Friday, December 30, 2011

Apologies all around

OK, I apologize for my recent postings.  I’ve been very condescending to my chairman.  Truly, I am grateful for every gem and tidbit of wisdom I can glean from anyone, especially him.  No more imagining my good chairman as a small burro-like mammal or arthropod. 

I got my laptop back from HP.  Hooray!!!!!   It feels like Christmas all over again.  All I wanted for Christmas was my laptop back….but no, that’s not really true.
She wished for a horse
     Getting late!  Back to work.    

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grinch's heart grew

In my previous post, it seemed as though the world had forsaken me. My academic advisor checked in to see if I had submitted and where I stood with things. I told her about my lack of progress and she insists I must get submitted ASAP. She asked me why I wasn’t using the dissertation helpline and I told her I was not aware there was one. She said my chairman was supposed to tell me about it, to which I repeated for at least the 50th time, my chairman doesn’t tell me anything I don’t specifically ask about. Within an hour of hanging up with her, I got a nice reply from my last email to my chairman. I will now refer to him as Dr. Cockroach. He gave me the information I requested so he’s no longer a Grinch. It could be my advisor ripped him a new one, or it could just be coincidental (but I doubt it).
Chairman Cockroach

Also, after I slammed HP in the last post, I got good news about my poor laptop. It’s on its way to me with a new motherboard, a new battery, and a new power cable. I’m pretty hopeful this means my hard drive is unharmed. It was on the truck in Nashville this morning and should be delivered to my house TOMORROW!!

I tracked my dreary textbook about psychometric theory from South Carolina to Hebron, Kentucky (a little less than three hours from here), and it was transferred into the hands of the US Postal Service. Dear God, I may never see it! The post office delivers the wrong mail to us all the time. They must deliver our mail to the wrong addresses sometimes too. Hopefully it was handed off as a priority package, but the web site doesn’t say. Perhaps it was taped to the backs of a battalion of snails. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for Dr. Kaplan to get off break, Chapter 3 is underway, I’m making corrections and edits to Chapter 2, I have to take recertification training on the appropriate ways to deal with human subjects in research, and I’ll research Dr. Cockroach’s instrument assessments.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

dungbeetle droppings

Sometimes I drag my lazy ass into this office, plop down, and say to myself, “I can’t do this another day.” It’s one of those days. It started out with one of those nights. I sent Dr. Kaplan an email requesting permission to use and modify the questions from his study. He is a college professor sort, so of course he is out on break until next week….perhaps longer. I’m floundering with getting my proposal done. Nobody is going to help me and I’m going fail (says the pessimist in me). The 500+ page textbook that I am supposed to read and figure out how to adapt a survey was shipped Dec. 20, I still don’t have it and the seller didn’t send me a tracking number. At some point (soon), I’ll have to call and demand a tracking number. I have a feeling the book will be Greek to me. It’s hard not to be pessimistic when grim reality is so blatantly in my face all the time.

HP is F’ing me. My service agreement says 2-day shipping to get my laptop to them, 2-day shipping return. They have 3 days to make a repair or replace the thing. They tell you that you’ll be without your laptop for a week if anything happens. Are you kidding? What it REALLY means is they have 2 days to send me an empty box. I pack and return the box and it should arrive to them in 2 days. I returned the laptop the same day it arrived at my door. They just got it yesterday; thanks to Fed-Ex and the holiday, it took 8 days. The estimated return date on my order is now January 5th. So in reality – I am without my laptop 18 days!

I got all bummed out last night, gave up early, and went to bed. Someone was watching the football game and munching chips and dip in bed, and slurping down Big Red. Someone can eat like that because he’s an exercise addict. I set the alarm and tossed and turned for 30 minutes or so – normally I’m asleep when my head touches a pillow. Sometime in the night, I woke up with blood in my mouth and all over the pillow. Geeze Louise!! I have no idea what happened. The bandage was still intact so I must have bumped my wound somehow. It looks no different this morning but now it’s sore as heck. I’m going to be 70 years old and still have this giant bandage on my mouth. Hmmm…maybe I should just put a giant bandage over my whole mouth then nobody would expect me to eat or talk ever again. There’s always a silver lining when we look for one. Perhaps I could defend my dissertation in sign language, assuming I finish it before I’m so old that my brain changes to pudding.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy holiday

The holiday is over and it’s back to work for me tomorrow.  You could say I knocked off early tonight.  Quite obviously I’ve sunk into a very deep pit of psychometric mud.  I have no clear concept of what the hell I’m supposed to be looking for.  Asking an extra three little questions has me totally confounded.  Surely to God I’m making this much harder than it needs to be!  Dr. Cockroach is not handing out any tidbits of wisdom lately.  Perhaps I will call him Cockroach Grinch until his behavior improves.

