Saturday, March 31, 2007

The basement floor is scraped!

Now, the perfectionist in me would prefer if it were scraped more, but G convinced me that it is sufficient. She came over to help me in the afternoon, and believe me, it was a VERY good thing that she did. While she was here, G asked to see the adhesive that I had bought for the floor. Oh my, I had bought the wrong kind! Before she left, we popped over to The Home Depot and exchanged it. We also got some patch for the small holes that were in the floor. After she went home, I used the shop vac to super clean the floor and applied the patch.

Tomorrow, I shall try to lay the floor...

Friday, March 30, 2007

I actually made it home today without taking an extra train, with a seat, and only getting knocked on the head once (a hazard of having an outside seat on a crowded train). I also managed to bring home four cut down boxes and a paper box. The work room staff were throwing them out. Little did they know they were like gold to me. Now, I can choose a few things to pack away so that my home might be ever so slightly more attractive to the average buyer!

What shall I pack?

My greatest accomplishment today? I organized the private files of the CEO. They were all in a drawer, quite haphazardly. I studied them, choose five categories (correspondence, financial, insurance, personal, and travel), created section dividers, re-labeled everything, and then put the files back, alphabetizing them in each section. His assistance was in raptures over the result. At least she didn't tell me, "Good girl!" or something like that. She did leave at 2:30, so I had the rest of the afternoon to edit my novel.

It is strange, truly, that

Right now, I am in full regret mode.

I had this bit of sausage in the freezer and thought that I would go ahead and eat it. You see, I was supposed to have an electronic deposit of a whopping $82 today from last week's job. I have been looking forward all week to getting some groceries. When I checked my account on-line, I discovered that the deposit had not been made. The short of the long of it is that they are mailing a check that I should receive on Monday.

So, I peered in the freezer for something different and came across the left over sausage. Images of a breakfast taco popped into my head. I did have some lingering doubts about the meat since it has been there for well over two years. I wondered if meat can go bad in the freezer.

Given the stomach cramps that have already set in, either the meat is bad or else I am having an exceedingly powerful suggestive response. Either way, I am worried about my plans to tackle that concrete floor tomorrow.

I am going in search of some Tums now...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My greatest accomplishment today? These women were working on a huge collating job and asked me to help. Once I started, they both disappeared. When I found myself alone, I put a stack of the tabs on the other end of the table, so that I could gather the contents of the binder in both directions. When the lead person came back, she was upset that I had moved the tabs. That is to say, she was until I silently walked down the table gathering the contents and then gathered a second set as I walked back to where I started, collating them in reverse order. She marveled at my efficiency, making others come and see my brilliance. I garnered no less than four "good girl" comments with that one act. SIGH.

I really am tired from commuting via the metro and working all day, especially when I spent five hours on my feet collating. I did, with the energy I found chatting with W., manage to put the dishes that had been piling up in the sink into the dishwasher.

Each half hour I take for lunch I spend working on editing my novel. I am a bit dismayed to see that after four lunches, I am only at the beginning of chapter 4. I munch on my protein bar as I weigh the words on the page. A part of me is enjoying the task. If only there were not quite so many pages yet to do. It is a bit strange to see Megan at the beginning when I have most recently spent time with her at the end of her journey of faith.

Kashi is not taking the transition of my returning to a work schedule very well. Neither have Fancy and Madison. While I wish for their happiness to return, it is nice to know my "babies" miss me as much as I do them. Seriously, Kashi gives the most wonderful of greetings upon my return, tail wagging furiously, kisses a plenty. Fancy and Madison chirp their joy as well. It is the leaving in the morning that is most difficult. Kashi will sit just before the door, moping heartily. His normally curly tail droops, and his eyes swim with sorrow. Fancy and Madison cling to the side of the cage and protest my departure full throttle.

I wonder how they will take the three day car trip to Appleton when the time least we will be spending entire days together!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Well, I managed to come home today without taking a single extra train. Monday's commute was extended by three extra trains, which was an improvement on Friday's. However, I welcomed the victory.

I did, however, collapse on the couch. Whoever said taking the metro would be relaxing is crazy. [W was that you?] I have to hoof it the equivalent of three city blocks to get to the train, push my way on board, hope for a seat, push my way off, race through the transfer station to the next train, push my way on board, stand for two stops, push my way off, race up the stairs, and walk six city blocks to my job as an assistant to an assistant. Needless to say, I am tuckered out by the time I get there. There is nothing very stimulating about making copies, filing, making changes to Outlook contacts, so I find that the eight hours and even my lunch time drag by ever so slowly. [I have been passing my down time by editing this past year's annual report by this international organization. It is quite impressive with big photos and convincing numbers, but it is riddled with grammatical errors.] By the time I arrive back home, all I want to do is crawl in the green chair and loaf until bed-time. In my forced time off, I had forgotten how difficult it is for me to go from early morning until early evening.

