Thursday, November 17, 2016

lucky me

Sometimes I am really lucky.  There was a time in my younger days when my mindset was that I could never even win a coin toss, but in more recent years, I know that I get lucky.  University #2 contacted me and now I’m on schedule to teach classes all through 2017.  I’m delighted – totally.  And guess what else?  They’ve invited me along with some of the other adjuncts to complete a questionnaire to assess our interest in teaching in the doctorate program and to serve as dissertation chairs/committee.  I’ve been researching their PhD programs and intend to throw my name into the hat…maybe I can get lucky again.

Last weekend was great fun.  Sarah had a gig in Shelbyville, so I drove to Flemingsburg and picked her up.  Together, we drove to Shelbyville and went to her show.  I was like her roadie…which is really fun for me.  My favorite thing about going to her shows (besides seeing my daughter on a stage performing) is to be in the audience and hear what people say about her.  Perhaps I wouldn’t enjoy that so much if the comments were unfavorable.

Poor lighting for my iPhone

 After her show, we spent the night in a cheap motel.  My budget is thin these days…not that it has to be, but more that I think it should be.  Now that my income is like 20% of what it used to be, I try not to spend any more money than necessary.  It’s especially important to be strict until I reach the magic age of 59.5 – at that milestone I can withdraw money from my retirement savings without tax penalties.  With any luck, I will not be drawing on my retirement money until I’m 65 or so.  Our cheap motel room was OK, but it smelled like cigarette smoke, the lighting was poor, and there were some stink bugs crawling around on the ceiling and walls.

Anyway, the next morning, we drove into Louisville and picked Erin up for breakfast.  It’s wonderful to spend time with my girls – that’s another way that I’m lucky – I have three daughters.  I could just brag on them for my entire blog, but I won’t because everyone who knows them knows how wonderful they are.

LOVE these quirky girls

Thanksgiving is next week and I’ve only had fleeting thoughts of cleaning the house and preparing a grocery list.  We always go to Someone’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner, but I always cook a big dinner later over the weekend.  Someone likes to have turkey sandwiches and my girls like to have food over the holiday weekend.  This year, I invited my little brother to come for dinner.  He might come…sometimes he gets too busy with things and doesn’t make time.  It’s OK, I’d probably be the same if I didn’t live with Someone who reminds me that he wants me to cook.


Now that the girls have moved out for college, they are usually disappointed when they come home and look in the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator.  They claim we have no food in the house.  Of course we have food, but there’s usually nothing they want to eat.  Erin once asked if we eat anything besides mustard, mayonnaise, and carrots since she moved out.  Silly girl.  What she should have asked was if I could go buy her some pepperoni Bagel Bites or some potato chips. But she need not ask…I read her mind.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

marching on...

I hate politics and government.  Really!  But this time, with this election, I got caught up in all the drama which is completely out of character for me.  It’s not that I’m a Trump fan, but that I could not make myself vote for Clinton.  No doubt she is a capable woman, but when she played the dumb blonde card about wiping her email server (“…like with a cloth or something? I don’t have any idea at all…”) – grrrrrr – that was unforgivable in my book.  She should have just manned up and admitted she deleted anything that she thought might be incriminating – I’d at least have had some shred of respect left for her (well, maybe, but in light of other unethical acts she and the Clinton Foundation committed, probably not).

As for Trump, people make mountains out of anthills.  In my book, he’s a typical man.  I have brothers and I’ve worked with men all my life.  They’re all a bunch of gorillas - they trash talk – it’s what they do.  Their maturity ends at around age 14, at least for the majority of them.  It seems that Trump did some growing up in the last weeks of the race.  It’s good, he needed to.  Change is good.  Our country – our government – needs change and a reset of ethics.  If Clinton had won, we would have the same (or worse) as four more years of Obama.  I voted for change.

Enough politics.

The temperature is dropping this week.  We have not had a frost yet, but it’s coming soon.  I bought a baker’s rack to set plants on in our kitchen.  It’s not nearly big enough - rack and kitchen.  I like my rack though, but by the time I get all the plants in from the porch, we will need a machete to walk through the kitchen.  Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be wrestling the big plants in.  How in the world will I get that monstera through the door?   It’s got to be five feet in diameter at least…but I love it.

