Sunday, April 30, 2006

I was channel surfing through some sporting activities and was convicted about the fact that I haven't stretched my legs in many moons. So, I sat down on the floor with my legs straight in front of me and started to bend over from the waist. Doing so was quite painful that I thought I would start another way. I straightened up and flexed my feet to stretch that way. The pain was so bad I passed out, cracking my head against the coffee table.

Now I have two lumps on my head, and I still feel foolish.

I think I should stay away from watching those many ESPN channels.

I also think I should stretch on a regular basis.

Perhaps later.
I have vacuumed and washed, dried, folded, and put away three loads of laundry. I planted some spare caladium bulbs my mother sent to me. I ironed some clothing and uploaded what hopefully is the final, final, final file of my mother's brochure. I watched the birds some more and gazed contentedly upon my back yard and all the labors of yesterday.

Kashi is taking a nap in the sunshine. I wish to join him.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Today was a day of oneness with the soil...or should I say oneness with the clippers? No, I didn't go whacking on my hair. I did, however, do some serious pruning.

I spent about five hours in the yard today, happily puttering about. I mowed the front yard weeds and the back yard grass. I edged. I put out weed killer in the front yard and watered the back yard. I then started pruning my rose of sharon bush-turned-tree. It had fallen over this winter during a snow storm. With tears in my eyes, I went ahead and pruned off about a fourth of its weight on the low side, primarily this main trunk. I had to use the saw and hacked away for quite a while.

Taking a break, I popped inside to swig some Gatorade and call the county for a brush pickup. After that, it was back outside to haul my clippings to the curb. But then I started thinking that it was a pitiful excuse for a special trip, so I headed back inside and brought my step ladder up from the basement.

Precariously perched on the top of it, I pruned back several branches of the mulberry tree that were tangled in the phone and cable lines. Next, I turned my attention to the wisteria. My neighbor, two years ago, cut back three quarters of it because it was touching the top of his shed. My heart broke, not at the sight of all of it lying in my yard for me to clean up, but at the bare branches that were left. I used the ladder to get to the top of my two sheds and pruned it back away from his shed, weaving some of the branches back toward my yard.

Now the pile out front is quite respectable.

I finished by resetting all the stones that border the long, curved flowerbed in the back yard. They were covered with mulch and had sunk into the soil. Doing so took about an hour as I removed them, smoothed the soil, and put them back in place. I also mounded the mulch in the bed as I moved along the ground.

I was tomato-faced by the time I finished my labors for the day, but I really enjoyed my time out there, hard work sprinkled with playing catch with Kashi. I spent another hour lying on the deck lounge chair just admiring my labors and watching the birds enjoying the fresh seed I put out for them. I have bluejays, cardinals, morning doves, chickadees, sparrows, robins, golden finches, house finches, wrens, and some barely tolerated black birds. Fancy joined me for a while, but she really hasn't spent time outside since Madison joined our family and was quite nervous most of the time. I felt bad about that and resolved to have them both outside more.

After putting the laundry in the washing machine a short while ago, I took a long, hot shower. Blanching myself under the steaming water, I savored the moment a bit too long. Funny, I knew that I should have gotten out once I started to grow weak. But it is just so comforting to have the strong spray cascading warmth down from head to toe. Needless to say, I keeled over in the bathroom while drying my hair with a towel, banging my head on the toilet.

Here I sit on the couch with a bag of ice on my lump...feeling foolish...yet wanting to get one more look at my beautiful back yard.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I felt so very strange as I awoke this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, I went upstairs to take a shower after finishing a game of Scrabble with my best friend. I took a board member to the airport and was told to go on home instead of the office. So I treated myself to some multi-tasking and monitored email and worked on a document while playing Scrabble.

I went upstairs to take a shower and sat down on the bed when I got out. The next thing I knew it was 12:30 a.m., seven hours later. I was so surprised and lay back on the pillow trying to decide if I should go see how Kashi was doing. Another seven hours passed.

It is strange that a whole evening passed by without my knowing it. It is strange to realize how very tired I have been and how very much I have been struggling with fatigue.

Tonight I have channel-surfed my way through the evening hours so Kashi, Madison, and Fancy didn't feel neglected. I think, however, that perhaps had I laid down at 7:00 when I arrived home from work...well...they would have been lonely again.

Madison set to wailing once I came downstairs this morning and nothing would console him but plopping him on my shoulder while I got ready for work. He didn't even peck at me when I went to stroke his crest.

