Sunday, August 23, 2009

my brain hurts

Summer’s almost over here. We had one week in late July where our temps hovered for about five days at the just under 100 degree mark. We don’t really deal with heat well here. We are big babies. The local news was about nothing else. All local stores ran out of fans and air conditioners. Then one night it cooled down. As I sat in my un-air-conditioned house, with my one little fan pointed at me, sweating buckets, having to sit up straight because leaning against anything stopped the movement of air against my skin, I could feel the difference as it occurred, as the temperature lowered, even though it remained sunny and hazy out. It was weird—you wouldn’t think the change could occur that fast, that it would take longer than that just for the buildings and the concrete on the highways/sidewalks to release the heat. But it did work that way—there was no breeze but placing the fan in a window helped remove the heat from the house, and on the outside, the heat just went away although the appearance of the surroundings remained the same. It was as if we were released from a tyrant of some sort, and we could breathe again. This was good practice for me though, and preparation for my trip to Kansas—when I got there, they had rather unusual low temps, in the 85-90 degree area—and it was okay! I only complained when my son would throw us all in his old, un-airconditioned pick-up and drive off, forgetting to open the windows (the control on my side didn’t work) until I croaked “air!!!!” He’s used to it, you know—and one day he even wore a long-sleeved cotton shirt over his t-shirt which I think he did just to annoy me. But still, no prob.

But now it’s seriously cool up here—still no rain, but very cool temperatures, and we’ll be lucky if we can reach 70 today.

I have to go to work tomorrow. I can hardly believe this. I’m not really ready—although I am getting bored. I enthusiastically worked on the garden last week, digging out a rose bush that was about three years old, working hard to produce a rose a year, and finally while I was looking at it one day, the classy part of the rose graft just lifted off as if it had never really been attached. I have three roses that have done this, and I will replace all of them with those clumps of decorative grass as while this is the part of the yard that gets the sun the roses need, it’s also the rockiest part of the garden with soil that just won’t let enough water penetrate to keep them wet enough. And I will try containers for my roses, and see if I can keep them from freezing in the winter.

I have sixty-three billion sprinklers I’ve bought over the years to try to water successfully but still none of them reach the right areas. The only way that really works is for me to stand there with the hose. I was standing there with the hose one day, watering, and noticed that some tiny bees appeared, and seemed to be irritated by my watering. I thought to myself, hmmmm, those look like the little sweat bees I used to see in Kansas. And continued watering until one of the little buggers stung me on the knee. Damnnnn—it’s amazing to me how the sting increases in pain long after you’ve swatted the bee away! I still have a red mark there and this was weeks ago. This is the part of the yard I usually water from a distance because a big snake lives there also so I just can’t go there anymore. Luckily I had placed a soaker hose there before the temps were high enough that the snake would come out, so I’ve had to depend on that to keep a poor rose that produces beautifully alive, in spite of the rocky, shallow soil. So I’ve posted some pictures of the part of the yard I’m not afraid of, and the part of the yard I am scared of. Hard to believe it’s the same yard, but I just can’t go into that one part.

When I started my vacation, I had just plowed through the worst part of the year at work—the preparation for the new fiscal year, during which we have to spend everything RIGHT NOW or it will be lost to us. So it was a frantic flurry of scheduling trips and making air reservations, doing paperwork for monetary awards, etc. Somehow my department has ended up with about three hundred employees and only one of those, me, does this type of paperwork. It was also the month of the year where I was also supposed to do annual training about such things as privacy act, security training and other time-wasting, soul-killing required stupid useless training, but there was no way I was able to fit that in. Somehow I’ll have to do that while also catching up with everything waiting for me when I get back. So, while I’ll be glad to see the people again, I won’t be so glad that they will probably be waiting for me, waiving urgent things in front of my face. Usually, though, I am reassured to be so needed, rather than arriving to find out they’ve learned how to get along without me—one of my constant fears.

Here’s two things I did recently that have made me doubt my ability to handle all this—I booked and PAID for my airfare twice. I don’t think this is my fault—I think I first looked on Cheap Tickets to see what was available, but you can’t see that unless you actually enter dates and locations and numbers of travelers—once I found one I liked, I exited the website without paying, of course, to call and coordinate with my son to see if the dates/times were doable for him. Then the next day or so I re-entered the website, selected the dates/times I wanted, and paid. I am guessing it also held on to my previous entry, and charged me for both of them. I did think “Wow, Cheap Tickets aren’t so cheap!” But I hadn’t flown for awhile and didn’t know if that cost was out of line or standard for the time. Of course, I saw the two charges to my VISA bill, but didn’t closely scrutinize, assuming the charges were one for the departure and the other for the return. Not until I got to the airport to check in did they point out there were two reservations in my name. Of course after I returned, I talked with them on the phone, but according to them it is not fixable, now that the reservations have been used. It won’t break me financially but it pisses me off.

