Friday, August 24, 2012

True friends.

How do you tell a true friend?

Well, today, I was helping the neighbor bust up concrete, and dig out for a new sidewalk...one that had extended onto our property line. As agreeable as Don is, I sure hated seeing him working so hard doing something that was, rightfully, our responsibility. So when I heard him out there this morning thunking away at the concrete, I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and a hat and headed out to give him a hand.

I managed to slop my coffee down the front of my tee shirt as I juggled two spades and my coffee. After a few hours, I'd worked up a healthy sweat. I was filthy. It was at that point, we noticed bees coming out of the ground, so I decided to grab a can of bee spray from the local store.

A true friend is the one you meet up with when you are dirty and sweaty, no make up, with a coffee stain down your front, a ball cap covering your unwashed hair. A true friend, Lord love her, is still thrilled to see you.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

What We've Been Up To.

Today, there was a big fat packet in the mail box. It was the results of my recent certification exam, my certificate, my handy little card. A pin that says COTA.

I dreaded that test. I spent most of the summer being quite anxious about it.

I took it. I passed it. I got 513 points out of 600. Not great, but not horrible, I imagine.

It makes me laugh, a bit. Everyone chided me about my concerns, telling me that I would pass. I surely did not feel all that confident. Perhaps it is a fact: you know me better than I know myself.

Yesterday, Tim and I took a walk. We found a small Andes gas kitchen stove, old. I reckon from the 30s, although I have not yet found anything to verify that. Ceramic over steel, heavy as all get out. I said to Tim, "Isn't that adorable?" And he said, "It's interesting." I said, "I want that. All cleaned up, it would look cute in the second kitchen." Without hesitation, he said, "Well, let's go up and talk to the people." The contractor immediately said, "What are your plans for it?" I said, "A decoration for an old kitchen." He said, in a considering way, "What about the two cast iron sinks?" Tim said, "Where are those?" And we went to look at them...two high back old fashioned sinks, one for the bathroom, with all the hardware. The kitchen one had the cast iron drainboard. The contractor said, "If you take all of this, I'll give you the stove for free."

He's talking to scrappers. In effect, he paid us $20 to take the stove, since that's probably what those sinks will bring at the scrap yard. But who knows? We might just use the kitchen sink in the second kitchen. We went back for the truck, and loaded all that heavy stuff up. A young guy walking down the street ran across to give us a hand, bless his heart.

On the way home, we found an old floor lamp set out along side the street. I said, "We could use a floor lamp." Tim said, "We don't need one." I said, "Well, yeah, we do. We could use one between the two chairs in the library." So we stopped and put in in the back of the truck with everything else.  After supper, we went to Lowes and got a new socket, and a lampshade from the second hand store. Tim did some rewiring, and put the lamp where it belonged. He agreed that we did need a floor lamp after all, and we got a nice old one that cost a mere $7.00 to make workable.

I'm pretty lucky to have a husband who is not ashamed of me and my quirks.

I've been taking pictures like a crazy person, and when we get the good computer back, I'll finally have pictures of the house, as well as Bob the Buffalo. (Sorry, he just seems like a Bob to me...) I've gotten pictures of all the stupid little details that I love so much about our house. You've all been patient.

On a sad note, Uncle Herman has passed, the grand patriarch of the family breadmaking reunion. It was obvious that he was slipping away from us, and the last two times we visited, his eyes had a far away look, like he was seeing another time, other people. He shook Tim's hand when we last left and said, "You be good now, Timmy," and for some reason that brought tears to my eyes, to hear my 55 year old husband called by his boyhood name. I cried for some miles in the car. There is something about the passing of a good person, someone who has lived his 90 years being a Godly man, a bit of a rascal (he scandalized Aunt Anna's family by riding his motor cycle to pick her up when they were dating). He has the wooden propeller from his last plane. He wrecked it, and Aunt Anna wouldn't let him get another. He laughed like crazy when he told us that story. Uncle Herman was a Godly man with a wild hair. He was such an interesting charactor, and the family reunion will not be the same.

