Monday, July 31, 2006

I am weary of the heat. I keep trying to think of something good about sweltering each time I step foot outdoors, but I cannot come up with anything. I continue to be quite grateful for air-conditioning, though. I cannot even begin to fathom what it would be like to live without it.

A friend of my mine refers to people by their first initials on her blog, and I have decided that really makes for less confusion. So, I will henceforth be doing the same. She is D_, the one friend that I made through my old job. While she lives quite far from me, she has become quite dear to me. I admire her fortitude, her writing ability, how much she loves her children, her honesty, and how much I have learned about friendship from her.

Last night, I was treated to a rather long conversation with my friend W_. She and I have known each other for 22 years. It has been a long and winding path, the journey we have traveled together. What is lovely is that D_ has helped me understand how precious my relationship with W_ is and helped me understand that I need to be a better friend to W_. And yet, D_ doesn't know W_. I find it interesting how the Lord illuminates our paths and the vessels He uses for His Truths.

Anyhow, W_ and I talked about her vacation in Cheyenne this past week, savoring the memories of cool nights. Walking outside the airport was a rude awakening for her when she returned.

We talked about faith, what it means to be a Christian these days, and the impact the media plays in the current view towards morality. I find it frightening how much society has shifted in recent years. Lying, stealing, and cheating have always been a part of human nature, and thus our society. But it used to be that those were not character traits to be admired or pursued. Now, there seems to be no consequence to engaging in those activities and people hardly bat an eyelash when someone does.

On a lighter note, I share my new-found discovery of how to cook bacon with her and my immense satisfaction with a new type of bacon I purchased at the grocery store. I have always cooked bacon on medium heat, ending up with pieces that are more crunchy than crispy, with parts that are half cooked. By cooking it on low heat, resigned to the fact that cooking the bacon will take a while, it cooks evenly, and I end up with the perfect crispness for my consumption preference. W_ prefers crunchy bacon, so my method is really no use to her.

Funny, how you can be friends with someone who is polar opposites on so many different levels. Of course, with her, our relationship with Christ is the mucilage that binds us.

In case you are interested, Gwaltney Hardwood Smoked bacon is altogether satisfying in taste, a mighty wonderful addition to any meal.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It is one thing when I forget to take my own medicine, but it is another when I forget Kashi's.

I came home from a visit at my writing student's home. The visit was filled with games, chores, and honest conversation. I didn't win. But I was treated to a wonderful dinner. Her mother made this basil pesto from scratch that was quite sumptuous. I even managed to bring a bit of leftovers back home so that tomorrow I will have an easy time remembering the good meal.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself because I had rummaged around in my closet and made a new outfit. The top I wore was a crocheted sweater that I had bought three years ago determined to fit into it. The strong melon color just did something for me that I cannot really explain, so I bought it without knowing if I would ever be able to wear it.

I was feeling good because her mother and I had a good conversation and spent some time in prayer together. There is nothing that beats praying with another Christian, enjoying the fellowship of Christ's salvation, the grace of God, and the Spirit's presence.

Alas, when I arrived home and started unpacking the groceries, I suddenly realized that I had rolled out of bed, achieved my wardrobe victory, played with my babies, and raced out the door to see my friends. I was so hasty that I forgot to give Kashi his pain pill and prepare his dish of prescription dog food, Cheerios, and the Chinese herbs to help with his Cushing's disease. I quickly prepared his evening meal and medicine and whispered remorse and sweet nothings in his ear as he gobbled down his meal.

As irascible and intractable a dog he has become in his old age, Kashi is a great companion who has walked my own path with me for eleven years. For that, I am truly thankful...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I spent much of the day today researching pregnancy symptoms during each of the trimesters and matching up those dates on a calendar from 1891 so that I could better know how Megan will be feeling and what will be happening to her body as this pregnancy progresses.

You know, given all the aches, pains, bloating, leaks, dizziness, fatigue, sleeping problems, clumsiness, heart burn, wacky emotions, congestion, nose bleeds, irritability, drool, enlarged veins, itchy skin, nausea, and vomiting, it is a wonder that women repeat the experience!

I need to read more about what was going on around her so that I can better intertwine the outside world with her own circumstances.

