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this aggravating, frustrating ...

Thursday, October 19, 2017
... mess, being literally 'handicapped', and limited to the use of one hand makes everything so time-consuming, including typing. Even so, I am doing pretty well. Taking longer to get every little task accomplished, but slowly getting there.

Knowing even though I will be struggling for weeks to come, a complete recovery is likely, and in time, there is the expectation to regain full mobility. I will get over this, and be back up to full speed, typing with all my resources. Thankful for technology, electricity, modern conveniences, safe, potable water on demand, reliable utility service, dependable transportation. Health insurance!

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

the 'columbus method'...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
... of typing is when you are so unskilled as to be 'looking for the keys and landing'. (You do recall what happened when the Queen of Spain underwrote the voyage of Christopher  Columbus?) Which is, of course, another description for 'hunt and peck', also known as Barnyard style. Everything written since last Sunday has been typed with one hand. Tedious to be sure, but do-able, after a fashion.

The Dr. required another set of pictures of my innards to decide if surgery would happen, so the bindings from Saturday night ER visit were removed. My hand and arm, previously swaddled and immobilized from finger nails to elbow joint really enjoyed the fresh air. A new splint was applied, but smaller, shorter, only covering half my palm. Which makes every thing about the menial daily tasks of life seem more manageable, though I am still typing with two fingers. 

Thankfully, not feeling nearly as confined, able to wiggle my fingers. After a number of frustrating attempts to tie my shoes yesterday, with only one hand participating, the result was most unsatisfactory. I tied them again after leaving orthopedic clinic, and was quite pleased with myself.  I have, for many years, claimed to be easily amused - but that small, mostly insignificant triumph was a real highlight in my now semi-disabled life.  Along with typing paragraphs galore on the blog with two fingers!

falling-apart-ness...

... update, if you are interested in knowing more. Time has not improved my weak stomach when discussing all things internal. Heaving seemed likely every single day while I was enrolled in the Biology 202 class with lab. Just the thought of the the odor of formaldehyde causes my stomach to feel like 'rough seas ahead.' I avert my face when approaching road-kill.

Conversation about surgery should be prefaced with 'you should sit down before we talk', as it makes me week-kneed and queasy.  In this case, reminding me of the title of an early Rolling Stones hit: "You Can't Always Get What You Want", and other distressing facts of life.  Just because something is a proven truism, does not mean it isn't unpleasant, profoundly distasteful as well as possibly gruesome. Your tolerance for the abhorrent might be elevated due to an addiction to NCIS/forensic-type shows, or too much zombie apocalypse viewing. As for me, it is too much like road-kill, I'm simply not looking!

The 'truism' here is that I will have surgery on my hand/wrist. Some extra parts put in to hold it all together. I don't recall if the Dr. said 'metal' or he might have just said 'plate', along with nine screws to keep everything in place. Sadly, I already know from viewing the photos, there is a small triangular/pyramid-shaped chunk that seems to be free-floating.  After it broke off from the place it should be attached on the radial arm bone, just below my thumb.  The plan is to put me back together, (like the nursery rhyme character who fell off the wall as passers-by laughed), and eventually be good as new, or  perhaps semi-good?

He said I should expect to be disabled for months to come. The recovery will take six to eight weeks. It will already have been nearly two weeks by the time he gets started, so I am looking at being indisposed until mid-December. Not at all what I had expected my immediate future would hold.


what has happened...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
... while this damaged body part has made me appear to be an invalid. Even though I have mostly been at home,  un-noticed by all who would ask a thousand questions, since getting swaddled at the ER with hand and arm bound in layers of ace bandage. I had to call in to the job, report an injury, making me unable to work. It is a huge annoyance, thoroughly aggravating, completely inconvenient. Especially and doubly so due to being my dominant hand.

There are a number of things that I have already discovered are impossible, or nearly so, as the level of difficulty when attempting with a single hand.  I challenge you to brush your teeth with the 'wrong' hand. You will find it to be amazingly tedious, and profoundly frustrating.  Plus, you will feel remarkably inept, like you've done a seriously shoddy job.

You will also have to have a grade-schooler nearby when you get dressed, after you realize you cannot tie your own shoes.  Tucking the laces in your socks is not a satisfactory solution. Nor is flapping around like an adolescent who does not pay for his own footwear, with no concept whatsoever of what is involved in keeping growing kids shod.

You really can't cook anything. There is practically nothing you can do in the kitchen other than get a drink of water or put a dish in the microwave. It is very difficult to pour a glass of milk from a full'ish gallon jug, and impossible to peel a banana with one hand. You might eat cereal or soup from a bowl with a spoon, but chasing food around a plate with a fork in your 'wrong' hand is extremely tedious.  Preparing anything that needs a knife and the most minimal skills is simply impossible, as you need a hand to hold, while the other hand cuts.

I am trying to be optimistic, continually telling myself: 'this is temporary'. Knowing overall health is relatively good, and the wrist injury is temporary, something to eventually get over, with a return to being able-bodied and active. Feeling 'diminished' is difficult, and being less-than-able, dependent on others for tasks usually done without conscious thought maddening. So, here's my new mantra, which also happens to be a 'Choppyism', that I heard come out of my mom's mouth a gazillion times: This Too Shall Pass.

book review: "True Women"...

Monday, October 16, 2017
... a novel about women who were in Texas in the frontier era, gutsy, tough females who helped put down the roots that turned a wild, untamed country into a state.Written by Janice Woods Windle, who has been involved in politics in the state over many years. The main characters are so well formed, brought to life on the pages, believing they are fictional is hard to grasp.

The story line follows several generations of women as they are born, grow into adulthood, marry then start families. I have always been of the opinion that women as wives, mothers,  as they are caring for  others, modeling  compassion and character are the glue that holds families together. The durable Texas settlers found in this story are proof of their tenacity and survival skills. Resilient, resourceful and caring as they manage families, households and rough-and-tumble lives out in the western country where they chose to live.

"They followed Georgia and Ed Tom's conversation with exquisite attention, heads swinging in unison from one speaker to another..." (pg. 335)

the bad news...

Sunday, October 15, 2017
...post-concert fun. After the Willie show was over, we were fumbling our way back to the car in the dark, with only a cell phone to light the rocky, weedy, rough path: I fell. And broke something important. In my wrist, when my hands went out instinctively to cushion the landing. I knew it was going to be bad... even as gravity was doing what gravity does.

I was struggling to get up, with injured hands, scraped knees, and the help/support of my cousin. Just a few yards more, and we were in her car. With enough light to see how bad it really was. A big knot already on the back of my hand, and plenty of pain. She offered for us to go to the ER, but we went back to her house instead.

My thinking, faulty though it might be: I would rather spend the night in the waiting room of a familiar ER than a strange one in Atlanta. Called my dau., who had just gone to bed, to ask her to drive with me.  After a two hour drive, we (surprisingly) spent a only an hour waiting. Another hour being x-rayed, wrapped to stabilize and told to see the specialist. The NP who came in, had the images on her cell phone, reported she had already sent the wrist photos to the doctor. Amazing!

I am wrapped, and taped, and ace bandaged. Even though it was a short night, getting to bed after 3:00 pm, I slept remarkably well. Do think it might be due to morphine injection in my backside?

going to hear Willie...

... at Chastain Park in Atlanta. On Saturday night, after my volunteer stint for 'help the 'hooch'. We had purchased tickets months ago. I was looking forward to an evening of raucous and rowdy music.The daughter in Decatur was going (actually she was the instigator, planning to take me, as I would surely get lost out there in the dark.) Then she had a conflict, and could not attend. Whereupon, a cousin was lured into using the ticket,

I have not been up to Chastain in many years - before the era of GPS helping to find the way. In reality, I could have gotten myself there and back -but where's the fun in that?  There was huge crowd, all happy to see Willie and his honky-tonkin' crew. A beautiful evening in the amphitheater under the open sky. Too much light pollution from the city to see more than a few stars (and a constant stream of airliners arriving and departing from Hartsfield-Jackson miles to the south), but pleasantly cool for some rollicking entertainment.

Lots of imbibing going by attendees, who had brought picnics, tiny tables, candles for ambience. Coolers  for beer/wine, plates of party fare, stemware, tablecloths, frou-frou, as any real garden party should have. And us: with our little paper sacks from Chic-fil-A. Good music, good company, good fun. And, quite surprising to me - I did detect the odor of burning pot at all. How completely uncharacteristic for a Willie Nelson concert!

'help the 'hooch'...

...is an annual city event, sponsored by Keep Columbus Beautiful. You might recall from reading, how I offered myself  for the board of directors several months ago, after receiving an email, asking for nominations. I am duly sworn, and official. At the second board meeting, there were numerous opportunities/option for making oneself useful at upcoming events.

This past Saturday was the annual river clean-up day. The entire community can get involved, people of all ages are welcomed to assist with removing trash from areas that are part of the watershed. Over the years a tremendous amount of trash has been taken from creeks, streams, the Chattahoochee River and environs.As you might expect, many old tires, as well as pieces of mechanical equipment, plus appliances like refrigerators and window sized air-conditioners.  Plus unlikely items such as stolen ATM, grocery shopping carts, bicycles, televisions. Plastic, paper and cardboard neglectful citizens fail to dispose of or recycle properly.