Uncle Herman is the latest in a string of family losses. We have lost three of our elders, all in their 90s, in the last three weeks. It is a sad time.

Well, I'm not getting anything done sitting here. I will head out to spray down that stove yet again (I'm peeling away years of grime, one layer at a time.) I'm also going to help the neighbor bust some concrete.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Update.

Oh, excitement abounds here...I bought a shoofly.

I also babysat a puppy for a morning, and discovered that while Cesar might be the dog whisperer, I, my friends, am a puppy pooper. After a morning of fun with me, Mary returned to her sweet puppy who fell sound asleep in her lap almost immediately, and slept for two solid hours, waking up to pee, and fall back asleep once again.

The FBI has been in contact. They've locked our computer, they say, due to the fact that we have indulged in pornography or illegal downloading. Once we pay the fine, they will unlock it, the official looking message says. They have directions on how to pay this fine. Tim had just heard about this virus on the radio, so he was earnestly trying to explain it to me. We've been married long enough for me to know that he is neither a pedophile or a zoophile (is that even a word, for the good Lord's sake?) and I know for a fact that there is no sense to illegally download music since I never did find my Ipod, well, I stopped him right away, and assured him that I had no doubts. Dan Ralston? Get ready. Me and my computer are headed your way...again.

In the meantime, I won't be able to comment on blogs, since a single comment becomes an exercise in patience (patience, it would appear that I do not have.)

Work continues to be a challenge, but there may be a light at the end of this tunnel. I simply gave up. The woman was so very angry that once I got my work done, I wearily decided that she was going to be mad at me if I continued to work. She would also be mad at me if I read a book. So I sat down and in between laundry loads, I read some Maya Angelou and tuned her out completely. I have had a private chat with personnel and our building manager, who assure me that this is being handled.

I continue to look for jobs.

It is surprisingly cool, and I stood shocked watching leaves spiral down from the big maple trees in the back yard. Autumn is just around the corner.

The seasons are changing, and it is a reminder to me that nothing stays the same. Last blog post I was crying about changes. This blog post, I am praying for them. Life's funny like that, innit?

It might be awhile till you see me lurking about your blogs again. The old computer is way slow. See you in the next week or so.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Deep down

We have such a nice house now. Not that we didn't before, but this one, well, it's really quite a remarkable home. The nicest home I've ever lived in.

We primarily live on the first floor, Tim and I, but upstairs, there is another bathroom, right next to Cara's room. We call that Cara's bathroom. It's a nice bathroom. She has a nice bedroom, with a fireplace. Right now it is full of stuff. Lots of stuff. For several years now, Cara's room has actually been sort of a drop-off zone, where things are left, things are taken. Stuff comes and goes.

She didn't come home much this summer. She was planning her move to Altoona, working. Earlier this month, I took her there. With, predictably, a load of stuff. Still lots of stuff remains, up there, upstairs in Cara's room.

Talking to her last night on the phone, I said something, I don't know. Can't remember, but Cara said, "Um. Mom. You do get it, right? You understand that I will never live at home again."

I don't know... I guess that I did know, deep down.

I guess that I hadn't really thought about it until she said it out loud.

Tonight, I went upstairs, to that lovely bathroom. Cara's bathroom, right there at the top of the stairs, and to the right, Cara's bedroom, all full of Cara's stuff.

We have a beautiful home, the sort of home that I wish that our children had the opportunity to grow up in. We have it now, and our children don't live here. They will never see it as home.

I don't know...I guess that I did know it, deep down.

Tonight I stood at the top of the stairs and I looked at the vast expanse of gleaming hardwood floor, and before I knew it, I was crying.

I don't know...I guess I knew that I would, deep down.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looked like a fool

So. I went to Lowe's to pick up six bags of mulch. They were heavy and wet from the rains that we've had, but I'm a strong gal, and so I threw them on the cart and headed for the register.

There was a woman in front of me with two carts of distressed plants, which are sold for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, the plants had to be hand rung, over riding the price on each and every one of the probably 30 plants that she had, so it took a while. The cashier apologized. The customer apologized.

