“While I fear that we’re drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we’re defined by what embraces us.” ~ J. R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar

Bedruthan Steps by Alex37 (deviantART)

                   

“There were moments, of course. Those small spaces of time,
too soon gone, when everything seems to stand still, and existence is balanced
on a perfect point, like the moment of change between the dark and light when
both and neither surround you.” ~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Broken Not Beaten II by Alex37 (deviantART)

Thursday, early evening. A lovely 60 degrees with puffy clouds.

Yesterday, it was 88 degrees and very humid. Today, 28 degrees cooler. I love the temperature change, but I awoke with a killer migraine. No surprise there. I’ve been in bed most of the day, but am feeling a bit better now, so I thought that I would take advantage of the respite.

I had wanted to post yesterday; in fact, I spent an hour collecting images for a post with different quotes, but in the end, I just didn’t have it in me. I think that I was still recovering from two more tests this week: sleep apnea and another GI test, ordered by two different doctors, of course.

The neurologist ordered the sleep apnea test as she thinks that that may be what’s causing my daily headaches (not the migraines). When I looked at the poster in the sleep disorders clinic that listed all of the symptoms of sleep apnea, I had about half. I never really thought that I might have sleep apnea; I suppose it’s because I have always associated sleep apnea with my father. Apparently, Filipinos, especially males, are predisposed to sleep apnea, a particularly dangerous type that causes death.

When I lived with my parents, I remember vividly my father’s snoring: very loud, glass-rattling, and then there would be pauses in which he didn’t seem to be breathing at all. My mother woke him up more than once because of this. I snore, not as much as I used to, but I don’t recall waking up gasping for breath afterwards, which is why I never thought I had sleep apnea. Anyway, the test involved wearing a monitor, a pulse oxymeter, and an air tube in my nose like the kind for oxygen.

When the tech gave me the test kit, she said that I needed to have six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I laughed and told her that I hadn’t had one night of uninterrupted sleep since my first child was born. Typically, I get up at least three times a night, although with the new med that the psychiatrist ordered, and I am sleeping more soundly and am able to get back to sleep pretty quickly after waking.

As for the GI test, it was another one of those that I refuse to talk about. Enough said.

“Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s day to day living that wears you out.” ~ Anton Chekhov

Devon Wildflowers by Alex37 (deviantART)

I’m pretty sure I’ve used this quote before, but it felt very apropos in this particular post. So sue me.

Strange and interesting things are happening in our household now. I need to go back a few weeks: After Corey took the job with PreCon, his Sergeant from the maritime security company told him that he should stay in touch. Then he called Corey and had a long conversation with him in which he said that Corey should really consider coming back.

Apparently, the company is on the verge of getting a major contract that will call for 11 guards, 24-hours-a-day at a shipyard. The job would also require a site supervisor. If the contract came through as described, Corey would be guaranteed 40 hours a week, and almost definitely at least eight hours of overtime. The guy in charge hinted strongly that Corey would be a supervisor if not the supervisor, which would mean more money.

His hourly wage with the security company and with Precon were within pennies of each other. Such a dilemma.Corey had to think long and hard about this, and there were a few factors at play: While he loved being back on the boat, he didn’t much care for the day-work (normally on a tug he worked six on and six off; day work was 12 hours straight). Also, his Coast Guard credentials all need to be renewed, and he wanted to take the mate’s class again since it’s been so long since he drove a boat.

We talked it over, and I think the deciding factor came from me (not intentionally). I told Corey that if he stayed with the maritime security company and had regular hours, he could finally go back to school. More than once we have talked about how if we had known he would not be on a boat for three years, he could have taken the classes to get his associate’s degree, but there was no way of predicting such a thing. The possibility of finally going back to school, one of his longtime goals, really excited him, so he went back to his old job.

The new contract doesn’t start until May, but he wanted to be positioned well so that he could get the supervisor’s job, that and he let the head guy know that he wanted to be involved in the training and hiring, which they seemed to think was a good idea.

So after years of waiting for a tug, he’s postponing going back to sea for at least a year. I think that it’s the right move, and he’s feeling very comfortable with his decision, which is not usually the case as he tends to second-guess himself entirely too much. In the meantime, he can take classes, and he can try to fit in a mate’s training class before renewing his quals with the Coast Guard.
It’s really funny how fate works sometimes.

“I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds.” ~ Egon Schiele

Wilderness Twilight by Alex37 (deviantART)

So while some things still suck out loud, one major thing is going in a bold, new direction.

I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who commented and e-mailed me regarding the post I wrote about the situation with Alexis. Your kind words do matter, and I appreciate all of the support.

I went to see my other m-in-law at the rehab place on Tuesday after the GI test because I am a glutton for physical and emotional punishment. When I walked in the room, she was lying on her side weeping. Her glasses were on the floor. I asked her what was wrong, and she said that she just didn’t have any reason to go on.

Intense.

I told her that she did indeed have reasons to go on, that she would be coming home soon, and even though someone would need to stay with her, her garden and all of the flowers in bloom were waiting; her cat was waiting for her. I told her that being home in comfortable surroundings would surely make her feel better.

As I talked, I held her hand and rubbed her arms. She got calmer, and then we talked some more. She mentioned a few names with which I was not familiar, but I pretended to know who they were. Her roommate, who is a chatterbox, talked to me the entire time that I was trying to talk to my m-in-law, which made it hard to hear her as the roommate was talking over her. I made myself be patient and nice as the other woman was obviously lonely, too.

