Sunday, December 30, 2007

I tumbled down the stairs yesterday.

I tumbled down and had the bookcase fall upon me.

I tumbled down because I missed a step.

I missed a step because I was having an asthma attack.

One trip to the ER. One trip home with many, much swollen and grotesque bruises and a sprained shoulder. One sleepless night because of pain. One day writhing in the green chair. I think I shall be ruing yesterday for quite a few more days.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I was ever most productive at work. That has been my goal of late. I am not sure how sustainable it can be, but I have been making a serious effort to do so.

Mostly, it is a self-preservation mechanism. Partly, it is a desire to do my work "heartily as if for the Lord."

I have been most frustrated at this job. I can do ever so much and yet everything is hurry up and wait. Design this. Oh, there is no budget for printing. Plan this. Nope, not yet. I have become skilled at mass mailings, having gotten them down from fifteen business days to five, even with doing all the writing, designing, printing, stuffing, sealing, labeling, and stamping myself. 1000 pieces of sheer boredom. I do it, because I am fettered at my own job and there is no one to do this work.

At times, I am so disheartened by doing mailings when I have a Ph.D., when I have skills and talents that are being wasted. In between the mass mailings, there are the monthly mailings to the foster and respite parents. I design, write, print, stuff, seal, label, and stamp those as well. In between the mailings, I get to research a bit, write a bit, and plan a bit. But most of that has gone ignored for the most part. My strategic plan and communications plan has been sitting for three months. I have ideas. I have skills. I have vision.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have been waiting my whole life to do that which I could do. At 40, I am running out of time.

Anyhow, I made it through that party and decided that in order to survive, I had to shift my focus to what I can do rather than what I cannot. God is sovereign. He gave me this job. While I can see no purpose and want to leave, I shall honor Him in the days I have left.

Hence, this was a most productive week. And...I shall celebrate by taking a vacation day on Monday so that I have from now until Wednesday free from my work the burden it has become.

One newsletter. One Tips, Tools & Resources. One very long weekend to rest in the satisfaction of a job well done.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christ was not born this day. I am not so foolish as to believe that He was. It is, however, a day set aside to celebrate His birth, to savor this most precious of gift God bestowed upon us.

I celebrate His birth. I rail at how commercialized this day has become, but I celebrate His birth.

However, should not we, who call upon Christ as our Savior and Lord, celebrate His birth every day? Why should one day be more important than any other. We know that the shepherds were in the field when He was born. We know that the typical time for that to have happened was Spring to Fall. I could go on and on about how man decided this arbitrary date. However, the evidence and historical path to this date really does not matter. What matters is that man decided.

I could wish that man decided a few other things about this date than those we have now. I mean, the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world is also the day by which retailers mark the health and well-being of our economy. How twisted is that? He who tells us to deny ourselves, to lay down everything we have and follow Him is celebrated by mass accumulation of goods? By people often extending themselves in to serious debt just to do so?

I received presents this year. I am thankful for them, thankful for the financial ones that have helped to whittle down my own debt from being unemployed for so many months. But, oh, I could wish I had the will power to say please do not give me a gift. I choose to honor this day for what it should be, not what it has become.

Should I? Should Christians eschew the giving and receiving of gifts? Or do they not matter since this is really an arbitrary day that holds not real place in history?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

E, B's young daughter, is gaining much skill in her application of my make-up.

She carefully spreads my moisturizer and then pats on my foundations. Her powering could use a bit more coverage, but at least she no longer feels the need to do my eyes and ears. She can swipe on my eyeshadow with good coverage and has learned to concentrate the application of blush on my cheeks. I do the eyeliner and mascara, modeling for her that when it comes to sticking things near your open eyes, you should always do it yourself.

I enjoy getting ready with E. She is oh so very serious about helping me. She is her most patient and her most gentle while doing so. When we are sitting together, peering into my mirror to check her work, I forget at times that there is nearly 37 years difference between us. In that mirror, I see the young women she might become.

I see her curiosity. I see her tenacity. I see her wonder.

Once again, I will say that I am much cared for while in B's home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I must admit that I was in grievous error: I was wrong. Yes, as difficult as it is to actually type those words, I would be remiss in not doing so.

I post here for all the world to know that I was wrong.

Hark, all who can hear (read)...let it be known from this day forth and forever more that I was wrong in disparaging B's culinary preferences.

She liked the spinach-stuffed triangle pasta!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I have the J magic!

I tease B rather mercilessly that I have the magic with her young son. Of course, I am telling the most absolute truth when I do!

I believe that one of my all time favorite experiences has been to get him up from his nap. From the moment I met little J, he had this magic way of smiling at me. It is a slow smile, a sweet smile that lights up the whole room. When B came to help me out when I had surgery last April, right before I had to go in, J woke from his nap. There in the waiting room, I called his name. J. J. And there it was. His beautiful smile. A moment a peace and joy to savor instead of holding on to the angst that filled me.

I think the truth of it is that I channel the magic from his smile. When we know he is awake, I volunteer to go fetch him because I know what will come of it. I peak my head into the door and call his name in a silly, sing-song fashion. J. He greets me with that smile and my heart overflows.

I scoop him up and toss him on the changing table where he is most docile for me, despite my fumbling around with those blasted snaps that seem to come on just about ALL clothing for children. He doesn't mind. I have the J magic.

Twice I have even trimmed his nails whilst he lay patiently waiting on me. And a few times I even sucked out the muck from his nose with nary a cry. Miraculous, eh?

B sometimes has to throw a leg over him just to get his diaper changed (she is a true contortionist). He throws fits when she tries to clip his nails. He vehemently protests her removal of his muck. She does not have the J magic. I do.

Now that he is a wee little man of one, we share the most special of moments whilst I am changing him after his naps. He lies there on the table, telling me all about his dreams and thoughts and wonders. He claps his hands together for emphasis at times. He smiles at me and even chuckles a time or two. It is a marvelous magical moment. One that B allows me to have as much as I want.

Now, tell me, is that not the sign of a true friend?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am resting in the bosom of my best friend and her family. I have safely arrived after driving far too tired for such a distance. I am here.

When I was leaving at Thanksgiving, B's husband G completely surprised me when he kindly observed how well I fit into his family and invited me to come again at Christmas.

Remember how that visit went? Serious asthma attack. Injured bird. He wanted me back? Surely it was that third helping of turkey and dressing talking, eh?

Well, after I returned home and sufficient time for digestion and reflection had passed, I asked B if G was serious. He was. I came.

While driving, I realized that I was quite tired. Too tired, in fact, to be behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle, especially once filled with my puppydog, my bird, and my laptop...and me, I guess. B talked with me once I realized I needed assistance, but when she asked if it was all right to pop in the shower before I arrived, I acquiesced, knowing that I would probably keep her up past her bedtime. But I was ever so tired.

Knowing my brother in CA would still be awake, I called him for help. BIG MISTAKE. After a short while, he told me he didn't want to talk to me because we had already talked that week, he belittled my need, called me ridiculous, and hung up on me. I was in tears.

I drove up to B's house in tears. I was fighting them back as I smiled and embraced her, greeted heartily by both B and G. My brother doesn't understand why I would choose to spend the holidays with B's family rather than mine. When I tried to explain, a few days ago, tried to explain that there was no fighting, no criticism and that there was love and peace, his repeated response was that our family was not perfect.

Well, neither is B's. She and G get frustrated with each other, with their children. B and G wish some things were different. But B and G don't judge. They don't weigh and measure every thing you do, how you dress, your weight, your hair, your work. They just love and accept you as you are, even celebrating those flaws (micro in my case) you might have.

I am disappointed that I let my family get to me at this special time B and G are giving me with their family. I need to wrap up my tears and set them aside.

I cannot begin to describe how wide and how deep is the love of God, nor can I describe how he has poured out His love for me through B and G and their children. Oh, how I am blessed...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

While mention of my thoughts of this day here for all to see might seem contradictory to sum of them, I shall do so anyway.

I am heartily embarrassed. In fact, I am uncomfortably so.

Yesterday, all day, I was congratulated on the party. I could not have asked for more effusive praise. Apparently--this is not my hubris speaking--it was the best party the agency has ever had. Would you believe that? After all, it truly was cobbled together at the last minute. How could it have been that good?

Well, I think the tipping point was either the musicians or the activities. The past parties were more gift exchanges rather than an actual event with things to do for all involved. Still, it was a hasty affair.