We had a delightful holiday.  Visits from my sweet daughter and her man, and my sweet step-daughter too.  Time with Gracie.  She really is like a terrible-two year old human.  If I stay on her case and keep no-nonsense control of her, she behaves pretty well.  I think she has improved today, but it’s the kids and work crew here tomorrow, no doubt she will regress.   
Our Gracie
I took my nervous, newly 16-year olds driving for the first time today.  Over to the high school we went to drive around the parking lot…around, around, around for like an hour.  I sipped a mug of warm tea through a straw and tried to remain calm (my wound is maybe somewhat better today).  There was once I thought Emily was going to run us into a tower of wood pallets, and once when it seemed like we might take down a sign...but the car remained unscathed.       
Our work crew was back today and gutted the main bathroom upstairs.  It was an awesome feat for two men - all day!  We got good news - the water damage to the floor was limited to the plywood that overlaid the subfloor.  The underlying structure is still solid.  Here is our gutted upstairs bathroom:
Sink side

Tub side
celing is insulated - no floor in the attic above
This is our new lovely half bath on the first floor.  I have to go buy cabinet knobs and a towel bar.  Also some shelf liner for the drawers.  With messy people in the house, I like to protect our wood inside the drawers and on shelves.  

First floor half bath - needs some decorating.
   Here's a photo of our new deck (as promised).  It's a bit larger than the old deck.  We like it. 

Our screened porch rescreened, very nice!  Can you say, "office outside"? 
our lovely new floor
Erin put up and decorated our little tree.  It's really not a little tree.  Erin asked me what was wrong with it after she put it together, and I failed to notice it's short stature.  After she had it all decorated like this, I realized she left off the whole bottom layer.  I told her it was perfect.  Really, it was wonderful to have her do this for us.  It's a lot of work to carry all that stuff upstairs.   

So well, that's it folks.  It's time for me to go redo this bandage on my face.  Then, I'm going to play piano a bit before calling it a night.  I hope anyone who reads this blog has had a nice holiday.  I had a nice one despite my face, the inconvenience of construction, and Dr. C. Grinch.     

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


It’s almost Christmas and I’m in a wretched mood.  My laptop crapped out in the wee hours Sunday morning.  I knew it was bad (power issue came back), so I thought just maybe I’d go to bed and when I woke up, the problem would be gone.   Yeah, but no.  A few hours on the phone with HP and at least the damn thing is still under warranty.  So, they are shipping me a box to return it in.  Nevermind that I kept the original box it came in and could have overnighted it to them Monday.  They insisted if I violate their standard process, it could actually take longer to get it back.  I’m supposed to receive the magic box tomorrow with “special” paperwork.  Thank you God for Carbonite.  I didn’t lose any work (that I’m aware of). 

My face.  Totally bummed.  Did I say I didn’t care about disfigurement?  I lied.  Needles and blood, plenty of that.  We started at 9 AM and finished at 4:30 PM.  We went three rounds of numbing, cutting, and checking until all the cancer was out (it's called Moh's surgery).  I went back into the little room of horrors for the 4th time and was told good news – they got it all.  Bad news, we can’t really do a repair job now because we don’t know how this mess is going to heal.  We can:  A) skin graft but it’ll need plastic surgery later; B) cut a big notch up to my nose and sew the skin together but then I’ll likely have something weird on my lip that needs plastic surgery; or C) leave a big gaping hole and let it heal naturally…then see if plastic surgery is needed.  I told him C sounded like the best option and he agreed.  So, I have a hole about the size of a nickel on and above my lip.  I have to change the bandage 3 times a day and when I got a good look at that mess last night, I wasn’t sure if I was going to black out or puke.  Obviously I was not cut out to be in the medical profession.        
What else?  Should I bitch about my chairman?  I finished all the courses in my doctoral program and I must have been short-changed.  I didn’t get the course on being an asshole.  The man (when he bothers to answer at all) answers my questions with questions.  Why can’t he just give me a straight answer – like ever?????   The only reason he replied to my email was because I told him if he didn’t reply within 48 hours, I was going to call him!  God forbid he should have to actually speak to me.  I’ve talked to a couple of others in my cohort who have assholes for chairmen/women.  Maybe it’s a requirement to qualify as a dissertation chair-person that you must be a disinterested jerk. 

Well, that’s pretty much all the negativity I can spread for now.  Back to work...   I don't even think I could drink with this damn hole - maybe with a straw...but I can't imagine getting alcohol in it.  It makes me cringe to think about it.  :( back to work.   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

discovery discourse

July, 2008 is when my doctoral journey began. In my first residency, the professors kept referring to “the program” as a journey. The doctoral journey and dissertation mountain had little meaning to me then, but they do now.  The first leg of my journey is over (i.e. classes are finished) and I’m now very slowly trudging up the mountain. Looking back, I recognize I’m a different person now.

One of the most dramatic changes in me resulted from the requirement to submit a reflection statement at the end of every week of every class throughout the entire program. The statement was personal and not graded. The assignment required the student to state something of significance that he learned from the discussions that week, discuss why it was important, and describe how he could apply the information to his personal or professional life. The minimum required length was 100 words. You can’t imagine how difficult these reflection assignments were for me at the beginning of the program! It took me hours to write a short paragraph that I thought was not an embarrassment to post.

Why was that? I’ve always lived life like I was in a car, speeding down the highway with no rear-view mirror or windows except for the front windshield. My approach to education was the same. I focused on collecting information that may or may not be useful with the assumption that all assigned content was relevant. Writing reflection statements forced me to be discriminating, to really consider importance and implications of the information. Metaphorically, I learned that my car has mirrors and more than one window.  As a result, I’ve started paying more attention to everything going on in the world, and to my own experiences too.  I've become much more reflective in my personal life.

The implication of all that I’ve said here is that I’m realizing why my life has always seemed so meaningless.  I’ve lived life without assigning meaning to any of it - reality is what it is and nothing more. WYSIWYG!  Once things passed from view of the front windshield, they were gone and forgotten.

