Sunday, January 20, 2019

change is good


It’s a bitter-cold winter night.  Winter has come to stay.  As much as winter gets old, especially toward the end of January, I love some things about it.  This morning, despite the roads being slick, the dusting of white snow on the landscape (overtop the ice) was beautiful.  The woods behind our house look like a magic fairyland.  I filled the birdfeeders and watched the squirrels and birds empty them as I worked at my desk this morning. 

The semester started at University #1 where I am now classified as temporary full-time.  Assuming the budget isn’t cut, the position will become permanent and it will be advertised.  I have to apply for it, but other professors there told me that advertising the position is a mere formality. 

It’s been kind of weird going back to work full time.  Weird how?  (You might ask).  For one thing, I used to work around the clock, but now that I am on campus and sitting at a desk – almost like being chained to a desk some of the time – so when I come home, I don’t want to even log onto my computer...but I do because I still have stuff going on with University #2.  I think it’s just the sheer numbers that make the work different.  I have eight sections of students (compared to three or four sections, typically), more than 200 students, and three of the classes are classes I’ve never taught before.  It’s pretty overwhelming, actually.  At the same time, it’s really good to be there.  The people are nice and I’m making new friends.  The pay sucks, but the benefits are fabulous.  It’s a state job.  Someone also has a state job (although he is with a different state). 

I’m still puttering around with my drum set.  I learned a drum fill to go along with the drum beat I’ve been working on.  I’ve attached a short recording of it.  I’m also working to learn a triplet beat, and paradiddles.  I think it’s time to invest in a metronome, and lessons.  Well, lessons will probably wait until later in the spring or summer.  Lord knows I have little spare time now. 



While Erin was home over Christmas, I potted a start off my Monstera for her.  While I was at it, I repotted my asparagus fern.  It had become root-bound and was looking all sickly, like it wanted to give up.  I noticed today that it has put out a bunch of new arms (or whatever you call those sprouty things that will get leaves – stems?).  That reminds me, Emily also wants a Monstera.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll cut one and get it rooting. 

 
Asparagus fern is reviving
 
   

Emily moved out into an apartment.  I miss her, but I think she is happier being out on her own so that she can seem more like an adult.  Like me, Erin and Emily are heavy into their classes now.  I think they are happy with their lives.  That is my primary wish and prayer for all my girls. 

Love these girls


Friday, December 28, 2018

Speeding


Old KyLady has been screwing around since Christmas.  It’s been kind of good in a way, but it’s time to get down to business soon...but not tomorrow, and probably not Saturday.  Sunday – business starts on Sunday. 
  
Christmas was pretty marvelous (for me, anyway).  I now have a new hobby thanks to a gift given to me by my thoughtful and generous daughters – a drum set.  It was a HUGE surprise.  Playing drums is something I always thought would be fun, but not something I ever expected to actually do.  We all went together to see Elton John’s farewell tour a few months ago.  I remarked that my favorite part of the whole concert was watching the two drummers.  Perhaps that inspired the gift idea.  The girls also gave me a DVD that taught me how to basically play drums and a few beginner beats.  I’m working on it.  It’s kind of frustrating, but really lots of fun.  I may have to actually engage an instructor if I’m ever going to get good at it...it’s a goal.  This is me after about 3 hours of playing around on my drums.



I’m starting to get serious about buying a newer vehicle.  I’m driving a 2002 Camry every day and have a 2004 minivan for my kayak (and hauling stuff).  The van comes in handy, but it seems wasteful to have it only for occasional use given the cost of insurance and property taxes on it.  I could sell both of them and buy a RAV4 – with a roof rack for hauling my kayak.  Too many cars...what a terrible first-world problem to have.