I am embarrassed because I only deserved a smidgen of it, if any. After all, it was all of our donors who made the party happen. One of them was the woman who fed me ideas for the party since I have never planned one for children and youth heretofore. Mostly, my contribution was a great big passel of organization.

I was given a standing ovation today. I was given flowers. I was awarded our weekly "Pat on the Back" that is shared within our department. I received another dozen or so congratulations.

It got to the point that I was ducking fellow employees and hiding out in the bathroom. Okay, perhaps that is a bit much, but was all a bit much.

Driving home, I spent my time praying for those children. They were worth the angst and pressure and frenzied labors. Perhaps my effort to let them know that they are loved and celebrated hit home and might inspire additional such efforts by our agency as the months and years pass. Perhaps...

Monday, December 17, 2007

I hand wrote 24 different thank you notes today at work. I found it difficult to ensure that each one was unique and personal to the recipient. It was a bit of a chore.

However, all those who came together to help out with the party...the gifts, the supplies, and the food...well, each one deserved our token of our gratitude.

I would be remiss if I did not note that much of my gratitude goes to the Lord of Lords. It was patently clear to me that God's hand was at work in creating a joyful time for children and youth who have such little joy in their lives.

I lift a paean of praise to Him!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Well, it is over.

What is IT? The blasted holiday party for the foster children that I have been cobbling together over the last four weeks. I was so tired by the time this morning arrived, I think I might have sleep-walked through the entire event.

Those who know me well will not be surprised that I had a box packed for each element of the party, complete with a packing list taped to the top. Those who were manning the activity stations, such as face painting or cookie decorating, only had to unpack their box of supplies and set them up in order to be ready to go.

Of course, the day could not have been perfect. That truly would have been too much to ask after begging and cajoling folks to help out and all my planning/creating spreadsheets and literally driving myself crazy for weeks on end in order to make this party happen. What snafu occurred? Well, when we arrived, I found that the kitchen was locked up and our food was behind a secure door as well. I did manage not to cry nor loose my cool. I did rather frenetically pursue a keeper of keys to release my hostages. The 30 minute delay did not ultimately impact the party, so all was well.

One of my donors, the one who was paying for 1/2 the pizza did not come through with his pledge. Then my phone stopped working just as I was trying to touch base with Domino's about our order. Awaiting the timely delivery of 35 pizzas was a bit nerve-wracking for me.

The pizza arrived. The activities were a hit. The musicians were phenomenal. Santa, while a bit off his rocker, entertained the children and youth. The parent raffle was a success. The food was filling and satisfying. All in all, the party went well.

I was bleary-eyed before it even began and could not really tell you much about actual events between the three hours 150 people were milling around. Nor could I describe the clean-up or the carting of supplies back to our office. And, well, frankly, I was barely conscious during the drive home.

What did I do once I arrived here? You tell me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Congress announced that it will be investigating the interrogation tapes that were destroyed.

When did Congress become law enforcement?

Perhaps if Congress focused on the problems of the country and left alleged criminal behavior to the Department of Justice, we might just might finally see some progress against the plethora of pressing issues we face in this country.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, my! How I enjoyed my trip to see Sugarland!

On the way there, my friend D and I drove through a mist that parted to reveal a herd of deer. The moment was made all the more special shared with a good friend.

D was ever so patient with me. He arrived 12 minutes early wanting to detour to Lorton. Lorton is NOT on the way to least in my opinion. I presented myriad reasonable thoughts about not going until the next day, over and over again, as I packed up my things for our road trip: two inhalers, cough medicine, EpiPen, nebulizer, Chloroseptic, cough drops, and water. By the time I was ready, he caved from his desire to take care of his errand and agreed to get on our way.

The concert ended up being 112 miles and a mere five turns from my home. Of course, turn 3 brought us to a stand still for a while. I panicked in the passenger seat until D pointed out that we only had to average 37 miles an hour to arrive by my target time and surely the next turn (in 12 miles) would bring us back up to speed. Not even once did he tell me to "chill."

After our magic mist moment, our next adventure was a stop at Taco Bell since we were making such good time. It was an adventure because D has an allergy to gluten and he had never eaten at a Taco Bell before. We had to check out the ingredients on a half dozen menu items with the manager before D felt safe to consume some food.

On our way again, we were able to slip into the parking garage and make our way into the arena with 45 minutes to spare before the concert!

If you look really carefully, you can see Sugarland in the white blob on the stage. It is easier to see Jennifer Nettles on the main screen above the stage. She was singing their song "Stay."

Jake Owen opened the concert. I cared not for his music, but found the row of screaming young girls behind me who were fawning over him the entire span of his performance a bit amusing.

Next came Little Big Town. I do enjoy their least most of it. One of the pure highlights of the concert was when they sang "Boondocks." The whole arena of people were on their feet singing and clapping, dancing and swaying to the music. Old and young, male and female. It was an incredible moment of camaraderie, of fellowship in the human condition.

That moment came again and again with several of Sugarland's songs. Of course, by then, I was singing along with my crowdmates. I tried not singing. I tried to be careful about my still sore throat and my asthma. But two songs into their set, I was lost in the music and singing at the top of my voice. Perhaps the fact that I used both inhalers and the cough medicine just prior to singing saved me another trip to the ER, eh?

The Sugarland merchandise truck had broken down on the way to Charlottesville, but it did arrive by the end of the concert. D spotted the shirt I wanted immediately. you think I choose the red one, the blue one, or the GREEN one? He called it a Jolly Rancher shirt because of the font on it, but I cared not.

My one disappointment was the fact that there was something wrong with the sound during Sugarland's performance. I am rather loathe to admit that for much of the time, Jennifer Nettles sounded like a chipmunk any time she hit the higher notes. We had listen to their cd's on the way home to remind ourselves what a great voice she has. I guess I could not expect a perfect evening.

Besides, I told D that the sound issue meant that we will need to go to another Sugarland concert! I also told him I wondered just how far he would travel for me to get my Sugarland fix. My stepmother, when she learned that we were going on a road trip for the concert, commented that he must really like the band. She didn't quite understand my response: D didn't travel for Sugarland; he traveled for me!

Do you have a D in your life? Do you have someone who will do something that he/she is absolutely not interested in doing just because you want to do it? Twice now, D has chauffeured and accompanied me to sit through a concert by a band he cares not for. He cares not for Sugarland, but he does care for me.

Such blessing there can be in true friendship...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In less than two hours, I shall be on the road to see Sugarland for a second time. I am hoping another ER trip will not be a part of this venture, but I am ever the weeist bit worried. I have been ill since before Thanksgiving, and I just cannot seem to get well.

I must admit that I am also a wee bit disappointed that I will not be able to sing. I mean, standing in a crowd of thousands who are all singing with abandon is kind of great. I won't get to join them...unless I want that ER trip.

My voice, while back, is still rough. I cough all night long. I am still quite congested. And I have ferociously sore throat. However, I am going to this concert!

Cross your fingers for me...

Friday, December 07, 2007

When do you draw the line and say that your ethical integrity is more important than a salary? When is who you are as a person more important than ensuring you have enough money to cover your prescriptions? I will never, ever understand how people can solicit funds for a children's event and then say internally that they want to use the money otherwise. How can I be a part of that?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I found a most tasty item at Costco today. However, to my sorrow, I am certain I could not share it with my friend B. You see, what I found was triangle ravioli stuffed with spinach and mozzarella cheese topped with savory herbs and a bit of olive oil.

I confess that I went back to the tasting booth five times, even though I had already put a package into my cart.

B just does not appreciate food stuffed with spinach. While I do not care for spinach by itself, paired with cheese I find the green vegetable most tasty. In this pasta dish, it is altogether satisfying.

I suppose I shall have to eat the entire bag of ravioli myself rather than share it with B and G when I return at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My dear puppydog has been ardently guarding my gloves from the moment I came into the house and accidentally dropped them on the floor. Oh, how I have forgotten his deep abiding affinity for my winter gloves!

He lies couchant, gloves between his two paws, for hours on end. Should I dare walk near him, or even cast an eyeball in his direction, Kashi will lower his head to cover them and growls menacingly.

Although he is loathe to do so, Kashi will eventually ask to go outside. During a snowstorm, as we have had this evening, my habit is to follow him outside and shovel snow off the deck and stairs whilst he attends to his business. As soon as he is done, Kashi casts all thoughts of lingering in the yard aside and bolts for the back door, where he waits rather impatiently for me to let him back inside. When I do open the door, he pushes past me, races around the corner, slips and slides across the floor, and flings himself down to protect "his" gloves once more.

