21 May 2015

Go Home, Good Boy

So, we had our heart broken on Tuesday  Lucky Dog passed away.  He was thirteen years old and hadn't been feeling well for a little while.  Like all dogs, I somehow thought he would live forever.

When he came into our lives, he was a tiny puppy. He was nearly hit by a train that our neighbor/family member was a brakeman. The rule is that the trains don't stop for animals but for some reason the engineer did for this group of puppies. Bruce brought him home, thinking that one of us would take him.  At the time, we couldn't because we had Missy already and we weren't prepared for having another puppy.
So, Bruce kept him and we called him Lucky Boy because: nearly hit by a train.

Lucky has always been my buddy though.  I was cleaning Bruce's house at the time he arrived so we spent lots of time together. I helped potty train and to do basic commands.
 Lucky would come up here and hang out with Missy during the day.  They were best buddies and Lucky was very sad when Missy passed away.  Lucky came to all the parties and family gatherings.  All of our friends knew his name and loved him.  Lucky was everyone's dog.

He had finally accepted Lucy, once Lucy grew out of the annoying puppy stage.  They would nap together in the afternoon sun.  Lucky would come spend the afternoons with me since I've been home these past few months.  We would sit out on the deck and watch Lucy going about doing all her Lucy stuff.

Lucky was a Black Lab/Pit mix.  He was the sweetest boy in all the land.  We used to introduce him as "This is Lucky, he's just happy to be here."  He would stand on your foot or lean on you for maximum petting potential.  He was everyone's best buddy.

Over the weekend, he just wasn't happy.  I kept telling Kevin that something wasn't right.  On Tuesday, he laid on our deck all morning.  His normally lethally wagging tail didn't wag and he laid flat on his belly instead of his usual stretched out and snoring.  He didn't even acknowledge when Lucy went hunting or when Bruce drove by. 

I had to go next door to help the parents and I couldn't get Lucky to come with me.  I told my father-in-law about him and he sprang into action.  He went next door and tried to get Lucky to get up and follow him home.  He got up but went into our yard and laid down.  When I returned home, there he lay and we couldn't get him up.  Bruce came to get him and he finally got up but it took a bit to get him to come along.

Finally, he went home then went to the vet.  He was full of cancer and had just hours to live.  He went peacefully at the vets office.  I'm pleased yet heartbroken that he chose to spend his last morning with Lucy and I.

Last walk home
Hi, My name is Lucky and I'm a good boy

20 May 2015

With Aliens

The television has been my best friend over the past few years.  I have become a prime example of binge watching.  I've watched the entire series of Ghost Whisperer, Greys Anatomy (twice, because: Greys Anatomy), Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who, and now Bones.  I'm sure there are shows I've forgotten, these are the ones that have had some sort of an impact on my psyche. Specifically here, though, I'm going to talk about Doctor Who.

And here's the requisite statement of I know there are much better ways to spend my time.
But when your husband works 10-12 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, one runs out of ways to entertain themselves.

So, my point.

I was very skeptical about starting to watch Doctor Who.  The version of Doctor Who when I was kid was cheezy, at best. It was regularly and soundly mocked. Even though I liked science fiction as a kid, it was just never something that I could sustain interest in watching or reading.

But I have friends who recommended it and told me I'd love it so I gave it a shot.  Imagine my surprise, I was intrigued.  Someone on the interwebs described it as "You're laughing one moment and sobbing into your sleeve the next." Yeah buddy, they were accurate in that statement.  I found myself mesmerized from go.  Also, I love that it weaves upon itself and there are inside jokes and recurring characters.

In this sometimes ridiculous, science fiction show there are surprisingly heartbreaking and profound moments.  It's poetry, philosophy, and morality, with aliens.  There are also history lessons and different perspectives on current events. With aliens. It's an amazing amalgamation of ideas and facts. With aliens.

Doctor Who is one of those rare shows where episodes stick in your memory and change the way you see things.  One episode is a story about Vincent Van Gogh.  I've always enjoyed his paintings and this episode made me view them with a complete different perspective. And cry into my sleeve.

The interwebs can explain it better than me:

19 May 2015

It's Just a Few Stitches

It was so weird that Swistle mentioned moles a few weeks ago because I had just made an appointment to get one removed when I read the post. 

My mom had one that was raised up on her shoulder that used to freak us out as kids.  As luck would have it, genetics gave me one on my shoulder blade.  It was in exactly the wrong spot for such a thing. And not hawt.  I remember vowing, as a child, that if I ever got a mole like that I would have it immediately removed.   

So, I made an appointment with my regular doctor.  Not a big deal at all.  While she was looking at the one I had planned on having removed, she found another one and said we should probably take care of that too.  So, heads up, if you ever go to do something like this they might find another one to remove.

The one that stuck up hurt a bit when she removed it but now hasn't bothered me since.  Hurt a bit as in it was about thirty seconds of a burning sensation.  The one on my lower back didn't hurt when it was removed but has been uncomfortable, not hurting, and ITCHY.  Miserable itchy.  Throw yourself on the carpet and roll around like the puppy kind of itchy.

What I didn't count on, or even think of, is Stitches.  I have 2-3 stitches per mole.  I had them for ten days.  I really didn't think that part through.  I didn't think about having bandages and all that.  All I thought of was "Mole, get that removed, then done."

Also, I knew but didn't think of the fact they will send them off for testing.  I wasn't worried about that part but I was a little "Oh, yeah..." when they mentioned it. Wouldn't you know it that they phoned with the results and one was abnormal.  Not cancerous but atypical, which translates to could be troublesome.  And it was the one that wasn't bothering me, so good call on the doctor's behalf.

The plan when this happens is to cut it more.  Sigh.  I totally pouted and whined.  Not only did it itch A LOT, and wasn't attractive AT ALL, we're planning on going out of  town in a week and now MORE STITCHES. And itchiness. 

The reasonable, mature part of me is all "Shut up and do it" but the youngest child in me is flailing her hands, stomping her feet, and yelling "CAN'T WANT TO!!!"  But I did anyway and now I have seven more days of being inconvenienced and mildly uncomfortable.  I actually negotiated having the stitches removed after seven days instead of the usual ten.  "Well, it will leave a scar" she warned me.  I just said "Look at me, do I look like I'm worried about a scar? I'm full of them."

Because, really, there isn't enough happening in my life right now.

So, recap: doesn't really hurt but itchy. Stitches. Don't freak out when they say "pathology." Itchy.

16 May 2015

Raising Parents

I have stopped and started this post over the past three weeks.  If there are continuity issues, that's why. Also, the topic keeps moving under my feet.

Kevin's mom was in the hospital, or two actually, for three weeks. She has been home for a week and has already taken an ambulance ride to the hospital. To add to her already long list of health problems, she has added Diverticulitis.  She had been struggling to breathe from the COPD and subsequent bronchitis and now this. She's been in poor health forever and been increasingly frail but now we are starting to look at the end.

Unfortunately, beyond any reason that any of us can understand, they initially went to the hospital where the Nephew nearly died, after the family agreed not to go there anymore. What I didn't realize was that she was in the exact same room as the Nephew.  Thanks for that kick in the shins, universe.  When she did not progress as they thought she would, they transferred her to a larger hospital further south.

We have had ongoing conversations about not taking her to that hospital anymore.  In the moment, they agree.  With the ambulance sitting in the driveway, there was debate.  Talk about making me want to kick bunnies.  The boys were super frustrated, as well.

One of the major hurdles we have is that my father-in-law is functionally illiterate.  So often, he doesn't fully understand the information that is being given to him.  Imparting the information that he does understand is the second challenge. This has resulted in a few "The SKY IS FALLING" phone calls that we had to put a stop to.  We have a phone tree in place and instructions that unless the nurse/doctor says "Come right now", not to panic everyone.  (this also explains to me where the brother learned this behavior)

As I've read happens, f-i-l also gets defensive if someone implies that something was done wrong or could be done differently.  While I understand this is normal, this has also made us a little nuts.

The other problem is whatever she says, he does; even though we've talked about it extensively.  She has vascular dementia and strokes so she isn't able to make rational decisions. "But she wants to water her plants/she wants to have steak/she can walk be herself"    He's getting better about it now, even he can't ignore how far gone she is, but he still will acquiesce to her at any given moment.

AND, because that's not enough, she doesn't understand how sick she is.  She *just* posted on her facebook that she wants to go visit a friend an hour away "When I kick this thing."  Umm, you're not kicking COPD, Peripherial Arterial and Vascular Disease, Brittle Vein Disease, Vascular Dementia, and Strokes.
Yet another topic Kevin and I discussed was how much to push her to eat right, etc. when she's clearly on her way out.  It's kind of like chastising a terminal cancer patient for smoking.  Yet, it affects her blood pressure and gives her tummy aches.