This one day event has been going on for at least twenty years, as I know daughters participated when students, going with scouts or school groups to clean up litter in city parks with watershed lakes. All part of the system that feeds into the river where we get our drinking, cooking and flushing water for daily use. Something that is basic to survival, that we neglectfully pollute every day.

I was working/volunteering with a number of city employees to promote recycling. At a facility where people could bring household items to dispose of toxic chemicals like old cans of paint, agricultural supplies, antifreeze. Small appliances and electronics. Out dated or un-needed OTC or prescription medications. And shoes. Lots of shoes.

Shoes? Yes. Any type, in any condition. To keep them out of the landfill. Plus send to places people are without. Over the years, they have diverted thousands of pairs from being trashed: can you imagine how many centuries the rubber/composite soles of athletic footwear takes to decompose when buried under tons of waste? I was passing out flyers with shoe recycle info., telling the hundreds of people who drove up with materials to turn over for disposal what to with their shoes. Take them to any fire station in town, or deliver to city trucks on Nov.18 at designated pick-up location.

What, you might ask, will be done with a gazillion used shoes? They will be put in cargo containers, delivered to countries where there is a need. Given to people who are walking around bare-footing.  Put to good use. If you have old shoes you are ready to part with, I will gladly take them to recycle.

book review: "The Dictonary of ....

Friday, October 13, 2017
...Mutual Understanding." Written by Jackie Copleton and copyrighted in 2015, Penguin Books. I did not actually read it, but listened while driving.  The author was an English teacher who spent years working in Japan, absorbing culture while she was working.

Two Japanese citizens who were adults at the time of the devastating bombing of Nagasaki. They were at a distance when the bomb was dropped, so were not actually physically affected by the initial blast or fallout. But their daughter was at the point of impact, waiting for her mother to meet her. The grandson was at school, out side at playtime, and suffered severe burns after the explosion, when the horrendous blast consumed everything. They wanted to believe the grandson might have survived the bomb, but after years of fruitless searching, they moved to the US and gave up hope he might be alive.

Eventually the grandson finds the woman, at her home in Pennsylvania, after she has become a widow. But the idea that he did make it through the blast, and that the man at her door is truly her beloved, long-lost grandson is so difficult to believe. The story is told from the point of view of the aging grandmother, often looking back over her life. She remembers and shares a horrifying story, reminiscing about what they did to survive the unthinkable. A thought provoking tale, making that bomb that killed so many, while saving so many other lives by bringing the war to an abrupt end, into a character in the novel. 

another part...

Thursday, October 12, 2017
...of the fun on Monday, when we went to TN to amuse one another on the birthday was eating. The celebrated one got to choose about lunch, and we went across town to indulge in Hibachi. Very good, but much more than I would normally eat. So I planned to eat it another time, and asked for a take out box. Sadly, I had leftovers that the chickens surely enjoyed, as I forgot to get my styro. container from the fridge to bring home for another meal.

I had my electric wok in the car, with plans to 'practice' my fajitas for dinner. After consuming far too much at lunch time, we waddled into the grocery store to get the peppers, onions and meat to cook and share. The always entertaining Uncle J. was invited, and came over to dine with us. We also had fresh guacamole, the wonderful Tostitos chips with 'a hint of lime' for dipping. Good eats. I think I gained four pounds in twenty four hours. That stuffing will probably take me weeks to remove...

My thought with the fajitas is that if I can get good at it, perfect one simple dish: I can invite people I like to come and sit down to share a meal together. They will not know, unless a blabbermouth should spill the beans, that the fajitas is the only thing I cook. Hopefully they will enjoy folding peppers, onions and chicken into tortillas enough they will leave full. And also enjoy the time visiting over a meal, fellowship/camaraderie along with some easy dessert. enough they won't wonder where the rest of the food is until they are on the way home.

part of the fun...

... of driving to TN for the day on Monday was stopping at a local'ish garden center to get some huge blooming chrysanthemum plants to take to decorate the front steps of the birthday girl's house. Big, colorful, with lots of buds and bright yellow blooms by the dozens. Usually, it is best to completely avoid garden centers, stay out of the plant shop at Walmart, and keep my distance from anything even remotely related to growing green things.

I have purchased and delivered those great big mum plants on occasion in the past, and knew she would like to have some to make her front steps cheerful. Like dozens of 'smiley faces', all winking and grinning at you when you approach the front door. Plus the joy of having them to plant in the flower bed somewhere and re-bloom year after year with minimal care.

I accidentally bought  a half-dozen salvia plants. In a color that you do not normally associate with the flashy red spike-y blooms usually seen on the summer annual. I am thinking/hoping the ones that called my name in the garden shop, will be perennials and come back to bloom again each year. The name of this variety is 'black and blue', so naturally they have a blue bloom that is really eye catching. Over the years, I have often planted the ones that have bright red spikes, hoping to make the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies think of me fondly. They will bloom from spring to fall if just a little care is given. You have to be observant enough to pinch/snip the bloomed out stalks off, forcing  them put out new growth, re-bloom and attract pollinators until frost kills the plants.

I hope to get them planted today. After good drenching rains over the weekend, and plenty of moisture to make the dirt more dig-able, they need to go in the ground and get established before cold weather.  So that is the extent of my projects/planning for a rare day with nothing on my calendar...

marvels of modern...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
...technology are occurring around us all the time, constantly happening for those who are in the know. I don't mind with most of that, being blissfully unaware, with occasional blips of frustration due to lack of skills, plus my tech. support having long ago left home. Leaving me to depend on phone calls when they say: 'I can't help you from this distance'.

When witnessing an amazing event on Monday, I discovered one of the remarkable advantages of living in the age of technology (along with cell phones, laser surgery, computers in automobiles, etc.) If only I were adaptable enough and had the ability to learn the necessary steps to take advantage of such nifty developments! It would be a convenience: the ability to TCB personal finance all hours of the day and night, regardless of federal holidays, weekends, etc. When banks will close for the least, poorest, harebrained excuse, along with all government offices.

The bank was closed on Columbus Day, which is a pretty poor reason in the opinion of all the indigenous peoples of North America,who were uprooted, enslaved, mass-murdered from imported diseases. A topic for another day. Even though I was not there, I still have to shoulder some of the WASP-y blame.

Back to banking: for the well-versed with tech., a federal holiday was no obstacle to accessing the birthday funds prior to a shopping spree at Target. You can go to the ATM, put your paper in the slot, have it read, and deposited to your account. Without interacting with a human. No drive through, or going in the actual building to get the cash. Amazing.

traveling in the rain...

Monday, October 9, 2017
...when I drove up to Decatur yesterday, after a full day at work. I had requested days off on Monday and Tuesday, to go to TN. Plus wanted to see a cousin who has been in the states for several weeks, returning to UK on Tuesday. Her sister's daughter living in Decatur area, was the bride a couple of weeks ago. The cousin has enjoyed having time (sans children) to visit friends, family, former co-workers in the US while she has been here.

The remnants of a tropical storm, that did not quite build up to hurricane level winds, has been blowing, dripping, soaking us for several days. The rain is good, as it has been beneficial since everything has gotten really dry around the area. Surprising, since we just endured hurricane winds and rains two weeks ago when Irma devastated everything from Barbuda to Alabama. Another soaking with some days of rain is welcome at my house, though I am not sure farmers hoping to get in their crops feel the same.

Today is the birthday of the daughter in TN. I told her months ago I was planning to come up and see her on Oct. 9. Even though there was a good chance I would have to sit around and watch her sleep. Or fold a mountain of clean clothes, or wash a big pile of accumulated dishes. Just wanted to see her on her b'day as I have done for several years. The best in recent memory: the year we took a big cardboard carton, washer/dryer sized, wrapped in colorful paper, hid inside and closed the lid. Jumped out, singing the birthday song when she came in the room. I don't think I will ever top that...

the letter said...

... my primary care doctor is not going to be available to patients. It was worded so you think she is retiring, but then you read again, and see she is closing her office. Not leaving, or moving, but just 'not available'. Making me think she is just going off on a tangent, changing the focus of her practice. Going in a different direction, rather than leaving the medical community entirely. But sadly, deciding she will not be my doctor in the future.

Which is problematic, as I am too old to consider the necessity of having to break in another one. I know I can have my thick folder of staffing notes, history transferred to another practice. But I don't want to have to start at square one, and discuss all that stuff, go over the plowed ground with a staffer I don't know, and then have to do it again with a new doc. I have no choice in the matter, but that does not make the daunting prospect any more palatable.

And... to make it even worse: the letter from the doctor reminded me that I would need to be sure the person I find to take responsibility for my health care will also take my insurance. Which I have discovered multiplies the challenge by ten. I understand the aggravating necessity for health insurance. Everything about it makes me say: Arggghhhh.  I often wonder what people without do when faced with a monumental expense. Loose everything they own?

But you know the practice will  not let you in the door without your proof of insurance. They will ask you on the phone for your provider before they want your name. You can't even talk to the receptionist without having coverage, and it has to be a plan the doctor will accept. It is so frustrating.

I talked to several people, friends who I thought might offer suggestions. And got several names. Even talked with a friend who is a pediatrician, and she told me of a PA. Made several calls, and found no one who would take me/my insurance. Arrrggghhh. Finally found a doctor in a big practice who does accept it only to hear the first 'new patient' appointment would be nearly eight weeks away.