New baker's rack with succulent garden.

People are decorating for Christmas.  I just threw out the Halloween pumpkins last weekend and set out some Thanksgiving decorations.  Honestly though, I’ve already started some Christmas shopping…taking advantage of some early sales.  Money is not as plentiful as it used to be now that I’m retired.  I have to stretch it more and pay attention to value rather than convenience.    

I got a teaching excellence award from University #2 thanks to a wonderful review written by one of my students on an end-of-course survey.  One of the things I love about teaching is that I get to interact with students, and I never know (well, unless they tell me…sometimes they do) that I have somehow inspired them or influenced them in some way.  Sometimes the least little comment, something said without much thought or intention, makes a huge difference to that person.  It’s amazing when that happens.

Anyway, the dean emailed the certificate to me with congratulations, and said he hoped I would continue to have success at University #2.  I replied to his email, thanked him, and told him I hoped that University #2 would someday soon give me opportunity to teach again.  He replied back today.  Apparently, my name had been unintentionally dropped during the reorganization last summer, and that’s why I’ve not been given any classes for the past three sessions.  I am now on schedule for classes starting December, with a promise of steady employment through the end of 2017, and extra classes if I want them to make up for missed sessions.  It’s very good!!



Saturday, October 29, 2016

disturbia

I’ve written several blog posts that were just not publishable.  Certainly, it’s not that my standards are too high – God knows.  The litmus test is that if I can’t even force myself to proof read it, kill it.  Since retirement, it seems that my life has become something like the Groundhog Day movie, or maybe like walking on a treadmill – repetitive, and nothing too exciting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d ten-times rather have a boring life than a high-stress life.  It’s just that there hasn’t been much adventure lately, but it’s not that life is boring.  I can’t remember the last time I was bored. 

Procrastination has been a life-long problem with me.  It’s very weird, because really, I’m excellent with time management.  When shit has to be done, I get it done.  It’s shit that doesn’t have to be done that I tend to put off.  Really, it’s even more than that.  It’s shit that would benefit me personally if I did it that I tend to put off.  Maybe it’s a form of self-destruction. It seems incurable. 

Fall meant business earlier this week.  The nights have been just enough above freezing that I’d considered moving my houseplants inside.  Since there are so many plants now, and a few have gotten really large, I need to buy something to set some of them on, such as a baker’s rack.  Fortunately, moving my plants inside was put off and now we are having another Indian Summer up through the end of next week if the forecast stands correct.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll go buy a shelf or rack or something.  Perhaps. 

It’s a long story, but the tiny little teacup Yorkie that I’d seen wandering in the neighborhood belonged to a neighbor up the street.  It infuriates me to think that these people would let a dog like that run loose.  Not only the danger from cars, but any dog, cat, hawk, or coyote could have killed it.  As it turned out, it was severely injured by something (Gracie?) and I happened to find him dying in my driveway outside of Gracie’s domain.  As do nearly all the houses in our area, we have an electric underground fence that keeps our dog in the yard.  Little Roscoe (I learned his name after his death) had a wooden fence around his yard that did not keep him contained, so the owner told me.  OK, but after he got out the 10th time, maybe they should have just taken him out on a leash – do you think???  I rushed poor little Roscoe to the nearest vet.  They told me they preferred to have owner permission before they euthanized him; I would have to pay $50 for that, or I could pay $650 up front for x-rays to start an attempt to save his life. I snapped a quick photo and asked them to give me 30 minutes to find the owner.  I knocked on doors and found the owner on the second try, who told me later they had him euthanized.  His neck was broken.  Poor little Roscoe.  I should have collected him from the road and taken him to pound when I saw him running loose.  Somebody would have taken him home.

RIP - poor little Roscoe

Roscoe’s death was sad and upsetting, but not nearly as upsetting as the season premiere of The Walking Dead last Sunday night.  That was very disturbing…and come Sunday night you’d better believe that unless something terrible interferes, I’ll be glued to the TV to see what happens next.  No doubt, there will be more tragedy.    

