Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holidaze

So we made it through Christmas, with only a few bumps and fractiousness. There was some unpleasant conversations going on between Jim and I as I booked out airline tickets for next month's ten day vacation to the beaches of Costa Rica. I could not pin him down to a date and he kept complaining that the ticket prices kept jumping around. By the time I got him to make a firm decision the week he wanted was booked solid.

What was it my friend the therapist called this trait of Jim's? Decision by indecision? I think it's a feature of the place on the autism spectrum I believe he falls on. I've come to the conclusion that he has some undiagnosed autism, just like I was tested and found to have ADD about ten years ago. It can be quite the challenge to deal with when doing something that takes plenty of money and lots of planning. We're going a week later than he wanted, yes, it took some wrangling to pin him down on where to stay too. We booked at a different set of resorts and different Pacific-side beaches this time. This beach vacation cannot come soon enough!

He'll also be interviewing at three different schools that teach English to professionals while we're there, one right in the area we're most interested in living in, near Manuel Antonio.

Now I understand why we went with a travel agency last time. Booking everything from hotel to hotel, to the flights, and the rental car was quite the task. But it's done, mostly, one place is not booked but the nice young man we got to know at the resort in the volcano area is going to book us back there in one of the villas instead of the suite we occupied last time. Jim's ability to make friends sometimes pays off.

We had a good Christmas, even if there was some not so nice drama a few weeks before involving Jim asking me anew what I wanted for a Christmas present and me pointing to the weekender bags the dept. store had on sale and suggesting a new piece of luggage since ours are starting to fray. I had to throw out by weekend bag this summer finally after a handle broke and it developed a rip I could not repair. This place had quite nice bags that were 50% off, very responsible prices. Less than a grocery run.

He turned to me and said, "You don't need that." and boy, I saw red. It triggered one of our very rare fights. I think it was either the second or third one we had all year. I was so mad, pointing out to him more than once that if someone asked you what you want for Christmas and you already have just about everything you want then it's extremely rude and dismissive to tell them they don't need the thing they asked for.

I had already bought him something rather nicer than a weekend bag for Christmas, a brand new tablet, a nice one. Not something he absolutely needed, but something that would make his life just a little bit more enjoyable.

In the end he bought one of the bags for me when I wasn't around, getting one in my favorite color, turquoise. It's going to come in handy for the upcoming trip because I'm going to be packing very lightly this time. Last trip to Central America I ended up living in my swimsuit with a light cover up dress over it.

We had Christmas Eve dinner with the kids and it was quite nice and relaxing. At least until we called Jim's elderly mother so that everyone could talk to her. She asked each of our adult children when they would be getting married. We pretty much all laughed over that because my son isn't dating anyone since that epic breakup with his long time girlfriend this last summer when we had to rent a Uhaul and move him suddenly from her home. Our daughter told her grandmother it would be a while because she wanted to get her masters degree out of the way first, finish up some graphics training and move to San Diego before she would consider marrying the man she's been involved with three years now. My maw in law didn't like hearing that.

When she spoke to me she told me yet again how happy she was that I'd stayed with her son, and that I'd been the glue to hold our family together and done a good job raising the kids. It was gratifying to hear because as I've said I've always felt like the dogsbody of that family, the one not working a glamorous job or doing great adventures, just plodding on making sure everyone's teeth were brushed, homework done and shirts ironed. I've still never been bragged about in that stupid Christmas letter. I've had to come to terms with that.

One of the things we mentioned during the call was that since we're still planning on moving to Costa Rica this spring we wanted the maw in law to sign up for Skype so we could still talk. She said she'd do that. When we were there last Christmas I looked at her computer and it was new enough with a camera so that all she'd have to do is download the program.

She mentioned it to the unpleasant new sister in law, who now has her very agitated because she told the maw in law that her computer was 'too ancient' and she would have to spend thousands of dollars buying a new computer to use Skype. Such bullshit. This is more of the sister in law trying to control how my maw in law communicates with the outside world. She'd told the maw in law that we're going to have to write letters from Central America.

But... where there's a will there's a way. I'm not about to have her dictating to the maw in law who and how she communicates so earlier this week I ordered the maw in law a simple tablet. When it gets here I'm going to make sure to set it up, preload in Skype, sign her up for a Skype account and sent it on over to the maw in law.