Kashi came down the stairs this evening when I got home. He hasn't ventured down them in months. Monday I fell carrying him down and scraped my elbow something fierce. But he was so eager to see me he braved his phobia.

I had to stay up with my babies. The afford me such good company, I owed them at least the same. At least tomorrow I can sleep in and lounge about the house whilst still giving my pet companions the attention they deserve.

Just now...a pillow is calling me...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I did not get home from work until 8:41 and lay on the couch all evening. I haven't even checked my email. The printer contacted me and said that I need to make a change on her brochure. I couldn't bring myself to work more. I will have to take care of it in the morning.

Kashi keeps dropping his toys in my lap for me to toss. I do, but then he drops them a bit out of my reach because he wants me to get up and play with him. Smart dog. I do the same thing with his tiny dog treats to get him to move. Perhaps I should have told me that chocolate might have worked better for him?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Good News: My mother's website is live and the tri-fold file has been uploaded to the printers.

Bad News: Lowe's messed up the front door order; the contractor was angry about losing a day's pay and will no longer do the job; after 5 weeks, I am back at square one without a door and without a contractor.

Good News: I went ahead and installed the new hardware on the back door (I got matching locks) and the door latches MUCH easier with the Schlage locks.

Good News: I got to play three games of Scrabble tonight with my best friend.

Bad News: I lost two of them.

Good News: It rained again this evening so that I did not have to go out and water the new grass.

Good News: The brush pickup happened today.

Frustrating News: It took only two scoops of the machine to remove what took me an hour and a half to haul to the curb.

Good News: I wrote something for me today...not just wordsmithing for work.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Well, I suppose I should be jumping up and down for joy because my mother signed off on her website today with the designer. Other than traveling to Houston to take photos of her latest project and her own home, I am officially done. Really and truly done.

However, while I thought that I was done with her brochure, I was sorely mistaken. This evening was spent on making her last minute corrections and checking and double checking all the photos and color blocks to make sure they were most perfectly aligned. My step-father is checking it as well this evening, so perhaps tomorrow my dream of being really and truly done will be realized.

Surely the past two months of writing and brochure design and website development oversight and photo preparation will make up for the two times that she helped me move? I mean both times she sort of sat back and barked orders about what to pack and unpack. When I moved here, she did work quite hard on cleaning and painting and such. Still, I fervently hope that we are even.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Last year, my neighbor cut down a tree that was pushing my fence over. I did not ask him to do so; he just did.

He called for a brush pick-up from the county two weeks in a row and had much of the tree debris removed. However, he left ten pieces of the trunk and some of the branches in a pile in the corner of his backyard that meets with mine. When people started adding to the pile (I guess they thought that somehow it was the neighborhood dumping ground), I called for another pick-up and dragged all the branches out to the curb myself. I could not, however, pick up the pieces of tree trunk.

Here we are, a year later, and people have begun piling branches on the pile of trunk pieces. Why they do this is a mystery to me when we have free pick-ups from the county, but then again, I have said many times that I just do not understand people. In any case, I really do not like looking at the debris, so after I mowed the front yard weeds and the back yard grass, edged, raked the leaves from one of the backyard flowerbeds (after four bags of leave I decided to leave the other flower beds for later), and trimmed the privet in the back yard, I decided to go inside to call for another brush pick-up from the county. It is scheduled for Tuesday, so I went back outside, pulled on some gloves, and moved the pile of brush debris from the back of his yard to the street. Yes, that included those 10 pieces of trunk.

The tree was originally about 18 inches in diameter. A year ago, I could not have moved those pieces of trunk. But now, after a year of rain, snow, and insects, I could, with much huffing and puffing and two nebulizer treatments, manage to get them to the curb for pick-up.

I also decided to bag up the leaves that had been covering the pile just so that none of my neighbors got any more ideas about dumping their brush there. By the time I finished, I had to sit on the sidewalk for a while before heading inside for my breathing treatment.

I actually hooked up the nebulizer to the outside outlet and spent the two treatment cycles looking at how pretty the back yard is. Kashi joined me and spent the time leaping about trying to catch those bumblebees. I wonder if Kashi or I will be sadder to see the wisteria finish blooming!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I spent another three hours on the website for my mother. I think...I think that I may be done with my part other then traveling to Houston in a couple of weeks to do some photography for her. It should go live at the beginning of this week.

Yahoo! Yippee! Woohoo!!!!