Sounds like a good news/bad news joke: fortunately I don't actually need a doctor. Sadly, the only one I can find doesn't want to see me (for two months). Knowing the necessity of establishing a relationship, I wanted to get my foot in the door, to be able to get help if/when needed. Having no need to see a medical professional, while knowing my (necessary) insurance will be billed for a complete medical history/workup that is totally without merit is nearly as frustrating as finding the provider in the first place.

The receptionist put me down in the book. And sent a large packet of paperwork I must complete to turn in on arrival. I have done the history, and keep adding things as I think of them. The actual date for the appointment is still nearly a month away. I will practice being thankful for medical insurance. And am daily thankful for good health, mobility, plus the clarity of mind to do the work of sussing out my un-met new provider, and ability to remember enough of my cloudy history to fill out all the forms.

as a result of being...

... the consummate sucker for a bargain, I bought something (or five thousand somethings) off the sale rack at work, thinking it would be worth a try since it was half-price. Yesh, I should have known better... obviously marked down for a reason, right?  And now we know.... do not buy it just because you think it is a bargain, right? As they say in the world of Consumer Protection: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This one did not require enough cash to have affected my retirement, but still, I readily admit it was a mistake. A self-stable box of soup.Marketing experts can make the packaging so temptingly tasty looking the unwary shopper can be lured into buying many things of little worth. The box of steaming, delicious-looking butternut soup was disappointing to say the least. I did not read the list of ingredients, but after heating and eating, conclude the product it tastes just like the box. Remarkably bland and disappointing. So tasteless, I had to heat up a second bowl and try again, just to be sure it was completely flavorless.

In a way, it would not be unreasonable to shift the blame for the poor quality. I bought it because I have had some wonderfully tasty, delightful butternut soup in the past. Basically due to the daugher who has spoiled me and educated my taste buds. Some years ago, when she was working in a little fern bar, she had occasion to put butternut soup on her menu. It was delicious. Seems like it might have had some unexpected spices in it, like mace or curry? She reportedly put some orange juice in, and more heavy cream than is good for any of us. There might not have been an actual recipe, just a lot of tasting and adjusting as the pot simmered. So it might not ever be reproduced in the manner that made my taste buds so happy, but the thought lingers in my mind.

Which was why I purchased that disappointing box of soup at work several weeks ago. Lesson learned: if you want something wonderful to go in your mouth -return to the source. Hmmm.... it is getting to be fall, the season of hard squashes....

aggravating as well as...

Saturday, October 7, 2017
...completely un-necessary, but I did it to myself, so have no one else to blame. I feel like such a doofus, may as well go ahead and confess. Admit to stupidity, so I can move on.

It would be nice to be able to pass the responsibility for the entire scenario on to the friend who gave me the plants. But she is not the person who put it in my car, and let it turn over to dump dirt into the carpet. Even though it happened because I went by her house after work when she forgot to give it to me when we met for lunch yesterday. Which likely would have caused me to dump dirt on Friday instead.

I went to pick up my plant, and spilled plants and potting soil out on the floor of my car. So took the mat out and dumped that, but still had to get the vacuum out to get up what was left. The wrong occurred when I put the mat on the top of the car. It flew off when I left home, going to the store. Totally forgot it was there, and did not think about it until hours later. Dang it. I was so annoyed with myself. Not like the time I put someones shoes on the top of the car, and found them down the street weeks later. But still pretty irritating.

I had to get The Man Who Lives Here to drive down the street very slowly, with me as a passenger. Thankfully we did  not go far before I spotted the missing mat, and jumped out to retrieve it. Along the edge of the right of way, far enough off the asphalt that it did not get run over a gazillion times, but close enough to be easily spotted when we started the search. A story with a happy ending, so I guess I am finished with the aggravation.

four hundred twenty-four...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
... miles today from six a.m until 8:00 pm. Driving from home to Valdosta and back again. Went to take my auntie to a dr. appointment. It was a long day of travel, but I had to get back to go to bed and up again at five o'clock to go to work in the morning.

I was really anxious at the prospect of me being the one to transport the auntie to the doctor's office. She has a history with us, cousins and myself, of being highly uncooperative when we have been the drivers trying to help her out. Unwilling to do what is necessary, what we have asked her to, making us all extremely reluctant to be the ones doing the driving. She would willingly get in the car to go someplace, then decide she would not get out after a trip. Which would understandably make anyone think long and hard before considering getting involved in transporting when needed.

But today was much better than in the past, though I admit to lots of low grade anxiety during the time she was with me today. We went out to lunch, then to her appointment at the doctors' office. She must have asked me two dozen times while in the waiting area who the doctor was, why she was there, who sent her, and what sort of doctor she was seeing. I answered the questions over and over. In what I thought was a remarkable show of patience. Considering the possibility of making up something different each time, but decided to be consistent.

All my worries were for naught. She was mostly agreeable, and did not present any problems at all when I took her back to the facility where she is living. Though she questioned me about how long she would be there, and who thought she needed to stay, she was not as disagreeable or combative as I had feared.  Went placidly back in the door to the place she has been living since early summer. A gigantic sigh of relief here!

She was, surprisingly, thoroughly dissatisfied with the chic-fil-a sandwich she had for lunch: did not have mayo., needed salt, where were the lettuce and tomato, too much bread. If my mom had been there and witnessed this person, her sister, being so consistently disagreeable, she would have described it as a situation where 'you can't win for losing'. Which means, I think - that no matter what you do - it will be the wrong thing.

book review: "Tamarack County"...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
... another talking book, by that same author as the last one. William Kent Krueger, written in 2013. The blurb on the back of the boxed set of nine Cds reports the story is "full of riveting suspense, fascinating characters, and set in a gorgeous yet unforgiving landscape. Tamarack County is an outstanding addition to an award-winning series...". Just out of curiosity, I did a bit of research and Tamarack County really does exist, up in the Boundary Waters area of norther Minnesota. The town the family lived was not mentioned in the article I read, but since all the characters were invented, no reason the town could not be as well.

The lead character is once again, retired law officer, Cork O'Connor, who works as a private investigator. His family plays a number of roles in the story as it unfolds, starting with a mysterious disappearance who becomes a missing person, then a homicide victim, as the wife of a retired judge fails to return home when expected. This particular mystery occurs in December, when the weather in Minnesota is bone-chilling cold, with iced over lakes, and frequent snow storms. A good story to read during the hot sticky days of summer.

One of O'Connor's daughters, Anne, has been in a religious order for several years, but comes home needing time and space to sort out confusion and doubt in her mind and heart. Near the end of the story, after the murderous home-invader has been subdued. Cork is so angry he tries to make Anne leave the room, so he can shoot the killer, but Anne refuses to go, and demands of her dad that he not resort to more violence. Anne says: "...I think happiness is like that. If you spend your life looking for it, you'll probably be disappointed. It comes on it's own."

Can't disagree with that. Or the summation from the back cover of the box: riveting and fascinating.

literacy tutoring, week 3...

Monday, October 2, 2017
... though when they can barely recognize the letters of the alphabet, I am hesitant to apply the word 'literate'. I know everyone has to start at the beginning, but by the time they are well into their pre-school year, most of them have been exposed to the shapes of the letters enough that they can tell you the names of each one, even if they cannot actually legibly reproduce them. Once again, when I asked the little guy to write his name on the inside cover of his newest book, he said: 'Let's do it together'. Which I thought was amazingly smart as well as shrewd, a great way to get  me to hold the pencil with him and shape the letters of his name, without having to say: 'I can't do it myself.' So, in reality, even if he is struggling to learn the basics, he can certainly read me like a book!

Both of the students I am working with this session are boys. In the past I think they have pretty consistently been one of each as I have spent one day a week in eight week increments over several years, reading and talking about books, words, illustrations. One of the guys I saw today was not even remotely interested in sitting still long enough to read. He didn't even want to look at the pages and talk about the illustrations: lots of pictures of animals doing a variety of familiar tasks. He just could not sit still.

I believe my job  as a volunteer is to read, talk about the books, encourage them to be engaged in the process, model literacy, holding the book and turning pages, discuss the activities of the characters, ask questions to encourage them to look, consider, ponder, and wonder. My job is not to enforce discipline, demand appropriate behavior. If they do not want to do the work sheet, we don't do it. If they do not care to write their names, they do not have to do it. If it's not interesting, engaging, something they do by choice, it will become a chore. Which is not at all what I believe reading is or should be.

When I got back to work, I told someone I thought that little guy must have had fishbait for breakfast. I laughed and said I had to think he had worms, as he was so wiggly. And also thought he must have had crickets too, as he seemed to be spring-loaded, so full of bounciness he was constantly getting out of the chair, unable to sit still.

He was so energetic, full of pep, he could not sit down long enough to help write his name. He was so busy looking around the lunch room and talking ninety-miles an hour I could not get a word in edgewise. He was just not inclined to sit, look, read, listen. So we didn't. He was ready to go back to the classroom, and trotting, at full tilt, like he was heading into a stiff wind. I literally could not keep up with him. So sweet, and amusing, you cannot get upset, but it is frustrating when he cannot sit down for ten  minutes.

amazing myself...

Sunday, October 1, 2017
... by accidentally unintentionally finding out how to do something on my computer. It is really sad to feel so intimidated by technology. It is so frustrating to not know how to do stuff, and have things disappear. It is so aggravating to not have the tech skills needed to work the system without thinking important stuff will vanish forever when the wrong button is tapped.

