29 June 2019

Snow White's Neighborhood

Sometimes I am super bitter about living in the beautiful PNW.  Like when we have snow for 45 days or no electricity for four days.  I know, I am so needy.  Then it turns into summer and the Why The EFF Do We Even Live Here season ends. Then I remember why we live here.

This morning as I was leaving, something caught my eye as I was turning out of our driveway.  In the field was a teenaged size deer, just hanging out. Doing it's deer thing.  I'm sure there was a sibling or mama nearby.  I tried to get a photo but it realized I saw it and scampered away.

Because dogs, we don't see deer on the property often.  We know they're out there, we just don't usually see them.  I've mentioned before that we have had multiple cougar sightings in the neighborhood.  Last weekend our neighbor sent us a text that a black bear has now been sighted.  "We live in a zoo!" I replied.

Much to Lucy's entertainment/frustration there are plenty of bunnies around.  And squirrels.  And birds.  Living here is like living in Snow White's forest except the animals don't help with the housework.

In the garden I have concentrated on having bee friendly flowers, which has also brought hummingbirds.  They've joined the robins and sparrows that know Lucy isn't going to bother them and will hang out.  However, bluejays yell at her on the regular, I don't know what their beef is.  I think they're just particularly yelly.

There is a giant heron that lives in the creek and it is Lucy's nemesis.  She yells at it but never, ever chases it.  I think it's because it's HUGE.  Years ago it flew over the house and the littles lost their minds. They were CONVINCED it was a dinosaur.

We have plenty of hawks (my favorite) and eagles.  In the last few years, a turkey vulture has been in  the neighborhood.  I do not enjoy.  It is a creepy bird that feels like it's escaped from somewhere I don't want to be. Before I knew what it was, I took a photo and texted it to Kevin with the caption of "WTAF IS THAT?!"

Lucy is a champion mouse and mole catcher.  She leaves us her catches on the regular.  It's a difficult task of praising her for getting them while being icked out that I now have to dispose of it.

It's not unusual to have to stop for an animal on the way to work. A deer crossing the road, crows having a feast from some unfortunate squirrel. An indecisive squirrel.  A person just gets used to it. Then someday you realize this isn't normal for some folks. Not everyone gets to live in harmony with woodland creatures.  What a shame.  Well, except for the dead moles and vultures part.

27 June 2019

A Different Kind of Toolbox

*I found this post on the dinosaur laptop. I would have bet money I posted it but I don't see it.  So, if this sounds familiar: Hi, welcome to my brain.*

I went to a trauma stewardship conference for work and I found her to be one of the more worthwhile speakers I’ve heard in my lifetime.  Her name is Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute and her book is Trauma Stewardship.

She speaks to folks who work as first responders or in social services, or to those who have experienced severe trauma (like hurricane survivors, for example.) And/or recently: all of the above.

I think some people were looking for a specific toolbox, if you will, as how to handle traumatic experiences and secondary trauma. Like: if this bad thing happens, do this. During this speech, that isn’t what she provided. She is very real and pragmatic and I related to her very much. (she curses! and some folks clutched their pearls. I was, obviously, fine)

What she did provide is a “Hey, we all have experienced some bad shit” acknowledgement. Which in itself was a little soothing. You're in a giant room with folks who all work in social services, first responders, etc. You're all in the same boat.

She went on to define trauma as a spectrum: it can be a hurricane, or a shooting, or domestic violence, or the death of a loved one, or even just the current state of the world.  Trauma can also be an accident or the death of a loved one, or simply the loss of a favorite item. 

She mentioned that experiencing a traumatic event or secondary trauma is very personal and like grief cannot be judged or measured by any other human.  What’s traumatic to you is maybe not to me or vice versa.

So, for example,  if you’re feeling stupid because you’re still upset over a car accident even though you’re fine, that’s still a traumatic experience.  If you lost a job, that is a traumatic experience.  It doesn’t have to be something as huge as watching your house blow away like the Wizard of Oz.  It could be as simple as you left your favorite book on the bus.

It made me realize that there have been traumas in life and that I didn’t really label as such.  It just happened.  It was just life, I shrug. But no, those are traumas.  Just not physical ones or  the big obvious ones. 

Having had the childhood I had, I realize that my definition of trauma is vastly different than others and very probably skewed.  And the fact of the childhood I had affects the very definition of instances/traumas I’ve had since.  It’s kind of a mind-eff for me. 

What now, though?  A toolbox she did offer are simple suggestions, such as going outside.  Go outside and just stand for a few minutes.  Go look out the window if you can’t go out.  Go stand in a dark closet and just breathe. (or scream)  Find something to help you process.  Something that is not screen related, like television, cell phone, or video game.    Create something, even something simple like coloring or something big like painting or writing a novel.  The point was more about the task of creation than the thing.
The other tool she offered was to label it.  Acknowledge it.  Call it out of the darkness. 