NOTE: Ants can survive in a microwave that is being used for 20 seconds. Hmmm...

Friday, April 21, 2006

How can you understand that which you cannot see?
Do you believe that true change is possible?
What does it take to shed who you were taught to be
in order to become someone who you are not?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I drove to Baltimore and back today for a meeting. Strange that is to travel between cities in a work day. Every state trooper for Maryland appeared to be hanging out on 95 to punish those who were speeding. Funny thing is that all those passing the driver who was getting the ticket were probably speeding just as much.

I had trouble following the gist of the meeting at times for the number of acronyms that were used. Shakespeare would have not recognized the king's English.

Many of those in the room were rather jaded and I found myself wondering how they kept fighting the battle, weary from the problems that persist still today. Spending a lifetime walking uphill is so very difficult.


I spent six hours working on my mother's website. I am, without a doubt, ever so ready for this to be done. Truly I am.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Days gone by without a chance to post my thoughts. Had I written, I would have said how ill I felt on Monday and how sheepish I felt on Tuesday. I would have written how the thoughts chasing themselves around my mind were ones of frustration at my job and my disease and ones of longing for that which God has not chosen to grant me. I would have written of pain and tears and fatigue.
I would have.

Yet, Tuesday God very clearly showed me that I was wrong in some of what I had thought. And again this evening He showered me with blessings to leave me once again feeling foolish at my own thoughts.

I worked with my writing student this evening and composed five pages on the young adult high fantasy novel that has been languishing on my computer. I asked her if she would seriously hold me accountable for writing something each week for me. No matter how I feel, I want to make sure that I am taking time for that part of me instead of just letting days go by.


Below is part of my work...

Forcing herself to release her grip on her skirts, Aryanth protested her father’s condemnation with far too tremulous a voice to carry any weight. “I didn’t abandon my duties, Father. I am actually seeing that I am ready to meet them when the time comes for me to assume management here.”

Behind her, the flames in the fireplace roared, licking their way up the outer bricks. Beads of sweat glistened on her forehead, and her shift began clinging to her body beneath her dress.

Damyan crumpled the paper he held in his hand. That day will never come, if I can help it! “You made your choice, Aryanth. It’s Lord Damyan to you. And I very much doubt that your foolish claim will ever hold water. Not now, not later. The villagers have far more to worry about than who holds their land.”

Despite her best efforts, tears slid down her face. Would you speak so if Mother were here? Do you blame me now, as you do all Daughters, for Mother’s death since I have walked the grounds of Elysian? “I shall not argue for Fraemour. What’s mine is mine, and I will see to my mother’s legacy in due time.” Even to her own ears Aryanth’s words sounded hollow. “Have you further need of me?”

Eyes never leaving his work, Lord Damyan dismissed his daughter. “I had no need of you in the first place.”

Neither noticed the fire die as Aryanth left the chamber.

Not four strides down the hallway, Aryanth came upon her nurse, studiously wiping non-existent dust from a table set aside for her father’s page. At the sight of her former charge, her brow softened and she smiled what encouragement she could. She dared not, however, ask how things fared between father and child, for Lord Damyan had those among the staff who savored currying favor with ready tales of disloyalty or wrongdoing.

“Your companion is waiting in your chambers. I believe she would like to visit the village,” Myrnth announced as Aryanth drew close.

Raising her eyebrows at her nurse for she knew all Maia wanted to do was lounge around with a book after their journey, she replied, “That is a fine idea, Nurse. I am sure she wishes to replenish her workbasket. The chores at Elysian are rather hard on one’s wardrobe.”

Falling in step with her nurse, Aryanth thought on her father’s reference to the villagers’ concerns. Why would they not care who ruled? For her part, Myrnth was thankful Aryanth had accented to the trip. Maia was still but a slip of a girl where she was concerned, one who should obey her elders without hesitation. But now that Ari had taken the first step in her journey to become a Daughter and was now heir-apparent, she had to step back from her role as caregiver to allow the young woman to find her way. Just as long as it is the proper way!

Maia groaned when she learned of their new journey. “I was just about to have your servants ready a bath for me. Surely ridding ourselves from the stains of our trip is more important than rushing out to visit the village? Do you not want them to see you as befitting your station? Mother always says that if you look the part then no one will question your decisions. Is it not important for them to see you as Daughter Heir?”

