Thursday, November 30, 2006

Congrats to my writing student! She has been accepted to college! Woo Hoo! Yippee! Of course, I partly claim the credit for the most marvelous of recommendation letters I penned on her behalf...and helping her with the even more marvelous essay she crafted to accompany her application.

The whole process with writing the letter was rather difficult for me. My first draft was three full pages. I cut it down to two and a half. Then I whittled it down to two. Finally, reminding myself of the cold reality that most people will not read the second page of any business correspondence, I set about getting it down to just one page. She is an extraordinary young woman, so doing so was a great challenge.

Hah! She's going to college! I am already half jealous of those who will now have the teaching of her!

NOTE: Today, this last day of November, the temperature climbed to 70 degrees. Really, folks, doesn't that seem a little excessive? Are we even going to have a Fall before Winter arrives? Will we have a Winter? Of course, it was practically 80 degrees yesterday in Dallas and now they are covered with snow and ice!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Did you hear that Congress has determined that further study of the Trail of Tears is needed? They are worried that youngsters "don't have a clue" about this area of our past. I would say it is about time. I would also say that they have not even begun to understand what is missing from our history textbooks.

I watched a show on the History Channel with my father last week. It was a documentary on the True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai. Renowned movie that it was, it was also quite historically inaccurate. The inaccuracy themselves were atrocious in the light of the fact that this popular media softened, diminished, and otherwise glossed over the horror inflicted on thousands and thousands of men and the agony-filled deaths of thousands and thousands more. Would the movie had been so popular had it been an accurate presentation of what was essentially a death railway across Thailand and Burma?

Forget the fact that the location and the very structure of the bridge were inaccurate, what was missing was the truth about the Japanese who drove prisoners of war to achieve engineering feats near impossible with current materials...this they did with their bare hands and the simplest of tools. Scholars liken the work to the building of the pyramids. Why do we not know of this?

The Japanese refused to ratify the 1929 Geneva convention treatise on the treatment of prisoners they had signed, so the starvation and slave labor was perfectly acceptable to them. The overwhelming loss of human life and unbelievable human suffering was just a part of war to them. How utterly wrong were they in this stance.

The true story can be seen in the movie created by the BBC, but the images alone are hard to stomach. The fact and figures land like blows again and again. You think the story cannot get worse, but it does. Thousands of men, clad only in rags, really little more than walking skeletons, fought to survive against violence, starvation, hard labor, dehydration, and then disease.

The first prisoners where told that they were being moved to a place that was more like a resort than a camp. The Japanese were concerned about their accommodations and wished for them to be better. It was with hopeful hearts that the first few thousand willingly began a march through the jungle that ended in a nightmare none could have imagined. They were crowed into cattle cars and shipped like animals with insufficient food and water for survival. Many died along the way. Those who survived were ill and suffering. Others were dumped in the lower holds of ships, again with little food and water, only to be killed by friendly-fire bombs from allied pilots who had no idea of their presence in the ships below. Those lucky enough to survive the journey to the new camps were horrified to realize the lies they had swallowed and soon understood that living would become the greatest battle they had ever faced.

They carved a pathway through the jungle and through mountains of rock by sheer labor. The slightest lack of progress on their part resulted in punishment. Punishments included savage beatings, being made to kneel on sharp sticks while holding a boulder for one to three hours at a time, and being tied to a tree with barbed wire and left there for two to three days without any food or water. Men were also strung up by their hands with a rope looped over a section of the railway and left to hang without food or water for hours and days on end in the scorching heat. They stumbled in fatigue and were punished. Tools broke and they were punished. Labor shortages arose from death and illness and they were punished. Approximately 1 in 5 prisoners died building the railway.

Yet, despite the savagery they faced, these valiant men beat all odds to build a 200 mile pathway through a nearly impenetrable jungle. They labored mightily to save their lives. The Japanese heralded and celebrated the fabulous engineering feat of the railway. I would hope we honor the perseverance of the brave men, living and dead, who poured out their lives in extraordinary circumstances and yet continuously looked for even the smallest ways to support each other and uplift each other so that just one more might survive.

