Friday, December 28, 2012

be minor fugue

Holiday happiness dissipated quickly and was replaced with despair almost as soon as I walked in and took my seat at work yesterday. Today is no better. I now have 5 piles of “high priority” stuff. Five piles, as if any of it can get done in a hurry…especially while I’m writing a F’g blog post. I’m not a F’g octopus and even though I multitask as well as the next guy, I’m not good enough to get all this shit done when the people want it…even if I worked all night, through the weekend to the end of next week, and wasted no time at all on trivial things such as sleeping or having any kind of life.

I’m the kind of person who when it all gets overwhelming, just quits working. Sometimes the house is such a wreck and there’s so much to do, the only options are to move out or take a nap. Moving out is not really an option…that would entail way too much work. So what do I do? Lay down on the couch and close my eyes. I’m almost always asleep within 5 minutes and then I don’t have to think about anything that needs to be done. Sleep is the ultimate escape…not really, it’s the ultimate temporary escape. Death would be a more ultimate, permanent sort of escape, but let’s not be morose. Anyway, I’d rather be damned to hell for all eternity than to die for my employer (I’m not a team player), and I sure as heck am not going to die because my house is a disaster (I’d have off’d myself a long time ago if that were the case).

So, my brother was arrested for DUI last week, but unfortunately he spent less than 2 hours in jail. I guess the fantasy that he’d go to jail and at least get a few days to detox was only my wishful thinking. He blew .315 when they arrested him; he insists he was completely sober and hadn’t had a drink for hours. He finally got his car out of impound and it’s business as usual for him now. We can only hope they stop him again and set the bond higher. His priors are too long ago so this recent one counts as first DUI, a mere slap on the hand (except his insurance company will not be so forgiving). His court date is end of January. He doesn’t care….about anything at all…except buying that next bottle of vodka.

On a happier note – TGIF!! I’m so ready for the weekend, even though I’ve nothing fun planned at all. My committee lady is happy with Chapter 4 (Dr. Chairman is still ignoring me). This weekend, I’m going to try to finish a draft of Chapter 5, play my new guitar, and drive my drunk brother around to look at houses (he will be too wasted to look but I’m going to make him go…misery loves company)! He has been evicted and needs to find a place to move (and there’s no homeless shelter in that area). I hope to visit Sarah if I can fit that trip into my schedule, and if she has time for me. I think this weekend will fly by, and in a blink, it’ll be Monday morning with me sitting here again.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

holiday happiness

What a delightful day to take off work, but alas, tomorrow I return to hell.  I will try to not think about tomorrow. 
Christmas was fun.  Sarah and her...what should I call him...significant male friend?...came to visit us.  It’s always much fun when they come because they are both funny young people; we exchanged gifts before they left late Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day, Someone’s daughter drove over and spent some time with us.  We had a big family dinner at Someone’s parents’ house with all his siblings and their kids.  Someone’s mother has so many Christmas decorations, their house is like a museum  or crowded gift shop.  Every room and everywhere you look there is something that reminds you it’s Christmas, and much of the glassware and decorations are antique.  I should have taken photos while I was there !  It’s all remarkable but I wouldn’t want the job of setting it all out and packing it all away again every year.  These photos were taken at our house Christmas morning. 


My children gave me lovely gifts this year.  I realize that I didn’t include the gift matches in the photo....I do believe one of my lovely daughters shares a bit of the firebug gene with me J  One can never have too many matches!  The kitty cat salt and pepper shakers make me happy...I filled them this morning.   The knives are splendid and razor sharp.  Peach pie – yummy, and made with Sarah’s own hands with peaches plucked off the tree growing in her yard.  Erin made the bowl with the kitty and Emily made the bowl with the flower. 