We teach children every day to identify and regulate feelings.  Somewhere along the way, as we become adults, we lose that capability. Toddlers can cry and tell us they’re sad. Teenagers can stomp, slam the door and tell us they’re angry.  Maybe it’s just me but when’s the last time you caught yourself and said “Wow, that was really scary.”  “Omg, that makes me sad.” Or more importantly: “This makes me happy.”

The next suggestion was: Find what centers you and go do that.  Again, it doesn't have to be a big thing. You don't have to be suddenly running marathons.  It can be ten minutes coloring, working in a garden, sitting in the park watching people.  Anything that makes you take a moment to just be. to let your mind relax and process. And doing it on the regular. Not just once and go "Oh, that was good. I'm better."

Because processing is the part that gets stomped down into the deep dark place so often.  People feel silly because they're still thinking about it. People feel scared that the feelings won't go away.  Or people get stuck in a loop that they can't kick out of.  By doing something literally mindless, it lets the brain process and heal. It lets the body literally breathe.  

And this is where Surely tried mediation and loved it.  And started working outside more.  And writing more. And dealing with her shit.  Highly recommend finding what tool in your toolbox will help you. 


One favorite part is that she mentioned Jenny Lawson by name and equally in the same sentence as David Sedaris.  She was referring to their openness about their own mental issues and the positive impact they have brought toward the stigma of trauma and mental health.

26 June 2019

Treasure Amongst Spare Change

After Kevin's truck was in the shop for over a month, we picked it up last night.  It was dirty from sitting and repairs so Kevin decided that it was time to clean it up. Even though dinner was nearly ready.

I went out to help him and I admit I was a little tired/grumpy about it.  I have a cold and the aforementioned dinner.  But if I helped, it would be over quicker and I really did understand his excitement about finally having his truck back.

For reasons not worth reviewing here, we took the seat out of the truck.  We've had this truck since 1994 and both of us have driven it for long periods of time.  It was in need of a deep detail, for sure.

Kevin pulled out receipts, change, air fresheners, random coat hook, and the yuck that accumulates over that many years.  He paused then set something on the dash.  "Well, look at that. Where did that come from?"

And this is where Surely nearly burst into tears. Kevin noticed my reaction and was all "What is happening?"  I don't get emotional so he was convinced his wife was broken.

During Christmas many, many, years ago, I bought a Mickey Mouse wrist watch for my birthday.  It was at the end of my first marriage and it was one of those just-for-me, frivolous, life affirming purchases. I was with very someone special to me at the time. A person who helped glue me back together.

The watch was the only thing I had left that was associated to them.  Then way back in about 2004-ish, I lost it.  I tore the house apart, my office, all the vehicles. We even moved a year later and still no watch. I mean, it was gone forever.

And then there it is.  A little dirty but exactly as I remembered it.

Kev didn't remember the watch because it was before him and just not something on his radar.  Even though he's not sentimental, he was happy that I had it again.

It's a little thing but it means so much for me to have it back.  It's like the Universe rewarded me for the Dealing With My Shit Quest.

It plays "The Mickey Mouse Club" and may cause time travel back to 1990

25 June 2019

Thirty One Years Ago

Thirty-one years ago, I was nineteen.  Looking at the photo below, one would assume that I had all my hopes and dreams ahead of me.  I did...and I didn't.  Sure, I was looking forward to the future but I knew that it most likely wasn't going to be what I hoped.

At this point, I already knew I'd gotten myself into a situation, if you will, but the aspect of staying home was more unappealing than what I was walking into.  Hooray for difficult childhoods! And really, this is me at my core: headfirst into things and building my parachute on the way down.

Now it's been thirty-one years ago, as of today.  It has reached a kind of surreal status.  I remember it but it's almost feels like someone else's life.  It's been nearly an entire lifetime, really.  There is really not a single thing the same as that period of time.  Different name, different husband and family, different hometown, different friends.  Different career. No church affiliation now. Completely different person.

Sure, there are things that I miss about that time. Mostly the fairy tale part of it.  The hopefulness of it. The fearlessness, oh how I wish I still had some of that!  My friends or rather, the interconnectedness of those friends. At that age, everyone is inseparable.  The rest of it though? Not so much.

It's one of those situations where everything happens for a reason and we don't get to know why.  Well, specifically this happened because 19 years old and felt powerless.  Other than that though. It was a fairy tale. Like those scary and graphic Grimm Brothers ones.


23 June 2019

I Want to Make a Pun...But...