This is typical for the kind of thing my new sister in law does. She's sent us a few emails complaining copiously about the behavior of my maw in law and sometimes the maw in law complains about her. Not even replying.

~~~~~~

On a sad control freakish note I discovered today what happened and why so many people have left our mainstream church we've attended for the last ten years. In the last four months there's been boatloads of griping by members of our service, some staff firings and some surprising people leaving. Sad to say it boils down to the usual control freak behavior by a pastor. Some things apparently never change, no matter how they flavor the koolaid.

I'm beginning to think that America in particular is so wrong about anything faith related. At least the churches here seem to be about nothing that Jesus said was important.

I think I'm done with church. I'll likely always still carry some remnant of belief in me, in the spiritual realm, but none of this good old American style country club Christianity. I haven't been to church all month between the recurrence of my mrsa and other illnesses.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Weather is not the Only Frightful Thing!

Sitting here waiting for the last of the Christmas baking to come out of the oven and the icing to harden on my German Chocolate Cherry cookies. I'm also waiting for the snow and sheet we're supposed to get later tonight.

It's been very bitter cold here, in the 20s, over the last few days. My lungs haven't liked it one bit, protesting when I went out today and yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I had a good reason for braving the weather, my youngest daughter came down from the city to go to the dentist. I love it when she comes home for a dental or medical visit. We always hang out together at the office followed by shopping and dinner. A girls afternoon.

Once my daughter went back into the treatment area for a tooth cleaning an older couple came into the office and after the lady extracted directions to the nearest UPS store she informed the office staff that she'd be back in an hour to pick up her husband. She left, he stayed.

I don't know at what point I realized something wasn't quite right. It might have been when he took off and put on his coat about four times, or the fact that he kept moving it to different coat racks in that small office. Could have been when he kept trying to talk to me, but in my avoidance of older guys who might be manthurs I just kept my nose in my book. But by the time he started complaining about the office music it was obvious something was going on.

A word about the music at the dentist. Our dentist is a junior. His late father started the office and until this visit the music played in the office was just to the right of Lawrence Welk. Serious muzak from the late 50s or early 60s. Not even hip enough for Welk, or to ever be on Mad Men.

The other interesting thing about the office that is just a bit weird is the magazine selection. The Senior was a part time cattle farmer, but Junior has delusions of Virginia landed gentry and fox hunting. So the magazine racks aren't filled with the usual Good Housekeeping and Sports Illustrated. Oh no, those racks hold magazines with names like 'Estates, Fine Horses and Guns' (not the real name but very close!) or 'Steeplechase and Ammo' (also not the name). I look through the selection and giggle, stopping myself just short from telling Junior that his dad's cattle farm is in no way a thoroughbred horse farm even if he has a few pretty quarter horses and Tennessee Walker on it now.

Back to the music. At some point recently Junior must have cancelled the old man's muzak service, because now it blasts old rock and roll from  local oldies station. A song came on by Bad Company and the lead singer Paul Rodgers was screaming out the lyrics. I forget what song it was but the lone older gent stares at the speaker mounted in the ceiling and starts yelling that he cannot understand how anyone could screech like that, like a monkey with his nuts caught in a washing machine mangle. I had to stifle a laugh at that, and try to explain how singers like Rodgers can shriek and scream without harming their vocal cords, the mechanics of singing. Yeah, I finally did break down and talk to him.

This went over very poorly, sending the older man off into a rant about the stupidity of rock music. I was saved from having to talk to him further when they had to take him into the back during his soapbox stumping. I had a peaceful near hour of reading after he went back, but when he emerged, about five minutes before my daughter he laid down on one of the office couches and fell into a snore-y sleep. His wife picked that moment to arrive back in the office and he went into copious whining that he'd been done 'FOREVER'! And she was off, angrily stomping off to the receptionist's desk to yell about her husband spending so much time waiting.

My daughter came out at the point, and the lady was still at it. It didn't dawn on me until she hissed at the billing clerk that he is apparently developing Alzheimers and cannot be left alone. I wish she'd have made that clear to them upfront, because I'm not sure leaving him in the hands of others without warning them was the safest thing for him.

It was just such a strange little interlude, illustrative of the general zeitgeist I seem to be witnessing increasingly when I'm out and about now. Between the holidays and the general anxiety most people are feeling post-election I'm seeing lots of unusual behavior in the strangers around me. People wonder why I've become even more introverted lately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sometimes Dreams Need to Stay Dreams

I have some sort of virus or stomach flu. Yeah, me sick again, must be a day that ends with 'day'.

As a result of the fever and throwing up I slept all too poorly last night, struggled to update NLQ and could not do much that didn't involve bolting down Alka Seltzer.

Last night as I tossed and turned I pondered all the deaths of people I either knew personally or of whom I admired at some point in 2016. 2016 just sucked so hard! So many people I didn't want to see go passed on. I kept returning to thinking about the slow motion tragedy one of those deaths was. I'm changing the name of the dead and his fellow band mates because he has a small hardcore cadre of insane fans I have no wish to piss off, he's a z-lister and his last few years are a perfect illustration about why you let go of those pie in the sky dreams from your teenage years. You don't resurrect them in your fifties and trash your life trying to make them happen.

 You let them go.

One of the things about life is that it's constant change. If you're not changing or moving forward you're stagnant and dying. Everyone goes through phases in their lives. I once wanted to be a rock star, and by the time I reached my twenties I'd stopped with all the singing and bands, realizing I had to put on my big girl pants, grow up and get an education. There have been other important shifts I've had to make in my life, from single gal and college student to military wife living overseas, to mom, to empty nester. From heckling agnostic, to full on kool aid drinker, back to partially agnostic. It's normal to have to set aside some things, and sometimes pick them up at a later date.

During my fundy years I loved to bake from scratch, cook, sew and do those domestic things impressed upon us that righteous women did. After leaving I went through a l-o-n-g period of time when I wanted to eat out, or nuke things. But, eventually after my former faith community was far enough back in my rear view mirror, I found myself enjoying cooking once again. I just do not feel any more 'must dos' about it that I once did. I no longer feel guilty if I decide to open a can of soup instead of cooking.

There are also lots of things I've done in the past that I know the time has passed  for, that I don't do any longer. Example - I no longer do any stained glass projects even if I love them because soldering the lead is hard on my lungs. I used to run several miles a day in my 20s but gave that up when it started impacting my knees. Sometimes the time has passed, even for things you love.

So what does it look like when you don't let go of things from the past, or you try to take them up again when the time to do those things has long passed. It looks like Michael.

I first heard of Michael and the bubblegum pop band he sang lead for when I was about 12 or 13 and was starting to lose my love for the Osmond Brothers. Michael and pals had a band with horns and lots of singers, hitting the top forty with a ridiculous (in retrospect) song with an anti war message. I knew all about Michael and his band from the pages of Tiger Beat and 16 magazines. Bought the albums, called up WLCS and other local south Louisiana AM radio stations requesting their music.

 Michael's band is what you'd call a one hit wonder. One hit song, a few middling songs and a single album before they sank into obscurity. By the time I was 15 and had moved on to bands like Mott the Hoople and Queen their band had disbanded.

Through the years I always wondered what happened to these guys. Did they go crawling back to the midwest and parts of Ohio? Join other bands? It was a mystery, at least until the late 1990s.

I met one of the guys from the band the summer I attended a worship ministry class in Pensacola, Florida, through the Brownsville Revival happening. I freely admit it. I was a revival and conference junkie in those days. There was no happening involving charismatic movements that I did not attend and wholly embrace even if many at the old church called the revival movements emotional sin.

Danny, the former horn, keyboards and bass player from the teenybopper band, taught worship team classes out of the school connected to Brownsville. My pastor pressed me to attend some of the worship team classes at Brownsville. I didn't realize who he was at first, but eventually it added up, his unusual last name and my long ago lust for certain of his bandmates. I got to know him very slightly that summer, happy to see him serving so diligently in the kingdom of God. At least before the nasty splits occurred at Brownsville, and some church hopping going on, almost mirroring the exact same bullshit happening at Possum Creek where I was on worship team.

Through keeping in touch with Danny, the internet and social media I was able to see what had happened to my favorite one hit wonder band. Fate, and time, had scattered them to the four winds. One joined the Moonies, another had a swing band, the guy who was the band leader still performed music when he wasn't running his security business, another had done well in a big midwestern industry, a couple were studio musicians in Nashville and Michael was a middle aged middle management in big business out west. Danny was church/worship team leading hopping through the charismatic revival mega churches

About four years ago Bob, the old band leader, played a gig that Michael attended and invited Michael to take the microphone for a few songs. I've seen the video of this event on Youtube. In the video you see a balding, gray, paunchy older looking gentleman uncertainly picking his way through that ancient song.

What followed his return to the stage is he quit his stable middle management job, got a hair transplant, face lift, dye job and lost roughly 75 pounds. Gone was the sports coat and button up shirt and banlon slacks. He restyled himself into some gross parody of the young hot singer he'd once been, dressing in workout clothes and sleeveless muscle shirts. Before he'd spent more than a couple of years trying to resuscitate his moribund career he lost his wife, his house and his children, and likely his pension too. The most he was able to score was a few times on a 1970s review playing county fairs as part of the 'Golden Oldies'

Michael is one of the causalities of 2016, dying alone, broke and senselessly. I wasn't surprised because all the photos I'd seen of him in concert in those last few years he looked quite unwell, no matter how bright brown he'd colored his hair or hipster clothes he'd donned.

I have to wonder how the back years of his life would have differed had he not heeded the siren call of rock and roll. Was it all worth it? Kinda doubt it. 

Gawd, I am so not going to miss 2016 and I hope 2017 brings far less deaths of folks I know or admire. But it's not looking good from here.







Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Post Storm

I'm coming down from a tremendous meltdown this afternoon. One of the few things I like about hitting that stress wall and having a bad space of time is the peace that follows the explosion after something has built up and been released.

Yeah, it's the trip and move. Jim's still dashing around with stars in his eyes making changes to the plans every day or so and it's getting to me again. Pick a plan, make legitimate plans and stick to it, work through it..DON'T keep altering the plans while doing nothing to carry the ball down the field. It just gets under my skin.

At least this meltdown of mine complete with ugly crying and threats of going nowhere until there are firm plans in place did jolt someone else into finally looking into buying flight tickets.

I swear if there's all this constant talking, talking, talking with no planning I am going to end up in the locked nut hut. I think this is why I'm popping the occasional high blood pressure because I don't handle uncertainty well.


Monday, December 12, 2016

What Does the Book Cover Matter?

Wow, was I in a horrible mood on Sunday night or what? My last post was some crazy whining. Must have been all those wilderness roughing it shows I was watching warping my mind.

This morning when I was working on NLQ one of the things I saw that just made me laugh my ass off were the claims of a set of sisters that they'd given up a potential big modeling career tract to have a ministry instead.

I didn't even bother to dissect their lies about these 'careers' before posting it at NLQ. It's a topic I do have a tiny bit of knowledge about, at least as it applied to South Louisiana in the late 70s and early 80s.  No, I'm not blonde, blue-eyed or as supposedly 'hawt' as they were claiming to be. Funny, those aren't always the requirement to 'model'.

Back in my starving student days I did a number of things I didn't like much to pay the bills. One of those things was working as a 'model' - sort of a catch all phrase for working on a few television commercials for local merchants, modeling hair styles at a hair competition, giving out samples at trade shows in skimpy clothing, modeling for trunk shows at Godchaux a couple of times, lingerie photos (don't ask) and as a model for art classes at my university when money was tight.

I hated it. I felt like a piece of meat most of those times and I fended off some rather inappropriate offers even if I was pretty much an agnostic at that point in my life. I could have had a fabulous career hooking through my contacts in those days, unfortunately I still had to get up and look myself in the mirror in the morning so I said no to the offers. Same to posing nude or doing anything remotely like porn.