Someone criticized Megan, recently, for being too angry all the time, but at the point in the book that this person has been reading, it has only been six and a half weeks since she was brutally attacked and her husband brutally murdered. She is grieving the loss of her spouse and what she perceives to be a betrayal by her Savior. She is also facing the added turmoil of finding herself pregnant.

Something I set out to do was to show grief in a more realistic manner. So often, in Christian Historical Fiction novels, someone dies, and the loved one remaining sheds some tears and moves on quite easily. But this is not often how people grieve.

In a moment of spontaneity, Megan opens up her shuttered heart and flings some rather desperate questions at her neighbor. Not being a Christian, he asks her if she should really be directing her questions to her pastor or at least another Christian. Megan replies that they would just tell her to trust God. Her final question was to ask what is she to do if she doesn't know how to trust God?

How do you trust a God who allows you to be raped? How do you trust a God who allows that rapist to murder your husband? How do you trust a God who allows you to become pregnant from that rape? While the child is actually her husband's, she does not know that. She only knows her pain, her grief, and her fear.

For all she is hurting and angry at God for what He has allowed to happen to her and her husband, I find it an act of faith on her part that she still talks with God. While it is oft via questions flung out from her heart without expecting any answer or comfort, it is still a sign that run as she might, she cannot escape the faith deep within her. As a child of Christ, she gave her life to Him, and Jesus does not let go of His sheep. She might avoid reading the bible and loath going to church, but she does secretly savor each of the scraps of paper the woman who has come to stay with her leaves for her to find. On each is written a verse or passage of Scripture that oft troubles her soul even as it serves as a balm to her wound. Sometimes she clings to them as if they were a lifeboat in the turbulent seas surrounding her. Sometimes she crumples them up and tosses them aside...only to retrieve them later.

She is hurting. She is confused. She sees no hope for her future. Yet, even as she claims to have no need of a God who would choose this for her life, she cannot escape her relationship with His Son.

The ultimate answer to the question of how someone trusts God when he/she does know how to do so is deceptively simple: you just do. One day at a time. One choice at a time. Minute by minute, hour by hour, or day by day, you choose truth even when you do not believe it yourself and you walk in obedience even when you see no reason to do so.

We really do walk in blindness at times in this journey of the Christian life. Although we feel lonely, we are never alone. Although we feel hopeless, God is at work in our lives for His glory and our spiritual wellbeing.

Megan is stumbling along her path. She has yet to understand how this shaping of the clay of her life will have perfect form and substance in His perfect will. She doesn't see how brave and courageous she is in merely getting up each day and taking another step along her journey.

You know, hers is such a harsh story that I doubt any editor will ever give it a second look, but it is the story that I have to tell. I happen to believe that it is a beautiful story. And I do know that there are a whole lot of women out there who would find comfort in seeing themselves in Megan, in recognizing her struggles and seeing that there can be glory even in the path that Megan is walking.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the choices people make.

I truly believe one of the biggest lies people tell themselves that they are just too busy to do that which they would rather do or would like to do. The reason I believe it is a convenient lie is because each and everything that you do each and every day is a choice that you make. You choose how your day is filled. You choose what is most important to you and then make time for it.

For example, people say that they like to read, but don't have time for it. That is a lie. They do not make time for reading. They choose to do other than reading. Therefore, reading is not really important to them.

You spend your time in such a way that it reflects what you value most. To that end, the adage that says actions speak louder than words is absolutely true.

If you want to memorize scripture, then you memorize it. If you do not, then memorizing scripture is just not that important to you.

If you want to be friends, then you spent time sharing your life, caring for another person and allowing that person to care for you. If you do not, then you simply are not interested in the relationship.

If you believe in excellence, then you pursue it and hold your staff accountable. If you do not, then excellence is not really important to you. Expediency is.

If you want to write, then make time to do so. Otherwise, writing is truly not important to you.

The time for what is important is not always hours, it can be moments. There is this time management guru out there whose biggest mantra is take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.

No matter how busy you are, no matter what you have been juggling, no matter what is on your plate, you make time for the things that are important to you.

What is important to you?

You know what other adage is true? It is at times like these that you learn who your friends really are.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The best laid plans of mice and men...