After taking an hour of couch time, I did manage pluck myself off the lap of comfort and trudge outside to put fertilizer out in the front and back yards. The spreader was not working, so I had to tackle the job the old fashioned way with the "spreader" attached to the end of my arm.

I will admit that I thought I might possibly have spotted the tiniest bit of growth from the seeds that I spread out in November. Of course, if that is the case, the fertilizer will probably kill them. Yet...I think I will hope for the best.

Spending the rest of the evening recovering from my efforts, I realize that I will have to be diligent to use the weekend time to get the blasted basement floor done. I am already quite tired of looking at the pealing grey paint, listening to its cry for me to put it out of its misery. I would rather gaze out upon my lovely yard, now that it has been neatened and trimmed after the long winter.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I have had an allergic reaction to the second antibiotic I was taking and have been plagued by an incredible headache for days on end. I stopped everything, but my usual medicines, took two Benedryls and crawled into bed rather early last night. Thankfully, I slept for the first time in three nights.

Today, I woke up at 1:00 finally feeling better. My head still hurts, but it is manageable. After playing with Kashi, I set about working on the yard. I mowed, weed-whacked, edged, raked, and weeded for hours on end. To top it all off, I re-set the rock edging this bed that runs along one side of the yard and curves around the back (over time they settle into the dirt and need to be dug up). The only task I did not get to was putting out some weed-and-feed fertilizer. I tell you, I just revel in yard work. While laboring long and hard, I find that my mind is cleared as the yard becomes my entire focus. This clarity is refreshing to both mind and soul.

I couldn't help but think what the next owner of this house might do with the yard. It was such a total, long neglected mess when I purchased this property. I wonder if the owner will continue my efforts or just allow it all to lay fallow.

One thought that did pop into my mind as I was working was how I was going to move all my rocks. I have quite a few spectacular ones that I have collected over the years, along with an iron statue, a metal birdbath, two bird feeder stations, and a stone bench, dragon, gargoyle, turtle, two birds, and a pair of lions. How does one pack all that into a moving van?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Those bootstraps came in the form of an encouraging call from my brother, so the basement floor is now scraped clean. Next, how to deal with the peeling paint. My brother said that the adhesive would stick to the paint, but that would hold true for the peeling parts. So, what to do?

I had a temp job today, rather humbling. I am an assistant to an assistant. I am not sure it can get much lower than this. However, I worked as hard on rather menial tasks as I would have were I serving as their communications manager. I think it is important to honor God in whatever I do. I just wish my pride were a bit weaker, that it wasn't so hard being Dr. so-and-so and making copies.

I shall be doing so MWF for the foreseeable future. At least the income will make an small dent against the mounting debt.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

When I pulled up the floor, I found these patched lines running across the floor. I cannot make rhyme or reason of them. Since pieces were falling off, I decided to use my wonder bar to scrap a whole section to see what was underneath. The answer: concrete. So, why would someone put some kind of tar and paper over it? The patch is scored down the middle all the way to the concrete. Why? If it over fresh concrete, why the patch? Is this concrete somehow porous?

Of course, the greater question is if this was evidence of the floor being dug up, for what purpose? The lines are all straight and meander at right angles. A crack would turn like that. The gas, water, and electricity are all above, so why the channel in the floor?

In any case, in order to lay a new floor, I have to scrape up that tar stuff. I worked on it for several hours late last night and just tried to get back to the job, but only lasted a mere hour. However, my hands ache something fierce, even wearing two sets of gloves. My biceps are sore, as are my hamstring muscles. It takes quite a bit of effort to scrape the stuff off, so I have to keep watching my oxygen sats since it drops with great exertion on my part. Still, I am about half-way through the job.

I am looking for some bootstraps to pull so that I can get back down to the basement...I cannot seem to find them.

Do I really need to get this part done by today?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

After the drugs I received at the hospital, I slept until noon today. When I finally awoke, I felt quite a bit better and decided to move on to the demolition project. I am proud to say that is it complete.

I first brought all of the books upstairs and then the bookcase. Next was clearing out the closet, meaning emptying all the "pantry" shelves that stack from the floor. The two lamps and small tables were next. Finally, I brought up three of the dresser drawers so moving it around would be easier.