It wasn't easy, there were times when it was hard, took hours and was grueling. There wasn't much that felt very glamorous from where I stood.

I was pretty much a failure at it, or liking it, or seeing it as some sort of 'career' path like this twosome did. It was a means to an end only. I knew I had to stop and find some other way to make moolah once my agent submitted me for the Playboy tryouts when they came through town. It was the most cringe worthy photos and interview I'd done up until that point. I came away from my short experience with a book filled with a number of photos of myself.

The reason I did it was the same reasons I waited tables, wrote for the local tourist guides placed in the hotel rooms, bar tended for private events, the list goes on.... because it was a choice between eating, paying tuition and paying rent. I did what I needed to do.

Most young women that try their hand at this not so easy profession likely do it because they have to eat or pay rent and very very few are what anyone would consider financially successful at it. Only a handful are successful at it and last any length of time. I laughed at the claims of these two, thinking about how when you live in that protected careful Evangelical bubble you can make all sorts of wild claims and no one has enough experience of the outside world to call bullshit on you when you conflate the truth.

My husband knows all of this. He's seen the photos and he's heard me speak about this a lot through the years, even if its nothing I'm particularly proud of. He's been with me a few times when someone asked if I was the girl in the Halloran's or city salon television ad. That is the part that makes me laugh about these sisters claims, this is one of those things I'm pretty ashamed of doing because it impacted my psyche so negatively and they're bragging about it.

Raising my daughter I've been careful to try and guide her away from activities, like cheerleading, pageants, some types of dance classes, that teach the unspoken lesson that what you look like is the most important metric ever. Truthfully it's possibly one of the least important things about a person. Looks don't matter much in the long run. People age, beauty is fleeting and subjective. It's not what the container looks like, it's what is inside. Too bad those sisters still haven't learned that lesson.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mind(less) Sets

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm pretty sick of the internet.

Jim's spent the early evening till now flaked out on our old comfortable leaking goose down sofa watching one of his favorite things - those Alaska survival shows. I cannot budge him, he loves those things. They pretty much straight up horrify me.

I don't object to the folks on the shows living off the grid on squirrel guts and moose blubber, but I just so cannot understand or relate. I sit on my comfortable sofa in front of the wood stove and shiver in my heavy sweater thinking that only someone in their not right mind would want to live above the Arctic Circle in what amounts to a plywood shack without electricity. It's sure not for me.

Occasionally I'll watch these shows with Jim, seeking to understand that mind set. My mind always goes to the practical, things like how can you live without hot water, a fully functioning bathtub and no fridge. How much harder and more work living like pioneer days would be.

It's hard to understand what's going on in the minds of some of the folks on the shows. One guy this afternoon said that he was pretty sure Bigfoot had chased him around the woods a couple of times.

I have no room to throw rocks at his belief in Bigfoot considering I once used to believe some things that are pretty wacky in comparison, Like that God healed anyone that asked, but if you didn't see the healing manifest in the natural it was because of some unbelief or spiritual oppression or unconfessed sin within you. Now I go to the doctor, I take the prescribed meds and I rest when I get this sick instead of begging a magical sky fairy holy slot machine to 'pick meeeeeeeeee'  I now realize that many of the religious beliefs I was taught at Possum Creek don't line up with much of anything that is in the New Testament, or science, or common sense.

One day soon I'll have to sit down and outline where my faith, or former faith, now lines up. I'm not exactly an atheist, but I'm sure no longer drinking the koolaid.

But... everyone's free to believe whatever it is they want to believe and live that way as long as they aren't forcing anyone else to live like that or harming others. I would never tell them that they are living wrong, or that they cannot do those things. For me it would be a disaster. I keep thinking about being that far away from my infectious disease doctor and not having the ability to run down to the local Trader Joe's for some good chocolate when you're having a craving or a rough day. Crapping in a plastic bucket in a shed in a blizzard would so not work for me at all. Them? Godspeed and good luck, I hope it makes them happy.

I think that's one of the unfortunate things about the internet, people don't understand your motivations, or even make any effort to consider you might have a different mind set, or perhaps you did this or that, or screwed up because you're having a physically rough time of it, or you've got mood swings, cramps, just having a crappy or happy day. No attempts made to understand a damn thing, just rush in there with a morally superior attitude and take a swing at someone. Everything is just filtered through their own bullshit. Yeah, I know, I'm guilty of this too. I'll be the first to admit it.

The last week while I've been struggling with my health, high pain levels and the addling force of pain pills. I've flubbed up left and right updating NLQ, misunderstanding something I read and then wrote up, putting the wrong image here or there, struggling to make the keywords fit, putting my big old size ten shoe in my mouth. It ain't been pretty, neither my mind or the things I've done.

After the week I've had I think I'm going to have to take an internet fast, just like my friend Cindy Kunsman, because it's gotten frustrating dealing with the mind sets of others, assumptions and accusations. Facebook has turned into a ever flowing river of crap and false news instead of my usual source of kittens, cute animal videos and yakking with friends. Plus the news feed is screwing with the cha-cha that is my vision, adding to the pain pill power puking event going on here.

Watching Jim fighting with friends, family and assorted others about fake news and politics has been pretty hard to stomach on my Facebook feed. Getting sucked into a few of his fights with others has been blood pressure elevating. I'm going to have to research how to put some filters on it before I come back online much more than a few hours here and there. 

Still getting off line and dragging my tired old ass around this afternoon meant I was able to finish up with some of the things I've been putting off while sick. I made the most heavenly smelling soap this afternoon and a six months supply of deodorant. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hillbilly Heroin

I know one thing about myself that's been reinforced over the last 24 hours. I could never be an oxycontin or opiod addict. Never, ever.!

Years ago when I was on Vicodin for months on end while my orthopedic doctor and insurance company wrangled over my carpal tunnel problems. During my months on it I dutifully took it, took stomach meds and antihistamines to deal with the side effects while I went through the months of physical therapy before and after surgery.  Concluded then, based on my experiences, Jim's hatred of taking opiods and all the crazy shenanigans I witnessed during my years at the clinic by opiod seekers that those that become addicted must have something wired differently in their brains. Sort of like how I love cilantro in my food and Jim says it tastes like soap to him. Something that makes some people susceptible to craving opiods and the rest going 'Yuck! Tastes like soap and puke!'

HATE the way that shit makes me feel! I know there are folks out there that crave that hideous numbness of emotion and pain, but it's just something I do not like at all. Add in the nausea, the random puking, dizziness and junkie itch and there's even less reason to take it.

Used to be I only got the junkie itch and numbness, now I struggle to keep down food and stand or sit upright. After a night of up and down throwing up, down and sideways I'm contemplating trying to sleep without it, flayed open nose with nasal mask or not. Has to be better than having my stomach trying to exit my mouth every single time Jim turns over in the bed all night long.

It's going to be either pain or puking. What a freaking choice. At this point I think I would prefer the pain.

I had pill hangover still till afternoon. Jim and I went out for Chinese food for lunch and I could not eat more than a few mouthfuls before starting to gag. But I took it home and managed to eat it after the dry heaves wore off. Score! I didn't have to cook dinner.

Oddly enough when I popped up online this morning to update No Longer Quivering someone pm'ed me on Facebook that I didn't know and.. drum roll please... tried to sell me some weed. Insert huge laughing smiley here! It's still illegal! And this chump is hawking it via Facebook messenger! I was amused but blocked him immediately.

Had a tiny bit of fun with the Maw In Law earlier. She wanted to know what I was buying with the big check she sent me. I told her I was buying a gold plated Siamese cat. I hope hostile Sis in Law picked up that I'm joking though, or I might find this hurled against me at some point in the future during her endless recitation of my crimes.

I'm thinking about using the money to fly down to see my mother and take her to South Florida for a wee vacation. I need the ocean badly again. My health would straighten out quickly if I could just swim in the ocean.

Am I Loathesome Tonight?

Sitting here waiting for a narcotic pain pill, or a couple of them, to kick in so I can go back to sleep. It's late, I'm in pain and cannot sleep.

Biggest surprises of the week. Getting a couple of thousand dollar check from the Maw In Law tucked in with that awful Christmas letter. At least she managed to remember my name when it was time to write the check. She's always been so generous, but this was a huge surprise!

The other pleasant surprise was going into church like a condemned man facing a firing squad on Monday morning only to find the financial officer/bookkeeper lady I've been locking horns with had already started straightening out Sunday's cluster of an offering count. Turns out I was right on the amount and my pal Sharon had entered a large pile of things two and three times in the computer program. She fixed it and miraculously we balanced! Perhaps I've been wrong about her.

Unpleasant surprise. Mrsa infection is back, worse than ever. I look right now like I got a whopping dose of lip fillers, all swollen up like a Restylane injection to the upper lip. Spent the day at the hospital and doctors offices, getting some IV antibiotics and having biopsies of parts of my nostrils and sinuses. WITHOUT much numbing. I cried and wailed. It was pretty awful, hence the narcotics now. This infection is different in that it's involving from the upper lip into the sinuses and up to the eyes, all the spots infected together at once. For shits and giggles I'm wacked out by this because I have a fever of 101.5.

Having my brain operating on stuck on stupid mode right now made updating NLQ something of a challenge this morning. I better start feeling better quickly or things are going to suffer there.

Things around the house are suffering because I'm too sick to do more than load the dishwasher. I had to make fruitcake on Monday because several of the elderly relatives I usually send fruitcake to commented how much they were looking forward to my homemade fruit cake this weekend. Didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't making fruitcake this year. 

On the intriguing side a couple of things went down this week. First a guy I know well from church, a decent guy with a PhD and years in the banking industry is in jail in Korea. He fell for some version of the Nigerian scam. Looks like he's going to jail for a very long time. It just goes to show you that anyone can fall for a scam. His poor family! I hope they manage to get a good attorney and show that Mal was a victim of a scam.

The other thing that happened was a former neighbor of perverted patriarch Vaughn Ohlman, a guy I've written about extensively at NLQ contacted me. I was gobsmacked by the information he had. He claims that during the 1980s Vaughn was on a mission trip and tried to cop a feel or molest some boys. Now I always figured that Vaughn was a possible sexual predator, but the info it was boys he tried to victimize completely blows me away. I would have assumed it was 12 or 13 year old girls with large breasts since they seem to be the focus of his dirty mind in his book and website. I wish I could post it up at NLQ, but without any real reason it feels weird and grimy to contemplate doing so. Ugh! So so weird!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Cluster You Know What Again

I think I'm done with church now for all time and eternity. As in done done gone forever done.

Today has been an absolute misery.

About 18 months ago Jim was asked to head up the teams that count the offering. Keep in mind our church is the biggest one in about four or five counties, so counting after the three Sunday services is not the most easy of tasks, even if it is one of the most vital.

A year ago I stepped up to help with the first Sunday count. In that time we've gone through three accountant/financial folks, who've had three completely different ways that they want things done, three sets of requirements and three different ways of handling folks. This last lady has been a nightmare to work with.

Last week I took myself off helping out everything involved with the counting team because of my stress levels and blood pressure, only agreeing to count on the first Sunday until we leave the country. After today I think that has to end.

I did the count with my usual partner Sharon today and the computer program (and maybe operator error with Sharon, I don't know) kept screwing up. I would keep doing the physical count and running an adding machine tape. We were right on the first service and the second service counts if you subtracted the computer program errors that we could not fix (counting some entries double). But the final service everything went all to hell. Long story short either the computer or my partner did things like add in a 2K check three times and other snafus that the computer would not allow her to correct in the system so the numbers I had and she had were way way off.