The Internet holds many documentary and memorial sites if you know where to look. One covers the railway itself. Another remembers Hellfire Pass. Some are about the community of Far East Prisoners of War. Some are interactive like this PBS one where you can view clips of tales by survivors. Some are a tribute to those who died there. Some are eye-witness accounts.

I wonder, I truly wonder just how many other tales of gross human suffering laced with ineffable valor are absent from the "history" deemed necessary for students to learn.

While the Trail of Tears is but a small moment in the centuries of absolute travesty committed against Native Americans, I supposed I should support this small effort to bring to light the truth of exactly how America became the harbinger of freedom to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I learned today that I did not get the job with MENTOR. Up until the point when I received the letter, I thought three interviews at least gave me a fighting chance. I cannot begin to express my disappointment.

Kashi has spent much of the day on the couch with me, at one point with his head in my lap. Clearly something is wrong, but I do not know what. He did eat this evening. I was able to get all three pills and his Chinese herb mixed into his food and added some strawberry frosted mini-wheat cereal for a bit of flavor. He ate about 3 tablespoons. Right now, he's slurping up his fourth bowl of water for the day. [This whole lack of eating thing makes it hard to get him to take the medicine for that.]

Normally, I would like that he is following me about and wanting to curl up at my side. It is just that doing so is not his normal behavior.

In case you were interested, a garden in Idaho of the late 1890's might have watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash, and green beans, in addition to the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and greens. Kids would carve their names into the young melons and squash and watch their names grow larger and larger as the vegetables ripened on the vine.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Packers let me down. I wanted very much for them to beat Seattle so that they remained behind the Cowboys record-wise. Of course, being an avid anti-Packers fan, it was kind of hypocritical to expect support from them in this crucial juncture in the season.

Boy, oh, boy, oh boy is Sunday's game between the Giants and the Cowboys going to be a big one! The Giants are all riled up on losing so many games in a row that they will be taking to the field in a querulous mood. I am thinking positive thoughts on the Cowboys newfound prowess.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Alas, the Giants collapsed and the Cowboys are alone at the top of the AFC East. What a wonderful moment it was to see that division listing! [However, have you ever wondered why a team in Texas, a southwestern state, is listed in a division labeled "east"?]

I spent much of the forth quarter on the mini-stepper. In 30 minutes, I actually covered 2,425 steps. Saturday it was 2,200. A 10% increase each day. I wonder if that is good or if I was just being lazy on Friday. At least pummeling away on that thing helps me forget my worries about Kashi for a little while.

He has eaten some, but it is sporadic. He has not had more than a single, small meal per day. He also is not really interested in his bones, treats, or any of my food. Usually, I practically have to kick him off my lap when I eat. I never thought I would actually want him to beg!

At least he still enjoys his walks. When we are out and about, he practically has me running, he is pulling so very hard on the leash. However, when we return home, he flops down and goes to sleep.

It is strange...he is spending a lot of time lying at the foot of the couch, on the kitchen floor, and on the bathroom floor. Everywhere I go, he follows, curls up in a ball, and sleeps. I guess you could say I am extremely worried because I kept picking up the video camera to take a few more frames of him sleeping. For example, he spent much of this day guarding a paper napkin he had stolen from me at breakfast. He was so assiduous in his guard that he slept with the napkin tucked beneath his chin and two of his stuffed animals on either side keeping guard while he took his rest.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I was so worried about Kashi last night that I got out my mini-stepper (something that has been sorely neglected even though I half stumble over it each time I go upstairs) and started pounding away my concern.

30 minutes and 2,000 steps later, I decided that killing myself via exercise was perhaps not in Kashi's best interest.

