Wednesday, June 12, 2013

some assistance please and thank you

It was a major afternoon slump today brought on by cake overdose. Important People came down from corporate headquarters to do a 15-year anniversary award for an Important Person’s son, and treated our whole group in this area of Kentucky to lunch and cake. Normally, I decline cake unless its purpose is to honor me (because that is good manners, not to mention everyone expects you to eat cake when the cake is for you). However, declining wasn’t an option today.  A giant piece with thick red and blue icing was just plunked down in front of me…like HERE – EAT THIS! So I did.

After festivities, I went back to my cube, sat down, and slid into that semi-coma state of sugar OD. I had work to do and no motivation or energy to will my fingers onto the keyboard. What to do? CAFFEINE. Must have caffeine. I keep a supply of cheap, generic caffeine pills in my purse at all times (er...usually). One pill is like sucking down two cups of coffee all at once.  Since coffee is totally gross and I don’t drink the stuff, caffeine pills substitute.  Mother's little helpers. 

no caffeine???

I rifled through my purse. What? None with me????? Oh SHIT! What to do (what to do)? I dug through a desk drawer and found none. Emptied the various junk mugs on my desk and found none. Cursed myself for not being more attentive to my on-hand supply. Woe is me!! I checked my watch and saw there was no time before a meeting to run out to the store and buy some. More woe. Then I dumped my briefcase and, thank you Jesus, there was a whole pack of them. Thanks be to God.

It’s probably safe to say I’m pretty well hooked on my little yellow friends. In the back of my mind, as I was shuffling and digging (and getting edgy), I remembered my first husband’s angst the times I "moved" his cigarettes or lighter.  He kept a pack and lighter on the nightstand beside his pillow so that first thing in the morning he could have a smoke. It’s not like I made his darlings impossible to find…just a bit difficult. Why did I do such a thing? Because I could…because I like holding a magnifying glass over ants in the sun to watch them pop. Not really…maybe I’m just a bit passive-aggressive like that sometimes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The name of my blog comes from a memorable quote by Pennywise, a character invented by Stephen King. King is king in my book - my favorite author. It’s not that I’ve read all his books (not even close), but I’ve read more of his than any other author’s books. I’m a slow reader, and his novels tend to be long. Even his short stories are long for someone who reads as slow as me. One of the things I like about his writing style is that reading one of his books is like watching a multi-dimensional movie. Not only do you have a story plot, but you get lots of background, rich details, and you get to know the characters inside and out. It’s probably why the movies made from his books are usually disappointing in comparison. Shawshank Redemption was a pretty good movie…and so was The Green Mile, but the stories were way better.


I’m not much of a “people” person, but it’s good to stand on the sidelines and learn about a person, his history, what motivates him to do what he does, and how he perceives his world. Do “we all float down here”? I don’t think so. Some people just give up and sink, some struggle against the current, and some are drowned by others.

I’ve been floating since my dissertation was accepted because I’m not altogether sure what I want to do. Just let the current do its thing while this old lady considers options. Seems like a person in my position should grab the bull by the horns, shove a giant gold ring through its nose, look it square in the eyes, and tell that son of a bitch what’s what. I don’t know what’s what, even if I could catch the bull.

How does anybody really figure out what he wants in this life? Is it more that he identifies what he doesn’t want, and moves away from that? Maybe I don’t like being alone, so I find a husband or wife. Maybe I hate worrying about money, so I find a tolerable job. Maybe I live where I live because it’s familiar and easier than finding someplace else to go. Does anyone find paradise by passively floating where the current takes him, or is getting the perfect life a reward for strategically planning life and taking the correct defensive and offensive actions?

My girls are worrying about where they want to go to college and what they want to study. I sure as heck can’t tell them what to do. They have more options than I had at that age. Emily is worried she will wind up in a field she hates. Don’t worry, I tell her, it happens to lots of people. It’s a good thing we can float and bend in this life. At least we can have hope that someday we will wash up on the shore of paradise.

Monday, June 10, 2013

summer blackberries

Someone and I played golf yesterday. It was a good day for playing because it was overcast. The course was mostly deserted which is the way I like it – no waiting, at least not much waiting. The rain held off until we were finishing the last hole. While I was waiting to tee off on #12, I saw these loaded blackberry bushes and snapped a photo.  They will be ripe in another month.


When I was a girl and it was blackberry season, my grandmother would give my brothers and me large buckets and send us off with orders not to come back until our buckets were full. I hated picking blackberries. It was hot, I always got scratched up in the briars, the mosquitoes buzzed around my face, and I always worried about wildlife (i.e. snakes, spiders, bees, and ticks). The humidity was horrendous that time of summer. It took hours to pick a bucket of blackberries, and my older brother and I always had to help our younger brother get enough berries for his bucket…that’s another long story.