Sharon kept insisting I was off, that the adding machine was screwing up, but, as I pointed out and showed her the tapes I kept coming up with the same figures every time. By this time it was almost 2 pm and we'd been there locked in the counting room since 9 am.

I took a short break to go to the restroom and got flagged down by the church gossip in the hallway. She asked me what was going on I told her we had some computer issues that was making getting a solid number in the system next to impossible.

Faith, that's her name, proceeded to tell me everything that the pastor, the other volunteers, the office staff and the accountant were saying about us incompetent fuck ups. I started to cry at the nasty river of evil coming out this woman's mouth and went off to collect myself.

It's a sore spot, volunteering and never being once thanked, just being treated in a high handed demanding fashion that this new accountant is using. It's starting to feel like Possum Creek 2.0 right now.

If that wasn't bad enough Faith followed me back into the counting room and kept on saying crap. I muttered something about Jim and I leaving in few months. She wanted to know where and why and I told her of our plans to retire to the beach in Central America and Faith started crowing about how Donald Trump was running off craven liberals like us, how shitty we were for being such crybabies that we're leaving rather than staying and accepting that we lost.

Told her no, she's assuming things again, that we would likely do much better with our investments under Trump and that this retirement plan was something we'd talked about for years and been planning for a couple of years now.

But the damage was done, by the time she left I was white faced and shaking, with Sharon insisting again that my adding machine tape was wrong. I told her to pack it up, I did the deposit based on my figures, shot the accountant a note to tell her that the computer program or Sharon has messed up massively so the deposit did not match the reports and she would need to fix that.

A whole day shot on this bullshit on top of being way-layed by Faith. I'm so done. They can shove their thankless tasks up their ass as far as I'm concerned. I'm done with volunteering for places that abuse you and take you fore granted. Even tempted to tell the pastor off right now since Faith lingers around the office purposely picking up gossip about everyone and he will do nothing about it.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

BBQed Christmas Letter

Had confirmation today that the awful mangled crazy version of my Maw In Law's annual Christmas letter officially went out a few days ago. It's the quiet before the storm now, but soon my phone will be ringing and filled with the outraged tones of my side of the family upset about my entire family's exclusion from acknowledgement. Shrugs, what are you going to do?

We met the kids halfway between our house and Fairfax for dinner tonight. We were celebrating Laura's new job. It's still at George Mason, but instead of working with employee benefits shes going to be the newest trainer in the HR dept. Big promotion, big raise and it fits in well with her Masters program studies. So proud of that girl. She's fearless and badassed!

It was great seeing her, my son Andrew and Laura's boyfriend for dinner. We had a great meal. I just wish I had felt better. My mrsa-esque infection has moved from eye to left nostril to lip to right nostril. I'm going to see if I can squeeze in to see my infectious disease doc on Monday or Tuesday because the antibiotics are doing nothing and this is VERY painful, which makes me think it's mrsa again. Gonna get them to culture it and confirm.

Feeling like crap sort of put a damper on the evening and once Jim called his mother, the Christmas letter cheerful fictionalist, more wet blanketing occurred. She started telling her son and both of my kids how she was now ready to die, she had nothing left to live for and just wanted to die.

I didn't speak to her, but I could hear her weak frail voice on the phone sitting next to Jim and I'm starting to wonder if she's having either low oxygen levels again, or the common anxiety that strikes the elderly. Since I'm Satan Incarnate to my new sister in law I see no way to ask one of them to take her back to the doctor to check for those possibilities. Jim's going to ask his brother to do that at my insistence. Yeah, we're still doing the whole 'no contact' thing with the sister in law almost a full year later. Better not to feed the whatever she has going on.

One of the things very common in the elderly I observed during my time at the medical clinic was not only dementia, which the Maw In Law clearly has, but this free form floating general anxiety.

Some of the elderly patients had it bad, one lady had it so severely that she was routinely, we're talking every other day or so, in the local ER reporting all sorts of odd things that made zero sense and complaining she was freaking out from stress. A little Ativan injection and she would be sent home. Oddly she refused to take any of the meds the doc prescribed for daily anxiety control. She had a whopping big prescription for the pill form of Ativan and other anti anxiety drugs but it was hell to convince her she needed to take her meds daily.

I'm starting to wonder if my Maw In Law needs a chemical cocktail daily to help with the dementia and attendant anxiety. This is one of the big frustrations of living so far away and not being in the loop of her daily care. Had to push six years ago for them to bring her to a specialist who deals with the special health challenges of the elderly.

But then again I think my mind is starting to go and I'm a good forty years younger than my Maw In Law. Because of my crazy allergies I started making a lot of my own things, like laundry soap, deodorant, and host of other things. I am almost out of soap and decided this morning was perfect for soap making. I crumbled two pounds of raw organic shea butter into my enamel pot I use for crafting, chopped, measured and assembled the other ingredients in preparation of a soap cook. Went to get out my soap molds and.....   realized when I took the empty box down I store them in that I had donated my cheap crappy ugly soap molds to Goodwill last month during that clean, organize and give away we did to lighten up our possessions for our likely overseas move. Yeah, I gave them away.

Guess who just ordered new very nice soap molds from Amazon? Me!

The amusing of the soap making is that Jim saw the shea butter sitting in the pot on the stove and assumed it was butter. He took a taste! I hope it's not toxic.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Christmas Card Conundrum

With all the excitement of being sick, working on packing the house up and now the Christmas letter dramaz I really fell down on two important things I do every single holiday. a) I made no fruitcake and b) I didn't buy, address and stamp my Christmas cards during the Thanksgiving weekend, all ready to send out closer to Christmas.

Even though I took over the official role of family fruitcake maker back 26 years ago after my great aunt died this year I'm skipping the tradition. Too much sugar. Trying to control my blood glucose levels so I can stay low even when I get infections or react to medicines. It's too much of a temptation to taste one's own goodies and have a hefty knock of French brandy every single time you brandy the fruitcakes.

But when I went to get Christmas cards this week I found that either I'm late buying them or most places are not carrying very many. I end up having a very hard time getting cute or funny cards. Since leaving Fundytown I usually get the funniest ones I can find with a cat on them.

Took seven different stores before I found something acceptable. Which leads me to wonder, is Christmas card sending another thing going by the wayside now? Like not making or eating fruitcake, or pagers, or VCR players?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The First Awful Sign of Christmas

Last night and this morning brought the first annual sign that the Christmas season has officially kicked off. No, it was not buying and sending out Christmas cards, or putting up the tree.

It's my Maw In Law's annual Christmas letter, something I've come to dread like a long slow deep root canal.

Don't get me wrong. I love my Maw In Law, she's been great to me through the years and we have always gotten along very well. I happen to loath her hideous bragging ridiculous annual Christmas letter. One year I made fun of it here, listing the real things that had happened in her family and what she said instead.

Her letter has been a problem for me since the first year of marriage because she always manages to anger my parents and my other relatives with what she says, or doesn't say, about my children, me and my husband. I hear about it. I get outraged phone calls from my side of the family ranting about this damn letter, and have to explain again and again that I cannot control or even attempt to control my Maw In Law.

The letter is pretty hypocritical. In the early years of my marriage to her son she would tell me that she thought I was doing the right thing to be primarily a stay at home mom while my kids were young, putting down my career-oriented Fortune 500 company VP sister in law for having a nanny and staff raising the other son's children.

But when the letter would go out it would have lengthy glowing descriptions of my sister in law's awesome career, all the places she, her husband and kids traveled and did. This would be followed by a short sentence mentioning my poor husband and once in a great while mentioning me, but not by name of course and our children.

It was an annual exercise in humiliation. She would say how much she valued the stay at home mothers and their care for their children, but would say just the opposite every year in that letter.

Ten years ago I finally worked up the nerve to tell her how hurt and humiliated her letter made me feel because of the frequent lack of inclusion of my children and I, and the tiny amount she wrote about my husband, her eldest son. She claimed it wasn't on purpose and was better about it, at least for a few years afterward.

But I have just finally moved on past that, I don't give a rip what she does or does not say in those letters. I know they are gift-wrapped bullshit, so when Jim's brother called last night to say that this year's letter was sheerly awful I just laughed, said 'whatever' and left Jim and brother discussing it.

Turns out the Maw In Law got important details wrong about a recent family wedding, only mentioned the bride and the bride, Jim's brother and the hated new sister in law in the letter, skipping the brother's children, other relatives that usually get space on the letter and everyone else on our little Virginia offshoot before adding some rather bizarre paragraphs about our new president elect.

It sounds and reads like the demented ravings of someone with dementia, which isn't surprising considering she is 94 years old.

Jim and his brother do not want the letter going out like that. Jim heavily edited it and then called his mother with his suggestions. She's upset and refusing to budge an inch on changing the letter. I had to point out to my husband that anyone who knows her and reads that letter is going to realize she's not in her right mind and not hold it against her.

Does any of it matter anyway in the long run?

At least it's not an endless recitation of glory and luxury and European vacations while sweeping all the bad stuff just right under the rug.

Here's the thing about these Christmas letters. People that know me, that I care enough to stay in touch with, that genuinely care about me,  know what's going on with me, warts and all. No bragging needed.

The letter that killed me with laughter was the year of Jim's brother's divorce, two of the nieces came out as gay, another relative was indicted for embezzlement on their job, another died of liver cancer and something else bad happened, but somehow my Maw In Law found ways to either spin these things as glorious positives or just ignored what really happen for a sanitized fiction that would have done Hollywood proud.

I'm not saying you should be very negative all the time, but for God's sake, do not gild a turd! As my Cajun great grandmother used to say, and I wish I could remember it in Cajun French - this is a rough translation. You can polish a turd but all you end up with is a shiny turd. You're not fooling anyone. Just write your letter saying you were greatly blessed this year, add a few highlights but nothing over the top bragging and end with wishes for a wonderful holiday season and new year for your recipients.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tossing That Name Around

One of the funnier things happening lately is that Jim and I have been gigglingly tossing about the name 'Lori Alexander' in a joking fashion during certain times of our day.

I've been reading and rereading Lori's book on turning your marriage around from bad to good by being uber-submissive.  It's pretty clear it's just another attempt to control her husband by being Godly enough so God will change him into the perfect husband. This is one of those bedrock things that no one will ever admit to in Quiverfull, but it underlies most women's decision to drag the entire family deeper into the strange wilderness of fundamentalism. Unhappy marriage? Force God to deal with him by being ultra righteous.

Here's the problem with that. It just never works. You just end up increasingly frustrated and upset, burdened by the multitude of 'must-dos' and blaming your lack of righteousness for the assholery of someone else. The ultimate in no win situations until you end up at the literal breaking point. Or worse.

I've been thinking about this book a lot, and how it almost guarantees negative changes in your marriage and your own eventual collapse.

Ultimately people are only responsible for themselves, not their family or those around them.

There are lots of points in the book where Lori is talking about trying futilely to control what Ken eats and how resistant he was, what a frustrating thankless task it was. Today I walked into the kitchen around breakfast time just in time to see Jim eating several cookies with a go cup of some sort of cappuccino. I looked at Jim and said, "Cookies for breakfast?" He replied "Yep" and went right back to his cookie inhaling. I laughed and said "You know Lori would not approve." and he laughed too.

Last night he could not settle into sleep, ending up waking me up too and then he made a half-hearted appeal for late night sex which I brushed off quickly. I wake up less than nice before coffee, even in the middle of the night, so after I said a distinct 'No', telling him I wasn't going to be his penis sleeping pill he laughed and said, "Lori would not approve."

"Lori would not approve." has turned into a funny game and a way of levity in our lives now. At least there's some use for this book. I turned the last book I did a lengthy review of - Vaughn Ohlman's 'What are you Doing?' into fuel for the backyard fire pit. I suspect this book is going to join it in the flames lest someone impressionable get a hold of it and take the words inside seriously.

