Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When will it be normal?

Mess and disorganization are very upsetting to me.

I'm trying to figure out how to cope with the mess I am forced to live in, just now, and be happy.  I'm struggling.  I'm learning things about myself I don't like very much.  One thing I've learned is that right now and I mean RIGHT NOW, all I want to do is eat.  I want to get a sandwich and chips and eat.  It's not a meal time and I'm really not hungry, but the desire to stuff these helpless feelings down deep inside me with food is very strong.  I don't like it.  And, I don't want to eat.

Another unhealthy coping mechanism I'm using is anger.  I'm crabby and angry.  I know my house was not the most broken by Irene, by far.  I know there are many others in far worse shape than I am, but my feelings are real.  I find myself lashing out or using an unpleasant tone when I respond to others.  Especially people who are complaining about throwing out 5 lbs. of hamburger because their power was off for 2 or 3 days.  I want to tell them to Shut UP!  This is not a good thing.  I think about people I admire.  People with the ability to show grace under pressure.  People with the ability to smile in the face of personal problems.  How Do They Do IT?  I want to be like that.  I want to smile.  I just can't make my face do it right now.

And, of course, there is my good friend alcohol.  Oh friend, I don't want to spend so much time with you.  It certainly numbs me to these crummy feelings, but it doesn't make them go away.  When the soothing effects of alcohol wear off, my feelings are Right There.  Big as life.  No better than they were before I drank.  And, alcohol is fattening.  And, my self control and "noshing" go unchecked under its influence.  This is not good.

What I know, intellectually, is that my house is fixable.  It's going to take a long time to get the insurance adjuster out to my house, but in the end, my house is fixable.  I'm going to need to get my roof fixed.  Maybe I'll feel better when I have a better patch on the roof than a piece of plastic.  Maybe.  I know I will have to pay a hefty deductible to get everything that needs to be fixed, fixed.  I struggle with the amount of the deductible and the cost of the work that needs to be done.  Btw, we can all thank Katrina for the change in the insurance standards and the amount of the deductibles now being 2-3% of your property value.  I know I will need to re-insulate my attic.  I know I will have to have the drywall replaced in my son's room.  Btw, drywalling is super messy.  I know I will have to have the carpet replaced in my son's room and probably the hallway.  I hope I can get it to match the carpet that won't be replaced.  I will paint, clean, get new drapes, get new light fixtures, redecorate... get back to normal.  And this is just INSIDE THE HOUSE.  Let's chat about my yard.  The tree guys we hired to remove the tree from the roof, dropped the tree on my deck.  I really hate that deck, but... another mess.  I have 20 trees either on the ground or leaning.  These have to be cut and removed.  Sorry husband, there is NO WAY we need that much fire wood.  All the trees on the ground came out of the ground.  The root balls are GIGANTIC.  I don't need ten new water features in my yard and I can tell you, dirt is expensive.

These are all the things I know.  I'm a smart cookie.  But, I have feelings.  And I hate my feelings right now.

I know, intellectually, my feelings do not control me.  My feelings are not facts.  My feelings are not reality.  However, my feelings are very strong.  I'm having difficulty overcoming my feelings.  I don't want to use food or alcohol or hostility to people around me to make myself feel better.  But, right now, I'm at a loss.   I didn't feel this way yesterday, but today I do.

Let me tell you a little story I feel may be contributing to my poor attitude.  Monday I went to work.  There was really nothing for me to do at home.  The tree guy was coming to remove the tree from the house, and my husband agreed to take the day (morning) off to be home for that.  Really, guys like cranes and ropes and chainsaws and those things really do nothing for me.  So, I went to work.  I drove through our neighborhood.  It's not easy to drive through my neighborhood.  There are trees leaning, branches piled up on the shoulders of the road, branches sticking out into the road.  It makes it hard to concentrate on driving because your eyes are drawn to the devastation all around you.  But, I get out to the main road and away from my neighborhood and things begin to look normal.  I get to my office, and it looks normal.  Sure, there is some damage and some of the lights are out, but it's not too bad.  So I work.  I focus on what feels normal to me.  Work.  Then my hairdresser calls and asks me if I would like to come in for color.  (she canceled me me on Friday, before the storm, to do her own hurricane prep)  I agree to come in.  I need the color.  While driving to her salon I notice all the devastation on Rt. 5, north of the college I work at.  There are areas with power lines on the ground.  So many trees are down, I can even begin to count them.  There are SMECO trucks everywhere.  I get to my friend's salon and things seem normal.  We chat.  We tell storm stories.  It all feels so removed from me, like the hurricane is something that happened to someone else, as I sit in the chair and she colors my hair.  We finish and I pay.  I now know things are NOT really normal, because I didn't even think to make my next appointment.  Normally, I would.  (maybe this misstep is more telling than I first thought)  I drive home.  I enter my neighborhood.  And I am shocked by the look of it.  I was just there this morning.  Nothing has changed.  Why am I shocked?  And this was just the first time I struggled through these feelings.  It keeps happening to me.  Every time I look around my yard or my street or my neighborhood, I'm shocked at the devastation.  It doesn't feel normal to me.