We’d start off early in the morning. Those big striped, hairy garden spiders would oftentimes be sitting in their webs so we could see and avoid them. Sometimes, I’d just walk into an invisible web and then I’d have to worry if a spider was attached and now crawling in my hair or on my clothes. We made enough noise that only the most sluggish of snakes didn't slither away, but my little brother loved catching them and putting them in his bucket. I’ve never liked snakes and never had any thoughts of intentionally touching one. He caught them and enjoyed how they coiled around his arm and hands. EWWW….it gives me creeps just thinking about it.

After a long day of blackberry picking, my grandmother made us all take baths with lye soap, and she picked through our hair to get the ticks out. She thought lye soap was more effective against poison ivy than regular soap. Maybe it was, but I always had poison ivy in the summers. Maybe it would have been much worse if there were no lye soap.  The lye made my scratches burn. 

My grandmother always gave us a bath in a metal washtub on the back porch. She filled up the tub with water boiled on the stove. The air was hot, the water was hot, and she was usually cranky at bath time. I can’t say taking a bath was refreshing in any stretch of the imagination. Getting a bath was serious business in those days, no playing around. The washtub was like a war zone – get in, get it done, get out. Those were not "good old days"….nope, I don’t miss them at all.

My girls loved taking baths when they were young, and I usually saw bath time as an opportune time for me to read.  All my little girls could be happy for at least an hour playing in a bubble bath.  I’d stay in the bathroom to supervise and make sure there were no accidents, but it was prime reading time for me.

My great-grandmother, grandmother, and great aunts made blackberry jelly with the blackberries we picked.  That was always a good day to stay away from the kitchen.  The house had no air-conditioning and the kitchen was miserably hot when they were busy boiling jars and making jelly.  The old ladies were hot and cranky too.

great-grandparents, grandmother, and great aunts

Friday, June 7, 2013

the finger

Please forgive the surly comments in my prior post. Raising funds to buy a fire truck would be nothing short of spectacular, especially in a speck-on-the-map town like Daylight, Indiana.

I spent a lot of time at an unmanned pipeline pump station years ago, located in a giant corn field about 10 miles outside of Daylight. In that little tiny place, there was a post office, feed store, and gas station that sold pizza. Along the road near the "downtown" section, there was a cluster of old houses with giant trees in the yards; some had picket fences. It probably wasn’t a bad place to live; very idyllic there with lots of cats and lazy dogs wandering around, and old people sitting outside on their porches in the summer.  The nearest motel was 30 miles away.

Because of the nature of our work and remote location, our team would arrive at the pump station and work very long hours (like 16-20 at a time). I was the only woman on the team and did all the software work. There were electronics technicians, electricians, and two engineers on our team. Sometimes laborers met us on site if there was digging, welding, or heavy moving to be done. It was good work, challenging, and required lots of collaboration to troubleshoot and fix problems.

Working with a bunch of men is well…interesting...a change of pace. It’s a good thing I grew up with brothers because familiarity with their male perspective on things has always been helpful in working with men.  Men tend to be less volatile than women when things get ugly, definitely more aggressive (most of them), and they make decisions faster….could be they are more ready to take risks as compared to women.

me and brothers

Because the pump station was unmanned (usually), there were no restroom facilities built into it. It was a one-room metal building, lit with fluorescent lights, bare-bones furnishings of one table with telephone sitting on it, and some folding metal chairs. No place comfortable to sit, no privacy, and maintained frigidly cold so as to keep the electronic equipment housed in it humming along. The men would walk behind the building to pee. No way in hell was I doing that with all those men milling around, so I’d get in the car and drive to the nearest/only gas station in Daylight. A few times when we were working, I saw a man open a cabinet, pull out a roll of toilet paper, and disappear. I assume he went into the corn field for that business. Pity the poor farmer who happened upon that when he was out checking on his corn!

We always had pizza from the gas station for lunch and dinner. It tasted OK but was super greasy and just didn’t settle well…ever. Late at night, when we were all tired and getting cranky (at least I was always tired and cranky by then) the men would just start cutting loose with loud farts, laughing about it, and having contests. One night, guys were pulling their pants down and lighting farts with a butane lighter. I didn’t watch, but my imagination saw it all perfectly. Gross! Men really do that!!! Sometimes I wondered if they were being extra nasty and bad just to see if I would complain.

One afternoon, one of laborers mangled his hand and cut his index finger off just below the first knuckle. The engineer immediately put him in the truck and drove off for the hospital. They left the finger behind. One of the workers picked it up (it still had a glove over it) and set it on a fence post. Somebody pulled the glove off and they were standing around taking turns touching it. A guy pulled a camera out and they started taking weird pictures of each other with the finger. They brought it in to show me and I most certainly did NOT want to see the finger up close and was adamant that nobody had better touch me with the finger or I would start serious disciplinary action. They laughed at me and teased me for a few minutes with it, then finally left me alone. They were just like naughty children! They set it back on the fence post but it disappeared later that afternoon. We think a crow may have taken it.

