Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This evening my writing student came over for haven. She had two scholarship essays due tomorrow, as well as an informative pamphlet on the gallbladder. While I had been working with her regarding the essays, I told her she could bring all her work and I would play the taskmaster.

I will admit that of late, when we have written, I have taken some time to enjoy her company rather than strictly writing the full time. However, I was fair great at setting goals and walking along side her as she plowed through her work.

One of the essays was on how she was a writer, with a humbling passage about the role I played in that process. In each essay, there were a couple of sentences that moved me in her ability to wield the written word.

In my novel, there is this character who really serves as the voice of wisdom. I like her. I really like some of the things that she has said. I just wonder where she gets it since I have not planned the pearls she has been dispensing. My student and I have never really talked about how it is for her as a writer, but for the most part, until my fingers hit the keys, I am unsure of what will appear on the screen.

Anyway, I prepared her dinner after she had worked for nearly an hour and then later rewarded her by cooking the chocolate chip cookies she had brought as an offering for the evening. When she left, both essays had been completed and the pamphlet was done as well.

My joy in the evening came in helping her reduce one of her essays from approximately 675 words to 500. Truly, applying myself to honing writing to that degree is exhilerating to me. She had to weigh the value of each and every word, evaluating again and again how they worked with the ones nearby and how they fit into the message as a whole. The task was a masterful one.

Her second essay had to be reduced by a mere nineteen words. You might think this one was easier, but in reality it was not. You see, my writing student had written with a completely different voice. The first was painting a reflective portrait of her Italian heritage. This was a straightforward commentary on the value of literacy and her choice of being an English major.

Still, the end result was two concise essays that were beautifully the opinion of her writing teacher.

After six years, I shall sorely miss not playing a role in her literacy education. Yet I am also nearly giddy at the thought of how her mind and thus her abilities will expand with the challenges college will offer her.

Oh, how the world is truly her oyster...if only she dares to take it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I do not know exactly how to write how the past day has been for me, but I shall plow forth anyway.

Yesterday, B went home. I had hoped to have her two more days, a full week. However, her cold had arrived full force, and isn't your own bed the best place to be when you have taken ill? Despite her dripping nose and wracking cough, she did managed to finish playing through each of the games I had in my basket. She played games, and I let her go back to bed in the mornings for long naps. Each of us saying I love you.

I didn't protest (much) when she awoke from her nap around 1:00 to say that once E was up from hers she wanted to pack up her things and head on home. I helped her with the packing, so that the whole process was as easy as possible. When she was all ready, the four of us sat in a circle, Josh on my lap, all our hands entwined. I wanted to take one last opportunity to pray with her and for her. I cried, despite my desire not to, and E's small hand wiped the tears from my cheeks while I was still praying.

Watching her car drive down the road was oh so hard. Over and over I reminded myself to be thankful for the blessings of the visit. A couple of hours later, I got a message from someone who met a woman who actually lived in Appleton and highly recommended the location. I was feeling positive, buoyed by the day. And then the police arrived at my door.

The volume on my television goes up to sixty. I had it at twenty-four, six numbers below where B and I watched a movie just the night before. Yet my neighbor in the duplex attached to mine called the police. Even though the noise ordinance does not take effect until more than an hour later than when the police arrived, even though the television in on the outside wall rather than the common one, even though when standing outside on my stoop not a dozen feet from the television one couldn't hear a word or sound emanating from it, I was given a noise violation ticket.

The whole experience was unbelievable. The first police officer began by pounding on my door, rattling the windows, startling the birds into flight, and causing Kashi to bark more fiercely than I have ever heard him do so. From the first words from his mouth, the officer was aggressive and took my responses in a defensive manner. He said my television was too loud. He said I was in violation of the ordinance. When he read the hours, I looked at the clock in confusion. I asked if there was some sort of standard of measurement, decibels, megahertz, something. He said that if he determined it was too loud, then it was. I asked him to tell me then at what level would be acceptable, I asked him to help me. He said that it was not his place to do that. He said I now deserved a ticket instead of a warning. Another officer arrived and asked what the trouble was. I was back outside, wondering if this was really happening, so I explained that the other officer said my television was too loud. He responded that he couldn't hear anything. He stepped inside and repeated that it was not too loud. But after pressure from the other officer, he then remained silent. By that time, visions of police coming back again and again because I couldn't understand why my neighbor had called or why the policeman agreed with him or why the officer was so aggressive to me or how I could ever know I would be safe from this craziness...and I started crying. The first police officer grew angry at my tears while the other one was clearly uncomfortable and tried to assuage my despair somewhat when the first officer stepped back outside for a moment.

My neighbor, the son of the owner, moved in last Spring. He has not been very amiable from the get go. For example, he had taken to parking his car mere centimeters from mine and effectively blocking me in. Since I am not working, this is not as much as a problem as it could be. If he leaves, I dart out and move my car out of his way. If I have to leave, I am forced to ask him to move his car. He will just stand there, acting as if it is some great favor I am requesting, and then saunters out to his car to move it. He believes the area in front of his house is dangerous and parks in front of mine. Since the house was vacant for over two years, folks from a nearby condo took to parking in front of his house. So when his car is not there, they park in front of his house. He parks in front of mine when I am gone, and when I am home, he blocks me in.

When I am working in the yard and he sees me, he makes snide comments or stands and just stares at me. He drop his beer bottles over the fence, not even caring if I see him. This does not bother me, however, as much as the manner in which he bestows the freedom of my car.

After threatening me with arrest, the police officer backed off and left, left me owing way too much money to the state of Virginia and feeling as if I wasn't even safe in my own home. More so, I feel as if I just do not belong to the human race. I don't understand how in the world I could find myself standing before a police officer in my own home trembling from confusion and fear of him when I had done nothing wrong.

B was her. Not once did she complain about the volume of the television. I have listened to it louder. My neighbors have had parties with far more noise, including the odious man next door.

Nothing, absolutely nothing makes sense to me anymore.

No career. No job. No possibilities. Turning 40 with the world screaming at me that I am a feckless failure.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

B and I have talked about her frustrations in dealing with her daughter's E's temper and her own response to interactions with her before her visit and again now. I must admit that, in listening to her tales of E's fits and hearing such behavior over the phone, I had formed a few impressions before encountering her in the flesh. I have been with E several times since she was born, but a year has lapsed between my last visit and, at this time in her development, that is virtually a lifetime.

