Friday, April 17, 2015

Phase 2 begins

Something very good happened for KYLady this week.  Something she has hoped, hoped, hoped for finally happened.  After all that hope and the milestone is here, she is worried, worried, worried.  It makes no sense at all.  KYLady is just an old worry-wart, apparently.
Phase 2 of career change is official.  I have another job – two teaching jobs now, plus my real job.  The offer came in earlier this week.  I about choked when I saw the email.  Where there is usually rejection verbage in the email title, something like SORRY, it said WELCOME.  My mind refused to believe it until the email opened and my eyes confirmed that it was, in fact, a solid offer.  I’m in.  Not only am I in, they want me to begin teaching my first class on May 11.  I have to finish a bunch of self-paced training first.  There’s not much time…and I have to travel for my real job again which eats into my free time…and I have two other classes that don’t wrap up until May 8…and I am just starting a class on Coursera this week that I really really wanted to finish, but now it seems completely out of the question to continue with it.

KyLady wishes she could be more like Wonder Woman

The new job will be teaching master-level classes…something very different for me.  I wonder how that will be…like, am I good enough for that?  In some ways I’m a jack of all IT trades and a master of none.  At the same time, I’m very specialized in some areas.  I do believe though, at this level in an online program, I will be more like a facilitator and administrator rather than a teacher.  I want to do good, whatever it takes.  Dr KYLady will find a way to be successful with this.  I need to find at least one more teaching job before asking my real-job supervisor if I can change to part-time hours.  Going part-time will herald Phase 3 of Career Change.
 We are supposed to have the most perfect spring weather tomorrow – sunny, and 80 degrees.  With so much hanging over my head, I’m determined to get up early and take my kayak out.  It has been sitting in the garage through all the winter snow and ice waiting for the lakes to thaw.  It misses me.  I miss it.  I must go early because every fisherman will be putting his boat in the water somewhere tomorrow.  There will be old fishermen in the morning, but the younger ones will sleep in.  They are the ones I hate to be out on the water with.  They are noisy and obnoxious.  They “fish” to spend a day out on the lake drinking with their buddies.
KYLady bought seeds this week – Someone insists we plant half runners and Silver Queen.  Blah!  If it were me having my way in the garden, we would grow Derby beans and a super-sweet hybrid corn, such as Candy or How-Sweet-It-Is.  Heck…I’d like to have the job to name plant varieties and paint colors…wouldn’t that be fun?  I also bought seeds for lettuce, carrots, and radishes.  These will not be planted in our regular garden.  No sir!  These are going into a new raised bed that I will construct in all my free time in the next two weeks.

My raised bed will go directly behind our house close in where I expect Miss Gracie to keep the deer and critters, and most importantly – MOLLY, out of it.  Molly likes nothing more than to lay and roll around in a nice soft bed of lettuce.  It’s especially important that my mini-garden do exceptionally well.  Why?  Because Someone insists that if raised beds were practical, his grandfather and father would have used them.  Someone comes from a long lineage of know-it-alls.  I asked Someone if his dad or grandfather grew carrots.  He said no.  Of course they didn’t!  It’s hard to grow nice carrots in this dense clay soil without a raised bed.  Duh!  He’s a non-believer, so we must prove him wrong. 

My youngest ladies will both be home this weekend to apply for summer jobs.  I do hope they are successful in finding work.  It will be good experience for them to have real jobs and work for money.  It’s good for anyone to earn his or her own money – it gives the person a better sense of how he or she is spending money….meaning how much work or time does it take to earn x-amount of money, and is the item worth that much work or time to him or her.  You don’t get that same intuition when you are always spending money somebody else has earned.

Friday, April 3, 2015

hard labor

Back in my youth, I was strong for a girl.  It might be that having only brothers to play with, and being a bit competitive by nature, and maybe in part just because of the things I liked to do in my free time, I was always the strongest girl in my grade based on annual physical fitness tests we were given at school (up through 8th grade).  We were made to run, jump, throw a softball, do chin-ups on a bar, do push-ups, and do sit-ups.  We were scored and unfortunately a score sheet was posted for everyone in the school to see.  Not unfortunate for me as much as unfortunate for the sorry kids near the bottom, most of whom were overweight or frail.  Some of the boys made fun of me calling me the dykiest girl, but it was probably true and I didn’t really care.  Besides, I was nearly always the first girl picked for teams in gym class when it was boys picking the teams.