I used to think that people who had meaningful lives had something I was born without and couldn’t have.  I’ve learned that I can’t live passively and wait for meaning to present itself.  People find meaning through the way they interpret their experiences and by embracing their circumstances and the things they value.  If I don’t look for meaning, I’ll never find it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

counterfactual thinking

I’ve been giving lots of thought to unusual things today. A person told me about a tragedy that unraveled his life – his 23- year-old daughter died from a drug overdose. He didn’t know she was using drugs at all so it was quite a shock. I didn’t ask a lot of questions because I don’t know him all that well, but I got the impression he was with her when she died. It happened more than a year ago and he is still grieving for her.

For some reason, since he told me this story, I’ve been thinking about a lady who attended doctoral residencies with me. This last time we were together, she told me about her son. When he was 8 years old, he was hit by a car while crossing the street with his older brother. He was in a coma for a month, and survived to be severely disabled. They have other children and went bankrupt trying to care for him at home. They ended up putting him in a facility where he has been for more than 15 years. His quality of life is extremely poor, and she says he shows no awareness when they visit. With tears in her eyes, she told me that when he was in a coma, they prayed for the wrong outcome (that he would live).

Do you suppose it’s selfish to pray for an outcome? Is it arrogance that makes us think God is in control and we can persuade Him to make things go the way we want them to? Maybe the truth is that everything is random and nobody, not even God, has any control over anything.

The weekend is nearly here. More work ahead for me to FINALLY finish a draft of Chapter 2 and start Chapter 3. I have industrial program directors from three technical colleges lined up who said they will send my survey links to their employed students and alumni, with no guarantee that alumni emails are still current. Sounds good enough to me…I hope (pray?) it’s good enough for my chairman and committee. My girls promised to do some decorating for Christmas this weekend. We look like the Scrooge residence in our neighborhood right now. I also better get out there on the Internet and get Christmas shopping done too. The Season will be come and gone in a flash! 

Home, Sweet Home

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Yesterday was a glorious day.  I met with the director of the local technical college and he offered to distribute a link to my survey to his alumni and current students who have jobs in industry now.  HALLELUJAH!!  Not only that, he gave me contact info for a couple of his counterpart pals at other technical colleges, AND he told me about a professional organization that promotes excellence in technical training.  Perhaps I can join and get them to distribute a link to my survey. 

So, I should be on at least cloud 7 if not 9, but I’m not.  The dermatologist’s office called with bad news.  It’s cancer on my face so more needles and knives are in my future.  Lots more…in two weeks.  I don’t even want to think about it.  Merry F’ing Christmas to me.   

Also, I bought new furniture and it was delivered today…only the item I cared most about – my new very own desk – was broken when they pulled it off the truck.  They had to take it back and then they pissed me off.  It’s up to me to call and reorder and no doubt it’ll be on backorder again.  I’m seriously thinking about getting something different from some other place.  I bought a chest of drawers (the other item).  They pulled it off the truck, unboxed it, and then assembled in my driveway in the rain.  I wasn’t too happy to have my new chest of drawers getting washed off in that way.  They brought it in, carried it upstairs, and off they went.  I wiped it down with a towel.  I know they had no control of the weather, but it seems they should plan for it somehow.  They could have assembled it in the truck – there was room.  They also could have assembled it in our foyer.  I’m pretty sure they have lost my business forever….and I need to buy a bed for Emily.  Too bad for them. 

So more delays in getting our house put back together.  I don’t want to move my workspace twice.  I’ll just keep working on the wiggly card table and we’ll set up the Christmas tree in the newly finished office /computer room.  It bums me out.

Anyway, I’m trying to work tonight and my brain is like a pinball machine - bouncing around all over the place.  My chairman apologized for blowing me off the past two weeks and suggested I submit outstanding questions via email.  I did!  Two whole pages of them  - mostly about how to validate survey questions I have to invent myself. There are 3 or maybe 4 questions that I can’t adapt a validated instrument for.          

Friday, December 2, 2011


I took today off work to finish writing Chapter 2.  It’s coming along, but I’ve been a measly mouse lately,  putting off a critical aspect of getting this whole mission (doing a dissertation) accomplished.  There are few things I hate as much as using a telephone.  Anyway, I grew a pair, mustered my testosterone, and called a person I’ve been meaning to call for weeks  - of course my brain went on freeze when he actually answered the phone.  I fully expected to leave a message and had even written notes of what I wanted to say.  I don’t even know what I said.  He answered and in my head, I heard “oh shit!”  I stammered, mumbled, stuttered, back-tracked… get the idea.  He now knows I’m as articulate as a pinecone. 

Anyway, he agreed to meet with me next Tuesday to discuss whatever it was I told him I wanted to talk about.  I can’t even remember what was said, but I wrote down Tuesday, 12:30, his room number.  It’s hard to imagine I’ve been able to survive as long as I have.  It was a wasted effort when God gave me a mouth and a brain.    

Nevertheless….it’s done and I’m pleased as punch!!  Now back to work!!!   
life is good

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

get me a lasso - QUICK!

Well, I’m totally NOT in the mood to work tonight…so here I sit screwing around and not working.  I may as well make a dash to the liquor store and indulge, but I’ve committed to walking the straight and narrow until my proposal is submitted.  If I don’t get back to work after posting this crap to my blog, I’m going to clean the bathroom (something really fun, right?) 