No need, though, because I'd just been in the distressed plant section and I did not find any perennials. Plenty of annuals, but I don't do annuals. When I plant something, it needs to stay planted, and it needs to come up year after year. None of this planting the same plants year after year.

But I digress. Evidently, I'd gone through the distressed section after this woman because she had two carts of perennials, and I found none. When everyone was apologizing, I said, "Don't worry about it. I'm a patient person." I am. I have to be. Because if I'd have found those plants before that customer in front of me, well, it would have been me holding up the line.

So I waited, being all patient. I did find myself thinking, "Dang. I should have used the restroom." But I was next in line, and I couldn't just abandon the line. So I decided to just 'hold it'. At the self same moment the woman behind me said, "You're dripping."

That was a jolt, I'm telling you. I looked at her, startled, thinking, 'I can't be. I'd have noticed something like that, for goodness sake.' She was pointing. I looked down. Sure enough, there was an ever increasing puddle. From the wet mulch.

I started laughing. Makes you look like an fool, when you're laughing and can't tell someone why.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Choices



I've switched to night shift. The house manager asked me to train a young boy, acknowledging that the woman working with him on night shift is horribly impatient and she is afraid that they will lose the young boy. She feels that he has a good heart, and can become a good person to have on staff. I said yes. Mostly being tired of dealing with the immaturity of second shift.

Imagine my shock to go on nights and discover that the boy that I'm supposedly training has jumped ship to days, and I am now working with the horribly impatient woman on third shift.

She's awful. She swears constantly, and throws things. I'm kind of boggled that she gets away with this behavior, but she has. Mostly because there is no one else to fill her position, I reckon.

It's been interesting.

My first impression was that she was simply frustrated with the second shift people who simply do not do what they are supposed to do. Despite meeting after meeting, nothing changes. The attitude was summed up by their joy that I was leaving. There was fist pounding and the comment was made, to general hilarity, that it was 'their house, their rules.' That sums it up I guess, and telling them that it is NOT their house isn't going to solve anything.

I have been with the company for three months now, and at each of our monthly meetings, I've listened to my new partner blast second shift. Privately, I felt she was right, but the fact is, she was far more abrasive than she needed to be. Now that I am working with her, I see how it is: no one in the house can do things to her satisfaction.

I know that I am a hard worker. I take pride in this. I am a level headed person who has learned to measure her words. I'm kind of proud of that. I reported to my new shift, and I was not concerned. Except she has become bitterly angry that I do too much. I was flabberghasted by this. I work four 10 hour shifts, from 10 at night until 8:30 the next morning. I keep alert by keeping myself busy. There are plenty of things to do in a house, and so between patient care (which is far less at night), I keep the washer going, and the dryer going. I clean like hellzapopping. I was happy that the adjustment to third shift was easier than I anticipated.

Imagine my surprise when she threw a laundry basket and snarled, "This fucking bullshit ends tonight!" and stormed out of the room. I tried to reason with her, but she just refused to discuss it. It has steadily gone down hill. Lots of cursing and slamming, sarcasm, and unprofessionalism. I discussed this with management who readily acknowledges that she has a problem (she threw a walker at another coworker). They asked me to document.

It is an uncomfortable situation, being alone in a house with a woman who has no self control, and I am carefully documenting things. Everyone is assuring me that I am not the problem, but I certainly have one.

Yesterday, a boss called to check in. She was encouraging, and telling me to hang in there, that I am a great asset, etc. etc. It came to me clearly that what she was looking for was some sort of affirmation that I would not leave my job, and suddenly, it hit me. The truth of it came as a big shock.

For 55 years, I've been working at dead end jobs. I did them because I had no choice. I did them because I was a single parent with three children. I continued to do them to make ends meet when Tim and I married and suddenly were dealing with the expenses of a single household and five children. There were braces, and college educations. We both worked, and we worked hard, and we often worked more than one job. I had no choice but to deal with tough work environments because I had no skills.