So, I know what my desire is.  My desire is to get back to normal.  My normal.  But it's a long way from now to normal.  The trick is to learn how to make the transition in the most healthy way.  *Sigh*  Now this is off my chest.  I know it sounds like a big whine.  (yeah, pass the cheese)  I needed to do this.  I don't feel like eating anymore.  I think this is good.  Thanks for letting me share.  It feels good to talk about it.  I may need to do this again.  :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodnight Irene

I survived the hurricane.  It wasn't fun.  They said it wouldn't be as bad as Isabelle, but it was worse, for me.  In the vernacular of hurricanes, "bad" is a relative term.  If you live near the water, the storm surge of a hurricane is bad.  This is because the wind and force of the water, especially at high tide, will come up and flood your house or yank your pier off its pilings or toss your boat up on the shore.  If you live in the woods, like I do, rain fall and wind are bad.  Irene had a lot of rain.  And a lot of wind.  Coupled with the crappy front we had come through on last Thursday (with tornadoes, thank you very much), the ground was saturated.  So, trees fell down.  And, sometimes your house is in the way of the tree's path of travel from upright, to the ground.

 And when a tree falls on your house, it doesn't mind sticking its branches into your roof.  

This lovely tree stuck three of its branches into our house.  This provided three large holes for water to run freely into our home.  So, you can imagine, for most of the night of Irene my husband and I bailed water out of our attic.  We put a bucket under each of the holes and proceeded to "bucket brigade" from the time of the tree falling, about 9:00 p.m., until the rain stopped at around 4:30 a.m.  I haven't pulled an "all nighter" in quite a few years.  And, there is a huge difference between studying all night and physically working all night.  My body hurts everywhere.

My son was the person most inconvenienced by Irene.  If you can see the window with the air conditioning unit sticking out (Yes, I have central air, but he feels his room doesn't get cool enough.  I'm not going to wear a sweater in July for his comfort.  Anyway, I digress), this is my son's room.  While my husband and I were bailing, I suggested he get everything out of his room and begin to pile it up in the guest room.  I told him the ceiling could collapse at any time.  Unfortunately, the excitement of the storm sort of paralyzed him.  I practically had to slap him to get him in motion.  In the end, he was able to empty most of his room and the ceiling hasn't collapsed as yet.  *sigh*

To make matters worse, a tree fell on my son's car.
This tree looks small in comparison, but, trust me, it's big.

 I, on the other hand, am trying to look at the positive in this situation.  What is positive, you may ask?  The biggest positive, for me, in this is the idea of getting my son to go through all his CRAP and cull and sort and basically clean up his stuff.  I'm just going to keep this thought running through my mind.  This is going to be my positive meditation each day until we have put this chapter of our lives behind us.

This is just my small story in the Hurricane Irene book of stories.  I am grateful it wasn't too bad.  I took a tour of my little neighborhood of 126 homes.  I stopped counting homes with trees on the roof at 40.  The neighborhood is unrecognizable.  Everyone was damaged in one way or another.  Thousands of trees are down.  Dozens of homes are flooded.  We can all commiserate in our tales of woe.  I'm so glad no one was hurt.  I'm grateful to have insurance.  I'm grateful to have a job.  I'm grateful to have my health and ability to clean up the mess.  I'm grateful to have a husband who knows his way around a chainsaw.  I'm grateful to have a son, who after an initial hiccup, stepped up and really helped get things working again.

We are going to be alright.  It's going to take time, but everything will be repaired, replaced and restored.  In the meantime, we have a big mess to clean up.

 This is a big pine tree.  Fast neighbors with chainsaws take half of it away quick.
 My son standing next to the root of the big oak

  I think there may be enough sun here to grow tomatoes next summer.  :)

 Trying to get the insurance company on the phone.

There are 20 more trees down around the property.  We will be working on this for a while.  Btw, if you need any firewood, you can email me.  Come over, you can take all you want, free.  :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene songs. We just HAVE to keep a positive attitude.

This one is hilarious.


This one is pretty literal, but from a different Irene hurricane.

This one is pretty and a rap.  Sweet.

 And this one is just traditional.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Earthquakes and hurricanes and Steve Jobs quits. Oh my!

I know you heard we had an earthquake here in the mid-Atlantic.  I know you heard about it, because the bureaucrats in Washington, DC felt it.  Yep, the president of the United States felt it.  He was in Martha's Vineyard, golfing, but he felt it.  The Washington Monument is broken.  The National Cathedral is broken.  Our government got half a day off on Tuesday.  And, the news outlets got something to talk about.  Yep, Tuesday, August 23 at 1:51 p.m. the EASTERN seacoast had an earthquake.  (take that California)  Personally, I was at my desk, working, when the quake hit.  I am an experienced earthquake survivor.  I recognized the shaking for exactly what it was, said "earthquake" (loud) and ran from the building.  I was the first one out.  Evidently my character has been revealed.  When in a disaster situation, I will get myself out of harm's way and leave my co-workers to fend for themselves.  Now we know.  In case there was any curiosity as to whether I would hold the door open and usher folks to safety, the answer is "no, I won't be doing that."  I was living in Monterey, CA during the October 1989 quake.  I was nearly scared to death.  That was the biggest shaker I've ever felt.  The Bay Bridge collapsed.  The Cypress Freeway in Oakland collapsed.  I didn't have power for a week.  My neighbor's houses were broken.  It was a disaster.  I lived in Naples, Italy from 1984-1987.  We had tremors regularly.  The city of Pozzuoli was, effectively, closed after an earthquake in 1983.  The tremors lasted all of '84 and '85.  These were my first earthquakes.  I remember the first night I was to sleep in the hotel after moving to Italy, there were 30 tremors.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep.  I have survived another earthquake.