The hospital had them do an advanced directive and we had a long conversation before, after, and during.  My fear is that someone is going to panic and ask for it to be ignored.  My brother, an EMT, said this happens.  To add to the difficulty level, when the paramedics were there, the DNR was filed away and not visible to the paramedics.

I have also joked that I am going to have her health issues tattooed across her chest.  While the parents are able to state her vitals and provide a medicine list, (which is excellent) they are not able to list all her illnesses.  Luckily, most of the time the ambulance has been here, I am able to list off all the illnesses.  I am making a list to be posted next to the DNR for everyone's sanity.

There is finally a home health nurse coming out to help make sure she is taking her meds correctly, etc.  I was hoping for a caretaker as well but maybe in the future.  At least there is another set of eyes on her who actually knows what they are looking for/at.

The ever-so-lovely Swistle recommended Being Mortal and I ordered it because: perfect timing.  I've just started it and already feel soothed.  It offers a good perspective about aging and how people view it and what gets lost in the shuffle of life.  (like the aforementioned why are we worried about what she's eating, at this point)  It has provided a good reminder to stop focusing on what's wrong and focus on the person who is sick/aging.

Now, after all of this, the moral of the story for y'all is that parents lie to you. They fib, either because they don't fully understand and don't want to admit it, or because they're afraid to lose their independence, or don't want people to worry.  It is most certainly payback for all those late nights we've given them over the years.

15 May 2015

May Showers

Because I clean when I'm stressed out and the television has been my BFF lately, I tried a new product.  This isn't an endorsement or a sponsored post, just me being curious.

Have you seen the commercials for Kaboom?  It's a bathroom cleaner.  A poorly named bathroom cleaner, in my opinion, because who names a cleaner after an explosion description?
Well, shower/tub cleaner is more accurate anyway.  The commercial shows a really disgusting shower being cleaned to sparkly and like-new by a blue foam.

Firstly, I find the supposed immediate gratification soothing.  Secondly, it's done on a blue tile shower which I love the look of each time that I see it. Thirdly, the "magic" of something like that actually working is appealing.

One of my least favorite chores is cleaning the shower. Well, cleaning the refrigerator is. No, cleaning the oven.  Let's just say that's on my top three list, shall we? Usually, I just clean it while in it. When this house was built, one of the people said that simple shampoo is good for cleaning fiberglass showers.  He was right but once in a while a good, deep scrubbing is needed. (random, possibly useless trivia for you)

I tried it today.  I get frustrated with our shower because it looks clean in certain light and then the light changes (there are two big windows in our master bath) and you can see the truth.  I actually use a flashlight when I'm deep cleaning. What? Oh yes, totally OCD.

The other reason I tried it is that it appears I will be doing the cleaning for the in-laws from now on.  Their shower isn't quite a full bathtub/shower nor a small shower unit like ours.  (They live in a 300 square foot park model home)  The size makes it easier to reach everything but more difficult because one can easily flood their bathroom.  Also, it's inappropriate for me to just shower and clean at the same time. 


I tried it today and am mildly pleased and satisfied.  I would suggest trying it.

A few things: it sprays blue then turns white when it's finished cleaning.  It comes out like a powdery kind of substance that reminded me of tempura powder paint.   I found this a little fascinating.  Also, this product is perfect for someone like me who sprays down the shower then hours later remembers that it needs rinsing.

While it isn't huge fume-y, it's definitely wise to turn on the fan.  Also, it was a little spendy compared to scrubbing bubbles, etc.  But I think it might be worth it in the long run.

It took about three tries to get everything clean.  (this is probably because I was deep cleaning and have issues)  Here is a neat thing about it: seemingly, if it is a clean surface, it turns white almost immediately.  If it isn't, it takes about two minutes to turn to white.  This took a little bit of the "is that clean?" away. (I still totally used my flashlight)

It didn't seem to do a fantastic job on the glass door.  I can see a difference but it's not OMG so clean.  I'm guessing that's why the commercial focuses on the walls.  It's difficult to rinse it without being in the shower and getting soaked.  It may just need a good scrubbing that I can't do fully clothed and still keep the floor dry. Although using my little watering can did work pretty well.  Of course, I thought of this after I and the floor were wet but now I know for next time.

Now I have to find a new experiment...stay tuned.

09 May 2015

News & Notes

Just a quick little something-something thrown up here.

Kevin's mom just completed a three week stint in the hospital.  She came home last night and is frail.  She has an advanced directive now and there is a person coming out to the house to help as of next week.  The word hospice was used but she corrected my father-in-law so I'm waiting to see what's going on there.

I can wear sandals now.  I put on a pair the other day and they promptly disintegrated.  When I explained to Kevin what happened and added that one other pair of shoes had mysterious issues, he said they were just old after not being used.  I told him "No, there is clearly some effed-up sh*t going on in our closet."  It made him laugh and now that's what I think when I go into it.

My brother-in-law was bitten by a spider and ended up in the hospital for three days.  He is a drama queen but he really did have issues this time.  Although he did say something along the lines of "The other day, the first day I was here, three days ago? I don't know, I've lost track".  HE WAS ON DAY TWO.  Lost track, ffs. 
AND he said that to Kevin and I who got the 3:00 am phone call to come to the hospital immediately so his statement was met with raised eyebrows, for sure.

My least favorite holiday is tomorrow so Happy Mother's Day Y'all!!!  It should be one of my favorites because I get a pass from Kevin all day.  He calls it "Happy You're Not A Mother Day".  I have nothing planned until we have to go to Forced Family Fun at my family in the afternoon.  We're having KFC for dinner, like you do.

I didn't get the job I really wanted.  I held a little pity party until the 3:00 am phone call.  Then I interviewed for another job that I could get happy about and No.  I am the optimist always but my dedication is really being tested.

I've been doing a little gardening.  I think I'm going to try a butterfly garden.  The biggest challenge is to keep family members from weed-eating it.  I finally decided where I want it so I'm planning on starting it next week.  Because it looks like I'm having the summer off, right?

All of our magazine subscriptions came due over the past few months.  I let many of them lapse to see what kind of rate they would drop to.  Some of them I just didn't resubscribe.  I'm not taking them into my work anymore so they're piling up.  

Then I remembered that Amazon has really good subscription rates.  For example, HGTV is a really nice magazine for $24.95 yearly.  I got it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS.
The bummer is that Kevin's magazines aren't available on there but at least they aren't too expensive.

My photo wall project is slowly progressing.  I have three waiting to be hung right now.  My process is to put them on the floor below where I want to hang them and then kind of ponder it.  I  think I will hang them up tomorrow. 

Kevin's cousin just sent us twenty photos of his mother's family so now I have more to print and frame.  I fear I might have a floor to ceiling photo hallway.

Okay.  Still alive.  That's what's going on here. 

24 April 2015

Project Progress

I am getting so bored.  I am getting frustrated as well.  I'm a writer! I'm a reader!  How can I possibly be bored?  But here I sit: bored.

So, I tried this trick: What if I have to go back to work tomorrow? What will I think "Oh no, I didn't do this?"

This has only been semi-effective.  I half-heartedly began organizing our photos on the laptops and in the cloud.  It's so easy to get overwhelmed that I find if I do one file/album at a time that I am not resenting the project nearly as much.

I've printed out a few of my favorite shots and have even hung some.  There are three waiting patiently to be hung.

Every closet we have has been culled and organized.  I am side-eyeing one cupboard that tends to easily get cluttered.  It is one of those cupboards where I'm all "This is FUTILE!" because it is our version of a junk drawer and Kevin has regular access to it.

Kevin's ADHD manifests in not picking up his toys.  His workbench almost always has tools, projects, and stuff spread across it.  This cupboard is another representation of that workbench. 

Every once in a while, we will go through that and I hear "Why do we even HAVE this!?!" and "Oh, there this is." at least twice, each.  Maybe I'll schedule pulling everything out of the cupboard tomorrow when he's home.  Like, say, right around lunchtime.

The unfortunate thing about not working is that a person has lots of time on their hands but not necessarily not a lot of funds for which to do stuff.  I could work in the yard more but that requires plants, soil, and  trips into town.  I could work on the memory books but that requires money spent on supplies. 

So, I have planted pretty flowers in a corner bed that just never has looked good.  I have to say that Wally world has a very nice, small selection of flowers and plants.  What I liked was that they were clearly divided into annuals and perennials.  This lessens my frustration in choosing plants tremendously.  Also, the store I go to has a good flower person because they are always well watered and tended.  Oh, and cheap.  The best part, really.