Aryanth laughed, welcoming the relief she felt wash over her at Maia’s foolish notion. Ignoring the hurt look on her companion’s face, she began packing her belt pouch with a few coins, a thimble that needed mending, and a handkerchief. “Looking the part as you say is long past an option for me. I grew up covered in dirt from the fields, flour from the mill, and threads from the weaving house. I will probably always be Alyssa’s urchin to them.” Tears stung her eyes at her own casual reference to her mother, but she smiled through them. “Pin your braids back up and ready yourself to go.”

Once they were outside the keep, Aryanth turned to her nurse. “Is there something going on at Fraemour that I should know about?”

Fraemour and everywhere, but I have not the courage to speak of more than my home. “I know not how to answer you, Ari. We’ve had twice as many fires since you’ve been gone as we did all of last year. The village seems plagued by accidents. Tempers flare. Babes are lost in childbirth. Illness spreads from house to house. But… is something wrong? That is for the Light to know.”

At the mention of illness, Aryanth started and struggled to school her features. “What kind of illness?” she forced herself to ask.

“That which Alyssa fought, my dear one.” Myrnth placed a hand softly on the shoulder of her former charge. She locked eyes with Aryanth, each one wishing to spill out their thoughts and each one not daring to ask a single question for fear of unwelcome answers.

Maia stood looking on in sympathy. She knew what took the life of her friend’s mother. She knew, too, that something was not right. But not one of the Mistresses would allow mere mention of life outside the walls of Elysian. The candidates were there to study and study they would! Her mother would say that they were being foolish for only a fool refused to look at that which is staring one in the face. At least I have a mother with whom to speak those thoughts I can’t help but thinking. Poor Ari.

The three continued on their walk in silence.

Once they arrived at the village, Aryanth could not quite hide her surprise at the changes she saw all around her. Where flowers once blossomed, pale plants struggled to survive, their withered leaves stubbornly clinging to life. The ground was parched, with huge cracks wending across the road. Children were no longer playing in the streets, and the cries of merchants hawking their wares were strangely absent in the air heavy with stale smoke.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Possibly, just possibly, the hours I spent this day will signal the end of my mother's website project. That would be a good thing!

I just discovered that I hadn't changed the bird's water this morning, so I quickly cleaned the dish and refilled it. Both of them are on top of the cage, so I held it up to them for a drink. Madison promptly started pecking at me, but Fancy took a few sips. Then she hopped in it for a bath, never mind that I was still holding it above my head.

I put it down and then went to the kitchen for a plastic bowl she could use. The first one I brought was dark and opaque, and she fled to the far side of the cage. So, I went back to the kitchen and brought a clear one (one of those new disposable Ziploc containers). Before I could even blink, she had hopped right in and started flinging water all over her back. I burst out laughing at her enthusiasm and wondered why I hadn't thought of doing so before. Her dish is much, much too small for a bath. This container was just right.

What is equally amusing to me is how very different the two of them are. Madison loves to be spritzed. She prefers to dunk herself.

Of course Kashi was rather appalled to see the two of them getting a bath and trembled the whole time until he realized that he would not be included in the process.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I've thinking about whacking on my hair...but that really isn't the answer to why I want to pick up those scissors and I really am not the sort of person who looks good with hair just below her ears.

I will say that I am ever so thankful, ever so, that the pain in my shoulder is completely gone. Two and a half days of struggling through every moment and realizing just how much a person uses a shoulder each day, I find myself savoring the relief.

I wish I had relief at work.

I am riding a rollercoaster. The highs are exhilarating, but the descent is terrifying and the curves make holding on quite difficult. And as much as I hate to admit it, my boss is no real help. She is juggling too many balls to stop and work with me. Most of our conversations are centered around what people are doing that shouldn't be done and how to work around their decision-making. The communications plan is a good thing to have, but cannot really be executed without successfully without the help of the management staff. And, truly, I am the only real advocate for message and brand.

Everyone is too busy working on the restructuring or this or that or the other. But...messaging and branding does not happen either in a vacuum or like Athena springing fully formed from Zeus' head. I feel as if I have been left out of the planning when planning is key to my role in the company. I feel as if I am, once again, being set up for failure rather than success since it will, as it has been for two years, fall to me to work on the fly, provide the quick fix, when thoughtful, strategic planning is the path we should be taking. I pour out my whole being in a job and feel rather cheap when have to ask my boss how I did because I cannot stand to be doing the things I do, to do them well, and have no one notice. No one really care.