Brothers and me in the sand pile

One of the boys always near the bottom of the list every year was a skinny kid named Bernie.  Bernie was always picked on, but he was nice to me so I appreciated that.  I even went out with him on a date once when we were 15; that was my first date ever – pizza and a movie.  It was a very big deal for me, and I went even though my girlfriends told me not to do it because he was too geeky.  I didn’t care what they thought of him.  I had fun, and I think he did too.  He asked me out one other time, but I had to decline because of my job.  He never asked again so maybe he found somebody else to date.  Anyway, little skinny Bernie grew tall sometime after high school and began lifting weights.  He became a state patrolman and went on to join the marines.   Even now, when most military men at our age are retired, Bernie is fighting terrorists in Africa.
Yesterday evening, it really hit home that I’m no longer the spring chicken I used to be.  We had some trees cut in our yard last year.  It’s been on my task list to split and stack the logs.  It’s hard work!  I know what hard work it is because I use to do a lot of wood carrying and stacking when I was a kid.  Also, my first husband and I heated our house with wood and coal, so we were always going out to cut wood.  We would start early (just at daybreak), to cut, split, load, and unload a pickup truckload of wood at least one Saturday a month, and it was a very long, hard day of work.  Sometimes we didn’t get the truck unloaded until the next day…it was that much work for two people. 

I completely underestimated the task of splitting and stacking these logs in the yard, and overestimated my ability and patience to do such hard work.  The logs are more seasoned now than when they were first cut, so they should be easier to split now.  They are a tad easier to split.  Even so, I only did five logs last night before I was completely worn out.  At that rate, this chore may well take years to finish. 

In truth, an axe would be the best tool for this job.  I’m using a wedge (well, two wedges for larger logs) and a sledge hammer.  We have an axe, but I haven’t mustered enough balls courage to consider using it myself.  Once when cutting kindling wood with a hatchet, I cut my leg.  It was scary and unfortunate, simple carelessness and inexperience on my part, and I’m damn lucky it wasn’t worse than it was.  I haven’t forcefully chopped anything with a sharp tool since that day.  It’s probably time to try again, especially if I want our logs finished up this year. 

This shows about 25% of the logs waiting to be split.

Hardest part is getting the wedge started into the log.

Progress, Log is starting to split.

Drat!  Wedge is stuck in the log - now I use the other wedge to finish the job.  

By the way, the good news is that it looks like the crack in the big maple tree has just about closed up.  Taking the weight off really made a difference.  When the weather warms and stays warm, I’ll drag the hammock out…of course, cutting logs will be less likely to happen then.          

Thursday, April 2, 2015

fish bait

KYLady wrote another lame-ass poem today, but I kind of like it...well, I think I I'll post it here for all eternity (that is, until I delete my blog, or the end of blogger, or the world is destroyed...whatever comes first).

It has no title.  Perhaps I could call it Ode to the Much Too-Long Pointless Meeting...a lame-ass poem by KYLady.

Shape shifters.
Life drifters sliding through time.
Hide your eyes.
Bury dreams.
Reality rips holes in the souls
of those who can't outrun it.
The wise realize
it's not as hopeless as it seems.

Oh yes...and my vast KyLady fan club must be wanting some sort of stated interpretation of the above lame-ass poem.  I will tell you this - it means just what it says.       

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Sarah had a gig in town last weekend which gave her a reason to stop by home.  How wonderful to see her, even if only briefly.  We had a very quick belated celebration of her birthday.  I even baked a cake (instead of buying the usual birthday cake from the bakery) to surprise her, and decorated it myself.  Alas, there was no time to light fire to candles and blow out them out, but she opened presents and took the cake with her.  It was my first attempt to decorate a cake with a nifty-thingie I bought at Hobby Lobby.  It was fun, but Emily said I got a bit carried away with the green stars.  It’s OK…it was fun.

My Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) finally bloomed.  Take a look!  It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened with my plants in months.  I bought this little plant like three years ago, on clearance of course, because that’s when I usually acquire plants.  Finally it has rewarded me with a blossom and another bud which will hopefully be just as lovely. 

Christmas Cactus in bloom - finally!!!