I’ve been reading Tony’s blog and trying to learn about the psycho stuff he writes about.  He’s a successful author and who better to take hints from than somebody who’s successful?  I was never interested in his sort of stuff until recently, and it seems my dissertation is more suited to a DM in organizational psychology than a DM in information systems and technology.  That happened out of my sheer ignorance.  I became interested in near miss incidents because I loved listening to the safety and environmental managers talk about accident investigations and dumb things people do that cause accidents.  That was long ago and now that I know more…I believe it’s wrong to blame the victims when we should be blaming the system that enables and sometimes even facilitates people to make mistakes.  But of course, there are plenty of dumb-asses in the world, no doubt about it.      

By chance, I’m implementing a Near Miss reporting system for my employer so all the research helped me make some good decisions for them (not that they would give a shit…I’m just doing my job).  So once I started researching about safety, I learned it’s all about supervisors playing head games with their subordinates, trust, social exchanges, reciprocity, etc.  I have the EQ of a hand grenade and I’m going to have to defend this thing (hopefully) in the spring.  My dissertation study does have important implications for companies investing big bucks in reporting systems.  It’s not without merit.     

Tony says he gave his “free child” two weeks off from writing.  I’m going to have to beat mine with a club to get it back to the grindstone.  My free child is not very compliant.  The draft of Chapter 2 is nearly done, but it needs a lot of cleanup and I have to add about 40 or so references to the reference pages yet (I got really lazy with references lately).  It also needs some sub-headings.   I ran the first 25 pages through the plagiarism checker and it was clean.  I love when that happens! 

Home improvements are still going on.  The new floor is down and I love it!!  Here’s a photo of the ex-dining room / new office room.  Now I’ve decided I want a big area rug in it, new curtains, and it’s supposed to be painted tomorrow (I think).  We have a new back door off the laundry room.  It might look like a plain-Jane ordinary door to you, but to me…it’s beautiful!  Pristine and white.   Even the glass is clean J)))    
New floor

So I went to the doctor last night and let him cut the place off my lip.  He cut it all away and sent it off for a pathology check.  If it’s OK, I do nothing else but live with the scar.  If it’s bad, I go back for more cutting.  Hopefully I am through with it all.  It’ll be a small scar and it’s not like I was ever a beauty queen to begin with.  I’m supposed to find out results in two weeks.    

I threatened Gracie that I will send her to military school if she doesn’t straighten up.  She continues to chew everything up and I can’t get a moment of peace when we’re in the same room together.  Hmmmm…maybe I should send my free child to military school with her.  Maybe my free child is gonna run away from home…join a gang, or kill me in my sleep.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The four-day weekend is nearly over.  I still have hopes that a full draft of Chapter 2 can be finished by tomorrow night (even though here I am taking a break)!  I must have shit for brains.  The day was devoted to finishing up a sections on organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and safety citizenship behavior (SCB).  SCB was just going to be a subsection of OCB, but as it grew, it got a section all by itself.     

It was a nice holiday.  We went to my in-laws’ house for dinner on Thanksgiving.  It’s crazy on holidays – lots of people and tons of food - but it’s nice to see everyone.  My husband’s family is very close.  I feel really lucky that the families of both my husbands are all very nice people.  Sarah and Desmond came down for a quick visit.  We went out to dinner and to see the Festival of Trees (Christmas trees).  That was lovely but I am not ready to think about Christmas.  It’ll be here before we know it though.  At the moment, we have no place to put up a Christmas tree.  The workers will be back on Monday and will hopefully finish up the floors so I can move stuff back into the closets and put some of the furniture back in place.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had Thanksgiving with my mother.  If I did, I was too young to remember.  We rarely visited my dad but one of the times we went up there was over Thanksgiving.  We went to his wife’s parents’ house for dinner.  His wife was mad that my grandmother didn’t pack nice clothes for us to wear.  Her parents lived on a large farm and I didn’t understand why it was important for us to wear good clothes to visit the country.  In fact, I hated dressing up because I was not allowed to get my good clothes dirty.  I liked her parents’ barn though, because it was always full of cats and kittens.

Here is a photo of what my family might have looked like.  My grandmother told me this was taken on Easter, but my folks were already split up and gone.  We are dressed up so we must have been going to church, or perhaps we were just back from church.  It doesn’t seem likely that we went to church together, so maybe this was no more than a visit situation and photo opportunity. 

my imaginary family


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

time skew

It’s only Tuesday night but I seemed to have moved on into a new dimension.  Thanksgiving is Thursday and Someone went out and bought groceries.  I’ll be making a quick vege casserole to take to the big feed over at the in-laws house.  There will be obscene amounts of food on Thursday…I don’t even want to think about it.  My head has not been in the current time zone lately. 

My brother exited the hospital and refused rehab.  I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing, but I can guess.  He and I are very much alike. 

The home improvements are well underway.  We’ve had a monsoon here all day and rain for the past few days.  I haven’t been outside to take pictures.  The screened porch is now reinforced and rescreened.  The little deck was torn down and built back – bigger, better, and higher off the ground.  We really like it!  I’ll get some photos when the weather improves.

