Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all

And so dear Blog World, I wish a merry Christmas to anyone who stumbles across my blog.  Today is the big day that people prepare for and look forward to, and then poof – it is done.  Well yes, it is mostly done, except I did not send out any Christmas cards, and I didn’t really finish decorating the house.  But it’s all OK.  Next year, should we be lucky enough to live that long, I will get another chance to do it right.

So, I kicked off six courses for University #2 on December 5th, while at the same time doing finals week at University #1 and wrapping up final grades along with end-of-course statistics and reports for accreditation purposes. It was a busy week, and then I made a quick trip to Washington.  Emily got impatient and put up our Christmas tree, set out our little nativity scene, and decorated the mantle.  It was nice that she did all that for us.  When I had a little time the next week, I put up lights on our rhododendron bushes outside, and we baked and decorated cut-out cookies together.  That is something we did together when my girls were growing up - a tradition. We might make another batch this week before Erin goes back to Louisville.

To remind us...

Sugar cookies made by Emily and me
 
Erin and Emily celebrated their 21st birthday this month.  It doesn’t seem possible that 21 years have gone by so quickly.  The girls were not home together this year, so we celebrated Emily’s birthday on her birthday, and then celebrated Erin’s a few days later when she came home.  Instead of a cake, Emily requested a pile of donuts – and she wanted 21 candles on them.  It was quite a feat to light 21 candles before the donuts became covered with melted wax.  Erin asked for a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing…with dinosaurs on top.  We had two dinosaurs, but took one off before lighting up the candles – two on one side and one on the other, sort of representative of 21 – she thought 21 candles would be excessive.

Donut birthday cake - we're taking photos while the candles melt
Erin's red velvet cake with dinosaur(s)

Sarah came home Christmas Eve, so that was fun.  To have my three girls together with me is the best present I could ever wish for. I hope this year we are able to plan better and take a vacation together. Emily is hoping to get an internship over the summer and take the GRE, so we will have to wait and see how that does or doesn’t work out.  Sarah may have an opportunity come up as well.  Erin might move to a new apartment or start a new job…so we’ll have to consider that in our plans.  I think we will visit Philadelphia if we can make it work. 

I made a pecan pie for Someone this week. He loves pecan pie, and Someone’s mother always gifts a large bag of pecans to us every Thanksgiving.  We celebrated Christmas last night with Someone’s family.  Everyone was there except for Someone’s daughter (Katie), who drove in today with her boyfriend. It is nice when everyone gets together, but it’s a lot of people and noise in one house.  At least Someone’s parents have a large house, so it’s tolerable.  And now, another generation is on the way.  Katie is pregnant…we will become grandparents this summer if all goes as planned.

Someone's pecan pie - cooling
Someone's parents and all the grandchildren, except for Katie

Tomorrow is supposed to be unusually warm and sunny.  Someone and I are playing golf with Someone’s dad.  I haven’t played since early November, so it will be a treat to get out.  With winter underway, any day that is warm enough to play is a gift.  The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a hard winter is in store for us, and they are usually right. We will see.      

     

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas delay

It’s December 12th.  Christmas is 13 days away.  We have no Christmas tree up yet, no lights put up outside, no Christmas cards addressed, about 10% of Christmas gifts purchased (nothing wrapped or mailed yet), and no cookies or candy made.  It’s not that I’m a Grinch…or well, maybe I am.  But no, I love Christmas, but it seems like I’m always scrambling to get stuff done just days before the big holiday comes.

Me?

My sisters-in-law are always ready for Christmas by Thanksgiving time…and then they pack up and put away Christmas decorations on Christmas day or the day after.  Hell, I’m just getting the Christmas spirit by then. It’s a lot of work to carry all those boxes of stuff up from the basement, and carry the empty boxes back down the stairs again.  I want to leave it all out for at least two weeks before dragging all those empty boxes back upstairs, packing it up, and dragging them all back downstairs.  Hmmm….maybe we should just do Christmas in the basement.
 
I made a weekend trip to visit my mother this past weekend.  It’s another thing I’ve put off for much too long.  It’s tiresome on this old KYLady to make a long trip like that, but it wasn’t a horrible drive.  I timed it right so that my travel would be during times of lighter traffic …well, it’s all heavy in comparison to what I normally drive in here in rural Kentucky.  My mother lives just outside of Washington D.C.  As bad as it was, it was nothing in comparison to driving in Houston.
 
So, this year, I made treks to visit my father and my mother.  My dad is 5.75 hours away, and my mother is about 6.75 hours away.  Both are in noticeable decline.  It’s depressing to think about them, but decline happens when people get old.  I should visit both of them more often…in all my free time. 


So, I’m back from Washington.  Now it’s time to make Christmas happen.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll carry all the boxes up the stairs and get started.  Well, just as soon as I finish up some paperwork (statistics) about my classes that just ended, and get that submitted.  Oh, and then I have to attend and introduce a speaker at a short meeting tomorrow afternoon.  Oh yeah, and my brother is coming tomorrow afternoon to help me with a car problem, and to have me help him unbox and set up a new laptop.  It’s nice when we can trade our expertise like that.  OK, so maybe I’ll only have time to bring boxes up from the basement tomorrow…but it’s a start…right after I walk Miss Gracie.   

I always miss her.
    

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.