Also, we have a hurricane on the way.  Irene.  I really don't like hurricanes.  They are messy.  You know they are coming.  You try to prepare.  You hope you have enough clean water.  You know you won't be having a hot shower.  Then you clean up the mess.  I keep hoping, hoping, and then hoping a bit more for Irene to travel east.  Please Irene, travel out into the Atlantic.  We don't want you here.  I am much luckier in the hurricane disaster area.  I've only experienced hurricane Isabelle.  It was a mess.  I was scared.  We didn't have power for 5 days.  We were ok.  Our house was ok.  We lost about 30 trees on our property, but not one of them hit the house.  I hope I haven't used up all my hurricane luck.  I'm not looking forward to Irene.  But, I know she's coming.

Lastly, Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple.  I'm hoping this is not the disaster so many think it will be.  I don't think it will be.  We've known Steve has had failing health for quite a while.  We've seen this coming, too.  Like Steve, I believe Apple's finest and most innovative days are ahead of them.  I have confidence in Tim Cook.  I'm a Mac.  I know I told you this in my 100 things post.  I'll bet most of you have Apple stock in your mutual funds.  Just sayin'.  I hope Steve Jobs can get better.  He's so young.  It's very sad.  However, I don't think it's the end of Apple.

Ok, there you have it.  Three disaster situations.  You decide.  Is it the end of the world? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kisses from my son

My son is kissing me on the cheek every day
I try not to flinch
We have had so much distance in our lives
Since he became a man.

My son is a mystery I cannot solve
His expression mostly flat
I have no hint to the thoughts in his head
Since he was three years old.
My son needs extreme sensations to emote
A reaction to an event or feeling
There is no subtle emotional response
He hurts himself to feel.
My son is kissing me on the cheek every day
I try to accept
His efforts to convey love to me
Since it does not come naturally.

My son is my heart and soul
I want a perfect life for him
Life handed him high hurdles
It's hard to watch him jump

My son is  slowly growing wiser in life
Making efforts to navigate this world
Uncharted waters I don't understand
So I'll provide the life boat.

My son is kissing me on the cheek every day
I still feel the stubble of his chin
No baby kisses anymore
He's making a choice to show me love.

Monday, August 22, 2011

No cancer. But, I still hate Tamoxifen

I don't have uterine cancer.  I am very happy.  I'm not surprised.  But, I'm very happy.

I took a few minutes, yesterday, to peek at some old blog posts to see if I had shared this part of my life with you guys, and discovered, indeed I had.  Back on Memorial Day weekend, in May (duh) I posted Tamoxifen, the rest of the story.  Seriously, I've been messing around with this issue since Memorial Day?  I think this officially proves I am not a whiner. At least, I'm not a whiner on this blog.  (Oh wait, I just found this post, Tamoxifen, take three.  Maybe I am a whiner.)  To be honest, I had to have my endometrium biopsied four times.  I had one ultrasound (and I think they should have paid me for THIS particular procedure.  Quite invasive.) and four, count 'em FOUR, biopsies.  Evidently, they had a hard time getting enough tissue for conclusive testing.  This is all in the past.  I don't have uterine cancer.  I haven't developed one of the MOST SERIOUS side effects of being on Tamoxifen.  Thank goodness I wasn't seriously worried I had cancer or the stress may have been too much for me.  I have made a promise to myself that I will follow doctor's orders when it comes to me and Tamoxifen.

Anyway, they main point is No Cancer.  This is very good.  Very positive.  I want to share the good with the bad in my little corner of cyberspace.  I also want to share this process with any women out there, reading this blog.  Taking care of ourselves is very important.  Caring for our health.  Caring for our bodies.  Caring for our mental well-being.  We women have a tendency to be care-takers of OTHERS and neglect ourselves.  Don't do it, ladies.  Take advantage of this one area of Women's Health that seems to be getting the research money.  (God knows enough money has been spent on E.D.)  Anything we can do to keep ourselves from getting breast cancer is worth doing.  Btw, self examination doesn't cut it.  In no way.  Go to the doctor.  Get your mammograms regularly.  Follow-up if you need to follow-up.  I know it's not fun.  I know it is a bit humiliating.  I know it even hurts a little.  But, you can do it.