I powerwashed our back deck and a section of fencing, next to the newly redone flowerbed.  I could get addicted to powerwashing, so easily.  It's just so pleasing.  Our large yard is surrounded by cedar fencing so one could easily spend a week on cleaning all of it.  Lucky for me, it's been raining so I haven't been tempted to go tackle any of it.

     The fences in shadow are only two small sections that need washing.                                                               You can see where it's going to be a treat to do, right?

The only remaining project is painting.  I need to paint. We need to paint. It's been ten years and it's way time.  I've chosen a color, basically a warm Tuscany yellow, for the kitchen and a few walls.  I just need to go buy paint and supplies.  Oh, and grow the taste for painting.  I enjoy it at first, then I get bored and frustrated that it's not done yet. 

Then there is the writing thing.  I just can't get motivated.  I can blame some of this on the puppy because it seems the moment I'm distracted, it pings on her radar and she heads off for parts unknown.  It's fine that she wanders a bit but if she gets on a scent/hunting, she can get far, fast.  I hate hooking her up on her run, she should be able to roam.  But writing when I'm checking on the puppy every ten minutes isn't productive. (Also: see painting)

It needs to be acknowledged that when I do return to work, I'll think of ten things that I should have done.  Or I'll resent not being at home. Probably both. It's all the grass is greener going on.

I should say that I do enjoy being home.  It's quiet, relaxing, and I feel good most days about doing it.  I just know that I'm not contributing to the household or society and that gets disappointing.  I just need to find a happy medium.

Now I'm going to go feed my Bones obsession and binge watch a few episodes.  It's a wonder why I haven't been doing much writing.

21 April 2015

Appliances are Smarter than Me

Firstly, I can finally cross off "Replace our appliances" off of my resolution list.  Well, except for the microwave, which the display went out shortly after we got it ten years ago.  Of course, the least expensive thing is the last thing we replace.

Secondly, I didn't anticipate the learning curve with new appliances.  Because: appliances.

Loading the dishwasher has befuddled me.  I didn't get a fancy one because I just need it to wash the dishes, not sterilize the kitchen for surgery.  But the racks are different and they seem to hold less.  This makes no sense to me AT ALL because it's exactly the same size.  So, clearly this issue is mine.  I have tried to make me think of this issue as a puzzle and no, that hasn't worked.

I had to have Kevin explain why the silverware baskets had lids.  I'm impressed that he knew they were for washing pacifiers.  I didn't ask how he knew.  There are also these weird bracket things on the top rack that I have no idea what they do. Other than annoy me.

Of course, this can be solved by just reading the manual but that takes the fun out of it.

I'm impressed with the efficiency of the new dryer.  I know mine was really old, probably about fifteen-twenty years old so it's to be expected that a new one is better.  Seriously though, it dries everything so quickly that I'm almost *almost* annoyed at how quickly.
Also, I didn't realize how much the old dryer was more cooking the clothes than drying them, meaning that it was running too hot and too long.

Both the washer and dryer play happy little tunes when they are finished.  I found this charming at first but wondered if it would eventually bother me or become part of the environment.  I'm pleased to note that I still enjoy it.  It's so much more pleasant than the bone jarring buzzer that the old machines had.  I only used the buzzers on the old machines if I was on a time crunch.

I didn't think about having to us HE detergent at the time.  I was a little frustrated that I needed to buy more detergent because I had just bought a big container of it.   Imagine my excitement while standing in the grocery aisle and discovering that what I had at home was HE.  Yea for me not paying attention! 

20 April 2015

Time to Sit

Kevin's mom is in hospital with pneumonia.  As most of us know, this is not good. She's 75 years old and had multiple strokes, C.O.P.D., P.A.D, and vascular dementia.  Just one of those would probably cause the rest of us to just sit the eff down but not her.  Sadly, part of the reason is the dementia doesn't allow her to realize all that is wrong. The rest is just pure stubbornness. 

The parents insist that we go about our regular lives when this happens.  It happens about twice annually.  I think it's easier when it's just the two of them.  Drawing from my own experience, the absolute LAST thing I wanted was people hovering around me and looking pitiful.  So, with both surgeries, only Kevin was allowed.  I think they feel the same way.

So not the point of this...

Kevin and I discussed this morning that it's time for a conversation.  She's 75 and very frail.  She is at the point of her life where she should watch life from the comfort of her recliner.  It's no longer time to go browse second-hands shops all day (don't get me started...super frustrated about this one...let's just say she's left unattended while shopping)
It's no longer necessary to go out to dinner every Friday.  Let's just save it for special occasions now.

A part of me thinks she will be relieved.  She is very much the person that doesn't want to disappoint people, or be an inconvenience.  I think if she's given "permission" to just relax and sit it out, she will accept.

A smaller part of me knows she will fight it, because it's a tough realization. It's not a fun milestone, like your 21st birthday or retirement.  But also, because I believe she thinks she should fight against it.  Again, the obligation factor.

The other part, that is not worrisome because I don't think she sees it as such, is she wants to go be with her sisters.  Three of her sisters and her mother have passed and I think she's ready to be with them again.  I've been listening for hints and while I believe she's thinking about it, to my knowledge she hasn't said anything beyond missing them.

I believe the elderly know when it's getting to be their time and begin small, quiet preparations. Again, I think we're there now.

The family is divided by 2/3 and 1/3. Her husband is completely aware of where they are in life and is also getting weary.  The 1/3 is in denial that we're at this point.  This 1/3 is the part that takes her shopping all day and insists on going to dinner.  (Having her get up into a big 4x4 Dodge truck "because she wanted to"...don't get me started) Their intentions are fear-based and it makes me angry.  This situation isn't about them or their comfort or feelings.

We'll see. These things can't be scheduled per se, just loosely planned for.  And after all this, she could outlive us all through the miracle of modern medicine.  There really aren't any guarantees.

17 April 2015

Generation Reconfiguration

We celebrated my mom's 80th birthday on Sunday.  It took all of Monday to recover.
My sister-in-law and nieces were responsible for 90% of the work.  I can take very little credit.  Still, I was one with the couch and the puppy for a large part of Monday.

It was held at the fire department where my dad was chief for many years.  It's a new building but my dad is everywhere you look.  Sometimes literally, as his picture and other things of his are hung everywhere.

I found myself waiting for my family to arrive.  My family. The ones that live next door and make me crazy.  The one that travels in groups.  My brothers and I were standing near the entrance and I actually said "Oh, good, there's my family" when they arrived.
It's not that I don't love my biological family.  I do. It's just that there is never some sort of melodrama or undercurrent.  Separately, it's much easier.  I can hang with my sister-in-law or niece and it's great.  I can text my little brother and it's fun.  But put us all under one roof and we're one evil-twin away from a soap opera.  There is a lot of subtext and tension.

We're not an affectionate family AT ALL.  My nieces are, I have to say.  I don't know where they learned it but I love that they are.  Once, my mom said "I don't hug you" at a family function then kind of awkwardly hugged me. 

So, when she made a show of hugging me and the family in front of all the guests, I just wanted to kick bunnies.  This is how it's been though, my whole life.  Pretend in public that we're a happy, functional family.  It's frustrating.  Frustrating that my mom probably believes that we are a happy family.  She might not know what a happy family is, sadly.  And she did/is doing her best but c'mon.  Stop touching me.

There were quite a few people there; people I haven't seen for decades.  Women that were my surrogate moms growing up. Neighbors that were my surrogate family during the summers.  It was good to see  them but I did feel myself start to get overwhelmed.  Kind of like the Box of What Used to Be, I just didn't expect to get socked in the nose with so many memories. In addition to the realization just how many people were responsible for parts of my upbringing.

I guess it was just a first moment of clarity for me.  I've built a family and that's who I think of when I hear that word. Kevin, his parents, the kids.  Our family.

The other realization I had about family was on Easter.  Kevin's parents didn't participate much in Easter this year.  As I've mentioned, Kevin's mom is increasingly frail.  She spends a lot of her time napping in her chair now and is not really able to be left alone much anymore.  An example: she snuck over to our house during the remodeling; a walk she should never take alone. She snuck because my father-in-law was next door at the brothers.

Anyway, we have become the caretakers of the parents now, instead of the other way around.  Instead of the parents being the hosts and coordinators of things, they are spectators now.

As I was taking photographs of the kids, I took a group shot of Kevin, his brother and wife, the Nephew and Fiancee, and the Niece and Husband surrounded by children.  It was a physical representation of how the family has reconfigured.  We are the grandparents now. I choke a bit on the "grand" part of that sentence, but it's true.  We are the older generation now.