My m-in-law asked where Ann was, and I said that she had taken one of my nieces to North Carolina for spring break, and she said, “Must be nice,” which is the kind of thing she would have said before she got so sick. I told her that I knew the feeling, but we could have wheelchair races down the hall for fun, and she laughed.

When I left, she was asleep and seemed much calmer. I got in the car and turned the music up loud and tried not to think too much about the situation. Part of me wanted to call my ex just to talk about his mother, but there was no point. It would have been a non-conversation. Part of me wanted to call my daughter and say, “Go see your grandmother,” but that, too, would have been pointless. So I just drove home.

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable/move among mysteries.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Little Mis, Dartmoor, by Alex37 (deviantART)

We received a wedding invitation yesterday from Corey’s brother Chad. I am so happy for him that he has finally found a nice woman to be with. His first marriage ended badly, and he dated a few women who were, shall I say, not worthy? But his fiance has two kids, and Chad has a son, and they make a lovely family.

The wedding is in the middle of July, which means a trip to Ohio. The truck still isn’t fixed because we’re still waiting for Ford to come through on the buyout (don’t get me started on this). The Rodeo could make the trip, but it needs a bit of work, and besides, it belongs to Brett, who will get his license at the beginning of July.

I’ve priced flights, and if we stay over on a Saturday, they actually aren’t too expensive (well everything is expensive at this point), but compared to gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon, we really need to think about this.

Oddly enough, my uncle in Orlando called me last week. This is my dad’s older brother. He said that he had a 1999 Ford Explorer that he wanted to give me. My aunt doesn’t drive any more, and the car is just sitting there. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He said that he knew that we needed a vehicle, and he wanted me to have it. The only problem is getting it here. I’ve begun looking into vehicle transport companies, and I think that it will cost between $500 and $700, which is still a really great price for us to pay to have another vehicle in good working order.

While it might be cheaper for both of us to fly one-way to Orlando, driving back to Norfolk is still going to take a bit of gas as it’s about 750 miles.

Ah, gas prices. We cannot complain, though. Europeans have been paying this much for gas for years. I believe the good old days of cheaper gas prices are well and truly gone.

But I digress . . .

So while the news is wonderful, it’s yet another chunk of change that we need to produce, which might be covered by the Ford buy-back money once we get the truck’s transmission, brakes, and tires done. Who knows.

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Cleave Heather by Alex37 (deviantART)


So that’s most of the news from our household. To put my life in perspective for you, the one thing that I am most looking forward to at this moment is the new season of “Dr. Who” on BBC America, which starts this Saturday at 9. I know what my weekend plans are, and they have nothing to do with going out on the town or attending a party, and you know what? I am perfectly content with that.

I mean, in spite of everything—the health issues, the money issues, the job issues, the family issues—I still appreciate my life. I love my husband madly, and I honestly don’t think that I could have a better partner in life. My sons are doing well in college, and they make me so proud. Brett has fallen in love for the first time, and it’s so endearing.

I have a house, and while it may not be zombie proof, it’s still mine. My peonies in the front yard are absolutely heavy with buds. My dogs are adorable but a bit aggravating when they wake me up in the middle of the night.

I have this forum in which to share my thoughts and feelings, and I have my mind and all of the thoughts that course through it continuously like some kind of wild river that will not be tamed. It’s a good day, all except for the computer problems that began when I stared to insert my images . . . not going there.

More later. Peace.

Music by Joe Purdy, “Good Days”

                   

A Knocker

There are those who grow
gardens in their heads
paths lead from their hair
to sunny and white cities

it’s easy for them to write
they close their eyes
immediately schools of images
stream down their foreheads

my imagination
is a piece of board
my sole instrument
is a wood stick

I strike the board
it answers me
yes—yes
no—no

for others the green bell of a tree
the blue bell of water
I have a knocker
from unprotected gardens

I thump on the board
and it prompts me
with the moralists’ dry poem
yes—yes
no—no

~ Zbigniew Herbert

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“Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.” ~ Mac McCleary

Snow completely covering a road in Clifton, Virginia during December Blizzard 09

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. ~ H. Jackson Brown

Vintage Christmas Card

Today is the day I slated to do my Christmas cards . . . finally. Look. I used to be very anal about getting my cards out before the middle of December. In the past few years, I have found myself to be quite pleased if I managed to post them by Christmas day. This year, if they make it to the post office before New Year’s Eve, I will be content.

Anyway, we received so few cards this year that I am truly beginning to think that people just do not take the time to send things via regular post any more, and that, dear readers, is a shame. Opening Christmas cards and holiday greetings from friends and relatives is such a wonderful moment in time, even if the sender does nothing more than sign a name. I mean, at least the presence of the name in ink means that someone took at least a few seconds out of the ever-decreasing free moments in our lives to remember my family and me.

But this is not a discussion on the dearth of letters and cards that arrive in the mail, making all of the accompanying bills and flyers pale in comparison. No, this post is to update everyone on the saga of the December trip to Ohio . . .

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.  ~ Dave Barry, Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn

So, how was this latest trip to Ohio?

Oh, not bad. After the first twenty-four hours in the vehicle, your body is so numb that you really don’t care any more.

Twenty-four hours? Are you serious?

Actually, it was twenty-seven. We actually pulled out of our driveway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 18.  We pulled into their driveway on Saturday, December 19 at 10:40 p.m.