I do not know much about any of this. I am a regular, every day passenger on the Struggle Bus when it comes to phones and computers. More than once I have called a co-worker to ask him how to do something, and he will often have a ready response. Or be willing to do some research and get back to me with a solution or answer to my problem. Young people... what can I say?

The thing I was looking for was my password needed to access computers at work. Everyone has to do some OSHA stuff each month, about five minutes worth of store protocols, saftey procedures to refresh and remind. A short video that has to be done on company computers, that record the fact that you have completed the assignment. But you have to know your personal password/pin to access the portal. So I could not view the film the entire month of September, while I was struggling to remember my secret number.

I knew that was in here someplace. Just didn't know where to look, how to find the secrets. Even called the daughter who I have actually seen find passwords. But she could not help. Then called the co-worker who has gotten me out of more than one jam. He said he would do some research and find the route, let me know the following day.

I had an Eureka! moment on Saturday - I found it myself! Even though no one else is impressed, I am still quite pleased about my accomplishment. Thinking I better write the path down, since I cannot remember pins or passwords.

Options. Security. Log-ins. Aha!

book review: "Northwest Angle"...

... by the same author as one I recently read while driving.William Kent Krueger has written a number of books with the same characters, the O'Corcoran family residing in the small community of Aurora, Minnesota. The father of the clan is Cork, a retired law-enforcement professional who runs a small seasonal business, and works at private investigating. They are closely related to the Ojibwas in the area, and friend with many of he Native Americans who live on the nearby reservation.

The northwest angle is an area that is only accessible by water or driving through part of Canada, as it extends out into Lake of the Woods in the extreme northern part of the MN. This little bit of densely forested but sparsely populated land, about 123 square miles, is the northernmost point of the contiguous United States. The O'Corcoran family was out on the Lake in a rented house boat and a mighty wind came up, devastating the trees on the islands, and blowing two of the family out of a small dinghy. The story revolves around a young woman's body found on one of the islands, and a baby the castaways find and care for. The mother was murdered, but the baby was safely hidden.

Another of those books I read while driving, a fascinating story, well told, plenty suspenseful. Peopled with interesting characters, and a believable plot line, involving native Americans, Bible-thumpers obsessed with the end times, high speed boats. Firearms, dangerous rescues, deception and subterfuge. After reading several books with the same characters, I feel like I know these many of these people, and hope they will invite me to come and visit.

"...the stars lay on the sky like sugar tossed on an onyx plate." Giving you an idea of what the beautiful night sky must look like out there in the vastness of a body of water so far from any signs of development or humanity that there is total darkness except for what God provides. Can you imagine seeing something that breathtaking at such a remote place there is no light pollution to make the stars fade out?

the answer is:

..."Thank you very much." Although you might think this quote is attributed to The King, (Elvis Presley), it has nothing to do with ole' swivel hips. And lots to do with a small household chore I was pondering earlier in the week. On a day when I did not work and was in m pjs most of the morning, doing some things that needed my attention on the home front.

Like laundry. Which makes me very thankful for all the modern conveniences that come together so getting clothing clean is not really a 'chore'. Things we all tend to take for granted, like electricity on demand. All you have to do is flip the switch or press the button and ta-da! Instant power at your command! Lights come on, appliances obey your bidding. Beds are warmed when you are cold and ready to snuggle in. Food is kept cold, or frozen, readily available as needed. Interior climate is controlled: heated or cooled at the mere touch of a finger. Amazing!

Washer and dryers, detergent, power to run those things, funds to pay for all. All things that much of the world does not have. Which leads to the question that should precede the answer  provided in the first paragraph. There will come a time when The Man Who Lives Here will be inquiring, asking for advice. Wanting to know what sort of item might be well received at the next gift-giving occasion, which will probably be Christmas.

Several years ago, when he posed the question I said: An occasional bit of support with the cost of groceries. The person (me!) who works at the grocery store buys about 95% of the food that comes in the house. If you would consider helping with the purchase of the food you eat, that would be a welcome gift. It worked for a little while.

The answer, should I receive it, will apply to the fact that I have been doing laundry for other people most of my life. I am aware/thankful for the water and appliances that make it possible. Plus electricity moving through power lines and wires that make things pump and spin. And commercially available laundry detergent to make things clean. And the delicious scent and convenience of dryer sheets.

Then the clothing goes from the washer to the dryer, heated and tumbled to perfection. Ready to fold and put away. It magically appears in the drawer, clean and folded on a regular basis. It mysteriously appears, on hangers in the closet, several times a week. This baffling occurrence cannot be attributed to the Clean Underwear Fairy, even though there is no witness to how it happens.

What I would like to hear, at least once a day: "Thank You Very Much." Or maybe: "It is so nice to have clean clothing to put on each day. I have been wondering for years where it comes from over and over and over and over and over???"


while traveling to and fro...

Friday, September 29, 2017
... doing all that running up and down the road that seems to occur with amazing frequency, I often have a drink at hand. They put the cu-p-holder there so I must/need to put something in it, right?  Cheap me: usually recycling a styro. cup from Sonic, or chic-fil-a, adding more ice and liquid.

Recently, I stopped at a curb store to get something snack-y, and re-fill my well used styrofoam cup. Put in ice at the soda machine, but looking for something without caffeine to drink. Over in the doors where there are bottled sodas and juice, I found cream soda, and bought a couple of those. When little people were here, I did not often buy sodas, so it was special when we did have carbonated drinks in the house. They both learned to love cream soda and root beer, things that routinely do not give that caffeine kick.  After I paid and got to my car, I opened and poured part of one bottle over ice. I did not drink it all, so some was left in the bottle for another time.

I took it to work recently, and was drinking it on my lunch break. A co-worker asked me why I was drinking Windex? because it was the same bright blue color as window cleaner. No point in setting him straight. So I said: "It's really pretty good, once you get past the color, and the awful taste. Do you want to try some?"

to accompany the previous post...

Thursday, September 28, 2017
... an oddball story about a true, actual home invasion. As Dave Barry, the highly amusing Miami newspaper columnist often said: 'I am not making this up.' Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction. I know the people involved, so I do not doubt the veracity of the story, so ridiculous you could not invent anything this crazy.

I read the report in the paper, and brought it to the attention of The Man Who Lives Here. He is a regular volunteer at the National Infantry Museum, and will see the couple who this happened to when they are all at their volunteer posts. He reported enjoying hearing them tell about it, even though is is really difficult to digest as true.

The couple who lives a couple of blocks away called the police to come investigate after the husband went up in the attic because they heard 'something' there. The public safety guy also went up in the attic and could not find anything. But the police went out and walked around in the yard, looking for possible cause of odd bumping and thumping sounds. Thinking: maybe an animal on the roof? They found evidence of someone having been in a storage shed. Clothing, a back pack, shoes.

There was more noise in the attic, so they went back up to poke around more. Whereupon they found a man who had somehow gotten in, and covered himself with insulation, trying to disappear. After he was discovered, and being removed from the attic, he apparently mis-stepped and came through the ceiling. Did I say he was naked? Yep.

I understand from The Man Who Lives Here and got the story first-hand from the volunteering couple, there was considerable evidence that the miscreant was on drugs. I cannot say why he would climb up on the roof and break in the house, or hide in the insulation, or do these things in his birthday suit. But I have reliable sources. His backpack was filled with candy and ice cream. Not a particularly smart thing to take to a picnic out in the country, miles from refrigeration. But a naked guy on meth. coming through your ceiling is not my definition of particularly smart.

really strange...

...happening at my house several nights ago.  I have to set my alarm to get up at 5 a.m. and on to work by 6:00. Even though it was fairly early in the evening, I was gone to bed, and probably just drifted off to sleep in five seconds before this occurred. The dang alarm went off - according to The Man Who Lives Here, for no apparent reason. Which is pretty hard to believe, but I cannot argue.

There is a small plastic control box, with key pad that has a 'panic button', on the wall in the bedroom where he sleeps. He was in that room at the time, immediately punched the button to quiet the deafening alarm, which is situated in the attic directly over my bed, about ten feet from my sleeping ears. When I questioned him about this incident the following day, after my heart rate returned to normal, he reported he had 'No Idea' what set it off. I am still filled with wonderment, full of questions I would like to ask, but currently keeping my mouth shut.

As you might expect, that alarm brought the presence of law enforcement. The Man reported by the time he could get his pants on, there was a cop with a flashlight poking around on the screened porch. And the total of armed personnel who responded to that alert was three. Fortunately, they did not arrive with light bars flashing. There was no intruder found. Nothing out of the ordinary here. My heart, though revved up to top speed, eventually allowed me to go back to sleep.

while in Decatur...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

... over the weekend, we went to the big box store and found things in the garden shop to put in some terracotta pots that sit on the front steps. Different sizes of containers, one on each step, leading up to the front door. The  pots held some weary, leggy pansies that had been planted last fall, so it was time for a change.

We bought fresh pansies, in a riot of color, along with some snapdragons that will grow taller in the center of each pot, and provide a surprise as we do not know what color the snaps will be when they bloom. And some dianthus that are a rosy red and white. The dianthus are perennials, and will hopefully continue bloom indefinitely as long as they get a little attention: watering and occasional dead-heading, pinching the spent flowers off to make them want to bloom again.


Dumped the dirt out, and filled with fresh potting soil, adding some time release fertilizer before inserting the plants. I had a little pot with several bloomed out roses, to put in the center of each of the pots, adding some height to the low growing dianthus and pansies.  The snapdragons will add some height as well, once they get established and start to grow and bloom.