One would think that this would be a depressing thought but I felt a little pleased, a little honored.  This is the family that we built together. It's fun to see it evolve and change.

14 April 2015

I Can't Answer These Questions Under the Grounds They Will Incriminate Me

One standard question that is used in interviews is "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Today I answered it this way  "This is never a good question for me.  I am not wired in a way that I can truthfully answer it because I don't know.  I've learned that as much as a person thinks they can plan ahead, they really can't.  All it takes is one thing to change those plans. A person has to be open to it and roll with the changes."

We've talked before about these sort of interview questions.  They really do set a person up to fail.  If you answer honestly then you blow your chances.  Or you lie and begin under false pretenses.  Or, you're just one of those people that do actually, truthfully, have a five-year plan.  In that case, good on you because I can't even.

I've just had too much life experience to believe in any sort of long-range planning.  I've had two long-term jobs that I probably would have stayed at longer but things changed. We didn't know that Kevin's parents were going to live with us.  We didn't know that family member a, b, c, d, and e would die unexpectedly.  These are just examples of how plans have been upended.

My other least favorite interview question was used:  "What are you passionate about?"
Ugh.  Okay, honestly?  Kevin. My family. Books. Racing. Doctor Who.  Not working.
I did say an amended version of that.   I left off Doctor Who and Not Working. 

He asked the question twice though.  The second time, my inner smart ass got ahead of my rational self.  "You've asked that twice so my first answer wasn't enough."  Then I proceeded to repeat my answer.  I added "I'm passionate about many things."

My friend mentioned that they were probably looking for "I'm passionate about whatever it is that my job would be here."   I laughed and said, "Well, that would be a lie."  I'm just not the person that is going to schmooze to get a job.  I mean, well, within reason.  But I'm not going to say what they want to hear just to get the job.

Also, work is just not my passion.  It was for a little while but I'm over it.  Work is a necessary means.  My family and Kevin are my passion.  I believe in a work/life balance with the balance tipped toward life.  I think I did say that in some form as well.

Pretty sure I'm not getting that job, anyway.

And I hate the word passion when used in a business sense. 

And I think I'm too honest in job interviews.

One, Two, Three, Four...Seven?

Our Easter included seven children and four dogs.  If you're familiar with the family, you're wondering where the seventh child came from.  Because we just didn't have enough children in the family, one has been added.

The Fiancee's brother is living with the Nephew and family.  Turns out the Fiancee's mother is a mentally ill, addict.  We knew she had issues but we didn't know to what extent.  (she lives in another state)  She had a meltdown that concluded in a long jail visit so now Jack is living with them.  Luckily (???) he is thirteen and not younger.

He somehow slipped through the cracks and was left alone for two weeks before finally calling his sisters for help.  He's a sweetheart but a little social awkward.  He's been haphazardly homeschooled and hasn't spent time with children his own age or anyone really, for that matter.  Poor guy did pretty well being immersed into the large, loud, and boundary-less family. Because the kids are awesome, they're just happy to have another person in their family.  It's like they've grown up together.

There isn't a plan at this point so the kids are just figuring it out day-by-day. 
It was gently wondered if we would ever consider taking him and we said no.  That ship has sailed for us now.  We're talking about retirement planning so taking on a teenager seems impossible. Our house is tiny. We wouldn't be good as foster parents. There are plenty of reasons.  Of course, if it came down to no other choice, we would figure something out but living with us is not a perfect solution

Fiancee said something along the line of "God must think I'm strong because GAH!"  I feel for her because not only does she have temporary custody of her brother, her mom is in jail.  That's a lot to take.

This family does tend to take in strays, though.  Cousins, friends, coworkers, anyone who needs a hand the family steps up.  For making me batsh*t crazy, they really do help people. There are many stories of "When so-and-so stayed with us..."  Right now, even, a cousin is staying next door until he can get his housing secured at the university. 

So, seven nephews and niece, all under the age of 14.  Life sure isn't boring around here.

09 April 2015

A Box of How It Used to Be

An update, one week later:

It was supposed to rain all weekend and then didn't so I didn't work on my culling project.  Also, Kevin was home all weekend so we were busy doing married couple stuff.
I knew I couldn't get the memorabilia properly sorted when he was home because of the interruptions, the "Why do you even have that?", the puppy, and my own short attention span.

During the weekend I did finish organizing the rest of the closet though.  I loaded the truck with stuff for Goodwill and errands that needed finishing.  My plan was to do the errands first thing Monday morning and then dedicate the afternoon to the project.

Well, I did finish the errands; some of which have been dogging me for months.  I bought a mocha (duh) and four hours later - almost to the minute - and I'm 75% finished.  Two totes and a shoe box has now been culled to one tote.  Everything is kind of sorted into a wonky chronological order and waiting for the next step.

I started out methodically.  I put the puppy outside, I turned on a Bones marathon, and began sorting.  I made myself go through each grouping before beginning another.  Looking back, I do wish that I was a little more organized about it but there was just So Much Stuff.

Graduation announcements (mine, my brothers, the nieces and nephews), more greeting cards, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, random receipts.  Stuff that meant something at the time.  I will say that about 25 percent of it was tossed.  Somethings have just lost their importance some 20-30-40 years later.

I accidentally cropped the couch, thus missing a stack of stuff.  Also, the half-full tote is hidden by the table.  But you get the idea. Please say you do because I'm exhausted.

I did separate a few items to be given to people.  I sent a newspaper photo of my "sister" to her in the mail.  I found a picture of my step-nephew (a long story) that I need to scan and send to him.  There were a few tokens that I've kept out and am considering their fate. Give them away to one of the kids, or simply goodwill them, or put them back. I'm just not sure.

I took a few items to my hometown historical museum.  Old school newspapers, my dads letterman jacket letter, my brother's homecoming pin, and some other stuff.  They were excited to have it and I was relieved to give it to a place where they will be enjoyed.

One more thing: I did take the big box of greeting cards to the recycling center.  I just took a deep breath and dumped them overboard.  I didn't look back afterward.  I'm just happy to not have them staring at me, waiting their fate.

I was surprised how exhausted I was after this project.  Not just physically, it wasn't that exerting, but emotionally.  There were a few emotional time-bombs in there.  The next day I found myself not mustering much more energy than was required for basic care and daily chores. This, I'm guessing, is why experts say not to keep this kind of stuff.

Everything is packed away again.  I kept the tote out for a few days afterward to attempt to keep forward momentum.  The next step is going to be putting items into scrapbooks and that is going to take a bit of an investment, both financially and time-wise.  I chose my battle and tucked the tote back into the corner of the closet.  

Two epiphanies:

The wheels seemed to have fallen off my childhood around the time my paternal grandma died.  I just never did the math before and it makes sense now.  There is a sort of, kind of, comfort to it.  A period of time to point to and say "THAT'S when sh*t got real."  I was six-years-old.

Even though a person hears it their entire lives: life does get better as you get older.  I read notes from high school chock full of melodrama, stuff from my twenties filled with a different kind of melodrama, items from my thirties when I joined the time of a person's life when people begin getting divorced, sick, dying and you're trying to figure out how to deal.  Now I'm in my forties and life has leveled out a bit.

I'm guessing this is why people keep memorabilia.  To remember how it used to be.

08 April 2015

Projects are Good for a Marriage

Our marriage defined in one sentence:

"That's the best I can do for your midget ass."

Kevin spent the morning putting a shelf over the washer and dryer.  Because we always had old machines, I never worried about piling up detergent, laundry baskets, paint, on top of the appliances.  With the old machines, I could balance the laundry baskets along the top of the washer and dryer and it worked perfectly.  Now I have new machines and it's no longer an option. For one, I had the old dial style machines so that upright piece is no longer there to provide a "shelf", as it were. Now that I have new sparkly ones, I don't want to scratch them, ever. (I give it a month)

For the past week-ish, I've been keeping the laundry baskets in the bathtub of the common folk bathroom.  This hides them well and isn't terrible but it becomes frustrating when I want to shower in there. Also, each time I went to use them I thought "I can't do this for the rest of my life. This is not a good solution."

As previously discussed, I have to stand tiptoe to reach the bottom of the washer.  If I am thinking ahead, I use a stool.  You can probably accurately predict how often that happens. Even though the cool, new stool is right there behind me.

So, it took some measuring and planning to figure out how to put a shelf above the washer that could be actually used, by me.  Luckily, we both thought of putting the washer's lid up while measuring.  One would think this wouldn't slip past us but sometimes we don't think things through. ("A.D.D. m'er f'ers", as our friend once called us)

Kevin finished it after about two hours.  He was all "I'll do it myself" for some reason. I think it's because we've had people in the house recently and we're just not used to that.