It will be a wily move on my part should I actually be able to retrieve them so that I can wear them again tomorrow. Serves me right for dropping them in the first place!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Still half frozen from being left at the metro earlier this morning, I managed to turn one interview into three! I do believe that by the new year I very well may have a new job! I did manage to parlay one visit into a second one some time next week. More people to meet. Another opportunity to see if I might be a good fit for a job where I will actually be using my skills, even if it means walking away from messaging and communications. I am trying to remain nonchalant by the prospect.

After such a heady experience where not one, nor even two, but three people told me that they were impressed by the diversity of my skills sets (finally someone who does not want me to fit into a box), I was buoyed enough to attend a roundtable discussion following by a holiday networking affair.

At the roundtable, I was emboldened to share my ideas about the need for shared messaging about affordable housing in the area. Instead of promoting the "I," the developers and community groups needs to start sharing the "we." The messaging also needs to focus on how affordable housing is an important cog in the wheel of a healthy community. So many people do not really understand what affordable housing is and who needs it. The faces of affordable housing are not merely drug addicts or welfare mothers with a passel of children. In this region, if you look around the community, you will find scores of folk who cannot afford a place to live without one or two or three salaries in the household. Teachers, administrative assistants, nurses, wait staff, sales people...they all struggle to find housing where they work, adding to the traffic congestion, increasing the cost of doing business, and decreasing quality of life--all blows to a region's economy.

Anyhow, off my soapbox and on to my evening. I actually stayed and mingled, having several conversations. One was with the man who cut me from my last job. He cares not a whit about what he put me through nor how his company has suffered from a lack of communications effort (two replacements have left, neither of them capable of doing half the work I did).

I was thoughtful. I was bold. I gave voice to my ideas. I was sought out. I was appreciated. A good day, eh?

You know what made it a great day? Fancy was not screaming as I walked up to the house. She did huddle on my shoulder for the remainder of the evening, but nary a cry!

I wonder if I shall be a sufficient flock mate for her. I would think she needs a new companion, but how shall I know who is the right one for her. Apparantly, her pairing with Madison was a felitious one. Oft times, it goes badly. I guess birdy marriages are not that different from human ones!

Monday, December 03, 2007

93 grams

Sunday, December 02, 2007

B is fired. Or a least her baby J is. That whole family is overly generous with its germs, but given the fact that B has had these colds that last for decades ever since her first pregnancy, I blame the children, most particularly J.

My stinking cold is clinging with a vicious grip! Two weeks of sleep interrupted by coughing and breathing blocked by a stuffy nose stinks. I want my throat to stop hurting. I want to fatigue to disappear. I want my voice back. I want to feel better!

Trying to work days and nights and weekends is rather difficult when you feel like death warmed over.

Why, I've barely had the energy to celebrate the fact that my 'Boys are 11/1! And how in the world will I be able to accompany Sugarland at the concert on Saturday if my chords are all messed up?

Just because he's a bare year old doesn't excuse J from his social responsibility. Germs belong to yourself, J. No sharing allowed!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I am trying to restrain myself from plunking Fancy down on the scale hourly. Even daily might be a bit much. She was underweight from the stress of her recent molt. All my Googling about Cockatiel mates' death has resulted in alarming information of how easily the surviving bird dies of starvation born of grief.

She was 90 at B's house. She was 94 when we arrived home. She is 88 now. Her normal, chunky self is 114 grams. I would settle for anything over 100.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I have been getting ready for work with Fancy sitting on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. Doing so is not easy.

Primarily this is because does not care for half of my morning routine. She scolds me when I wash my face. She cares not for me peering closely in the mirror so that I can insert my contacts and ends up running around to my back. Applying powder to my face results in an outcry or two. And using my inhaler results in her flying away and then hollering for me to come fetch her.

I think she believes it would be better for me to merely hang out on the couch with her in the morning and leave makeup for another person. I wonder if I forewent brushing my teeth she would eventually change her mind about her dislike for my electric toothbrush.

Kashi stands guard at the bathroom door the whole time. Getting him up in the morning has become ever more difficult, so he rarely has the energy to protest her presence other than glaring at her from time to time.

Before I leave, I try to spend a few minutes with Kashi, reassuring him. When I finally walk out the door, he follows me, sits in front of the door, and casts rather baleful eyes at me. Fancy also makes leaving hard. As I walk past her cage to open the door, she follows me around until she reaches the corner, where she clings to the side with both feet and shove her beak between the bars.

I need a job where I can work from home full-time!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fancy is not adjusting well to being single. Both days I have arrived home to her hollering at the top of her voice. It is my hope that somehow Cockatiels have super acute hearing, and she only begins to vocalize her grief upon my arrival at home.

I look at her, at the cage, at the lack of another bird and start to cry. I miss Madison.

The two of us have set Kashi on edge. Loyal mate that he is, Kashi has never tolerated my own tears very well. He becomes anxious and adds his own voice to the fray. He follows me around. He loses his appetite.

I am quite sure that Kashi cares not that Madison has gone. He is, after all, a Shiba Inu. Bred deep within his little personality is the unerring belief that the entire world revolves around him. And while he is not inclined to hang out with me on the couch, he adamantly believes that Madison and Fancy belong in the cage. It was a personal affront to him each and every time Madison flew over for a chat, to sing to me, and to preen my eyebrows a bit. "Mine" is Kashi's favorite word.

So, I am trying to spend copious amounts of time soothing Fancy, staunching my own tears, and reassuring Kashi that he is still my number one puppydog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I held Madison in my hands tonight as he died. I will be forever grateful that T stayed on the phone with me while I watched his death. She talked of Christmas light snafus and her children and losing at Sorry. I know she felt helpless and awkward, but she loved me enough to wait with me.

Never have I hated MS more than this evening. I often joke about my cheese hole brain. I sometimes try to talk about the frightening changes I observe in myself. Yet, I never stop hating the cognitive changes. Oh, how I hate them.

Friday last I was frantically packing up for a blessed week and a bit at B's house. At the last minute, I noticed the metal clip that I use to anchor open the door on the bird cage lying on the antique record cabinet that stands beneath it. I scooped up the clip and stuck it on top of the cage so I would be sure not to forget it. When Madison hangs out on the door, if it is not anchored, he swings wildly about. I was thinking of him.

But it is as if that moment never happened. I completely forgot about the clip, even when I set up the cage in B's house. I completely forgot about a clip I use daily. I completely forgot.

Madison, ever the nibbler, took delight in chewing off the pink plastic that coated the metal clip. I noticed that his appetite had dropped off, but I attributed it to both the fact that he and Fancy had just finished molting and we had traveled a fair bit to get to B's house.

I should have remembered the clip. I did not.

Wednesday, much to my horror, I discovered that he was bleeding from his nether region. Frantic and frenetic, I called the vet, knowing full well that treating small birds is rather difficult and most often results in failure. She advised to get to the Penn State clinic if no vet was near because antibiotics might help him.

B found a vet, called her mother-in-law to babysit so I would have to go alone, and drove Madison and I to the vet. He had a prolapsed rectum, most likely from trying to expel the plastic. The vet restored it to its proper place (twice), mixed up four medicines and sent me home with instructions to keep him warm.

For the rest of my stay at B's, I sweltered at night so that Madison might have a chance. He didn't much like the medicine and seemed to aspirate it each time I gave it to him. He continued to lose weight.

Damn that clip. Damn this disease.

He stopped bleeding some time on Friday, started to eat a bit more, moved around the cage, and preened himself. I thought he might make it. I was worried, but I thought he was getting better.

He continued to lose weight.

Last night, Madison flew over to me, not quite making a distance he used to overshoot. He hung out on my shoulder, preening himself and taking a nap tucked beneath my chin. I thought he was getting better.

But tonight when I arrived home, I found him huddled on the bottom of the cage. When I picked him up, he collapsed, his labored breathing shuddering his whole body.

I held him. I gave him water with the syringe. I whispered sweet nothings. I called B. She was gone. I tried T. Even knowing she's not a bird person and would feel rather helpless, I called her. I didn't want to be alone. As I listened to her, I cradled him in my hands, trying to comfort him even as grew weaker.

Right before he died, Madison sat up and looked straight at me. For the briefest of moments, I dared to believe that he had just been sleeping. Then just as suddenly he fell back limp against my hands and breathed just one last time. It was as if he was saying good-bye.