So we have a new floor to replace the old beat up parquet floor.  They are laying it overtop the old wood floor.  I called several places but nobody is willing to sand and refinish parquet floor.  The floor will go in the foyer, hall, and in the dining room…soon to become the computer room/my office room.  I’ve decided we’re painting the new office room.  They got a few planks put down today.      
The new floor is lighter...I hope it'll go OK with the woodwork. 
Dining room soon to be my new office room and computer room
Hoarder's paradise
The above picture here is my temporary workspace - a saggy, rickety card table surrounded by all the clutter from the dining room, the hall coat closet and another closet.  I went to Office Max today at lunch and looked at desks.  They are all that composite wood that weighs a ton.  I'd rather have a real wood desk that is easier to move around and constructed better.  
The last photo here is our bathroom.  It is rewired, painted, and has a new floor down.  It's ready for fixtures and a new soon as everything comes in.  We are waiting for the sink cabinet and light bar for over the sink mirror to come in.  Not much to see in this photo, but here it is.
half bathroom
 So tomorrow is my last day of work then a four-day weekend.  I must work like a dog to catch up on my proposal.  I'm getting a new boss in two weeks.  I've been asking around to see what people know about him.  I heard two interesting remarks.  One person said he is "high maintenance".  The other person said they call him "the pretty boy".  That last bit of info is valuable.  I'll have to try not to ruffle his feathers.  
Gracie...trying to be a good dog


Saturday, November 19, 2011

dire straits

It was a spinning-my-wheels sort of day.  Tomorrow has to be very different.  It’s too much stuff running through my head while I’m trying to concentrate on my proposal – chapter 2.  I wanted to be done last weekend and here I am with four more sections to write… at least 20 pages to write, probably more.    

My brother has been in intensive care this week; he’s still in the hospital.  He’s doing some hard-core detoxing.  Hopefully it’s not all for nothing.  I fear it will be.  He’s already making plans, and the beast always wins.      

We have a lovely new deck on the back of our house now – much nicer and a bit bigger than the old one.  Next we are getting a new floor in our foyer, hall, and dining room.  It will all be the same, and the dining room will be transformed into an office.  Still debating repainting it.  It was white when we moved in, and it’s still white.  Imagine the room with color……hmmmm…..what color?   Or imagine leaving it white for now and getting settled back in and back to work as quickly as possible.      

It’s been a week of disappointments, negotiations, travel, and stress.  Driving down to the hospital last night reminded me of the trips to the hospital to visit my grandparents.  The room my brother was in was all too familiar.  Interestingly, I mentioned that to my other brother and he said he had the same premonitions.     

Sunday, November 13, 2011

rough seas

Sibling rivalry can get really ugly, but only recently have I realized just how ugly it can be.  It is really hard with twin girls and we (father and I) always thought we were careful not to show favoritism, to treat them the same as much as possible given the night-and-day differences in them.  Of course, I know it’s impossible to treat any two people the same because no two people are the same.  Not long after they started talking, I started hearing the complaint that something wasn’t or isn’t fair.  My standard reply was (and still is) that there is nothing fair in life. 

What is remarkably in my face these days is how the girls are constantly comparing themselves to each other.  Both also make assumptions/accusations about how their father and I are constantly comparing them and what our expectations are.  Sometimes I wonder how we will survive these last two and a half years of high school.  It’s been a very, VERY tough year for all of us.    

Thursday, November 10, 2011

let there be shelves!

I blew off work tonight…not a good thing at all.  It’s time to make a plan to move my workspace.  All these books, and CDs, and stacks of paper, and God knows what else that stay stacked up in front of my face are going to the living room.  In this room I’m in, we’re tearing out carpet and getting new light.  My favorite part:  clearing out the clutter and putting what I want in here back in here.  I’d love to have it painted, and change these damn drapes.  This room has been my cocoon for more than three years now.  It’s dreadful!  I need shelves,  LET THERE BE SHELVES!!!  We’ve purchased a legion to improve our castle here.  It’s going to be good!  MY SPACE.  Well *sigh* not really.  
My dissertation…I’m writing about safety culture, and stumbled across some interesting controversy.  Not going to think about it tonight though…seeing’s how I’m taking a break and all.

I’ve been including some old family photos because well…what good are old family photos shut away in a shoe box forever?  Here is a photo of great grandfather Black holding my little brother.  That couple standing in the back left are my parents. It looks like they are still a couple.  The white building in the background is a church in St Paul, Kentucky.  On the back of the building was a room where ladies got together for quilting bees.  There were big trees behind the church that made wonderful shade.  They were old sycamores and black walnut trees.   On the far side of the church, just past the churchyard fence, was my great grandfather’s best watermelon patch.  The girl sitting and looking at the camera, is my father’s cousin, Kathy.  She got married and had four children.  Her husband murdered her when her youngest child was (I think) high school age.  On the right in the darkness, you can make out the wheel of an old rusty wheelbarrow.  The wheelbarrow was my personal favorite – it was the easiest to handle when it was loaded heavy.  I zoomed way in to see it, also saw it looks like a big scab on my face. 
Great grandfather holding little brother

I have one (big scab) now, thanks to Gracie.  I bent over to pick something up off the floor as she bounced up to jump on me (she is a bouncy, energetic young dog).  We collided and her fang scraped a big bloody gouge across my nose.  I think it’s bruised too.  Lovely…we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.      