Erin and Emily have been home at the same time for Spring Break.  It was not supposed to be that way, but University of Louisville rescheduled spring break so as to free up parking spaces for the basketball tournaments going on there this week.  My favorite team is playing today – University of Kentucky.  Kentucky has an awesome team this year – we finished our regular season undefeated, won the SEC tournament, and now the NCAA tournament is going on.  Go Cats!! 

We didn’t plan any spring break trips, but I did take a vacation day last Wednesday and drove the girls to Easton Mall in Columbus, Ohio.  It’s a very big shopping area – all spread out.  Most of it is not enclosed, so on a rainy day it’s not a great place to be.  Fortunately, it was sunny and fairly warm Wednesday.  I took my iPad and figured when boredom set in, I would find a place with WiFi and pass time.  As it turned out, they ran out of money in a matter of two hours and were ready to go.  I hadn’t even explored all the shopping districts by the time they texted me.  We had a late lunch before heading back home…best of all, we were out of town before the traffic got bad.

Emily and Erin - lunch at PF Chang's

This weekend, I’m preparing applications and cover letters to apply for adjunct teaching work at two universities.  It’s a lot of work to apply.  I was going to hire a service to do this for me, but decided to do a few myself to convince me that the service is worth the cost.  Already, I’m convinced.  I’m already too busy with everything else going on.  All work and no play makes me…what I already am.  Tired.  Tired of all work and no play.  And now that I’ve pissed away 30 minutes writing a blog post, it’s time to get back to work.    


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

hearing voices

Lily Groesbeck, an 18-month-old miracle survivor of a disaster, is in the news this week.  She was strapped in her car seat in the back of her mother’s car, when her mother drove off a bridge and the car went into an icy-cold stream below.  The car landed on its roof (upside down).  The mother died, but the baby survived 14 hours alone in her carseat.  Several reports say her head was just inches above the water.  Regardless, she was unconscious with hypothermia when the rescuers pulled her out.

What is most interesting about this story is that all the rescuers heard a voice from the car, somebody calling for help.  One of the rescuers even called back to the person, saying they were trying their best.   But…the woman had long been dead and the baby was near death.  What was this voice they heard coming from the car?  The rescuers are baffled.

At the risk of sounding like crazy KYLady, I had an experience where I heard “a voice”.  Yes indeed.  It was the weirdest thing ever, but thank God it happened.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was a typical evening.  Erin and Emily were babies, about 12-14 months old.  I had put them in their cribs “for the night” and they were quiet, Sarah was locked up in her bedroom, Someone was lying in bed watching a ball game on the TV.  I used the term “for the night” which means I didn’t expect either to want or need anything for at least 5 hours or so.

little girls in their "big girl" bed

Everyone was on the second floor, so I went to the basement to run on the treadmill.  I had no iPod then, so I started a CD - the same CD I’d listened to for weeks when running.  I turned it up loud and started my usual run.  Mind you, this was before we finished the basement so it was a big, mostly dark space.  The stairs were directly behind me.  It was a bit creepy down there, but it was a good private space to work out.
About 20 minutes into a run, a heard a voice from very near my ear.  It seemed to come from a man a bit taller than me, and from directly behind me.  He exclaimed, “OH SHIT!”  It startled me so much that I turned to see who it was and lost my footing at the same time.  I grabbed the side rails of the treadmill to keep from falling and punched the kill button.  I quickly scanned the room – nobody.  I stepped off, stopped the music, and listened.  I was convinced a man was in the basement with me.  I walked around, checked that the door was still locked, searched for anywhere a person could hide – nothing.  I told myself it must have been something in the music that I just had never heard before.