Today, I have thrown myself back into Megan's life. Of course, this means more research as she is currently trying to make changes in her wardrobe to accommodate her growing size. Did you know that in the 1890's, the prevailing pregnancy dress was known as the "Mother Hubbard" dress. It was a rather plain affair, made of calico, with long sleeves, a loose waist, and a small train in the back.

Given the work it entails, I very much am thankful that I do not live in a time when I would have to make all my clothing, when I would have to work at everything, cooking, cleaning, canning, gardening...even having to make the soap used in the laundry and cleaning. Imagine not having access to 409!

Friday, November 24, 2006

I have spent the day by Kashi's side. He is not eating. My dog LOVES food. Really, he does. He needs to remember those "loving feelings" and soon!

NOTE: I am losing the battle on getting three pills down him twice a day. I need to come up with a new strategy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I have another bit of advice when it comes to leftovers...In case anyone is keeping track: Indian food should not be consumed after four days.

I thought it might be a bit suspicious, but really the fifth day is not very long when it comes to eating many leftovers. The result of said consumption was much roiling of innards for many, many hours through last evening and late on into the night.

At 3:00 this morning, after munching on my fifth Tums tablet, I kept thinking about the Thanksgiving meal that was mere hours away. Clutching my gut and vowing to be much more responsible regarding leftovers, I wondered just what might have been growing in the Murg Mahkini that I had consumed. I finally was able to sleep around 4:00 after two more tablets and a glass of water.

I will say that I was able to consume far too many helping of this potato casserole that my step-mother created. It had eggs, butter, sour cream, and sundry other ingredients that resulted in the best tasting potatoes I can ever remember consuming. Hence, the extra helpings.

My innards, however, were not ready for large amounts of food. Sadly, I couldn't even manage to treat myself to a slice of chocolate mousse cake for dessert. In fact, the thought of dessert make me groan.

I did ask my step-mother if I could bring a slice home. However, I forget it at their home when I left. 45 minutes later, when I was getting my camera out of the car back at my house, I realized that I would not be eating any of the cake, even if my innards recover.

I did throw out the remainder of the Indian food. For the record, I could have gotten two more meals out of it.

Kashi didn't eat any more yesterday evening or this morning. When I came home, I managed to get his three pills down without breaking any skin on my fingers. After our battle of wills, he did eat a few tablespoons of food. I wish I knew what was wrong with him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I have been trying to deny it for over a week, but something is wrong with Kashi. He no longer treats food as his long lost buddy.

I broke down and took him to the vet today, knowing that if I did not, I would not have another chance to do so until Monday. He did not eat yesterday and had not eaten anything today until we were at the vet.

Dr. M is so very kind, she just sat down on the floor to address my beloved puppydog's concerns. She determined that his tremors have worsened and he appears to be in pain. Since he is already on pain killers, she prescribed a different supplemental pain killer, medicine for the tremors, and medicine to help with his appetite. She also gave him a shot to jump start his appetite and gave him some rather tasty, intestinal safe food. He ate about five tablespoons.

He has not eaten since.

I do not like the tremors. I do not like that most of the day his curly tail is drooping. And I definitely do not like the fact that my goat-disguised-as-a-dog puppydog is not eating.

I am most worried about my staunch companion!

NOTE: Forcing Kashi to consume four pills is a battle I do not relish repeating twice a day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am cold. I don't know why, but I am cold.

I turned the heat up to 74 degrees and put on three shirts, two pants, and two pairs of socks.

I am still cold.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What a day!

I applied for six jobs, made milk-chocolate-caramel chip cookies from scratch, briefly worked with my writing student, cooked dinner for my father and brother, played around with editing photos of my dear friend B's beautiful, bouncing baby boy that she gave birth to on the 17th, took out the trash, worked on my novel, updated my computers, vacuumed the house, scrubbed the gunk off of the stove, walked Kashi, cleaned the bird cage, burned some CD's, and finished putting away my laundry.