On her blog, B tends to write most about her family. A logical outcome for a young wife and mother. When you read of how she describes E as her little helper, I would imagine you would, as I did, picture a toddler trailing after her mother "helping" in such a way that probably makes the tasks B is tackling a bit longer in process. After all, E is only two and a half years old.

However, since her visit here, I have come to understand what a gross mistake such an assumption would be.

As I have written earlier, E is quite thoughtful. You can practically see her cognitive wheels turning, something that fascinates me given her age. Recognizing this, during her visit I have rather quickly adopted her as my own helper. "E, would you bring me the stool behind the green chair." "E, could you please throw these things in the trash?" "E, will you get out a diaper for J and the wipes?" "E, where did your mommy put your pajamas?" "E, will you put this jar back in the refrigerator on the middle shelf?"

With all my requests, she has been a cheerful and willing helper, the complete opposite of the young girl who threw herself down on the floor today in frustration before assaulting my plant. I shall revisit that moment later, but for now I wish to continue with what I have come to discover about her mind.

No baby talk is necessary. While she cannot completely replicate the complex sentence construction she hears all around her, she can understand much of it. One thing I found strange about B is that from the moment E was born, she would talk to her as if she were in complete command of the English language. Yes, B cooed and whispered sweet nothings in her ears, but she also plied her daughter with the whys and wherefores of all that she was doing with her. Therefore, when you ask her to do something with a few qualifiers in the instructions, she has no problem doing so.

Furthermore, E, probably 100 times a day, will ask "What you doing?" Her version of the toddler "Why?" perhaps. Yet, when she is asking the why, she is actually expecting a legitimate answer that she can process, compare with her current knowledge, and file it away for a later time. Often she calls me mama instead of my name, but when I do not respond to the former because I assume she is addressing B, she will correct herself and repeat the question.

Such a small example this is, yet it is representative of how she is also a problem solver. If an obstacle is in her way, she will figure out how to move it or go around it. If she would like to grasp something out of reach, she will drag a chair to aid in her retrieval process. If she is having difficulty holding several items, she will set them down and figure out the better way to hold them.

B wrote of a perfect example of E's critical thinking on her blog when she described an interchange with her daughter. B was exhausted and just toss off that E should do something, anything. "Go play with knives!" E's response was that she couldn't do that because it was wrong, it was dangerous.

Back to today's fit. B noted that she has discovered that E hates to have things pulled out of her hands. If she has something she shouldn't, it is better for all parties if she is asked to put it down rather than having it immediately taken away from her. I have tried to remember this in the past day or so to see if staying my impulse to snatch things away would make a difference. I believe that waiting on her has made a significance difference when her temper begins to flare.

In my recent exchanges with her, I have also noted that E works best when she is in control of her environment, if she is a part of the processes that directly involve her. Changing her diaper goes well if she is allowed to re-snap her undergarment. Eating has gone better if she is allowed to choose what she will be consuming and then again allowed to one bite or one portion at a time rather that just to tell her to finish her food.

Tonight B gave her the choice of sleeping in the Pack-n-Play or the bed since sleeping in my Arctic basement on a foreign bed has not been easy for her. E choose the portable crib and, after one false start with a wet diaper, went to sleep quite easily. [Of course, it should be noted that both times I re-settled her (diaper issues), I gave her, at E's request, the second Binky (her most beloved item). One to use; one to hold. Tonight, I discovered that B has always made her choose. Not being aware of that regular part of her bedtime/nap time routine, I assumed that if having the second one was of comfort, she might fall asleep more easily.]

All this to say is that, when I have made a concerted effort to allow her to make choices, she has been happier.

So, to the fit. I had said "no" to her and she was frustrated. When she does not get her way in a matter she believes she should, E's most frequent response is to wail, writhe on the floor, and/or hit. I think E doesn't know how to handle her feelings of anger or frustration and therefore falls into a fit or lashes out with her fist as a way to externalize her internal processes. Therefore, I believe that if B and her husband can teach E to talk about her feelings, she might be less inclined to engage in the negative behavior. If E begins to "use her words," as my friend T would say, the world could be her oyster.

I gave her the choice of taking a nap or cease crying. Needless to say, E chose the latter. We went on to watch some more of Charlotte's Web, play with her toys, and wait for her mother to awake from a much-needed mid-morning nap.

I do know that there are no easy answers. E is a complex little girl. She is clearly intelligent, with a large gap between her mental age and her physical age. She is clearly strong-willed, with definite opinions about how her life should be. She is just a toddler, with so little experience on which to draw.

E is, however, a genuine helper. Since coming here, even with changing diapers, preparing her meals, changing her clothes, and following after her energetic explorations of her environment, E has made my days easier. She has saved me steps, helping guard against my constant fatigue. Her willingness to fetch something while I am in the middle of a task improved the efficiency and efficacy of my work. And her companionship has been a balm to my soul.

She gives the fiercest hugs. She bestows the softest kisses. Her smiles radiate the darkest corners of a room. She is extremely curious and thoughtful.

Sometimes I think that perhaps B cannot see the forest of E's potential for the trees of her temper. However, each passing day, folded into each passing month, shall bring E one step closer to being able to more clearly interact with her parents, something which I believe will eventually ameliorate the issue of her temper.

NOTE 1: J did have his first fussy segment of time. However, his behavior was quite understandable given the fact that he had a mere fraction of sleep time during this day. I shall remain firm in my belief that he is the world's easiest baby.

NOTE 2: B's cold is in full force. I know that she had fret about being ill while she is here, but it truly doesn't matter to me. I think because I long for people in my life who will accept me as I am with regard to my health...people who would take my pain and fatigue and limitations in stride because I matter to them. Besides, it is B. I shall take her company in any form I can get it.

NOTE 3: I smoked her in Crazy Eights. We split victories in Quiddler. She smoked me in dice Phase 10. I smoked her in Skipbo. We split victories in Rumikub. Oh, the joy of playing games with such a fine, fine mind! Though...I must admit that while I genuinely celebrate her victories, I HATE losing!

Note 4: We got an unexpected deluge of 3-4 inches of snow today. I was worried about the dwindling diaper situation (B's trip is, thankfully, lasting longer than she expected), so I went to the store to replenish her supply of diapering materials for both children. I saw two wrecks, many fishtails, and slipped and slided my way to Safeway. I shall need much training in navigating through snow and much fortifying of my nerves while doing so.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Have you ever been a complete and utter sluggard? Today, B and I spent the day in our pajamas, watching movies, TV shows, and playing many games in between feeding her children and changing their diapers. I actually won a few of the games, something that is not always par for the course in pitting my mind against her mental acumen.