I feel horrible. I am sad that a bird that should have had a couple of decades or more living left in him is dead. I am sad that one of my true companions is gone. I am worried for Fancy and how she will take being alone, since Cockatiels are flock birds. Tears are streaming down my face even now.

However, I feel horrible because he should never have been in this position. I should have remembered that clip. Every day for the past seven years, I have used it on the cage after opening the door. Why didn't I remember?

What a wretched caregiver am I...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My brother came in from across the country for a visit. Since I am working this week, he spent the weekend with me before going over to my father and stepmother's house tomorrow. I am truly grateful for the time with him, but I am half dead from his visit!

In an effort to be helpful and despite having a cold, my brother launched into an overhaul of my yard.

He started with pruning the trees. Of course, he and I differ in our beliefs in exactly how this should be done. He is MUCH more aggressive than I and thinks trees should be pruned higher as well. We had several heated discussions before it was all done, but I will say the trees look better, even if the removal of one entire branch nearly gave me heart palpitations!

He then moved on to raking the leaves, which took two days really. It involved getting them out of the flower beds and away from the fence.

When he looked at the fence, he noticed many places where old vines were still caught within the chain links. So, much hacking and sawing later, the fence was cleared.

That led to digging up three stumps that had been left in the yard. I was glad to see those go!

He started edging by trying to uncover all the stepping stones that had disappeared in the grass. While he went on to edge the rest of the yard, I took the opportunity to dig up each of the stones and raise them using some left over stone dust that I had gotten from my writing student's father a while ago.

While he raked, I had chopped up all the branches into the proper length for leaving at the curb for a bulk pick-up. I also helped bag all the leaves. While he was edging, before I started on those stepping stones, I also repaired the drawer on my potting bench that had broken and one of my wind chimes.

I also weeded all the beds and added a section of the rubber boarder that had somehow never been placed in the ground around the edge of the front flowerbed (this involved much digging in the Virginia clay, so I had put it off for far too long). I finished off the overhaul by fertilizing what little grass survived the drought in the hopes it my last through the winter.

Boy, am I sore. My shoulder has been screaming for two days because of sawing up the branches. My legs are painful from being stretched as I bent over the beds while weeding. And I am so stiff that even taking a bath was difficult because I couldn't hold the soap.

Still, I must admit that my yard looks fantastic. Truly. I haven't seen but the merest portion of the middle of the stepping stones for two years. When B comes on Friday, she will be most impressed!

Go Cowboys! They are now 8-1!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tiger finished up the tour winning the FedEx cup. The Cowboys are at the top of their division at 7-1. Sugarland won the Duo of the Year award tonight at the Country Music Awards ceremony! Could just one of them toss a wee bit of success my way????

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I had the Google coup of the century this evening!

I am working on press pieces that center around a ground breaking of this affordable housing complex for one of my consulting contracts. It was the first one for African Americans in the District of Columbia and was designed by an African American architect.

I found some good information on the architect and a wee bit on the complex. But the real gold mind was a study on housing for Negros (sic) in the South (when is DC the South???) that was written in 1950! I saw just bits and pieces of it, but I know, I know that it will be fascinating. After all, one of the "new directions" in the conclusion had to do with residents taking charge of their destiny. Today, a key movement in preserving affordable housing in the District is residents exercising their right to purchase when their homes are put up for sale.

I sent the link to my writing student since she will have access through her college library. I'm fairly sure she'll track it down for me. I never heard of JSTOR, but apparently it is some archive of scholarly articles available only to scholars.

Boy, do I wish I were back in academics! I very much enjoy thinking, looking for connections, and writing about my ideas. I got a vision of a great article comparing 1950 to today, but I really don't know the industry well enough. Still, my brain got a good workout this evening...

Monday, November 05, 2007

I found out that Sugarland is headlining a concert in Charlottesville, VA on December 8th. A friend asked me out to dinner. I asked him if we could change our plans. I am crossing my fingers that he would be willing to drive another few hours to attend a second concert of a band he doesn't much like. What are the odds of that???

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The stars aligned and I found myself without work today. However, it somehow not turned out to be as restful as I thought it might be...

Kashi and I visited the vet. I am dismayed to admit that I had to literally drag him over the threshold. He has the memory of an elephant when it comes to his initial emergency treatment for his infection and ruptured ear drum.

Once inside, he hid behind my legs beneath the chairs until his vet came into the room. I did provide the day's moment of amusement when attempting to correct his behavior. I was holding him so that she could peer deeply into his ear. Shaking his head back and forth, he was making the process very difficult even though I had him in a vice grip. So, I asked her for a moment, stepped away, and asked Kashi in a very stern voice, "Do you want a bath? 'Cause if you do, we can have one right now!" Bathes are his worst fear.

The up shot of the whole visit, despite the fact that he has lost weight again, was that his ear is finally clear. Of course, she advised that I clean them both out once every week or so to keep him used to someone messing with them. I am SO looking forward to keeping up that practice!

Once home, Kashi crashed on his bed from exhaustion (visiting the vet is an overwhelming ordeal to him these days), while I went to work on the house. I vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned from top to bottom (not that such cleaning lasts very long). I washed, dried, folded, and put away four loads of laundry. I cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, and then emptied it. I watered the plants and cleaned the leaves out of the fountain. I cleaned out my bedroom closet and found some more clothing, shoes, and books that I could donate. I bagged them up and put them in the back of my car for delivery. I emptied all the trash, made the bed, put away my clothes from the week that were draped everywhere, and straighted the living area.

Then I crashed on my bed...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I do not celebrate Halloween.

I love chocolate. Sometimes my craving for it is enough to make me willing to crawl on my knees up Mount Everest...without oxygen! Okay, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but it is enough for me to concentrate more on home many miniature candy bars I might be able to abscond with from the communal bowl sitting in the middle of the table during a work meeting that the information being shared at the same. For example, if I were to volunteer to help clean up, I could "help" myself to a few more pieces. However, evening knowing my failing with regard to sweets, I do not celebrate Halloween--a prime opportunity for collecting copious amounts of chocolate.

As a Christian, I find it strange to be so alone in the belief that Christians have should have no part in this day. What is good and right and true about a day that was devoted to spirits? What is godly about witches and goblins and vampires? How healthy is it to make light of evil, to minimize the impact of this arm of Satan?

All those cute costumes and adorable I saying they are evil? Not at all. I am just saying that the holiday ought to be an anathema to Christians.

Easter, an arbitrary date, for Christians is a celebration of the most precious gift in this world: the willing self-sacrifice of Christ, His death bringing us eternal life. Christmas, essentially appropriated from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia and also an arbitrary time selected for less than godly reasons, is time when we celebrate the birth of Christ, the arrival of of that gift.

Yet both of these holidays have become so commercialized, achieving world-wide recognition for all the wrong reasons. The idea of presents at Christmas has become a bastardization of what the wise men did in laying down their gift. A time of reflection on Christ's sacrifice has become a time of bunnies and more chocolate.

This makes my heart weep.

Halloween is pranks and laughter and pretend. What is the harm in that? Halloween is also death and darkness and false gods. Why align yourself with that, despite all the pretty trappings around it?

Euphemisms are inherently dangerous in the distance they offer from reality. Over and over history has show man use them to accomplish terrible means. Slavery and the holocaust are but a small part of that.

Halloween is a euphemism Christians should flee.

The following history of this day is excerpted from The History Channel website:

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We have had five people announce their resignation in the past few weeks. Three in my unit. Two of them management. That means that I have been to four farewells and have two to go (one person elected to just disappear, but two others had internal farewells and company-wide farewells).

Then I had a brown bag lunch with the CEO and a two-hour mandatory benefits orientation. The latter came after a four hour mandatory company orientation that included benefits a month ago and a two-hour mandatory benefits orientation that took place just three months ago. Do they not think that I can read a piece of paper explaining my benefits? I sure have been piled down with stacks and stacks of stuff to read.

Frankly, I am benefit-ed and farewell-ed out. I must say that it is very difficult to get my work done these days.

Of course, my current fatigue might be more from working until 3:30 in the morning to produce one stellar press release and some fine editing on a spreadsheet posing as a database rather than the mind-numbing two hour meeting I endured today...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The wicked part of me is reveling in the fact that the Patriots SLAUGHTERED the Redskins today. My old boss gave me such grief over the Cowboys loss to the Patriots a couple of weeks ago.

I had pointed out to her that the Cowboys had held the lead briefly in the fourth quarter and that this was their only loss. I considered it acceptable, since no team is going to be perfect and the whole experience was a good learning one for Tony Romo.