As it turned out, there were a few pansies left over, that I brought home with me, and put in a pot in my yard. Outside the window by the table where I type, so will seem them blooming through the months ahead, bright and colorful through the cooler months. Provided the chipmunks do not have a party in the pot and uproot them all! The last photo is the pot in my yard, that also has a red verbena that is still blooming, along with the white pansies.

saw that guy again...

Monday, September 25, 2017
... the amusing man riding a bicycle down the sidewalk when I was going home after work. The major highway I drive to and from my employment must be part of his regular route as he seems to travel the same area frequently. I have seen him several times, and wished I could take a photo, like some of the confounding ones I see on you tube. Under the heading of  'if you had not actually seen it, you would not believe it'.

This is a full grown adult, riding on a child's bike. I guess the little tires on the red bicycle must be ten or twelve inches in diameter:  really small for an adult to be peddling like mad. But the most surprising part is his head gear: a complete, intact motorcycle helmet, with Plexiglas visor. Not a vented, light-weight bike helmet, but a black helmet designed for high-impact motorcycle riders.

I chuckle to myself every time I drive down the street and see him industriously peddling away, intent on his destination. I have to give  him credit for being willing to work so hard to get there, plus cautious enough to want to wear a helmet. Probably does not really matter how odd he appears, as he busily heads out to get where ever he wants to be. And likely not much more strange looking than me, as I am trundling down the street pushing my wheelbarrow. With buckets, jugs and shovel, heading out in the late afternoon to do some weeding on my little planting project across the street. I suspect that all the vehicles that stop at the intersection, and pass by as I am trucking across to get to the flower bed and pull weeds are thinking: 'where in the world is that crazy person going, pushing the wheelbarrow down the road?'

tutoring with the four-year olds...

... in preschool classes again for the fall semester. The program is designed to help some of the little  people who seem to be struggling with their pre-reading skills. Any number of reasons: not being exposed to books, or not having someone in their lives who helps them every day, pointing out little things like the colors or letters on their cereal box. Not being in day care where they learn their letters, numbers, colors, shapes, where someone will help them learn how to form the letters to write their names. Not living in an environment with age appropriate reading material: exposure to books, being read to, seeing 'book handling' modeled, being shown how to hold a book, read from front to back, being careful with and respectful of the printed word.

So my small part of changing this is going to an elementary school for an hour one day a week. Spending twenty minutes or so with a four year old, reading a different book each week, taking a few minutes more to do a little work sheet that reinforces some aspect of the book: illustrations of animals, with the name printed to match to the picture. Or connect the dots with numbers that help to form the outline of one of the characters we read about. Or maybe dotted lines that spell out the some of words from the book. Simple things that help to insure the child has some understanding and retention of what we read. Five different people going in one day a week to read the book each day, then giving the book to the child on Friday to take home and hopefully have it read more.

I don't know how the person who runs the program decides which children are most in need, and could benefit from this extra help. Nor do I know how she evaluates the amount of improvement from the beginning to the end. But it would have to improve their skills, give them some needed assistance, a boost to improve their likelihood of success in the educational process, and therefore: life.

I've met with the two little guys twice, borrowing them from their classroom teachers to read for the past two Mondays. One is the most talkative four year old I have ever seen, we can hardly get the book read for all his conversation. The other is more shy, less exuberant and seems to be much more hesitant, inhibited, reserved. But they are both amusing, entertaining and will be interesting to get to know.

all put together...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

...three bouquets with the calla lilies, and ready to go celebrate with happy couple, friends, family, hangers-on, passers-by. I called this morning to ask if they might have some little memento from the bride's grandmother that I could tie into the stems with the narrow blue ribbon I used for other trinkets. Two smaller bouquets of the same purple and white callas for the attendants to carry, and one calla to pin on the lapel of the groom.

The M.O.B reported she has a couple of sea shells that belonged to her mom, with a hole that might work to tie into the stems of the lilies. After lunch we went over to get the shell, and it is added to the bouquet the bride will carry. Along with lace that wraps the stems that was taken from her great grandmother's dress,  bit of lace my great grandmother made, a pin of my mom's and a little surprise I found in my jewelry box. All tokens of love and affection by so many women in her life who have cared for, encouraged, supported her over the years since her birth. Looking forward to joining other invitees to shower the newly weds with good wishes for a happy rest-of-your-life.

getting hitched...

Friday, September 22, 2017

... on Saturday: the daughter of a cousin, who lives in Decatur. I offered to help with flowers, and was given the assignment of bouquets for the bridal party. She wanted calla lily blooms, and sent a photo that likely came from the internet, or some wedding site that provides a vast array with gazillions of  different combinations of fresh flowers. The one she wants to duplicate has dark purple, almost an eggplant color, and creamy off white flowers. Nothing else, no greenery or frou-frou, just the two colors of callas, with long stems, hand-tied, maybe about a dozen blooms.

I called the nearest wholesale floral supplier last week and placed my order, then proceeded to worry the colors I needed would not be available. Most of the fresh cut flowers we get at work are grown and shipped from South America,  Ecuador and Columbia. Cut, packed and flown to the states. There have been problems since that devastating hurricane, with supply chain for lots of goods our warehouse ships that are simply not available. Especially generic items, store-brand items like bread that were affected by flooding and power outages in Florida. As well as issues with goods shipped in from elsewhere by air freight.

Numerous items customers can usually expect to find in stock, and available at their convenience are simply out of stock, probably company wide, with no one getting things they need to stock shelves.  Making me a bit concerned about the availability of the callas, even though my co-worker suggested if the colors were a problem,I can 'invent' what I need. He suggested there is the option of floral grade spray paint to create amazing things not actually found in nature. But when I went to Alabama to pick up my order on Thursday afternoon, they had just what I had requested.

The wholesale floral supply shop had my phone number, so I assumed they would provide  notification if they had difficulty in fulfilling my request. I had not heard back, which caused me to hope with great optimism they had wat was needed. Drove over to Opelika on Thursday afternoon to get my fresh cut flowers, and was delighted to find just what the bride wants. I took a bucket, to keep in water and stay fresh,and will transport to Decatur to assemble on Saturday.

The bride told me her great grandmother offered her wedding dress. She found it to have some stains that could not be removed, but wanted to use some of he fabric to wrap the stems of the callas. Upon pondering on what I could add to make this even more special, I have: some crochet lace from her other great grandmother, a small piece of jewelry of my mom's. Both these women knew and loved this young adult woman and would be charmed and delighted to be a small part of this happy day. I don't think of myself as much of a traditionalist, but trying to come up with those traditional things that are so sweet and memorable when added to a bride's bouquet.  You know: old, new, borrowed, blue.

The wedding is Saturday afternoon, which gives me plenty of time to put the bouquets together. There will be two female cousins attending the smiling bride, who will have smaller hand tied bouquets with the aubergine and creamy callas as well. And many friends and family members present to witness and provide good wishes for a happy fifty-plus year marriage.

thankfulness...

Thursday, September 21, 2017
... something new I found to add to my list of things to be thankful for, in the unlikely event I should ever run out of reasons to be counting my blessings. If you are a consistent reader, you will recall I have a little book, with lined, blank pages, that I write in every day. Think of things that we often take for granted, fail to consider, until there is some event that gives us a little poke, a reminder of another reason we are so blessed here living in America. Mostly just every things like electricity, hot water, washers and dryers, warm beds, a roof overhead.

At work, there is a co-worker who is a fairly new employee. She was hired about a month, working part time, learning the ropes, helping with production by making cubed fruit bowls, or the fresh fruit yogurt parfaits.  Any person new to the job is going to be slow, and a bit hesitant, needing guidance to gain confidence, and time to develop skills and gradually improve with speed. I was working with her, offering suggestions, and helping her learn to do the work safely, meet the standards.

She is very young, looks about fourteen, but could be in her early twenties, though I doubt it. She is cheerful and willing to do anything she is asked to do. She is learning and will hopefully gain some speed as she continues to do repetitive work. She is also pregnant.

I came home last night telling The Man Who Lives Here how thankful I am that I was not in a position where I had to go to work while great with child. Thankful that I did not have to leave a small child at home with caregivers while I went out into the world to try to earn some funds to support myself. Thankful I did not have to live with in-laws, and a husband who is unemployed. Thankful to not be struggling with all the physical effects and limitations of growing a child in my body, and feeling compelled to look for employment. Thankful they are grown, sweet, smart, compassionate and fully functioning adults.

it happened at work... part 347...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
... something I thought was amusing, but there is a good chance you could read on a while and then begin to say to yourself: huh? It could easily loose quite a bit in translation, but give it a try. Admittedly it is not nearly as entertaining as the one from several days ago when I told my boss I could not tend to everybodys' business, though I would give it my best effort. I am still chuckling to myself when I think of how impressive it was that I could come up with such a smart-a$$ answer on such short notice. Usually thinking of the 'perfect' response long after the occasion has passed....

A co-worker loves to get involved, give advice, offer opinions to anyone who will listen, whether there is a need for her to insert herself in the conversation or not. She has lots of opinions and willing to share her knowledge to any and all passersby. I will say that she has some years under her belt, lots of experience, and often can provide well considered advice. We have many conversations while working, about young people and how they seem to believe that they have no need to heed the words of their elders, already knowing It All.

