triple word. She said to me, "You wouldn't beat someone who felt like I do, would you?" I laughed and said, "Don't pull that on me, sistah! I remember getting my butt beat in the chemo chair for crying out loud!" And we laughed ourselves stupid. Because we could.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Decongesting and Domesticity

I'm studying for my certification exam for occupational therapy. I also have (yet again!) another stuffy nose/sinus headache going on. Three times since I started this job. I have decided that it cannot be a cold. Tim never 'catches' it. It must be allergies. So I have begun taking allergy medicine. I have become one with my neti pot. Which does not seem to be helping, at least not yet, although on the upside, I have not died from a fatal brain infection, which would make it harder to study for the certification exam, I imagine.

In any case, I've been wandering about the house trying to figure out what could be the cause of all this. Am I allergic to our house? Am I allergic to something on my job site? The majority of my co-workers are smokers, so it might be that. I don't know, but I'd sure like to find an effective way to get rid of these symptoms.

Tuesday, I went to sit with my friend. She just had surgery, and was having a rough time. I cooked a turkey for them, with lemon and rosemary, something that they could pick at and have plenty of left overs from. She felt it was too much meat for the two of them, so I came home with part of the meat, and the carcass, which she did not want.

She did not want it! That amazed me. You can make excellent broth from a turkey carcass, and so to that end, I dropped it in the crockpot, and let it simmer. The very picture of domesticity, hey?

Rushing about, I managed to pour the hot broth into a freezer container. I then managed to drop the hot broth while moving the container to the freezer, which meant that I also had to manage to give the kitchen a thorough cleaning. Definately not on my list of things to do that day, but I did it anyways.

Kudos to me and my thrifty nature. *rolls eyes*

On that sarcastic note, I'd best drag my snotty self back to my books.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Conundrum

It is hard working with young girls, because they are a clique. Because their relationship to one another is far more important than clients. Because their lives are so very dramatic. Because it is all about being cool. Cool clothing. Cool haircuts. Cool shoes. Because they are so very excitable. Because once one is agitated, they all are agitated.

I am 55 years old, and I. Am. Simply. Too. OLD. For. This.

My hair is not cool. It is growing out, and for me that is a very life affirming decision. It means that I have stopped being so fearful of cancer's return that I, once again, have long hair. Well. By 'long' I mean longish. It's getting there. It is at that awkward stage, so I keep it pinned up, mostly, and stray wisps escape because it is not THAT long yet.

My shoes are not cool either. My shoes are comfortable. I need comfort. I am walking daily, walking LOTS, actually, getting my 10,000 steps in with no additional effort required. I walk to town. I walk virtually where ever I need to go. I don't use my car for much more than to get to work and back. It would have never entered my mind that I'd be able to do this. Last winter at the Tractor Supply, I was in agony at the end of a shift. Now I'm walking all over the place. I'm pretty amazed.

I dress to be able to move and to bend, and to work. Jeans and a teeshirt are apparently not all that cool.

My life is quiet. Tim and I don't have arguments to disect at work. I wouldn't anyway. Who knew THAT was not cool?

Last night, a client came to me and said, "Go for walk?" I was speaking to someone else, and held my hand out to him, but he reached for my chin, and he turned my face towards him. "Go for walk?" Yes. We went for a walk. Our second one of the night. I think that the fact that he is communicating with people is cool.

Later I was rubbing lotion on the arms of another client. They say that he has the IQ of a nine month old baby. He screams. A lot. But I have discovered a lot about him. One thing is that he loves the sensation of lotion on his hands. That amazes him, seems like, the way that my fingers slip around in his hands as he tries to grab them. He quiets. Last night, after his shower (which also quiets him down), I began to rub lotion on his hands. Then experimentally, I began to rub the lotion on his arms. He holds his arms out, sitting quietly in his chair. I notice that he is looking at me. Square in my face. He studies me, and his gaze does not waver. He is following one step commands: "Your OTHER hand" and "Lift your foot, please". Encouraged by that, I begin to rub lotion into his legs. He likes that as well, and he vocalizes. It is not a yell, but something quieter, calmer, and it almost seems like it would have a question mark after it if you tried to write it. One of his goals is to get him to look you in the eye for five seconds. Our gaze locked steadily for several minutes. It was a powerful moment. I thought it was very cool.