~~~~~~~

At the same time this levity is going on there have been some serious and not always agreeing discussions going on about this Central America move. Jim's been changing his mind about where we're going, how we're going, and everything else over and over again. I finally had to tell him that this was seriously stressing me out. Pick a plan, a doable legitimate plan and stick with it. Pick a moving date and stick with it. Every day the plan has been changing.

What's happened is the educational organization that he paid a hefty fee to take their course and become certified to teach English overseas hasn't been 100% honest on what's available out there in Central America. So far we're had to turn down -

  • A job offer from a school in Northern Mexico that offered to pay plane fare, meals, room and board after finding out that the pay was 5 bucks an hour, the meals and rooming were one small bedroom without air conditioning in a rooming house with a shared bathroom and the cook serving beans and rice for every meal.
  • A job offer in Columbia, for much more money but still not enough to consider uprooting everything in our lives to live in a big city.
I made it clear to him that perhaps we should just pick a place, go visit again, visit lots of places and make plans from there. Look for a part time job teaching English once we're done there. I think we're chosen a couple of beach communities in the Costa Rica and Panama areas on he Pacific that aren't so developed. One of the Panama beaches you can get a townhouse on the ocean, a luxury place with a hot tub for the huge sum of six hundred bucks a month. I am down for that. So expect to see traveling photos to Central America again in the next few months.

Managed to communicate to my husband that I was not going anywhere without checking it out first, I was extremely stressed out and uncomfortable with his suggestions so far and if he wanted my cooperation for the move he'd have to change what was happening. I'm not going to a place I've never laid eyes on before with zero idea of what's really there. Not happening.

Submitting to a man who cannot make up his mind can have disastrous consequences. Better to make your needs and negotiables clearly known upfront when things do not play out like you'd hoped.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cleaning Clarification

Earlier today I posted on Facebook that I had a threat of legal action from an 'idiot' for using her own words and some folks made assumptions that I was talking about someone involved in the unfortunate Carol Ann Cole case.

I wish it was something like that. I can see being incensed and passionate about finding the murderer of an innocent young girl.

Sadly it is just another Christian mommy blogger who waxed stupid about how all of God's creation was done in an orderly fashion so that means we are to keep our homes 100% organized, orderly and neat to be Godly. I quoted that for No Longer Quivering's 'Quoting Quiverfull' feature from this random gal's largely uninteresting housekeeping and homeschooling the Godly way blog.

Yeah, it's all fun and games until someone falls down and breaks a hip or develops a life long ailment, then you see just how ridiculous and futile living with that type of thinking is. 

She sent me an email something like ten days ago with a threat that I must take it down immediately or face legal action. I only found the email because it was caught in my spam filter and I was in the spam filter looking for a forwarded piece by one of our writers that had not shown up in my email box yet. Gmail sometimes just randomly decides something is spam when it's not and I have to go on a wild cyber goose chase.

I laughed long and hard at her threat because copyright laws do not apply to discussions as long as the quoted words from an article or blog posting are around 250 to 300 words and you are using it as the basis of critical and analytical discussion. Plus our hosting company has lawyers that handle this stuff. Plus I'm quite stubborn and contrary. Plus I have a headache from hell today. Plus whiners annoy me, unless it's me doing the whining, heeeee.

Flippantly answered her back and snipped out her writing with a note that she's miffed she was quoted and had an expectation of privacy while she's blasting her extra Biblical crap all over the interwebs. Also explained on a new page at NLQ that quoting for discussion is allowed under so many words and there are lawyers available on my side too.

Sadly I do not get the same quality of whining come to Jesus throwing Christians that my pal Bruce Gerencser gets over on his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser. But I was never a pastor, only a worship leader. Small potatoes on the hit parade of fundy-Amway downlines.

In Which I Realize I Am Being A Bitch

One of the biggest challenges I've been involved in this year is helping Jim do the counting team for our church. The biggest church in about four counties. Lots of money flowing through it weekly.

The other part of that challenge is that people just burn out, or feel unappreciated and quit without notice. Family members die, emergencies happen and that crazy old sun just keeps rolling around all day. My point being that you cannot predict the needs and behaviors of others.

It's been going better over the course of the last year since Jim took over....until recently. We got a new lady to run the church financials. She's young, she's extremely introverted, but the problem is that she does not have a clue how to handle, talk to or treat anyone volunteering. We've had people quit the team in the last few months after flubbing up some aspect of counting and having the new financial admin come down on them like a merciless pile of bricks.

I've gotten caught in her pile-on myself. Last month I had to count three different times and she thinks nothing of calling me in, me, and I'm not even the head of counting, and making me fix the deposit.

This has all been adding to the stresses of this likely overseas move, adding to my crazy spiked up and down blood pressure. When I spiked the high blood pressure and ran away from from the ER one of the things I did was immediately quit everything to do with the counting team except for my one Sunday a month I did agree to count at. That I can handle and my counting partner Sharon and I work well together, like a well-oiled machine. It's not stressful and we both have specific roles we do well.

Last night was supposed to be a training for the teams to bring everyone up to speed run by our new financial lady. I'd already told Jim I was not attending because I'm just done trying to help this lady and the team.

The first job I was able to score when we were living overseas on a military base was being the volunteer coordinator and outreach for the USO. I learned quickly that you have to oh so carefully couch your words and directions without any blame or negative even if the volunteer did everything short of wipe their butt with your desk calendar. People are touchy about any criticism over their level of competency if they are volunteering and they have a point. Volunteering is a choice and completely controlled by the volunteer. You make someone doing something good feel bad about their actions and they will leave.

I took those lessons forward into my life and through my years at my old church and always remembered to treat those helping out with gratitude, even when they messed up, like we all do because we're human. It's helped to remember these things during helping Jim out.

But Jim kept twisting my arm, insisting I go, even as he knew I'd already knocked heads with the finance lady more than once now over things like coming up with a counters policy. I went. I knew I shouldn't have immediately because I could feel my blood pressure riding once it was obvious that finance lady was not going to train the teams, like she was supposed to be doing, like she was paid to do in this time. She was standing around watching others counting last Sunday's offering without offering any suggestions, explanations or real help. Definitely no training at all.

I kind of had absolutely had it by that point, and I jumped in to help, make suggestions and explain why we were doing things the way we were. She was there to train and would not train. Weirdest thing ever.

By the time she took out her one page policy page and gave it around I'd kind of had it. I snapped at her that one brief page was not adequate because most of everyone on the teams did not have an understanding of the software program without a breakdown step by step. I'd already told her this several times before via email when she sent it to me and she'd never bothered to reply to me.

I realized a couple of things. It's not my job to train those people, it's hers and she should be doing it. I'm not on this planet to pick up the slack of other people. Also, this is stressing me out to the point where I'm behaving in a very unpleasant way, snapping at her and jumping in to train these folks when she wouldn't. I stopped and left the training right then and there because I don't like the way this is making me feel. I hate flipping the bitch switch, but something had to happen. I went home.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is realize when a situation is stressing you out and making you act like you normally would not act, like a bitch, and removing yourself immediately.

Thank you flying spaghetti monster that we are leaving the country soon and I will NEVER have to worry about if the count is done and if I'm going to be called into the church to recount in the middle of the week.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Turkey Day and Beyond

Thanksgiving was surprisingly low key for a day spent with Trump supporters, lesbian couples, Evangelical acquaintances and a few assorted oddballs.

If you recall I was somewhat on edge because I was afraid my friend and her husband would be talking politics and their love of our President-Elect. I'm not quite ready as a liberal to politely smile and swallow back refutations of the lies many of his supporters spout. But there was no political discussion thankfully. I did not need to go into the guestroom and guzzle a shot or two of tequila.

I truly adore one half of the gay couple, spending much of the meal talking to her and her partner, likely the only other craven liberals at the table. They told me a funny tale of being trailed around Wal Mart by an older guy in a electric cart eager to insert himself into their duo with about the same level of sophistication in his come on as some of the elder guys I deal with here. I told them about Mr. No Fat Chicks and the well dressed older gent in the adult diapers. I guess it happens everywhere, and it's just as funny and wrong for everyone.

The unknown Evangelical couple turned out to be wonderful folks without the hideous prideful judgmental behavior of many I know in that world still sport. The wife was able to give me some options for getting Pedro into Costa Rica without a rabies shot. Apparently you can get a vaccines titer blood test done and that's enough with the USDA paperwork and vet report to get the vaccination requirement waived.

Here's where it gets crazy on that. Only a handful of places require vaccinations to import an indoor house cat. The USA does not require it, they recommend it. Hawaii has strict requirements. Confusing. I'm going to be talking to someone at the consulate now that I have the right contact information now and ask if I can get the titer test accepted and the vaccination requirement waived.

One highly amusing thing happened during the day. Mrs. Drama, the lady I'd been warned about, decided to sit next to me at the meal and since I'd been copiously warned about her propensity to gossip and back stab I managed to deflect most of her questions with almost monosyllabic answers, 'Yes,' 'No,' 'Louisiana,' 'South,' and 'Cajun'. I sat there smiling while she tried to engage most everyone at the table in conversation. Most awkwardly our hostess accidentally let it slip that Mrs. Drama's daughter had accepted at job in Vermont and was moving there post-haste. Her daughter had shared it with my friend, but not her mother. It made for one very long tense moment over pumpkin pie. Most everyone at the table had known. Her mother had not.