I listened to my boss, and I realized what she wanted to hear, and suddenly it occured to me. Like a bolt out of the blue, I realized that I have a choice. I am working an entry level job for a crack at a professional job. I have also begun to apply for OT jobs. I listened to my manager, and I knew what she wanted me to say and suddenly it occured to me that I did not have to say it.

That is the value of education. You have a choice.

I did not say those words.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How do you spell relief?

I took my certification exam last week. The website went down yesterday to load the results. It did not come back up until sometime this morning.

I've was pretty confident when I walked out the door of the testing center, and I've never really been afraid, but I'm not a girl to count her chickens before they hatch. I passed the certification exam. I'm now a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.

*whew!*

I spell relief COTA.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lowe's

Well, last night I went to Lowes. My beloved had bought 3/8 x 6 in carriage bolts and discovered that he needed 3/8 x 8 in carriage bolts. We are (he is?) currently in the process of replacing the second story deck on the back of a house overlooking the river, so one can see that going to the store to exchange the bolts was vital to the success of this mission. (Yes. I watched 'Act of Valor'.)

Tim gave me a five and asked me to get a water for him. Off I went.

I walked into the store, and the little woman at the return desk took my receipt and there the trouble began. The receipt and the bolts did not match. She got out her little book and she began to mutter. Seems that my bolts were galvanized and the bolts that I'd been charged for weren't, and furthermore, they'd charged me for the wrong size bolts, so it appears that Tim got quite a bargain on the first set of bolts. Since he'd bought a bunch of other hardware, I'm pretty sure that he did not notice that he had saved about $1.50

She flipped through the book to show me the differences in the prices even as I stared thinking, 'Well, surely you are not going to pay me the higher price for the return, so what does any of this matter?' She said very briskly, "I'm not going to take these back at the higher price."

I said, mildly, "Well, I don't expect to receive any more than I spent," thinking 'My God! If I were pulling some sort of scam, I would have not come back in the door with my receipt.'

But she processed the rest of the return, handed me my $2.33.

I hied myself swiftly to carriage bolts (yes, I knew exactly where to go). Along the way I met a former coworker from Tractor Supply, one who'd left some months before me. He asked how my new job was going. "Good," I said. We talked about Tractor Supply a bit, the latest scuttlebutt, about the new assistant manager (the old one quit at the same time I did, and ironically works for the same employer I work for now.) I said, "Well, I enjoyed that job..." even as he said, "The whole company was founded on flawed principals, a corn pone idea that doesn't work in today's world." I gaped a little bit, I'm sure.

I walked away, thinking. Perhaps that's my problem, right there. Those corn pone ideals? The ones that don't work? Don't fit in today's world? The truth of it is this: I believe in them. I was raised to believe in them. They are at the core of who I am.

I walked to the register clutching my two carriage bolts and wondering about this all.

Luckily, I met a very funny cashier. She got out her little price book as we blabbed. She flipped to 'Galvanized Carriage Bolts' and I said, "These are 3/8 x 8." At about that moment, the returns woman happened by to say, "Make sure you're charging her for galvanized bolts...she was not charged for galvanized bolts the last time." The cashier said, "I am," pointing to the heading at the top of the page. I thought, "This woman thinks I am dishonest."

As she sped away, satisfied, the cashier and I continued our transaction. She was a talker, like me. She was funny, like me. Before it was over, we'd shared a good giggle about brooms, and about husbands, and all sorts of stuff that had nothing to do with the carriage bolts and the bottled water.

I walked across the parking lot feeling reassured that goodness and humor and hard work are not completely out of the picture. I got into my green truck and drove back home.

I answered Tim before he could ask. "That return took a bit longer than I thought, because those bolts were priced wrong. And then I ran into some people..."

He took a long pull on his water. After 15 years, he's just about used to me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sleepless

I've begun job hunting.

I didn't expect that, but what I am finding is that I am very interested in focusing on behavior modification. I do have that capability of moving into that eventually, but where I currently work needs people in my position and you have to stay in that position for six months after hiring on. I saw jobs posted in the field that I am interested in, but they require a year with the company.