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

home improvements underway

I backed out of the driveway this morning, same as always.  Just as I shifted from reverse to drive, I glanced up and saw an 8-point buck standing in the road right in front of me.  He was magnificent.  We looked at each other for a few seconds; he tipped his horns toward me and snorted, and then moved on making his way toward the woods behind our house. 

Contractors tore into our house yesterday.  So it begins!!  Finally!!!  Unfortunately, this is the worse time for it but so it goes.  Years ago, when we had our kitchen remodeled and our basement finished, I agonized over every decision.  So many choices and I wanted it all to be wonderful and perfect in the end.  This time, I have no time for the distraction of it all.  Saturday morning I got to the paint store as soon as it opened and grabbed some of those sample paint strips in shades of green, gold, and brown.  Next I stopped at the floor store, selected samples of two laminate and two vinyl.  I made final decisions on the floors of five rooms in less than 15 minutes total – 10 minutes in the store and 5 minutes in my house.  Paint color is another story...and I still need to pick bath fixtures – a new tub, toilets, sinks, faucets, towel bars, etc. 

Very early in my marriage, I learned that sharing a bathroom with my husband would be impossible.  He is just much too gross.  Perhaps I’m a man-hater and my standards are too strict, but sharing a bathroom with my first husband was not an issue.  He was so much better at cleaning up after himself.  He had gone to military school when he was young and I think they drilled good habits into him.  He told me that he was frequently made to clean showers and latrines while he attended the school and it totally grossed him out.  I worked restaurants in high school and college and cleaning rest rooms was always part of my job.  No doubt about it, many people are insensitive and gross.  My husband isn’t a slob because he’s insensitive; he’s just got the maturity of a 12 year old when it comes to things like cleanliness.  Perhaps I should hire a nanny for him.

Our newest mess-maker...about to create another

Friday, November 4, 2011

critical overflow

It’s been an insane week….and about to get worse.  Emily has been sick all week and missed school five days.  That’s tough with her schedule of accelerated classes.  The kids get a four day weekend for a teachers meeting and election day, and I collected all her missed assignments from her teachers, but she is still unable to do much.  She saw her pediatrician twice and an ENT specialist this week.  Next week, she has more tests.  They want to rule out common things and some scary things before they send her to a cardiologist.  So yes, it’s a lot on my mind…I hate to think my daughter is sick and nobody knows what’s wrong or when she will be better.   

Also, the contractor called and is ready to start tearing into our house Monday morning.  This has been in the works for many months, but I’m not ready.  I have no time to spare, but tomorrow I must start packing stuff up and moving it out of the way, and go pick out floor covering, paint, and bathroom fixtures.  We are renovating two full baths and a half bath…can I just do them all the same?      

Also this week, I did some of the final paperwork for my grandfather’s estate.  Two more small details (assuming  this last bit was done correctly) and it will all be over.  When my grandmother died, my grandfather was unable to get out much so I did the legwork to settle her estate for him.  When I walked out of the bank on the last detail, it kind of hit me that that was the last thing I would ever do for her.  My grandfather has been gone for 16 months, but doing his paperwork seems to keep him in the present.  It’s funny that I grew up with this man – I lived in his house (he was my father), but I hardly knew him at all until the very end.  He talked more in the last months of his life than he did in all the other years I knew him combined.  He was a man of very few words. 

Pop with my brothers and me

Also, I have to get Chapter 2 of my dissertation cranked out by the end of next weekend.  That’s a commitment I put on myself.  I submitted Chapter 1 to my chairman for review.  He returned it with NO corrections at all.  That's good news, or does it just mean he barely read it?  I know I'm not that good!  He said it was rock solid and to submit it to my committee for review.  The man on my committee said he won’t review anything until the proposal is complete.  The woman on my committee said she will review it and give me feedback by the end of the weekend.  I wish I had more women on my committee.  

Friday, October 28, 2011


When Sarah and I lived in our house on Brentwood, we used the spare bedroom as a playroom for her.  We kept her toys in there and this is where she played most of the time when we were home. 

One day when she was around five years old, I was in my room tidying up and she came running in with a look on her face like she’d seen a ghost. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Horrified, she shook her head as if the words wouldn’t come out. She grabbed my hand, pulled me into the playroom, and blurted, “Space aliens.” I’m thinking…space aliens? I looked around the room and saw nothing unusual. I ask, “Where?” She said, “They were all over, but now they’re gone.” I asked her where she was when she saw them. She walked over to the dolls in the floor and sat down. “I was just playing with my dolls like this and they sparkled all around me.” “Well, looks like they’re gone now.” I said, unable to imagine what she could have seen that reminded her of sparkling space aliens. Sarah reached for her doll and exclaimed, “There they are!!!” She leapt up, ran to me, and clung tightly.

For a brief second, I saw what she was talking about. She was wearing a bracelet that reflected the sunlight coming through the window. It made patterns of bright light on the ceiling and walls. The poor little girl was terrified by this phenomenon. I smiled at her, took her bracelet, and showed her what she was seeing. We experimented with my ring and watch to make more sparkles on the walls and ceiling. It's nature to fear the unknown. It must be TV and movies that make little children imagine scary creatures from outer space.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I started to write a vile, nasty post yesterday. It was an articulation of the worst possible mood….with lots of the F word. I know nobody cares what the hell I say here. Still, this is public space and I don’t want to F myself out of a job someday. Some HR rep will Google me, find my web site, and decide he/she can’t hire a foul-mouthed fleabag like me.