B even climbed into a purple set of my lounging pajamas to get into the mood with me. Such support, eh? I tried to express my gratitude for her visit, her gift, and the many ways in which she says I love you to me. My creative expression? Shelling an entire mesh bag of pistachios.

I do not enjoy any nut besides the peanut, most particularly the cashew and the pistachio. Shelling the latter took nearly two hours, three broken nails, and an entire set of sore fingertips. You see, B bought the bag of pistachios for her trip home. She had mentioned that she planned to shell them before she left so that eating them wouldn't interfere with her driving. Ah hah! I thought. Here is one way that I can say thank you to B. Finishing the task was also a great big I love you!

For the past few days, I have been changing diapers, getting the children dressed, preparing meals (okay, I admit that much of this has been nuking food), and cleaning the dishes--all in an attempt to show her how glad I am she made the trip. Today's labor hopefully drove the message home.

The icing on the cake for me was that the labor took place between the movies, the games, and cuddling with the world's easiest baby.

NOTE: I did discover J's one flaw: He hates baths. No cooing and dribbling soapy water down his tummy to make him laugh. For a wee one who had much to say to you when playing with him, J's only opinion is that bath's stink and all such cleansing activity should cease.

Tonight, I went to wash his feet before putting him in his pajamas since they were a bit clammy. The wailing and waterworks started when the first drop of water touched his toes and ceased when the water flow did. What I found humorous was that after I had dried his feet and was holding him in my arms, I turned the water back on to rinse something. The wailing rose once more until I turned off the water. I thought it was too funny.

Still, for a child who only makes his dismay known when he is hungry and a few times when he is wet, I would say that he is the epitome of every new mother's dream baby. He laughs, gurgles, and smiles at you when you engage with him. He loves his bouncy seat and prefers to have some individual play time every few hours or so. He eats, falls asleep, and naps without protest. How much easier could it get?

Friday, February 23, 2007

This day was a bit overwhelming to me. B is so peaceful to be around. She is kind and gentle, a constant encouragement to treat those around me with the grace of God.

B and her husband had decided to bless me with assistance this month, and so the day entailed visiting several stores to purchase cleaning products, household items, and much welcomed groceries, things that are a treat for me after economizing my food. One example: for the first time since I was fired, I indulged in sliced meat from the deli counter. They also gifted me with a couple of items that are sheer luxury, a beautiful tank top for sleepwear, some color for my hair, and a small travel cosmetics bag. She also treated me to lunch at a restaurant as they had the day before.

At each stop, when she pulled out the credit card, I struggled with the largess of her gift. In many items, I am set for the next month month, especially cheese! I also have all the cleaning products I need to stay on top of having my home ready for showing to prospective buyers. As we were shopping, B encouraged me to think about what I needed or what sounded attractive to me rather than what was the most frugal.

I am not sure if they understand what this gift means to me, going into the last two weeks of unemployment and facing the transition of a move. When I think about the move, I am excited for the possibilities and fearful of all the work and costs it will entail to move to a place without a job. I have been trying not to think even as I am working on making plans to move forward. Needless to say, I have yet to find that balance.

Today, I felt as if B spent the whole day with her arms wrapped around me telling me that everything would be all right. I know their intention was to help with my expenses, but today I felt as if it were so much more.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today was a day of wondering where the day actually went...

This day was filled with hugs from E and cuddle time with J (B is very generous in that department). We had a good meal out at a restaurant, mailed my nephew's present (funded by my dad) and a few items my mother wanted returned to her, and I picked up some more bird seed for Madison and Fancy. I managed to remember to call Kohler to obtain the fourth replacement part on my kitchen faucet. If this does not work, they promised a whole new faucet. We found two items from my things-I've-lost-around-the-house list. I snapped a few photos (B would say more than a few...) and captured a few moments on video tape. And we watched Ocean's Twelve.

Today was a day of everything and nothing, made all the sweeter by B's kind presence.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My dear friend B arrived this evening with her two children, having braved rush hour traffic between her state and mine (and two others in between) to get here. Such love, eh?

I would like to say first, hands down, her son is the easiest baby I have ever had the privilege to meet. When she arrived, he was still sleeping in his car seat. After a short while, he awoke and cried. I took him out, changed his diaper, whispered sweet nothings to him, and set him in his bouncy seat. The young man just set to looking around his new surroundings, watched a bit of television, posed for a few photos, and gurgled some great stories.

B and I were able to get the car unloaded (I am not mentioning just how many bags she brought with her), her things put away, and her eldest child E fed, changed, pajama-ed, and popped into bed. All the while, young J just chilled out with us.

After about an hour and a half, he let it be known that he was hungry, nursed, and went down to bed, crying only when E started protesting her perceived "banishment" to the basement, i.e., her bedtime.

I know that I have only had a few hours with him, but seriously, any woman would be just thrilled with such a laid back, happy-go-lucky little man.

Before she went to bed, E gave me the most fiercest hug and plopped a sweet kiss on my cheek. Already I miss the chatter of her chirpy voice. Tomorrow cannot come soon enough for me to take my fill of B's children.

After the kiddos were in bed, I made B a chicken quesadilla (she liked it), and we watched a movie (I will not write about how it was a scary movie, something I have avoid quite assiduously for 23 years now due to a problem with nightmares). After the movie ended, even though she was droopy-eyed, B watched some of my videos (I won't talk about how much of the footage is of Kashi or the embarrassing sequence I forgot I filmed of Fancy and Madison having conjugal relations).

B did play a video of E "nursing" her "baby." What was remarkable was that B managed to get her on tape while nursing J at the same time. The most intriguing part was how particular E was in mimicking all the preparations B does in nursing. Though I will point out E has no endurance past the initial placement at her breast. Her baby gets all of ten seconds to nurse, but at least the nursing pads, towel (cloth diaper), and pillow are all in the right place.

E is quite smart. She is attentive, absorbing the processes around her. For example, when they arrived, B mentioned that she needed to change E. Between one thing and another (I am not going to talk about how long it took E to warm up to Kashi), she still had not been changed when J awoke in his car seat. I asked E where the diapers for J were, and she fished out one for me. But first she opened the wipes and held one out for me to use. Once I had, she passed over the diaper. When it was her turn, she first gave me the diaper and then held the wipe in her hand until I was ready for it. She is only two and a half years old and yet already displays remarkable critical thinking skills she has.