For dinner, I made refried beans and guacamole from scratch, chicken fajitas, and tacos. I was in the middle of practically throwing food around the kitchen in my attempt to create a great meal for my brother and father when my writing student called to ask if she could come over to pick up something, drop off a few things, and have me look at an essay for a scholarship application.

I told her to come on over without letting her know I was awash in culinary madness. Trooper that she is, she joined the fray immediately, helping me cook so that I could read her work.

Oh, if I had the moment to do so, I would have cried. Her writing prompt was to write something about walls. She chose the Vietnam Memorial, but never once gave name to her choice in the essay. Instead, she took her readers through the experience of approaching the wall and realizing the enormity of the moment and the lessons that memorial holds for those who dare to look.

A few edits, some quick discussion, and key bits of timely culinary assistance later, she was gone. A while later, both male relatives were sated in a most satisfactory way. A few hours after that my brother and I were cheering the Jaguars as they led over the Giants (I have high hopes that the Cowboys will soon be tied for the lead in their division, although the Giants will still hold the tie-breaker over them).

This day was filled from beginning to end. I must say, I am looking forward to tumbling into my bed. Still, this day was filled from beginning to end. For that, I am most thankful.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dreams can come true!

This day was marked by a great win for the Cowboys and losses for two of their three rivals! Now, if Jacksonville will manage to beat the Giants, that will be icing on my NFL cake.

Even in unemployment, I can enjoy Sundays. I can enjoy the day set aside for worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can fall on my knees beneath the admonishment that He is sovereign. I lose sight of this in being frustrated that I still cannot find a job, but each Sabbath that rolls around finds me still before the Lord, if only for a moment, in the realization of who I am in Him.

"Be still and know that I am God" He commands in Psalm 46:10. Much, much easier said than done.

Having football games all day long are both a blessing and a curse. I really, really enjoy football, but watching the games is another reminder of time gone by.

Yet, as I cheer my team on, holler at the refs for bad calls, hide my eyes from the wicked tackles, and jump up and down for those impossible catches...I can lose myself in the moment, forgetting all my worries and rest in the game that is football.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I used to look forward to Saturdays as a day of rest, a day that I could spend in any fashion I could wish. It was a day with no demands on my time, a day I could legitimately set down the burden of my job without feelings as I should try an accomplish just one more task before I slept.

Now, Saturdays are days I dread. They are long and empty, without even the promise of bad serial television to fill the hours. They are just one more day of unemployment, one more day that serves as a reminder that I have to place to go, I belong nowhere.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Two days until the Cowboys meet the Colts. Two days of hope for a Cinderella tale played out on an NFL field.

On paper, the Cowboys could win. On paper, a 5-4 team beating a 9-0 team is not that unrealistic. On paper, all dreams are possible.

Two days until those dreams can become reality.

NOTE: Mark this day as a joyous one for B brought J into the world to join his sister E in the family K. Mother and baby are doing well. Praise Him for this gift!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I am battling with my heart and my mind this day. This month is practically over in my mind, since I have only recently discovered that Thanksgiving is next week...not in two weeks as I previously thought. No one will be thinking about hiring me next week or the one thereafter. November is shot. No one will think about hiring me in December, so my next real opportunity will be in January. That is far too long a time to remain unemployed.

I have been practically paralyzed in my despair over how long it has been. When not immobile in reality, I have been shedding tears.

This day, this week, have not been good for me.

And yet…and yet I had an idea for one of my two novels that carried the main characters off a street where they have languished for months and taken them 30 pages further in the journey of their tale in just three days this week. Puzzles and intrigue and a new character were introduced. Things hinted at, things revealed.

Could that not be considered time well spent?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Would that I could have just one moment when I knew that there was at least one person in my life to whom my path mattered enough to remember the quotidian reality of multiple sclerosis or asthma or arthritis...or crazy enough...the battle of life with all three.

Not a day goes by where I don't long for just one day of feeling well. Not a day goes by where I do not hurt in one part of me or another. Not a day goes by where I am not starkly reminded how the holes in my cognitive function are growing, inexorably leading me down a path of no return. Repeatedly, I find myself defending that which I wish were a consideration of me rather than an inconvenience to others.