This has been a public statement encouraging all women to take care of themselves and love themselves a little more today.  :)

Go Bears!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Get on the bus

I follow one blog as a guilty pleasure.  I know this person "in real life" and I've promised myself NEVER to comment on her blog.  It's caused a problem in the past and now our relationship is broken.  This wasn't my choice, but there you have it.  Anyway, she has a DONATE button on her blog and has been collecting money to buy an old yellow school bus to pack her family up and travel the country.  She considers her family "unschoolers" as she is supposedly allowing her children to learn at home at their own pace and desire.  Evidently, or according to her blog, she and the family have BOUGHT THE BUS.  But, now her son doesn't want to stay home and unschool, he wants to GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL.  I read all this on her blog.  I understand her dilemma.  How can you live your life the way you want to live your life when your child won't let you?  But this isn't my problem.  My problem is this.  I want to comment on her blog, and I can't.  So I'm commenting on my blog.  Here it is.

So will you be driving your son to school in the bus?

Friday, August 19, 2011

WWII love

This is a letter to my mil from her first husband.  It was the last letter he wrote to her before he was shot down over Germany and perished.  He was shot down flying his 8th mission.  He was required to fly 50 missions before he could return home to his pregnant bride.  She was 18.  He was 20. 

Love just oozes from his words.  Young love.  The kind of love that is so intense, it hurts.  No email.  No text messages.  No tweets.  No fb.  Just handwritten letters.  The kind that take time to write.  The kind you can hold in your hand.  This is romance.  Clark Gable.  Betty Davis.  Frank Sinatra.   This is why my parent's generation is called The Greatest Generation.  I know I can't live up to it.

"Gee I love you sweetheart. - Give anything to be with you - but that will have to wait.  I guess I'm always thinking about you - I still brag about having the best gal in the States. (what's out of the States isn't even in the running!)"

I've got more of these letters.  Who knows.  Maybe it's worth writing a book.  I know there are relatives thinking about it.  But, do they have the initiative?  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home sweet home

I am glad to be home.  There is just something so good about home, even if you don't like where you live all that much.  It's yours.  Your bed.  Your couch.  Your space.  There is a serenity in going into your room and having your space and privacy.  I love to travel and visit people.  I love to eat out and talk and drink and socialize.  I REALLY love coming home.

So, I am home.  Yesterday I stayed home to catch up on the laundry and general "get back to a routine" that comes with a week of being away.  First of all, the dog missed us.  He may be old, and just about blind, and I'm pretty sure he's deaf, and has a hard time climbing the stairs, but he knows whether we are home or not.  So yesterday I stayed home all day and he stayed by my side the entire day.  Job one, done.  I helped the dog to feel secure and cared for again. 

Secondly, I had to do laundry.  Now, you may think this was a chore, but au contraire mon frere.  I was doing my laundry in a State Of The Art, High Efficiency Top Loading Kenmore Elite washing machine, with matching dryer.  *Let the oohing and aahing begin.  Yes, it was magnificent.  I must tell you, I have to learn how to do laundry all over again.  My laundry looked pitiful in this 7.4 cubic foot capacity machine.  Next time I do wash I'll post it as my status on fb and get my friends to bring their dirty clothes to my house, we'll have a party and everyone will go home with clean clothes and a pleasant attitude.  Wow, you can fit a lot of clothes or towels or bedspreads or WHATEVER in that baby.  But, like all good things, there is a down side.  I have no idea how this sucker works.  I cannot see how the clothes move around inside that agitatorless tub.  After you listen to the lovely chimes as the machine powers up, then select the method (and there are a lot of these, please hand me the instruction book), and then press START, the lid on the machine LOCKS.  Click.  Sounds I have never heard coming from a washing machine begin.  It is a complete mystery to me.  I cannot tell you how curious I am.  I need to do some kind of internet search to discover what is going on in there.  If any of you know, please share.  Seriously.  :)

My final joy in being in my own home was my opportunity to indulge in one of my guilty pleasures, Hoarders on A&E.  Oh my, it was a good one.  I dvr this program and I am not allowed to watch it while my husband is IN THE HOUSE.  The show creeps him out, completely.  I have to tell you; this particular episode was especially gag evoking.  I admit, I gagged.  The guy on this particular episode had a one year old and a two year old living in the trailer with him.  The two year old had a cough that rattled MY stomach.  The psychologist sent to TALK TO this guy, and by talk to I mean hit him upside the head with a 2"x4", said it was the worst smelling place she had EVER been.  And she does this for a full-time job.  In fact, I had to pause the show and collect myself.  It happens.  This particular episode motivated me to clean out my pantry.  I couldn't feel good about myself until I had thoroughly purged and cleaned my pantry.  I had Kool Aid packets in there that were 15 years old.  *hanging head in shame*  I don't make Kool Aid anymore.  I had those Cookies in a Mason Jar things from two Christmases ago.  Yeah, I was becoming a hoarder.  My pantry is the picture of organization and freshness.  I feel SO MUCH better about myself.