Along the lines of the Universe is just making fun now, I received a random text from my childhood best friend.

"If I send you a free caulk gun, would you use it and put a review on wallyworld dot com for me?"

Umm, random.  Okay, sure.

If I am remembering correctly, she works in research and development? marketing?  *squinting because my memory is rubbish these days*  But I would probably do it even if it were just a joke because why not?

And OF COURSE I wanted to do this.  What a fun adventure! (maybe I need to get out more)

And sure enough, about four days later I am the proud owner of a new caulk gun and caulking. Remarkably, Kevin was not as excited as I was, what a buzzkill.  Probably because he was going to do the work but whatevs.

Our house is fourteen years old so this is actually perfect timing.  It is way time to caulk around the sinks and backsplashes.  We did some of them during the painting adventure but hadn't touched the kitchen yet.

It worked perfectly and even Kevin was surprised.  He doesn't surprise easily and entered into this with skeptical pants. I suggested that maybe I could try but I only got a raised eyebrow in response.  Fair enough, hand-eye coordination isn't quite my thing.  But he has to leave the house sometime and he didn't do the common folk bathroom sink.

Indeed, I did leave a review on the wally world dot com website.  I'm not great at those but I remembered what Kevin said and wrote that. Something about not needing to ratchet it?  I should listen better.

This is just one of those completely random, "Oh, this is fun!" things that I had to share.  Although I  couldn't use any fun, pun post titles that wouldn't ping as adult entertainment.  Sigh.

21 June 2019

A Deck of Cards

If you know me, you know that coffee is a very real thing in my life.  And you know that I live in the beautiful PNW where there is a coffee stand on every corner.

All of the coffee stands that aren't Starbucks, have punch cards.  After 10 or 12 punches, you get a free drink.  All the coffee stands offer one when you go so it's not uncommon to have multiple cards in your car. It's like a road map of where you've traveled, like those United States stickers on motorhomes.

Like yesterday, when I discovered I have three cards for the stand near our house.  Kevin has been using my truck on the weekends and couldn't find mine so now I have multiple. And if I look in both of his trucks, there will be multiples in those vehicles as well.

To be fair, Kevin has more cards than I do because he works in yet a different county and travels more than I do.  One of the stands has a credit card style card.  I like it the best because it's durable and reusable.  I actually keep it with my ID and stuff because there are stands in two counties.

I have a card from a really nice stand down south that one of Kevin's guys owns. They write your name on it, for some reason. Maybe because I'm the former boss's wife, I am not sure.  I only go there once in a great while though.  I'm not sure where I was going with this.

Oh, I know.  If you live here, it's not uncommon that you know people who own coffee stands.  We have two friends plus Kevin's guy who own stands.  Coffee also is like wine in this instance.  Some stands make their coffees weak or too strong.  Some stands also have food. Some have terrible customer service.  Some stands are "bikini" stands. (also known as strippers who make coffee.)  There's some real diversity is the point.

I still have two cards from the city where I used to work.  I can't make myself toss them, for some reason. The odds of me ever using them are slim, especially since one is for a cafe and not drive-through.  We have a punch card for Port Orchard, which is almost four hours away and we took it because...we don't know. Habit, probably.

Even I was surprised to see just how many of these cards I have and this isn't counting my starbucks app.  I guess it's like player's cards at the casinos. OR it's kind of like bingo, with a guaranteed prize at the end.

It just occurred to me that this is probably a PNW specific thing. 

19 June 2019

They Want Me to Go to the Zoo. No No No

The kids are going to the zoo this weekend and invited us.

I knew Kevin would probably say no, for a variety of reasons.  He's in his busy season so probably doesn't want to spend his only off day traveling and at the zoo.  It's also Father's Day so he gets a free pass for that day, and it would mean that his dad would be alone on Father's Day.  Add to it that it would mean traveling with his brother, which never ends well.  Many reasons for a no, is what I am saying.

But I asked anyway, in the vain hope that he would want to go anyway. Because kids.

He did say no but not for any of the above listed reasons.  Sometimes he still surprises me.

First he hesitated then he said "It  just makes me sad."

"What? spending time with the kids makes you sad?"

"No, the animals at the zoo makes me sad."

He hates that they're not free. He hates that they are on display.  He wants them to be in their own homes, in their own environments. Doing their animal thing.

Collective AWWWWWWW...

Okay, fair enough. No zoo for us.  Bless his animal loving heart.

Disclosure: Woodland Park Zoo does a really good job at making natural environments and conservation is their jam.

17 June 2019

It's More of a Food Square

When I was a  really small child, I was allergic to many things. I grew out of most of them eventually as often happens with allergies.