Do I lock myself into a difficult position for one year? My knee jerk response was to do just that, but I realized this: we spent a lot of money to get me to this point. I'm currently working a job that requires a high school education. Nothing more. It is a low paying job, and staying in this job adds nothing to my resume that is not already there. I've done this kind of work for a great portion of my life in a wide variety of settings.

I am working nights now, and yesterday afternoon I woke up to go to the...well...I woke up. Never you  mind. But when I came back to bed, I tossed and turned, sleepless. I was making a decision. Bob commented a while back that I was doing 'God's work', and I agreed with him. I still do. The small moments when you 'break through to a client', when a nonverbal man stops screaming and looks you square in the eye, or when a man who sits in corner muttering to himself comes over to mutter to you, well, I wouldn't trade them for anything. I feel like I'm making a difference and that is all that I ever thought that I wanted to do.

I found myself torn between doing right by those clients, and doing right by myself. I lay awake feeling selfish and ashamed. If I'm doing God's work, then I should trust that I will wind up doing what I'm meant to be doing. On the same token, why in the world did I spent all that money if I can't bring myself to break away from what I know and use that degree?

I wrestled with that for several hours and came up with this: I will apply. I'll begin looking for jobs that are directly in my field working towards the direction I want to head with this career of mine. I'll see what doors open. I'll make a decision then.

But, man, do I feel guilty.

Behavior modification is what I'm interested in...and think that this creature of habit needs to look at modifying her own.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Nostalgia gum and other nonsense

On our big trip to Erie, I took my sister out for breakfast, to thank her. As we stood at the register, paying for our meal, I saw this.
Immediately, I thought of what an exciting thing this was back in the day. Gum that squirted. I loved this gum and chewed it all the time. I had no idea that it was still around, but there it was. I bought a pack immediately, and was excited about it.

I have the slightest quarrel about the whole thing. There was a big sign: "Nostalgia Gums." Beeman's is a nostalgia gum. And Teaberry gum. I mean my dad chewed those gums when he was a young man, and he's been gone for many years. But to stick Freshen Up gum there, I mean, well...I remember that. From my youth.

Which means that it sure as heck does not fall under 'nostalgia gum'.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wrong.

Well, as it turns out, I'll know pass or fail next Thursday, not today. My understanding was that you had the initial pass/fail the following day, although you would not know your actual score for a week. That information was incorrect, and I will find out the 8th or 9th. I'm just don't feel anxious.

Today was a quiet day, with cleaning.

Tonight is my first night shift, and I curled up with a book to read myself to sleep. I read about Corfu and smugglers and William Shakespeare until I fell asleep. Except that I did not fall asleep blast my luck. Anyone have a guess as to what I was reading?

Yesterday

Yesterday, I got up and got ready for the big exam. I was dead calm and practically sick at the same time. (How is that possible? I don't understand it myself.) Tim drove "the good car" to work because I was meeting my sister who would be driving me to Erie. I would be leaving my car in a crowded Walmart parking lot for the day.

The first snafu of the day? My cell phone was not in my pocket. With a sick feeling, I realized that I'd tossed it on the seat of the car I'd driven home from work. Which was, coincidently enough, NOT the same car I was driving to meet my sister in. That car was enroute to Tim's work, with Tim in it.

I called my sister from my kitchen and said, "Don't rush, I was looking for my cell phone, and I'm leaving 15 minutes late," in a very exasperated voice. She said, "Oh, thank goodness. I woke up 35 minutes late!" Out the door I charged, at 6:45.