To begin, I had to pull up all the quarter round molding. I had thought I could keep it and just paint it and put it back, but that idea when out with the first splintered piece. Next, I had to pull out the file cabinet and TV trays out of the utility closet because those were the last boards laid. Getting the boards up around the doors was difficult, but not half as hard as getting them to the curb. The entire process, however, took a mere five hours.

I was surprised at how quickly that lovely laminate floor, the one that took two days to lay, came back up. While working, I was hot and trembling, but I concentrated on small goals: to the first bed, then take those boards out to the curb; the second bed and those boards; the last section and those boards; finish by pulling up the under-laminate layer and stuff it in garbage bags.

It is difficult for me, however, to savor the finished task for I find the sight of the plain concrete floor exceedingly depressing. I feel like I just took a giant leap backward.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The best laid plans of mice and men...and me.

The job today was incredibly tedious. I had 97 emails with addresses that needed to go into an Excel file. Then, I had to design a label file with their logo and address that I could use for a mail merge. I did finally merge the mailing list after six trial runs. That meant everything was ready for assembly. The CD's got stuffed into the mailers, the mailers were taped shut, the postage was applied, and the labels adhered. 97 times. Since they had spent several days with the administrative assistance typing them one by one, they were elated that I got them all done before 2:00. So, they had me type up the handwritten list of the previous mailings (126 names, the same names that she typed twice, once for the first mailing and again for the second mailing) and clean out the server room to boot. All of that for $86 dollars.

The most difficult part was that I was actually patted on the head TWICE! Good Girl was the comment of the day. I AM TURNING 40! Why do I give the impression that I am just a girl?????????

On the way home, at L'Enfant plaza, where I had to change trains, this man began blowing a whistle and telling everyone to stay exactly where they were. Then a train pulled up and there was this mad rush of humanity all determined to board the train and get away from the crazy man. He had his hand in is pocket, and I kept thinking about was getting shot in a rage spree.

The train turned out to be the green line. I needed the yellow line. So, I got off at the next stop and hopped on a green train going in the opposite direction. Then, back to L'Enfant plaza. Nearly all the people were gone, including the crazy man, so I waited for the next yellow train and somehow ended up all they way at the north end of the line. I had to get off the train and wait for one in the opposite direction again. Back to L'Enfant plaza. Two hours...I spent two hours coming home when it should have taken me about 40 minutes.

I did try to keep to my plan and get the Armstrong Tiles from The Home Depot. Choosing the color was a bit agonizing, but I finally made a decision. Then I tried to pick up the first of the six boxes I would need for this project. I had absolutely no idea how heavy they were.

I grew so incredibly frustrated as I struggled to get those boxes into the cart, push them through the store, and then put them in my car. I asked for help. Again, I didn't get any, although there were plenty of men standing around. So, the down side is that I had to go straight from The Home Depot to the ER because of my asthma. Those ER cubicles have to be one of the loneliest places on earth.

On top of this day is the fact that I am taking nine different medicines right now and FIVE of them have side effects of nausea, dizziness, and intense headaches.

Needless to say, I guess I will have to start my project tomorrow and do it a lot more slowly than I thought so that my lungs can recover. Somehow, I will have to figure out how to get the boxes to the basement or take them down a few tiles at a time (way too many trips).

Given this day, I am trying to reflect upon the positive: I rode the train without losing a cell phone. I earned some money. I didn't have to order the tiles.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I have a plan.

Tomorrow is demolition day. I will go to The Home Depot and either buy the Armstrong Tiles or order them. If they are in stock, I will have to have the basement floor done by the 19th for the listing (open house on the 22nd).

I will pull up the boards this weekend, so that they can be ready for a bulk pick-up on Tuesday. That gives me three days to get the demolition done (well, other than the eight hours I will be making labels tomorrow and the two hours of commute).

I was thinking that I could put the things beneath the beds in the tub, along with the bedding. I will have to lug all the books out of the bookcase and get that upstairs. If I take the door off the bathroom, I should be able to get the dresser in there, or perhaps the mattresses. After everything is pushed to the side or moved out, then I start pulling up boards. I find the center of the room. Lay down the first two rows of tiles. Then continue on toward one wall. Move the furniture on the newly laid floor and then lay the other half. Then, either teach myself how to cut quarter round or see if I can hire one of those men who hang out at 7-11 in the mornings. This is doable. I will prevail.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I asked G if she would go to the mid-week lent services at the church of the pastor who teaches the bible study we frequent. It was certainly an interesting experience.