Someone’s daughter gave me the softest pair of pajamas I’ve ever worn in my life.  They are wonderful and now I’m completely spoiled.  There was a time in my life, for many years, when I always slept in my clothes...I didn’t even own pajamas.  I like sleeping in pajamas, and it was wonderful this morning because I woke up (in my new snuggly pajamas) to the sound of rain on the roof instead of my alarm clock.  Gracie and Jack were curled up together on the foot of our bed and Someone was still asleep.  It was wonderously peaceful!!  I haven’t had such a perfect morning in so long....I can’t remember how long it has been!  I just layed there for like 10 minutes listening to the rain and enjoying the quiet stillness in the house. 

I sent the draft of Chapter 4 to Dr. Chairman more than a week ago and he has not acknowledged it at all...even after a text message from me at the end of the week.  I will not pester him again until after January 2nd, he can just be what he is.  Late last week, I sent my draft to the one committee member who has been involved (other committee man has been completely uninvolved).  She promised to review it and give me feedback today.  She has been so much more helpful to me than the men on my committee.  I wonder if men treat other men as shitty as they treat women?  So today I will assume all is without issue in chapter 4, and I will start on Chapter 5 which should be the most pleasant of all chapters to write.  Why?  This will be the conclusions that can be drawn from the data analysis and the implications of what I learned.  But more importantly than that.... it is the last chapter!!!  
Dr. Chairman (aka Erin's Easter bunny)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

enemy hedgeapple

There’s all this debate in the news lately as a result of the massacre in Connecticut last week. It all causes me to think of my first husband (H1)…who was a polar opposite of Someone (H2). H1 was an avid gun nut…that’s a term we use around here (gun nut) for people who seek and hoard unregistered guns because they think the government will try to take them away. He was also sort of a doomsday survivalist, often talking about where we would go and how we would live in the event of invasion, atomic war, or catastrophe.   H1 even bought me my own gasmask one year for my birthday.

I had no experience with real guns before meeting H1. He liked to target shoot and always insisted I shoot a couple of times when we went because he wanted me to be able to use a gun. I could shoot fairly accurately with a rifle, but with any kind of pistol I was damn lucky to hit a beer bottle from 10 feet away. H1 was a probation/parole officer and was one of the best shots in the state. He had police training and recertification testing every year.

Everywhere we went, H1 always had at least one gun with him. He had a permit to carry a concealed weapon because of his profession (I’m pretty sure it’s why he entered the profession). I do have fond memories of our motorcycle rides and stopping at the covered bridge at Dover on hot summer afternoons way out in the country. The bridge was shaded by huge sycamore trees growing along the banks of the creek in that spot. We’d sit on the outside of the bridge (on those steel support beams you can see in the photo), drink whiskey, and shoot snakes that swam across the creek below us with his 22 pistol. We always saw snakes in that creek. I don’t like killing things, but shooting at snakes was kind of fun (snakes would likely disagree).

In winter, I used to go rabbit and grouse hunting with H1. I didn’t hunt and refused to carry a gun, but I liked hiking and watching the dogs work. Once, we were walking in a swampy sort of creek bottom on his father’s land – this wasn’t a good hunting area so I was just plodding along behind him, looking down and trying not to trip over anything.  He was only 5 feet or so in front of me as we walked along.  Suddenly he turned to face me, dropped to one knee, raised his double-barrel shotgun to point just above my face and opened fire.  BAM!! BAM!! Before I could react, he called out “Enemy hedgeapple, twelve o'clock!!”  I stood there like a deer in the headlights, and then, stuff came raining down on my head – pieces of shattered hedgeapples. He about gave me heart attack and it pissed me off, but of course he just laughed at me.  Yes it was funny in retrospect, but not at the time.

I have lots of H1 stories; we had many adventures. I oftentimes wonder how I ever found myself married to him…in fact, I coerced him into marrying me (no, I didn’t get pregnant). Perhaps it’s a gift women have…we only need tell a man what he wants to hear and he will do what we want…sometimes.  The hard part is figuring out what he wants to hear.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

let's do the time warp again

Time is passing at warp speed. So much has happened and is happening lately. It makes me tired to think about it all…it must be a sign that I’m getting too old.  