I had gotten a new book before I learned that I was losing my job, so I set it aside for a dark day. Yesterday was such, where the battle to rest in God' sovereignty was particularly difficult. I opened the book and started reading. It was a harsh tale that took me to an unexpected place. I read and thought and read some more. Before I knew it, morning had come and the last page was turned.

So much for trying to reestablish a better schedule.

I was watching the news a while ago and saw that 7,000 acres of forest are now burning in California. In Siberia, Canada, and Australia, forest fires are also raging and men and women are putting their lives in danger trying to battle them. I learned that the people of New York City and St. Louis are still suffering the heat, with people dying from heat exhaustion from California to New York. Hundreds of thousands are still without power. Sweltering.

While it may be extremely difficult for me to be outside right now, I do have the luxury of the highly efficient air conditioner that was put in this spring. I am safe and secure inside my home and can sleep in comfort with cool air blowing across my room.

After praying for these people, I spent time thanking God for the blessings I do have in my life...

Monday, July 24, 2006

I had gotten into the habit of sleeping late, channel surfing, and then writing into the wee hours of the morning. And believe me, I do mean wee hours. I was writing until 4:00 or 5:00 AM, sleeping until 2:00 or 3:00 PM, only to do the same thing again the next evening.

Well, while I enjoy the time to write when my creativity flows best, I do recognize that this lifestyle is not the best for my health and to switch back on a dime should a call for an interview come would be difficult.

So, I have been slowing easing back, writing until 3:00, then 2:00, then 1:00 AM and getting up earlier each day. Today, however, the choice of rising early was not mine to make. The owner of the duplex attached to mine decided to hack away at his bushes. And I do mean hack! Below is a photo of what is left. The other side of the stoop is just as bad...

Now, you tell me what was the point of leaving them like this? If you take away probably 80% of the bush, shouldn't you just rip it out? I fear they will not survive this hack job. I am also curious as to why he did this. Strange, too, is the fact that the owner's son moved in a few weeks ago after the place standing empty for three years. It is not strange that he moved in, but the fact that his parents are still cleaning the house and doing the yard work for their grown son is. He is forty-five if he is a day, yet his stooped and grey haired parents are slaving away at the maintenance of the property. Weird, eh?

I feel sorry for those poor bushes...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On sci-fi movies, aliens that are found on earth are usually hunted, killed, and then autopsied. The Powers-That-Be make harsh decisions that are blinded by their own hate and fears. I have been wondering that if reality proved there were aliens if it would be as movies depict or if mankind could actually take a kinder path.

Somehow, I believe it would be difficult to put aside hate and fear. America's history is laced with such situations and we just don't seem to learn from them.

I have been doing all this research for the Christian historical fiction novel based in 1891. I realized a short while ago, that in the novel the Fourth of July was about to take place and wondered if and how Americans celebrated the holiday back then. Previously, I have written some about that, especially the anvil firing, which is just plain strange. The silly things that people do for excitement, eh?

But much of my research has also been delving into the crimes committed against the Native Americans at the time. My heart breaks each time I read of what was happening, the callousness with which the original inhabitants of this land were treated. Yes, there was vile cruelty on both sides, but the newcomers were the aggressors, greedy ones at that. To be true to history, the main characters all are ignorant to the injustices committed against the Native Americans on the very land where they were immersed in celebrating their freedom even while the freedom of others was being destroyed. To be true to history, that ugly truth plays no part in the story which I am writing. Still, my heart aches.

For years, it has bothered me at that as a nation we have driven Native Americans to near extinction. Yes, some tribes have built an affluent life in casinos, but for the most part, few full-blooded Native Americans still live. Some tribes no longer exist. Their culture and history and way of life have been destroyed by the indifference of their fellow Americans. Some of the poorest sections of our country are on the few reservations left where joblessness and illiteracy reign.

Americans reach into their pockets time and time again for victims of terror and disaster. Why do they then turn a blind eye toward their past and the terrible legacy living still ravaging today? Are we only responsive to the suffering that is politically correct? Give where the giving will gain mileage with friends, fans, industry?

I write this not to say that Native Americans are a pitiful people. No, they should be admired for their endurance and strength, supported and encouraged to achieve their dreams, and lifted in prayer each and every day.