I hate wasting my time at work, wasting the opportunity to accomplish something instead of tossing off the latest last minute piece of writing.

Work is a mess. The company...its honorable and much needed. But the organization is a mess. People don't do what they are supposed to do, do what they are not supposed to do, and come to the office when they feel like it. I struggle because I see person after person dropping the ball and not working in the best interests of the company. It may seem as if I am arrogant and think of myself as perfect, but I simply do not pull the crap that they do. I don't work against my colleagues or our message/brand. I don't cause problems that others have to spend addressing when they have work of their own to be do. I don't do that and yet I am not valued. Not really. It drives me crazy. I want to sleep until noon and waltz into the office when I feel like working. I want to do just not do my work or forget deadlines and finish when I want.

But I cannot. I cannot because I believe what they are doing is absolutely, fundamentally wrong.

I want to stay and accomplish what I think I can...and I want to find another job as soon as possible.

I want to pick up those scissors and whack something because I cannot cut what I want.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I am tired, so very tired that it seems as if someone slipped me a dash of codeine in my Dr. Pepper. I fought to keep my eyelids open from about 2:00 on at work. Not even finding my new cell phone on my porch when I arrived home was enough to truly wake me.

I was surprised to see the package because on Wednesday morning, when I cried hopelessly on the phone to the Sprint supervisor, the end result was that it could be 5 business days before my new phone arrived. It wasn't the 5 days that brought the tears. It was that my phone broke unexpectedly at a time when I absolutely have no money for a new one. I knew it had been over two years (you used to get a credit after only 18 months) since I "re-upped" my plan, so I should get the $150 credit for signing a new agreement. However, Sprint changed their policy yet again and now it is two years with the same phone. Since most phones are not really designed to last that long, I think the change is just a scam. And I learned that my warranty replacement just a few months after getting my last new phone "reset" the clock with regard to the credit period. I would have to wait until August to get a new phone.

My cell phone is my lifeline against being alone. My two closest friends have Sprint so we can talk for free. I do not have long distance on my home phone because I have it on the cell phone. I was in a panic thinking that I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money and how difficult it would be to not talk with anyone for months. I cried.

I cried and he gave me a $300 credit to cover a new phone. I would just have to wait 5 business days (or one week). And there was the phone in 1 business day. I did call my best friend to let her know the phone had arrived, that I was back "in touch."

Still, I digressed. I watered the grass seed since the weather is absolutely not cooperating and collapsed on the couch. I dozed my way through a few television shows and am now counting the minutes until 10:00 since that should be late enough for Kashi to go out a final time.

Even my hair is tired.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I mowed my lawn this evening. Being out there, working up a yard sweat was oh so satisfying.

I was quite surprised to see the back yard grass start to grow in, because, if you remember, I lost it last June and spent the summer with dry dirt. I am most determined to not miss a watering opportunity this year. I did put out some more grass seed in the bare spots and some top soil in the lowest portions of the yard.

The front yard, well, that is another story. It is, I am afraid to admit, mostly weeds. They are nicely mown and edged weeds at this point, but weeds they remain. I need to either kill off everything and try to re-seed, or I need to magically come up with money to have someone else do the work or simply re-sod it all.

The wisteria is beginning to bloom. I savor its beauty and wonderful scent. Kashi, however, welcomes the blossoms for another reason: bumblebees. He somehow thinks it is a great game to try to capture the bumblebees flying around the low-hanging blooms in his mouth. He leaps with great abandon and great confidence that his efforts will prove fruitful.

Fortunately for us both, his aim is quite off.

NOTE: Last night my left shoulder started hurting. This is new. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would put it at about a 7, with a sharp rise to 10 if I raise my arm bearing any weight. Getting dressed also left me trembling in pain. So, most of the work I did this evening was one handed. I am quite frustrated at the pain, but I still welcomed my chance for "oneness" with the soil.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Happy Birthday to my friend W.

Well, Kashi did it again!

There were some cookies out on the counter at work, so I took on to bring home for dinner. I thought I would savor the anticipation of having a sweet dessert all day and reward myself accordingly some time around now.

I arrived home, changed clothes, carried Kashi downstairs (he's still enmeshed in his stair phobia), and set him down. Normally, he rushes past me to the back door. I was thinking about my day and failed to notice that he wasn't hovering about my feet until it was too late.

Yes, you guessed it.