B has struggled with addressing E displays of temperament, which truly wears on my friend at times. Having a child in a screaming fit makes life very, very difficult. Yet watching her display with the diapering process and on the video of her nursing her baby, I am again convinced that part of the problem is the dissonance between E's mental age and her physical age. Her body needs to catch up with her mind (I am not writing about the pure stubborn streak that is distinctively maternal in tone that might possibly play a part in E's behavior issues...for if I did, her mother might point out that her adoptive aunt has a far greater one!). In any case, I am confident that both B and her husband have sought the Lord's wisdom in how to handle their oldest child and will continue to look to the One who crafted her while she was still in B's womb.

Lest you are thinking I neglected the Kashi factor in this account, I will say that I was so darned busy enjoying watching the absolute exuberance with which he greated B that I forgot to get it on video tape for my memory collection. He about near climbed up into the green chair with her and E just to get some kisses. He practically wagged his tail off. And he raced around with his own baby for quite a while, celebrating the fact that B had arrived (I was in agreement with his sentiment).

When she set J down on the floor (I shortly moved him to the top of a chest because I feared I might be the one to trip over him), Kashi came bounding up to the car seat and skidded to a stop before he collided with it. He took one big sniff of the new addition to B's family, ran away wagging his tail, and then returned to give J one quick kiss on his cheek. J had been welcomed to his home.

I have not asked how long she is staying. I really don't want to know. For however long she is here will be too short, and I am fearful it will be the last time I see her before I move too far away for us to visit much.

Sitting on the couch, laughing at the home movies, I felt as if I had come home. One of the gifts she gives me during her visits is that no matter how exhausted she is that night or the next morning, B allows me the time to process my own excitement over her arrival and accepts all the chattering and posturing I do to show her this, that, and the other, since her last visit, stuffing much into a short period of time even though we both know she will still be there in the morning.

I think, perhaps, it is her way of saying, "I love you, too."

NOTE: I prefer to think of myself as tenacious...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I would challenge you to read this article on the have nots of Walter Reed Hospital. By the second page, I was crying. No matter what you feel about the war in which we are engaged, I would hope that you have compassion for the men and women who have fought according to their duty. It is unconscionable to think that across the street from one of America's most state-of-the-art hospital are long-term patients residing in mouse and cock-roach infested buildings, often fending for themselves or relying on the assistance of their families. Today, NBC ran a follow-up piece showing frenetic cleaning, painting, and other-wise covering up the neglect.

Read the article. Read from beginning to end. And pray. Pray for wisdom and discernment for those who can ameliorate this egregious perfidy for these brave men and women. Pray for healing and hope to flood those buildings and the hearts of those residing there. Pray for peace.

On this day, in addition to searching for a job, evaluating possible places to live, writing a bit on the novel, scanning one of the three remaining large packets of photos, and sorting the second of them, I managed to do four loads of laundry and a fifth that was all the curtains in my home. I also changed the sheets on all three beds and cleaned the kitchen floor, the stairs, and both bathrooms from stem to stern.

Before B and her two young children arrive on the morrow, I would like to clean the bird cage and the refrigerator, dust, and vacuum. Much yet to do, eh?

I did have a lovely conversation with my dear friend W, much of it concerning the rather unexpected phone call from my brother. She is such a wise and witty woman, an amazing combination that has been a balm to my soul for over twenty-five years.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I managed to complete another chapter last night. I am close, oh so close to finishing this dream of mine. I am, however, quite stuck.

I know where Megan and Graham will be in just two months. The ending is clear to me, even though it means re-writing the original ended I drafted two years ago. That one is romantic, not realistic. I have come to prefer the what should be rather than what could be. I just cannot see how to get from here to there.


This afternoon, when my fingers were resting idly on the keyboard, I was surprised to receive a phone call from my brother. A normally taciturn man, he spoke for over two hours as we talked through my options. During this conversation, he actually said that if I felt it was right for me to move then I should, even though every member of my family is against it. Sometimes you have to make the decision that you know is right for you and then go after it full throttle was his advice. I was stunned, absolutely stunned.

And while he repeated three times that were I interested in listening that he could easily list a dozen or more reasons why it would be utterly wrong to sell my house and move, including all the transaction costs he is sure I have not taken into account, he did not criticize me once. He listened to my thoughts and concerns and even gave me five sentences to tell him about the novel I was writing (he did question whether doing so was detracting from my job search). Really, by the end of the phone call you could have knocked me over with a feather.

He does believe I should try to hold on until the summer before putting the house on the market. I could cash out half of my retirement (it is in two different accounts) and get by that way. I will start temping when the unemployment runs out next week. I will no longer have the flexibility to go to interviews and such, but considering that that well is quite dry, it won't matter. I did figure out that I would make little more as an admin temp than the unemployment and will still continue to have approximately only half of the funds I need to cover my mortgage, insurance, medicines, and general living expenses.

My brother also actually listened as I talked about where to move, since he accurately concluding while listening to me that I truly want to try and find a new life somewhere rather than stay in this place of failure. He did say that it sounded as if the where wasn't yet clear to me and that until it was I should not make the leap. I need to work at determining that with the same focus as pursuing a job. He also stressed that I should take as much time as I need, rather than feel obligated to decide by an arbitrary date.

Thus, were I to take his advice under my belt, I should set myself to the housekeeping list so that I can be ready to put the house on the market. Believing not in Christ, prayer played no part in his advice. I have prayed, however, for direction in this great leap of mine. I have prayed for the wisdom to discern whether Wisconsin is the correct answer or merely an easy one. Am I being drawn there or am I taking the wheel from Christ?

What a strange, strange day this has been...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I have started to think more carefully about selling my house and decided it was time to list what I would like to address before doing so. You see, given the fact that after purchasing this home I replaced the roof, plumbing, electrical, mechanicals, and all the appliances. I also painted, papered, and refinished the wooden floors. Oh, yes, I finished the basement adding a closet, a full bath, a utility closet, and an enclosed laundry area. so, I plan to sell the house in as-is condition, after attending to a couple of items. However,I am a bit dismayed that the list is now larger than my two original items.