The massacre in Connecticut is heavy on my mind. After listening to Obama’s recent speeches it sounds like he wants to increase gun control. It’s a very complicated problem but I don’t think that’s the solution. There are too many crazy people running amok. Too many unstable people have guns already, and obviously too many OK people just don’t adequately secure the guns they have. Even if we make assault weapons illegal, they are here and many (most?) are unregistered.

Chapter 4 has become an infinite sea of quicksand and dispair that has sucked me into it. I want to know more about multiple regression analysis…I should know more. It makes me feel like a total idiot that I can’t make sense of what I read about it. Frustration and failure are not my friends.  It's like beating my head into a wall night after night....but I just need to find a harder wall. 

Erin and Emily became 17 years old yesterday. Officially, Erin became 17 first and then Emily, but we celebrated birthdays simulataneously.  Someone and I sang happy birthday to them and video'd the ceremonial blowing out of candles.  Chronologically, Erin is about 35 minutes older than Emily – Emily’s head was like a basketball and she insisted on coming out face up – lots of work for poor me, but what to do? Once Erin was out, I wasn’t about to let the doctor cut Emily out.  His threats to do so motivated me to try harder, and finally Emily made it into the world.  

12/17/1995  Erin and Emily
12/17/2012 Emily and Erin (they've grown a bit)

So now I’ve aired the mold in my brain manifolds and it’s time to do tiresome things.  First, call my sorry-ass brother.  And second – try to figure out how to calculate the degrees of freedom when doing two-step hierarchical multiple regression.  My sorry-ass brother probably knew how to do regression models back in his prime, and now he can hardly remember what day of the week it is.  What a wasted life he lives.      

Thursday, December 13, 2012

prayer versus hope

In just a few days, my babies will be 17 years old. What a lucky mother I am to have all three of the children I gave birth to still walking on this planet with me. Many mothers don’t have that blessing, perhaps for some, it is not a blessing. For me, I feel undeserving of the gifts I’ve been given in this life. What have I done to deserve a good life? Not much. I could have just as easily been born a female in some country where women are equal to shit and live oppressed their entire lives.  I'm grateful that my daughters get to live in a country where they have opportunity to realize their dreams. 

A good friend of mine told me a story about her son I will never forget. It totally changed the way I think about praying for anything. My grandparents forced Christianity on my brothers and me; we went to Sunday school and church almost every Sunday, and I hated it…for the wrong reasons. We were taught to pray to God for what we want because God listens to and answers prayers. I did a lot of praying when I was young and rarely got the requested results. Perhaps me living here on Earth was never part of any holy plan, or I’m not a member of His network.

My friend has five children. When one of her sons was eight years old, he stepped off a curb and was hit by a pickup truck going too fast to even slow down. He lay in a coma for months and she said they stayed with him at the hospital and prayed and prayed. She told me God answered their prayers, but they prayed for the wrong outcome. This was more than 20 years ago. He survived and is still living in a nursing home, severely brain damaged and physically unable to do anything for himself. The family bankrupted to afford his care. They go see him a few times a year, but there is no change and no hope for him.  It’s so sad.  How can we hope to know what we should pray for?  I wonder if she feels guilty for praying for him, as if not praying may have resulted in death?  I didn’t ask her.

I’ve been thinking about my brother a lot lately - the one who is a hopeless alcoholic. Something is going to happen soon, but I don’t know what that will be. He can’t last much longer, even though my other brother likens him to the Energizer Battery Bunny and insists he will outlast us. We have ganged up on alcoholic brother and are pressing him daily to make changes (go to rehab, stop driving, pack his stuff, move out). Alcoholic brother is a wreck – all the nagging is stressing him to his limits and driving him to drink more. He’s making more trips to the liquor store, increasing his chances for a DUI arrest while increasing the chance he’ll hurt somebody else. I wait, watch, and hope the outcome will be good…whatever it might be.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa came early

I had a glorious afternoon and evening.  It’s late and I should be getting me to bed, but no, let’s don’t end the day just yet.