It’s 4:33 in the morning.  I caught a nasty cold on Christmas Eve and took cold medicine last night thinking that sleeping would be easier if my nose wasn’t running all night.  Silly me.  My nose isn’t running, but sleep is out of the question.  I’d go play my drums but Someone is asleep and has to get up for work in a few hours.  I will wait.  Perhaps now would be a good time to do some real work...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tis the season


Tis the season.  I love Christmas despite all the extra work that goes with this time of year.  For some odd reason, I’m ahead of schedule.  It is only December 10, and already the outside lights are up, the stockings are hung, wreaths affixed to doors, some presents ordered and delivered (not wrapped), and the Christmas tree is well under way.  Only a few more boxes of shit to hang on the tree, and then we’re done with decorating.  No, really there’s no “shit” on the tree, but I was asking myself this morning (as I was hanging box after box of ornaments), is all this shit really necessary?  It all comes down in just a few weeks.  It seems like a tremendous waste of time and energy...but it’s what we always do.  I do it only because it’s what we always do.

My favorite part of decorating is setting out the nativity set.  It’s not that I’m a very religious person – I am most definitely not.  But the nativity represents the reason for the season, and this nativity set is marvelous (in my opinion, at least...and that’s the only one I care about).  It’s got everything, except for I wish there were more animals.  For some reason, that just sparked an idea...a nativity where all the figures are cats.  That would sell.

Gloria - our little nativity
  
One would think we could invite friends and family over soon, but we have a mess in the family room, which is our primary living space.  I bought a new couch and love seat three months ago.  It was delivered a month ago.  For the past month, we have two couches and two love seats in our family room because NOBODY in this part of the world can be hired to haul away a load of unwanted shit.  The room is FULL of furniture because it’s a small room – none of the rooms in this house are large.  I have tried HomeAdvisor, checked Craig’s List and Facebook MarketPlace, solicited Facebook friends who have sons, advertised at the community college and two high schools, called three numbers in the local paper for people who claim they will do manual labor and odd jobs, and nobody wants the job of hauling two pieces of furniture to the dump – name your price.  Evidently, our economy is booming and nobody needs money.

It’s OK.  I have a plan and a minivan.  I will cut off the fabric to expose the furniture skeletons, then dismember them into manageable pieces.  This will happen right in the family room since Someone is unwilling to help me move these monstrosities.  Someone likes to brag about carrying two 40-pound buckets of rocks up the side of a mountain in his Spartan races the past two summers, but ask him to do some practical heavy lifting, and he’s worried about hurting his back.  When it’s all said and done, hopefully there will only be sawdust and perhaps some splinters to clean up (if a saw will not suffice, we have an axe). 

Perhaps I will start this endeavor tonight during Someone’s favorite activity – watching Monday night football on the big screen (in our little family room).  Does that sound a bit passive-aggressive?  It might be that if I cut the pieces small enough and bundle them well, the garbage men may haul it all away bit-by-bit.  I could set out a bundle (or two) every week, and put all the cushions and stuffing in large black garbage bags. No trip to the dump!  I’ll just store all the debris on Someone’s side of the garage until it’s all gone.  I’m sure he won’t mind.

Monday, November 12, 2018

opportunity knocked


Things are fixing to change dramatically for KYLady come January.  She was offered a full-time position, and she accepted.  Heck, why not?  Classified as full time she will earn a mucho larger paycheck (like really, no comparison), and she will not be working very many more hours at all...at least that is her expectation...we will see.  In the background, KYLady has been mulling over whether or not this is really a good idea given that her dream-job scenario was to work full time fully online so that she would not be tied to a specific workplace and worktime.   She has decided to move that goal to the back-burner for now. 
Life is...
With all the mental background angst floating around about this favorable opportunity and decision to grab it up, I conjured a nightmare in my sleep last night.  I dreamed I was back working at Big Oil in our little cubicles (before the last remodel while I was there).  The big room where the cubes were set up was much dimmer and dirtier than it had been in reality.  The cubicle walls had spray-painted graffiti on them.  Boxes were stacked up everywhere inside and outside the cubicles, there was trash and pop cans laying all around on the floor, and I had to step over a sea of keyboards to get to my cubicle.  I walked into the room and heard my phone ringing (don’t ask me how I knew it was my phone, I just knew).  As I was rushing to get to my cube, Steve (a former co-worker) barked at me to be careful not to step on his keyboards.  Fortunately, I woke up before I could see inside my cubicle...I didn’t want to see it. 