1. I would like to replace the floor in the basement. The split and swollen laminate flooring looks bad. I have contemplated putting in a new laminate floor, but have also considered using the Armstrong tiles that I used at my writing student's house. I just cannot settle on a color. In doing so, I would also need to replace the quarter round. Though, I must admit that I should have done this earlier, but the work load is a bit overwhelming to contemplate. And I hate the thought of charging the floor.

2. The basement closet doors need to be repaired. They are too short and no longer really work. I am hoping I could get them repaired rather than replaced. I asked my writing student's father if he would help, but he has not had the time yet.

3. The blasted kitchen faucet has broken for the fourth time. I need to call Kohler and ask for more than just another part.

4. The grout on the kitchen floor has crumbled for the second time. I paid one man to lay it and another to lay it a second time. I am wondering if I could just mix some up myself and slap it on, since professional help twice was fruitless.

5. I need to touch up the walls in several places and think I should do the same for the window sills and the shelves by the couch (the greatest place of wear in the house).

6. The light above the table has always been about a foot off. I hung my chandelier anyway and just had the table pulled forward, slightly blocking the path to the kitchen. I think that for best showing purposes, I should take down my chandelier and medallion and put up a ceiling mount light.

7. Of course, I also need to give the house a good scrubbing from top to bottom, getting to those dust bunnies I usually ignore.

I know that it this is really a modest sort of list for getting ready to sell a house. I know that it is practical and manageable, as frugally as possible for trying to leverage the investment return on this home as best as possible. I know this.

However, I took a pair of scissors to my hair again tonight just thinking about getting all the work done by myself and additional debt it represents. Remembering the last rather disastrous haircut I gave myself the eve before my grandmother's funeral fifteen months ago, I worked hard to restrain the impulse to just hack away. I guess that I was actively displacing my anxieties, eh? Perhaps I should attach a photo from that time to my bathroom mirror...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Were I to be honest, I would admit how sad this article made me feel. At the risk of sounding pitiful, the situation saddens me because I could see the same being written about me one day.
Sounds horribly lonely, eh?

I agree.

This man died all alone and was not discovered for almost a year. Those who had been in his life were gone. No one had taken their places.

I think that could be me in another 40 years...

Ohhhhh...I really need a job, a place where I can reconnect with the outside world, even if it were just another failure.

Today I scanned the photos for my uncle, mother, sister, and brother. It was a wild day of scanning interrupted only by this smudge on the refrigerator door. How can a smudge interrupt scanning productivity? Let me tell you...

I stepped into the kitchen to pour a glass of Orange Gatorade. When I was closing the refrigerator door, I noticed a smudge. Out came the 409 and the smudge disappeared. However, the now clean spot emphasized that the bone colored appliance had taken on an antique look. Translation: the entire door was dirty. Given that B will be here in just a few days, I set to cleaning the front of the refrigerator.

Cleaning the two doors led to thoughts about the microwave. Scrubbing that inside and out led to thoughts about the stove top. Copious amounts of 409 were used there. I finally decided to stop the madness and return to the scanning.

B called in the early evening. As I started to tell the story, she jumped in with "and you cleaned out the refrigerator?" Well, great, I thought. Now I will have to clean the inside to match the outside before Wednesday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

I have returned to the scanning with a vengeance because my best friend B called to say that she would be arriving next Wednesday! Wow! Of course...that does mean I need to take a shower and change my clothes and clean my house....

In any case, I thought that perhaps I should not have these antique photos sitting around in piles when her two-and-one-half-year-old and infant come. Traveling with her children means B comes with many, many bags filled with all their needs and usually a fair assortment of tasty food for the car ride. I frankly need to clear a space for her.

Tonight, I finished the scanning for my aunt's packet and then organized the photos for my uncle. Being my grandmother's favorite, there are four times as many photos for him. I also had to pull out the ones of my mother, my aunt, my cousins, and my sister that had been placed erroneously into my uncle's packet. Given the fact that he has not spoken to my mother in over two decades, I am not surprised that she did a less than stellar job of sorting his photos.

Anyhow...I came across a letter that my aunt wrote when she was 10. I thought that since I shared a letter from my childhood, I would do the same with hers. She wrote it to her grandmother while at camp.

June 8, 1948

Dear Mimi

I miss you very much.
I like to say lots
more. But I have to
go to the bathroom.
Goog by now.

lots of love


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Remember all those posts lamenting the warm weather this winter? Well, they are coming back to haunt me.

As I mentioned previously, a bit of a winter mix fell a couple of nights ago. Now, usually when it snows, I periodically shovel a path across the back deck to the steps, the deck steps, and the front sidewalk while it is still snowing to lessen the work afterwards. This time, I did managed to do the deck, but neither the steps nor the sidewalk. I was too busy writing.

So, I am effectively iced in.

Kashi and I have both fallen down the deck steps. I am only traversing them because he now refuses to do so. I cannot have him conducting his business indoors or on the deck, so it falls to me to get him to the yard. [No pun intended.]

I tried to shovel both the steps and the walk, but they are hard as...well...solid ice. I can even walk on top of the snow in the back yard because the ice is so hard.

Considering my pre-preparation method had worked so well the last four winters, I am a bit bothered with myself that I neglected to do so this time. I do have some "driveway melt," but I purchased it four years ago and its magic is not working.


I did finish another chapter in the novel...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An icy mix fell last night and on into the wee morning hours. I usually start shoveling my sidewalk to stay ahead of the snow, but this time I did not. Today I tried to clear a path and ended up sliding halfway down the sidewalk for my efforts.

The day was a rather mixed one for me as well.

My grown neighbor's mother called to complain and ended up filleting my person almost as skillfully as does my family.

My grandfather send a substantial check to help out with my mortgage this month last week. After a week of composing, I finally mailed my letter of gratitude. He called to welcome my thankfulness and chastise my view of the last decade being filled with more failures than anything else. He is sure that I will eventually find a place where I can share my skills. Really, if I haven't done so by nearly 40, what hope is there? At least he said that he would miss me were I to really move.

I have been trying to execute a roll-over of my retirement from the company 403b account to an IRA of my choosing since the 12th of last month. My old company has been sitting on the paperwork for nearly three weeks for no particular reason. Another half-dozen futile calls has found no resolution, especially since the company holding the funds will not take my calls, even though I am the purported owner of the account. They hide behind this specious veil of needing "trustee" proof that I was really an employee. So, let us get this straight. They required proof of being an employee to take my money and yet that proof is not sufficient to release those same funds?