But as I've aged, allergies are back and they've brought their friends; especially in the last ten years or so.  It used to be only eggs.  Now, eggs have friends on the list: apples (anaphylaxis, if you can believe that) honey, strawberries, and nearly all the antibiotics.

Eggs have been a constant though.  Depending on the form and the amount, it can be as inconvenient as eczema or as miserable as tummy trouble. I know I can have eggs about once a month and get a free pass. Kinda.  The allergy is to actual eggs, eggs IN things are fine. Because why be simple?

One of the funny things is that I never learned how to cook eggs. I couldn't eat them so why bother learning how?  Well, Kevin is why.  Kevin is not allergic to eggs.  He showed me how to scramble eggs early on in our relationship.  Then one day, embarrassingly not that long ago, I decided to learn how to fry an egg.  (I don't fry ANYTHING)  I set up the tablet in the kitchen with a youtube video and learned.

Then there's the stuff that I just can't eat hardly at all anymore. I don't know if it's allergic or age, or something else.  But it's namely red meat.  Sometimes I'm fine and sometimes I have a stomach ache and spend the evening berating myself for making stupid choices. Dairy is also on this list.  The only milk I drink is in mochas. Ice cream is rare and often regrettable. I seem to do okay with cheese. Thank you sweet, tiny baby jesus. But there is no logic, really.

And sometimes I'll eat something just because it sounds good and know that I'll suffer for it. Because I am a responsible adult who makes good decisions.

Friends and family have followed the Keto Plan and had success so I looked into it. It's like a Greatest Hits List of Things Surely Cannot Eat. Not all of it, of course, but enough that it's not worth the risk. All in all, I do pretty well anyway.  Vegetables are the most difficult thing to fit in there. Because: vegetables.

AND THEN, we have my family.  Red meat Everything.  Mayonnaise is a food group.  Every once in a while they will go on a "diet", and my hand to god, will order salads WITH STEAK because they are dieting.  They will make salmon but there is so much butter and salt on it that it is rendered fast food level unhealthy.  So I have had to opt out of a lot of meals.  This is met with just the tiniest bit of eye-rolling.  But then they don't accommodate for Nephew's Crohns so at least they are consistent.

 If you knew me back in the day, I subsisted on Mountain Dew or Coke  and McDonald's french fries. Snickers bars.  Happy Meals. Cereal. (and I weighed 100 lbs soaking wet. Life is cruel.)  It's irony that now I can have nearly none of that.  Maybe I just used up my lifetime supply in my early years.

Well, what can I eat now, you ask? Because that is a pretty decent list of Do Not Eat. I eat more fruit than before...effing bananas...and vegetables.  Although vegetables like from a deli tray - the only ones I really like - will mess a girl up too if I'm not careful.  I eat white meat: chicken and turkey.  Never pork, not for any god reason but I just have never been a fan.  I eat a lot of salmon, tuna, and cod.  Luna, KIND, and Clif bars are my savior. (eternally grateful to Swistle for that)

But then I couldn't figure it out.  I would eat fish and have tummy troubles.  I was starting to worry that one of my favorite things was also being added to the list.  Then I figured it out.  And I felt dumb. Really dumb.

It's an If/Then situation:
IF: Tartar Sauce, then:
IF: Mayonnaise, then:

Sometimes, I shouldn't be allowed to make decisions.

The point being is I've had to really simplify what I eat.  Being a kind of picky eater, this ups the difficulty level a bit.  And I hate making food for myself. I'll make Kevin's lunch every workday morning but when it comes to making my own, I'm all NOPE.  I have no idea why this is.

The current solution is Kind/Luna/Lara/Clif bars and string cheese.  Sometimes I'll buy deli sandwiches but that seems wasteful.  The hated bananas.  Yogurt.  I need to think about making smoothies but I just sent the blender next door for the mother to (not) use.

Because I am the girl who will forget to eat, it has to be simple. Luckily I am absolutely sick of eating out so fast food rarely sounds good. There is no break room at my office, only a dorm fridge and microwave, with no sink.  Thus the simple lunches.

It's easily solved really: just don't eat.  Or hire a cook (that is really a dream of mine. Seriously)

16 June 2019

On This Father's Day

Father's Day is another unusual, awkward day for me/us. So, I try to reframe this day every year, with varying results.

Who were the father figures for me?

Obviously, Kev isn't a father.  My dad passed away ten years ago this coming August and we were not close at all.  Although he lived with us, he was absent a large portion of my childhood.

After my dad passed, my mom tried to continue the father's day tradition stating "Well, your brother is a father..."  Ummm, no.  And that's a little icky, mom, thanks.

And now we have Nephew, father of six and Like A Son to us.  But he's not Our Son and we have to be careful not to offend his SensitivePants father.