I don’t know what PTSD is like for somebody who has it, but it’s very unpleasant for me to think about going back to that time and place.  It was very stressful work environment in the cubes.  Before our company was taken over by the “Other Company”, we had offices in that space with floor-to-ceiling walls, and doors that could be shut.  The “Other Company” supervisors came down for a visit and declared that our work environments (offices) were not appropriate.  Our space was being leased, so they instructed the building managers to move us to another floor and remodel our area to be more like the spaces at the “Other Company’” headquarters – Cubicle City.  “Other Company” even moved used  cubicle walls and office furniture to our place so that we could be EXACTLY like them...only worse because we got their old stuff left over from their last remodel.  The cubicle walls and chairs reeked of cigarette smoke.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they set up the cubicles in the center of the giant room, far away from the windows which were marvelous floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked a lake and woods.  They were also placed with very-narrow aisles between the cubicles...tight and cozy.  If you talked while standing up, your voice echoed in this big area.  The noise level from phones ringing, conference calls, and people talking was insufferable...it puts a knot in my stomach to just write about it!



After corporate managers visited and blessed our new workspace, we moved the cubicles over toward the window so that some of us could have a view, and we put more space between the aisles.  It was still very noisy, but a bit more tolerable.  About two years before I retired, an engineering group wanted to move in with us.  They completely remodeled the entire floor, giving us offices again.  Thank the Lord!   

I am looking forward to a better paycheck.  It’s not that I’m hurting for money since retiring, but more that it’s been a self-imposed austerity program for me since summer of 2016 (until I start collecting Social Security and my pensions).  As soon as I was offered the job, I began thinking of things to buy – a new phone, a new laptop, and a new used-car. (The dealers always refer to those as pre-owned).  I see no reason to buy a brand-new car ever again...it’s kind of a waste of money considering how quickly they depreciate, not the mention the insurance and property tax on them.      

University #1 is winding down for the semester...just a few weeks to go.  University #2 is currently suffering from low enrollment.  The work I’m doing for them just now is negligible.  At some point, I may have to decide to cut the cord with them (so to speak).  For now, I’ll linger and see what happens.   

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cream Candy

My little brother (Mike) called me yesterday to ask if I could help him with a computer issue.  We chatted for a while because we hadn’t talked for a long time...which is kind of sad given that we only live about 35 miles apart and rarely see each other.  Anyway, he asked if I was going to make cream candy this year.  Quite honestly, I hadn’t even been thinking that far into the future (cold weather or Christmas).  Before we hung up, I promised him that if I did make any, I’d be sure to get some to him.  He loves cream candy. 

My grandmother made cream candy every year until her shoulder got too eaten up with arthritis to pull it.  She took a break from making it, finally had shoulder replacement surgery, and then I helped her make it a few years after that.  She was a master at making it.  I was a poor apprentice in comparison.  She always made a double batch, and when it came time to pull the candy (which is one of challenges of making cream candy), she would split the batch into two ropes, giving one to me and she taking the other.  Then we would pull and pull to make the candy cream (pulling traps air into the candy rope).  Only my rope, especially when it was hot, always transformed into a mass of frayed strings whereas hers was always a beautiful shimmering rope.  We would swap and she would take my mess and transform into what it should be while I turned her beautiful rope into a mess.  Once we traded enough times, we’d have two perfect ropes of candy and then we cut the ropes with scissors as quickly as possible.  Cutting is another challenge.  If you cut too soon, the candy isn’t as creamy.  If you cut too late, the candy is too cool to seal at the cuts and so it isn’t as creamy.  Once Alzheimer’s took over, she lost all interest in cooking or baking anything, but before that happened, she wrote the recipe for me.  This is a photo of it.  Her penmanship was lovely.