An employee at my old country finally got around to reading the business plan I created last August and sent an email full of genuine and effusive praise of my writing skills, including a bit of awe. Why does praise come when I am no longer there? Why are my skills lauded as valuable when I was chosen for "down-sizing"? Why did I cry for an hour after reading her message?

I was blessed with phone calls with my very dear friends W and B. They most willingly and lovingly listened to my frustrations and fears and worries to allow me some respite from them. Grace in action...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I am finding that increasing vigilance in my reduce/recycle/reuse efforts is not as easy as I would have liked. Of course, should resolutions be easy?

Perhaps I am merely whining and should be taken out back and shot.

In any case, I have never recycled cardboard before. Neither have I ever noticed exactly how much cardboard there is that can be recycled. First I have to remember (and you know how difficult that is on a continual basis), then I have to flatten everything, and finally secure the cardboard in the bin in such a way that it does not fly out across the yard during the week (chasing after the pieces is not especially beneficial to my asthma in the bitter cold). Better stewardship of my tiny bit of the earth on which I stand is certainly worth the is just more than I thought it would take.

The other major change is that I have ceased running the water while I brush my teeth. Doing so is an absolute waste, and taking the extra steps to turn it back on and then off while rinsing my mouth and brush. I do miss the sound, though...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finding a place to live is not as easy as I thought it would be.

My father, brother, and sister all feel the need to continually observe that if I have not found a job here, then I will most likely not find a job wherever I choose to move. I try to remind them that if I were not burdened with such a high mortgage, I would be free to do just about anything.

Of course, their doom-filled speech has set me to spending hours on the web job searching in the areas that interest me...when I am not on, that is. What I have discovered is that I most likely will not get a teaching position, so the dream of returning to education is practically dead. I also have not found any writing positions, nor communications. I guess all the pontificating-for-hire is truly centered here in the nation's capital. I have been dismayed to see that there is more "shift" work than administrative. Hmm...will I really find a job? At least one that pays more than $10.00 an hour?

I did manage to leave off the desperate search to write another chapter. I found the words difficult to set to the page. Even more so are the ones waiting in the wings. I am not sure who is bothered more, Megan or I...

My father and I did not finish our movie marathon today because his auto navigation system had ceased working. I tried several troubleshooting methods, but to no avail. When I called customer service, the representative had me repeat all my efforts. Then, he asked me to go ahead and wipe all the user data. However, when I tried to do so, it did not work. The confirmation of the data wipe appeared, but all the data was still there and it still did not work. Being the proactive guru that I am, I asked for a RMA number, packaged the unit up, and made my father drive over to the post office to send it on its way to Garmin.

So, no more movies, but at least I did not feel obligated to sit through more of that series on the capitol!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My papa came over this afternoon for another mini-movie marathon. Thus far, we have watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, National Treasure, and John. Q. We just popped in The Chamber to finish off the evening.

I will say that I did not quite manage to successfully avoid a viewing of The Capitol, a ten-hour, four-part look at the history, politics, and architecture of the nation's capitol. He brings it over each movie marathon, and heretofore I had managed to have him take it home untouched. Today, I was treated to three hours of it. My father gets so excited that it is hard to deny him his pleasure...but it is equally hard to be enthusiastic about it. I personally find the series a bit slow, disorganized, and not very engaging for an admittedly interesting topic.

Something I did find intriguing was how very familiar the dome looked. Just over a year ago I had stood beneath the "models" in Italy.

What was disheartening was the fact that still, at least until the making of this 2006 series, no official mention in the Capitol tours is made of the fact that the symbol of freedom was built on the backs of slave labor. There was mention of the friendly views of Native Americans in the paintings of the rotunda, one depicting a treaty. However, while the commentators mentioned the slave labor, they did not mention the fact that virtually every treaty with the Native Americans was violated, "renegotiated" once value was found on the land granted the Native Americans, or otherwise ignored.

I mean, really, how can the US Capitol stand as a symbol and bastion for freedom when the very nation was wrested from its original inhabitants?

I am thankful, despite my current circumstances, for being born in a country that is wide open for opportunity and full of basic freedoms many, many people around the world do not enjoy. I am. I just wish more people, including the members of our government, would acknowledge the true history of our nation.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I discovered a new talent of my writing student's mother. G is a master craftsman at making homemade icing! I was delighted to partake of her craft. Once the birthday cake had been served, I took my piece on over the bowl where the leftover icing was located and slathered it on all the exposed sides of my cake. This was, of course, after I had sampled her efforts while waiting on the rest of the family to gather for the lighting of the candles.

How true a friend is G? She popped the rest of the icing into a container and let me take it home. Along with the treat was advice on how to keep it fresh until I finished it off.

To me, it is as tasty on the spoon as on the cake!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Three hundred and seventy-one scans later, I have finished the photos of my grandmother's godfather. I found many of them interesting in that he spent his life traveling. Some of them made me chuckle because he was posing in them, often gazing off into the distance, looking quite important.

This means I might actually be half way through the project. I guess I will know once I start in on the ones from the final two generations. At least there won't be "significant" writing on the back of them that increase the number of scans needed to document them.

I tried to go to bed at a reasonable time last night. From 12:30 AM to 4:30 I lay in bed with my mind going a mile a minute. I think this whole transitioning out of a night life is going to be much harder than I thought.

I wonder how the birds and Kashi will manage...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I have been avoiding switching to the new Blogger like the plague. I believed, rightly so, that for me to make the change would result in all sorts of problems. Alas, my fears came true when I was forced to make the switch today. No more logging in as an "old blogger." No more easy, breezy blogging. Nope. Not at all.

While the improvements are many, the switch was not facile in any way, shape, or form.

Sadly, I lost several features of my template. Now, I am sure you are thinking that the template was a bit place. Yes, it was. However, the friend who convinced me to do this in the first place back in 2001 had made that template for me. I wanted to keep it to honor her gift.

The archives, however, disappeared. The other blog links did as well. And I would add that the title was now covered half-way with the unavoidable "nav-bar." I tried and tried to find a work around, but in the end had to abandon that template.

So, here I am in brown...happy at least to have been able to restore the links and archives. Perhaps now that all is finally write in the land of Merely Musing I can go to bed for the night (ahem...morning).

NOTE: I did drop Google in lieu of one of my all time favorite sites: I would highly recommend stopping there at least once a know...sort of like an apple a day...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I could just about scream!