Well, personally a 48-27 loss is FAR more respectably than a 52-7 loss, especially when the Redskins only touchdown came just before the end of the game against the Patriots 3rd-string players.

Yep...I'm feeling pretty good right now! The Cowboys are still atop their division, although the real test comes in the next few weeks when they play division teams. We need to keep the Redskins and the Giants in their proper place: behind us!

Go 'Boys!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Three days of rain brought 2.5" of rain, a nice total against the 14" deficit brought about by the current drought.

However, three days of rain was too much for the ground near the front of the house. I awoke to a flooded basement again. By the time I finished sopping up all the water, I was trembling like an Aspen leaf in the blustery fall wind.

I had some work to do, but I was so discouraged by the mess in the basement I needed to organize a bit to restore my balance. My target was my bedroom closet. I now have ten Target shopping bags of clothing, shoes, and books for Goodwill. While just about anyone else might not see the difference in my tiny closet, I have one clear shelf and visible space elsewhere. I call that a victory.

Speaking of victories, B surprised me with a bit of evening Scrabble. A pure pleasure, eh?

Well, I lost the first two games and was quite grumpy since I have lost something like 8 of the last 10 games and saw my score plummet nearly 100 points. I HATE being in the 500's. The last loss brought my score lower than hers, so I dug deep within the resources of my dwindling brain cells and managed to clobber her in the last game we played.

Right now, I am harnessing the flush of victory over closet and game board into the contract work I have left this weekend. There is this press release I have to write, and I am so far a part from the project that I am hard pressed to deliver and polished product.

Sometimes it is difficult to paint a picture in words for that which you have not seen...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I would like to be writing more than I have been. I know I have made it patently clear that I am pretty much working all the time. I am doing this because I am fairly sure the opportunities will not last long. Strike while the iron is hot, right?

I did take a few precious moments to be slaughtered by B in Scrabble this evening. She has had conquered the wireless quagmire that was weighing her down and is enjoying her laptop, knowing that she could now humiliate me while snuggled comfortably beneath the covers should she so desire.

I think it was the first time she played as I do sometimes. What I mean is that she had a wretched day. It was made all the more so because is managing some Christian women in babysitting services while the moms are in a bible study, women who cannot seem to find it within themselves to keep from complaining. [Seriously, don't you think a 3:1 ratio of child to worker is PLENTY?????]

B had a wretched day and flung herself in to annihilating me via one great word after another, including a humongous point bingo on a triple word score slot. I really had no chance of winning either game since she was in the throes of Scrabble Therapy.

I have called her many a times and begged for a game because of some wretched day of my own. While I did not much like being wiped all over the board, I did enjoy helping her find some peace through victory in one area when she was burdened in another.

Tomorrow, she will awake to find the same difficulty and will seek once more a way to solve her dilemma. But she will be able to do so having had a measure of success beneath her belt.

Rather glad I could oblige!

Monday, October 15, 2007

My very dear B is in the throws of computer hades. She got access to a free laptop, discovered her Verizon-supplied modem was actually wireless, and set out to create a wireless network in her home. [I am not going to go on and on about how much I would have LOVED using a wireless network while I was there since the corded version means being crawling under tight dark spaces to plug in and then being tied down in a rather warm kitchen. Nope. I am not going to say a word about that.]

The wee obstacle she had was that the laptop did not have a power cord. This problem was easily solved via Off to surfing in bed, right?

Wrong. My poor B has been wallowing in the muck, mired down by circular problems connecting the wireless card (external and Linksys) to the modem router (D-Link). She can get all the way to the point of entering the access key (boy, does she have that 10-digit number memorized already!) before the dreaded, and rather egregious, message pops up to say that the card cannot connect to the access point (modem router). Is it a problem with the operating system (unfortunately, she is running Windows ME)? Is it a problem with the wireless card driver (she has downloaded and then transferred the latest driver to the laptop, being fairly sure it was installed)? Could it be that Linksys (wireless card) and D-Link (modem router) simply not work together? Could it be that she (and I via long distance) is simply missing something? Could it be that the stars are not aligned?

Oh, how I wish I were there trouble-shooting for her. It is rather difficult to spend hours on the phone with tech support in India (major language barriers) with two small children. And oh, how I would like for her to be connected because it would be way, way cool for us both to be snuggled under the covers in our pajamas duking it out in on-line Scrabble!

I did gird her as best I can by bugging her to crawl back in those dark spaces to get the model number of the modem router (the model maker took a second trip). She is armed now with all her models and numbers and versions and just about anything else that she might need to brave technical support guys from both Linksys and Verizon to finally make that connection. At least my fingers are crossed that the next call or two or three will solve the problem!

Computing can be great, but the technical stuff rather stinks!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I did not work this weekend. Well, I did five loads of laundry (although I have only folded four of them) and ran the dishwasher (I'm saving the unloading for tomorrow). However, I did not do but the merest amount of contract work this weekend. Instead, I slept half the day on Saturday and watched football all of Sunday. I have been so very tired that I could barely function. I think I needed the break...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I am taking wedding photos tomorrow. Oh, how I wish I were not. They need more than I. They need experience. They need expertise. But sometimes what we need and what we have to work with are not always the same. I am serving because I was asked and because I can. I only hope for more good shots than missed ones...especially on such a happy day. Tomorrow, for just a few hours, I would like to be more than who I am. Not for me, but for another.

Is that possible?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Well, gee...I had to go to a meeting today at one of our staff's home. She did not turn on the A/C. I sat there sweltering, trembling and growing disoriented. And, yes, quite grumpy.

I stuck it out (so as not to appear unsociable) and gratefully walked outside three and a half hours later.

Only, when I got to my car, to the safest spot I could pick on the street, I found the driver side of my car smashed.

Oh, how my life is complicated.

Today, was not, absolutely not my day.

How did B help me through the stress and strain? She beat me at Scrabble. Then I beat her. Such love she shows me!

Monday, October 08, 2007

My web designer friend told me that what I am doing recovering files from my ancient laptop is called a "Sneaker Network"!

Below is one of the poems I recovered. It is one of my favorites from a collection I sold to a youth health publisher:

When I Was Mad
"When I was mad," my dad would say,
"I'd meet the kid outside to settle it. On
the playground, at the park,
or anywhere was fine. Our friends
would form the ring. Our hands
would raise. Our feet would dance.
And between the blows,
it would all be worked out.
What's a few bruises?" he would ask.

"Now," I say, "We still have playgrounds,
parks, and other places
We even have friends.
But we don't raise our fists or
make our feet dance. We raise our guns and
knives and make our feet run.
We work it all out."

He is silent. Life has changed.
But still, I think I'd trade a gun
for a fist, a knife for an insult.
Yet even then, I wonder if both dad's way and
my way is not right for now.
I wonder if there's a new way for now. I
wonder, because I wonder
if I'll be a dad to say,
"When I was mad..."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Both Friday night and last night, I slept fifteen hours. I would venture that working through the weekend last weekend was a bit too much.

Or perhaps my fatigue is because it is still so STINKING HOT outside even though it is now October.

On Wednesday, I walked over to the post office next to my work and barely made it back to my desk. I was trembling and weak from the heat.

We have water restrictions in place around here now because of the drought. I suppose it is good I gave up trying to save my lawn all the way back in June.


I am not sure where I stand on global warming, but I do know that I should be enjoying cool, crisp weather...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I do believe that I should get some sort of award for procrastination.

Because I had some time between my four jobs, I actually got around to start migrating files from my fourteen-year-old laptop. I never got all my stuff off of it, and it has been collecting dust in the basement for the past five years since I had placed it on top of the filing cabinet as a reminder to get the files off of it. I was putting some things away in the filing cabinet when I was smote by the dirt, bugs, and unknown stains covering the top of the PowerBook 520C (ah, it was so top-of-the-line back then, but is such a relic now).

The process is QUITE tedious. I have to open the file on the Mac, save it to a text only file, copy it to a disc, put the disc in my laptop, open the file in notepad, copy the text to Word, and then save the new document. [Reformatting all those files can wait until later...much later.] Now can you see why I have put this off for over a decade?

Today, I managed to migrate 96 of the poems, short stories, and scripts that I sold back then. I had wanted to have a copy of them and now I do. The disheartening part is that all my teaching stuff (when I was a professor) is still on the old Mac laptop, and I am genuinely interested in keeping it.