DuPont Circle, Washington, D.C., December Blizzard 2009

No. It’s more like 696 miles, give or take, depending on which route we use.

So why so long?

I don’t know. Maybe it was because we were driving in snow, ice, and blizzard conditions. Or maybe it’s because once we got past Newport News, the traffic began to move at about 30 mph. Or, it could be that for every five miles that we traveled, we saw at least one car in a ditch, or on a tree, or upside down.

We had scanned the radar for the entire area, and the usual route through the western part of Virginia was out of the question. They were expecting 12-18 inches of snow, and there were warnings that some roads might be closed. That left going north around DC, into Maryland, and across to Ohio. Little did we know that there was no good route.

Then there was the little problem with the windshield wipers.

What happened to the wipers?

Well, at first, we thought that we needed new ones because one entire area of the driver’s side wasn’t clearing with the swipes back and forth. So when we finally made it to Fredericksburg, a trip that normally takes about two hours but took about eight (I mean, we didn’t make it to Richmond until after midnight, and that’s a 90-minute drive), we stopped at that bastion of American consumerism, Wal Mart, and bought wipers and Rain-X spray to keep the windshield from freezing because by then we realized that the wipers themselves were freezing.

That worked better, for a while, but then there was that whole Pennsylvania turnpike thing after we stopped for breakfast in Maryland. Of course, we only stopped because I threatened Corey with bodily harm if I didn’t get the chance to get out of the van and use a real bathroom. But trust me, I was only thinking of him . . .

I mean, Corey hadn’t had a break since the Wal Mart and he was getting grouchy (wonder why), so I suggested that we stop for a real meal and rest for a bit. We pulled into a Cracker Barrel somewhere in Maryland and ate. I drank about four cups of coffee and tried to convince Corey to let me drive for a while. No go. That whole male driving thing. Don’t ask me because it makes no sense whatsoever to me.

Doesn't even begin to depict the conditions

Why did you go on the Pennsylvania Turnpike?

More coffee and a bathroom. Actually, I thought that since it was such a heavily-traveled road that surely the snowplows and salters would be out (because they certainly weren’t out on the other interstates) and that we would be able to travel faster than the snow. Wrong. It was worse than I95, which was virtually a parking lot.  But by the time we stopped at one of the driver’s centers on the Turnpike, Corey was clutching the steering wheel so hard that I thought he might break it, so I decided to drive. He relented, but only from exhaustion. (More of that it’s not safe for you to drive in this, ya da ya da ya da. I lived in Blacksburg for God’s sakes. Snow is a way of life there.  Bah.)

As I was pulling out of the driver’s center, the driver’s side wiper broke, as in the arm just limped, kind of like a drunk slug. Of course that was before the flat tire.

What flat tire?

Well, we got directions from the first toll collector to an auto parts store so that we could try to fix the wiper. We found that store fairly easily, but when I was pulling into the parking lot, I ran over something, probably the curb that was buried under three feet of snow. One of the employees in the store came out and looked at the wiper and tightened it, and it seemed to be working again. 

Another stop for coffee, and then I drove off, feeling somewhat relieved until the wiper flailed and then died again as soon as I got back on the main road.

So we got off on the next exit as I was trying to see the road through a space of about 12 inches square and got directions from another toll collector for an auto store that was supposed to be eight miles down some state road. (Exactly why are there toll collectors on interstates that are paid for with tax dollars? Another story.) This particular store was not quite so easy to find, and we found a NAPA auto parts store first. We pulled in, and the guy next to us said, “Do you know you have a flat tire?” Lovely. Just lovely.

NAPA didn’t have a part of any kind, so Corey bought a can of Fix-a-Flat (another miracle product), and we tried to find the other store, but when we got there, it was closed. We pulled into the lot of a dollar store and Corey came out with the universal fix-it: duct tape. Apparently, the bolt was stripped, so Corey wrapped the tape around it, and we made a make-shift coupling.

Duct tape is a wonderful thing, just like Windex, but again, I digress . . .

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” ~ Douglas Adams

Beautiful but Treacherous

Corey went back to sleep, and I drove with the window partially down, sticking my hand out in the snow and then rubbing my face with my cold, wet hand. It was refreshing, and I knew that in spite of two gallons of coffee, I was not going to be able to drive that much longer. I just don’t have that y-chromosone-related driving non-stop thing going on. I made it to Washington, West Virginia (there’s a Washington in every state, by the way), which is right on the border of Ohio. By this time, it was about four on Saturday afternoon, and I had told Corey’s parents in the last update not to expect us before four.

Obviously that anticipated arrival time had come and gone.

Then what happened?

The duct tape held for the most part. We had wipers. The Fix-a-Flat seemed to be holding, and the snow finally lessened almost to a stopping point. There was the one incident around Columbus, though.

What happened in Columbus?

Corey missed the bypass, so we went through Columbus, and then we missed our turn. Consensus was to take one of the state roads the rest of the way in. I think that was when I started to see things.

It was probably due to a combination of the coffee, need to go to the bathroom, exhaustion, and the fact that my teeth felt as if cotton balls were glued to them. Of course by this time, we were all punchy from exhaustion. Everything was funny, even when it wasn’t.

But did you get there safely?