Erin came home last weekend.  I took her and Emily to the greenhouse to get pumpkins and to buy some pansies.  It’s a fun place!




Erin and her pick
Emily picked a round one

My flowers in pots on the back deck are having their last hoorah.  They all nearly died while Erin and I visited Chicago…nobody bothered to water them and it was beastly hot and dry while we were away.  Some of them died and some recovered.  Those that survived are lovely now.        

Alyssum and petunias 
Verbena and Petunias

     

Friday, October 7, 2016

head games

I should be grading assignments or applying for jobs…but I’m tired of working.  Oh hell, I’m just tired and not in the mood to work anymore today.
 
I didn’t want to roll out of bed this morning, but there was much to do today - too much to do.  In fact, I only accomplished about 20% of what was on my mental to-do list.  Monday is Columbus Day, so because Someone is an employee paid by taxpayers, he gets a holiday.  And because today is Friday, Someone always gets away early in the afternoon (he denies it, but we ALL know he leaves work early every Friday).  Someone begged me to play golf today, so it was on my mind to get up early, get shit done, and then go play golf with him.
 
Even though I’m retired from Big Oil, I still have to get up early four mornings a week.  I still curse the damn alarm clock when it wakes me up, but I’ve come to realize that no matter how dead I am in the morning, a hot shower is all it takes to revive me.  A hot shower is my greatest motivator in life.  My best ideas happen in the shower.



Anyway, let’s fast forward to the afternoon and a round of golf played at Sandy Creek.  Today was a beautiful October day – sunny with a few puffy clouds, and not too hot – really divine.  It would have been a spectacular kayaking day, but I had too much to do (or so I convinced myself).  Anyway, the course was more crowded than usual.  I prefer it to be deserted so we don’t have to wait, or have people hit into us, or have to play through other groups.
 
Anyway, I was playing well today, which makes it fun.  It’s not that I was getting lots of birdies, but more that I played more consistently that usual, which makes me more confident when I pull any club out of the bag.  So, we had been pushing a foursome of old men on a few holes.  They had just hit their tee-shots on #7, a short Par 4, when we arrived at the teebox.  They offered to let us play through.  FINALLY. 

Someone always gets nervous whenever he hits in front of people.  To be honest, I HATE to play through other groups unless the wait time is just unbearable.  My tolerance for slow play is minimal. Someone was teeing up his ball when I heard one of the guys mutter, “I can’t believe you’re letting this woman play in front of us.  We’re going to be here all night.”  Asshole, but as a woman on a golf course, I know that men think that way.  Sometimes, it’s justified, but there are way more slow men golfers than slow women golfers, in my experience.  Anyway, Someone hit a decent drive.  My turn.  I stepped up to the red tees (ladies’ tee), although I’ve been thinking recently that it’s time for me to start playing the whites again.  Today, the reds were only about 10 yards in front of the whites on that hole, so there wasn't much difference.  I teed up and hit a really nice drive – little right-to-left draw and the ball rolled at least 60 yards past the longest man-drive.  Yeah – that was great fun! The ball stopped about 20 yards in front of the green.  Nice!


   
Golf is a head game, for sure.  If you have any doubts at all when you step up to hit a ball, chances are good that the ball will go just where you hoped it wouldn’t.  It’s important to visualize the shot, and imagine the ball going where you want it to go.  If you start thinking about hitting the tree, or going into the creek, or going over the green…well, it’s probably exactly what will happen.  When I know I need to hit over-top a tree, or know it's impossible to get over the tree but going under is also impossible, I remind myself that trees are 90% air (like a mantra...90% air - 90% air - 90% air)...it's probably more like wishful thinking in reality.  

Sadly, Someone talks too much when he plays golf.  For me, golf is a head game so I like to keep it in my head.  Someone comments on every shot – his and mine.  I do my best not to listen, but it’s hard sometimes.  When he gets too annoying, I turn it around on him.  I’ll say things like:
  • What club are you going to use to get over that ditch?
  • Better aim left so you don’t go out of bounds.
  • With the way you slice, you never have to worry about that sand trap.
  • Boy, the greens are as slick as ice today. 
Or my most favorite weapon ...."Let's see you make this birdie putt."