I left the music off and went back to running, but not for long.  I couldn’t shake that feeling that something was wrong.  I shut the treadmill back off and went upstairs to search the first floor, like maybe somebody who had been in the basement had already gone upstairs.  Stupid, I know.  We’ve all seen enough horror movies to know the evil intruder could have easily stuck an axe in my head before proceeding upstairs to find other victims.
I crept around the first floor investigating every conceivable hiding place.  All clear.  I shrugged and heaved a sigh of relief.  But, just as soon as my hand touched the knob of the basement door, the thought entered my mind that the intruder was already upstairs.  Why wouldn’t he be?
I turned on the hall light and listened.  No sound.  I began up the steps and was almost to the landing when I looked up and saw….Erin’s gigantic eyes looking down at me.  She was sitting straddled across the gate at the top of the steps.  Before I could react, she said, “I stuck”.  I ran up the remaining steps and grabbed her, just in time too.  It was a cheap, wooden compression gate, definitely not sturdy enough for climbing on.  The rubber pads that held it in place had almost slipped completely off the wall from the excess weight (not that Erin was fat…she was like a wiry monkey at that stage).  To make matters worse, we had no stair railings at all.  The prior owners’ children were teens when they built the house, and our babies were still not given access to the stairs.  If Erin had fallen, she could have gone all the way down to the hard wood on the first floor. 
Erin was obviously grateful to be rescued.  Emily was standing by, partner in crime.  I asked them why they were out of bed.  Emily said, “Erin get my doll” and she pointed downstairs.  Yes indeed, she had sent Erin on a mission to retrieve her doll.  I got the doll for her and placed the girls back in their beds with orders to stay put.  Erin had been climbing out of and back into her crib since before she could walk.  For that reason, we always put a gate in their bedroom doorway at night.  Once Emily learned to climb out of her bed, we had an issue.  Together they were fearless.  Shortly after that incident, I replaced the baby beds with a double bed for the girls to share, had proper stair railings installed, and we got taller\sturdier gates for the top of the stairs and to gate the girls into their room at night.

partners in crime

What was the voice I heard that night?  A guardian angel?  Erin’s or mine?

And what about Lily?  Who or what was calling for help to those four men who heard the voice?

I didn’t tell anyone about the voice for a while.  Who would believe me?  I told the girls and Someone about it several months later.  Someone was most definitely skeptical.  I don’t care – believe me or not.  I believe those men heard what they say they heard.  I believe that Erin (and me) and Lily were somehow blessed by something we don’t understand.     

Sunday, March 8, 2015

temporary escape

I had to go to Louisiana last week to sit in on a training class and attend meetings.  Traveling is just not as much fun as it used to be.  At least with this trip, I planned my schedule around delayed flights, meaning I gave myself intentional 3 to 4 hour layovers.  It’s a good thing because each layover was needed and there were no missed flights this time.  Most of the waiting happened while trying to leave airports in the mornings.  Another long wait was when Delta scrambled to figure out where my luggage was after my plane arrived in New Orleans.  Apparently they'd sent my bag to New Orleans by way of Washington DC rather than Atlanta.  They found it and it was in my possession before leaving the airport, so that ended well.  I travel light.  Whereas carrying on my bag is definitely doable, my laptop bag is heavy enough to lug around.  It costs $25 to check my bag, but I don’t care what the trip costs because I’m not paying for it.  Convenience is king when the cost is not coming from my own pockets.

I worked in Garyville, Louisiana, which is about 25 miles west of New Orleans – a place I hadn’t been since about half a year after hurricane Katrina.  It would have been nice to have seen the French Quarter again after it was rebuilt, but I didn’t have much time to do anything except work this trip.  One evening a group of us had dinner at a little seafood restaurant on Lake Pontchartrain, very close to where our motel was in the little town of LaPlace.  We agreed to meet at 6:30, but I went a little early so I could see the area before dark.  The restaurant was near a boat launch ramp and a swamp tour place.  I was hoping to see swamps and alligators, but alas, I saw absolutely no wildlife at all…plenty of swampland though.  Even right out my motel window, I could look down and see a swamp with dead trees and Spanish moss hanging off them and little flowers blooming along the edge.  The landscape in that part of the country is kind of bleak in comparison to our hills and cliffs of Kentucky – it’s all just very flat which makes the sky seem larger than it should be.

Full moon over Lake Ponchartrain, LaPlace, Lousiana.
Lake Ponchartrain is BIG.  