But that's not the thing that made me laugh a bit inwardly. It was listening to this lady carry on about how her brain power, overall smarts and IQ test scores had jumped up phenomenally once her primary hobby was changed to 'intellectual reading.' Yes, I was seated next to a bore bragging about her intellect. I had a little fun with that, by asking her what her reading lists consisted of, mentioning certain recent books, like 'Hillbilly Elegy'. When she started ticking off the lists of authors it was pretty obvious her library was either Agatha Christie type mysteries or mass marketed paperbacks.

See, here's the thing. Don't brag that you're an expert at something or possess this or that trait if you cannot back it up with reality. Don't talk a big game only to be exposed as a phony. Someone else will eventually figure out that you're completely full of something else, and it's not always the very thing you are claiming. Pretty much why I would never claim to expertise at much of anything. I am a professional dilettante with fumbling thumbs in lots of things. I've seen this self-claim of expertise too many times during my years in the Evangelical Quiverfull world and most of the time it's someone speaking out of their rear end trying to impress others.

Don't think I'm bashing what she's reading. It's not what she's reading, more what she's claiming and how her reading list does not support her claims. I read copiously and while I have to admit I usually tend towards history and books from some of the university presses I do sometimes read things that I would be embarrassed to admit to publicly, like those books by former Hugh Hefner girlfriend Holly Madison I read this summer. I spent a painfully boring week in rural Mississippi bedridden with those awful periods I used to get with a big bottle of Tylenol 3s and the only reading material available being an elderly relative's collection of Harlequin Romance novels.

Reading is one of my favorite occupations. I love it. In a lifetime stuck in my miserable malfunctioning body it's been the greatest of escapes and lifts one above most pain. One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was teaching me to read at a young age and instilling a love of reading in me.

Being relieved of the duty of cooking the enormous meal, cleaning, hosting family and others was such a relief. Last year I hosted for friends and went to family gatherings during the weekend. Not this year. I baked a few things and made canapes. With the planning and packing that's about the most I can handle on my plate.

We stayed to help out with the clear up after everyone else left and for the guys to watch a little football.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Medical Cluster-You-Know-What

I've not written much in the last three months here because I had severe asthma from Jim unsealing the storage room and hauling the boxes out, followed by a cold I picked up from him, followed by a two week bout with the flu, followed by mrsa - AGAIN!!

But nothing could have prepared me for the almighty hellacious cluster-eff that my bright and early Monday morning appointment with a new pulmonologist at UVA morphed into.

Back history. My recent local pulmo closed her practice and quit giving everyone three days notice. I'm replacing her, deciding finally that I need to just bite the bullet and go with the research hospital folks, but not as far away as the doctors I was seeing at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I love Baltimore but that 3 hour one way drive three times a week for vocal cord therapy, allergy testing and evaluation for a possible bronchioplasty took a big chunk of my life for three months.

My new doctor is a youngish woman with a Chinese name and she seems very nice. I was in her office for 90 minutes for this initial consultation. She's referring me to the allergy team and several other specialists. I also ended up being re vaccinated for some childhood vaccinations before leaving and having a pile of blood drawn.  She also wants to do a reevaluation on doing that bronchialplasty. And there are newer better biologic drugs at her disposal besides my old standby of Xolair.

Here's where it all went shitty and truly horrible, which ended up with me leaving the UVA ER against medical advice before the day ended. When I walked in and they took my blood pressure it was high, not just normal white coat syndrome high, but stroke and heart attack level high. They took it no less than 4 times over that visit and it only came down a few points.

I tried to point out I have an active mrsa infection in my eye and that if she'd read my medical chart she'd see I sometimes have crazy ups and downs with my blood pressure in reaction to allergies to various meds and/or chemicals. She kept asking me if I had chest pains and a headache, swearing I must have had a horrible headache. I explained except for the pain of the eye infection and my sniffling allergies I felt fine. I just wanted to go home.

No dice. I was handed a prescription for mild blood pressure drug and frog marched down to the damn ER to be treated for high blood pressure before leaving. After a lengthy wait and some intern trying to march in there and give me various drugs including a whopping Ativan injection I realized they were not going to let me go, their plan was to a) dope me stupid so I could not drive and b) keep me till my blood pressure came down.

Now I live a good hard  ninety minute drive by backroads from the hospital and they're about to fill me with things that are likely to affect my ability to drive? Not happening! I felt fine.

Ended up leaving them and driving home. Had my blood pressure taken at the local pharmacy and it was about  15 points down, still too high but easing out of the danger zone. Once I got home I checked it again and it was down from that. By the end of the night I was safely well below the stroke level.

Risky, I know, but I think I made the right call on it.

I realized climbing into bed that the only other time I had that crazy high blood pressure reading was when my cpap machine malfunctioned five years ago and I had to replace it. Examined my machine. The stupid mask and tubing are old and have hairline cracks. Fortunately I had recently gotten replacements and I had to replace the mask and tubing. The next morning my blood pressure was much much closer to normal.

I usually have low blood pressure, in fact I've had problems with low blood pressure in the past. One of the reactions I have to meds I'm allergic to is that my blood pressure will drop too low and I'll pass out. Years before when I'd also popped that insane high level I was put on the lowest amount of the mildest pressure med. Three months later I was in the hospital with a bout of low blood pressure so bad I could barely walk much less sit up.

This is all so damn irritating. I was also told to 'cut the stress' in my life. How in the hell do you do that and keep on living and dealing with life? I did immediately jettison some of the things that are stressing me out, working on counting the offering, helping lead the team and a pile of other things. Dropped cold. I don't need the hassle while I'm feeling like crapola.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I'm spending the meal with Jim, a very fundamentalist couple that love Trump from our old church, her lesbian daughter, the daughter's career military wife and the military woman's mother who is supposedly a horrible trouble maker and assorted semi religious folks. I asked the hostess if she cared if I had tequila in my purse. She laughed. It will be interesting if nothing else to watch people who think homosexuality is the worst sin ever mix with two lesbians. A family member told me I had to go, if for no other reason than to observe and report on the chaos. How do I get myself into these things. Three Thanksgivings ago I attended the potluck filled with relatives and wife-swappers and I thought that was the weirdest most uncomfortable holiday this side of the ones fueled with alcohol and simmering resentments from my Louisiana childhood. Tomorrow's holiday just might steal the weirdness crown from Turkey and Swapping. I think I'm going to have to have a pre-turkey tequila shot or three.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Mr. No Fat Chicks Rides Again

This week has been stressful, like I said towards the middle of last week. We did finally get our new fridge in and I'm having official First World Problems with it, like only a cluelessly over entitled middle class middle aged white woman would have. I have to actually bend down --bend down!!-- to look into it since I got the model with the up top freezer instead of the French doors and bottom freezer like last time when I got the Mercedes Benz of cold storage. Yeah, First World Problems.

I'm very fortunate and I know it.

Last week I had more than a few nights of insomnia before I managed to find some solutions to the things we're dealing with. The house is slowly being gutted of belongings. I decided my shoulder isn't bad enough to warrant three times a week physical therapy. I'm going to try to get a rabies vaccination waiver for my Siamese cat Pedro. He had cancer two years ago, he has Mast Cell Disorder and is likely to have another bout of cancer if they vaccinate him. Trying to find out now if I can get the requirement for the rabies vaccination waived because of his health issues. Better than trying to find a new home for him. He's my baby.

Other things are working out on their own and I managed to get through church, a few community events and phone calls with relatives without any ugly words or threats or gloating over the election results. Not all of my friends have been that lucky. Again, I realize this is white privilege at work again. One of the things Jim and I have looked at this week is where we can volunteer, or give funding or protest. Was going to originally go on several of the protest marches this weekend but I'm still suffering from a fever and the flu.

But today things are back to weird and funny, like usual. This morning I had to run out to get kitty litter. The weather has turned cold and none of my guys will go outside to relieve themselves any longer. While I was crossing the parking lot at my nearby grocery store I ran into Mr. 'No Fat Chicks'..

I first encountered him about three or four years ago in the same parking lot. He pulled up in his car, a car plastered with bumper stickers saying just that 'No Fat Chicks' and 'No Ugly Chicks' and his license plate reads some variation of 'No Ugly Girls'. He can be seen frequently wearing some sort of t-shirt with his jeans that has some sort of rude sentiment towards women, like the same thing on his car, 'No Fat Chicks' or 'Ask Me I Might' or my all time favorite 'Stud'. Seriously.

This isn't a young guy either. This man is on the wrong side of 60, not thin, not good looking or even particularly well groomed.

The day I met him he waved me over from the grocery cart corral, indicating I needed to help him out of his car and into his motorized scooter. I did help him out, he can barely walk, shuffling the few feet from the car into the scooter. At some point in this, while he was hanging onto my arm for support he made some sort of Lothario remark to me, like some ancient pickup line from the days before disco, very inappropriate and out of place at exactly the wrong moment. I smiled and told him I was married. He made a 'hrrupmp' type noise and told me I was too fat for him anyway.

I almost fell over on the ground laughing when he said this. It was so out of the blue.

So now when I see him at this store I go out of my way to avoid him and it seems likely that he might be half blind on top of things because I have noticed that he will wave women over for help, but only within a twenty foot radius or so.

Today he was headed out as I was headed in, resplendent in his 'No Fat Chicks' t-shirt and fleece pajama bottoms printed loudly with the legend 'BEER'. The basket of his scooter held a case of the cheapest canned beer. I bit my tongue to keep from giggling and stayed well out of the range of his limited sight.

Things are back to weird and weird I can handle better than stressful. Weird is good. God bless that poor 'No Fat Chicks' dude wherever he is.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Marriage, Puking, Refrigerators and Never Trump

The last few days have been stressful again, yet at the same time a example of how conflict and disagreement in marriage is handled at the same time I'm reading Lori Alexander's ridiculously immature book on marriage.