His Lutheran church follows the divine service liturgy that is being set, I believe, by the Missouri synod. I found the liturgy to be long and complicated, difficult to chant when I was unsure of the tonal pattern. Yet, I believe whole-heartedly that he approaches the liturgy as his worship. He invites others to join along in praising God, in acknowledging His holiness by reflecting upon the processional, by responding to the readings, by singing the hymns. This participatory service is therefore aimed raising up the Most High. Frankly, I have never met another person who actually worshiped this way. Therefore, the unfamiliar was a blessing.

I found this a strange sort of conjunction with this woman pastor I stumbled across on late-night television. Now, I do not believe in female pastors and the image of TV pastors sort of make me shudder. However, this woman worships as she teaches. She has the three great boards upon which she writes the Greek, the Hebrew, different Latin, and the English translations of the scripture which she is covering. She writes and translates to let others have access to a truer representation rather than what has been distilled over the centuries and language, illuminating shades of meaning that inspire, exhort, admonish.

In the sermon last night, she covered Romans 12:1-2. I wish I could report all that I learned as I watched her translate, teach. I can relate one point that stood out. We renew ourselves by washing ourselves in scripture. Read it. Listen to it. Meditate on it.

Knowing how overwhelmed I am of late, I am trying to do just that. I am reading. I am praying. I am watching and listening to sermons. And I am trying to ignore my feelings and focus on that which is true and lovely and of good repute.

I wish it wasn't so difficult....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I think that I stink at asking for help. At least I hope I do. Or maybe it is that I do not understand what is appropriate or not. I mean, is there a right way and a wrong way to ask for help? If there is I am sure I've got it wrong. Because if I had it right I wouldn't feel as desperate as I do. I wouldn't feel like such an imposition. I wouldn't feel so alone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I ate this truly horrid old can of soup for lunch/dinner today. It was one of those cans you keep around in case of natural disaster or a ground zero event. I think it has moved with me through my last three moves, possibly four.

As lentil soup goes, this was probably the worst you could have. Especially egregious to the appetite were the stringy green things floating around, looking more like they belonged in a swamp rather than my bowl.

I ate it because I am unemployed. I ate it because I cannot see the sense in charging anything else when this is available. Of course, there was the ever present chicken in the freezer, but I fairly sure that should I come in contact with a flock of hens I could communicate with them so many of their siblings have I consumed. I also think that I should not move those cans of soup yet another time.

At this time, in this moment, I shall not think of the two remaining cans of lentil soup still resting upon the shelf.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Three hundred and ninety-six pages later I finished my novel. At least, I think I did.

It is strange, but as I typed the final words, I did not experience the sense of accomplishment or even release I thought would come. Instead, I was immediately overwhelmed by the thought that this story is truly only a first draft. At the very least, I need to go back to the beginning and plow through a colossal edit job. And...I must admit that I wonder about the ending. Will it work for the reader?

I wonder because I had to fight through the urge to hasten Megan's story. So much of her life bothered me. What she felt was a bit too real a times. And as she worked through things that still hover about my heart I found myself reluctant to rest my fingertips upon the keyboard. However, I have said before and I will say again now that perhaps this story was only ever meant to be for just one person. Me.

In any case, the deed is done.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I had water in the basement this afternoon. An absolute utter disappointment. I mean, how will I sell this house if every once in a long while water seeps up from the floor? And why is it doing so?

I had painted the basement closing door frame in preparation for getting the doors back from my writing student's father only a few hours before. My father called, and while I was talking with him, I walked to the head of the stairs and looked down. Water stared back at me.

I am just so bloody discouraged right now. I do not understand why I cannot seem to find a job, nor can I move forward in putting the house on the market. It is one step forward and two backwards.

A throw rug got wet, so I decided to try to clean it in the tub with a bit of Woolite. Three hours of scrubbing later, the water still ran brown. I gave up and decided to let it dry. Perhaps I can vacuum it clean...oh, wait, remember the vacuum broke.


Friday, March 16, 2007

I find it strange that it is easier to find a reason to commit suicide on the Internet than not. Do a Google search and it is oh so easy to find comprehensive how-to information, blow-by-blow descriptions of the tools of the trade, organized by what type of death a person would like to have.

What type of death do I want to have? What a strange question.

These websites approach suicide in a very systematic manner, providing a review of procedures and outcomes. One can conduct an analysis of the data and determine which way best fits one's circumstances, nature, and desired departure.

If one were searching for reasons not to commit suicide, he/she would be sorely disappointed...perhaps even swayed to the opposite course of action.