I have scanned over 1,500 photographs and I just realized a feature of the scanner I have had for a year and a half. I can enlarge the view of what I am scanning, a feature which makes it immeasurably easier to adjust the highlights, midtones, and shadows so that I can get a good scan of these ancient photographs.

However much I want to, I am NOT going to rescan all the other ones. I am just going to kick myself in the shins for a few days...weeks...months...

I have been working on the photographs from my grandmother's godfather, the Engineer. Thus far, I have scanned ones from his camping trips, Laredo, TX (including photos of the International Bridge being constructed), and ones from some Aztec temple ruins in Mexico. Needless to say, I have only begun to scratch the surface of the number of photos he gave her.

Needing a break from the scanning, I did some more family searching and came up with the names of my great, great, great, great grandparents. I found a cousin of some sort who is married to a descendant of my great, grandfather's brother. She had all sorts of family information, including a copy of a will from the great, great generation.

Trying to put all this together is making my head spin. I really do need some genealogy software, but not before I get a job.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Do you think that I might be the only one in the East who is actually enjoying the cold weather? I have been soaking it in, spending time outside without coat, scarf, or gloves...savoring the chill.

Speaking of gloves, mine are a bit bare, seeing as you get a glimpse of my skin in the fingertips. Another item to purchase when I get a job. I would like a nice, thick, long-wristed pair of brown knit gloves. Brown because they would match both the coat and the sweater I most prefer wearing whilst out and about in the Arctic air.

My fountain has been frozen for well over a week now. I fear a bit for the pump. Perhaps I should have decommissioned it for the winter.

At least Kashi has enjoyed being able to frolic in the snow. When he pops outside for a breath of fresh air and spots a squirrel infringing upon his territory, he throws all caution to the wind and plunges down the steps and across the yard. Lately, his progress has been more slip and slide than intimidating surge. Other than that, he, too, is enjoying this fine winter weather!

The birds? Well, let's just say their dreams are of a return to the time when they do not have to spend much of the day puffed up and huddled together for warmth. Perhaps you could say they are fair weather friends?

Monday, February 05, 2007

I most particularly enjoy this photograph of my grandmother reading a paper when she was not quite two-years-old.
I am a reader. I have always been one and really do not understand those who are not. I enjoy the smell of a new book and savor that of an old one. I read whenever and wherever I can. I am unable to sleep without at least reading a few pages, and I will not admit just exactly how often of late I have read the night away since I have not job for which to arise in the morning.
Books are my oldest friends and most staunch companions. I have those which I hold dear and visit again and again and then those I have been glad to meet, but wish to remain mere acquaintances. My home is spilling over with them, and yet I wouldn't mind owning a few more.
I open a book, begin to read, and am transported places where I am challenged, entertained, soothed, chastised, encouraged, and inspired. Those who walk the pages are oft more real to me than those whose lives are played out right beside me....probably because I understand them. I understand their world. I belong.
I enjoy this picture because it reminds me of a grandmother with whom I shared one true thing in common. The delight of books.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My dear friend W. told me about the following project, stating that it was right up my alley and in keeping with my resolution to reuse/reduce/renew. She is absolutely right. I am posting the press release for the exposure to a project I wholeheartedly support.

Contact: Mark Bent

Changing the World with Solar Lighting - Houston Firm Brightens Africa and the Developing World – And Slows Global Warming, Assists Displaced Refugees, Educates Orphans and Provides Free Solar Flashlights to our Deployed Military Personnel

Houston, TX – January 25, 2007 – Give or take a few million, there are two billion people in the world without access to affordable and healthy lighting when the sun sets, and a Houston based firm, SunNight Solar Enterprises, intends upon changing all of this with a low cost, lightweight, water and shock resistant, renewable energy solar powered light. Dubbed the BoGo – for Buy one/Give one – see below for details, these lights are already lighting the night in United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) camps across Africa and the developing world. They are also providing illumination for children in schools and orphanages in Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania, Haiti, Bolivia, Eritrea and elsewhere.

Kerosene lanterns remain the most commonly used light source in locales where there is no electrical grid, followed by candles and conventional flashlights. The fumes from burning kerosene are unhealthy and each lantern emits 100 kilos of global warming carbon gas on an annual basis- equal to 52 vehicles in the US. Kerosene is also costly to the user – the World Bank estimates individuals at the bottom of the economic pyramid spend up to one third of their income on kerosene for illumination. This situation has caused the International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank Group, to launch a four year program at a cost of 7 million to explore how the use of solar powered light emitting diodes devices can be expanded with a goal of replacing kerosene lanterns. SunNight Solar is a partner with the IFC in this endeavor.

Candles are poor illuminators and are expensive. Conventional flashlights create problems with improper battery disposal contaminating ground water and food crops; they are also prohibitively expensive to the majority of developing nation end.(battery replacement. Wood and brush is also collected and burned for illumination, which causes top soil erosion and further adds to environmental degradation and global warming. Lack of inexpensive and healthy lighting impacts on education, security and overall quality of life for approximately one-third of the world citizens, and SunNight Solar intends upon bringing change and light to millions of people – with the assistance of the American people, as explained below.

SunNight Solar was founded by Mark Bent, a former US Marine and Foreign Service officer, with more then twenty years experience residing in the developing world, having served in US Embassies and Consulates in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Angola. He also participated in peace keeping operations in Mogadishu, Iraq, Bosnia during the NATO intervention and elsewhere.

SunNight Solar has a rather unique business plan – you buy one light for yourself; and a second light is given away – their BoGo – or Buy one/Give one program. In this scenario, one light is purchased for use here in the US for $25.00, plus shipping charges from the warehouse in Houston, and for this same cost – no more, a second identical light is delivered to a developing country to a non-profit organization. And the non-profit receives $1.00 per light to assist in distribution within the country. Compare this cost to a ‘regular’ flashlight – with battery replacement after fifteen hours of use – the savings are quite impressive as the SunNight BoGo light lasts for 750 to 1000 cycles prior to battery replacement (two to three years), and the batteries are off the shelf rechargeable double AA batteries, either NiCad or NiMH. The photovoltaic or solar panels last for twenty years and the LEDs or light emitting diodes, will work for 75,000 to 100,000 hours. And SunNight Solar is working with Maersk shipping lines to remove the old batteries from Africa and elsewhere for recycling in the developed world.