Remember the freezer drama? Giant enormous high end fridge packed with meat in the freezer compartment randomly dies Thursday night? We scramble and pack everything into our ancient wheezing rusting 1960s freezer in the garage, the one so old the interior is turquoise blue.

Called the repairman I trust and he couldn't come out till Monday morning. Negative perspiration because all the frozen stuff was saved. Willing to wait for my awesome appliance repair guy. Hooray for horde! In the garage!

Saturday morn, we get up bright and early, finding that now the fridge is warm. Lots of scrambling with copious ice chests and ice. Bummer, but hey, repair guy coming Monday. This fridge was horrible expensive ten years ago and bigger than a Buick. Jim asked how expensive the repair will be and I tell him what price range I think it will run because the few times it's broken down like this it's been the same thing, a shorted out circuit in the computer motherboard that powers this sucker.

I spent Saturday disassembling the entire thing, running all the shelves and compartments through the dishwasher, taking the opportunity to GI the entire thing to a glimmering sparkle. From bad and inconvenient there's always some small benefit, right?

By late Saturday night I'm laying in bed, mentally running the list of all the many things I have to do this week on the three month countdown till our Costa Rican move, meet people from Craigslist who are already buying our furniture we're not taking with us, taking cats to the vet to discuss what vaccinations need to happen for the move, going to the Ortho to have my possibly torn right rotator cup injury evaluated, tasks involving church and the counting of the offering and a million other things. As I'm laying there trying to de-tense my notice my stomach feels weird just about the time Jim comes to bed. I try to sleep but eventually get up, thinking if I could just throw up I'd feel worlds better even if I'm not sick to my stomach. It's just a dull ache.

But by the time I get to the master bathroom my stomach has decided sudden to boot out everything I'd eaten earlier in the day. I manage to throw up copious amounts.

While this is happening my poor husband gets out of bed and wants to know if I'm alright, if he can do something to help. I laugh, thank him for his kind thoughts and tell him as disgusting as it is I have it all under control. Just go back to sleep, I tell him. He offers again and I tell him again I'm okay and I'm going to just go ahead and stay up till my stomach settles.

Just about the time he settles back down to sleep I feel the need to throw the other end on the toilet and while that's going on I end up projectile vomiting all over the shelving I store all the folded up towels on and my feet. I manage somehow to get puke on every towel, every hand towel, every wash cloth, no mean trick, but still not as impressive as the time my son managed to puke on the ceiling. I still haven't figured that one out.

Jim again offers help and I tell him to just go back to bed. I got this all under control. As I put the towels in the wash, mop the floor and take a shower I cannot help but contrast the simplicity of married partners offering help even in the most stomach-turning moments and I just know somewhere out there are those Christian men who's response to the wife having gastric distress in the middle of the night would be to tell her to be quieter because she was waking him up and absolutely no offer of help. I pity those women and I think a lot about the roles of helper towards each other that everyone with a heart, compassion and selfless love for their significant other gladly fills.

Again I am humbled, amazed and so happy that we escaped the cult church.

What has been difficult since then is a couple of things. We face some hard decisions on what to do with our Siamese cat Pedro. He has issues and our vet is not recommending that we take him with us. The shoulder injury is going to require physical therapy appointments that I do not have time for between now and the move.

But the biggest challenge is getting a new refrigerator. When the repairman came out late Monday he told me that the repair was going to cost more than a new fridge. We're going to be renting out our home, which means I'm not inclined to buy another top of the line bigger than a Cadillac fridge. Plus Jim hates, hates, HATES having to make decisions about home repairs or big appliance purchases and has been known to dither and drag his feet. In my old submitting Quiverfull days I'd pray, wheedle and semi-manipulate all the while walking around eggshells, on that stupid frustrating tightrope between feeling like my needs weren't being met and trying to herd him along like a drover with a reluctant sheep.

This time I did none of that. I took him with me to look at models after I'd already done some research on what was available. I knew I didn't want to spend much money because we're leaving it for the renters, but I didn't want something too small and unreliable. Today I told him we must make a decision and actually buy the thing. I wasn't waiting any longer because schlepping ice around was no fun.

We had a long discussion about the fridge and he realized from that thing that Evangelical Christian couples never do, rationally talk, that I was stressed pretty much to the max by the things happening, the amounts of endless work for the move we're dealing with, the flu I've been suffering from since late Saturday night and waking up this morning to discover that Donald Trump was the president elect. It's now or never, as they say.

We bought the fridge. We both agreed on a good mid-range model on sale that Consumer Reports rated as the official best buy on their list. They're delivering it tomorrow morning, I have drug around my last bag of 7-11 ice for awhile.

But here's the things we don't agree on for this week, what to do about our Siamese cat, the selling price for one room of furniture, if I'd be better off with physical therapy or surgery on my shoulder and we couldn't even agree on who to vote for even if neither of us voted for the president-elect.

And you know what? That's all perfectly fine. We don't have to agree on every thing. Things will or will not work out. The new fridge might be a lemon or an awesome deal and that's okay too. We do that thing so discouraged in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity - we discuss in a rational adult non- attacking and no personal insults way.

While Trump is not my first, second or third choice I'm thinking that in our nation we're going to have to do the same as citizens, parley, discuss, listen to each other's points and sometimes compromise in the coming days. Accept the things that cannot be changed, be adults and talk.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

La Tentacion Pre Election

I think the whole freaking world is starting to jitter apart at the seams in the crazy tension ratcheting up in the last few weeks. I know I've been triggered heavily and I'm starting to see things that make it seem that everyone else is triggered in some way or another.

This afternoon featured one of the absolutely weirdest things I've experienced in a long time. Jim and I were sitting at a stoplight in Manassas near Costco, car filled with foodstuffs, tired even if it was mid afternoon and headed home. I could see the homeless guy with the sign asking for money way before we got anywhere near the intersection. I usually give these guys a few bucks if I have it, but this one was just giving off batshit crazy vibes before we pulled up and he did not disappoint. When it was obvious we weren't going to give him money, that we'd pulled up several lanes across from him on purpose he started screaming and yelling 'GOD BLESS YOU' over and over again before starting to dance and sing a song with lyrics about 'jigaboos' and 'n!ggers'. We were horrified, jaw-dropped, this guy was the entire basket of deplorables at the same time. It was like that scene in 'Vacation' in East St. Louis where Clark Griswold tells the entire family to roll up the windows.

This week I've witnessed folks I know at a church function with pro-Trump clothing proclaiming that they were 'Proudly a Deplorable', along with doxxing Evangelical Christian bloggers, others whining about giving candy out to illegals and poor folks while wearing their gaudiest big crosses and others claiming to be Christians that seem to think that the central message of Jesus was hate everyone not like them. It's discouraging and frightening.