Yes, the Internet is a boon to this generation to grant us instant access to information that we might never have known. People can study disciplines without ever having to pay a penny in tuition. News updates abound. The laymen hold others accountable for their actions. Lost loves are found. Lives are shared.

Yet...yet the Internet is also the greatest boon to child pornography this world has ever seen. A boon to a practice that humiliates and destroys innocent lives. And it is a font of how-to information keyed to destroying lives...bombs, anorexia, abuse, suicide.

It is, at times, rather difficult to be an advocate of free speech.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Could someone please, please tell me why 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup does not equal 1 cup?

I think this medicine is killing me. Okay, my demise is probably not around the corner, but my gut thinks so. Between the stomach cramps, the nausea, and headaches, I have almost become distracted from the wracking coughs.

I had been casting about for something to eat when I thought of oatmeal. Its supposed to stick to your ribs, give you a great start to the day right? I thought it might help settle my stomach. Given my present state, I also thought two servings would be better than one, since one of those packets does not seem to go very far.

Now, if you add 1/2 cup milk to one packet, wouldn't that make 1 cup for two packets? I thought so. I thought so and proceeded along that assumption. However, 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup does not equal one cup and it certainly does not equal one large bowel of oatmeal. It does equal a large bowel of gruel. There was no sticking...only slurping.

My stomach still hurts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This has been a most challenging day.

I was awake most of last night for the fourth night in a row because of my coughing--the reason I broke down and visited the doctor. I thought that once I started taking some medicine, I would get better. I am not.

The antibiotic is making my stomach cramp with sharp pains, that is to say that it cramps when it is not otherwise being nauseous. The pain is quite sharp and quite distinct from the uterine cramps I am having just now as well. And, of course, the stomach cramps and the uterine cramps are quite different from the chest pain I am having from the coughs rattling my bronchial tubes. No, I am not feeling much better.

It did not help that I finally got a call from the temp agency. I knew that when a call did not come by the end of yesterday I did not get the job, so the news today was no surprise. Still, I could not have felt lower. Five different questioning sessions for a clerical job, and I am am found wanting.

A friend called soon there after, while I was writing my own reference letters. Two people had offered to serve as references for me, but when the time came to write, they passed the pen. I have been struggling how to say anything positive about myself and then write in such a way that the recipient of both will not suspect that the applicant was the one who actually wrote them. But, perhaps, a wee bit of sunshine will break through the clouds and both references will decide to edit the letters I sent for their signatures.

Needless to say, when T called I was sniveling as I typed. She was traveling between cities and called to chat as I prefer to do myself, so I tried to stifle my tears and listen to her. I will say this, she gave me a gift of honesty that both assuaged and fomented my fears all at once.

During the course of the phone call, she remarked at how much she hated my family for failing to acknowledge my illness, treating me more as if I had made it all up instead of opening their eyes and ears to see the devastating toll multiple sclerosis has already taken upon me. No, I am not yet in a wheelchair. Yes, I am still independent. The toll of which she lamented, however, was the changes wrought in my mind. As she put it, I am not the person I was back when I was standing before her in the college classroom.

I, myself, descry the changes. And here I have lamented that when I do so, I am mostly belittled by responses such as, "Oh, I forget things, too." My quick, somewhat bitter response these days: "Really, tell me just one time when you did not know your name or when you forgot how to form the letter 'h'?" I feel as if I am screaming and no one is listening...and that by the time anyone listens, there will be no more of me left. Yet, here she was bluntly referring to that which I fear. "You have trouble following conversations; you repeat yourself; you cannot access words. You are not the person you were ten years ago."

She is right. I am no longer the intellectual whiz who never had to prep for any of the college courses she taught because she had hundreds of books and authors and theories and research studies in literacy at the tip of her tongue. I am not that person. That saddens me.

Yet, it is not that I am wallowing in what I have lost. It is that I cannot help, from time to time, to step outside myself and compare the woman I was then to the one I am today. What is even more frightening is comparing who I was just three years ago and who I am now.

That she would mention this in passing thrilled me because in that moment I felt as if I were not completely alone. That she would mention this in passing devastated me because it is a reality that cannot be denied.

When she was speaking, I suddenly remembered the first time I knew that something was wrong. The first time I was confused happened in the last semester of teaching while I was completing my Ph.D. I was late for class and raced from the car, up the stairs, and down the hall hoping that I had beat at least some of my students to the room, all the while lugging about thirty children's books in three bags. When I turned the corner to find that the second corridor was as empty as the one through which I had just passed, my hopes sunk as I realized that I would most likely be the last one to arrive. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I was alone in the room. I stuck my head out in the hall and looked up and down the corridor. No one. After getting all my books set out in the order I would need for my lecture, I ventured out to find out where everyone was. I began thinking that there had been some sort of college holiday that had been declared when I was off campus. I finally tracked down a student, one of my own. I will never forget the look on his face when I asked why he wasn't in class. I had the wrong day.