Funny, touching story. Off topic of course:
When Nephew's wife met his parents, she said she was puzzled as to where Nephew's personality and general being originated from.  Because she wasn't seeing it reflected in his parents.  A little while later, she met us.  She said it took a few minutes of time spent with us when she realized "Oh, THERE it is.  That's where he came from."  That makes me teary now, and it's been ten years.

Even though Nephew was not raised by a good dad, he has become a great dad.  I'm continually proud of who he has become.  Handling six kids from babyhood to teenagers like a master even though he didn't have many tools in his toolbox. Other than how Not To Be.

Other Nephew is also a good dad.  We just aren't as close to him.  As a dad to a teen gay son in a still judgey world, he's a freaking rock star.

My niece's fiance is a fantastic stepdad to my (dad's namesake) nephew.  He has stepped in and stepped up to fill shoes for this awesome little kid who deserves to have a daddy that will play legos, and go to pizza, and, and, and all the things dads are supposed to do.

My high school best friend's dad - who Kevin is just like - was a dad figure to me.  Funny. Loud. Brutally honest.

Then we get to Kevin's dad.  He has been my dad for almost thirty years.  He's the one that helps when we need it...and don't need it.  He's the one that brings over strawberries, watermelon, or dinner.  He's the one that helped Kevin build our deck, build my beautiful rock garden, fix anything that ever needs fixing...and somethings that don't.  He's the one that checked on me every single day for two months when I was on bedrest.

So, even though he does the murder-inducing not-whistling, and is the abuser of the English language on the regular, he's the man.  He's the lovable sitcom dad.  He has aged considerably over the last year.  A stroke will do that to you. And so will time.

Father's Day can be a complicated day for many of us.  Find the father's/father figures in your life and give them the shout out they have earned.

15 June 2019

Listen to the Universe

It's Saturday morning and Kevin is at work.  Lucy and I slept in a little longer than normal and now I'm at my desk with coffee and a muffin muffin-shaped chocolate cake.

Here's the tentative to-do list:
water plants
give Lucy a bath
paint one wall in our bedroom

So far, I've made coffee.  And if I'm being honest, I did that at 5:30 this morning when Kev left for the day.  I lack motivation, just yet.  What's funny is motivation will inconveniently kick in later this afternoon/evening when it's much too late to do most of that list.

I've been running, running, running lately and I think my body and psyche is finally all "NOPE" today. Finally.  I knew it was going to happen eventually and I'm not gonna lie: I was kind of hoping for it to be on a workday.

We were gone all last weekend and then it was a busy week.  I met a friend in my old city for walkies last night instead of family dinner. After all of that, it almost feels weird to be quiet.

But that's what I'm doing right now.  Trusty cup of coffee in my favorite cup (from the nephew). Sleeping dog in the sun behind me.  Music playing through the house. Doors wide open because summer is finally here.

It's important, I think, to listen to the universe and take a break when it tells you to.  The chores can wait.

2nd Cup of Motivation

13 June 2019

Want Me to Vacuum?

May was a month of just randomness and just big stuff.  It's like the universe decided that was the month to throw a lot of stuff at me to see how well I can catch and/or duck. Highlights: Kevin's mom, Kevin's aunt passed, multiple big conversations, I effed up my ankle (yes, that one), work stuff with still no contract at work for the 19-20 school year, car trouble...you name it.  Venus is in refrigerator or something, I'm telling you.

So, when I'm working through stuff I tend to tackle large projects.  Kind of along the line of rage cleaning.

First I rehabbed the office where I am now sitting.  It feels so much better with the desk moved, the uncomfortable chair gone, and the clutter distributed elsewhere.  This morning the sun is shining in the window, there is a breeze, and it's warm enough to have it open.

Next I pressure-washed our big deck and eventually the smaller one.  The big deck wraps around the end of our house and has 146 spindles. Spindles are dumb and I hate them, especially when there are 146 of them.  However, I love to pressure wash because the results are immediate.  I plug in my music and off I go. Hours go by and I am a happy camper.

Next, because I have issues and all that barely put a dent in them, I finished painting the living room/dining area.  I left the most difficult wall for last because I am a glutton for punishment. Difficult because of the pellet stove and the high vaulted ceiling, and the not being tall. But I persevered and now it's done.  In case you're curious, it took one and a half playing of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody to paint that wall.  (with one break to go retrieve a broken down truck BECAUSE OF COURSE)

Yesterday I tackled the garden.  Weeding, trimming wildly growing plants, trying to determine weed from plant, trying to remember what/where I planted last summer. It took about half a day and I stopped only because it was getting too warm to continue. I will work on it more over the week but really, it's never "done."