To this day, I wonder why they didn’t take the finger with them to see if it could be reattached. That’s a common thing these days, but perhaps it wasn’t so common back in the early 90s. Still, it was possible because I know some old workers who had fingers sewn back on successfully.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

lowered expectations

I’ve not been in the best of moods lately.  The reasons are various, and I don’t really want to bore the world with details.  So, that being said, please be forewarned and leave now if you’re at all sleepy or have in mind something more interesting to do. 
First of all – graduation.  I’m too late to go to the big pomp and circumstance in Phoenix.  No bagpipes and drums for this old lady unless I want to wait until June 2014.  NO WAY!!!  I might not live that long.  I made an alternate plan to graduate in Nashville in July.   Guess what?  I’m too late for that one too.  Now it’s looking like Louisville or Indianapolis in September.  They’ll likely have graduation with taped music or middle-school kids playing recorders.  Instead of Jon Stewart or Stephen King giving the address, it’ll be Richard Bigmember, mayor of Daylight Indiana, who will give a rousing recount of how he inspired city council to buy a new firetruck for the volunteer fire department.  Ok, it probably really won’t be quite that bad.  Anyway, Daylight is way too small to have a city council or a mayor.

Work.  Have I mentioned about being burnt out at work?  The last cinder became a flake of ash today.  There was hope that some meaningful work might come my way, but that was all dashed today by our corporate executives at headquarters.  If they didn’t pay me so well, I’d have left long ago.  It’s going to take some major creative writing to come up with a reasonable resume that will, with any luck, help me find a way out of there.  I’ve done nothing but meaningless, mundane work for the past 10 years.  hmmmmm...I can probably copy and paste right from my performance appraisals.  Embellishing the trivial has been a long-term career strategy for me. 

So, on a happier note, our apples trees are loaded with apples this year.  Last winter, I trimmed them back and perhaps that made them more fruitful.  Unfortunately, the birds picked the cherry trees clean before the cherries ever got ripe.  So it goes.  Our apples are just a bit smaller than golf balls right now; still rock hard and green.   
got apples?
What to do with so many apples?  Apple pie, apple cobbler, apple cake, apple dumplings, and fried apples are about the extent of my apple repertoire.  I used to take a sack of apples to my grandparents’ house on weekends and make a skillet of fried apples for them.  My grandfather liked to put them over vanilla ice cream, but I don’t think he liked eating them as much as he liked watching me peel the apples and cut them up.  When he got old and my grandmother lost most of her mind to Alzheimer’s, he liked to watch me do any kind of domestic work – cooking, folding laundry, doing dishes, dusting, etc.  He said it reminded him of normal life, something he missed when he wasn’t able to do chores anymore.

I finally dug a small flower bed and put Timothy in the center of it.  You might recall I bought him last summer.  He sat patiently all winter waiting for me to give him something to do.  I imagine Gracie will test him tomorrow while I’m gone "to work”.  Timothy and I have similar work situations, except my chains are imaginary and his are real.  If those flowers survive long enough to bloom, I'll post another photo later in the summer.   
Faithful Timothy

Monday, June 3, 2013


Inertia. Noun. A tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. Yep…that’s me. I’ve become inert. I’m a rock…probably flint or marble..something hardened under pressure and cold.

The alarm clock jarred my teeth loose this morning. Have I mentioned how much I hate alarm clocks? Newton may have theorized that a body in motion stays in motion, but if I were a great physicist like him, my theory would be a body at rest stays at rest. My favorite place to be in the morning is in my bed, wrapped like a cocoon in blankets, with the window open so I can hear the birds, but with the blinds closed so the light doesn’t come in. A rainy morning is divine when the alarm clock is not part of it.

I’ve been telling myself to start running for months now. I miss running, even though it’s been at least three years now. I set the F’ing alarm clock for 5 AM this morning so I would get up and run. I laid my running clothes out last night, charged my iPod, had it all together and organized. Someone volunteered to get up with me and entertain Gracie so that she wouldn’t disturb the neighbors and tear our house apart when I go. I would never do that for him…I’m just selfish….or perhaps he’s wishing I’d get back into shape because he’s tired of being married to a lazy, fat sloth. I like to go early in the mornings when there’s less traffic and dogs aren’t as likely to be out running loose. Anyway, the alarm went off this morning. I cussed, reset it, and went back to sleep. I’m hopeless.

Gracie - excellent watchdog
I finished my dissertation and am still waiting for processing. Forms are routing for signatures via snail mail. I’m not officially “through” until the processing is complete. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in limbo when I should be out beating bushes looking for a new job. Chairman wants me to find a journal and publish my research. I’m not doing that either. There’s nothing to be done until my study is copyrighted into ProQuest.

Dante has a place in hell for people like me. Perhaps it’s Limbo, but as best I can recall, gluttony includes sloth. Vile, freezing slush guarded by Ceberus….sounds about right.