Mom's recipe

During World War II, Mom and her sisters lived together with their children on Glover Street in Portsmouth, Ohio.  Her sister, my great-aunt Ruth, still lived in the same house until I was about 12 or 13 years old.  I remember it well.  It was an old two-story white frame house with practically no yard but I huge maple tree in the front with big roots that caused the sidewalk to heave up.  All the houses on the street looked similar and were close together.  Aunt Ruth was always my favorite aunt.  Why?  I think it was because she was always cheerful and she laughed a lot.  Not only that, she always had candy and gave it freely to my brothers and me.  Bribery will get you everywhere, perhaps. 

Before the war, Ruth’s husband got sick and died, leaving her with their three children who were still young.  Her sister, Louise, was not married and moved in with her to help with the kids while Ruth worked at the A&P grocery store.  As it were, Louise would have been married, but her fiancĂ© died in a car wreck.  It was many years before she met another man and married.  Anyway, once my grandfather went off to war, my grandmother and her son (my dad) moved in with Ruth and Louise.  My grandmother and Louise both worked at the Selby shoe factory, but with three adults in the house, somebody was always there to deal with the kids. 

In late November, the sisters began taking orders for cream candy.  They were able to sell all that they could make.  Because of the war, sugar was rationed.  The shortage limited the amount of candy they could make.  My grandmother told me that when they priced candy, the cost was in dollars plus sugar ration coupons.  They made the candy outside on the screened porch on the back of the house during the winter – the colder, the better.  There was a large wooden table on the porch where they had three marble slabs to pour the candy on. 

After the war, my grandmother made the candy every year as Christmas gifts for her sisters.  We took a box of it to school for teacher gifts.  She also made it to sell in the church bazaar.  It was famous – Lucille’s cream candy brought top dollar at the bazaar every year.

I have a marble slab and I’ve made cream candy with it, but her recipe is very inconsistent for me.  Perhaps it’s just finicky stuff.  Mom always told me the humidity has to be very low and the temperature very cold for it turn out.  She said that there was a specific brand of cream of tartar that was required for the recipe, but the brand was no longer available after the late 1960s. Without that special brand, she had more failed batches herself.  We didn’t mind.  We were happy to eat her failed batches whether they were chewy taffy or ugly lumps of hard candy.

I have another recipe that is a little bit more fool proof.  With this recipe, three out of four batches will turn out OK (on average).  You will quickly note that KyLady’s penmanship is not nearly as lovely as her grandmother’s. 

The recipe I use

Now, before I post this, I realize old KyLady’s memory is not so good as it once might have been.  I have already written about this entire story pretty much here.  It’s basically the same story, but with some added details this time. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October morning glory


I love my work, but no kidding, it’s officially “fall break” for me as of 3:45 this afternoon and I’m loving it already.  It’s not that I won’t be working through the whole thing, but more that I won’t have to go to campus for 11 days.  It was my intent to ONLY teach online at some point in this career change thingie that I did.  That hasn’t worked out just yet, but really, I’m grateful for the experience of teaching face-to-face.  I have way more fun with the students when we are all together in class.  I do have fun...hence, why I love my job(s).   

October arrived in glorious splendor.  The weather the past few days has been utterly and completely delightful.  Tuesday evening, I met a friend and we paddled Lake Vesuvius for the first time (my first time, but she had been there once before).  Vesuvius is just across the river in Ohio, even closer than Greenbo, I discovered.  How is it possible that I’ve lived in this area for all these years and never ventured over there (all of 10 miles) to check it out?  It’s in Wayne National Forest and full of cool hiking trails (at least, from what I could see from the water, there are caves and cliffs...cool stuff to explore when hiking).  It was becoming dusk, but I snapped a couple of quick photos. 

Lake Vesuvius, Wayne National Forest, Pedro, Ohio

More Lake Vesuvius


In other exciting news, the hummingbirds have not yet all left for Mexico (or where ever it is they go for the winter).  The ruby-throated ones are gone, but there’s still a green one hanging around my feeder.  I refilled it yesterday morning and saw the little hummer several times.  I LOVE hummingbirds. 