Yes, that plant looks dead. It does that. Although it's fate is yet to be determined
Same dead looking plant 

While the house and garden are greatly benefiting from my strange coping skills, I'm still working through stuff but feeling marginally better.  Thank baby jesus that it's nice outside, otherwise this process would look like Doctor Who viewing marathons, coffee, and endless games of Farmville.

I think I need to have someone read my star chart or whatever.  Although I'm sure it looks like Van Gogh's Starry Night mixed with Munch's The Scream.  Otherwise, I'm going to run out of projects and I'll be knocking on your door.  You think I'm kidding.

11 June 2019

Searching and A Slinky

My contract is still pending because the federal budget process etc. has been unstable and the HeadStart contracts aren't approved yet. I've been snooping through the jobs emails that I still receive. I don't really have intentions of changing jobs but with the uncertainty right now, this makes me feel a little better.

Remember when I had the temp job with the military contractor? It was totally boring but working in boy world was fun and the wage was amazing even though there were no benefits, to speak of, for a part time position.

They're hiring for that position again. It's full-time now and looks like they've fine-tuned it, made it a little more attractive to work there.  I'm still not interested in it at all.  First-thing morning meetings every.single.day, boringness beyond belief, a Michael Scott type leader. Just No.

But it was fun for a summer job, for a job that I knew had an end-date. It was fun hanging out in boy world.  It was interesting to hear about military contracts but my bleeding liberal heart did have a little conscience crisis.

Oh, and I'm not doing the freelancing thing. I don't think I ever revisited that. (squirrel!)

Because I seem to be a magnet for these things: the director quit. I was disappointed because I really liked her.  It took forever to hire someone new and in the meanwhile, they wanted more, more, more. There were issues with needing stuff while I was working at my "real job" and it just felt like whatever I said, it was ignored. Boundaries didn't seem to be their thing.

Then I found out during my contract negotiation that my job was increasing for 2019-2020 school year and I made it into an opportunity to exit stage left. Now the new person who replaced me is having the exact same issues I was having.  Validation!!


It would be foolish to change jobs at this point.  Other than this whole federal nonsense, it's a really good job. Other than SusyLoudPants.

OMG...this is off topic - big surprise - but I have to tell this story:

SusyLoudPants is a mentor to the teaching staff. This irony is not lost on me AT ALL.  Because the school year is coming to a close, she is at her desk all day, many days.  I have gone home early twice because it's that or an arrest record.

The other day the slinky made an appearance.  FML.  But I'm breathing through it, I have my headphones on. I'm trying to be the bigger person.

Until someone had a question and approached me.  "I had a question about..." schlink schlink schlink "We have this kiddo who needs..." schlink schlink schlink.

I gestured to wait a second.  "Ummm, Barb?"

Long beat. Slinky stops

Silence. It's starting to get awkward.

Finally, an annoyed "Yes?"

In my head, I think that would have been sufficient. If it were me, I would have self-corrected. There's no way she doesn't know what I'm about to say.  But I have to say it anyway "The slinky?"

"Yes" she replies, flatly.

Wtaf.  Sigh.

"So, I struggle with ADD as it is and that is just too much to take."

"I thought because *coworkers name* wasn't here, it was okay."

Wtaf times infinity.

"Yeah. No."

She did put it away but there was pouting.   And this was a day I went home early.

I'm hoping my new contract provides me a relocation.  Or a savings account for bail money. I really do have a valid reason for not signing again: "Reason for not returning: SLINKY"

Oh, wait, I know some military contractors...

09 June 2019

Big Conversations

I don't know what is up with the universe these days.  I think it's because we're feeling like we're living in end times right now.  And not in the "yea, we get to meet jesus way" but in a frogs are falling from the sky and I hear hoofbeats kind of way.

Not only have I had some really big effing conversations in the past month-ish, it seems so have others.  Or Big Conversations are pending.

Let's break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Not that the Universe is giving me that break.

Big Conversation Example #1:
Kevin and I have said emphatically that once things "change" with his parents, we're going to move.  We have talked about it more, now that the time has gotten closer, and we're slowing our roll a little bit. Because of the kids, mostly.  So, that's got a pin in it for now.  That has made me a little sad.

Big Conversation Example #2
What is going to happen when Kevin's mom passes?  As much as we'd love to have some sort of a plan, we don't.  We have no predictions as to how this is going to play out.  Is his dad going to die of a broken heart afterward or is he going to thrive because the pressure/burden is gone?  We don't know.  His brother already has issues, so how is this going to look with him?  We don't know but can go with probably terrible.