Then a couple of days ago—I ordered some books on line. And I ended up ordering an audio book because I didn’t look closely enough. I was able to easily exchange it at the local store, but Good Lord, if this is the way my mind works now, I’m certainly going to be short of the brain power needed by my job.


I have been thinking to myself, as I see how so many people are losing their jobs, and being unable to find ANYTHING new, and wondering to myself how have I been so lucky not to be facing that terrible fear and uncertainty. I am profoundly grateful that I happened to have lucked into my current situation. I am profoundly grateful for my lack of adventurism, that made me fearful of trying far-out schemes that required investment of all I had, and a great deal of luck. Many friends and relatives told me over the years that they wouldn’t have been interested in working for the government, but rather wanted to try their own businesses, playing the stockmarket, and depending on selling themselves and their ideas to potential investors. I never had that personality—I have never been the type to even be able to talk my way out of a traffic ticket—I knew I could not do it that way. My way to my modest success was to be a drone—it was not hard for me—as I said in my earliest blog, the praise for my work was the first I had ever received and I ate it up, and worked faster and harder for more praise. And I got it, and I kept at it, and was happy for it. But the drone work I do is not easy, not simple to do, and sometimes I bitterly think it has ended up designated as drone work because the higher ups CAN’T do it and are terrified to try, but then I realize their jobs consist of other duties, like being doctors and such, and they can’t do that stuff AND the drone stuff, for gosh sake.

With every business failing, and the car dealers not-so-patiently waiting for their clunker reimbursements (and this delay in their reimbursement is really scaring me—where on earth is the money for that reimbursement going to come from and does the delay mean they've given up trying to find it), I’m not so sure anymore that my own job is not vulnerable. I’m scared, and while thinking about all this stuff, I felt a very brief understanding of how it must feel to be unemployed now, and to find one’s retirement is also gone, and to be facing foreclosure, and repossession of cars and other goods. A brief understanding because it’s just too awful to contemplate for very long, isn’t it?

So, I’m not going back to work with a rested, clear mind, ready for the challenge. However, I will be too busy to be thinking about anything but the work, and for me, that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

old radios

Look what I just got from my mom’s house—this is/was my grandmother’s radio. This would have been the center of family entertainment when my mom was young, and even when I was young, as TV didn’t come along until I was around 10 or so. Err, well it was around and being developed but we certainly didn’t have one until about then.

As a kid from a logging town, I love wood things and I have always admired this piece. The radio of course is not in there anymore—a friend of my mother’s put doors on the back and shelves inside so that it makes a nice desk, but when you use it that way, you can’t see the beautiful front of the cabinet. So I just have it sitting there, being useless but beautiful. I will replace the cloth behind the speaker opening with gold fabric, maybe, so the art-deco filigree-like cutout design will show better.

Here’s another of these, not quite as pretty but still cool—also hollowed out to be a cabinet but again—can’t see the front if you use it that way.

And a small radio, on the shelf, which actually does have the radio inside. If you plug it in, it produces quite a nice static. The tubes light up, and if you leave it plugged in, well, I’ve never done that because I’m afraid smoke might start rising from it, but I love this piece too. I had ambitions to refinish it years ago but thank heavens I never got around to it because I’ve since learned that is the worst thing to do as far as value goes.

Do these things bring memories to any of you? They sure do to me

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

vacation

Well, the death of Billy Mays kind of gave me computer PTSD (except for the delayed part) on top of Farah, Michael, and whoever else went at that time that I can’t remember right now. I actually got fearful of even checking my e-mail for awhile. However, one day while avoiding news on the computer, I learned how to download music and buy it! When I think of all the CDs I have with one song in 15 or so that I like—well, that was fabulous. I hope this doesn’t lead to my financial ruin.

I couldn’t seem to blog because I had nothing interesting to talk about.

And I still don’t, but that’s never stopped me before, so I’ll mention that I was gone for a week during which I flew out of here to go to . . . Kansas. My son and I tried something different—we didn’t even leave Kansas City—my son and his two daughters and I stayed in a motel there near a giant water park and see if we could figure out how to have fun. Neither of us are good at this—having fun. The first night I was there I lay awake nearly all night worrying that we might not find the water park, if we did find it, we might not be able to figure out how to get it, it might be too crowded, too expensive, it would be closed that day . . . Of course, when we got there, they (the park people) make it perfectly understandable about how to get in there and where to pay and how much and all. I wasted a whole night’s sleep, but that’s just how I roll in most situations.

A few months ago my son phoned me at work—this is so scarey—calls at work are always BAD. So I was somewhat relieved when he told me his wife had left him. I tried to comfort him but inside I was thinking “Oh thank GOD, nobody is dead.” And I was certain she’d come back at some point. She did not—quite quickly, within three months, the divorce was final. They share custody—he actually has the kids more often than she does—and he likes it that way. In fact if it were not that way, I would be horribly worried about him. I think both adults are both more content this way. The girls seem to be doing all right at this point. They are 7 and 8. And this is why we were able to just stay in Kansas City and act like crazy rich people (for a very limited time) rather than travel on to his small, hometown where there is not much to do.