When people call out sick, or tired or lazy, I often work extra hours, resulting in an enhanced paycheck. As someone who chooses to be part-time, I am usually willing to take advantage of opportunities to increase my weekly income, by staying late, helping out, jumping in the gap. This co-worker recently cautioned me, warning  I might be working too many hours in a given week. That is not my problem and is most definitely not hers.

The latest amusement was a result of me showing some extra 'initiative', getting in motion and doing something that needed to be done that was not my responsibility. There was to be an opportunity for customers to taste samples of fresh produce, with preparation needed before the time for the event to begin. I got busy and put the thing together. But that co-worker asked me what I was doing. She had expected, I assume, that the manager would do the prep. for the event, and apparently concerned that I was doing it for him. Essentially doing some other person's job.

So I went to the manager and said: "You need to tell Me to set up the fresh tasting demo.". He looked at me with a very puzzled expression. I said it again. "I need for you to tell me to go get the demo. ready". Then he turned around to see it was operational, open for business, serving customers samples of fresh fruit. And even more baffled. I said "I need for you to tell me to get it done, so when I am asked why: I can say you told me." We had a good laugh, knowing what would happen next.

falling into a black hole...

Monday, September 18, 2017
...alternately known as "Just A Buck"store. They pop up everywhere like mushrooms after a rain, you get accustomed to having one on nearly every corner, like curb stores where you run in for snacks and drinks.They lure you in with bargain prices, plus being so conveniently located, no reason to not stop in every day.

I went today, with a list that had only three things on it. Having learned that if I intend to bring home more than two, I better write it down, and have the paper in my hand, or will not get what is needed. Sadly: the trip to the 'dolla' sto' ' caused me to spend fourteen bucks plus tax, and I did not get all three things. What is it about that place? Have we gotten to the point in our society that a dollar has the value of a random penny on the side walk? That odd bit of change seems to have so little worth, it just melts into the asphalt. Very few passersby will stop, stoop and retrieve.

The way we seem to be willing to part with our hard earned funds in the 'dolla' sto' ' makes all those George Washingtons seem to have as little value as the Lincoln coppers. Went in to get three things, and left with fourteen, only two of which were on the list. All those magnets, envelopes, bags of frozen strawberries for smoothies, boxes of baking powder just jumped into my shopping basket, and cried out to come home with me. I just narrowly escaped a harrowing experience, and barely pulled myself free in the instant before total destruction.

Safely returned from the Black Hole of "Just A Buck." Escaped by the narrowest of margins, just a hair's breadth from oblivion. Never, ever go in a 'dolla' sto' ' with a small child! That is just asking for trouble!

it happened at work...

... though I doubt anyone else there was nearly as amused as I continue to be. The back story goes into last week, when a co-worker did not show up for his shift very early one  morning. There has to be someone in the produce department who comes in early enough to off-load a truck from the warehouse any time after 5 a.m. This guy, Pete, did not show up. Admittedly, he has a lot of 'issues' in his life right now, but even so, does not need to put his employment at risk.

My department manager, A., was so aggravated with everything about this, esp. as A. to do Pete's job as well as all the other things he had planned to get done. I expect A. would have strangled Pete if he could have found him. I left town, and did not know the outcome, only that Pete was on the  job when I got to work on Sunday morning.  I was 100% nosey, and told A. I knew it was none of my business, but wanted to know how it was resolved. Pete, as I suspected, got a 'good talking to', and will likely shape up for a while.

The funny part is when A. later asked me where a co-worker was/what she was doing. I said "I do not know. That I was far too busy minding Pete's business to be able to devote any time to knowing that!" Sadly, no one else appreciated my humor, but I chuckled to myself all day long, thinking about how clever I was to blurt that out at the right time.  I usually have the perfect 'come-back' long after the occasion has passed. It was pretty funny, though I do not think Pete would be much amused.

flying trip to FL...

... on Saturday, driving to Valdosta by way of Tallahassee. Wanted to see friends who have moved from central FL to the panhandle area, and settled there to be closer to family. I planned to get there in time for lunch, hoping to also see adult children who are raising the next generation of amusing little people. The little ones were just as busy and entertaining as I had envisoned. Could hardly sit still long enough to eat lunch before getting back to their 'work' of engineering, building with reclaimed cardboard vacuum cleaner box. Pleasant lunch, with some of my favorite people.

It was a beautiful day to travel, nothing like the dire predictions of last weekend when the entire state was preparing to be blown off the may by Hurricane winds and rain. Tally is not that far into the state, probably less than fifty miles from the GA/FL line, but enough that I can say I've been. There was evidence everywhere of storm damage, limbs piled out along the verge for pick-up. Twisted and snapped utility poles, with wires dangling dangerously everywhere. Men with pickup trucks digging through the trash, looking for oak limbs to use for firewood. Signs mangled, or blown out/over. Tree trash everywhere. Houses roofed with blue tarps, where trees had fallen, or shingles had loosened. Personally, I continue to ignore the mess in my yard with limbs everywhere that need to be relocated.

Barely into the Sunshine State for several hours and then back into south GA. Making several stops to visit friends and family. I did go to see the auntie, who was more pleasant and agreeable than I have seen in ...Wow! I cannot say how long it has been since she was so mild-mannered. Thanks, I suppose to the miracles of pharmaceuticals: The last Rx she started was filled about a  month ago.  Hopefully it has finally taken effect and will provide some much needed stability and peace, suppress some of her ongoing anxiety and agitation.

I spent the night in Valdosta, and got up early to drive and be at work at 9:00 am. I feel a bit jet-lag'ish, but think a nap will get me back to mostly normal. No work today, so plenty of time to putter around, and get caught up at home. Thankful for safe travels, living in a land where no one asks for permit/papers of those who travel from state to state.

about once each year...

Sunday, September 17, 2017
... a letter arrives from a small town in middle Georgia, where my mom and her mother were from. My mom was born in a tiny little town, after my grandparents met and wed. There was an older sister, then my mom. But before they came into the world, the grandparents had another child that did not survive. I don't know if the first born was not full term, or died at birth, but the newborn infant was buried in a cemetery there in middle Georgia, where my great grandparents are lived, and are buried.

Some individual who tries to keep the cemetery neat and tidy, has been sending me a notice for some years, giving a report on the expenses involved in upkeep, and what they do try to keep it looking nice. Apparently she has passed the project off to someone else, as the letter that came a couple of weeks ago, was signed with an unfamiliar name. Requesting financial support be sent in care of the local UMC. When I get the annual notice, I always write a check to help defray the expense of gas for mowing and constant need for labor to keep it looking presentable.

The most recent letter came earlier than usual, and arrived several weeks ago. It usually shows up near the end of the year. I decided to try to drum up some interest by copying the letter to mail to my brother, and cousins who should be interested in helping out. And wrote a note of explanation to go along with the copy asking for donations to support  ongoing maintenance. Ending with a quote from Jiminy Cricket (from the Walt Disney "Pinocchio" movie), who told the little puppet: "Let your conscience be your guide."

My brother said he would mail me a check to send, but did not want to send it directly and chance getting on the mailing list. Remember those little bracelets that were so popular some years ago? Rubberized with WWJD printed on each one, as a reminder to be on guard, constantly watchful throughout your day. I doubt I could find one at this distance in time, but thinking I wish I could send him one as a gentle: "What would Jiminy do?"

book review: "Fierce Kingdom"...

Friday, September 15, 2017
... written by Gin Phillips, a resident of Birmingham, Alabama. Copyright 2017, published by Penguin/Random House. I don't remember where I read about this, but saw a mention someplace and requested it from the library. It was excellent, could easily keep you up all night, hoping for resolution.

I think I could have read the entire book in twenty four hours, if I had not spent time driving. Started it before I left home, and took it with me to TN this past weekend. Had I been able to devote myself to reading, it was so fast paced I would have had to stay up all night to resolve the crisis as it unfolded. Due to travel, it took me three days to help the main characters, Joan and her young son, Lincoln safely removed from harm's way.

They  went to the zoo, for a couple of hours, after she had picked him up from school. As they often did, just roaming around, enjoying the animals, and visiting various exhibits. Joan hears something that sounds like balloons popping, and soon concludes it is gunfire. They hide, befriend other frightened zoo visitors, and are tucked away in a concession stand by a zoo employee.

The entire story takes place over a matter of hours, with lots of tension building as these two encounter the shooters.The young men, armed with automatic weapons, are killing animals, as well as casual zoo guests. When one of the teens finds the group hiding in the concession stand, he realizes he knows a teacher that is hiding with Joan and Lincoln. The zoo employee, the retired teacher and our two protagonists attempt an escape from the property. Nerve wracking, stressful, anxiety inducing. An well written tale.

aftermath of the storm...

... it was mostly a 'non-event' here. A big limb fell but not on the new roof. On the chain link fence, fortitously far enough away from the house that there was no damage. It did crunch up the fence, and will require some professionals to come and repair when the limb is removed. Nothing urgent, but will eventually need to be fixed and made to look as if that crashing limb did nor really happen.

I sat here and typed off and on for hours, keeping one ear tuned in to the weather, along with the full- bore fretting of The Man Who Lives Here, so devoted to the Weather Channel. Listening to numerous thumps as things fell on the nearly new roof, but apparently no real damage at all. When I finally got out and walked around and inspecting, I did not see anything of note, only some small limbs that had fallen off overhanging trees.