You might remember that I planted sweet peas and morning glories in early summer.  Honestly, I believe it was just too late to plant them.  Nevertheless, the sweet peas vined voraciously, but never bloomed.  Then they withered and died.  Such is my luck ALWAYS with sweet peas.   The morning glories were spindly and finally seemed to want to live and began growing up the poles.  Yesterday, when I stepped out to collect the hummingbird feeder, I noticed a single bloom.  It was so marvelous, that I took a photo.  If it blooms anymore, the deer will discover it and that will be the end of my morning glories.  Tis the season when the deer become bolder about foraging in yards for food. 

Morning glory - heavenly blue


This morning, I was driving to work, and no kidding, I saw an eagle fly over the highway.  At first, I thought it was a big hawk, then an owl, then even a heron, but then it became obvious that I was seeing an eagle in the wild.  What a thrill that was!  Just before my class, I Googled to see if there really are eagles known to be in this part of the state.  Sure enough, eagles nest at Yatesville Lake, and I was only about 6 miles from Yatesville Lake when I saw the eagle.  Lawrence County in Kentucky has all sorts of wildlife – not only eagles.  They have bears, cougars, and wolves.  Of course, all of those have been spotted in my county...but we have more civilization here.   



I have plans for my time “off”.  I need to paint the bathroom ceiling, and the family room.  Oh what fun!  There are closets to clear out, and it’s time to shop seriously for flooring once I decide what to do.  I thought my mind was made up, but now it’s not.  Then...there’s another very important project.  More about that later.   

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Finding magic


Sometimes, a little magic is needed to make things extra special in this life.  As an overly-practical person (honestly, I’m probably part Vulcan), my belief is that magic in not real.  Yet, I know that sometimes things are magical.
 
When Sarah was young, she asked for a real magic wand for Christmas.  Her disappointment that Christmas made me so sad.  If only I could have granted her simple wish.  But really, knowing that magic isn’t really real makes us appreciate magical moments all the more.
   
Last Thursday morning, I set my alarm and rolled out of bed extra early.  The weatherman predicted a fabulous day, and he was completely correct.  We had heavy fog, a good sign for this time of year that the day will be clear, not humid, and divine.  I loaded the kayak, and headed to the nearest lake (Greenbo).  The lake was all mine that morning.  No fishermen, no other kayakers, not even anyone fishing along the shores (that I could hear or see).  AHHHHH...I slid my kayak into the water and paddled way back, all the way back, into a cove.  Thick fog on the glassy water merged into a solid cloud of gray.  The marina behind me disappeared quickly, and no doubt I disappeared just as fast into the fog...nothing but the soft sound of my paddle cutting the water.  THAT was magic. 

Fog lifting on Greenbo


The air was still so that there was little drift when I stopped padding.  The fog made my hair damp and my clothes feel wet.  Fish swam up and circled to see what was this strange green vessel floating on the water.  As the fog began to lift, the world around me came alive.  Hawks shrieked above me, woodpeckers tapped on the trees, birds sang, I heard squirrels cutting nuts with their teeth, walnuts or hickory nuts dropping into the water, fish splashed – lots of fish in that lake, and turkeys everywhere.  Turkeys are noisy...it’s OK.  Turkeys are magic. They travel in flocks along the hills clucking to each other.  They aren’t all that pretty, but they’re big and plentiful around here.  I’m grateful for turkeys and hawks; they are magnificent. 

Late morning in September on Greenbo (after the fog)


Sarah and I did a road trip together this weekend.  We went to Indiana to visit my dad (her grandfather).  I was grateful to have company; I usually make the trip alone, and it’s a little more than five hours of driving each way.  We talked about everything, and even though we disagree on many of the world’s issues, it’s OK.  

On the way home, we stopped at IKEA, the first time either of us had visited one.  IKEA was pretty awesome – such a big (BIG) retail place, but much more awesome than that, was the rainbow that appeared in the sky as we pulled into the parking lot. We were in central Ohio, toward the western side between Dayton and Cincinnati where everything is flat and the rainbows are HUGE.  This rainbow was magical.  People all over the parking lot were standing around looking at it, and some employees stepped out of the store to take a look.  The world seemed to stand still for a few minutes as all marveled at the rainbow.  If God could put enough rainbows in the sky all at once, do you suppose we would have a few moments of world peace?