Do you want to challenge yourself? Read Ignatia Broker's Night Flying Woman...

Friday, July 21, 2006

The wind blew all day today, but nary a rain drop fell. I believe that I will be forced to water in this heat. When I watered on Tuesday, I ended up with 48 mosquito bites on my legs and still more on my arms. Really, between whatever I was allergic (which has been spreading, by the way, despite my best homeopathic efforts) and these mosquito bites I look like something that belongs in a leper colony. And itch is most definitely a four letter word.

For this day, I had set a goal of finally connecting the two portions of my novel. Over the past three weeks, I have managed to write four chapters to get that accomplished. I know the writing is rough, but it fits.

Much of it is sad, much of it strangely mirrors my own heart even though Megan and I are in much different places in our lives, walking paths that are far apart.

Each of us are waiting for the time when...

"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved."

~Amos 9:13

Even so, I am grateful for this time to write...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I was humbled today in thinking of what being home right now has afforded me.

I have been able to write on my novel at my pace and whatever time of day I desire. I have been able to sleep as much as I desire, resting a body weary from overwork. I have been able to spend large amounts of time playing with Kashi, Fancy, and Madison. I have been able to lose myself in my favorite books, savoring the craftsmanship of others. Being alone so much, with so little contact with even friends, I have been able to delve more deeply into the bible and pray for fully for family and friends and this world in which I live.

And I have, this day, been able to share my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I struggle with worry and fear even when I believe absolutely in God's sovereignty. I battle my own ability to trust in His timing and look toward the coming weeks without any sign of employment or any response to the dozens of resumes that I have sent out to prospective employers. I am weak in my faith.

But God reminded me that even weak faith is something He can use to His glory. A vendor from my old job called and was overly upset that I had lost my job. She went on and on about all that I had done for the organization and the value it had in an employee who had such diverse talents. She did not understand why I was not as upset as she.

I shared my concerns with her and asked that she keep me in mind if she learns of any communications work, but I was able to also honestly stress that I believe that God is in control of even this. Somehow, in some way, my no longer working at that job is to my benefit, even if that benefit is only to glorify Him.

She was flabbergasted and asked me how I could believe that God was with me in being "discarded" by the organization. It was strange how her response mirrors my own hurt in the matter, but it also made me realize that I had no more tears for the decision that was made. It is still extremely hurtful to see so much of what I labored mightly to create and sustain set aside to wither and die away, but it was their decision not mine. I did do all that I could to honor God in my work and did not stoop to engage in the destructive behavior of others nor neglect my own responsibilities as so many of my co-workers do on a regular basis. I could not have worked harder, perhaps smarter, perhaps not. If the organization does not value ethical behavior and hard work, then I could not do more than I did.

I didn't disparage the organization to the woman, nor will I to anyone else, except for in the privacy of my friends and the veiled anonymity of this journal only a few read. For as hurt and even angry as I have been over the decision, I have not been public in the "truths" that have been so carefully shoved under the carpet there. The vp who left has done much damage to the organization, but he doesn't understand that he is actually hurting the low-income children and families who the organization serves or might serve in the future by his actions.

I could, and did, thank her for her concern. I could, and did, tell her of how Christ saved me and some of what He has done for me in the course of my life. I shared how weak my faith has been just now, but how very much God cares for me even so.

I think on how MS has made my emotions so very difficult to bear. I think on my anger at the butchery of the privet yesterday and how even now it has passed because I understand that there is essentially nothing I can do about the situation. I spoke with the county representative and had her look at the damage. She had me document it and assured me that the county would replace the privet if need be and would re-seed the grass that was destroyed. I used the energy of my ire to effect a repair on the fence that has long been on my mind. If the county comes through, the area will look better sooner or later. If it does not, it does not. At least I was able to not vent my ire on anything other than the fence pole. I spoke calmly with the county representative and at least in a civil manner with the general contractor. I wanted to yell at him, asking him how in the world he could think it was okay for him to hack away on the privet that was so clearly a part of someone's landscaping and far away from the brush he had been hired to clear away from the easement. I wanted to yell, but I did not. I merely asked him not to touch any more of my landscaping.