A few bigger limbs out in in the yard, under all those big trees, where you would expect a lot of stuff to fall when a ferocious wind would blow. We did have some strong winds, but not nearly as bad as the weather guys had warned about, so though it will take me weeks to get it all picked up for trash truck, it was really not so bad. After looking at the weather map (a big mistake - just looking to give something to worry about!) it appeared the eye, though downgraded would pass directly over this area. Perhaps it did, but so much of the force had blown out, there was no serious damage, at least not at this address.

Lots of large trees uprooted, literally blown over. Lots of signs down, and probably some flooding in low lying areas here. I've noticed a few splintered utility poles, that would result in inconvenience, diminished/limited service in surrounding areas. But thankfully, blessedly, practically no damage here. Sorry it has taken so long to report, but I have been at work.

Some folk at work were sent to a store in metro Atlanta that lost power so long they had to trash all the frozen foods, fresh meats, anything in their big walk-in freezers and coolers. That same store you could view on youtube where the teenagers amused their foolish selves by setting off the fireworks display. Causing the suppression to activate, store to close over night, but amazingly reopen the following morning at 7 a.m.

looking at the weather map...

Monday, September 11, 2017
... was not a smart thing to do. But if I am going to get up and go to work in the morning, I need to get into bed soon. Looking at what's headed our way is probably not what I should have been doing to get in the right frame of mind for a night of peaceful rest. That hurricane is still headed this way. Slowly blustering across southwest Georgia, traveling north with lots of wind and rain. Gusts up to forty-something mph in the wee hours as it passes through our area.

According to the weather experts, people who are looking at what has happened, and think they can predict what is coming next: it will be really bad overnight. Not bad like what happened in south FL, but enough for public service sector to be warning folks to stay at home, be safe, and don't call us! Neighboring county safety reports that they will not respond to calls due to high winds. Not very comforting to announce that when people depend on a prompt help when they have been lead to believe all it takes is a call to 911.

I still expect to go to work tomorrow, unless there is so much stuff on the road I cannot get there. I was told the mayor announcing citizens should stay at home was not a valid excuse to be AWOL today, so I assume it will not work tomorrow either. Even though the store was running on generators when I left, in the semi-dark, with only minimal lighting and enough electricity to run cash registers, they were still in business. Hope the freezers will keep working, and we are still open for business when I get there tomorrow.

Remembering...

... September 11. It changed our lives, forever.


looking at the weather...

... it appears we are currently located just north of the eye. Which in reality means the worst is yet to come! Remember those stories about how it gets so eerily quiet and calm, as the eye passes over, lulling you into thinking you've survived? Quick, grab your blankets and pillows and jump into the bathtub!!

It has possibly been downgraded, and lost enough punch to be a Tropical Storm rather than Hurricane Irma when it devastated Caribbean islands and south Florida. We've had wind and rain, but nothing awful: yet. Occasional interruptions in power delivery, but it has been mostly on through out the afternoon.

The only damage visible from inside the house is a large limb that fell on a corner of the chain link fence. No where near the house. Probably do not want to know if there is something sticking out of a hole in the roof, as I have been hearing large thumping sounds up there for a couple of hours. With numerous trees on our lot, and many very close to the house, I am certain The Man Who Lives Here has been industriously fretting all day. Steadily anxious about things he cannot control like limbs falling on the nearly new roof.

I readily admit to being critical of the mess in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. My comment was that the people who were charged with rescue and recovery had plenty of notice, and there should have been more effort put into preparation prior to the flooding. In reality, I am not sure there is any way to be ready for disaster and disruption of this magnitude. There is only so much space where you can stockpile supplies, from food and blankets, to toilet paper and medical needs.

Our Civic Center is open for refugees, people bussed in from the Georgia coast, where they were living there in low lying areas, and forced to evacuate. Other government/city buildings, and churches in the area,are also open, designated as shelters for people in need. I heard a report that the local food bank had sent truckloads of consumables to help feed the people dislocated to here in west GA, unprepared for having their lives disrupted.

More to come...

observations from travels...

... when driving to and fro. Making a mental note of how frequently I see mangled sections of guard rail along the right of way. Installed by the Department of Transportation to help keep travelers safe, it appears to be a remarkably dangerous addition to the highway. We all assume the curbing is designed to prevent dozing or dangerous drivers from leaving the paved surface and barreling into bridge abutments or below grade area, supported by metal heavy posts. But what happens when the strip of metal is hit head-on by a vehicle?

Nearly every section I pass as I drive along the high speed highway is crumpled, and in need of replacement. Looking like a superhero has used it as a plaything and left it pretzel shaped. It is a most scare-y thought to realize that the protective barrier actually might have prevented something bad from happening. When viewing the result of how impact with a vehicle has contorted the original shape of the metal and supporting posts, it is difficult to imagine a fragile human body surviving intact. Drivers of soft tissue and easily damaged, delicate bones, encountering that hard unyielding metal at a high rate of speed is fright inducing.

When I am driving the interstate highways, traveling at my usual 71 or 72 mph, and see how consistently nearly every one of the barriers has been mauled by vehicles, it is truly amazing.And how the DOT, instead of replacing the damaged sections of guard rail, permanently installs plastic orange barrels as a warning. An excellent way to keep us safe, and great way to solve the problem!

It is surprising to not see more small memorials/markers, remembrances to deceased motorists, at everyone of these disturbing locations on the road. There where the impact of the unstoppable force hitting an immovable object produces frightening results. Begin to notice, make a mental note of how often you see these mangled guard rails as you travel, and the numerous orange caution barrels at that location. A great DOT solution to a tragic incident.

And wonder how it happened?  Driver distracted by kids in the back seat? Running late? Leaving home in a big rush to get to a meeting or work on time? Resulting in permanent physical injury, or worse. Not worth the speed of making up lost time. Better Late than Never!

driving across TN...

Sunday, September 10, 2017
... on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The weather was much cooler than usual for this time of year, due to winds generated by Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic Ocean. Breezy pleasant day, with bright blue sky and white fluffy clouds high in the atmosphere, not looking at all like horrible weather is headed our way in middle GA. The fall wildflowers were beautifully blooming along the right of way and out in pastures as we traveled to eastern most TN.

Lots of bright yellow daisies, blooming profusely along the road. The plants appeared to be at least five or six feet tall, with multiple branching stems, and many brilliantly colored daisies on each one. They probably start off with one little random plant, then reseed gloriously, creating great wide clumps and patches of colorful blooms each fall. The richly colored, dark purple heads of Joe Pye weed, blooming along the edges of the pastures and fence rows. The color you would have thought from reading historical records that was rare, expensive to find and reserved for royalty. Prolifically showing clumps of color, along the verge in dark enticing shades of deepest purple.

 Slender stems of bright lavender asters, with blooms about the size of your thumbnail. But dozens of small colorful flowers waving in the breeze on plants two or three feet in height. Large lush clumps from the plentiful rainfall over the past summer months, making delightfully appealing blooms to attract pollinators like butterflies and honey bees. When the weather cools, and we begin to look for leaves changing color, we fail to remember there are so many flowers that wait until the fall to put on a show, but there they are, adding subtle beauty to the world, waiting to be noticed and enjoyed.

heading to higher ground...

Saturday, September 9, 2017
... even though it has been planned for months, it is remarkably timely that this is the weekend for going to the mountains of Tennessee. When we get together together in the fall, we will look at our calendars, pick one weekend each month for me to drive to TN to hang out. I ask for time off from work, go north and do whatever they are planning, just puttering around together.

I left middle GA fairly early on Friday morning, to go through Atlanta, stop and visit a bit before traveling up I-75 into the northwest corner of the state and on into TN. But when I got into Atlanta, the congestion on the interstate was a big surprise. Driving up thorough the middle of the state was a breeze, but at the point where the two interstate highways converge, just south of the city everything came to a standstill. Literally. Easing into the barely moving mass, periodically speeding up to 20 mph, then slowing to three, or possibly zero. Sitting in a gigantic, air-fouling, exhaust producing  non-moving mass of thousands of vehicles. Awaiting the opportunity to inch forward two feet.

The part of the drive from central GA, heading into the metro area usually takes about ninety minutes. And then: no progress at all. It must have taken an hour to drive the last ten miles, making me think about getting stuck in that slow moving stream of vehicles when returning from SC after The Great Solar Eclipse. When there must have been ten thousand people all wanting to go to the same place at the same time. And me, blissfully unaware of what I was getting into. And still sort of surprised, as I look back in amazement at how it took me seven hours to drive about 120 miles.

This gigantic jam was due to the population of the entire state of Florida thinking they needed to leave. Hearing warnings about the impending state of disaster when Hurricane Irma heads into the peninsula with winds of over 150 mph, creating flooding across the low lying area. Which is mostly the entire state below GA.

suprising visitor...

Friday, September 8, 2017

... walked up into the carport one morning this week. I went out to my car to bring in some of the flotsam and jetsam that perpetually accumulates, clean out some misc. in order to replace it with more. Then I said, 'hmmm.... might as well do bit of sweeping right here around the recycle bin', and as I was getting the broom to tidy up, I turned around and saw: a small box turtle calmly walking my way.