When he starts making bad shots, he shuts up.  I kind of like when we play golf with Someone’s dad.  They get a cart together and Someone talks his dad’s ears off instead of mine.



Tomorrow is Saturday and I have much to do.  Grading assignments mostly, but also I have some pansies to plant.  Also too, Someone and I have tickets to go hear Lewis Black tomorrow evening.  That should be fun. 


This week, I applied for a full time job at a university.  I’m not sure I even want to work full time again.  The job has been open for a long time, so maybe they really have no intention to fill the position.  Even so, my hat is thrown into the ring now.  If they call me for an interview, I will find out more about the job before making a decision.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.        

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

reflection

I’ve not written…not because I didn’t want to, but mainly because life has been very busy lately.  Busy, frustrating, and too much stuff swirling around in my head to think straight line enough for writing.  Two weeks ago, things got out of hand.  I abandoned all reasoning, loaded my kayak, and took me to the Little Sandy River to get away from the world.  Escape is a wondrous thing.  We’ve not had much rain this summer, so Sandy was very still (hardly any current at all) and muddy…like it always is.  It was a beautiful, hot summer late afternoon – blue sky, dragonflies, butterflies, herons, ducks, turtles, and lots of fish – just me and my world with nary a single human soul to interrupt during the whole adventure.  This time, cattle were standing in the river and laying in the shade of trees along the banks.  They ignored me for the most part.  Sometimes the silence clears the noise in my head.  Sometimes, I get lost in the reflections on the water...it’s good. 










Wednesday, August 31, 2016

morning fun

Today has been an excellent day.  I finished lesson plans for today and tomorrow last night, which resulted in some free time until early afternoon when it was time to meet my class for their daily grind.  Today we mucked around in Word, creating an overly-fancy memo.  In real life, most memos are emailed and plain.  Also, who takes time to add Word Art and graphics to a memo?  But, this assignment gave us a reason to practice the new alignment guides feature in Word 2016 and the Format.  My students also hopefully retained some idea of the traditional format of a memo (but that’s beyond the scope of what this class is about).
 
Sarah gave me a giant tray of succulents as a retirement gift.  All these lovelies just waiting to be appreciated and nurtured, but there were too many to fit into my existing succulent garden.  I ordered a bigger bowl from Amazon knowing full well the exact dimensions, but when it arrived, I convinced myself it was much too large.  The garden will have to occupy our kitchen table all winter…and it was just way too big…and where would that leave my poor African Violets for the winter?  So, last night in Lowes, I found a lovely sea green ceramic bowl for 50% off.  Life is good like that sometimes.  I bought it, brought it home, set it on the kitchen table, and declared it perfect for the task.  Just the right size, and very pretty too.

My mission, this morning, was to recreate a succulent garden – merging my plants from the old bowl with the tray of new ones, creating a magnificent masterpiece in the new ceramic bowl.  Cheerfully, I began the task, but with half of them planted, I realized the new bowl was going to be much too small.  My darlings would not be pleased to be so crowded, and how could they grow with so little space?  It just wouldn’t do, so I pulled out the Amazon bowl, telling myself there is no other way, and planted them all.  Even the big bowl does not leave enough space for what I had in mind…I was going to add many rocks,driftwood, perhaps some small sculptures.  Perhaps at some point I’ll add a tier to the big bowl to add interest, but for now, it is finished.  I do love it.

New succulent garden has been started

 

And what will happen to the new ceramic bowl?  Pansies!  I’ll plant a bowl of pansies for the porch just as soon as the greenhouse gets them in.  It should be soon!  I’m starting to see pots of mums for sale around the grocery stores.  Fall is coming.        

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chicago

August is flying by.  Heck, all time flies by these days.  Old age has warped my sense of time, or so it seems.