I think on these things that I am learning of myself and my faith and those who care for my well-being and those whose actions do not truly follow their words. I think on that which I have been able to do just now. I think on the wondrous moment that I could earnestly and honestly glorify God to another who does not yet know of His grace. That itself was a gift of this tumultuous time.

I will finish by saying that it is a bit eerie at times how much I mirror Megan, how her fiction reflects my truth and vice versa. I think on the truth I penned for her and wonder at how it really is for me...

But Megan understood that to spend all her time wishing for that which was not would bring her more heartache than that which was.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NOTE: Never, ever, ever, ever do anything while you are angry. You will only end up making things worse.

I got out the sealing pitch to try and cover all the twisted, broken, and exposed places on the privet. Then, after thinking on the whole matter, I thought I would go ahead and try to effect a fence repair that has been on my mind for a long time.

You see, the privet had grown up between the fence and was pushing one pole over quite badly, pulling on the entire fence from that point. I decided to pull the long pole out of the top of the fence, push the leaning post back over, and re-thread the pole back through the errant post and all the others along that side of the fence.

It was a good plan...just rotten timing.

Now, I thought my ire might actually help me gather the strength to maneuver the pole. I was right. However, I did not take into account the fact that the tar-based pitch would still be quite wet. When I reached out to use the privet as leverage to help push the post back into place, I ended up with my hand covered in the pitch.

For the record, soap, dishwashing detergent, 409, Windex, and Comet do not remove the stuff. However, as my friend noted during a desperate call for advice, mineral oil seems to help. After five rounds of olive oil (the only "oil" I have on hand) and comet thrown in for good measure, I was finally able to end up with just a faintly dark palm. I think the rest will fade in a few more washings.
I am trying really hard to be patient, but I am failing badly.

The county had a contractor come through to clear out brush dumped in the easement behind my home that runs back toward Cameron Run. Many of the flooded homeowners asked it to do so. But there was no survey work done at all. The contractor came in and just started hacking away. Those men cut off half of the privet that I had growing as a privacy screen to my yard. That privet was also shading the hosta bed that I planted to make beautiful that space. I have also worked for four years to clear out the weeds and plant grass to get rid of the mud pit.

The grass was scrapped away, the privet butchered, the hostas were crushed, and the mud pit is back.

I am very, very frustrated!

Monday, July 17, 2006

There is something in my backyard to which I am allergic. I have tried and tried to figure out what it is to no avail.

Saturday, my left wrist started itching. I knew I had been out in the yard last week, so I figured that I must have pulled up the wrong plant while weeding or something. By this morning, I discovered several outbreaks on my face. One of them is on the side of my nose , so putting on a Breathright strip is getting difficult. I cannot sleep without one, but I fear doing so might keep the oozing sores from healing. I also have outbreaks on both cheeks, on my chin, and on my right temple. Oh, not scratching and trying to keep it from spreading is so fun... I am trying not to feel like a monster, but frankly the stuff is quite gross.

I find it rather curious that I was out in the yard Tuesday and the sores did not really appear until Saturday.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mysteries of My Life

How a twice-baked potato can spoil... [NOTE: Eating one that has can wreak havoc on your stomach for hours and hours and hours.]

How 72 can be quite cool and 74 be unbearably hot...

How I can hardly control my shivers as I get into bed and wake up hours later sweating...

How I can get my feelings hurt again and again in the exact same situation with the exact same stupid expectations...

How I can be so "smart" and "talented" and "such a good writer" and have no job and no prospects...

How I can lose so many things in such a small home...

How such a pliable, flexible person as myself can have a such a stubborn dog...

How being ethical and hardworking gets a person nowhere...

How my lower left appendage can ache so much after six weeks in a cast...

How someone can be born a human being and not understand or fit in with the rest of her race...

How my own mother can care so little about me...

How after eleven years I never tire of watching my puppy dog curled up asleep...

How having multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and asthma can be a blessing and not a curse...

How my faith can be my stronghold and yet be filled with an overwhelming longing to belong somewhere, to finally fit in somewhere, to make a contribution somewhere...

How baby spinach salads can be so tasty...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I have two paintings from 1888 signed by Mrs. Leigh Chalmers that have been in my family for a long time. For several years now, I have been trying to find out who she was.