Big Conversation  Example #2 the Sequel
It's time to have the "Are you done?" conversation with Kevin's mom.  She is fighting every thing.  Fighting the food thing. Fighting taking care of herself.  Fighting taking her meds.  All of it.  It is begging the question of Are you fighting because you're done or because you no longer know any better?

Big Conversation Example #3
Not going into specifics but I made amends that were long overdue.  I'm still processing all that and don't know how it's going to play out.  It was totally worth it and I'm glad it happened.

Big Conversation Pending
My job role is changing, again.  I won't know anything about it until late June/July when I see my contract.  It's more responsibility and time is all I know.  I'm sitting in the Unknown is Worse than the Known space right now and I don't like it.

Big Conversation Started but Pending
We have to talk about ending an annual family event in my family.  My mom is losing her memory and her sight and has aged considerably in the last year or so.  But this event has gone on since before I was born so we don't know how it's going to play out.  My sister-in-law and I are going to broach the subject soon and I'm not looking forward to it.  Because it's probably not just about the party.

Big Conversation Among Friends
Recently the whole amends thing was a conversation with my friends and it dovetailed into being a conversation about being honest with our feelings versus stuffing them down into the deep dark place.  To make a long story short: my advice was to have the big conversation because to repeat myself: the unknown is so much worse than the known.

So now this takes us to but how? Believe it or not, I am on Team Avoidance most of the time.  Left to my own devices, I tend to just blunder in and to use a quote: sometimes almost literally "Build my parachute on the way down".  Also: big fan of stuffing things down into the deep, dark space. Big fan.

Part of a trauma stewardship conference I attended from work talked about setting intentions.  It's helped me think things through a little better. It's makes you think about "If, Then" in situations.  If *this*, then *what*.   (it's also called Second Step in Early Childhood Ed)  I tend to skip steps in being impulsive so while that can be fun, it can also be a LOT.

Things to consider:
What is the intention?  Is it to be helpful? honest? make amends? All of those?
Who is it going to effect and how?  Sometimes this is unpredictable.
What happens long-term afterward? This one is fun because we don't know most of the time and that's where the parachute comes into play.

07 June 2019

I'm Howard's Mother

No, the title is not a Big Bang Theory reference but that is usually is a safe bet with me.  It's a Howard Stern reference.  If you listen to Howard Stern, he often talks about his parents.  He does impressions of them that have left me crying laughing. He was on Stephen Colbert the other night and did the exact impression that I'm going to refer to.

One of the things that he has often referenced his mom saying is "You do too much. You're so busy."  Then he'll launch into an impression of his mother:  "Do what I do: do one big thing a day. Any more than that is just too much. It's too much."

I've thought about that from time to time.  It has seemed impossible because there's so much to do and then slowly, wow, how true it has become.  I've become a bit of a homebody.  Which would be surprising to someone who knew me back in the day.  A long time ago, I would totally be down to go to the grocery store at 11:00 pm or for a sudden roadtrip.  Or both.

For some people, one big thing a day is enough.  I used to be a Go.Go.GO! person with so many things to do and places to be.  Slowly over time, those things and places faded away.  Now I am Howard's mom.  Going to the grocery store is enough for me. To be honest, sometimes just going to work is enough for me.

There's a meme going around about "Now I understand why my parents didn't want to stop anywhere after work."  I have become that person.  It doesn't matter that the grocery store is easily accessible on the way home, I can't want to.  It's just too much, to quote Howard's mom.

I've found that if I set my intention for a task/errand on a specific day, my brain copes much better.  I have no idea why but I'm guessing it IS something of a coping technique. It allows my brain to process and prepare.  Doesn't matter, I guess, if it works.

Swistle talks about making phone calls or doing errands and other stressful things.  I think that helped in clarifying  what was happening in my brain.  I've worked in high stress jobs and had a, let me say, "interesting" life, so it makes sense that eventually the brain would be all "Nope, not doing that."

The other day I lumped a bunch of appointments into one morning.  The last one was a blood test, which that specifically doesn't bother me at all.  By that time though, I was on sensory overload.  I had all the people my brain could handle. I realized, sitting in the waiting room, which is terribly inconvenient.  And it was a fasting one so add hangry into the mix.  (I continually make good choices, really.)

I've tried to realize when I've hit the tipping point where it's just not worth fighting through it anymore.  Yesterday was one of those days: a broken computer mouse, a broken fax machine, and SusyLoudPants working next to me all day.  (Dude, I can hear her over noise-cancelling headphones.)
I realized I was tapped out and just went home. There was no recovering from it that day.

And flip it, reverse it: When you just can't want to.  I have those days too. When I can't want to do any of all that.  So, I choose one thing, focus as best as I can, and do the One thing.