One of the girls walked in. "You pamper him." It was an accusation. I have been accused of making him worse, that because I 'spoil' him, he yells louder. I just keep on doing what I am doing. I've countered this talk before with the undeniable fact that he's been yelling long before I got here. I've tried to reason with them, pointing out that when they leave him just sitting, screaming, it only makes matters worse, that he CAN be redirected, with a walk, or with motion, or by being placed in a bean bag chair. Other shifts have made suggestions to stop the yelling as well, good ideas. Our girls simply don't. WON'T. It's frustrating to me, because I am old, and I don't have the patience for a lot of unnecessary noise.

It's a conundrum, isn't it? That I should be so fond of what I'm doing, yet struggle so much with the issue of co-workers. It makes me feel like a difficult person, a misfit. Yet, I wouldn't change it, because in the end, the ability to bond with, and to reach a client will be the thing that makes me great at what I do.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Great Day

Our company has left, and our house is once again quiet. Tim is free to roam about the house in his tighty whities without fear of embarrassment. It was a fun time, though, having a housefull.

The Fourth of July holiday is over and done with. I will tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell anyone. I am not a big fan of parades. I mean, the first hour is not bad, but our town's parade can go on for a couple hours, and once it was nearly three hours long. I pretty much had to go to the parades because Cara was in the marching band, but now that she's grown up, well, I could happily take a miss on the whole darn thing.

But Tim likes the parade and he'd happily sit there for a day, watching the parade and talking to people. (He used to be quiet. He's not so quiet these days. I think I fixed him.)

But, I digress.

Because he loves the parade, I go. This year's parade was AWESOME. Best parade ever. I run the risk of making local people mad at me, but the parade started, and we waited for it to reach us.

 I said, "Man, that sky looks dark."

However, Tim had it on good authority (weather.com) that it was not supposed to rain until later in the day. "No. It's not going to rain," saith the man, with great confidence.
We watched the veterans march by. My friend Pauline said, "We're veterans. We need to be up there." And I said, "Um. What? No." But she's a bit of a free spirit. So off she went to march in the parade.

I envy her a little, her spontanaity, but still, I felt like it was important for someone to stay and hold down the sidewalk. And watch the sky. Those two things.

Anyways, the firetrucks went by, and there ringing the bell on an antique one, was my friend Mr. R, in his Navy uniform. He's nearly 100 years old and I am going to his house for dinner next Tuesday.

Then came the marching band from Cara's high school. We clapped and cheered, but the sky looked pretty ominous. "I never saw a white line like that in the sky, have you?"  I asked to my husband.

I took note of his answer: "Gees. It's not supposed to rain." That did not sound so certain as his previous, "It's not going to rain."

I heard the bagpipers, my favorite part, and then suddenly, the sky just opened up. We ran. There was thunder and lightning, and the rain bucketed down. I ran home. I was soaked to the skin. The parade lasted about 20 minutes, which was just about the perfect length for me. I saw everything I wanted to see. Best parade ever! (This is probably the part that will make the locals mad.)


Anyways, these made me laugh like crazy.








Friday, July 6, 2012

Tim is embarrassed.

We have a house full of company at the moment...a friend from North Carolina is in with her four teenagers. It's been difficult for her to come home to visit with family, because her own family is so large, but we have the house for that, and so they come and stay with us, using our house for a launching pad, as they travel to visit her family members in the area.

Yesterday, they were out visiting family and saying good bye to relatives who came in for the Fourth of July festivities and were headed back for home.

Tim and I were busy too. A friend had surgery. Roofers were coming in to put a new roof on the old house up on the hill. Everyone was in and out. We just left the doors unlocked. I forget what a shock that is to city folks, but it works out well. The refrigerator is stocked, everyone just helps themselves, and the kids have their own bedrooms on the second and third floor.

In any case, after a night of hospital visits (we discovered another friend had broken her hip, so we made two visits), we went up to load up the old shingles to take to the dump. I ended up with ants in my pants, which is not nearly as funny as it sounds. I had to strip down and shake my pants out. They'd crawled up inside my pant legs, scores of them.

We came home after dark, and Pauline and her children were not home yet, so I went around upstairs insuring that windows were open and fans were running to bring the cool night air inside, and then we went to bed. I vaguely heard them come in, but was so tired that I dozed back off right away..

I woke up to see Tim's shocked face in front of me as he stood there in his underwear. "I didn't know Pauline came home last night. Her car is not in front of the house."

I lifted my head from the pillow, half awake.