What set me off was bad news. After all that shit I did to my face, I’m going to have to be cut on anyway. That pisses me off. The dermatologist was ready to pull out the chainsaw right on the spot (not really, he said the initial biopsy will require a needle and scalpel)…might as well do it right from the start and just cut off my whole face with a chainsaw.

I was the doc’s last victim of the day ( 4:30 appt – he walked into the torture chamber at 7:30 - punctuality is not his thing). He shook my hand, told me he was exhausted from the long day and running two 10K’s over the weekend. I didn’t feel good about him cutting on my face in that state – I prefer him to be no more than the usual state of tired if he’s putting a knife into my face. I suggested we put it off a month. That gives me plenty of time to stew and worry over it, and who knows, maybe something horrific will happen before then and having my face mutilated will be the least of my worries. (I always try to look on the bright side of things). As I left, he told me I can’t wish it away. He also told me he survived melanoma on his leg at age 36 and 5 years ago he had a radical prostatectomy. Hmmmmm…. should I have congratulated him?…but I just remarked that he’s a lucky man who’s been through a lot. What do you say to something like that? His point was that I'm a whiney puss, suck it up, and deal with it. Yeah – I’ll do that next month.

Everything else that has me in a shitty mood involves my chronic disorganization and procrastination in every facet of my life. I never learn. I don’t want a gravestone, but if I had one, my epitaph should state “She never learned shit”. I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown somewhere…I don’t care where as long as it isn’t on concrete or pavement. And don’t put my ashes in a F’ing urn - I want to be free and loose.

When things get bad at work, I reflect on Erin’s picture; it hangs beside my phone. She drew it when she was 5 or 6 years old. As shitty as things are lately, they could be much worse (remind myself). Maybe in some cases, the lady is better off letting go of the rope.

Drawn by Erin long ago

Friday, October 21, 2011

my secret box

When I was young, I had a metal box that locked with a small key. I stored my most valuable treasures in the box and kept it hidden from everyone. I found the box in the neighbor’s trash with the key sticking out of the lock. It was rusty and dented which is probably why it was discarded. Usually I kept it in my closet, but when I thought my brother was looking for it, I hid it in the basement, or garage, or outside somewhere. I always hid the key separate from the box just to be extra sure my valuables were safe.

In my box were rhinestones, gumball machine trinkets, Cracker Jack toys, bits of colored broken glass, pretty rocks, beads, buckeyes, tiny pinecones, acorns, and Indian arrow heads. I had feathers from blue jays, cardinals, gold finch, and pigeons. There were a few dead butterflies, some sea shells, and a pressed four-leaf clover. I kept two little dogs and a fish that I carved from sticks. Also, I’d saved some Canadian coins, a Japanese coin with a hole in the middle, and some pennies that trains ran over and flattened. I hid my matches and some candles in the box too.

My most valued treasure in the box was a used tissue. I was about seven years old one of the times my mother visited. I stood beside her and watched in awe as she meticulously transformed herself in front of the bathroom mirror with a bag of cosmetics – face cream, foundation, powder, blush, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, eyelash curler, brow powder, and lipstick. I thought she looked like a princess or movie star with her make-up on. My mother painted her lipstick on with a small brush and blotted her lips with a tissue forming a perfect pink kiss print. She dropped it into the trash and left the room. When she had gone downstairs and I was sure nobody would see me, I took the tissue and hid it in my box. Sometimes when I missed my mother very much, I pressed the tissue against my cheek and imagined she was giving me a kiss.

Mother's father holding me, and Mother

Thursday, October 20, 2011

bad dog / good dog

She had a rough start. She wound up in the animal shelter – one of a bunch of pups abandoned…mama dead on the highway. She was different from the rest. The others looked like white wired hair terriers and were adopted out quickly. Our Gracie is a German shepherd \ blonde Labrador retriever \Shar pei mix and different from her littermates. *sighing deeply*

Gracie was a very bad dog today. She breached the barrier between upstairs and downstairs this afternoon while she was home alone. She went up into Erin’s room, and got into her jewelry box – Erin left the bottom drawer open. Gracie only destroyed old rubber bracelets, but these happened to be the ones with sentimental value. Gracie is high on Erin’s shit list!

Yesterday afternoon, Gracie chewed into a box of my grandmother’s old dishes. She chewed a glass bowl that was at least 250 years old and it broke into three pieces. It didn’t seem to cut her – I checked her mouth. Later that evening, I glanced over and she had a streak of bright red on her leg. I gasped thinking it was blood. Turns out, it was bright red paint. She’d somehow found a small bottle of red craft paint and chewed it up. We now have red paint on the carpet that we are replacing soon.

Gracie and I came to an understanding. I’m the alpha in this house and she’d better walk the walk or she’s going to be an outside dog. She has figured out the electric fence. She knows the pain and collar that produces it. She’s going to enjoy some of the aspects of outside dog life – more interactions with diverse creatures, diverse scenery, more space to roam, falling asleep in the sun.  She has learned to stay well inside the white flags.  We want her to be outside when we’re gone, and inside when we’re home. Outside means access to the garage.  She was well behaved this evening after our meeting of the minds. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

tragedy in China

Have you read the story about the little girl in China who was hit by a car and people just ignored her until she was run over again? Unbelievable!! I feel sick when I accidentally squash a squirrel or hit a bird…..I can’t imagine striking a child and driving away. What is this world coming to? Does something like this happen in China because they have so many people that a single life has no meaning?