An afternoon meeting got rescheduled and that little happening inspired me to take the afternoon off work.  It’s a very big deal in my office to take off.  So in those last 15 minutes before my afternoon of freedom began, I emailed my boss, updated my Outlook calendar, changed my voicemail greeting, updated our section calendar on SharePoint, entered 4 hours of vacation into SAP (corporate timekeeping), and updated my project time in our department timekeeping system.  Is that insanity or what?

Before going home, I stopped by a store and bought wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, Christmas cards, and...cold medicine for poor Erin who has caught something not nice, probably a nasty cold virus.  Now it’s feeling like Christmas to me.  I came home and made platters of cheese and grapes on skewers to take to two places tonight.  Normally, it would have been a high-stress thing because instead of buying something already made to take, I decided to do it myself.  Also, instead of having to slop it all together at the last minute which is typically what happens, I took all afternoon to cut giant blocks of cheese into little cubes, assemble it all, and arrange it all nice and concentrically on the platter.  It was fun!!  The photo is the small one for the party I took Emily to earlier this evening.  The larger one (not pictured) had crackers in the middle and it went to the Christmas orchestra concert with us (parents were requested to bring finger food).  Is there any food we could make to look like fingers?  I always think of eating fingers when I see “finger food”. 
Miss Erin before her performance - principal viola

After the orchestra concert tonight, I bought a guitar for ME!!  My old guitar has an incurable buzz.  I bought it, a Harmony dreadnought, at a pawn shop in Newport, Kentucky in like 1981.  I loved it then, and have loved it for many years...but it’s warped and sad these days.  Its strings break too frequently.  A friend decided to sell his old Martin guitar; it’s one I’ve admired for a long time (OK, since last summer).  I took it off his hands – easy decision, price was right.  Looks like Santa came early this year.  Life is very good!   

Sunday, December 9, 2012

the good, the bad, and the ugly

Chapter 4 is coming along and perhaps I’ll be ready to start on Chapter 5 by tomorrow night or maybe Monday night...depending on what happens tomorrow.  Lots going on lately, some good but unfortunately, the bad is outweighing the good these days. 
In trying to keep with the spirit of the holiday, I’ve been doing some online shopping – finding gifts for my lovelies.  These are being delivered to the house with explicit orders that nobody is allowed to open anything.  At some point, I’ll have to get busy and wrap gifts.  That’s something I like doing when there’s enough time to devote to it and we have pretty paper and ribbon.  Last year, I just could’t find any pretty wrapping paper, but I haven’t been out shopping for any this year.  The girls put our tree up and decorated it for me.  I think they did a lovely job.   


Now for the bad news.  Remember a few months back when I got the worst case of poison ivy I’d ever had in my life?  Guess what?  It wasn’t poison ivy.  I got it again – same thing, exactly the same.  It’s a very bad allergic reaction to something that I still don’t know what.  This time it didn’t get quite so bad because I got a shot and started on a double-dose of steroid pills within 12 hours of my eyes swelling shut.  GOD, it’s wretched!  The doctor says there’s no point in seeing an allergist because whatever it is, I’m not coming into contact with it often and an allergist will only test for common household things.  So I missed two days of work last week because of it, and I still don’t want to go out in public with this scary monster face.  I return to the doctor Monday to get another shot.  This is crazy shit!
Speaking of shit, it has hit the fan with my brother.  Nothing good is going to come of this situation.  It seems completely hopeless.   The best outcome would be for him to get arrested for DUI, whichever one this would be – 4th or 5th.  Lock him up for a good long time, hopefully at least a year or two, and officially take away his driver’s license.  Hopefully he won’t hurt somebody before he kills himself...however it happens.  It’s a terrible thing to wish on somebody, especially my own brother.  I don’t think he’ll be with us much longer unless something drastic happens.  Something drastic is about to happen.  I just hope he doesn't hate me too much if he ever gets sober enough to figure out what happened.               