Tonight I discovered that the last page of the constitution of the state of Texas was signed by Leigh Chalmers, Secretary of the Convention that convened in 1875.

I also discovered that in 1885, Examiner Leigh Chalmers was appointed to look into the amount of money Wyatt Earp received in 1882 from US Marshall Crawley Dake. The case was based out of Dallas, Texas.

I believe the second Leigh Chalmers might have been the first one's son. Read the following obituary...

The Evening Star, December 28, 1903, p. 3

Major Chalmers Dead

Was for About Eighteen Years Connected With Department of Justice

Maj. Wm. Leigh Chalmers, who died last evening at the Mt. Vernon House, 9th street and New York avenue, was well known in this city, as well as in Austin, Tex., where he had been for many years prominent in business and political life prior to his assuming a residence in Washington.

Maj. Chalmers was born September 13, 1832, in Jackson, Tenn., but in early boyhood removed to Texas, where his father became secretary of state of the republic, under President Sam Houston.

In 1879 Mr. W.L. Chalmers came to this city, and for a number of years held a position in the office of the secretary of the United States Senate. In 1885 he was appointed to a position in the Department of Justice by Attorney General Garland, and with the exception of a few years was connected with that department continuously to the time of his death, having for many years traveled throughout the United States making examinations of the United States courts.

For several weeks prior to November 1, 1903, he had been engaged in laborious and exacting duties connected with the examination of certain United States offices under the Department of Justice in the Indian territory.

On returning from the west about the 1st of November last he was in bad health, and on reaching Hamilton, Va., where he had a country house, he became very ill of pneumonia, from which, however, he recovered sufficiently to permit his removal to this city. The disease was superseded by and complication with an acute inflammation of the brain, from which cause death ensued at 11:40 p.m. yesterday.

Funeral services will be held at 904 New York avenue at 2 p.m. tomorrow, and interment will be made at Congressional cemetery.


Could Mrs. Leigh Chalmers be the wife of either of these men? How did my family come to have her paintings? A family from Texas. Paintings owned by family members born at the turn of the century, who also lived twice near Washington, DC, before settling back in Texas.

Why didn't she sign them with her first name?

Curious and Curiouser...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Well, I keeled over in the yard again. Rather stupid of me...

I didn't mow last week, primarily because I was glued to the couch and drowning in the reality that I no longer have a job. This week, already it has been difficult to move as well. Yesterday, I waited for the phone to ring. I waited again for comfort. And then I threw the cell phone across the room (thankfully it is not broken) and dove into a thick book. All day I thought of the prescriptions waiting for me at Target, but couldn't inspire myself to pop off the couch, venture out into the heat, and drive the two miles it would take to pick them up.

So today, the pressure was on. I had to get up at 8:00 to take care of something and crawled back into bed at 9:47. The next thing I knew, it was 2:45 and Kashi wanted out and the birds wanted out and those prescriptions were weighing heavily on my brain. I did roll out of bed, but I did not get into the car until 5:30. It was an arduous journey to my vehicle.

I pulled away and started heading home before I remembered that my filter needed changing in my new HVAC system. It is quite dirty. I had checked it during the flood and promptly forgotten to get another one. So, I U-turned to head back to Lowe's and picked up some of them...yet another thing on the credit card. I was in sweats since clothing is not something I wish to tax myself with, which garnered me quite a few strange looks given the heat. I didn't care. In fact, I did some rather blatant staring back of my own. I did congratulate myself that I actually popped in a new filter as soon as I came home.

I wanted to rest on my laurels for a few more days, but I saw a weather forecast that spoke of rain for the rest of the week. Given that this strange stuff masquerading as grass in my back yard is as high as Kashi, I determined that I should mow.

It is hot. It is hot. It is hot. I puked in the flowerbed, drank some Gatorade (Blue because I am rather sadly out of Orange), and went back outside to finish. I should have used my inhaler. I keep forgetting that my oxygen drops with exertion. I keep forgetting and ended up face first in the grass. When I awoke, I was covered with mosquitoes because I had forgotten the protection. I checked my oxygen sats, learned I was at 84, and sat with the nebulizer. No coughing, just a wee bit of wheezing...yet I was in poor shape.