So I've tried to become a little more mindful. A little more Howard's Mom.  We're hitting a busy two weeks so we'll put the theory to a real test.  Luckily, my summer schedule begins this week so work is less until August. There really is a reason that I work part-time: I am healthier by doing so.  (and LUCKY that I can, I am very aware)

Do just one thing.

05 June 2019

What Is It About Olive Garden

Kevin hates being late.  Hates.It. So the universe gifted him with me, who lives in her own time zone.  The other morning he was late to work because REASONS *wink*wink* If you get what I mean.  Other than I knew he'd have to be creative in his reasons to his guys once he got to work, I really didn't think about it again.


Scene: we're at family dinner again.  Again at Olive Garden. What is it about Olive Garden?

Everyone settles in and Kevin's dad mentions "You were late for work today" to Kevin.

Being under constant surveillance is fun, I'm telling you.

For the one time in the universe, Kevin is speechless and just looks at me.

I burst out laughing and hung my head.  I could feel the flush creep up my face and powerless to stop it.

He started to speak and laugh and I'm all "Kevin Randall, I swear to GOD..."

"Yeah, I was just a little...um...late.  I overslept?" he offers.

And thank you sweet baby jesus, the waitress made an appearance because Kevin's dad would have SO NOT taken the cue to stop asking questions.

Luckily, his mom is oblivious to the conversation, as is the brother-and-sister-in-law.  Because if they had noticed, the story would become part of family lore to be discussed at family dinners and holidays.

Yeah, super fun when your family lives with you. Super.Fun.

03 June 2019

Is It A Pony?

Kevin's mom called the other day to wish me/us a happy anniversary.  She sounded a little spacey but not too bad on the scale of What Planet Is Your Mother On Right Now.

"We are getting you a gift, but not yet.  We didn't have time to get it."

PAUSE: they are home All Day...when is there not time?  After Judge Judy? Before?

She continues:  "And you'll NEVER guess what it is." she giggles.

Oh, gawd.  It could be anything.  "Okay, well, I guess it will be a surprise." I reply.

"Yes, you will NEVER GUESS." continuing to giggle. The kids have hooked her up with some CBD for pain relief so I'm guessing it's affecting her a little bit. They say it's only CBD, at least. At this point, who cares?

Kevin comes home later that day and he has had the exact same conversation with her.

"Is it a pony?" I ask "I bet it's a pony."

Skip ahead a few days and it's a ... and she's right: we would have never guessed.

It's a tree.  Yep, a tree.

There is a tree in the brother's yard that Kevin mentioned he liked.  Somehow, some way, she remembered that and found one.  She can't remember if she saw Kevin last night but she remembered that.

And I can't even with this: it's called a gold shower tree. (Be very careful if you google it. )


I sent this photo to Kevin with the caption of "DUDE".

Now we have to plant it.  Kevin's dad has a plan so that's what we'll be doing this weekend if it ever stops doggone raining.

01 June 2019

Gnomes At Home

In this family, if you mention in passing that you like something...like, say, oh...bunnies...you will now get bunnies for the next birthday and holiday and Tuesday until you die.

It's a lovely thought and you probably thought "Oh, that's nice"  And it is. Until you have 100's of bunny figurines, towels, pillows, signs, flags.

So, I learned early not to mention that I liked something after getting tens of trains. (that's a more interesting story for another day, actually)

Somewhere along the way though, my sister-in-law has decided that I love gnomes.  I have no idea where this came from other than I bought one years ago and he lives in the rock garden.  He's a little worse for the wear and I think he freaks Kevin out a little. To be fair, he's got a little Chucky vibe going on:

But I don't know where this idea originated from.  Other than Chucky the Gnome, I don't think I've ever mentioned it.  I used to love the Gnome book when I was a child but I'm pretty sure that never came up in conversation.  I don't even enjoy Lord of The Rings...yes, I know those are hobbits.  I'm being hyperbolic. Calm down.

It gnoes like this: (see what I did there? Maybe THAT'S why. It's my punishment for puns)

When I broke my foot off my leg: gnome.  (like you do)
Birthday: gnome.
Helped with the family: gnome.

Not to sound ungrateful but seriously. I have...counting...six gnomes who live in my house.  She just dropped off another one the other day and I don't even know why.

We live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest so any yard art is ruined within a few seasons.  Because of that, I hate sending stuff outside to it's impending demise.  Thus, gnomes live in our house. (Why yes, I do anthropomorphize things.)

And one just freaks me out a little.  He's ceramic instead of acrylic and I've considered his accidental demise a time or two.  Instead I've hidden him, so he's a creeper gnome.

Oh hai.  

There's really no point to this other than a curious "Really? gnomes?" And perhaps to visit your dreams with our Chucky and Creeper Gnomes.