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?