The miracle: that the PowerBook even turns on!

Friday, October 05, 2007

You know you are loved when your best friend...

  1. Googles information on dog ear infections when you are fretting on the phone with her while you are driving to an emergency vet visit. Then, she emails you the one line you found funny during the scary situation: A perfect breeding ground for bacteria is a dark and damp, poorly ventilated dog's ear.
  2. Sends you a link on your favorite golfer when she cares not a hoot for the sport: an article on Tiger Woods!
  3. Reads your blog about keeling over in the yard while mowing for the 1,000th time and sends you food for thought: When you pass out don't think of it as passing out; think of it as "stray(ing) out of thought and time." It is a line in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
The Lord blesses me greatly through B!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I have worked 10 days in a row. I have two more to go before I can crash on the weekend. Argh!

I have started a third job and am negotiating a fourth. However, I do believe I will stop there.

The way this has been working best is if I take a short nap when I get home from work. Really, I cannot avoid doing so, because I keep falling asleep. Once I awake, I have dinner and plunge into my other jobs. Typically, I finish around 1:00 AM, read for a half-hour, and fall to sleep.

If my fourth contract comes through, I will be in a position to have my debt cut in half by its completion. That would be amazing and quite worth the sacrifice now. Given that I don't have much of a social life as it is and that I am able to do the work on the couch in my pajamas, I believe that it is doable for the short term at least. I tired! Working all weekend outside the house was a mistake. I need to be able to sleep in and rest throughout the day on the weekends to handle the work week. Mostly, I agreed because the woman I am working with has a rather large burden on her plate. How could I turn my back to her now. She needs help and I have the skills to support her.

I do enjoy the progress I can see with the contract work. Accomplishments can bring a certain amount of energy to keep going, knowing that the product you are offering is one done heartily as if for the Lord.

Kashi update: The third round of fluids did the trick. His appetite picked up, and he has perked up quite a bit. He is more interested in playing and had returned to barking at the birds in the evening when he decides they are taking too much of my attention. He has two more days of anti-biotics and nine more days of washing out his ear and applying topical anti-biotics twice daily.

I very much dislike putting the muzzle on him, but if I attempt to clean his ear without it, I would be the one needed an emergency trip to the doctor. However, when I hold out the muzzle to put it on, he does not run away at all. Instead, he takes the passive aggressive route. As soon as I click the muzzle shut, he collapses against me, feigning weakness and helplessness. I have to hold him up with one arm and minister to his ear with the other. Doing so is rather difficult. From time to time, he gives me a kiss or two through the muzzle and leans into me further, nuzzling his head into my chest. He is pitiful enough that it gives me pause, wondering if I should skip the cleaning. However, once I am done and he is free from the muzzle, all his energy returns, and he bounds away from me.

He is such a smart little fellow!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My second-job work has been a bit light lately, so at night I have been working and napping and working some more.

Now, usually I don't nap. I don't nap because I get the worst nap hangovers. I awake feeling drugged and dizzy and worse than before I slept.

However, for the past two weeks, it is as if all the things in my dizziness...debt...have piled upon my body and brought on a fatigue I just cannot fight.

So, sometimes without realizing it, I drop off to sleep for an hour or so. I awake with my head on the keyboard or the arm of the couch or at the table. I awake feeling just a bit better and get on with my evening.

Today, I won Scrabble. Slept. Worked on contracts. Slept. Worked on a communications plan. And I have a few more tasks to go before I sleep again.

The contract for the third job is taking a long time to materialize. I did get a line on a fourth, though...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A while ago, my friend J commented on something I wrote here, saying that I shouldn't feel bad about writing about how I feel since this is my outlet for doing so. Taking her words to heart, I am doing so again.

Yesterday, I had to sit in a chair for an eight-hour training session. We had a half hour for lunch and two ten-minute breaks. For eight hours, I was sitting in a hard conference chair. Each time I got up, the pain in my hips and back was worse. By the end of the day, I was not even sure if I could bear walking to my car even though it would mean eventually getting home to the green chair.

The room was so small that I couldn't really stand up or walk around in the back. After all, I was in the back row and my head and upper body were resting against the wall.

By about hour three, I knew I was in trouble. The last three hours, I paid very little attention to what was said because of the overwhelming pain in my body.

I did get up three different times, ostensibly to go to the bathroom as a means of stretching and trying to ease the pain, but the other group members watched me hobble out of the room, so my attempts at surreptitious departures were actually quite a distraction to the training at hand.

I left before the training session was over because about thirty minutes prior to my departure, the air conditioner shut off. I sat there, writhing in pain, and growing warmer by the minute. When I started to grow disorientated and tremble from the heat, I forced myself to stand and to leave, even though the trainer was still speaking. I knew that if I did not leave, I would very shortly find myself slumped on the floor and did not want to faint around my colleagues.

In short, I was rather miserable yesterday and quite stiff and sore today.

On the way home, I had to pick up some Pepcid for Kashi because the vet wanted me to add it to his medicine regimen. For the first time, I was immensely grateful that my doctor had basically insisted that I get a handicapped placard.

The worst part about yesterday? I have to repeat the training next Saturday. I am not sure that I will be able to willingly drive myself to that location, knowing what is in store for me. I keep racking my brains trying to think of a way that might make the day easier for me, but, thus far, nothing has come to mind.

I will also add that my chest has been tight for a couple of weeks (I am waking up in the middle of the night with asthma attacks).

MS stinks.
Asthma stinks.
Arthritis stinks.

Having all three REALLY stinks...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I have only had a few hours of second-job work this week, but that is okay because I have been tinkering with my computing environment.

One of the most maddening things in life is to make a change to a stable computing environment. Generally, doing so means hours of frustration and ranting and raving at an inanimate, unresponsive machine. Once you get back to a stable environment, you kiss terra firma and vow never to make a change again...until the next upgrade or new toy or key bit of software.

My brother got a new Treo. He has been extolling the praise of Treo for years, but getting one has been out of my reach for years. First I was saving for Italy. Then, I was recovering from over spending in Italy. Finally, I have been trapped in unemployment-sourced mountain-high debt. So, he gets a new Treo and casting about for someone to pass his old 650 onto came up with me.

He sent me a box with EVERYTHING I needed, including plugs that would work in Europe! I have extra stylus-es (which is great because the one that was in the Treo is already broken). I have these complicated plastic covers to protect the screen. I have software and cords and even a charger for the car (yeah...I will still be able to commute with company).

The cool thing about the Treo is that it is a tool that could be very, very beneficial to me. Being able to get email anywhere I am (that I have a signal) and send them too is cool. Having addresses and calendar items always with me is great. Having puzzle games to help keep my atrophying brain cells active is super. Having a utility for shopping lists is most wonderful. Having Sugarland music on my phone is stellar. Having the bible with me always is a blessing. And, I confess, purchasing a golf game (most economical I might add) is icing on the cake (except for the fact that even in virtual golf, I stink).

HOWEVER, I had to install software to my system. I had to set up a new email account (Hotmail is not compatible, but Yahoo is). I had to get the computer to talk to the phone. I had to get the phone to talk to the computer. I had to download more software. I had to install software to the phone. I had to pair my headset with the new phone. I had to figure out a MOST complicated phone. I had to enter in all my contacts so that I could use them. I had to...

Pretty much each evening this week, I have tinkered and shouted and threatened either the Treo or my computer or both.

Well, as of about 10 minutes ago, I have returned to a stable computing environment that includes a rather versatile phone tool.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Kashi was at the vet today for more fluids. He has lost another half pound, for a total of 3.5 lbs. I am most worried. Most worried.

The vet is quite fearless in pouring the saline solution down his ear. She also had no qualms about picking out the crusty stuff. I was most nauseous as well.

Since he is not eating, we are switching his pain medicine and putting him on Pepcid to see if the antibiotic is bother his stomach. He had to go three days without the old pain medicine, before starting the new one. So...he is not happy.

He is not eating much. He is not drinking much. He is not doing his business much. He is not interested in playing. He mostly lies around looking pitiful.

I am worried.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kashi's eardrum burst Thursday afternoon, due to a massive bacterial infection deep within his ear. He is a very sick puppydog; and I am a very worried puppydog mom. He has lost more than two pounds, when he was just 18 pounds to begin. He has eaten rather little since Thursday, a departure from the dog who will consume just about everything.