Oh, you say, I have gotten up for work on a Saturday, dressed and drank the coffee before realizing I could have slept in. I would retort that I certainly took it further that day. Yet, while that was the first time I became lost in my own world, it was not the time I knew that something was happening to my mind.

It was over a year later. My class was being held in the college library. A library with only two floors. When my lecture was over, I walked with some of my students who had lingering questions about what I had covered that day. We all stepped into the elevator and they waited for me to push the button since I was nearest the panel. There were only two buttons. I stared at the panel, knowing I was supposed to do something and yet not understanding which one would take us all up to the main floor. "Push it," someone called, but I remained still, trapped in absolute confusion. Finally, a student reached around me and blithely pushed the one we needed. While I garnered a few quizzical looks, I am fairly confident that not a one of my students realized that that was the day I knew my life had changed forever September 13, 1994.

I was checking out of the neurologist's office when that blasted woman was called to the counter where I stood. One of her staff held out a message for her. She took the slip of paper, scanned it, and then asked for a prescription pad. As she scrawled out something for another patient, she said to me, without taking her eyes from the pad. "I believe I mentioned the possibility of you having multiple sclerosis?"

"No," I replied, somewhat confused.

"Well, you do." With that pronouncement, she turned and walked back to the exam room area. It was not until several years later that I understood the ramifications of her diagnosis. T's comment brought that moment in the elevator flooding back into my mind.

Maybe part of my desire to flee this city to a quieter life such as in Appleton is because I feel the toll of remaining here is too great a cost. Stress exacerbates the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. If I were to find a life I hope is waiting out there for me somewhere, would I gain some time?

It is my hope.

I will finish by writing that I worked on my novel some this evening, after battling over this current chapter for many days. However, I felt like the greatest hypocrite once I read the words that emerged from my finger tips.

“Do you want me to go in with you?”

Megan shook her head. “Go to Alfred’s. I’ll come when I am finished.”

Graham reached out and pried one of Megan’s hands off her purse to take it in his own. “In John, I just read where Jesus told something to his followers that I thought you might like to hear.” At Megan’s look of confusion, he dared continue. “I don’t get half of what he means, talking about his spirit and leaving and preparing things. But I memorized those words because it sounded like he was really speaking to me, even though I do not understand how that could possibly be.” Graham stepped closer and whispered in Megan’s ear, “‘Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.’” Quickly, he kissed the top of her head and turned toward the mercantile, steeling himself to not look back so that his wife could visit the doctor on her own resolve as she had wished. Knowing her fears, knowing her pain, it was the hardest thing he had ever done in his entire life.

Perhaps I wrote of peace because I long for its rest in my own life....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I know that it has been eight years since I last temp-ed, but I do not recall having to interview for work past the initial screening of the agency. Yesterday, I had a phone interview with the vice president of events at an organization for a six weeks temp job. They have someone in place right now, but that person is not rising to the occasion of having 3 multi-million dollar events between now and the end of May. Someone of my supposed caliber should be a gold mine to them, right?

Wrong. Today, I had to go in for an in-person interview that turned out to be three interviews with four different people. During the third interview, I was tag-teamed by two women who left me feeling like a criminal badgered by detectives for hours on end. If I had the merest speck of self-respect I would have left. Question after question, delivered in an accusatory and hostile tone, pried away at whether or not I would just show up to work, twiddle my thumbs when finishing a task instead of asking for another one, play solitaire, be able to answer the phone, be knowledgeable with attendees, ask for help before wasting everyone's precious time...etc. I get that they obviously have been frustrated in attracting and retaining the caliber of help they need, but I was tried and convicted without spending one moment on the job. It was the greatest show of will power in a long time on my part not to fling myself off the top of the high rise office building when it was over. After all of that, the final line of questioning was to determine why I would be even interested in such a mean position in the first place. After all, the job was actually clerical in nature, not even rising to the lofty position of administrative work.

So, exactly what is my Ph.D. worth now?

On the way home, I lost my cell phone. One moment it was in my pocket with the headset and the next the headset was all I had left. This is essentially my main phone. This is the phone that is on all my resumes. I asked for and received a substantial discount from Sprint, but the replacement is still more debt on my credit card.

A few hours later, I was standing in Target trying to decide if it would be okay to fill only two of the three prescriptions I got from the doctor. Yes, I am sick.