12 years of MS came and went did six with asthma...and three with arthritis.

Even the remembrance of a plastic fork would do wonders for my wearied heart.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I was reading something a while ago about a folk who identified with the Southerners in the Civil War, identified with just wanting the opportunity to govern themselves and choose what was right.

My writing student’s younger siblings are studying the civil war. A short while ago, when taking with them, I asked them what they had learned that day. They replied that they learned the civil war was about slavery.

Something clicked within me and I launched into a mini-lecture about how the civil war was really about state’s rights. I talked about how some states felt the federal government had no right to tell them what they could and could not do. I talked about the role of a common government and some current day examples of where the Federal government makes the rules and where things are left up to states.

Now, I explained that the main issue being debated under States rights was the right to own slaves. But to say the Civil War was fought over slavery is to diminish the deep divide that existed at the time. [Some would probably say that divide is wider than ever.]

Any how, in reading the comparison, I immediately was offended by how such a statement belittled the enormity and seriousness of slavery. It was no simple rights issue that was unfairly decided by a central government that cared only for the advancement of its highest citizens. The southerners were not oppressed individuals living in a corrupt society who wished only to live their lives out apart from all the standards, and yes hardships, inflicted by those who wished to have just one standard of life. The southerners were denying life itself to human beings. This was not a matter of who could marry or not, who would pay taxes or not. This was a matter of life and death and unspeakable cruelty.

The irony of my reaction was not lost on me in that moment. I practically shoved the fact that the Civil War was not just about slavery down the throats of a 6-, 9-, and 12-year-old. Yet, here I was, horrified, that slavery was not front and center as the reason for the Civil War in the piece I read.

P.S. Happy B-day to my sister!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I had another dream asthma attack last night.

I cannot remember but bits and pieces of the beginning of the dream, although the context is quite familiar to me. I was trying to escape something, traveling with just a bag, going from place to place looking for help. At one point, I was trying to get a bottle of water from a relief organization, but was not having much success. No one would help me.

Somehow, my dream transitioned to me arriving home (not the one I own now) and trying to sleep. My dear friend W came in and started talking to me. I told her that I needed to sleep, but she would not stop talking. She was smiling and poking me and dancing around a bit as if I were just being grumpy and should join in her play...despite it being after 2:00 in the morning. I kept telling her to stop, that if I didn't get sleep, the MS symptoms would get worse. She just smiled and talked away. I started begging her to let me sleep, but she ignored me.

As with the other dream, I began struggling with my breathing and realized that I needed help. I gave up trying to sleep and went to seek out a doctor. When I arrived at a clinic of sorts, W told someone that I wouldn't leave her alone. I couldn't believe it! I tried to explain that she had been keeping me up when I was trying to sleep and now I was having trouble breathing.

The whole time I was talking, W just kept smiling at me, dancing around, and telling the doctor that I was a bit off my rocker and to ignore me. She always does.

My breathing grew more labored and I began to panic. Once again I asked for oxygen or Albuteral, anything to help. But W kept insisting to the doctor that I actually didn't need anything, all the while smiling at me when the doctor turned away from her to look at me.

He listened to her and not me and left us alone in the room. W just smiled at me as I continued to struggle to breathe, the room grew hazy and stars flashed in front of my eyes. Instead of fainting, I woke up.

This time, my sats were at 88 when I awoke.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I got to thinking that there was really no one in my life who would really make me chicken and dumplings, so on a whim I started Googling recipes. I found one I sort of liked, but the dumpling part was just flour, salt, and water. So, I kept looking until I found one that was flour, salt, soda, and buttermilk. However, that recipe was weak on spices for the broth. I found a third that was strong on spices and combined all three.

And I made myself chicken and dumplings.