Someone spent two weeks in South Carolina with his familyin June.  In July, Emily spent two weeks in North Carolina with her boyfriend, and Sarah went to China for a few weeks.  Although Sarah’s trip was not really a vacation (she went there to perform music with a group), it was still a grand adventure.  Erin had been working most of the summer and I was not using vacation time for anything other than teaching classes this entire year, choosing to get paid for left-over vacation time.  Trust me – there was not much vacation left over by the end of June. 

Anyway, Someone told Erin that if she could get a few days off work, he and I would take her anywhere she wanted to go.  Anywhere.  Seriously?  It was completely out of character for Someone to make such a bold offer because he hates going to unfamiliar places.  He remarked to me that he was quite certain Erin would choose Myrtle Beach, Disney World, or maybe someplace she’d never been like Hilton Head or Wrightsville Beach.  Clearly, he fully expected her to select a beach or amusement part.  I knew better…and I fully expected her to select Las Vegas, New Orleans, or maybe San Francisco.
 
Erin surprised both of us and selected Chicago -  a place she had traveled through very briefly on a school trip and a place Someone and I had never been to.  I only had a few days to make reservations by the time she picked a place to go.  As it turned out, Someone insisted he just “couldn’t” take off work.  It was too expensive to fly on such short notice, I was not eager to drive into the big city and pay $40+ to park my car every day, so we took a train.

The train itself was a great adventure.  I rode Amtrak once when I was a kid, and Erin had never experienced Amtrak.  Our tickets were very reasonably priced.  I drove to Louisville and picked Erin up there, and then we drove to Lafayette, Indiana – a few hours south of Chicago.  Lafayette became part of our adventure; it’s a small and quaint college town, a place I selected by virtue of its location on the map.  We had time to drive around and walk around town.  Parking at the train station was practically nil, but we found a parking garage nearby (and paid nothing to park there for 5 days).  We spent the night in Lafayette.  We caught the train very early the next morning and found ourselves at Union Station in Chicago mid-morning on a Saturday.    

The whole train experience was very pleasant.  Lots of room in the seats and for our legs.  We had AC power right there at our seats, so we didn't have to worry about our batteries dying.  Northern Indiana and Illinois are mostly flat fields of soybeans, corn, and wind turbines - not a lot to look at, but we went through several small towns and those were interesting to see.  

Pretty church seen from the train window - somewhere in Indiana
  
While in Chicago, we did some typical tourist things – visited two museums (Fields Natural History and the Art Institute), the Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, and Millennium Park.  Of all that, I think the totem poles in Fields Museum were my favorite thing.  We went to the theater Sunday evening and saw The Book of Mormon.  It was great!!  Really hilarious, especially if you know anything about Mormons.  It was very inappropriate, and I know poking fun at a person’s religion and sexual orientation is not politically correct, but we both loved it.  The dancing was really excellent.  Great comedy, great show!  We ate deep dish pizza one evening because that is what Chicago is known for.  It was yummy.  We saw a fantastic fireworks show from the Navy Pier, and took water taxis several times – a boat ride along the shore of Lake Michigan instead of a taxi on the city streets.   Our vacation was a real treat for us.  What a wonderful time I got to share with Erin!  We both remarked that Someone (Erin’s daddy) would have been miserable on our vacation.

Entrance to the Navy Pier
Some of Chicago as seen from a water taxi
On the steps of Fields Museum - Willis Tower in the background (tallest building)

PrivateBank Theater, The Book of Mormon - our most memorable (and expensive) treat in Chicago  
Building diversity - newer and old

Newer buildings around very old building
Just inside Union Station (Chicago)
Union Station - marble floor, giant columns, guilded light posts...awesome building


University #1 is keeping me busy with three classes that started last Monday, and another class that will kick off on September 12th. For somebody who wanted to teach only online, three of my four classes are face to face.  No complaints; I’m grateful for the work.  University #2 has low enrollment right now.  After working steadily for a little more than a full year for them, I have no classes just now and no idea if or when I’ll get work again.  The next session also starts September 12th…I’m hoping they can give me a few classes.  Meanwhile, it’s time to update my CV and start applying again.  Rust never sleeps, and neither should I.