The non-profits and international groups partnering with SunNight Solar in distributing the lights in the developing world include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, Direct Relief International, Feed The Children, Africa Inland Missions, Awty International School here in Houston, Invisible Children, Alfalit International and others.

The ExxonMobil Foundation also recently purchased 7500 BoGo lights for distribution via Save the Children and Africare in Angola, where school children and their families will receive the lights. This follows a previous ExxonMobil distribution of lights to park rangers in Angola whose mission is to protect endangered species, including the Black Sable.

The European oil exploration firm Perenco is also buying lights for distribution in their world wide subsidiaries, with 500 lights recently distributed in Congo, Brazzaville. A number of other Houston based oil exploration and production firms are discussing purchase and distribution as part of their community service projects.

The BoGo program supports the US military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the ability to direct the ‘give’ lights to either location for distribution to soldiers, marines and air force personnel. SunNight Solar is in the process of shipping 500 lights, split between the two locations, for distribution as part of their corporate give away program, where ten percent of sales are distributed to locations and individuals who might not otherwise have easy access to light at night.

In another unique effort to draw attention to this problem, and the solution, SunNight Solar will shortly commence a ‘traveling BoGo program’ where 2500 lights will be tagged with a small laminated card explaining the problem, numbered and then distributed across the country. Rice student volunteers have created a computer program where the path of the lights can be tracked and different people, as the lights are passed from friend to friend, can upload comments and view the comments of others.

SunNight Solar was started in 2005 and is a LLC registered in Texas. Initial design and engineering work was provide free of charge by the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, which is supported in part by NASA. Other science and design assistance has been provided by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Department of Energy laboratories. Rice University, via the Rice Alliance Program, selected SunNight Solar as one of the most promising Energy Technology Firms in Texas in 2006.

SunNight Solar received 10,000 lights in late January and has another 10,000 enroute to Houston with an arrival in mid-February. They can produce 50,000 monthly and can increase production as required above this level – with two billion potential customers in the developing world, armed forces personnel deployed to two war zones and the utility of this light for emergency use, camping and other outdoor activity in the US – there appears to be a bright and shining future for this Texas firm. On the web at and their offices are located at 1720 Bissonnet Street.

For further reading: ... hting.html ... hting.html

Contact SunNight Solar Enterprises - Mark Bent 713-408-2485

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I finished another chapter this day, savoring the time to write that I have not taken in the past few days. I need to renew my discipline in both writing and scanning so that I might accomplish my goal of finishing both my novel and my family history project by the end of February. I have been distracted by my third goal of finding a city where I can relocate to try to build a new life should a job not materialize here by the end of February.

My dear friend W. listened to me for hours about my story and then I got to refine the plot planning with my friend T. Both of them helped focus my efforts and rejuvenate my belief that I could actually finish the story soon.

I am still worried about my puppydog. Kashi has been sitting and whimpering at my feet. For the past week or so, he has been eating once a day, immediately after setting down the plate. [The vet suggested I try a plate instead of a bowl. I am not sure of the "why," but it has worked.] Twice he has even asked for food. But now he is whimpering at my feet, and I do not know what is wrong or what he needs. He has water. He has food. He has been outside. He has had a bone. He has had play time. What is bothering him?

Kashi does spend this nights sleeping curled at my side again. He also spent hours sleeping at my feet while I worked. While I love the sudden companionship, it is a significant departure from his behavior over the past few years. Before we moved here four years ago, Kashi did used to sleep with me, but he has never previously hung out on the couch with me or curl up at my feet.

One other worry is that he is shedding at an unbelievable rate. I gave him a bath because his coat was a bit shaggy. When I brushed him afterwards, I pulled out enough of his coat to fill a small throw pillow. That was last weekend before my father came over. Much to my dismay, Kashi has continue to shed all week. Could the hair loss be a sign of something wrong or is he merely catching up on seasons past?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ever since I was a young girl, my dream house has always been a Victorian home, complete with veranda, curving staircase, and a turret room. Well, I found one in Green Bay.

Of course, it needs much attention and repair and even if selling my own home goes smoothly it would be at least April or May before I could be in a position to possibly have found job and could purchase the home.

Still, I can dream can't I?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I feared the cabinets over my stove were separating from the wall, so I called my writing student's parents for help. To my pleasure, they both came over this evening to secure my safety. Her father added a couple of long screws and secured a few others. It still looks as if the cabinet is falling, yet it is quite attached. Perhaps the wall is just that crooked.

While he was here, I also asked her father if he would open a window for me. I had tried several times and only ended up with very, very sore muscles in the front of my shoulders. Her mother tried while her father was working on the cabinet, but it really was stuck. I had discovered once the cold weather had finally started that the storm window was still up. I discovered so because of the cold air wafting through the old window.

He planted his feet firmly below and with a mighty shove opened the thing. I pulled up the screen, down the storm window, and down the screen rather quickly. I was thinking that I might need his help closing the window, but I didn't. Already I can tell a tremendous difference in room. I even think Kashi notices the distinct lack of arctic draft.

Their visit was such a strange, strange contrast the phone calls I had just had with my brother and sister. I had asked both of them if they would canvas their friends to see if any of them (or their families) knew a good place where I might relocate, a place that: is in a cold climate, has a reasonable real estate market, is large enough that I could find at least an office administration job, and preferably near a college or university in the hopes I might teach a night class eventually. Both my siblings managed to criticize my job search efforts, my financial worries, and my relocation plans. My sister even managed to belittle again the struggle I have with multiple sclerosis and the heat. Her comment: "It's not too hot for you in Dallas, but the pollen would be hard on you." My allergies are consideration by my neural degeneration is but a piffle! ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why? Why can't just one person in my family stand behind me? Why could someone say, "Well, if this is what you believe you should do, then I'm behind you. How can I help?" Or, how about "I know a move like that would be scary, but you are smart and capable and I am sure that you can do this and do it well."

Ah...but why should I ever suspect anything but criticism and derision? None of them value either the work or the accomplishment of my doctoral degree. None of them ever ask me about my writing. None of them ever ask me about my health. Who I am does not really matter.

Almost as if it were a response to those calls, I had a massive asthma attack this evening. I am not sure why since there was no significant trigger to which I could assign blame. However, I did spend the past month taking my asthma medicine every third day because the prescription wasn't ready before the new year and the "new" deductible requirement and I "rationed" the rest of last month's dosage.

I used the nebulizer three times, but I am still a bit short of breath. I suppose I will be sleeping in the green chair.