So, home sweet home.  I'm here for a couple weeks and then off to Reno, NV for the Naval Aviation Tailhook convention.  I'm going to have to bring back pictures from this trip.  The way I've been traveling this summer, maybe I should be writing a travel blog instead of a slice of life blog.  Hmmm.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School's here

Three, two, one
Summer is done
Shortened days
Lunchroom trays
School in session
Answer the question
Join the throng
As days speed along
Before we know it
We'll be frost bit
With chilly breezes
And someone preaches
"Remember the blast
Of heat that harassed
Us all through June"
Coming soon
We will enjoy
With every girl and boy
Christmas vacation
Days and weeks hasten
To bring us spring
And begin the counting
Of the days
With shouts of hoorays
School will be done
Three, two, one 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Resting in peace

It's over.  Amen.  My mother-in-law has been laid to rest.  We all survived.

Actually, we more than survived.  It was a lovely service.  The service was performed "family style," meaning, there was no minister or priest or official officiator of any sort.  The service was held in the house and hymns were sung, poems read, memories spoken and bible verses recited.  It was lovely.  It was informal.  Grandchildren performed the music.  My husband and his sisters were surrounded in love.  My husband took xanax.  It helped.  It helped just enough.  He was calm and collected and able to participate fully in the service.  In fact, I was moved by his eulogy for his mom.  He listed the guidelines his mother set for her children to live by.  There were about a dozen of them and I won't name them all, but... the last and most important was "Be nice to your mother."  My husband was very nice to his mother.  When I met him, this was one of his handsomest traits.

The difficulties between my husband and his sister were resolved.  I'm sure we won't be spending summer vacations together, but he will certainly keep in touch with her and be a good brother to her.  I'm glad.  I think it is wonderful to have family you are so close to you want to spend your vacation time with them.  I think it's more common to have family you enjoy spending a holiday dinner with once a year.  I'm ok with this.  My sister-in-law asked me how she could develop a better relationship with me.  She said something to me about my husband mentioning difficulties she and I had had early in my marriage to her brother.  Yeah, I remember difficulties, but I've put them well behind me.  I've long decided not to dwell on the past.  I have also decided not to place myself in a situation that I've learned can go horribly wrong.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  I told her my feelings on creating a good relationship between she and I would hinge completely on the relationship she develops with her brother.  At this point in time, this is what I can commit to do.

I learned so much about myself through this experience.  I don't need to have my way.  I can let things go and let someone else have control of a situation and be completely relaxed with this.  I'm very happy this is part of who I am.  I'm happy to find this is part of my being.  Of course, not everything I discovered about myself was so positive.  I discovered that I have to talk about things.  And by things, I mean people.  And by people, I mean people I'm angry at.  I need to talk about them and run them down and dwell on whatever negative thing they have done or said to me.  This is a very unattractive quality I have found in myself.  I'm going to need to learn a better way to process my negative thoughts about other people.  Hearing myself say them out loud may do a lot to help me feel better about myself, but it is a hurtful thing to do to the individual I have an issue with.  I guess I'm a chicken when it comes to confrontation.  I like to avoid confronting the person, if possible.  However, if I am faced with confrontation, I can deal with it.

So, I'll share just a couple more things before I put this scene from the movie of my life in the can.  You may remember I was to get a new dryer to replace the dryer that had broken on my anniversary.  Well, not only did I get a new dryer, but I got a new washing machine, as well.  And not just any washer.  I got a new High Efficiency Washing Machine.  I haven't used it yet, because it was delivered and installed JUST before we left for Indiana, but my son used it.  And, he said it is magnificent.  I believe this new appliance will need a post all to it's own.  So, be on the lookout.  Secondly, I decided to get a root canal just before traveling to Indiana.  I had been trying to ignore a toothache for about a week.  On Monday it became impossible to ignore.  Long story short, my tooth still hurt throughout this week in Indiana.  This is the first time I've ever had pain AFTER a root canal (and I've had 6 root canals in my dental history).  So with some antibiotics and tylenol I have survived the visit.  By the skin of my teeth (haha) and not always with the cheerful smile on my face (but, after all, I just had a root canal).  All's well that ends well.  Tomorrow I leave for home and my own dentist.  I'll wash all my clothes in a BRAND NEW High Efficiency Washing Machine.  And, I'll move forward with renewed hope for the future with my extended family.  We survived the memorial service and celebration of my mother-in-law's life as an intact and loving family.

Life is very good, indeed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm an extra in this scene

I'm preparing myself for the week with the in-laws.  I'm an extra in this event.  I'm on the sidelines.  I'm filler in the crowd scene.  I'm required to smile appropriately.  Be comforting.  Clean up after myself and my family.  Lend a hand when necessary.  Stay out of the way.  And say nothing. 

I'm up for it.  I'm ready.  I can do this.
I'm looking forward to this time with my family.  We will be driving to Indiana, so we will be a captive audience to each other.  I haven't spent 15 consecutive hours with my son in a long time.  I hope he doesn't jump out of the car on the Interstate.  I'm looking forward to a bit of down time.  I'm bringing my laptop, but I don't think there is convenient wifi available.  Posting on my phone is tedious, so I don't plan on doing that.  I'm sure if I trip any landmines in the area I'll hightail it for the closest Starbucks and unload on my faithful readership.  *thanks for "being there" for me.