I drove the 45 minutes to where I was going to meet her, and on the trip, managed to get myself in a tizzie. For some reason, I became convinced that I had forgotten something. I drove while sorting through the paperwork in my purse. I needed 2 forms of ID, one with a picture. (Being a bit anal about things like this, I had five things, including my birth certificate and marriage certificate. Check. I had my test authorization with the all important number. Check. But still the panicky feeling persisted. I pulled into the parking lot, and found my sister immediately. I transferred everything to her car and locked mine up. "Anna," I said, "I'm about sick here. I've forgotten something, I just know it." And she began to tick things off. "Got that. Yup. Got that..." I answered. She looked at me and said, "You've got everything, relax." Suddenly, I pushed the paperwork back at her. "It starts at nine, right? I have to be there at nine. I haven't made a mistake there, right?" and she laughed at me. "It says nine. You're good."

So we drove the next 45 minutes together. I fretted. I'd made a conscious decision not to take any books. Everything that I'd read indicated that it was not a good idea to try to cram, last minute. It just made you feel stressful and panicky. So I'd put my books away at 1 PM before I went to work the previous day, and I steeled myself to leave the house without anything but the requirements for the test. The two of us chatted as she drove, and I drank my coffee, and she assured me that I felt no differently than she had felt when she headed out for her nursing boards the previous year. It was good to have her expertise.

We got to the test site. We located the test center, which was not yet open. We had a full 1 1/2 hours before the test, and so I took her out to breakfast with fresh baked granola and a yogurt parfait to go with the eggs and turkey sausage. The black berries in the yogurt were huge, the size of my thumb and we marvelled at it, even as I ate one and tasted summers long gone, when my siblings and I would spend afternoons picking blackberries.

Then it was time to head to the test center, where she dropped me off. She could not go with me. Security is tight at these places.You go through tons of security, finger printing, photo ID, social security card, and then you lock up everything you brought. You must take off any big jewelry, and you are 'wanded' with a metal detecter before you are led to your computer in a separate room to begin the test, holding nothing but your locker key.

They take their security seriously. I found out how seriously.  I'd heard that the room is kept cold for the computers, and someone said that they'd nearly frozen to death while taking the test, because they were dressed in light summer clothing. So I wore a tank top, but had layered it with a light sweater. Part way through my test, I was too warm, so, never taking my eyes from the computer screen, I shrugged the sweater off absentmindedly and read on. I just about jumped out of my skin when a woman immediately came in and said sternly, "I'm sorry..." (*aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!~!! My gosh, you scared the wits out of me!) and she said, "I'm sorry. I'll have to take that sweater." (I assumed she didn't mean for keeps, because it is one of my stylish sweaters, so I let her take it.)

In any case, the test was 200 questions long. I had five hours. I figured that I could manage 40 questions an hour, so I wasn't all that worried about time. I began, one at a time, taking my time, thinking carefully. We could mark questions we were doubtful about, and come back to them at the end of the test.

At the end of the test, I went back two think on the two questions that I'd marked, and then sat there. I thought, "I probably should just begin at the beginning and go through those questions again to check my answers." Another part of me said, "NO! Don't! All that does is cause you to doubt yourself. You always wind up changing your answer." I wavered, and then decided to go with my first instincts on this test. My finger hesitated, and then I clicked "End test" even as my brain screamed "Nooooooooooooo!!!! I changed my mind....I need to double check my answers..." I walked out of the computer room, and collected my things, (including my confiscated sweater), and I was fingerprinted and my photo ID was checked once again. It was shocking to me that I'd spent less than two hours in the room, and that made me all the more certain that I'd rushed through the test and made mistakes. I should have double checked those answers.

I went out into the sun, and sat down to wait for my sister. I could not call her, not having my cell, but you know, I needed a chance to process it all. I sat down in the grass, and I waited to see what I felt next. What I felt was...glad...just so glad to be sitting in the grass, to have that test behind me. Most astonishingly is that I felt certain that I had nothing to worry about. There was no fear. I sat there surprised and marvelling. This was not what I expected to feel at all, but I was glad for it. I looked down an beside me was a tiny gold finch feather. I picked it up and studied it, my own heart so light that I felt as if I too could fly.

When my sister pulled up, I got in the car still holding my little feather. She had something to show me, and so we hied off to a second hand store. She showed me a telephone stand she'd found and she could envision it in our front hall. She really thought I should get it. I looked at the woven seat, and the little table, and well, I felt so lighthearted, I DID buy it. To treat myself.