The two girls—they are like clones actually—one exactly like my son and his dad’s side of the family (slim, compact, freaky intelligent and in her case, adorable), and one exactly like her mom and although her mom and I of course are not related by blood we are very similar (so granddaughter is not slim, but is very pretty, all emotions and short on social abilities—she lacks the “cool” gene. She instantly loves everybody and offers her heart without reservation and you fear it’ll get stepped on).

However, the younger daughter has a way of saying “this is going to be the best day of my life . . .” and I think the day at the water park came pretty close to being that—a water park in that heat is the perfect place to be. Whereas in my part of the country everyone avoids the giant bucket spilling over, in Kansas everyone runs to that area and waits for it. We went down every slide there, all sizes, (even the most timid daughter tried EVERYTHING and loved it) then went into the wave pool (kids wore life-jackets—I could have used one myself as the first time, treading water during the waves, I swallowed a considerable amount of water, even though I am an excellent swimmer)—later I got an inner tube and there is nothing more fun than sitting in one and enjoying the movement of the waves. We were there for at least eight hours. We had forgotten sun block—the kids were already brown from being outside everyday, but we big ones were unprepared. A bottle of sunblock was $16 if purchased there. A hamburger with nothing on it except meat and cheese was $5+. Towards the end of the day I had to seek out what little shade there was, and had put on my shirt to avoid anymore burning. I didn’t stay out of the water, just went in half dressed, and it helped considerably. I was mentally prepared for those prices and it didn’t bother me. It was great fun.

Kansas City is beautiful, we went to the street market, sought out everything about Jesse James in the area near Kansas City, found a little place called Liberty, KS and visited an old jail there which is now owned by the Latter Day Saints because Joseph Smith was imprisoned there, (and they built a beautiful little white church over it) and found that tour very interesting. Arrived at Jesse James’ home and farm too late to get the tour there, but before that toured the bank he robbed in Liberty. And on another day did the tour of an old steamship that went down in the Missouri filled with goods for the settlers—that was also great. The ship was dug out of a farm field that was left there after the Missouri River changed course over the years—and the tour consisted of looking at all the goods it carried which had been cleaned and restored. The only way settlers could get anything was via these steamships at the time—it was the Walmart of that time.

My son’s daughters are my country grandchildren. My daughter’s daughter is my city granddaughter because they live here in the jaded NW.

Before I left, I innocently decided to download some beautiful pictures of my beautiful city granddaughter from my camera and discovered some photos of myself I had taken when my mouth and chin was still swollen from the periodontal surgery (in case it stayed like that forever and I needed to sue someone). Alas, the swelling did go away. And there were also some four-generation pictures that my mother always insists on when she and I and my daughter and granddaughter are together—my son-in-law took them. Have I mentioned that I never NEVER look at pictures of myself (I might APPEAR to be looking at them when someone insists they’ve taken a good one of me, but I don’t really look). Well, these caught me off guard before I could do the blind stare I do when I have warning, and OMG—well, when I think of the HOURS I spend trying to make my hair look one way or another, mostly like MORE, and then I see a picture of myself and –well, I am not going to put any more effort into that project. And I won’t even bother mentioning how I didn’t know I was THAT big. Oops I did mention it.

I do blow dry my hair or else it dries into weird waviness. But that’s it. While in Kansas, in the motel, my son said he liked the way it looked—I hadn’t even combed it yet. Actually I hardly bothered because in Kansas with the humidity and the wind—well, it’s just silly to spend time doing that. I am reminded again though of the value of a good haircut—if your hair is spun around in the wind and humidity, if you go inside, it should fall back into somewhat of a normal do. And at this time it does. I must give my hairdresser a bigger tip next time. The salt and pepper color makes it look like I’m gray on purpose. My favorite thing about it is the color.

I’m getting over the shock of seeing the pictures to some extent. And packed my camera to fill it with pictures of my other, beautiful country grandchildren. Most in our messy motel room because it was impossible to have fun in a waterpark or on a tour and still keep track of a camera, wallet, and such (besides, that camera strap, around a sunburned neck—painful!) I got lots of great pictures—inasmuch as they are always either fighting or hugging each other, each picture contains a story. Their mother is a twin so she always wants to make sure they get equal whatever it is—this has made the girls hypervigilant about that and, since I don’t have to live with it all the time, it can be comical as they get upset about the silliest things. But like I said, the next minute they are cuddled together reading a book—they act as if they also shared a womb.

It was a great adventure.

I have this week at home to catch up on gardening, housework, mail, etc. Inexplicably when I washed my hair yesterday I ended up fiddling with it, trying to make it stand up, and spraying it. What's wrong with me?