The weather was lovely the first days – sunny and 80 degrees.  On the night before I left, the temperature dipped to nearly freezing and the wind was incredible.  The wind chill was definitely like the winter of Kentucky.  I drove back to the airport the night before my departure to turn in my rental car and shuttle to a nearby motel.  Snow flurries were blinding and the wind was like nothing I’d ever driven in.  Fortunately the evening traffic was light.  Keeping my car in its lane was all I could do; big trucks were drifting out of their lanes. 
While I was out of town, we had a horrendous snow/ice storm here at home.  We had 2” of rain in an hour that turned to ice, followed by 18 inches of snow.  The rain caused some bad flooding.  Some parts of Kentucky got 2 feet of snow; much of the state was declared a disaster area.  The girls’ classes were all called off because across most of the state, only emergency vehicles were permitted on the roads (faculty and staff could not get into work).  Someone stayed home for three days and shoveled snow off our driveway and off our neighbor’s driveway.  By the time I flew home Friday, the roads were clear enough to drive on safely, but there were still lots of cars, trucks, and buses stuck in the snow along the highway.  The trees still had snow all over them and the landscape looked kind of magical.  Sadly, a lot of trees broke and uprooted from the weight of ice and snow. 

View from our front door

View from the back door
Snow on the sickly, rotting red maple tree

Hopefully, we are through with winter for 2015.  Spring starts this month.  Definitely, I’m ready for spring.  The temperature is warming up this week and the snow will melt.  I saw birds carrying twigs and straw today.  They are building nests.  The birds know spring is near.

Still no progress on hunting another teaching job.  I've been rewriting my CV per feedback I got from a consulting group.  It's a necessary first step to get it looking presentable.  My students are on spring break this week so in theory, it frees me up somewhat.  I have a lead on a job from a good friend who put in a good word for me.  It's time to get the damn deed done - do or die - pedal to the metal. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

making do

This cold weather is playing hell with the utility infrastructure around here.  The ice last weekend caused trees to snap and fall on power lines.  Many people are still without power.  Fortunately, my house still has electricity and cable/Internet.  What we don’t have is water.  The freezing cold causes old, brittle main water lines to break.  We’ve had no water since yesterday afternoon.  Some people I know have not had water since last week.  Now we’re to the point where it’s difficult to find bottled water in stores. 

To make do, I’ve been collecting snow from the yard and melting it on the stove in a big pot.  It’s fine to flush toilets with and wash up in.  We’re using paper plates and plastic silverware until we have water again.  Someone is not adjusting well to the inconvenience.  He wants us to just use our dishes and let them pile up until we have none left.  I’m sure that’s a fine solution for someone who has no intentions to clean dirty dishes that have been sitting around for days (or it could extend into weeks…who knows)?  He’s a city boy.  He doesn’t like camping because he doesn’t have conveniences of home.  I like conveniences, but I can survive without them (well most of them….I get cranky without Internet access). 

Growing up, I spent lots of time at my great-grandparents’ farm in the country.  They didn’t get indoor plumbing until I was 9 years old or so.  Until they remodeled a bedroom into a bathroom, and even after that, they had an outhouse at the far corner of their yard.  It really was a horrible thing and I hated to use it.  You may have seen pictures of outhouses with a moon or star cut in the door to let light in.  Their outhouse had no such feature.  The only light that came in was the tiny rays that leaked through the cracks between the boards.  At night, you took a flashlight with you.  In summer, the stench was disgusting.  Giant spiders made their homes in there because outhouses, by their nature, attract flies.  I remember looking up once and seeing a bat hanging upside down in the corner.  I couldn’t exit quickly enough.

Erin's bat

We were instructed to make lots of noise before opening the door and to inspect the floor and look up at the rafters before entering.  The neighbor got bit by a copperhead in his outhouse.  He startled the snake by opening the door and plowing in before giving any wildlife a chance to scamper.  My grandmother told me that once when she was young, she was sitting “on the throne” and a snake fell off the rafter onto her back and into the hole below.  That was a story I definitely didn’t need to hear.  I always worried about snakes being down in the hole and finding a way up.
Needless to say, I never lingered in the outhouse…not intentionally anyway.  One of my older brother’s greatest pleasures in life was to lock me in the outhouse, corncrib, or shed.  Really, being locked into any place that was dark or had threat of snakes and spiders would get a rise out of me, just what he wanted and I never disappointed him in those circumstances.  I confess, I’ve done my fair share of purposefully-mean things to my brothers.  They deserved it so I have no guilt about things I did or caused intentionally to happen to them.


For now, we have plenty of clean snow on the ground.  The temperature is supposed to warm up 10 degrees above freezing this weekend.  I sure hope we have our water service restored by then.