I found a lamp in Monica's Closet that I've put on the shelf.  The cubby space gets dark and shadowy so this will help that issue.  Kevin moved the hangy-things that hold the broom and mop so they don't show anymore.

Now I'm going to find a picture or something to hang above everything.  Pinterest has me convinced that the space can be decorated yet utilitarian. Let's just see about that.

Add caption


Oh, job searching.  Such an adventure.

I had an interview the other day that just happened to be right next to a murder two nights before. I mean, it was nearly on their doorstep. So, that was cozy.  The interview location was described as "in the basement" and smelled like a second-hand shop.

For the past almost month, there has been a job ad that looks like this:

Office Admin - local Ag company
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Donec odio. Quisque volutpat mattis eros. Nullam malesuada erat ut turpis. Suspendisse urna nibh, viverra non, semper suscipit, posuere a, pede. Donec nec justo eget felis facilisis fermentum. Aliquam porttitor mauris sit amet orci. Aenean dignissim pellentesque felis. High School Diploma Public Fundraising

I can tell that I don't want the job, even if I couldn't tell if I was qualified because: LATIN.  At least, I'm guessing Latin. I'm all for creativity but c'mon now.

I dislike how slow this process is.  I had a pre-interview via email last week but they said that they weren't quite ready to start the process yet. It's a mystery why they posted the ad or responded. I had another interview that was the first of four steps. I'm all for being thorough but such time wasted.

Another job that I made it to the final round but didn't get has now been reposted.  I briefly thought of resubmitting my name but thought better of it.  There was a reason I didn't get it.  Also, I've noticed that they're hiring a lot, which shows me issues within the organization and not just growth.

I'm trying to find part-time work but am having difficulties.  Part-time seems to translate to only entry-level, menial jobs.  Whoever it is that said people are having to take part-time jobs because that's all that is available clearly doesn't live in Washington State.

Also, if I hear I'm over-qualified one more time, I'm not responsible for my actions.  Yes, you're getting more than you're asking for, explain to me how is that a bad thing?  It's similar to when you don't have experience and are being told that you need it.  Let's think this process through a little bit, people.

Although this sounds ranty, I'm not feeling bitter about the process.  I do need to be employed soon but I'm not panicky about it yet. 

And it's not like I'm asking for the moon here.  I would like part-time, flexible, low-key, non-profit work or a job that interests me so much that makes full-time worthwhile.  Okay, Universe? Do we understand each other now? 

27 March 2015

A Memory Hoarder

Okay, I have a plan for Monica's Closet.  I'm on Day Two of said plan and so far, so good.

As mentioned, it is fairly organized in there but a few totes have been filled with randomness that has to be dealt with.

I started yesterday with the non-memorabilia ones.  I took two boxes of picture frames, stuff intended for projects "someday", and items leftover from the old house to Goodwill today.

Now I've gone through a tote that was filled with items from my childhood. Stuffies, jewelry, notes to/from friends, and just junk that one collects when you're a kid. An actual coin purse, with coins included, is a perfect example.  I managed to make two totes fit into one and I have another box ready for Goodwill now.

Sidebar: I found a letter from my high school guidance counselor assigning me to one day of in-school-suspension for skipping trigonometry.  I really don't remember that happening at all. So, it was kind of fun to see it and it provides a good example of the stuff I've kept.

Another fun thing is a small box that I have kept since I was in the seventh grade.  My best friend moved away that year.  She gave me a small box of her keepsakes because she knew that she wouldn't be able to keep them safe. (they were traveling in a converted school bus and lived in poverty for years)  I was meant to return them to her someday.  Well, someday is apparently thirty years later. 

When I unearthed it, I immediately texted her.  "Address please!" and attached a photo of the box.  Almost immediately, I received a text back with her address.  I will put it in the mail tomorrow.  Hooray me for finally returning it and hooray her for having a piece of her childhood finally returned.  I'm super excited about it.

I've taken some things and placed them in one of our china cupboards.  I have a set of ceramic animals that my paternal grandma gave me when I was very young, 4,5,6 years old.  She died when I was six.  It's nice to have them in view instead of tucked into a box in the back of a closet.

So, this brings me to tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be a little more intense.  I have taken out two totes full of stuff.  Newspaper clippings, graduation announcements, photos, ticket stubs, and the list goes on.  These boxes represent the last twenty-five years.

The goal is to pare it down to one tote only.  Once I accomplish that monumental task, the next goal is to make scrapbooks of the remaining stuff.  I think culling through these boxes is going to take a few days of on-and-off work; which means it will take at least a week.  The scrapbooks will take significantly longer and that's why I've planned to fit everything into one tote.  Because that's where this stuff will probably live for quite a while.

I set my goal as A Box A Day.  The intention is to finally get this project done and more importantly: not get overwhelmed. Thus resulting in stuffing it all back into the closet; which is perhaps, probably, how we have found ourselves in this situation now.

I told Kevin's mom what I was doing and she said "You're always so good at doing that stuff."  It was nice to hear that she has that perception because while in the midst of this mess, I feel like a hoarder. A memory hoarder.

26 March 2015

Culling Memories

When we had the week from hell I had to empty Monica's Closet.  As I did it, I superficially cleaned it out as I went.  Superficially being defined as putting things into proper totes or making a goodwill pile or piling random items into a box. A better definition might be "Organizing it so I'm less embarrassed upon emptying it."

As we were putting it all back, Kevin mentioned (a few times) that there sure was a lot of stuff and what exactly was it all and why were we keeping it.  At one point, he was holding an album of cards and mementos from our wedding. "Like, this! What is this?"  This gave me a chance to redirect and say "Well, that's from our wedding. Thanks though!"

But really...he's right.  Although confined to Monica's closet, there is a lot of stuff in there. It's probably about three feet wide and ten feet long.  That's a lot of big totes full of stuff.

On one side is Christmas stuff, neatly stacked.  This is also something Kevin commented about but I could again deflect with "Half of this is your mothers. So...Nanner."

Right now I'm going through a box of greeting cards.  I really do struggle with throwing these kind of things away. This is not the first time I have culled through them but I've also added to them. 

I try to keep ones with written sentiment or that caused an immediate reaction.  So lots were kept from my bff's, or Kevin (although SWEET BABY JESUS, there are a lot of cards exchanged in this relationship), or if they're from someone who has since passed.

What I've found culling through these:

Sweet cards from Kevin's parents...for our anniversary, our birthdays, etc.  She writes sweet stuff in the margin.  Sometimes random stuff like "this card followed by an air mattress, when I find one."  Or "I better make Santa some cookies soon or I'm afraid he's going to pass us all by this year." (she was in her seventies at the time of writing it, so her kids are in their fifties)

I kept a few get well cards from when Kevin was sick.  I had kind of forgotten about that and the thoughtfulness of the cards were touching to read.

There were a few thank you's from my job at the school.  I kept those too because it's easy to forget those moments sometimes.

A thank you note from my then 100-year-old grandma.  It was startling to see her handwriting, she's been gone twenty years now.  She was blind and if anyone ever wonders where my bluntness comes from, it's genetic.  "Dear Surely and Kevin, Thank you for the picture. I'm glad it's big enough to see it.  You both look well and healthy."  We enjoyed Brother's visit and I really like his lady friend. ((I have no knowledge of who she was. It could have been a stripper for all I know))  I hope you have a great new year."
Her birthday and party was in April so I'm mildly confused with the new year wishes. But: 100 years old.

I found an anniversary card that Kevin had tried to give to me for our anniversary. In his Kevin-like way, it ended up being a Happy 50th Anniversary to Our Parents card.  He had scanned past the title of it, as it were, and just liked the sentiment.

Or the happy birthday card for Kevin from The Nephew signed "Dude, that's funny. Love, Nephew"
And the one to me where there are stick-on numbers for the age so he randomly chose an age then noted it on the inside.

I just found another gem from Kevin's mom: For Christmas: "Hi kids, I am trying real hard to get my cards done (and mailed) I don't know why I never seem to have time for everything. Maybe it's the season of my life if you know what I mean (getting old) Love you both!!"

I like watching the kids signatures change from their parents signing their names to the scrawly handwriting to grown up signatures. Or cards where there weren't kids yet, then one name is added then another. In some cases, five names! :)

Along those same lines, I've a few cards where the spouses have changed. It's funny how that changes over the years.  For example, I was expecting to read Joe and Stephanie and it was Joe and Jennifer instead.  Then I giggled because omg, that was one hundred years ago.