Thursday, December 6, 2012

multi-tasking mistakes

I’m bad to talk to my kids without paying enough attention to what they are saying and what is going on.  In fact, I do that a lot with Someone as well.  He’s used to it.  Sometimes I don’t even pay much attention to what I’m saying.  It’s probably a consequence of multi-tasking all the time.   
Once when Sarah was young, I quickly made a bologna sandwich for her, put it on the table, and told her to eat it while I finished getting ready to go out (we were going somewhere together).  I rushed off into my room and was trying to curl my hair with a curling iron while putting on makeup while listening to the news on TV. 

Sarah came into the doorway and asked, “Mommy, do I have to eat my whole sandwich?”  Yes, eat it all.”  I replied.  She stood there for a moment and asked, “Do I even have to eat the blue parts?”  “Yes Sarah, eat your sandwich so you won’t get hungry later on.” I told her. 
Well, a few minutes went by and the conversation rolled through my head again.  Blue parts?  What was she talking about?  I walked into the dining room and there she sat with her sandwich all pulled apart, looking very unhappy.  The bread had fuzzy blue mold growing all over it, and I hadn’t even noticed.  I definitely won the bad mother award that day!  I apologized and told her we would just drive through somewhere and get her something better.  That put a smile on her face.

This evening, the girls and I went to the grocery store.  They were putting groceries away while I was standing under the kitchen light trying to read tiny-printed, rather complicated instructions on a bottle.  Erin was trying to make room in the fridge for the milk, pulled a plastic pitcher out and said, “OH GROSS!!  Look at this nasty kool-Aid!”  I glanced up and saw what she was holding and said, “Oh, that’s not Kool-Aid, that’s from the turkey.”  She puzzled and said, “What do you mean?  This doesn’t look anything like turkey.  And what’s all this stuff that’s sunk to the bottom of the jug?”  Back into my reading, I said “It’s the broth and turkey droppings.”  With that, Emily moved over to get a closer look.  I then realized my blunder.  I looked up and saw their horrified faces as they were holding the plastic pitcher up to the light to get a better look at the stuff in the bottom – it made me laugh when I told them I meant to say turkey drippings, not droppings. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Making the most of procrastination

I’m doing a lot of thinking lately, and not enough writing.
Tomorrow will be the day to get serious. 
Hello Procrastination, so glad you could come.    NOT.

OK, but it’s all too late to worry with that now.  The night is short.

So....about today.  Today was great.

Today starts December and it was a sunny, calm, 60F temperature day - perfect for doing outside work. Our rhododendrons grew too tall and were hiding our windows, so I trimmed them back today.  Then there was a sizeable stack of branches to deal with.  What to do with them???  My first thought was to dump them in the woods behind our house, but then I decided to use some to make a garland to go around the door.  I hope rhododendrons are evergreen enough to look nice through Christmas.    
This morning, we all went to Greenbo Lodge to hear Emily play piano in a Christmas recital.  Every year, the Greenup County Homemaker’s Club decorates the lodge for Christmas, has a baking exhibition, and hosts guests with cookies, punch, and free cookbooks.  They schedule various music groups to come in for the entire day to entertain.  So, Miss Emily played for 30 minutes this morning.  Someone’s parents came to listen, and after Emily played we all walked around a bit to see what was there.  There must have been 30 kinds of cookies and various plates of candy and fudge, beautiful cakes, and just all things sugar and sweet that you can imagine.  Some of it was for sale, most was just to just look at.  So it inspired me, or no, more accurately, it inspired Someone to suggest I should bake a pecan pie for him.  Since I was already out of work-on-Chapter-4 mode, I did it just to be nice and all wifely.  
peace offering
Today, Emily played two duets with her piano teacher and then enough solo pieces to fill 30 minutes.  The lodge has a huge stone fireplace and the main room has tall, open-beamed ceiling with oversized furniture.  It was alive with decorated trees, garlands, wreaths, and poinsettias.  It makes me happy to see and hear Emily do something she enjoys so much.  I really miss seeing her dance, but I accept her reasons for quitting.  *sigh* 

Tomorrow I am WORKING!!!  No wild turkeys. No monkey business!!