I'm going to bring my kindle and read.  I'm bringing my phone and EARPHONES (I forgot to bring these on vacation) and listen to music.  I'm going to use this time to feed myself and quietly help out wherever needed.  I think I'll bring some rubber gloves, just in case this helping out = washing dishes.  I've heard a rumor of the guest list totaling 36 people.  This number can result in large quantities of dirty dishes.  I know my way around a dishpan.  Maybe this will be my offering?

Thank you all for walking through this time of grief, soul searching and revelation with me.  I hope I'm not the only one who learned something this week.  One of the comments I received spoke of learning this concept in therapy.  I'll bet this cost $100 an hour to learn.  And here I am dropping pearls of wisdom for free.  :) 
I'm not joking about my comments or commentors.  I appreciate comments VERY MUCH.  Thank you all for the advice, encouragement, prayers and well wishes during this week.  I appreciate it more than I can say.  Thank you.

And now for an oldie, but goody. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Find fault or fix it

I'm going to fix it.

"All blame is a waste of time.  No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.  The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.  You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy." Dr. Wayne Dyer.

In order to be happy I need to stop blaming or fault finding.  It is essential.  The only person I can change is myself.  We all know this, but it is hard to do.  It is MUCH easier to shift the focus from myself and seek to place it on someone else.  And, doing this is a huge waste of time.

My dryer stopped working yesterday.  Who's fault is this?  Is it my fault?  I was the one using it when it broke.  Is it the manufacturer's fault?  Kenmore sold it to me and guaranteed it would work for a year.  It has worked for 12 years.  But now it isn't.  Is it China's fault for making inferior parts and selling them to Kenmore?  I could go on and on, yet my clothes are still wet.  My problem is not being solved.  I need to fix my dryer or hire someone to fix my dryer or buy a new dryer.  I can't expect the dryer to do anything about it.  I have to DO something.  (I'm going to buy a new dryer.  :))

My coworker with the printing problem had to put in a work order to the IT Help Desk.  His problem was causing him difficulty and he made a decision to take steps to get it fixed instead of blaming me.

I found a new venue for my meeting.  I took an action to fix the problem.

I will be cordial and polite to my sister-in-law.  I will accept any blame thrown my way and refrain from casting blame.  I will not hold resentments, because it wouldn't fix anything.  I can't make my husband treat his sister with grace and care, but I've encouraged him to do so.  I will do nothing to sabotage him in his efforts to be positive.

In the past, I have been attempting to make others feel guilty over a botched situation.  This is not who I choose to be any longer.  Guilt is not a currency I choose to deal in.  The shaming of others and accepting of blame is not how I choose to move through this life.  Guilt doesn't keep me warm at night or make my life happier.  The currencies I choose to use in this life are coin of the realm, time, energy, and happiness.  (there may be more, but I can't think of any just now)  I choose to stay positive and above the accusations.

I know I was raised with guilt and shame, but this does not mean I cannot change.  It will be difficult, but worth it.  When a problem situation arises I will first seek to fix it.  After it is fixed I will assess any changes I need to make in my future actions.  God grant me the serenity to change  the things I can...

Today I am married 29 years.  I guess I'm getting a dryer for an anniversary gift.  Yippee...

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's my fault

Yeah, it's my fault.  I get it.

Sometimes God sends tiny little raindrops on your head to get your attention.  Sometimes the drops are bigger.  Sometimes He sends hailstones.  And sometimes they are BRICKS.

This is not a brick, but it is a golfball sized hailstone.  And this is the message I'm getting.  It's my fault.

The reason I can't print the Word documents you send to me, but I can print Word docs from EVERYBODY else in the office.  Yeah, it's my fault.

The reason I have a room booked in the campus center for a big meeting today, and I used your computer booking system, and I booked this room three weeks ago, and I saw all the emails saying food service was closed, but I didn't need food, and today I find out the building is closed and nobody is allowed to use it and I have to scramble to find another venue for my meeting.  Yeah, it's my fault.

The reason for family fighting, I get it.  I am not a member of the family and the sound of my voice on the phone and the configuration of my words in an email requesting information from you was galling.  I get that, even though, I've been married to your brother for 29 years and I've met all the members of your family more times than I can count, I was intruding in a private affair and my help was neither needed or wanted.  Yeah, it's my fault.

I think of the verse in The Bible, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3.  I'm examining my motives.  Yeah, I have culpability here.  I could have sent in the work request for the printing issue.  I could have connected the dots and guessed that when there is not food service the ENTIRE building will be closed.  I could have mentioned to my husband, in a nicer way, that his sister was beginning to fray at the edges and we should back off.  (I saw the signs and I told my husband she was a mean girl instead of pitying her and acknowledging her grief).  Yeah, I have a plank in my eye.

Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  I've been focused on this step from AA and I see my moral failure.  I see my need to assign blame.  I need it to be someone's fault.  And, when I am accused, I defend.  Especially when I believe I am NOT at fault.  I don't know why this is in my character, but it is.  I will work on this.  I need to learn to be ok with things "just happening."  No fault assigned.  It just IS.  And, I need to learn to move forward and not waste time looking backwards to assign blame.  There is another verse in The Bible, "Brothers and sister, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead," Philippians 3:13.

Ok, enough soul searching and self-examination.  Let's enjoy the weekend.

Ryan Gosling

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I'm dealing with a lot of grief in my life.  I'm not dealing with my own grief.  I'm dealing with the grief of my husband and his family.  It's hard.  I'm tired of it.  I know I sound unkind, but I'm sick of their grief.

Grief can be accompanied by many other emotions.  So far I've witnessed grief coupled with depression.  I've seen my husband look so tired.  And sad. And I'm listening to him begin to criticize himself for ANY tiny error or mistake.  He is working on his dissertation, still.  It's going very slowly.  There are a lot of rewrites.  There is a lot of frustration.  He's dealing with his grief about the death of his mother.  He's making decisions about her stuff.  He's dealing with his siblings.  He's dealing with me.  He's dealing with his job.  And, he's not sleeping.  He's not sleeping nearly enough.  Things about his work, home, school, that used to come easily.  Don't anymore.  There are a lot of struggles.  And, I think he is depressed.  I'm not a doctor, but I think many men exhibit their depression through anger.  Or, at least a loss of patience with themselves and others.  This is just my opinion.

Grief can be accompanied by anger.  This anger may or may not be coupled with depression.  It may just be ANGER.  The desire to have things your way.  No matter HOW anyone else feels about it.  My sister-in-law seems to be going through this.  She wants EVERYTHING her way and she can DO IT ALL.  I have backed off helping out with the memorial service.  She wants to do everything.  She's making all the food.  She's communicating (I'm using this word VERY loosely) with everyone herself.  She's making all the decisions.  And, it's been made clear to me that I am not family.  She and my husband have had loud, uncomfortable disagreements earlier this week.  It was awful.  Thank goodness we have now moved into the comfortable (quiet) freeze-out of cold, hard anger.  She doesn't want anything to do with us.

I've heard grief and anger can make satisfying, if unhealthy, companions because the anger allows a great quantity of emotion to be expelled in one or two giant outbursts.  Ok, I get this.  But, let me tell you, it is no fun being on the receiving end of those outbursts.  I'm trying hard to understand the idea of doing everything herself and pushing help away with both hands.  Maybe by doing it all she can exhaust herself and get the sleep my husband is sorely missing?  I don't know.  I have not experienced this kind of grief.

I don't know how long grief is supposed to last.  I don't know if there is anything I can do to alleviate my husband's grief.  I don't think there is.  I just try to "be there" for him.  I'm on his side.  I'll keep away from his sister.  She's very scary now and we have never been close.  I let her son fb friend me.  I'm sure it wasn't his idea, but if she wants to stalk me, it's ok with me. 

We leave for Indiana next week.  It's going to be a tougher trip than I first imagined it would be.  I know we will all live through it.  But, I can't wait until it is over.  Good grief.  So far, I can't see anything good about it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Like musical notes on a staff
Sit birds in an orderly manner
While below their tiny feet
Whiz voltage of uncounted measure

Calmly I type out my prose
While power is soaring nearby
Plastic protecting small hands
From shocking me to a quick fry

Inside my brain spin strange thoughts
Dangerous if not packaged well
Keep my mouth shut, all to myself
Don't tell them all go to hell

Once all the power is loosed
Once the words pour from me sharp
Sparks fly so high and burn hot
Hurt zings straight to their soft heart

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Less is more. It's happiness.

"To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness."  Bertrand Russell

This was my fb status today.  Everyday I post a quote from a philosopher, poet, celebrity, or artist with the word "happy" or "happiness" in it.  Some of them are quite silly.  Some of them are quite deep.  Today's quote is really making me think.  This quote is contrary to what most Americans believe, in my opinion.  I know my son believes having "things" will make him happy.  He's a collector.  I've watched our government struggle to deal with the national debt crisis.  I've heard politicians say they are unwilling to give up programs and entitlements the country can no longer afford.  I've heard politicians say they are unwilling to ask the American people to give them more money to pay for these programs and entitlements.  I will be keeping my opinion on this crisis to myself, since I'm not a ranting political blogger.  But, I have opinions.  I've mentioned before, one of my guilty pleasures is the tv show Hoarders.  I understand this show is about people with an actual mental illness when it comes to having "things."  I know there are LOTS of people with a desire for things beyond their needs.  Can you say "self-storage centers."  By the number of those facilities I notice in my travels, we Americans should be SUPER happy.  We have so many things we can't even fit them all in our homes.

Bertrand Russell was a philosopher.  He investigated the concept of happiness.  One of his concepts for attaining happiness was to keep zest in one's life.  Russell equated zest for life as hunger is for food.  He said we should work for our happiness.  It shouldn't come to us easily.  Happiness is a desire that is best fulfilled when there is a difficulty to overcome.  We are the most happy when we succeed at something taking great effort to attain.  This draws me back to our political situation.  I remember the surprise and applause and general happiness sweeping through the House chamber when the Honorable Gabby Giffords entered to vote on the bill.  It wasn't whether her vote was to be yea or nay.  It was her presence in Washington after suffering a gunshot wound to the head.  It was the very fact she had overcome great hardship to be in that chamber.  This was the source of the happiness at this hour.