So, I've culled these down to one large zip-lock bag, with the intention of putting them into some sort of a scrapbook.  But this is what is going to recycling:

(glasses added to show scale...so you know it's not a small box and to prove I've not only thrown out, like, ten cards)

Next step to is cull through the actual boxes of memorabilia and make scrapbooks or memory boxes.  

22 March 2015

What Would You Look At?

Kevin and I have had an ongoing debate since we've moved into this house.  So, that's been ten years and clearly we're mature adults.

The way the house is designed, the main entrance is to be via the living room. This is lovely in theory but the way the house is physically situated, it makes using that entrance inconvenient.  Also, we would be tracking dirt into the house across the carpet.

We use the back door which opens into the laundry/mud room.  I have issues (yeah buddy) with the fact that the first thing a person sees is the washer and dryer.  Not very welcoming.  Especially since for years we had an old set from the old house that wasn't even a little attractive.

I hung a curtain tension rod to hide the machines.  For the longest time, I repurposed a queen size flat sheet as a curtain and it hung from the ceiling to the floor.  It looked okay but it was inconvenient and made the cubby space dark.  Now I've bought new curtains and have significantly lowered the rod, which solved some problems but now looks (to me) exactly what it is: covering up a problem.

One solution I'm going to try is to find a valance and buy another tension rod to heighten it a little and to cover up the handles of the broom, etc. that are hanging on the wall.  They weren't visible with the giant curtain but they are now. It's always something.  I've been surfing Pinterest to find a solution but the placement of the water shut-offs and my lack of height automatically eliminates many of the solutions I've found.

Here's where the disagreement comes into play.  Kevin agrees that the view of the washer and dryer aren't optimum.  However, his issue is that you see a toilet as you walk in.  He would prefer to keep that door closed. 

I am not offended by the toilet.  It's rarely used, always clean, and the light is always off in that room. It's not as if it has a disco ball and strobe lights announcing its presence.  Also, I think that people probably don't notice it upon entering because they turn immediately left into the kitchen.  At most, they will notice upon leaving and at that point they've seen the rest of the house so the sight of a toilet shouldn't be the take-away from their visit.  "Gosh, they have a nice house but did you see they have a TOILET in plain view!?!"  It's not as if it's in the middle of the living room for gosh sakes.

By keeping the door closed, it makes our hallway very dark.  I loathe overhead lighting so there is a lamp in the hall.  I want a skylight there but because we live in the Pacific Northwest, skylights are a hassle. (tree needles & leaves, moss, algae, lots of rain) So, in lieu of skylight, the bathroom door remains open and the toilet remains visible. 

You see, these are the life-altering issues that we're currently having.  Very important (to no one) to contemplate and solve.

20 March 2015

The Worse Part

The house is finished now.  It only took less than a week but it feels like it took forever.  The day the carpet went in was rough.  Kevin took the day off and his dad came to help.  By pure luck, Kevin's cousin stopped by and ended up helping as well.

The packing and moving up all the belongings just to put it back while people were waiting for us to finish was brutal.  Add to it that it was supposed to rain so we were trying to do all this without putting anything outside.  This entailed disassembling the living room and storing it in the kitchen and laundry room.  Then once the carpet was finished in there, reassembling everything in the living room then taking everything out of our bedroom and put it into the living room. Then doing all that again to empty the office.

The worse part was moving the World War II era oak desk and the 1980's former waterbed frame. Actually, the worse part was having the entire house turned inside out.  Kevin and I aren't wired to live in clutter.  Having the refrigerator and stove in the living room was actually making me anxious. Two days of that and it nearly drove me mad.

We really tried to be methodical about how we did this. When the kitchen floor was being done, I packed up the two china cupboards full of antiques.  I used every reusable grocery bag that I own to pack up my books.  There was at least twelve bags full of books stacked in our office.  There were also three large totes of stuff from the china cupboards stored in there. Plus I emptied the desk into file boxes because there just wasn't enough boxes in the room.  At one point, there was only a path through the office.

Or the worse part was that Kevin caught a cold a few days prior to this adventure and then thoughtfully shared it with me.  Nothing makes packing and moving furniture more fun than a head cold.

The other worse part is that the new washer and dryer wouldn't be here for another week. The boys didn't put the old ones back into the house for fear of damaging the new floor.  This meant I had to walk next door to do our laundry.  It could be so much worse but I'm still a little peevish about it. (Oh, wait, it is worse. In the time it has taken to write this, their washer has sprung a leak)

Kevin gets an honorable mention here because he bought the washer and dryer for me two days after my surgery, while I was still on the couch.  Unfortunately due to the West Coast longshoreman contract disagreement, we're just now getting them.

Oh, and then there was the time that my father-in-law flooded our kitchen and pantry twice.  Twice.  "Luckily" this was prior to the new flooring. But this meant using a pile of towels to mop everything up.  Remember, I don't have a washer and dryer at this point.  Super happy.

The reason for the flooded kitchen (twice!) is that we bought a new dishwasher.  Even though it was installed before the new flooring, I didn't get to use it until two days after the carpeting went in.  It was just lost in the shuffle of everything.  

Because we're an all-or-nothing pair, we decided that this was the perfect time to replace some of our furniture and buy a new truck.  We bought the new truck from a dealership three hours away, because: of course. We picked it up the day before we were scheduled to pack up the house then we used it to pick up some of the furniture we bought. Because we're multi-taskers!

I didn't spend much on this new furniture so there was some assembly required. Kevin was pretty good about putting everything together and in place.  Right up until the last night when he was surrounded by parts of a four drawer dresser on the floor at 8:00 p.m. the day the carpet was installed.  Sadly, it wasn't a choice to not finish it as we had already loaded the old old console style dresser into the back of the truck and his clothing was all over the closet floor.  Lucky him.

Now it's done.  Our house feels brand-new now but significantly nicer.  We're so happy with how everything has come together that we've almost forgotten about all the hurdles. Almost.

11 March 2015

Breaking Up, Again.

While I was high, I received a friend request from a former boyfriend.  Maybe it was good that I was high at the time, I'm not sure.  I didn't respond immediately, I wanted to wait until I wasn't just out of surgery.

Kevin and I have a "No exes on the facebook" agreement so my response was a no-brainer.  But, because: human, a person wonders "Well, what could it hurt?" or "But it would be nice to see what's happened."

Then a person thinks about the horror stories of past loves reconnecting via social media and No Thank You.  That is a whole lot of drama that I don't want.

But it's sad too.  It was sweet of him to ask and I hope it means that he's in a good place and not the opposite.   It was kind of like breaking up again, having to say "I'm sorry but you can't be a part of my life anymore", even on a superficial level like social media.

Post-Bionic State

So, the surgery recovery. Yikes, I haven't updated since I've become non-bionic.  I just can't believe how much stuff has been going on during the last few weeks.

I am two weeks away from being able to run, jump, and fall.  This makes Kevin laugh every time I say it.  Running and jumping are unlikely, falling is very likely.  But it's fun to say.  It's fun to think about.  I like this kind of deadline.

The bottom line is that I should have done this two years ago.  I'm trying not to be super-frustrated with myself about this but it's difficult.  I just should have insisted after the first year that things weren't right and they needed to fix it.

But when all you hear is that it takes time, that I'm not twenty anymore, yadda yadda yadda; you get tired of talking about it.  You start to feel like a whiner.

Now, I think I could happily punch the surgeon in the head.  Even on the day of the surgery, he was nonchalant.  Like I was being sensitive about wanting the bionics removed.  I really thought Kevin was going to take his head off.  I guess there was a bit of terse conversation post-surgery.

So, while I'm not 100% back to the original state, I am really close.  The improvement was nearly immediate.  The numbness is gone, I have more flexibility, and significantly less pain.  Now if I have pain, it's because I've overdone it and not just because.

What I believe happened, using my Grey's Anatomy medical degree, is that the plate was binding.  Thus restricting the movement.  I'm trying not to be graphic but I kind of have to.  If I crossed that leg over my knee, the plate pinched.  If I tried to sit cross-legged, the plate moved/bound.  Now I can do all of these things and the only complaint is the muscles saying "Hey, we haven't done this in three years! Ease up."

The surgical nurse was a Roller Betty, which is the local roller derby team.  She was all "Oh totally, you're going to feel so much better!  All my buddies get their plates and screws taken out!"  I loved that she said that.  It made us feel so much better. 

So, in two weeks, I am in the No Excuses world.  I gotta move it, move it.  I don't think I'll ever be a runner (and I still dream that I am, which is weird) but at least I know I won't have any restrictions.  I'm super happy about that.