I had known that you could have post-nasal drip without really knowing it, but had not thought of that as a cause of my sore throat. I apparently have a sinus infection in my head as I once had many years ago. I have heavy duty antibiotics and what turned out to be a decongestant that has begun to shift was is in my head. She also wrote a prescription for cough medicine with codeine since I have not slept the past three nights.

I lie down and start coughing. I cough and spiral into an asthma attack. Yet the next day, no cough. Just the sore throat. She solved the mystery and hopefully the medicines will move swiftly in their attack. However, I am banking on the fact that within two days or so the antibiotics should kick in and ameliorate source of my coughing problem, saving $20 from the ever growing total on my credit card.

My dear friend W talked me through the evening, light conversation to fill the dark spaces weighing heavily on my mind.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I was stunned to hear from the realtor that her listing price would be 50k below mine, 100k below where it was appraised just over a year ago. The county raised the value of my house over the same period of time nearly 150k. My taxes have more than tripled in not quite five years. Yet, the value is somehow gone?

And with it my dream of fleeing a life where I just don't fit to find a new one in Appleton.

Do I sell, walking away with only 60K, not nearly enough mitigate housing costs in the new town? Or do I stay and continue to bang my head against the brink wall?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hmm....the photos are all sorted, separated, enveloped, and labeled. The scanning of the documents is looming large...

My father's Garmin Nuvi 660, the new one they sent him, is not working again. The voice prompts do not occur. And, truly, telling him what to do whilst he is driving is the reason my stepmother purchased the unit for him for Christmas. I tried to get her to buy the Magellan I got because it has some great features, but is a bit more simplistic with regard to interface. Instead, she got what she liked rather that what I believe my father needs with his beginnings of cognitive difficulties. He keeps asking me about mine and bemoans the fact that his keeps breaking. It is difficult being sympathetic and yet still supportive of my stepmother's choice.

Well, just as I am trying to get ready to put my house on the market, the handle/lock on my dishwasher broke yesterday. I was NOT pleased. I am afraid the warranty ran out in October, but I will just have to wait until Monday to call for help. Really, I think the machine is rather ungrateful.

Yesterday, when I awoke, I was rubbing Kashi's head and this chunk of skin and hair came off, revealing an oozing sore beneath. I panicked.

You see, one of the developments of Cushing's disease is this horrible skin condition where the animal can end up rather bald with horrid sores covering its body. I practically raced him over to the vet, still wearing my pajamas. While she raised an eyebrow at my attire, she said she thought it might be just one of the varied skin problems an older dog may have. I'm to dose him with an ointment (he disagrees rather vehemently that I should be touching the sore) three times a day and let her know if it gets worse.

After studying the area with three different flashlights, the light cast from the window, and then in full sunshine, I have about decided that I cannot tell if he is worse today than yesterday. What I do know is that he is not pleased with me.

Dad came over for a movie fix. We watched Flags of Our Fathers and Entrapment. I need time to process the former so that I can write about it. While talking with my dear friend W this evening, I related the story and some of what was on my heart, but I fear I butchered the whole thing. I need to percolate.

My writing student's parents came over so that K could assess the basement closet doors. We concluded that the best course of action is to replace them, so while he is at work, G and I will go pick up new doors for him to cut down (the ceiling is a bit low in the basement). That means I will need to paint and put the door handles back on--a practice I was none too successful at the first go around. G looked at some of the photos. K also removed the stub of a light bulb that had broken off in my porch light. And K took home a piece of molding an the two loose pieces I had to cut them again for me. I forgot to mention that I will need him to actually nail them in for me!

To treat myself this evening, I set out to organize all the nails, screws, and sundry hardware pieces that have been floating around and tucked in small places since I moved into this house and had to do all the construction/repair. I had one medium and two small hardware organizers that I kept in my small toolbox, but I also had all sorts of bags and opened plastic boxes that leaked pieces all over the place.

Friday, I had stopped by my writing student's home for a chat with her mother and ended up taking her two younger sisters to Hancock Fabrics and then back to my house. The youngest sat on the couch and read (she is quite advanced for just-turned-seven) and the older one worked with me on her writing.

At Hancocks, the girls picked out patterns for the and I picked up upholstery tacks so that I might be able to repair my antique chairs that have loose fabric. I also found these plastic organizers that have adjustable compartments that can vary in size and range from four to sixteen sections. Since they were 99 cents, I bought the four that were clear plastic. Tonight, after a few hours of pure pleasure, all my hardware is organized and put away in the same place!