Safely is a relative term. No, we didn’t go off the road, although we did spin once. Our bodies were in one piece, but the van had all kinds of sensor lights flashing at us by the time we pulled into the driveway. And I believe that I aged at least two years in two days. Other than that and the fact that when I finally got into bed I had the spins (now that hasn’t happened in a long time), everything was fine.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” ~ Don Williams, Jr.

Plowed Roads on the Way Home

So ends the saga of our trip to Ohio. Our journey home to Virginia was the complete opposite. We left at 10:30 in the morning with the stated goal being 10 a.m., rather a record for us. We drove to Marion to get the wiper part, and then we headed down to Cincinnatti to go to a branch of Joseph Beth Booksellers, my favorite bookstore in the world, well, at least in this country. The best one is the original JB, though, in Lexington Kentucky.

We ambled through the store for about an hour, and then we had a nice relaxing dinner at Don Pablo’s, a chain Mexican restaurant that actually has quite good food. Apparently, Tuesday is all-you-can-eat tacos. Corey and Brett each had their fill. I abstained from coffee, and we got back on the road by our goal time. We took our preferred route, which is down Route 35 to I64 through part of West Virginia and into Virginia. No storms, no ice, no car problems (well, other than the sensor lights still going off in the van), no major drama—just the way I like it.

I have to say that I do enjoy visiting Corey’s family, and the time that we spend there is always full, but I really, really hate actually making the trip. Corey and I thought about it, and I don’t think that we have ever had an uneventful trip to Ohio, whether it’s the weather, car trouble, more car trouble, getting lost, not having enough money for gas, whatever. So with that in mind, we have decided that next time, flying is the way to go.

More later. Peace.

Traditional German Christmas Carol (no, not ready to stop posting them, yet): “Still, Still, Still”

 

“You’re a three decker saurkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.” ~ Dr. Seuss

 

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch  

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel.” ~ All lyrics from “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” by Dr. Seuss

Well, I’m back. We lost cable/Internet service. Something about wanting payment. Not really sure what that is. Anyway . . . 
You would think that after all of these many days away from my blog that I would have oodles to say. Funny, but I don’t. I mean, as soon as the Internet went out, I immediately wanted to blog. How typical of me—to want so keenly what I do not have, only to feel imposed upon by it once it returns. 

Actually, let me apologize in advance. I am terribly bitchy today, as I was yesterday, which is why I did not attempt post last night. I knew that anything that I wrote would only be a long diatribe on how awful things are, so I begged off until today, only to find that things are more awful today. 

Let me explain: Yesterday was one of my infrequent sojourns out of the house. Corey and I went to Target to pick up cards and stocking stuffers, as well as various other sundries. By the time that we got to the register, Corey was really foul—scowling, impatient, the works. It made me feel as if I had committed some egregious sin against humanity. 

Of course, part of it was that he wasn’t feeling well, but the larger part is that Corey just isn’t a Christmas person. Try as I might to infuse some of my love for the season into him, he just throws up this wall that doesn’t come down until well into the new year. I understand that not everyone is jolly about Christmas, but just a little ho, ho, ho instead of harumph and humbug would be nice. 

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You’re a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.

Today, however, the foulness has bounced back onto me. I went into the garage to try to find some Christmas supplies, such as the wide ribbon that I use on the tree. I swear that I saw it less than a month ago in that hell hole that we call a garage, but now it has totally disappeared.  Then I made the mistake of opening some bags that were never put away after last Christmas, only to find that all of my wrapping paper, decorative tissues and gift bags have been ruined by moisture and mold. 

I’m not talking a few rolls and ten or so bags. I mean rolls and rolls of beautiful paper that I have amassed in after-Christmas sales, bags that I have picked out especially for certain family members to match their distinct personalities, and beautiful foil and decorated tissue paper. It just broke my heart. Truly. 

What breaks my heart even more is how I have always been so insistent upon storing Christmas paraphernalia so carefully: plastic tubs for ornaments, house decorations, lights, wrapping stuff, and the tree. Last year because Corey had torn down part of the attic when he was working on the garage, nothing was put back into storage properly. 

So even though the tree is up and decorated, little else can be done. I don’t even feel like decorating the outside of the house, even though I found the lights. I know. I’m having a huge pity party, and once again, I should be thinking about what we do have, but it is so hard sometimes. So hard not to feel completely down and bereft. So hard not to wish that I could do more, lift the kind of weight that I used to be able to lift.  

When I was working retail, I was incredibly strong for my size. I routinely lifted four-way racks filled with clothes from one spot on the floor to another several feet away. I carried bundles of clothes several feet high. It kills me that I cannot do this any more.  

I’ll admit it: It seems silly to be upset over the loss of various items that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but this is how I am. I relish the things that I have bought at bargain prices, stocking them away for the next year. I take great care when I wrap packages, choosing just the right paper, ribbons and bows. It delights me to see the finished products. Oh well. Nothing really to do except bemoan the fate of what has been ruined and get over it. 

I’ll just have to go out when we get back from Ohio and buy new wrapping stuff. With any luck, it will be on sale by then. 

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You’re the king of sinful sots.
Your heart’s a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots.
 

In other news, my mother fell on Sunday. She was walking up the back steps on her porch when she apparently missed one. Luckily, nothing was broken, but a lot of bruising and soreness. 

Now the really pathetic thing about this situation is that my mother crawled inside and called everyone in the family, and none of us answered. Ask me how horrible I feel . . . 