Caught completely by surprise, I said "Whoa!" but it did not. Continued to slowly amble his way into the carport, headed under the back end of my car. My thought; that Is not a good idea. I had no plans to move the car, but knew there was no advantage for the little reptile to wander on into what amounts to a very large box. A dead end for a slow moving terrapin, who would only have to figure how to extricate himself. Plus nothing at all in the way of sustenance in that big empty room where he would be confined.

Proceeded to pick him up, so he immediately retreated to the safety of a closed up shell. I put him down out on the concrete apron, expecting he would mosey on off into the leaf mulch and make his way into the woods.

He soon stuck his head out of his shell, on his tiny little turtle neck, and poked it up, looking for the world like a periscope on a submarine, peering around at the scenery. Then the little scale-y feet came out, and he proceeded to rotate, make his way back into the carport, headed up under my car again. An exercise in futility.

I picked him up again, and took him out in the back yard, and put him down. Where the mottled pattern on his shell caused him to almost immediately disappear into the leaf mulch under the trees. I have put several others, about the same size, as big as your balled up fist, in the back yard over the years. Hoping they would be safe, live long and multiply. I have never seen one out there in the fenced in space, so I know they get out, and would like to think find a safe haven in the densely wooded lot meandering down the hill towards the creek. Maybe find a spouse, make the next generation of box turtles.


more bad bad weather....

Thursday, September 7, 2017
... headed towards North America. Sad, sad sad. It is tragic, and somehow unavoidable. Choosing to not watch the disaster unfold on television is most likely for the best. Today, right now would be a perfect time to quit your TV addiction. Unless you are one of those who gets some perverse pleasure from slowing down to observe all the mangled damage after a train wreck.

I rarely look at television, but with a man here who loves to fret about the weather, there in ample information about the impending crisis. He also gets great pleasure from posting warnings and sharing distressing information about things he cannot change. We are on fairly high ground, so I choose to not be alarmed, even though there have been times in recent memory when our street was so inundated we had to take a detour to get home. I am not going to devote my time to worry about things I cannot control.

The thought that stays in my head, twisted though it may be: if you build your house on sand, and specifically on the unstable footing near a gigantic body of water, you should not be surprised. If you chose to buy a condo., build a high-rise, invest in real estate in southern Florida or the Caribbean, at sea level, expect the sea to come and take it away.  That is as certain as gravity. Sooner or later, you will loose your house, land, everything when the ocean turns it all back into a swamp.

It is distressing to see, hear about all those people who are underwater, mostly lost everything. I heard a statistic earlier this week that half of a million homes were uninhabitable in south Texas. That is a lot of people living in shelters, camping out with the in-laws in cramped housing, needing food, clean clothing, baths. And another one is bearing down on south Florida, flattening everything in it's path.

Thankful to have a safe, dry house, with a new roof, and warm comfy bed not floating down to the Gulf of Mexico. Thankful for plenty of food, potable water, laundry detergent, washers and dryers, electricity on demand. Very thankful to be living at an elevation high enough to feel safe.

when she called...

... to give a report of some bizarre stuff on the interstate years ago, the animal loose on the highway that was causing the snarl in commuter traffic was a zebra. Sadly, it has been sooooo long ago that the details are lost to the sands of time. This was likely gleaned from listening to public radio while driving to work in the middle of Atlanta. I am guessing it was being transported from one zoo or secure habitation to another, and suddenly it was not all that secure. Or possibly being trucked to some romanticc hideway as a loaner for conjugal purposes. Anyway: it would be startling to see that trotting down the verge in the middle of densely  packed civilization.

When she called yesterday, it was to report a tiger was loose on the interstate below Atlanta, and law enforcement was chasing it. You know that calling in men with guns, sworn to protect and defend pretty much guarantees a bad ending. We can be curious to know the back story, but might never hear of the person who had a tiger in their home as a pet. My guess is that keeping large, carnivorous felines is something that needs to be registered, and reported. Plus, aren't then endangered? The one on loose on the interstate, frightened and confused surely was!

I am also recalling a story from years ago, when giraffes were being transported, I think possibly a circus act, rather than zoo related. They were loaded into large trailers pulled by trucks traveling on the interstate. You can conjure a picture in your head of the parade traveling along the highway, with elephants, lions, various creatures seen on a safari. The long necked giraffes would systematically bend their long necks forward to duck their heads as the truck would slowly creep under an overpass. Then the giraffes would straighten up, hold heads aloft and necks erect again, once they had cleared the obstacle. Doesn't that picture you created in your mind make you smile? It would be a sight to behold.

reading while driving ...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
...recently and came across an expression I had never heard before. I thought it was funny, amusing in an oxymoron'ish sort of way. You know, things like: jumbo shrimp, random order, pretty ugly, a little bit big. A short phrase that combines two normally contradictory terms, as in clearly misunderstood.

The one I heard (actually on a talking book) that stuck in my head was: plausible liar. It was used more than once in the book, which caused it to really make a lasting impression. Making me think of a roommate from my short stay in college housing. She was from the Big City, and pretty much an alien species to this little bumpkin. Girl from the sticks who only went to Atlanta once a year, and that was a Big Deal. I was in complete awe, until I wasn't.

This girl was probably more towards the compulsive end of the dishonesty scale. My guess is she had been at it so long, building defensive responses in advance when she would be questioned about behavior in her high school years, she had become an expert. I can envision her coming in very late after her curfew, possibly under the influence of underage alcohol consumption. Knowing her parents would be giving her the Third Degree with questions about who, where, why. Practicing her story long before getting in the door.

Sadly, she was no 'plausible liar', but hilarious nonetheless. Any number of times she would come in late, still underage drinking, and be confronted about behavior. Attempt to explain, justify, waffle. /Forever feeling the need to embellish the facts. Ending up responding when the truth was revealed, that her halfhearted attempt at covering up ' but it sounded like a good idea'. I wonder if she is still practicing deceit? And still getting caught when her face would reveal her lack of skill with prevarication?

at the mall...

Monday, September 4, 2017
... to return something to JCP. I was in line, waiting for a cashier, and overheard a white haired woman ask the clerk if that entrance was the 'front door?' She got a positive response, and headed out into the parking lot, toddling along with her walking stick. I finished my business, completed my exchange and went out the door behind this elderly female.

Something - probably her question - made me know there was going to be a problem. I walked over to my car, and opened the door, but did not get in. Observing this woman without being overly blatant, it was obvious she could not find her car. As she walked back across the lane to the sidewalk in front of the store, I approached her and asked if she needed help. She said, as I had expected, that she had 'lost her car'. And asked me the same question she had posed to the cashier in the store. I told her I thought the entrance where we stood would be considered the front. She said she came in the side door. My comment was that there were actually three outside entrances to the store, so it could be confusing, adding that I occasionally had trouble with finding my vehicle as well.

I asked if I could walk with her to the side entrance, hoping she might recognize her car parked in the lot around the corner. When we came around the building, she said: 'There it is.' I wonder now if she really did find her car, or was just attempting to save face by getting rid of nosy me.

My thought when I first saw her, realizing she was having a problem: if it  were my mom, I would want someone who appeared to be un-threatening to offer assistance. Then later as I was driving home, I had another thought: 'when that becomes me, I hope someone will come to my rescue, take me in hand, help me find my way back home.'

I have a very clear memory of following my mom, when she left home one afternoon, at an angle as if in a stiff wind. Headed up the hill in that small community where she lived most of her life, on an un-named mission, determined to be someplace else. I could not go along, but could not let her go alone, so following as she started out. I didn't know what I would do when she ran out of steam, was too tired to get back home, but I dare not let her out of my sight. I trailed behind, certain that she would eventually slow and stop when her stamina ran out.

She did get weary, sat on the curb and eventually just laid down on the sidewalk. I have to wonder if she saw me as her captor, the one she was hopeful to escape from. She would not tell me where she was going, and probably did not have a destination in her mind when she walked out the door. Just the idea that she wanted to be someplace where I was not? We sat on the street long enough for someone, complete strangers, to stop and offer a ride. Returned home, and never mentioned this incident again.

She died in a nursing home, in 2009, with advanced dementia. I can still wonder where she was headed, and whether she was trying to escape me, or herself.  We will never know.

it is a rarity...

... to find a square on my calendar with nothing written down, no work, no meetings, no urgent business or volunteerism, no commitments. Not even anything that has been marked out or 'whited out' with correction tape. Absolutely pristine, untouched. How in the world did this occur? This must be what the officially sanctioned, federally recognized 'Labor Day' holiday is all about!

It is early in the day, with sunlight streaming through the windows on the east side of the house. Rays of sunshine lying in long stripes across the lawn as I look out into the world. From my spot with a north facing view, where I can see graceful fronds of large ferns, underside of the leaves of sunlit hydrangeas, trunks of trees highlighted on one side by rising sun. Dark dense shade of slowly awakening world, as the sun rises in the sky.

September does not mean 'fall' in the sense of a different seasons here in central Georgia, but the air was considerably cooler this morning. It is still definitely summer, with heat, bugs, high humidity, out door activities that never cease in any season. The trees and grasses, landscape are still a rich green, from plentiful of rainfall over the summer, but that hint of cooling brings thoughts of changes to come.

I made several plans for my day that all came to nought: schools are out, so no possibility of getting in another day of substitute teaching. Then I thought of going to the indoor pool to swim, but city facilities all closed to allow employees a holiday. I should get out and take a walk in the early morning cool - take advantage of the pleasant weather.  The kitchen floor needs attention, but I would much prefer any other activity to mopping as a method of calorie burning....