I found this picture of me – if it was taken in August of ’62, I am not yet five years old. My hair has no natural curl at all, so apparently this was taken after my mother visited. My mother insisted on perming my hair when she visited. She came about once or twice a year…it got to the point where I stayed under the bed when she came and refused to come out. I hated perms! I’m sitting on the picket fence in front of my great grandparents’ house in St. Paul, Kentucky. My feet are against one of the many, very large maple trees in the front yard. We used to put pennies on the railroad tracks and let the trains run over them and flatten them.

I spent a lot of time under beds when I was growing up.  I was a climber  – climbed like a monkey before ever trying to walk and I wouldn’t stay in my baby bed.  I was not quite a year old when my baby brother came along.  They gave him the baby bed and put me to sleep in bed with my older brother (18 months older than me).  Apparently I didn’t like sleeping with him either and they found me just about every morning under the bed (my grandfather told me this story).  It was my favorite place to play as well, until I was too old for playing.  When under a bed, nobody can sneak up on you…and sometimes nobody knows you’re there.      

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flight of Fear

We took the girls and two pals to King’s Island yesterday – a big amusement park just north of Cincinnati. It’s not a bad drive, taking a little less than three hours to get there. The park was packed because this time of year, in addition to the rides they have themed haunted attractions to walk through. Someone and the girls love these, but I’m pretty much wiped out after 8 hours of standing in line for rides all day. By the time the haunts open, I’m tired and not in the mood to have people dressed up jump out and scare me time and again. I can appreciate the elaborateness of it all and the pains the actors go to so that they look realistic…but you go into these expecting the unexpected.

At the front gate, I snapped a few photos of the girls, and off they went never to be seen again until midnight, our intended time to leave.

Someone and I had the day to kill. We started with a smaller roller coaster because the line was relatively short (30 minute wait). Next we got in line for Flight of Fear. That was a 60 minute wait. We rode it last year and I remember it was fun. Someone didn’t remember it – I told him it was just like Space Mountain (at Disney World…which he loves). The ride has a space theme – you are launched into darkness – the signs warn you to keep your head back on the headrest during launch. Good advice. We entered the black hole and immediately went upside down which caused me to remember…oh yeah, this is nothing like Space Mountain. That’s what the girls told me last year to get me to go on it. It was fun, but I don’t like being fastened down like that….although I appreciate being fastened down securely rather than taking the risk of being flung out of the seat into the darkness. Jerry loved it and wanted to go again, but the wait when we came back around to enter was over 120 minutes.

Next, we rode FireHawk – it is out in the open, so I knew what we were in store for. It’s a roller coaster where you ride laying down on your back, moving head first. It’s another one where you are fastened tightly into your seat, and yes…it’s not so great for us claustrophobes, but security is necessary and good in this situation. You sit in a seat, buckle in, and at the very start (before take off) the seats tip back until your head is slightly past parallel. Not a good feeling. In the video, you get an accurate perspective. I was not one with my hands out – I had a death grip on the bars. It was so much fun, we waited 120+ minutes to ride it a second time.

We had an uneventful trek home. We travel a rural highway and must be wary for deer, raccoons, and possums in the road. We saw all of those but fortunately didn’t hit any. I caught a nasty cold yesterday so today I’m staying away from everyone and laying low. I didn’t do any work on my dissertation all weekend. NOT GOOD. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

morning morosity

Time is a face on the water – Stephen King (still my favorite author).

What is the meaning of time? Conceptually, it’s a form of measurement. Personally, it has always been an enemy and a source of frustration. It always seems to pass too fast or too slow, and there’s no way to control it. I’ve spent a lifetime watching a calendar and clock, planning and waiting impatiently.

Control is always temporary and illusive – it’s an imposter! Trying to get control of things is frustrating. Do any of us have real control of anything in our lives? All we really have is here and now, and if we’re lucky, we can have hope for the future. If I lived alone on this planet, would time and control be less important? If we had no means to measure time, would it be less important?

We were rushing out the door this morning – the girls and me off to school and work. I stepped out on the porch and the moon grabbed my attention – I set my crap down, pulled out my shitty phone camera and snapped this photo. It just doesn’t do it justice – the silver white moon seemed huge peeking through the yellow gold leaves of the tulip tree. I asked the girls if they saw the moon – none of them noticed it at all. How did they miss it?

I’ve spent over four hours on the phone with HP the past two evenings – my PC is having power issues…not good.  The only way the damn thing will boot after it’s cold is to remove the battery and plug it into AC.   Last night, they had me run 40 minutes of diagnostics and determined the machine has no hardware/mechanical/integrity errors.  OK, so what’s the next step?  They say if the problem persists, we’ll reimage the hard drive and restore factory settings.  Lovely….another 4-6 hours lost productivity.   Not only that, being a disorganized person, I’ll have to go on a scavenger hunt to find all my install DVDs for all the software I’ve loaded.  I’m not a happy HP customer these days - they are wasting TOO much of my time.  I believe my laptop does have a hardware/mechanical/integrity error when it’s cold.  I hate when shit doesn’t work like it’s supposed to!