My phone was by the bed on the nightstand, but the battery was dead. As I have said, this phone is a genuine POS, and it does not hold a charge more than a day or so. Corey’s phone was in the dining room, so we didn’t hear it. Brett was at his friend’s house, and Eamonn was asleep, as was Alexis. Consequently, my mother called 911 and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 

I feel so bad for my mother, just imagining how alone and scared she must have felt. She put on a brave front when we got to her house, and I stayed with her, but she wouldn’t let me do anything. I offered to put up one of her Christmas trees and decorate her house, but she said that she really didn’t feel like having a tree up. 

She is feeling better, although the bruising is looking worse as it is apt to do a few days later. Meanwhile, I am back to feeling like a worthless daughter. She didn’t need to say anything as it was so obvious that once again I had let her down. 

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.
You’re a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse. 

So much to do before we leave Friday afternoon. I had planned to do the wrapping, but that will have to wait until we get back. I’m still mired in paperwork with the pharmaceutical companies and the social security administration. The company that represents me is gearing up for the second appeal, which, apparently, happens before a judge.  At this point, just tell me where to be and what time to be there.  

I realize that disability is a racket, that people who don’t really need to be on disability try to get through the system all of the time. But those of us who genuinely depend upon this have to jump through so many hoops that it boggles the mind. That’s why I just cannot let this part of my life upset me. If it happens, it happens. If not, I’ll move on to the next step. Whatever. 

I desperately need a haircut, so I’m thinking of asking Corey’s sister if she will take care of it while we are in Ohio. I have only let one person take care of my hair for the past 15 years, but frankly, I cannot afford to go to her right now, so maybe I can get it shaped for now as I am so tired of pulling it back into a pony tail. 

To put things in perspective, at least I don’t have a teenager who ran up my cell phone bill by almost $22,000 in one month. Apparently, the California boy downloaded 1.4 million kilobytes of data last month. Busy boy. 

And Senator Joe Lieberman is pulling more of the ‘am I or aren’t I’ stunt that he displayed during the campaign. Apparently, Lieberman is definitely not into helping Capitol Hill Democrats any more. The Senator, who kept his pony chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee after apologizing to Democrats, is threatening to vote with Republicans on the health care bill. Joe, you are a schmoe. 

Other than those juicy tidbits, not much else going on. With any luck, tomorrow I will be more inspired and less grouchy. 

More later. Peace. 

Mr. Grinch, of course . . . 

  

 

“Todo começo é involuntário.” (All beginnings are involuntary) ~ Fernando Pessao

  

December Snow, Anchorage, Alaska by Janson Jones  

“I’m astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

Cold and rainy here today. No snow. Of course there is no snow. But if feels like it should be snowing. At least that’s what my inner voice is saying. Snow . . . snow . . . snow . . .

University of Alaska Campus, November 2009 by Janson Jones

We haven’t had a good snow in this area for years, which is probably best since everything comes to a complete standstill even with a light dusting. These people don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone the snow.  And ice? Just stay home. It’s safer.  

Corey and I are talking about trying to make a trip to Ohio for a few days around Christmas. With any luck, it will be snowing, and maybe I can get some good photographs. For some reason, I feel most creative as far as my photography when there is snow. Maybe it’s because I’m really a black and white person as far as my own color palette. I mean, on those quizzes when it asks what your favorite color is, I answer black. On rare occasions I’ll pick red or purple, but mostly, it’s just black.  

I don’t have anything against color, I just happen to like black—black boots, black purses, black pants, black leather jackets. And then there are those 10 or so white sweaters that I have in my closet in various stages of comfort wearability. The oldest is probably from the early 90’s, and it is wonderfully comfortable.  

I know. You are probably thinking that I need to get out more, but even when I left the house on a regular basis, it was mostly black, with some red thrown in and occasionally shades of purple and lavender.  

So shooting pictures in the snow is very rewarding for me. I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t figured out how to set my digital camera to take black and white photographs, so I usually just take out the color in Photoshop.  Not my first choice, but it works. Years ago I had wanted to put a dark room in my house so that I could develop my own black and white film. As with most things, never got around to it, which is just as well since I shoot almost exclusively in digital now.  

“My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

White House Image of President Greeting Salahis

On the national front Tiger Woods is doing a mea culpa. Those White House gate-crashers, the Salahis, are still firmly holding to their story that they had invitations (sure, you did), and in Orange County, California, thieves broke into a warehouse and stole food and goods that had been collected for the needy. Robbing Salvation Army kettles, stealing donations—can’t these people pick their targets better? Not that anyone deserves to be robbed, but robbing from those who can least afford it?  Bah . . .  

Don’t ask me how I feel about President Obama’s speech in which he declares that he will be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  I am of very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in the first place. That’s where the war should have been fought, not in Iraq. Perhaps if the previous administration and Darth Cheney had been more focused, there would be no need to send anyone anywhere. I mean, 30,000 troops is a lot of people. A lot. And the proclamation that withdrawal will begin in mid 2011 is ludicrous. There is not way to know that in advance. Another open-ended incursion into another country—not the best news, to say the very least.     

And on a final note, I read a disturbing story about a 13-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide because of sexting bullying. Apparently, this young, impressionable girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy that she liked. Okay. That’s the first problem. The fact that kids, teenagers, young people can take sexually-explicit photographs of themselves and each other with their phones and not be mature enough to realize the long-reaching implications is truly bothersome (the article cites a poll in which 20 percent of teens admit to sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves over cell phones).  Someone else intercepted the photo while using the boy’s phone, and that person spread the picture throughout the girl’s school and even to nearby high schools. Soon after, classmates began a campaign of fierce harassment, calling the girl a slut and a whore when she walked the school halls.  