Russell believed the greatest deterrent to happiness was, what he called, "the disease of over self-absorption."  This is something I wholeheartedly agree with.  We, as humans, are happiest when we think of others and take the focus off ourselves.  We are social creatures and sometimes, I'm afraid, our diminishing face-to-face contact through use of social mediums, digital communication, electronic warfare, etc. is crippling us in this aspect.  The biggest danger of this disease of self-absorption is to begin to see others as objects of comparison.  This is a dangerous game to play.  Coveting our neighbor's wife.  Keeping up with the Jones'.  By interacting, face-to-face, with other humans we have a chance to develop empathy and see other as people and save ourselves from self-absorption.

Being without is the only way to develop desire.  And, not every empty space needs to be filled with "things."  Today's quote struck a cord with me and my desire for minimalism.  It encourages me to keep freeing myself of my stuff and move on with my life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just peachy

There is nothing like a productive weekend to make me feel better about myself.  I got a lot done this weekend.  I'm feeling just peachy.  This is another interesting saying.  I wondered where it came from.  I found my answer in

When eaten, some kinds of peaches produce a natural high by interfering with the lipotin receptors in the brain. Since these kinds of peaches were not outlawed until the 1940's, they were commonly sold as a drug. When high off of them, people would often say that they were feeling "Peachy".

Seriously?  High?  Too bad these peaches are outlawed now.  I don't think I'm feeling "high" because I got a lot accomplished this past weekend, but I am certainly feeling satisfied.  It's amazing what can be accomplished when I don't have a migraine.  I didn't get EVERYTHING on my wish list done, but I'm not going to fret over it.

The first thing I did when I got home from work on Friday was to freeze a bushel of tomatoes.  My husband stopped at the CSA farm we belong to and bought a half bushel of seconds.  These are tomatoes with blemishes.  Some of these blemishes are quite serious.  There are bruises, bugs, mold, splits; you get the picture.  I stood at the sink and cut all the bad parts off the tomatoes and put them directly into freezer bags.  I've found when you freeze tomatoes this way, then thaw for use, the tomato will just slip out of the skin when slightly thawed.  When I go to make sauce with the frozen tomatoes, I allow them to slightly thaw, slip them out of their skins directly in the pot and cook down into sauce.  Easy peasy.  My husband also bought a half bushel of roma tomatoes.  These are my favorite for sauce.  These were first grade tomatoes, so directly in the freezer bags.  No work needed.

Here's a bit of tomato information for you.  There are generally two types or cultivars of tomatoes.  There are determinate and indeterminate.  Determinate tomatoes produce a bush and produce all their fruit at once, then stop producing.  Indeterminate tomatoes produce vines and continue producing fruit until there is a killing frost.  Roma tomatoes are determinate tomatoes.  So, you've got to get them while they're available.

On Saturday I froze a bushel of peaches.  Our family LOVES peaches.  I buy what is known as pie peaches when I buy peaches for the freezer.  I called the peach farm lady on Friday to ask if she would bring pie peaches to the farmer's market Saturday morning.  She said she didn't have room, but if I came a bit later in the morning she would see how many peaches she could sort for me.  So, at 11 o'clock a.m. I sent my husband to the market and he came home with a bushel of peaches for me to freeze.  I was so happy.
I did take some pictures of the peaches.

This is a perfect peach

This is a pie peach
You can see what I mean when I speak of a pie peach.  These pie peaches cost $16 per bushel.  This is a VERY good price.

This is a peck of peaches.  There are 4 pecks in a bushel.
I measure the amount of peaches in each freezer batch I make by using a 9 inch pie plate.  I usually make peach pies in the winter.  I make a delicious peach pie.  *I think I've mentioned this before.  I don't make pies in the summer because it is way too hot to bake.  I eat plain, delicious peaches in the summertime.
One freezer batch of peaches.  Yum!
I sprinkle some fruit fresh on the peaches and slip them into a freezer bag.  It's a lot of work and my hands get a few little cuts all over them and IF I had arthritis I wouldn't be able to type this post today.

Some of the fruits of my labors.  :)
On Sunday I canned six pints of pickles.  I made Bread and Butter Pickles.  I use this recipe from  It is delicious and not too sweet.  I love canning.  The canned vegetables are so beautiful in the clear glass jars.  It makes me so happy to see them lined up in my cupboard.  The colors are so vibrant.

The last thing I did on Sunday was make the BEST Eggplant Parmesan.  I used Martha Stewart's recipe.  We had it for dinner Sunday night and it was delicious.  Really.  The best one I've EVER made.

So, I didn't get any items listed on eBay.  I still have peppers I need to roast.  But it was a very fulfilling weekend.  I can't believe this is the kind of stuff that makes me feel so good about myself.