And finally, if you ever find yourself in a situation like that, speak up until something happens to improve it.  I wasted years feeling like crap and I don't want anyone else to do the same.

Next up: Purple Converse Sneakers! 

08 March 2015

I Need A Cookie

I've been a little bit stuck in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie lately.

We are getting new carpet and wood flooring.  But like always happens when someone is remodeling, a person notices that new paint or new furniture or new curtains or new whatever is needed.

We have had our television about two years.  At the time, we borrowed one of those ugly black, pressed board television stands from Kevin's brother. "Until we find what we want."  Two years later and it's still here, being all ugly and stuff.

Our end tables are mismatched.  One of them I've had forever and the other, well.  I didn't choose it.  Kevin's mom gave it to us because her sister "made" it and she loves it and we needed to have it.

(those are seashells)
I kept it covered with a silk pashmina so the ugliness wasn't very noticeable. But it didn't match.  Also, it is odd shaped so took up a lot of space in a small room.

With all this time on my hands lately, I've been surfing craigslist for end tables.  I kept finding single tables with no mates, ugly cast-offs, or expensive tables. I couldn't find a simple pair of nice end tables.  So frustrating.

I went to a consignment shop to look around the other day.  They post their inventory on craigslist so I was curious.  It was a strange mix of cheap, ugly couches to really high-end furniture.  But even there, I couldn't find two matching end tables that I liked.  I blame Oprah and her "everything doesn't have to match" proclamation.*shaking of my fists*

I did find an old-school console hi-fi stereo like your grandparents/parents probably had.  Oak and complete with AM/FM stereo, turntable, and record storage hutch.  I loved it SO.  It wasn't very expensive and I really had to make myself leave without it.

Fast forward a few days.  Kevin and I went to wally-world to look at cell phones.  We walked past the furniture aisle and there are two night stands the exact color I've been looking for.  For $59.99.  It made a total liar out of me, who kept telling Kevin I couldn't find anything.

This is where I say that Kevin hates the night stands I made when we moved into this house.  I don't mind them but he hates that "Everything is covered up."  Well, yes, because I used television trays and put cloth over them, like a decorator table.  It's not perfect but it's worked.  I like that I can hide things under them and no one knows.

I digress.  Of course there weren't any night stands like we wanted in stock just then.  Because: Wally World.  But I really liked them so I figured I could order them online when we got home. I was happy just to have found something.

Kevin wanted to go to an actual furniture store so we went to Ashley Furniture.  They have a nice inventory but the way the store is "organized" was making me crazy. It's as if they dumped out the inventory and assembled it where it fell.

They didn't have end tables that I really dug or wanted to afford.  But they did have a television stand that Kevin liked.  It was $400, so not cheap but not super-expensive anyway.  I told him we should think on it and not be impulsive.

We went home and I went online to order the night stands.  Go figure that for half the price, I found a television stand that was very similar to the one we found.  I ordered it and the night stands for less than the price of the single stand we found at the furniture store.

I understand that the furniture quality will be different.  But I am okay with it because neither of them are high traffic items.  They just have to sit there and look pretty.

The next night I checked out the craigslist just one more time. I told Kevin that I was giving up and choosing my battles. I was going to be happy with the night stands and television table. We have lots of changes coming and they sell end tables every day so I should just wait.

Until!  Finally!  There was a matching pair of tables just like I wanted.  I emailed them and said I'd buy them the very next day if they were still available.  I had to wait until almost noon the next day for a response.  Ugh. So. Not. Patient.

They were still for sale.  They were in a town 45 minutes away and I didn't even care.  It's all back roads, farmland driving so I was up for the adventure.

$45 EACH.  I know, right?  They appear to be brand-new.  The glass is perfect, there are no scratches anywhere and they're 100% oak.  They match our other furniture, including the soon-to-arrive television stand.  I was so happy and excited that I actually clapped my hands when I saw them.

So, let's tally up, shall we?  For two night stands, one television stand, and two end tables, I've spent the same amount I would have on just the television stand at the real furniture store.

Did I mention new appliances?  Oh yes, new washer and dryer that Kevin bought when I was still bed-ridden will arrive next week.  I bought a new dishwasher yesterday and that will be installed today (fingers crossed, KEVIN)  After next week, our house will be shiny and new again; except the damn painting.

We do need to paint.  It's been ten years after all.  Wear and tear is showing.  I was banned from painting in the new house (I'm horribly messy) but I've learned that the ban has recently been lifted.  Now I have to think about that next challenge. 

Of course, where I want to paint the mostest is the place that needs it the leastest.  I would love to paint the kitchen a soft yellow color.  But what needs it the most is the master bath, the laundry room, and a wall in the living room.

This is my plan: next week I will probably paint the kitchen in an attempt to get excited about painting elsewhere.  I fear that this will just remind me how much I hate painting.  But I'm going to try. Because I have time on my hands these days.

It would, of course, make more sense to paint before the new flooring but I didn't think of this in time and I'm still absolutely freaking out over having to pack everything up in order to do the flooring.  It's not to say that I might not lose my mind and attempt it anyway but probably not.

So, yeah, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.  That's my life right now. Oh, you don't know that book? It starts something like "If you give a mouse a cookie, then he is going to want a glass of milk. Once he has a glass of milk, then he's going to want a napkin.  Once you give him the napkin, he'll want to..."  I don't remember the rest but you get the gist of it.

It started with appliances, then flooring, then furniture and now paint. Now I need a cookie.

03 March 2015

It's A Small World

I blew up my Facebook newsfeed last night and this morning.  It started innocently enough.  A childhood friend mentioned her Girl Scout uniform in a status update.  I remembered that I posted a class photo a few years ago and she was wearing it.  So, I reposted the photo.

An online class/school reunion ensued.  It was kind of awesome.

Then I offered to post the rest of the class photos that I have.  I did it this morning, tagged everyone I could, and invited others to tag also.  Holy crackers.  Approximately eleventy billion notifications later, it is as if the entire school has reconnected.  I found and friended three classmates and can facebook stalk a few others. 

The downside is that tagged people's friends can comment or like.  I have to double-check to make sure it's not someone I know.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth grades were combined so there are older and younger kids in the photos as well. Also, two different elementary schools are involved. It's my own Six Degrees of Separation.

One of my friends (a guy) was teased about the oh so attractive 1980's haircut.  He was one of the cutest boys in our class for forever.  So, I commented "I can attest on behalf of the girls, chicks dug that haircut back in the day."  That was kind of fun.  I was teased about having perfectly feathered hair in one photo.  So, essentially, it was sixth grade all over again. But in a good, happy way.

I did have some hesitation that someone might not appreciate being tagged but I figure they can go back and untag themselves. I wouldn't be offended.  Also, they were already my facebook friends so it probably wasn't going to be an issue.  But one never knows.

Also, I think nearly everyone was named and updated in the photos.  There were a few kids that we only had a first name and collectively we were all "That's so-and-so and they live in Texas now."   The names that some of us remember are nicknames that no longer used.  Ron was Ronnie back in the day or I only remember him as "DJ" and someone else says "Oh, that's David..."

It's been a fun experience, all in all.  Right now many folks are at work so I imagine the fun will begin again this evening as people settle in and realize they have time traveled via the facebook.

I highly recommend that you do it if you have access to your classroom photos!  I just thought if nothing else, some of the people either don't have theirs anymore or couldn't get them back in the day and now they can have them.

26 February 2015

Page By Page

I've been diligently working on the massive bookshelf over the past few days.  Diligently defined as shelf by shelf, book by book, and in between other chores, television shows, and anything else that distracts.

I'm surprised and horrified to find that there are three full shelves of books that I still need to read.  Three shelves.  It's safe to say: I have issues.  No more book buying for me for a while. (<-- lie="" total--="" total="">

I try to not keep a book that I know I'm not going to read again but that hasn't always been the case.  It used to be that I kept them willy-nilly until the house threatened to cave under the weight.

When we first moved into this house, I didn't have the big bookcase yet.  I lined up the books below the big window in my office.  I loved how it looked but it drove Kevin mental.  Now I try to keep them in the bookcase as best as possible.  And I'll admit, once I had them picked up and put away, I did feel a little better too.

Fun fact: when we packed the old house and moved into this one I didn't mark the unread books.  They became all mixed up and I'm still finding a book that I bought years ago and never read.  A fun surprise sometimes.

It's difficult to cull through books because I have a wide range of "Why did I buy this?" to "I can't believe I still HAVE this!" to "I don't know that I ever read this." For one thing, there is something pleasing and comforting about looking at stacks or shelves of books.  All the potential.  The "Oh, I loved that book!". The pleasing esthetic look of them.