Even though I had wrapped the cookie up in three paper towels and put it at the very bottom of my bag, his "sixth" sense kicked in, and by the time I turned around and went back into the living room, he had it out and was munching away rather happily.

Will I ever learn?

Monday, April 10, 2006

I cautioned against something at work and caught a lot of flack for doing so. After hanging up after being harangued for my words of concern, I felt quite badly about the whole situation. I wondered if there was any truth in this woman's claim that I was not thinking about the best interests of the organization. I worried about it all weekend. I did not sleep much last night thinking on the matter.

Today, I learned that my caution was not only well-founded, but only a shadow of actually happened.

I did not revel in being right. I was relieved that the decision I stood by was in the best interests of the organization. I need to be stronger in what I know to be good and true in the workplace instead of buying into the untruth so easily woven by those who do not have the best interests of the organization at heart.

In the pursuit of honesty, I will admit that they often do not even realize the ramifications of what they are doing since their manager was the consummate snake oil salesman. Much beloved despite blatant mismanagement.

It was not an "I-told-you-so" moment. It was one of utter personal relief, mixed with angst for what the news may mean for our organization.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lhermitte's sign is a brief, stabbing, electric-shock-like sensation that runs from the back of the head down the spine, brought on by bending the neck forward. Medications, including anticonvulsants, may be used to prevent the pain, or a soft collar may be used to limit neck flexion.

I was reading about multiple sclerosis and found the name for the new symptom that I am having. I find this strange and yet comforting. This is what I was battling the day I took my car into the body shop. This is why I threw up that morning because the pain was so bad. The pain had a name.

I have had it off and on lately...though nothing like I did that day. Now it has a name.

I do not know if you can understand how important that name can be for me. Often, with MS, the symptoms are strange or, especially with pain, rather difficult to describe. When I first started having girth pain (often feeling as if someone is squeezing my leg/knee), I saw two orthopedists and a rumatoidologist and none of them either helped me or explained what was happening. In fact, all three treated me as if it were in my head. Then, a short while after fruitlessly spending two months in doctor visits trying to get answers, I was flipping the pages of the National MS Society magazine and discovered an article on pain. The words practically leapt off the page. I wasn't crazy. The pain had a name.

This new pain has a name.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

On my stove...are some ants!

How they made it around my rather poisonous barrier is beyond me...

I turned on all the burners and crisped them.

I wish I had their determination to remain in a place where they were not truly wanted.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Eileen peered into the mirror to inspect her face. Her warm breath fogged the mirror as she moved closer for a better look. The sore spot on her forehead had raised and turned red. Damn, not again! How long must I deal with this? Gingerly she touched the blemish and winced. For the hundredth time she wished she had bangs to hide her forehead, but Paul’s desire for her to keep her hair long had stayed the impulses she felt whenever near a salon. Even now. Even when she hadn’t felt his soft touch in over a year.

Staring in dismay at her collection of make-up, Eileen knew that nothing could truly hide the spot on her forehead. That her skin was porcelain white was an added difficulty. Touching the bump once more, she decided to leave it alone. Concentrating on the rest of her face, Eileen carefully finished applying her make-up and studied the results with grim satisfaction. At least the rest looks good.

Working at a design firm where all the staff were close friends had its perks, but it also meant that nearly anything was fodder for ribbing. Dates, vacations, dilemmas were all discussed, debated, and dissected over lunch, in the coffee room, or during breaks. Secrets never lasted long at Bateman, Bateman, & Watters. The office could probably pass for a soap opera or sitcom depending on which day it was.

Eileen had only been employed there for four months, but the transition had been amazingly smooth. Now it was her colleagues whose company she sought while working out or going out. They were the ones who had invited her to dinner and had opened their lives to her. No one had seemed to notice that she in turn had yet to open hers. None of them knew about Paul. None of them knew about Maia. None of them knew.

Peering once more at her face, Eileen debated trying to squeeze the bump, but decided that she should just allow nature to take its course. The thought still made her shudder. She could still hear the doctor’s words. The human body has an amazing resilience if properly supported. The scars will fade, and the glass will works its way out of your body.

The first time Eileen had seen a piece of glass erupt from a reddened bump that had risen on her forehead, she had thrown up and sank in a shivering, sweaty heap on the bathroom floor.


I started but never finished. I started thinking about this person and her life, the experiences that haunt her despite her obvious success, the experiences she struggled to remain hidden despite the physical representation she, too, tried to hide.

I think about characters as if they are people.