Of course, since I was drugged up, I decided to finish the yard. What's a mowing without an edging, after all? I whacked on the roses, which are looking rather peaked for the first time in four years, and gave them some fertilizer. I pulled some weeds. And then I sat down and studied that strange grass that now looked like thick spider legs that had been chopped off. Since I don't know what it is and I don't want it spreading, I started pulling it up, huffing and puffing and destroying. By the time I finished, it was 9:00 and I was covered with dirt that stuck to my sweaty arms and legs.

It took me an hour to cool down enough to take a shower. I am now clean and have just finished another nebulizer treatment to be on the safe side. With that bad asthma attack last weekend, I should have remembered that ones like that are often followed by secondary attacks...sort of like aftershocks.

I cannot pay someone to mow. It can't just let it grow willy nilly. Yet, mowing in the summer heat is not something that I can do easily without harm to myself. What's a gal to do?

The yard sure looks nice...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I spend most of this Sabbath with my father and step-mother out in the boondocks where they live. [Although I should note that much of their boondocks has been developed of late, filled with restaurants and superstores.] My father harangued me about who I had working for me to get a job and how many resumes were out there...which I found quite draining. But my step-mother had some more fruits from her yard to share (extra plants), had bought some suet for my bird feeder, gave me a Sudoku puzzle book, and made me a hose for my shop-vac as insurance against future flooding. Yep, she made me one, slicing off a piece of a long hose she had and popped on a new end. I didn't even know that was possible. It was as if she were giving me some "pick-me-ups" to stave off the sadness of another jobless week looming before me.

My grandfather marinated and cooked steaks to perfection, and my step-mother whipped up the most tasty of twice-baked potatoes, so dinner was quite satisfying.

Between my writings student's family and my step-mother, I was occupied on something else besides my sadness and worries. For this, I am truly grateful.

Yet...I am struggling because I feel so alone. All last week stretched out before me, mocking me. I wished for and wanted my friends to rally around and call me and check in and buffer me with stories and such. I wished my brother and sister would have called to see how I was doing. I wished to be needed somehow, in some way, to dispel the feelings of failure, of worthlessness. I didn't want to be an afterthought. I wanted to be planned for, important, loved.

I think I am plastered to the couch because I have been working 75-80 hour weeks. I think I am bone weary and heart sore and troubled by the fact that all that work amounted to so very little in the end, despite the caliber of what I accomplished... I think I need the time and space that this unemployment has afforded me.

Yet...I am struggling because I feel so alone...and this next week is looming large.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What a beautiful evening I spent at the home of my writing student. They had friends with 4 children over, and we had a revelry filled with sumptuous food, music, and lots of games. [Yes, I smoked everyone at Up for Grabs again.]

Being with them was so incredibly peaceful, truly so. We spread the joy of the new game, played some Uno and some computer-based Sudoku. My writing student played the piano quite beautifully, and some of the other kids chimed in as well. 14 people milling around, chatting and playing games, and eating good food in good company.

What more could you want in an evening?

Friday, July 07, 2006

My writing student mother called this afternoon to get me out of the house. I really resisted, wanting to stay in my pajamas and not wanting to be around anyone, not wanting to have to be cheerful. Ever the persistent friend, she convinced me to pull myself together and come on over.

When I arrived at their home, I saw all the kids on their bikes. After parking my car, I got out and hollered at them, "I think all you children are morally obligated to come play games with me!" To my intense pleasure, the oldest son hollered back that they would be in shortly.

Once inside, the youngest two went in search of Skipbo to no avail. So, the oldest son pulled out a "new" game, new because it had been lost in the recesses of the bedroom where my writing student abides.

Oh, I was ever so unenthusiastic about learning a new game. I hemmed and hawed something fierce, but he ignored me and started setting up the new game. The middle girl read the directions out loud and off we went into the wild blue yonder of my NEW FAVORITE GAME: Up for Grabs. Alas...I am already half sure that I will not be able to find a copy of my own.

I actually won. I mean, nearly all the games we play there, I am at the mercy of those brilliant children. My three degrees are naught before their mental prowess. But in this game...I am master!