What dismays me the most about this story is that at 13, girls are in the midst of one of the most confusing times of their lives. Hormones. Emotions. Body image. Peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of home life these kids have, adolescence is adolescence, which is to say, it’s one of the most tumultuous, stressful, suckiest times of a person’s life. The girl did not tell her family about the bullying, and eventually, it became so bad that she felt that she couldn’t go on, and she hung herself in her bedroom where her mother found her.  

Teenage Girls With Cell Phones

So many things wrong with this situation: the lack of privacy as a result of cell phones with cameras, the lack of good judgment on the part of those involved, the cruelty with which teenagers and children treat each other, never realizing just how horribly words and actions can affect a boy or girl who is already feeling isolated, or confused, or sad. It just makes me ache inside for this girl’s family and friends, and it makes me want to throttle the bullies, which, I know, is not the best reaction.  

“But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

I speak from experience when I say that teenage girls are most vicious when it comes to other teenage girls. I think that the jealousy hormone ratchets out of control with the onset of puberty. These young girls are so starved for attention, even the wrong kind, that idle gossip can soon turn to slander which can then escalate into bullying. Teenage boys, because they have pretty much one main focus, will easily become caught up in these campaigns. No one wins.  

The gossip-mongers learn that being vocal gets them noticed. Their friends don’t want to seem unsupportive, so they join in. The victims, not having endured workforce mongering and backstabbing, are totally unprepared for the onslaught. If you don’t believe that middle schools are hotbeds of jungle socialization, then you are living with your head in the sand.  

Is this solely a family problem? No, because no amount of good parenting can prepare a child for the ferocity of what can go on in school, any school, from one day to the next. Is this a school problem? No, but yes. Teachers and administrators aren’t responsible for peer pressure and psychological factors; however, that being said, they should be responsible for alerting parents and guardians to potential problems when they are aware of them, which in this case, they did not. Is this a societal problem? Yes, absolutely.  

I know. I’m beating that long-deceased horse carcass again, but it would be a lie to say that children aren’t socialized by countless factors from a very young age to fit in, to be pretty or handsome, to get invited to the right birthday parties in pre-school. It starts that soon.  

I know that there is actually no one right answer to this problem. I also know that access to technology is not always a good thing. Witness the number of adults who have made sex videos only to have them surface after the breakup of a relationship that was supposed to last forever.  If grown-ups don’t have enough sense not to do these kinds of things, how can we expect impressionable youth to know better?  

“I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

I’ve worked myself into a lather, so perhaps this would be a good stopping point. Or perhaps, I should go back to boycotting the news. Whatever.  

Other than those tidbits, not a whole lot else going on. Everyone has retreated to the comfort of their own niches: Corey is on the computer in the dining room; Eamonn is sleeping in his room, and Brett is in his room, probably watching television. I’m sitting here in a white sweater and jeans, Christmas socks on my feet, and snowmen earrings on my lobes.  

Admittedly, it was hard motivating myself to write this post. I played a bit of spider solitaire and then sat here looking at the screen. Turned on one of my playlists and hoped that music would inspire me, but truthfully, it didn’t. So I thought that I’d just ramble for a bit and call it a day, but once I got started, the steamroller took over. Weird how that happens.  

More later. Peace.  

K. D. Lang’s “Barefoot”  

  

                                                                                                                                     

Lyrics to Barefoot  

When the sun goes down here
And darkness falls
The blanket of winter
Leaves no light at all
  

You search for shelter
To calm the storm
Shaking with an instinct
Just to stay warm
  

Chorus:
But I’d walk through the snow barefoot
If you’d open up your door
I’d walk through the snow barefoot
  

You hear the howling
Of dogs and wind
Stirring up the secrets
That are frozen within
  

The ice will haunt you
It lays so deep
Locking up inside you
The dreams that you keep

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery . . . if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all . . .” ~ Hee Haw

walking-on-broken-glass

Walking on Broken Glass, by L. Liwag

 

What happens if you break a mirror while walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th while throwing salt over the wrong shoulder?

Bad luck happens in direct proportion to the amount of money you do not have ~ L. Liwag

Well, kiddies, this is how the fun began: We thought that we ran out of gas in Hagerstown, Maryland. Pushed the car through an intersection, Corey did, that is. Then we had to push the it down and around to get into the Exxon station, Corey and I and a man who looked as if he might have a heart attack.

Now, several things are wrong with this picture: Me, helping to push the Trooper. The car stopping when the gas gauge did not ready fully empty.

We should have known that it was but a prelude . . .

Half an hour out of Hagerstown, on I68 going west, chugging (literally) up a mountain, cresting it, and then coming down, Izzie the Trooper died. Just died. Stopped. Dead. On a mountain.

99isuzutrooperNow mind you, we just got Izzie back from the mechanics a week ago.

We are kind of midway between Norfolk and Lima, Ohio. On the side of the road. On a mountain.

It is literally, hot as Hades. I am perspiring like a sweat hog. The hood of the Trooper is up to indicate to passersby: “Hey, look at us. We haven’t just stopped here to rest. Something is wrong.”