His left ear is a swollen, bleeding, puss-filled mess. Pieces of this junk have hardened deep within his hear, bothering him. So, Kashi will shake his head back and forth, trying to rattle them out. He is compounding the problem by continually rubbing at his ear by licking the inside of his paw and then swiping the damp appendage across the swollen flesh, irritating it further.

Today, he was a bit perkier than he has been since Thursday, but he is still not interested much in either food or play. Of course, part of this may be based on the fact that I had to purchase a muzzle so that I could pour saline solution and then additional medicine down his ear twice a day. He does not much care for that particular process.

The only positive factor is that the foul smell stemming from the infection has ceased, a sign that the rather powerful antibiotics he is on are working.

This afternoon, we had a follow-up check up at his vet. I had not thought that he would have remembered much from Thursday evening when he was sedated so that he could be examined, x-rayed, and treated. However, it was clear the memory remained vivid because I had to give up trying to drag him inside and pick him up to enter the building. Once inside, he made a beeline to a spot in the corner furthest from the exam room beneath a row of chairs. Again, I had to haul him out from his hiding place and hold my trembling dog on the table while his ear was examined and cleaned. Because of his alarming weight loss, the vet gave him fluids by inserting a needle beneath the skin on his back. He looked like a rather cowed camel by the time we left. She also doubled his pain medicine.

I got a B- on my own ear treatment procedure. Apparently, I am not using enough saline. Kashi was NOT happy with the copious amounts of liquid she poured down his ear. However, given that his ear drum is ruptured and the infection dangerously close to his brain, getting all that gunk out is important.

Tomorrow is Day 6 of 21 of antibiotics. She is hoping that since there seems to be evidence that they are attacking the infection, his appetite should return shortly. I sure would like to see him eat more...and frolic more...and whimper less...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One of the things I love best about B is how much she helps me without making me feel stupid.

She knows the cognitive struggle I have due to the MS. Those three sets of degrees after my name do not amount to much these days. Yet, she helps me in such small and loving ways that I never feel as if I am a burden or...well, as I said...stupid.

For example, I started struggling with putting in my contacts in the mornings. I couldn't remember which way was right and which way was inside out. I mean, Acuvue lens have an AV marking on them, but I couldn't remember if I should see the mark looking from above or from the side.

B told me to remember where I live when I look at the lens. The mark should be VA as I look from the side. Her memory key has stuck, resulting in MUCH, MUCH less stressful mornings for me.

Another example is the light in her daughter's room (where I sleep when I visit). It is a fan with two pull chains. To help me remember which one is for the light, B gently coached me: the long one is for the light; remember long-light.

I think it is because of this kindness she shows me that I feel most relaxed around her. I do not have to pretend to have my brain in working order all the time around her. I can relax and let my cognitive foibles fall by the wayside, knowing that should she notice, it would only be to figure out a way to help me cope.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ARGH! I worked six hours tonight on my second job. I had five tasks to do that really needed to be finished tonight. I did learn how to link cells across different worksheets in the same workbook in Excel. And I created my first pie charts. However, I am really, really, really tired.

The one thing that has kept me going is the phone call I received from Kashi's vet. His blood work came back) she put a rush on it for me, and she noted that all his values are normal, including the one that was too high last year. For right now, the weight loss and appetite change most likely is old age and/or pain from his arthritis. The next step for him is to do some x-rays since he really cannot tell us what is going on with his pelvic girdle (it was fractured when he was hit by a car when he was two). When she was examining him, he actually allowed her to really flex his hips and evaluate his weakness far better than she has been able to in the past year. She did confirm that he has about 20% more vision loss, with more than 40% occlusion in his left and about 60% in his right. My poor puppydog.

He will NOT like getting x-rayed. He will NOT like the anesthesia. He will NOT like being left at the vet all day.

I, however, will be glad for a better understanding of his arthritis. His vet said that the x-rays will help her determine whether or not we should increase his medication or change it.

I really struggle with seeing him fall some times when he jumps up and is bearing all his weight on his back legs. However, I do believe his quality of life is still fairly good (except when storms come like poor petunia was frantic for more than an hour). He brings me such comfort and such joy that I want the same for him, doggy-wise.

When he was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease (oh, how I am thankful for the Chinese herbs he is on), I had a long talk with his vet. I told her that I never, ever wanted him to suffer. However, I also am fairly sure that I will never be able to actually tell her to put him to sleep. Once again, showing the kindness she has bestowed upon me over the years, his vet agreed then and there to make that decision for me.

I fervently hope it is a long time coming...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle died on Friday at 88. I think it disturbs me that she died in a nursing home. After all, she gave so much to so many people through her unflinchingly honest books that I cannot help but see her surrounded by those whose lives changed by encountering her work. Perhaps she was.

If you have not read A Wrinkle In Time, then you might not recognize her work. But then again, you might have read her plays, her journals, or her musings on Christianity. She was certainly a prolific writer.

One of her books, The Arm of the Starfish, is an all-time favorite of mine...for several reasons.

In the book, nothing turns out quite as you would expect. After all, one of the main characters is murdered unexpectedly. It is that character, L'Engle would say, who appeared one afternoon in a hotel room as she was writing her novel, much to her own surprise. She ended up having to rewrite the first third of the novel just to include Joshua. But, she will also tell you, she didn't give it a second thought because he belonged in the story she was trying tell.

In that story, the teenage female lead character is devastated by her friend's murder. But she feels the most egregious act is her father's willingness to help the murder's daughter when she is injured.

Her father's response is truly a life lesson:

If you are going to care about the fall of the sparrow, you cannot pick or choose who the sparrow is going to be.

Thank you. Madeleine, for all the memories, for all the times you challenged me, for all the times your stories were sanctuary from that which was going on in my own life. You stood for truth and never shied away from it. How wonderful is it that after a life long labor in His service, you are now resting in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I awoke with my face resting on the keyboard, having successfully ruined the document upon which I was working. I guess you could say that I am tired.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mowed. Fainted. Showered. Fainted. Threw all eight pillows off my bed in frustration. Saw Kashi staring at me. Burst into laughter. Plunked myself down in front of my laptop to start my evening work.

In the past 12 days, I have worked 135 hours. I have three tasks for the weekend, but am not sure how long they will take. This is extremely tough, however I am learning to remain focused for long periods of time with just short breaks.

Through all of this, I have become the queen of lists. I make a list for the morning, for my time at work, for my lunch break (I work some then), for my evening, for the house, for the weekends, and then those at night for the next day. I have lists for long-term projects. I have lists of things-that-I-can-do-to-make-me-feel-productive. I have lists of what can wait and what needs to be done immediately. I have lists for call and letters and things to remember. Simply put, I have been keeping a few lists to help me get by.

The funny thing is that as tired as I have been from working so much, you would think that I would be asleep before my head hit the pillow and sleep like a log. While the constant dizziness from withdrawing from that medication has eased ever so slightly, the other side effect of "intense dreams" has shown no sign of stopping. My dreams have become so wild, you would think I was on Ecstasy or something.

For example, last night I dreamt that I was at this diner where I apparently ate frequently. Nearly every evening, Michael Anthony Hall would stop by to eat with friends. Each night, I would smile at him and then duck my head in embarrassment when he smiled back. Over and over again, I waited to see him, smile, duck my head, and then eat my own meal. Then, one night he actually came over to invite me to join him for dinner. I blushed and asked if he saw me looking at him. He said he enjoyed my smile and wanted to see one up close. After dinner, I had to go to the dentist. While I was there, I saw two different dentists. One only cleaned the upper teeth while the other did the lower ones. It was the same for the x-rays. Michael went with me because he wanted to spend more time with me. Part of the dental service was a cardio treatment, but Michael suggested we go for a walk instead of using the treadmill. However, once we were outside, he whipped out a syringe and jammed it into my thigh, all the while looking like a lion waiting for his prey to finally fall. I stumbled away from him and started running. I eventually found a metro station and searched through my pockets for the fee. It was $7.70 for a one-way trip that was just a couple of stations away. While trying to count the coins, my sister (who lives states and states away) suddenly appeared next to me searching her own pockets. However, she didn't want the machine to give her a metro ticket. She was going to buy some cotton candy! I look at her as if she were crazy, and she just pointed to the button for it that was right in front of my face. Fortunately, at that point Kashi jumped up on the bed to join me and woke me from my dream.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Football. Football. Football. Oh, how I have missed you!

The pre-season is all right. I certainly look forward to August. But the pre-season would never have given you what we had tonight.