What a precious gift my friend gave to me this evening

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I received a reimbursement check from my old job today and rolled off the couch to drop it off at the bank before the 2:30 deposit cut-off time. I then drove over to the grocery store to purchase some food that is more appetizing than the dregs that are currently in my cabinets.

While at the store, I was determined to buy nothing more than what I intended to buy in the first place. The first item of interest was some more baby spinach for salads. It was $1 off. I then when to get some cranberries for the salads, and they were $1.75 off. The chicken was $2/lb off, essentially half price. The pasta was $1.88 off and only $1 a package. The small pizzas were $1.98 off. The paper towels were $5.98 off. By the time I worked my way through the my mental list, only the salad dressing was not on sale. My total savings: $48.31.

I was more and more surprised as each item went into the cart. I couldn't believe what was happening. I was not picking out sale items, nor was I choosing off brands. Each item was simply on sale. I should not have been surprised. God clearly walked before me today in that grocery store.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thunderstorms tore through this area again. I lost power briefly.

My father keeps calling to find out if I have a job yet. When I reply that I do not, he queries me as to what I have done to get a job. His memory is not the best anymore, so I have to explain again and again and again why I was fired (if I do not understand "reduction in force," how could he?) and why I do not yet have a new job.

My brother called today asking the same.

Is it absolutely crazy of me to be curled up on my couch since Saturday?

My oxygen sats are finally better, though I am still so utterly fatigued. I have been reading and watching TV. Today, for instance, I watched a marathon of Celebrity Poker Showdown, 12 hours of it. Perhaps, I am now ready for the World Poker Tour? Bet strongly before the flop to bully your opponents. Ace/low card is a throw away hand. Play tight with several players in the game, but loose when it is heads up. If you have trips or another "unbeatable hand," milk your opponents, check/calling them to sucker every chip you can.

I have written on my novel some, but Megan hurts too much for me to spend much time with her just now. Aryanth would be a better companion, but the story intimidates me at times.

I took a shower today because I thought it was bible study night, but I forgot that we had a three week break, not two this time. All that water wasted.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a paragon of productiveness...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The storms are raging once more.

The birds are agitated, and Kashi is whimpering behind the couch. He keeps trying to find a place of safety to him. I understand how he feels. I wish I had one as well.

131 homes in the streets behind me were flooded out last Sunday. Many of them have been condemned. Fairfax County officials have been in the neighborhood ever since the evacuation that began late that night. At the entrance to this end of the neighborhood, county officials have set up a staging area where fire trucks, ambulances, police, gas company vehicles, and power company vehicles are parked. Piles of supplies and scores of individuals add to the controlled chaos there. Inspectors ride around on golf cart, and tow-trucks haul out the water-logged cars and trucks. Three giant roll-offs have been parked in the neighborhood, where individuals and heavy equipment operators can dump the debris from the flooded homes. Industrial pumps have been operating around the clock ever since.

The windows are rattling with thunder, while hail is pouring down once more. I wonder, looking outside, how much more those families can take.

There has been sun the last few days, but with the sun has come oppressive heat baking the area. Scattered thunderstorms also keep battering this neighborhood.

I suppose I should be content with waiting yet another week for a phone. I should be quite thankful that I live a block away, yet eight feet higher than all those homes. I should appreciate each moment I do have power and be grateful each time it comes back on in under a few hours.

My babies are a bit inconsolable. They do not understand that this time, too, shall pass. I do understand...yet I also know how they feel.

What an Independence Day this is...

Monday, July 03, 2006

I had no electricity for the last 22 hours, so while the air-conditioning is now on blast, I am still sweating. The phone is still out, and just now I learned that staying home all day was a waste of time. Getting up at 8:00 when I had been up most of the night because of the heat was a waste of time. The appointment for the 3rd was moved to the 10th, and no one bothered to call me.

I could have camped out on a couch at a house with AC, but stayed in the heat because I didn't want to miss the opportunity to have a repairman come out from Verizon.

Saturday, I had a rather nasty asthma attack that was worsened by the fact that I couldn't get to my nebulizer for about 45 minutes. My oxygen sats stayed dangerously low even on Sunday, and I am quite fatigued from the whole mess. Even now I am only up to 93.

I am ready for something good...something easy...some peace.