Yes, I realize most of my recent posts here are negative and complaining, and I'm not liking it at all. But it's the general zeitgeist swirling around making me feel despair for our society. I wish we could overwhelm and overpower this negative with love. Unfortunately I don't have it in me right now. I just want to go huddle inside, with chocolate, cats and books until things calm down a bit. Perhaps this overseas move is coming at exactly the right time.

~~~~~~~~~

It's not been all negative. Halloween was a blast. I dressed as a crazy old cat lady and gave out candy at the Trunk or Treat thing at church. I ran into a little girl also dressed as a crazy old cat lady and we bonded, took photos together and gushed over our mutual love of kitties.

Today we spent the day at the university our youngest works at. She did graphic recording on a large scale for the employee excellence award ceremony and received a book scholarship towards her masters program. We went out for lunch, feasting on Banh Mi sandwiches for National Sandwich Day.

I've read an enormous amount of books in the last two weeks because I've been fighting off a cold and done a large amount of crochet. I have stacks of cat butt change purses to go up on the Etsy page and a stack of broomstick lace scarfs in a rainbow of colors. Out of every not so good circumstance there is a small blessing.

At least that's what I'm trying to tell myself that to get over the annoyance I felt upon coming home from Costco and finding that the freezer compartment of my expensive newish refrigerator has kicked the bucket. We had to plug in our old chest freezer and schlep several hundred bucks worth of meat around.

I think I'm going to bed. I'm done for today.

P.S. To the Evangelical blogger that's doxxing a lot of people who are writing less than glowing reviews of a certain writer's book: Here's the dirt on me. In 2010 I had 4 parking tickets and I had a dispute with the IRS that ended with them writing me a check. I have several family members I don't talk to because their crazy is too difficult to parse. I am sometimes forgetful. I sometimes curse. I sometimes am very impatient with others and their crappy driving decisions. That's it. I live my life like an open book and there's really nothing you're going to be able to scare up that would shock anyone, not my name, not my address, not what I do for a living. Have at it. But I don't think Jesus would approve of what you're doing.
 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oatmeal Blues

This morning I was busy cooking up a pot of oatmeal for Jim. He's been sick, I've been sick so the meals have devolved into the very basic, like soup, apple slices, apple sauce, oatmeal and crackers. Not the healthiest but just what I can manage in the right now.

It's another reason I haven't updated in a few days. I'm in survival mode right. Just did laundry for the first time in weeks yesterday.

While I was stirring and waiting for the oatmeal to thicken I started thinking about all those years I faithfully cooked oatmeal for my eldest child for breakfast in my single years. I came out of my brief marriage with little idea about nutrition and little money, but the oatmeal wasn't about the money. It was about the emotion of love. I always felt loved when my mother made hot oatmeal with heavy cream and a sprinkle of sugar for me when I was sick, which was a lot with my asthma.

To me, cooking oatmeal every morning for my small daughter was something I did because I cared, I loved her enough to want her to eat something hearty and nutritious before she started her day. I wanted to make her something that I felt like was important to do for her, a small loving act of sacrifice. A living act of love towards someone I love deeply.

I don't remember what I ate for breakfast as a child. I don't remember eating breakfast as a kid. I might not have as I've never been a person that likes to eat in the morning, I still don't. But I do remember the feeling of love and cheerfulness in that wood paneled kitchen of my childhood surrounded by my loved ones.

Later I ended up keeping cold cereal for breakfasts for my younger kids, just because life was always short on time in my later mothering years. I don't know what my other kids think about breakfast when they were kids but I hope it's mostly positive.

One of the things I've been dealing with this week is finding out that some of the actions I took out of love for various people, many not family members, has been completely misunderstood and ascribed to motives I never once had.

Learning that others can oh so easily mistake the why of your actions and tag them differently has been thought-provoking. Never assume that others know what's behind your daily loving actions. But don't let that stop you from continuing to do them either.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Thievery, Integrity and the End of an Era

I had something of a shock this afternoon. I came home from a trip to a local high end quilting store wanting to curse, cry and toss things around.

What happened? Someone I've done business with since leaving my job at the art studio took something I made and sold to her as a personal favor, changed it slightly and sold it for more than five times what I charged her.

During my years working part time at the art studio/quilt store for the notorious Nora I put up with a lot of very bad nasty unethical behavior and finally I could take no more. I quit.

Nora had a nasty habit of twisting my arm into teaching a class, a quilting class, or a crochet class, stained glass, oil painting, figure drawing, whatever, and would charge those attending twenty bucks an hour and supplies, telling those of us working there and roped into teaching that we'd get half the instructor's fee. I don't think any of us worker bees ever got more than the random tenner in our pay, while Nora either said she didn't make enough money to pay us instructors fees, or denied she'd ever promised anyone extra money. By the time I left she said anyone teaching was doing it for their hourly wage.

With any of the big national chains like Joann's or Michaels there are contracts and instruction fees are clearly spelled out. I've taught at both once in a while and never had an issue with pay.

The other snag with Nora is that if you would design a new quilt, or sweater, or whatever geegog you could come up with and write out a pattern for it, she would want to sell the pattern at the store. You might let her but when it came to either receiving a cut of the sales of that pattern or having a contract between you about your patterns she would ignore that too. She still has a number of patterns I wrote for sale at her store.

A few years ago she tried to sell first the quilt shop and then the art studio and approached me to buy, along with a number of other folks. Her asking price was insane, nowhere near what the actual business is worth and nowhere near inventory value. She was refusing to accept a lesser amount, this woman that basically killed two thriving stores with her business practices, screwed over employees and pissed off everyone in the various local art guilds, yet was expecting this imaginary high amount.

I got word last week from a local quilting guild member that Nora was liquidating and closing the art studio. Last year she closed the quilting store. She's still selling the patterns I designed without paying me any copyright on any of them, but once the store closes that will end.

This past spring I seriously toyed with the idea of opening a fabric and quilting store here locally against Nora. I had the money, I had the time but in the end I decided against it because of Jim's plans for us to move to Costa Rica in the new year. I decided I would bide my time until Nora closes her store next month and then republish all those quilt patterns I wrote, that I have the originals and original materials on going way back before Nora started selling the patterns. I decided to do quilting patterns online with the goal of starting this as a sideline while we're in Costa Rica. It's doable. I'd be getting paid for my original designs for a change.

It's tough sometimes to get paid for your original designs. Years ago, when I was still evangelical I would do worship flags, banners and other church related art work and had a lot of trouble with people trying to steal designs and make bad copies. I made some mistakes, but I'm not going to be doing that any longer. Copyright, copyright, copyright!

In the meantime I've been doing some shop samples and other things for a competitor of Nora's, someone I've known as long as I've known Nora, I'll call this woman Carrie. I've never had a problem with Carrie, she knows what Nora is like and she was also offered Nora's store to purchase.

Now I have learned I cannot trust Carrie either. Awhile back she approached me about some crazy crocheted coasters I'd made. They were little cat butts, pink buttholes, tails and feet, very simple, very quick to make. I made them as a gag gift, saw a photo of them online but was not able to find a pattern, so I made my own pattern, not with the intention of selling the pattern but just to make a set as a gift. Carrie said she had a friend that would LOVE a set of those coasters and asked me to make her a set. For her friend. I said sure, quoted her a price lower than I've made them for others for.

I don't really like making them as a item to sell, everyone that has begged me for a set has seen someone else's set I made. If someone asks I will make them, but it's not something I pitch as a sale item ever.They require a small crochet hook, are a smaller item to make that requires you play some attention to detail while making them, unlike, say a scarf or afghan. I like those projects you don't have to think about, full speed ahead crochet using the same stitch for long stretches.

So I made Carrie a set, brought them to her, collected the money and skipped off, not looking back. Today, I'm in Carrie's shop, picking up a few fabrics and talking to her about starting selling my patterns, maybe putting a few in her shop. I saw one of my crocheted coasters and it had been made into a coin purse, with a cheap zipper and a felted wool backing, had a price tag much, much, much higher than I would expect. A few minutes on a sewing machine with a zipper and felted wool. That one silly coaster of a cat butt had been turned into a coin purse, marked for sale for the same price I sold her the entire set and marked that it was Carrie's original design!

I asked Carrie about it and she acted very embarrassed about it, it slipped her mind, she said. Then she turned around and asked me to crochet her another set. I made some polite noise about being 'too busy' right now with the sorting and packing for the move.

I was so pissed off, but I somehow managed to smile, act pleasant and get the heck out of there! Now I'm thinking twice about placing any of my patterns with her. If she had just been straight forward with me as to why she wanted the coasters we could have done business, and if she'd not straight up marketed them as an original creation of hers with a pattern and all I wouldn't be upset right now. But she had to be sneaky and shitty about it, maybe not as awful as Nora turned out to be but definitely not ethical in any way.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Reading and More Dust

We've ended up donating a giant pile of things this week to the local charity shops as part of Jim emptying out our storage room. Old furniture, like several desks from when the kids were little, a couple more from their high school years, bookshelves, end tables, my old bedstead from my childhood. Someone is getting a beautiful birdseye oak four poster bed that we gave away.

The dust has been intense so I've been either in my reading nook burning through a pile of books on the Titanic, or or laying on the sofa watching television that doesn't take much thinking while I crocheted. I learned the Broomstick stitch and started on a few Christmas presents.

A little leftover yarn from another project and just like that I've made a broomstick lace scarf.



 I started designing a quilt with the Eiffel Tower in the middle. I'd been stockpiling beautiful cream/black/light pink/silver gray fabrics with that Parisian feel for ages now. I'm going to have to design and sew another 'Game of Thrones' quilt too, something to do with fire and ice this time.

Why am I reading about the Titanic right now? Because I watched the craziest thing this week one evening while I was wheezing and hiding in my office while Jim continued cleaning up the dust from the things in the attic and storage room. I watched a time sequence animation of the Titanic hitting an iceberg through it breaking apart and sinking. It's two hours and forty minutes long, something perfect to do when you are filled with medicines and cannot hardly breath. It's a chilling watch, as they have edited in all the sounds you would have heard, from the crew calling out orders, to the steam venting from the boilers to keep them from exploding right down to the screams of the final moments of those who perished when the ship went down. The only sounds missing were the gay ragtime songs and the hymns played by the shipboard orchestra as the ship floundered and sand.


I knew very little about this tragedy. I know this sounds almost un-American but I never bothered to watch the famous 'Titanic' movie. The only things I knew about it came from the mentions in history books and the likely lies that came out of the mouth of one of my exs who liked to claim he had a relative or two on the Titanic when it sank. I never believed him because he liked to come up with tall tales, like the time he told everyone at school that the scratches on his arms came from a wild cat that had hidden under his bed. We might have been in middle school then but no one believed him.

One of the things I was the most touched and surprised about in my readings were the stories of sacrifice and great heroism that I read. It just goes to show you that you really do not know what your character truly is until you're confronted with a great test. Some of the passengers and crew did some amazing and selfless things in the wake of the tragedy.

When I think about the time we live in now, and how people seem so determined to idolize and look up to the vapid and selfish, I wonder if we as a society can ever find what is good and heroic in our people and our times. When I see folks who are famous for being famous, like the Kardashians, or even presidential candidate Donald Trump I fear we're too far gone and nothing good can come of us.

But I don't know that. Perhaps the next big tragedy will show that there are still heroes out there, people that put others ahead of themselves or who will sacrifice for the greater good.

One bizarre Titantic fact I learned from the books is that one of President Taft's military aides, Archibald Butt, perished in the disaster along with other prominent men important to the country. In Washington D.C., on the Ellipse, near the White House stands a fountain that is a Titanic memorial for Butt and others.

One a hot summer day many years ago, when my youngest was a mere babe in a stroller and my son was walking Jim and I took the kids into the city for the day. Jim had a job interview near the White House with one of the government offices. I decided to wait for him on the Ellipse, pointing out a fountain that I would take the children to wait at, so Andy could run around. Jim walked away rapidly while I took Andy, the stroller, his sister Laura and the various things you end up dragging around with toddlers and babies to that part of the park near the fountain. When I got near the fountain I found it was overrun with homeless men, a pitiful lot. I ended up staying briefly at the fountain before decamping to wait for Jim on a bench near the exit of the Ellipse. I didn't realize it that day but that is the fountain memorial for the victims on the Titanic. I didn't realize it that day, but after reading several books I now know. I wish I had paid better attention.

I guess the lessons of my week sick are that you should always pay attention to your surroundings so that you realize the significance in that moment. The other lesson is always try to rise to the demands of the situation and be the hero you can be in the moment. I don't know that I'm capable of either of those things, but it's given me something to think about this week.