But sometimes...knowing them is just too difficult.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

For the past two years, I have had this line of ants that ran from the back door, up the wall, across the counter to the sink. I have had tried numerous types of bait and have personally killed millions to no avail. Because they only stayed for a few months, I tried to ignore them and keep the sink absolutely clean during their visit.

Well, two weeks ago, they showed up...four months early! I couldn't believe their audacity and was not looking forward to the battle, so I set out to win the war.

While picking up the door locks that were being keyed, I asked a Lowe's guy to show me what was a sure fire ant killer. He pointed to this can of innocuous looking dust for his recommendation. Two days ago, I rather blithely spread out a rather generous sprinkling over the two mounds I found in the yard and all around the door frame. It was a beautiful evening, and I didn't mind the work with a fresh breeze blowing.


...I did not read the can first.

1. It is highly poisonous with three different numbers to call in case of exposure.
2. I was to wear gloves, long sleeves, and long pants.
3. I was to wash my clothing immediately after application.
4. I was to avoid using it if there was wind.

Last night, I spent quite a bit of time trying to minimize my exposure as I tried to minimize the spread of white powder in the places Kashi and I regularly tread.

There are no ants at my sink.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

If I had a greater salary, I would:

get a massage each week

use a thermacare heatwrap each day

have a trainer work on stretching spastic muscles

always have blooming flowers around me

never eat canned food again

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I am ever so closer to finishing my mother's website and getting her brochure done. It is strange, I am helping a friend with a brochure for her new business, and our interactions have not been tension filled with yelling on her part...the total opposite of my most recent experience of trying to help someone out!

Habitat for Humanity is coming to pick up the furnace on Friday (though for a fleeting moment I thought I was going to be able to give it to a friend whose furnace just broke). I picked up my locks and keys yesterday, since the Lowe's person had them all keyed the same. In four years, I have never had a key to the back door. Having one will be a luxury. The door should arrive in another week or so, and my front door will finally be secure. House progress for once.

When I did go by Lowe's, it was a battle to walk past all the lovely gardening stock. I really, really would like to add a few items to my yard, but with $4,300 unexpected debt between the HVAC and the door, I can't even afford to think about it. Last summer, I promised myself I would redo the side bed in the corner of the fence because the seedums had grown completely out of control. While the heavy weeding job did wonders, it is still lacking a certain something, even with the hostas peeking up from the ground. It is a good think that Mr. Handyman will be picking up the door!

I have knocked a few things out at work, responding to yet more last-minute-requests-from-poor-planning. I have scanned more of my grandmother's old family photo collection (this project is WAY more work than I had anticipated). I did my laundry this weekend, despite sleeping away most of it.

Yet...I haven't worked on my novels at all. So, despite being legitimately productive, I feel as if I have missed the most important part: doing that which is so satisfying to me, that which defines me.

NOTE: I read two letters and "opened" another present from my friend's goody package. The present made me chuckle all evening. It was a small game that was obviously a "prize" from a kid's meal. Do you see what I mean about knowing that she is thinking about me while out and about in her life? I really, really like games and here's one I could tuck in a pocket and pull out anytime I found an unsuspecting person I could ambush into playing with me. Such love God has showered upon me through her!

NOTE 2: Speaking of games, when I went to paint my best friend's house a few weekend's ago, she had a few "welcome" gifts for me. One was so great I could hardly speak. A while ago, while shopping with her, we bought those new H2O Uno cards. They are clear and plastic and just a bit too cool. We definitely enjoyed playing with them in Italy, even if shuffling them takes a bit getting used to. I also already owned a set of regular playing cards that I had actually bought for a little girl since they have pink and purple polka dots on them, but ended up keeping since they came in a plastic case. It is so easy to carry them about to whip out for a quick game. Well, my dearest friend gifted me with a new set of regular playing cards...clear a plastic case to boot. Joy runneth over!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Got a Chase credit card? Be afraid...very afraid.

I had a new card arrive in the mail, which puzzled me. I had not asked for one, nor was my current one expired. So, I called customer service. After being on hold for 29 minutes, I got a representative who informed me that a card was sent to an alternative address and I must have gotten one as well as a courtesy measure since my address was on the account.

Red flag, eh? I thought so. I immediately informed her that I did not make a request for a new card to be sent somewhere and I asked for her to read me the address. I half thought that she would read my address and this would end up being some sort of customer representative misinformation since half of the time I encounter anyone in customer service it seems like I know more about the practices and procedures of their company than he/she does.