Passersby ignore us. We debate. Make telephone calls. Devise a plan of action: Corey’s brothers are going to come and get us, using Steve’s Suburban, towing the ginormous landscaping trailer.

We call roadside assistance and get towed to just outside a place called Flintstone, I kid you not.

It’s 7:20 p.m. on a Friday. Our insurance has arranged to tow us to a small repair shop called J&J’s Repair Shop. Dubious name as I do not even see a bay. Or there might be a bay, can’t really tell. Lots of broken down cars and a purple bus like The Partridge Family.

A man with no shirt on asks Corey to turn the key. Corey does. The man with no shirt pronounces that the engine is gone.

questionsGone? As in gone gone? Dead? Why did we just go into hock to spend money we didn’t have to get something major done to the engine when it was going to die? Why didn’t the mechanics in Norfolk notice this other problem.

Gone? Are you serious?

For $1600 they’ll fix the car and take us to a motel. Sure. We’ll write you a check. I don’t think so. Man with no shirt leaves. We are stranded in the dirt. Literally.

It will take Corey’s brothers about six hours to get to us. I told you, we were midway. Somewhere in Maryland, 96 miles from Morgantown, West Virginia (that’s what the sign says). It’s a twelve-hour trip from our house to Corey’s parent’s house.

Canceled the hotel room in Sidney and were actually able to get a refund. Hallelujah.  

We decide to go to sleep for the duration: Corey in the driver’s seat. Brett in the passenger seat. Tillie in the backseat. And I decide to sleep all the way in the back on top of the luggage. I figure this is the part of the Trooper with the most room in it.

I am wrong.

I take as many muscle relaxers and pain pills as is safely allowable and fall dead asleep. At least the temperature outside is cool.

Around 5 in the morning Corey’s brothers arrive. Izzie is ceremoniously put onto the trailer.

Steve’s Suburban has leather seats. The better part of valor: We decide not to put Tillie’s dog nails on the leather seats. Corey rides in the Suburban with his brothers. Brett, Tillie, and I stay in Izzie.

We pass out from exhaustion. Depression. Tension.

Brett comments that so far, this has not been a great trip. Understatement.

It is hard to be charming when you smell like a wildebeest. ~ L. Liwag

I’m not really sure at what time we arrive in Lima. At least Corey’s dad is surprised. Surprise!

We came all the way from Norfolk to surprise you on your birthday! He’s happy. At least that part of the plan worked . . .

Mad, smelly wildebeest

It’s raining. Indian Lake plans have been canceled. Regroup. I don’t want to hug anyone because I stink. Truly. I am covered in sweat, grime, and dog hair. I feel as if my eyeballs are covered with fine hair. I am trying not to act as horrible as I feel.

I’m not sure that it is working.

A shower and a toothbrush. This is all that I can concentrate on. I just ended my sentence in a preposition. I don’t care. That’s how bad it is.

The migraine sets in around 5 p.m. I’m clean now, but I cannot move. Everything hurts. Please, someone just bring an elephant to stomp on my back so that it will feel better.

Corey’s sister is in a play, Grease. She is playing Marty.

I was in Grease a million years ago. Corey and his mom go to the play. I wish that I could go to the play. I love Grease.

I stay home and whimper to myself.

Tillie has a new friend: Alana’s Yorkshire Terrier Jake. I’m glad that someone is happy.

Corey gets home from the play around 11 p.m. I know that he is running on pure adrenaline at this point. They have pizza. I cannot climb the stairs from the basement to join the family for pizza. I feel like a boor, a rude boor. I’m praying that everyone understands and doesn’t think that I’m a boor.

Why does the word grease look funny? Is that how it’s spelled? How about boor? That looks funny too.

Tenacity is a great motto—for other people. ~ L. Liwag

So the good news is that Corey’s family is awesome: They will come and get you when you are broken down two states away.

Other good things: We have one of our dogs. I have most of my medicines with me. We have clothes for four days. The coffee is good. Brett has his PSP and several games. There are Twizzlers. No Pepsi, but Coke. And three computers.

One problem, though. I only brought one book with me, and I finished it last night.

Like Miss Scarlett, I will think about everything tomorrow. Today is Sunday, and we can’t take care of anything today anyway. Actually, I may never think about any of this. My brain might explode.

I’m seriously thinking of hiring a witch doctor or an exorcist when we finally make it back to Norfolk. No one’s luck can be this bad.

And so ends part one of the continuing saga: Why we should fly to Ohio the next time that we come . . .

And now, a song. More later. Peace.

 

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~ Susan Heller 

Well, this is the latest on our planned trip to Ohio: Corey bought the new tire today and had all of the tires rotated and balanced. The Trooper is still acting funny, which gives all of us a warm, happy feeling.

I think that we are going to try to change the brakes and fix the one window while we are in Ohio and Corey can get some help from his brother and his cousin, both of whom know a lot about cars. At least, that was the plan yesterday.

We both tend to get a little anxious and testy before these trips because it’s not just a three hour trip to D.C. It’s a good 12 hours in the car, through mountains. While the Trooper is a very comfortable SUV that does reasonably well on gas, she’s been driven hard for the last few years, and she just isn’t what she used to be. I’m hoping that this will be her last long trip.