I will admit that I have an entire shelf of old-school paperback Danielle Steel novels dating back to my high-school days.  Imagine my horror when I realized these books were thirty years old. 
In my defense, back-in-the-day Danielle Steel used to write these epic novels. Well written, complicated storylines, multi-character stories. Stories about the Romanovs, the Titanic survivors, behind the scenes of a television show.  Now it seems like she churns out novels as if she just copy and pastes character names and descriptions into different settings.  It's disappointing, really.

But I've kept these older novels because of the rainbow color bookcovers.  They sat on a lower shelf and were just lovely to look at.  But now that shelf space is at a premium, I'm going to have to let go.

As I took them off the shelf, the dust was thick, the bindings stiff and brittle, and the pages yellowed.  I feel badly now that they've been left to deteriorate on a shelf.  I'm still keeping a few of them, age be damned.  The rest of them will go to Goodwill.  

I have a big stack of books by two different authors that I'm now wondering why I have them.  I read the jackets or just a few paragraphs and I'm over it.  I don't know what happened there. Perhaps I liked one or two books so I did the "BUY ALL THE THINGS!" and that's why I have them. I blame second hand shops and Amazon. Tastes change, I realize.  Maybe if I made an effort to really sit down with them then my interest would be rekindled, but that defeats the purpose of this whole exercise.

Book snobbery has come into play a bit as well.  Oh, the jacket cover is gone: can't keep you. The binding is cracked: nope, off you go! Cover is out-of-date and unattractive, thanks for playing but no.

So, I have the categories of "Haven't Read" "Can't Bear to Part With" "Read but Look Forward to Reading Again" and "Not Sure but Feel Compelled to Keep."

 It's daunting but I know that I will probably cull again when packing the remaining books into boxes and unpacking said boxes back onto the shelves.  I'm also going to play the surgery card and have Kevin load them into the 4Runner so I don't get all wistful and sentimental.

Stacks of books whose fate has yet to be determined

24 February 2015

Disassembly Required

Kevin and I have clearly gone mutually insane.  We have decided to change the carpet and flooring in the house.  The whole house. Every room.

It's not the money, I'm not so much worried about that.  It's the disassembling of the entire house.
Everything has to be moved out in order for the carpet to be laid.  Everything.  All my books.  I'm supposed to be working on those right now, don't tell Kevin I'm here. All of the CLOSETS.  OMG, Monica's Closet!!  Two big china cupboards full of antique dishes and toys.  My 200 lb. war-era, oak desk. 

Sweet baby jesus.  I need a drink, stat.

I'm trying to tell myself that it will be an adventure.  Think of how nice it will be to cull stuff.  Everything can be returned better, cleaner, more organized.

And then I look at this:

two layers of books on some shelves. Mostly hardbacks.

200 lbs.  I have to clean out the drawers.  I have to file.

I'm steadfastly ignoring the case on the left, which is FULL of Hot Wheels.  One, two, three, NOT IT, Kevin!  Or the fact that it's sitting on a bookcase full of Kevin's books.

Also, I feel compelled to state that I'm not a pillow fetish person, they are a lame attempt to keep the puppy from jumping up on the desk.  It failed. 

And the above is only an example of the office.  Again, I repeat: two china cupboards.  One more bookcase. Our entire bedroom. The closets.  The kitchen.  Did I mention that they're taking out the kitchen island to lay the flooring?  I didn't? Oh yeah.  And all the appliances.

*deep breathing*

I am going to implement Swistle's technique of "Does it bless or oppress?" and be ruthless about my babies, I mean, my books.

I should say that I feel a little like a spoiled brat complaining because "Wah, you're getting new carpet and wood flooring."  But the mere contemplation of disassembling this house after living in it ten years is daunting, at best.

So, I think the best first step is to take the puppy to get coffee.

Warning Signs

Well, that was quick.

I went to work earlier this week, the first time since they took out all my bionic parts.  I was so frustrated to have to return to work because I was beginning to hate and resent the job.  It was starting to make me anxious and grumpy. Also, like no other job I'd ever had, there was no contact last week regarding my health or anything.  I know I'd only worked there like five minutes but I was still surprised and disappointed.

On paper it's a very good job. On. Paper.   In reality, it is almost an episode of The Office.

The first three days I was there, I didn't have a desk.  So I hovered at others desks and felt awkward the whole time.  Then the person that was supposed to be training me was either not there, too busy, and just didn't participate.  I spent the first two weeks feeling like an outsider, even when I had a desk. One of the ladies helped train me and so did the assistant manager when he had time but really, three different people training someone is setting that person up for certain failure. (warning sign!)

To add insult to injury, the person that was supposed to be training me (who wasn't my supervisor, but yet kind of was) is socially awkward and often takes...no exaggeration...to the count of ten to respond to you in any way.  With eye contact, verbally, or even a hand gesture.  This is not fun to learn to cope with while you're still trying to learn the job.  The assistant manager is quiet and non-confrontational.  He spent time slumped behind his monitor, working. I would ask if there was something I could be doing and often there wasn't. In theory, it sounds fun to be paid to do nothing but that is not how I'm wired.  Also, the non-profit manager in me was silently screaming that I should be sent home if there wasn't work.  On some level, I think they intended this to also be part of the orientation; to just absorb the environment and learn by osmosis.

Now, the business is just one really large room.  There aren't any offices or even cubicles.  It's just a huge open space with desks arranged in kind of an organized fashion.  There are 18 people in this room so a person hears 18 conversations, 18 phones, 18 ringtones, etc.  This is fantastic with those of us that are wired like me.  Also, so not productive for anyone. I don't know how anyone thought this was a good idea.

I should also mention that nearly everyone there was ill and out of the office at least a day a week.  I was only there two months.  The room  design and absence connect seems obvious to me but not to anyone else, apparently.

Now, this is where I also say that the owner/manager has a standing desk in the middle of everything.  He literally stands at his desk all day, no chair even exists.  He's in the middle of everything so you hear his calls, etc.  This means you also get to hear when he has disagreements with his employees or does any kind of interaction really.  I listened to him chastise two different employees in front of everyone.  I tell you what, if that had happened to me directly I would walk out so fast.

The owner/manager is also one of those people that reads self-help and motivation books.  You can tell that by talking to him and by looking at how he manages people. In some ways, he was very much Michael Scott.

He is also conservative Christian.  I found this out on my first day, by his own admission. That was one of my first warnings and I should have listened.  He takes lunch every day at 11:30 and he sits in his car and listens to the radio. (I know, right? He owns the company)  One day I overheard that he was listening to Rush Limbaugh (to which I thought "OF COURSE!")  Imagine my surprise when later that afternoon he mentioned that he was listening to his bible study tapes in the car during lunch.  I so badly wanted to shout "Your pants are so on fire!" LIAR!"  This was one of my other warnings.

He also had the tendency to make blanket proclamations like "I don't like the Big Bang Theory, it's stupid." As if others opinions or tastes doesn't matter. Remember, it's a big room with 18 people so everyone hears. Another warning sign that I should have heeded.

Now, it's a security company so their products are used throughout the building.  This means that there are security cameras all through the office. AND every work station has software so that you can tune in to see all the cameras.  Essentially a person could spend all day watching their co-workers on the security footage.  This is just weird to me. I can understand that you can tell where someone is if they are needed and that can be handy.  But, it seems overly invasive and controlling.

I spent a good portion of my day surfing the internet (the cameras missed me. You could kind of only tell if I was at my desk)  because there just wasn't anything for me to do.  There would be little pockets of busyness that would last, at most, 30 minutes.  They kept saying that it was going to get busy but it just never did.  I don't know if they didn't plan well or over-estimated the need for that position or what.

All this being said, the one thing that wasn't made clear and I underestimated myself was the inventory part of the job.  Most inventory has bar codes which are alpha-numeric. Guess what dyslexics struggle with?  Alpha-numerics!  On this portion of the job, I was not a good fit for this position.  At ALL.

Which brings me to the point: I'm no longer working there.  We mutually agreed that it wasn't a good fit for me.  I very nearly skipped out of the building.  I called Kevin (almost from my desk) to tell him.  He said "You sound upset, are you upset?"  I was all "NO! I'm so relieved.  I'm actually pleased!"

In case you're wondering, yes I left the nerf gun behind.  It didn't feel right to take it.  Shoot it at people, yes. :)

Oh, and if you're wondering but what if? about the job...here's where I tell you that it is required that you bring a treat for everyone ON YOUR OWN BIRTHDAY.  I thought they were joking when I was told about it but not so much.  They also advertise everyone's birthdays and work anniversaries on the bulletin board so everyone knows it's your birthday.