I would offer that my first try was about a B+. The broth was tasty, but needed more of the spices I used. I have always struggled with how to spice things in great quantities, such as with an entire Dutch oven of broth. I also would like to find out how to make the dumplings a little lighter and perhaps a bit flavored.

Still, I have five more helping of chicken and dumplings to savor this coming week...five more opportunities to savor both the taste and the accomplishment...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I thought that yesterday was a bit too soon for testing my abdominal muscles, so I delayed painting a second coat on the window trim until today. I tried to think of other things that needed doing, but in the end reminded myself quite firmly that this day of 70+ temperatures was not likely to come again until Spring.

I am on stand-by for when B goes into labor, so I also gave Kashi a bath and cleaned the bird cage in preparation of us all making the trip to PA for the arrival of her second child. I packed a bit, but concentrated on making a list for when the phone call comes.

After reviewing my packing list, I have determined that she will have delivered her child and returned home from the hospital by the time I am ready to set out on my journey of support and welcome.

I also cleaned the dishes, vacuumed the house, and did a few loads of laundry. Being productive all day feels quite satisfying to me just now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Are you bored with your workout routine? Do you feel as if you are not getting the results you expect? Well, let me offer a solution: hang out second story windows and paint the trim.

Yes, I did just that today.

My father is opposed to me standing on an extension ladder, and I have come to agree with him. His idea was for me to sit on the window sills and paint the trim that way. I was dubious that I could reach the top of the windows, but some hard thinking, two paint sticks, and some duct tape took care of that problem.

However, after the second window, my heart was pounding and I was sweating profusely. After the third window, my arms and legs were shaking. After the forth, I needed to use my nebulizer. All of that just to paint the trim around four upstairs windows.

The wood really needs to be replaced, but in lieu of that, I thought a fresh coat of paint would help slow the breakdown of the trim that has been battered by the weather since 1947. I just didn't understand how difficult it would be to do so.

The worst part is...I need to do a second coat tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The sign of a great friendship? Silence.

W and I spent a few hours on the phone tonight, thanks to Sprint PCS. We watched one show together, but the rest of the time she was watching one show, while I watched another. I also spent some time winning at poker again on my $2 hand-held game. [Alas, after getting to $96,470 I melted again and lost it all.]

Much of our time was spent in silence, yet it was companionable silence. It was as if she were right beside me on the couch, a reading-a-book-while-I-listened-to-music sort of thing.

23 years is a long time knowing someone. Definitely there have been ups and downs along the way. Things that I didn't understand. Times that I frustrated her. Periods of strain and confusion. However, neither of us has ever really let go. After all, we are sisters in Christ.

Of all of that time, we really only lived near each other for two years and a few summers between college semesters. Instead, ours has been a friendship of letters, then e-mails, then cell phones...with a few visits here and there.

W knows me backwards and forwards, inside and out, and only sees the woman Christ has created. That is a marvelous thing. She wants nothing, expects nothing, other than for me to be me. What a wondrous thing. We agree. We disagree. We like very different things at times, but the differences do not really matter in the long run.

For a long while, she traveled a darkened path on which I struggled to remain beside her. During the latter part of her journey, I was the most distant from her than I have ever been. In part, that distance came from counsel from my family that she had just become too "toxic," a judgment made when I shared with them my own frustrations that W seemed to take one step forward and two steps backwards no matter how I tried to help her. Seeing her that way was breaking my heart and wearying my soul. I bowed under the weight of their criticism of me for still befriending her. My calls and correspondence slowed down to a trickle. Now that she is on the other side, I feel as if I could have done more. I feel as if I let her down in my own weakness, instead of being ever strong for her. The woman that she is came in her response to my confession: You were there, always there...even when I made it difficult for you to do so.

There is a difference between someone who is toxic and someone who is merely deeply wounded. W is the latter, my mother is the former. W does not care if I weight 108 or 180. W does not care of my hair is past my waist or my shoulders. W does not care if I wear sweats or a suit. None of that really matters to her. All of it matters to my mother. As she is wont to remind me, I am a constant disappointment to my mother, whereas I am a source of joy to W...someone who forgives my weaknesses and is thankful that I am her friend.