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.” ~ Dave Barry

Pew Island Trail
Pew Island Trail at Indian Lake, Ohio

We’ve decided to get a motel room  in Sidney, which is outside of Bellefontaine (a lovey French word which is pronounced Bell Fountain in Ohio???). It will be easier for everyone because our arrival is supposed to be a surprise for Corey’s dad, and while Chad, one of Corey’s brothers, had invited us to stay in his house, it’s really too much for the three of us plus Tillie to show up at his house, which is not any bigger than ours, and his girlfriend’s kids have all been bitten by dogs, which makes them dog-shy.

Tillie wouldn’t bite anyone, but try to get a child who sees a big black dog to understand that. It’s simply not fair to the children.

So we’ve found a fairly inexpensive hotel that is pet-friendly and is on the way to Indian Lake, which is where we are supposed to meet everyone on Saturday. 

In spite of all of the pre-travel stress, I know that Corey is looking forward to seeing all of his family and spending some quality time with them. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Indian Lake as the last time that we were there, I was unaware that there was a nature trail. I’m also hoping to rent a kayak.

I haven’t been kayaking in years, but it is not terribly strenuous to do. For a while, I harbored a desire to own my own kayak and taking it out on the Chesapeake Bay. Ah well. So much for that.

“What do nudists wear on casual Fridays?” ~ A.J. Esther 

So those are the big travel plans. Eamonn’s job will be to look after the two Jack Russells, who are staying home, and to take care of the house. I don’t anticipate any parties, but with Eamonn, I would never try to predict.

Aside from the upcoming trip, there really isn’t much to talk about. Corey and I spent hours yesterday doing laundry, getting caught up with all of that as Brett informed us that he did not have any shorts. He has shorts, but they were all in the dirty clothes hamper.

Poor Brett. Eamonn manages to acquire clothes that aren’t his on a continual basis, so every once in a while, I take Brett in Eamonn’s room (when Eamonn is gone, of course) and ask him to look through the clothes to see if anything is his. I must clarify, though. Eamonn acquires clothes from everywhere. We have strange things show up in our laundry all of the time—by strange, I mean that I know with certainty that I never purchased these clothes and that I have never seen them before.

blue heron
Blue Heron at Indian Lake, Ohio

My mom used to hate that when I was in school. I would come out into the living room wearing a shirt, and she would say, “Where did that come from?” The answer would usually be Sarah. But mom would go on a rant about how I had plenty of clothes of my own, and didn’t she buy me enough clothes, and what would people think?

I always loved that one: what would people think? Like the guy at the mall was going to know that the shirt I was wearing wasn’t mine? I dunno. My mom had some major quirks about clothes and jewelry. I suppose that she still does, considering that she always has a kind word to say about whatever I happen to be wearing, which is really annoying because she is always trying to give me an outfit that she bought for herself that doesn’t work.

Consider: My mother is about five inches shorter than I am. Her tastes run to fancy t-shirts. She tried to give me an ecru shirt and pants with some kind of embroidery on it and then became really pissed when I told her that I cannot wear ecru becase it makes me look yellow. She said that the set was beige and had never heard of people who can’t wear certain colors.

This is my mother, who has witnessed certain colors of clothes turn me a wonderful shade of jaundice.

I think not.

“When in doubt, wear red.”~ Bill Blass 

I really wish that I had some chocolate to sweeten my disposition because right now, I’m feeling pretty gnarly. Not happy. Not angry. Just gnarly. Only way I know how to describe it.

I’m pretty sure that a chocolate shake from Sonic would help the situation. That or it would give me a headache. Ah, life’s choices. The rich pageantry.

More later. Peace.

I wrote this post last night but forgot to post it. Amazing. Don’t know where my mind is. Then realized that once again, a paragraph had disappeared from my earlier version. My computer has a ghost.

Who knows the real you?

Truth Without Consequences

I’ve decided to take up Maureen J.’s challenge from White Orchid (http://maureenj.wordpress.com/). If you like, copy the post, and change the answers to fit your own profile.

Q: What is your favourite colour?

A: Red

Q: Where were you born?

A: Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Q: City mouse or country mouse?

A: Both

Q: If you could be anywhere else, where would that be?

A: Cayman Islands

Q: Favourite seasonal food?

A: Peaches

Q: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do?

A: Stop the wars

Q: What one item do you not leave the house without?

A: Lip gloss

Q: Can you change a tyre?

A: Used to be able to 

Q: Worst holiday or trip you have ever taken?

A: First car trip to Ohio: got lost, snow, ice, ran out of gas 

Q: Something that you find effortless and comes naturally to you?

A: Writing

Q: Have you had your heart broken?

A: Yes. Many times. 

Q: Have you ever proposed, or been proposed to and how many times?

A: Never really been proposed to officially; just happened 

Q: Are you obsessive about anything?

A: Speaking and writing correctly

Q: Do you have any phobias?

A: Claustrophobia: crowds, and small, cramped elevators especially

Q: Most interesting country you have visited?

A: Morocco

Q: When are you happiest?miracle20mountain20images20069

A: When I am feeling truly loved

Q: Most exhilarating thing you have done?

A: Jumped naked off a rock into a clear pool of cool mountain water

Q: Situation in which you are least confident

A: Meeting new people for the first time

Q: You are:

A: Empathetic, kind-hearted, impatient, sarcastic, and a perfectionist

Q: Who knows the real you?

A: Corey and my daughter, Alexis

Q: What do you most dislike about yourself and try to hide?

A: The fact that I can be extremely emotional and vindictive if treated badly

Thanks Maureen for some new and different questions. More later. Peace.