Colts and Saints were tied at 10 at the half. All in all, an evenly matched half of football. Then Peyton Manning comes out of the locker room and winds up into a higher gear. One touchdown. Two. The game is firmly in hand. Oh, a third.

In the pre-season, no team would wipe the other up and down the field the way the Colts did the Saints tonight. They would all be best buddies, grateful to get through another game without injuries and having had the opportunity to get the third and forth string players some time so as to evaluate them.

Nope. Not tonight. Man-handling is not only allowed, but encouraged. Be the man. Scream that stupid "We are the Champions" song until the other guy runs from the stadium clutching his hands to his ears. Beat up on the defense. Terrorize the offence. Then, after heaping insult upon touchdown insult, send in the back-up crew just to flaunt the fact that there is no way under heaven and earth that the other guy has even the remotest hope in salvaging any part of the second half of the game.

You just got to love football!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I just arrived home from work this evening.

Today, I worked at my regular job. I played a game of Scrabble with my dear friend B. I worked at my second job. Then, I went back to work at my regular job.

Needless to say, it has been a long day (longer because I lost the Scrabble game).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A little while ago, my mother up and sent me a package of clothes that she thought I could wear. Half of them are too small. But, perhaps, someday...

One was a dress with a jacket/shirt over it that is simply beautiful. Another was this killer blue jacket shirt that is tunic length and is royal blue with these artsy suns all over it. It is absolutely a perfect fit to my personality and absolutely NOT what she would expect me to wear (because of its length), so it was a surprise.

Then there was this chocolate brown Chico's Travelers outfit. I am sure she meant this for work, but I wouldn't wear it there. It really is one of those lounging outfits of old, with a tunic length top (three-quarter length sleeves & split sides) and snug, straight-leg pants. The whole outfit is a size smaller than I would wear in public, too. [I do not wear anything fitted tightly.] So, I put it in the box with the other items for "later."

However, this past weekend, I suddenly thought that it might work for a lounge outfit for me. After all, that it what it looks like to me. Sure enough, the fit is tight, but okay. And boy, oh boy, is it comfortable. Not only is it like wearing pajamas, but it is a different outfit than the one I have been wearing at home since I lost all that weight. I actually look more classy and less trashy! Too bad Kashi and the birds cannot appreciate my efforts to improve my couch potato existence.

Tonight I worked on a project that was sheer pleasure. I had sort of been pushing to create this big-picture spreadsheet for a while, but it was only today that I convinced my second-job boss of the value of it. She will find it useful, but also do I. Organization is just plain satisfying!

Speaking of weight, in eight days, I gained 15 pounds. I am SO VERY FRUSTRATED. I suspect it is because of a medicine change, but since I have made two of them at the same time, I am not sure why. For example, on Monday I had milk and yogurt for breakfast, ham and Gatorade for lunch, and soup and a English muffin with cream cheese for dinner. This morning, I had gained 2.6 pounds! I didn't even consume that much weight in food!

One of the drugs turned out to be addictive, so I have been fighting dizzy spells for just over two weeks. Finally that is abating. However, I started noticing last week that I gained weight. I thought it was because I had two actual meals in the same day. But then the other seven days were my usual fare and the pounds packed themselves on.

I am hoping whatever is causing this stabilizes. After all, I want to keep wearing my new outfit!

I decided to get serious about water consumption and have had 32 ounces every day for the past four days. Water is not very tasty in my opinion.

Oh, how I long for pizza. If I am going to suddenly turn back into a cow, I would at least like to enjoy it!

I have been ignoring the call of the lawn for well over a week. I think I might need to invest in a sickle.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Working two jobs, working nights and weekends and holidays, is tough. I cannot imagine how those who do this all the time manage to stay sane. Of course, perhaps sanity is the first to go.

I got an offer to work a third job in September and October.

I said, "Yes."

Am I crazy?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Something is wrong with Kashi. I just cannot put my finger on what, but I know that he is losing ground. I fervently hope that I am wrong.

He is not eating much. His trembling is back (I hope because he is not eating enough to get enough of his medicine. He will play fetch, but will go back inside after only a few tosses, taking the ball with him. He collapsed beneath the weight of the water on his coat when I gave him a bath. He falls a lot. His fur/hair is coming out in clumps.

I called and talked with his vet, and after a few pointed questions, she asked to see him next Saturday.

I am worried....muchly...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I took a second job. Worked 3.75 hours this evening. Wonder how long I can keep this up...

Monday, August 27, 2007

I am a glutton.

Wish I were not.

Need to work on this.

I had a gift card to Target, so I have been using it strictly for groceries. Since I was nearing the end of its value, I decided to treat myself to a few non-essential items: Parmesan Sour Dough Twists; White Chocolate Filled Lemon Crisp Wafers; Herb Cheese Filled Crackers, and Strawberry Fruit bites. All of these were items that I could have as an afternoon snack after my protein-bar-and-milk lunches. I also found a 34 cents box of Mac & Cheese.

Well, the Mac & Cheese is completely gone and I have tasted all the special items. One chance at otherwise than the monotonous food that I have been eating for over a year and I spend an entire evening grazing like a starving bovine.


I also used the last of the card to buy Kashi a new "baby": an over-sized stuffed bumble bee. He was beside himself all evening. Such joy this puppy dog brings to my life!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I am thankful for the four days of rain that we have had, but I am frustrated because of how very upset Kashi becomes during the storms. He trembles so violently and begs me to make it stop. For him, I wish that I could...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Well, there was this ferocious thunderstorm this evening. So, what did I do? Wash my car!

B's husband G is quite dismayed that I have not washed my car since I purchased it. It is not that I do not desire a clean car, but merely vacuuming the inside out leaves me trembling. I cannot fathom why I can slog through yard work but repetitive motion such as washing a car leaves me trembling and rather weak.

Anyhow, seeing the rain fall down in buckets, I got the bright idea of fetching a bucket of my own and washing the car when all the rinse work would be taken care for me. The whole process was much easier, though I was quite fatigued from just the washing part. I am also thinking that perhaps I should get a different sponge and repeat the process. I had these large sponge sheets that I used, because I could not find my big "auto" sponge (perhaps this is because it has been four years since its last use). Still, they were sufficient to the job since the car is much cleaner now.

[I am sure my neighbors think I am crazy by now!]

Friday, August 24, 2007

I have noticed recently that those green signs on the highway are not always accurate. For example, there is one that tells me that my exit for work is in 1.5 miles. However, the exit is actually in .75 miles.

I wonder...what else out there are we taking for truth that is not so?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In three and a half hours, I plowed through a whole day's worth of tasks in my yard. I was so inspired by finally having a sidewalk again!

  1. I mowed, weed-whacked, and edged.
  2. I weeded the flower beds.
  3. I climbed atop both my sheds and cut back the wisteria that was drifting over my neighbor's shed.
  4. I trimmed three trees.
  5. I pruned all the bushes.
  6. I dug up my four dead azaleas (too much work for dead plants).
  7. I cut back my six rose bushes (they are really struggling just now).
  8. I set the bricks back against the edge of the new sidewalk (for the first time in 3 years they are all in place).
  9. I stuffed all the yard waste into six over-sized clear recycling bags.
  10. I did NOT faint!
Impressive, eh?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I have a sidewalk. I actually have a sidewalk!

About five months ago, maybe four, someone marked the opposite sides of the missing section (from when the sewage pipe in the front yard had to be replaced). When I saw the markings, I sort of hoped it meant the county was going to repair the sidewalk. I sort of hoped. I mean, what would be the odds after I had had so many quotes and couldn't get it repaired?

I did notice other sections that were marked. I also thought that perhaps the county was paying attention to the neighborhood because of the bungle with the bridge construction and the ensuing flooding two summers ago. the weeks passed by...I figured that the markings had some other purpose. In my darker moments, I feared that they were documentation for those homeowners who were going to be fined for missing or damaged sidewalks. After all, when I was having the pipe replaced, I learned, much to my dismay, that if the street had to be dug up to reach the main connection, then I was responsible for that repair. I thought surely the contractor was mistaken, but a county official confirmed that awful burden. The contractor assured me that he would be able to feed the new pipe through the old one to connect back to the main junction. However, that whole day at work I was rather nauseous thinking of all the things that could go wrong as the contractor was working.

Of course, the contractor had assured me that he also would not have to break through the sidewalk.

Still, all's well that ends well, eh?

Well! I have a sidewalk! Egad! I can hardly believe it. I almost think that having a sidewalk makes up for having the county worker begin his labors this morning at 7:00 AM.