Little does she know what a gift that response was to me.

So, tonight we sat in silence. And it was good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It has been a dreary, drizzling day. Despite that bit of alliteration, rather uninspiring. I've written little, cleaned little, organized little, and been otherwise rather unproductive. I did win a couple of Scrabble games with my dear friend B. Still, I have little to show for this day of my life.

Is it not a marvelous wonder that we get to start our lives over again each and every day?

Here's to a better day tomorrow!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yesterday, after my father chortled over the end of the Cowboy-Redskins game (when he moved north he switched loyalties), he helped me remove the window unit from my bedroom window and carried it downstairs and outside to the lower deck. My father was all for throwing it away, but replacing it would be quite expensive, if I needed one to cool down my bedroom in the future. With MS, being cool is paramount, especially when trying to sleep.

Now, you know that I had to replace my three-year-old interior AC unit this spring, which practically made me weak with nausea. However, the first contractor did not really put in a good unit, despite his claims, so I was much cooler this summer...most likely a combination of the attic gable vent fan I installed last summer and the new unit from this spring. In any case, I did not use the window unit and wanted to finally remove it. I thought perhaps I could store it under the deck using the tarp I purchased last spring to cover the used, but rather new, oversized heater I had to replace and consequently donated to Habitat for Humanity.

With the window unit out, I can open the window a crack to help with the heat that rises to the second floor in the window. The other plus was that I was a bit surprised to see how much larger the room looks without it, even though it only extended past the window ledge six inches into the room.

Anyhow, my dad when walked into my bedroom to help with the a/c unit, he immediately pointed out that my fan was on reverse. I didn't believe him, but turned off the fan and flipped the switch before turning it back on again. He was right! All summer long, in trying to remain cool while I slept, I have been running the fan on high and wondering why it didn't make a bigger difference in the temperature. Boy, did I feel a bit dense...

After he left, I used my self-ire energy to paint the exterior of the kitchen window and the framework surrounding the door. Today, I worked on scraping this white substance that covered the uppermost layer of red bricks next to the old siding on the second floor. Since the siding is painted brown, the white substance particularly stood out between the brick and the siding. I used a metal brush, thinking that would be a good solution for scraping away the substance.

Well, the bricks are no longer white. However, neither are they red. The metal of the brush appears to have melted onto the bricks and they are now a bronze color. At least they are a better color match...

Good intentions, eh?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alas, such a sorrowful day, this day.

I am grieving for the robbery of the Cowboys at the hands of their complete inability to stay their penalties and the fortunate happenstance of the Redskins.

As loyal as I am to my 'Boys, 10+ penalties in the past two games is really unexcusable.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Another day of home improvement labor, a culinary victory, and... losing to a nine-year-old at Up For Grabs.

After working hard in the basement bedroom, I retreated to the main floor to play a few games with the two youngest children. However, not too much time later, they were noting quite vehemently that the hour was late and supper was about to be past due.

I thought about going back downstairs to ask my writing student's parents if they wanted me to cook something, but I decided to just investigate their refrigerator. I spotted some ground beef and flour tortillas and thought of tacos. They ended up having hard taco shells as well, so L and I started cooking.

L surprised me by declaring that we could make refried beans from scratch with the pinto beans we found when looking for the former. The result was rather tasty, if I may say so.

Also tasty was my first attempt to make guacamole. My writing student's mother had to pop over to the home improvement store for some more supplies, so I asked her to pick up some chips, limes, avocados, and more tomatoes. After mashing the avocados, I added minced onions and garlic, cumin, lemon juice, dried cilantro, salt and pepper. The general consensus was that my first attempt was a success.

I have to admit that I had planned on working for no more than five hours and then go home because I have been pushing my body physically far too much of late. But once we started cooking, my notions of cooking a meal for them and then going home left rather quickly. Yes, I took advantage of more free food. However, it was oh so different from the monotonous fare I have been eating of late that I found myself digging into the meal with relish.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I would give myself a B- on my interview today.