"I went upstairs to turn the fans off," he said, mortified. "I opened her door and she was in bed."

"Was she awake?"

He sighed resignedly. "Yeeeeesssssss...."

I surveyed the state of his underwear and said, "Well, did she tell you that you really need to throw those out?"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Short and Sweet

A lot going on. Good things and bad things. A mixed bag, as always I guess.

A few snippets:

One of my clients is, for the most part, non-verbal. He does not respond except to swear, mostly, and I've felt right along that he does not understand what he is saying. Still, when he is assigned to me, I take him for a walk whenever he asks. He 'helps me' with the trash, closing the cupboard doors as I put away the dishes. I talk to him constantly, thanking him, praising him. I have noticed that he can dress himself without my assistance, and I tell him how proud I am of him. One of his goals is to interact more in a group setting, and that is a hard one, because he sits in his chair in the corner, and mumbles to himself, staring off into space. But yesterday, a cool thing happened. He helped me, and I told him how wonderful he was and he stopped, looked at me, and he gave me a quick and fleeting smile. It tickled me so much that I hugged him, and he stood like a tree. "Aw!" I said. "Give me a hug," and surprisingly, he did. I almost cried. Later, he came up to me and began to babble that he wanted to go for a walk. Never mind the fact that we'd been for a walk four times already. I looked at him, and he reached out to touch my arm and stare at my face intently. By God! He got his walk. I'm excited by this, because I believe the first step to taking part in group activities is the awareness that there are people outside himself.

Another snippet:

We were at an antique store. We seldom buy, truly, but it is always good to see what is there, because sometimes we do see things that we want. We were walking out of the mall where we'd gone to make a return, and I said to Tim, "Wanna stop in at The Attic?" and he said, "Sure." We blabbed to the owner as we usually do. She asked what we were looking for. I heard Tim say, "She has no idea what she's looking for." The woman disagreed, saying that she thought I knew exactly what I wanted. They were both half right. "In my defense," I called out from the back of the store, "I might not know exactly what I want, but when I see it, I know immediately that I want it. Take yesterday for example. I did not know that I wanted a cobalt blue bugling elk gravy boat until I saw it with my own eyes." And there you have it. The truth of the matter.

A sad snippet:

A beloved family member has been ill. His death has been predicted before, but he's always amazed us with his ability to bounce back. Still this last time, he's been pretty ill, and hospice has been called. We went to see him, and he's become skeletal, looking markedly different than he did in the Christmas photo right next to him. Tim took him a model of an antique engine, one that Tim recognized immediately. Uncle Herman has the same engine rebuilt and in his garage. It belonged to his father.

Uncle Herman's eyes grew distant as he thought of that engine out in his garage, how he'd rescued it from the dump, pulled it home, got it running again. He touched the wheels on the model, turning them slowly, lost in memories. When we left, I gave him a hug, and he hugged me strongly and said, "I love you," as he always does. He reached for Tim's hand and gave it a shake, and said, "Come back again, Timmy," calling my husband by his boyhood name. For some reason that made me tearful. It struck me that I may have received my last hug from him. By the time that we got to the car, I could not stop crying.

The one thing that I know is that an old adage has been disproved. I've often heard it said, "Only the good die young." That is some bullshit. Uncle Herman is 94, and he is one of the truly great people of this world. And I cry intermittently for the hour and a half home, hoping against hope, that he pulls another surprise comeback. Nothing would make me happier than that.

Interesting snippet.

I no longer go to our church. Our preacher is a Teapartier who believes Obama is a sign of the end times, predicted in Revelations. I get sick of hearing his philosophies. I did not come to church to hear his politics. I come to church to talk about God, and it seemed that when he made these statements, he was looking square at me, challenging me. I walked out the door, and told Tim that I was not going back. I felt bad, and it was a hard decision, but now that it is done, I don't regret it.

Yesterday, at church, Tim said he began to slam the president and democrats in general, and it happened. One of the leaders of our church interrupted, saying, "This is not the place for that," and two other people spoke up to back his comment. The pastor was very surprised, and according to Tim, apologized on the spot, and changed the subject. He later began his sermon with another apology. I'm proud of the people who spoke up in church. The only thing that would have made me happier would be if my husband had spoken up to add his support. I don't go to church now, but Tim still does, every Sunday, which leaves the unspoken idea that I'm the one who objects, not him. But all the same, it was very reassuring to see that I'm not the only one that is troubled by this stuff.