I also found a framed picture from an art gallery, painted in the style of the Wyeths, a painting of a huge landscape, with billowing clouds and in the center, three small scale cows drinking from a lake as a rowboat goes by out far out in the water. I stood there looking at that for some time. I have been lost in this big, big world, and sometimes, I have been a cow on the shore. Other times, I've been able to row off in that boat. I wanted that big painting quite badly. So I got it. I've been thinking to take a screwdriver to the modern metal frame to see who the artist is, but haven't gotten around to it. It is a numbered print, which is interesting.

Anyways, my sister and I shopped and talked, and I said, "You know, this day trumps graduation hands down. It's just amazing to me not to have anything looming. I never felt like I could relax. Even when I was doing a relaxing thing, I felt guilty about not studying..." Suddenly we stopped in front of an old dresser. It was a tall thing, with four drawers, and square in the middle of those drawers were two doors that opened up revealing a compartment for sweaters or bulky items. We'd never seen a dresser quite like that, and we studied it. Anna said, "Oooh. That IS nice..." and I said, "The paint would have to go," in a musing sort of way as Anna looked at the wood inside the drawers. "It's solid," she said, in the same musing voice that I have.

Suddenly, a woman who'd just previously made quite a fuss over the telephone stand I'd loaded on to my cart darted in front of us. "OOOOOOOOOh, no! No you don't! That's MINE!!!" and she snatched the tag from atop the dresser and RAN. Two sisters looked at each other and burst out laughing. "That's THAT then," and we headed out glad that the decision had been wrested from us. Had the woman not intervened, one of us would have been buying that, and worrying about how we'd explain that to our respective husband.

By that time, it was noon, and I called Tim on my sister's cell. It was his lunch break. He did not sound all that surprised that I felt good about the test. He was full of news of his own. A house was going up for sale, a mansion not far from us. Something far bigger than what we already have, which is already far bigger than anything I thought I'd ever have. I'd wanted to see it, just because...well...I wanted to see what it looked like on the inside, being enthralled with the wrought iron and leaded glass and the over grown garden on the outside. I just wanted to see it, and Tim was quite excited to see it as well. Unfortunately, I caught on rather late that he was of a mind to try to buy it if we could, and we've been debating the issue for a couple weeks now, sometimes with a fair bit of emotion involved (mine). He'd finally gotten hold of the person he needed to talk to, and was very grumpy when he told me the price of the thing. He wasn't paying THAT, he said, and there it was again: a huge sigh of relief.

I ended the call, and said to Anna, "Well, by golly, this is working out to be the best day EVER!"

We drove back home talking about this and that, in a very contented and comfortable way, and inside, I kept marvelling at the lightness of my heart.

She treated me to an ice cream to celebrate, and then we said our goodbyes and headed off in our own direction.

When I got home, I putzed, making Tim a nice supper (for a change), and finding homes for my new things. I talked to Mary on the phone who was waiting to hear news.

After Tim got home and we had supper, we walked down town for a few groceries. Passing by one of the apartments, we saw the windows thrown open in a previously empty apartment. We did a double take and said simultaneously, "Our Kelly's back!" She'd had cancer treatment, and had moved back home to be cared for by her family when the treatments got extreme. We said, "Go. Don't worry about the apartment. It will be here when all this is done, and your life begins again. As it will." She's such a lively girl that it just made me sad to see her apartment quiet and dark with no lights or noise for those weeks. We'd received an e-mail saying that she'd been given the all clear, and that she was intending to build her body back up and get to her own little cozy apartment as soon as possible. Once again, we had soothed, "Don't worry about it. Everything's fine...it will wait..." And now she was home again! We bolted in the front door, greeting Linda as she headed out with her girls. Up the stairs we went, and knocked on the door. Kelly answered, looking tanned and fit and strong, and I said, "Oh, you're back, you're back! I'm so very glad!" and I was. She was preparing to go for a run, and I marveled at her. She's been through such a lot, and there she was, just as spunky as ever. I almost cried.