Thanks to preparation help from a couple of people and prayer covering from my friends, I walked into the interview the calmest I have ever been in that situation. I felt the ineffable peace of Christ filling me and welcomed the opportunity to talk.

However...I think I talked too much. Our time was shorted by a delay by the interviewer, and I just didn't make it through my portfolio. I didn't even fully answer her one main question, though I did answer her follow-up questions. She did like my design work though...

I should hear next week whether or not I have made it to the next step of their hiring process: yet another interview. I shall focus on the adage that "the third time's the charm" and hope for that chance!

I will say, though, that I learned something this week. Thanks to the support of my friends and the task of putting together the portfolio and on-line resume and portfolio, I found the self that I had lost at my last job.

This week I was also able to finally move forward in my novel once again. I have been stuck on having to write another sermon. While the particular message of the sermon is not what spoke to me this week, the work of creating it touched my soul with such sweetness. I have asked my friends to read it, to see if they make the connections I crafted into the message..perhaps asking a bit too strongly. But immersing myself in the Word of God proved to be the anchor I needed.

I lost myself in hard labor, writing, the portfolio, and the Word of God...I lost myself and found what I had already lost along the way.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Today, I laid a laminate floor in bedroom where I have been honing my home improvement skills. I did have the help of my writing student's siblings, but her mother had one unexpected thing crop up after another.

WS' middle sister is twelve. You would not believe how much of a help L has been during the renovation process...both on this bedroom and on their computer room finished last month. Between the two projects, She helped paint, lay an Armstrong vinyl floor, hang drywall (including measuring, cutting, floating, taping, scraping, and sanding), and lay the laminate floor (including measuring, cutting, and fitting pieces all by herself. At twelve!

I have enjoyed working with L because I have also watched her gain a certain level of confidence that has been a pleasure to witness. I mean, she already knows her way around the kitchen (although she is the epitome of the messy cook), but I think this is something more. What twelve-year-old girl do you know who can join a construction crew and work in a commercial kitchen?

L is also a great athlete, a creative movie maker, and a fierce game-player! She has no problem beating me. [SIGH] Aside from the latter, she is amazing. I find myself thinking about her potential when she is grown and marvel that two such strong young women are growing up in that household. Given the fact that the six-year-old sister is already reading, beating me at games, and better than me at remembering the rule of Texas Hold 'Em poker...I think another one is on the horizon...

I did practically run out of their house once the floor was done. Working from 9:45 until 7:14 was a bit more than I had anticipated. The blasted doorway to the room was my nemesis and slowed down the rate of progress for over an hour. I am hurting again, especially my lower back. If only I didn't need those particular joints.

I am ensconced in the green chair, having taken both Ibuprophen and Tylenol (washed down with a curative dose of Dr. Pepper). I have only to burn the CD, review the on-line resume and portfolio I created this week, and ... get to bed at a decent hour! No more staying up all night writing and watching mediocre movies on television any more, eh? I will have a job soon...I hope...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I found this day to be rather sad for me. I did not wish for November to come while still being unemployed. Even with the possibility that Friday holds, I struggle with having no place to contribute, no way to support myself.

I had another "bad" piece of mail float my way, a $697.53 shortfall on my escrow account. This is on top of an existing shortfall. I do not have that kind of money to send off to the mortgage company.

I really hate that I think about money as much as I do. I hate more the reason why it is so much on my mind.

I do have to think about what I have been able to accomplish on my novel and on how much rest I have gotten after working 60-80 weeks for months on end. Those two blessings of being unemployed alone should help me to remain thankful each day.

Should being the operative word...

I did managed to print most all that I needed at Staples, which is having a sale on color copies this week. And I think that I have my portfolio as ready as possible. All I have left is to create a CD rom to leave with them since most of what I have is my only copy.