She told me that she could not give me that information, but she could transfer me to Chase's fraud department. But before she would transfer me, she made me listen to her pitch for Chase's fraud protection program for the bargain price, I believe, of $7.95 a month. I was appalled at her timing.

I had more waiting on hold to do before the fraud department representative came on the line. Then...are you ready for this? Then, the man asked me to confirm identifying information about which of three counties in which I recently resided. Now, I really, until now, have known zip about the counties in which I live. I know the one now because it is infamous for its taxes, and my checkbook is intimately acquainted with each and every contribution that goes to this county. So, I couldn't answer his question. Then he tried cities, but I didn't understand what he was saying because they were all in another state. I kept asking him to ask me something about social security number, my security question, anything about me! But he insisted that I need to answer his questions. And then he final hinted that the questions were about my step-father.

I grew quite angry that this man would even know my step-father's name and when I said so, he replied that all his information was merely a part of "my public record."

Do you know where I am going yet?

Public record? I still cannot fathom how you would get to my step-father unless you went to my birth certificate, got my mother's name, looked at her current marriage license and got his name.

I refused to answer the questions, and so he accused me of being the fraudulent person. He kept saying that if I were who I claimed to be I could answer the questions. At that point, I got really upset and asked to speak with a supervisor. He responded that if I would just calm down and answer his questions then this would all be over. Again, I said that I was not going to answer personal questions about someone else. I was my own person, the account was my own, and that his questions should stick to the application I filled out to open the account.

And then...have you figured it out?


I insisted again on speaking with a supervisor because I had never heard of something so invasive. He, again, kept saying that the file was maintained by the third party company, that it was all a part of public record, and that Chase only used the information for my protection. What a load of crap.

After my third or fourth demand, he finally put me on hold to wait for his supervisor. The long hold gave me pause during which the ramifications of what Chase was doing sank in: this company practice was to put personal identify information together with financial information! I mean really...what information did Chase give the third party company to identify me so that it could begin building my file? My name? That alone would work because I am not the only person out there with my name? Chase had to give that company at least two pieces of information about me...and now that company knows I have an account with Chase. Chase is practically inviting people to steal the identities of its customers!

The first question the supervisor asked was the last four digits of my social security number, so I thought things were going to go better, but I was wrong. He then muttered something about finding another question for me to answer and asked for some of the other cities in which I have lived. Now, Chase has only had two addresses for me in the same city. Of course, I could also have given the schools where I got my degrees!

I finally gave the answers to the city questions, only to discover that the first customer representative was wrong. It was actually Chase's marketing department that requested that another card be sent to me for reasons undetermined.

I really, really cannot believe this practice of hiring a third party to investigate the background of customers, especially one who pays on time and does not carry a balance. My step-father's life is none of their business. My personal life is none of their business. All that should matter to them is my credit history and my payment record. Period.

I want to call CNN. I want to shove this story in front of 60 minutes. I wish I were Net savvy enough to plaster it all over the rooms and watch dog sites galore. I want the whole world to know how snoopy and sneaky and completely nosy Chase is. I want to know that they are unprofessional and slimy, hiding behind the specious excuses that "their information is all a part of the public record" and that "they use a 'third party' to compile the record.

If you thought privacy was a luxury before, you realize that it simply does not exist.

What do you have in your wallet? Chase?

Note: The supervisor claimed that Citibank does the same thing. Did you know anything about this practice?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I finally got an appointment with Habitat for Humanity to come pick up the furnace on next Friday. It will not be a day too soon.

I have been in a battle with the local birds to keep it wrapped up. They seem to believe that the string wrapped around the tarp is for them, for their nests.

They have already taken over my water fountain as the newest local watering hole. They are picking off the moss that has grown on it for three years and drinking it dry each day. I come home and the pump is dry. I guess I am going to have to start turning it off each day so that is doesn't get ruined. Really, it is remarkable that the birds are drinking all that water.

Of course...they leave evidence of their congregating visit on the railing of my deck above the fountain.

Why can they not just be thankful for the bird seed I put out?

Really, Fancy and Madison are far more endearing as birds than the greedy avian folk who've been visiting lately.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I awoke at 9:00 and let Kashi out and then crawled back in bed. I did not wake again until 3:30.

I played with Kashi and the birds and had a meal. I've channeled surfed for hours and tried to ready, but I am still tired.

So I am going back to bed.