Our greetings exchanged, we headed out once again, stopping to blab on the way. Stopping to blab on the way home.

Coming home, the church bells began to strike the hour. And then they began to play a hymn. I found myself singing along in my head "Aaaaaaaaaaaa-le-looooooooooo-ya!!!!" I looked over at Tim and said, 'the bells are singing what I feel'.

Just like those bells, I wanted to ring out the good news. We rang the doorbell on Rachel's big old house, but she was not at home. I walked back down town for a meeting, calling out, "Knock knock" from the front yard where Susan and her husband sat eating their supper on their front porch. I visited from the sidewalk and we all laughed together. The meeting was full of laughter and talking and planning, and then I walked home once more, turning into my own driveway where the solar lights glowed softly, and I thought once again, 'what a perfect day this has been!' and the church bells chimed 9 o'clock.

I felt like I couldn't bear to be more happy than I was that very moment.

NEXT MORNING:

*nibbles fingernail*

Do you think that I should be concerned that I am so unconcerned about that test?

*meh!*

I'll find out for sure today, but really...I'm still feeling pretty good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Test

Today, at 1 PM, I will put all my text books back on the shelf. I will fold up the table that has been a part of the livingroom for several weeks now, and I will put that back in the office. I'll dust off my hands and head to work. I will be leaving early tonight. I did not expect that, but the house manager asked if I would like to, and I said, "Well...yes...actually." It will help insure that I get a good night's sleep for that certification exam tomorrow.

Am I ready? Heck. I don't know. I studied yesterday, and by the end of it all, things were no longer making sense to me. That was very frightening there. This test is one of those where you can look at the answers and think that they're all right...but the goal is to pick the answer that is most right. Most. Right. That's what bites me. I failed these sorts of tests in a practice setting, one right after the other. I would think them out, and pick the one that I felt to be most right, and wouldn't you know...there was always another one that was more right, and invariably, I was never able to see how to quantify right. Less right? More right? The teacher advised me that I was overthinking, and to just put down the first answer that came to my mind. I did that. I flunked that test too. Hardly the stuff that makes you flush with confidence.

So, I studied yesterday, and I tried to break it up into chunks and take breaks, but by 8 last night, things were no longer making sense, so I stopped studying.

I'll study today after my coffee. Must have coffee coursing through my system to study properly. I'll brush up on the METS scale, the Allen Cognitive levels, the levels of spinal injury, and the primitive reflexes.

And then I'm going to stop. That will be the hardest part. I will put the books away.

Tomorrow, I will head out early, meet up with my sister, who is driving me to the test site which is 1 and 1/2 hours from here. She will wait for the five hours, and then she will pick me up. She's done this sort of thing before with the nursing certification exam. She walked out of the building, got into the car with her husband, and said, "I've failed." (Apparently everyone thinks that they have.) It broke her heart, and when she said that to me, I said, "You did NOT fail," in a very practical voice. I knew that she did not. You do not graduate at the top of your class, summa cum laude and flunk the nursing certification exam. She did not.

I'm glad that she'll be there to speak to me in a practical voice. I'll be glad that this test will be over, but I also will be dying a little until the results are posted online sometime Friday.

I'm taking the rest of August off (figuratively speaking). I will still be working of course (I start my first night shift on Friday, will work four tens and and have 3 days in a row off, which will be quite a blessing.) We'll be getting a new roof on our house, and Tim will be installing central heat, so I'll be involved there. I was invited to try out for a play, and I was thinking about it, but decided, finally, no. I need time that is not tangled up with a bunch of stuff I NEED to do. I want time to visit with friends, and to read for the pleasure of it.  Take in a couple estate sales, maybe. Tim and I will have snuggle time on the couch. Walk. Write. Get the ironing done, finally. Make nice meals. Enjoy the waning summer.

I'm looking forward to looking back at the test. Having it looming just on the horizon has gotten tiresome.