To finish the day (really it is late night), I thought I would try to get back to my novel. I am so, so close to doing so. Next to me on the table is my new mug that my best friend B bought for me while she was here.

Back when I was working on my doctorate, I babysat with a couple who drank hot tea morning, noon, and night. Since I spent most of my time with them outside of studies and school, I fell into the same habit. If you were to peruse the lower shelf of the cabinet by my refrigerator, I think you would be surprised at how much tea is there, both loose and bagged, caffine free and black teas, ranging from the traditional Earl Grey or English Breakfast Tea to the outlandish Vanilla Caramel.

I do have coffee cups that came with my dishes set, but they are small. I had these four green mugs that were my grandmother's and hold two cups of liquid, but my parents broke three of them, one at a time, during their few visits, so I decided that I should not use the last one. You see, the one clear memory of have of her was treating herself to a cup of black coffee after the meal was done, the leftovers stored, and the dishes washed.

B found me a green mug that also holds two cups of liquid.

Since her visit, I have been drinking tea morning, noon, and night again, savoring the action of making the tea, the anticipation while it is cooling, and the taste of it passing down my throat. Most especially, I have been enjoying the Vanilla Caramel tea!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scanning, scanning, scanning! Alas, I have completed the photographs! I have also started divvying them up, but I breezed through the 100 manila envelopes and need to get more from the store tomorrow in order to complete that portion of the project.

One of the photos I found extraordinarily compelling was this photograph of my grandmother's godfather's housekeeper. Remember that he was the engineer who photographed much of her childhood. What do you see in this photograph?
I see an unhappy, barefoot, too-young girl. I wonder who wrote the words "very pretty" at the top of the photograph. It is not the godfather's handwriting; perhaps it is my grandmother's.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I feel as if I spent this entire day scanning and working on the photo archive project for my mother, even though I did accomplish other things...though I cannot remember what they were....

At times I nearly despair of ever finishing, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Primarily I am working on the modern photos. Most of them I care not to have, but I am trying to finish with honor. I took a break mid day to work on sorting through the personal and public documents, put them in top loading sheet protectors, and divide them between the two binders set aside for the project.

Still ahead would be the divvying up of the photos, placing each category into eight separate envelopes and labeling them as to category and recipient. After that, I will need to start burning the CDs. I have five more recipients of them, and it should take 5-6 CDs to capture the entire set of photographs. Also yet to be accomplished is scanning documents. I am not quite sure how I will find the resolve to do so.

Finally, I will have to package up each set of manila envelopes, make my way to the post office, and ensconce myself there while getting all off in the mail (including a bill for mother regarding reimbursement for supplies).

Just when I think I am near the end...I realize that I am not!

I received a call from a temp agency about a six weeks job, working on event planning. The agent asked if she could submit my resume. It is for $22/hour, so I would almost be able to cover my expenses. However, later she called back and said the client is unsure about my abilities. I have a phone interview on Monday at noon.

I met with the realtor. I really like her and feel as if this might be a good fit for me. Of course, it certainly helped that she was impressed by all the work I had done on my house, on my 3-inch binder of receipts, documentation, and warranty information for EVERYTHING that has been done to the house since I purchased it. She will be doing comps this weekend, so that we can sit down and discuss the contract and listing price.

At least it was a day of accomplishments...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My house accomplishment today is one that W is probably sick of me celebrating. She was on the phone with me whilst I was finishing and listened to me crow for many, many minutes afterwards. I actually completed a spreadsheet of all the initial expenses and on-going capital expenditures that I have had on my home!

You see, when I first bought the house, I did not have enough money for a down payment. I borrowed $12K from my brother, but only on the promise that he would share in the profit. What this amounts to is that he will nearly double his investment in four and a half years. He is actually quite wealthy, while I just get by. Yes, there has been the equity in the house, but I couldn't really tap it unless I moved.

I was rather dismayed to see that I have put in nearly 52K into the property since purchasing it because it was in such poor condition (not including landscaping and on-going maintenance). The only way I could do this was re-financing twice in the last three and a half years to access the equity. Doing so is why my mortgage is high, although, to be fair, I have to admit that it is no higher than if I had bought a home that didn't need such repair.

I had been dreading the accounting because, while I have a 3-inch binder with top-loading sheet protectors (of course) filled with receipts covering EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING that has been done to the house, the receipts associated with the work number in the dozens and dozens and dozens. The thought of plowing through the "supplies" receipts alone made me shudder. Naturally, I had left that task until the end. So, to my surprise, it went well because I was chatting with W while tackling it. [The "supplies" total was nearly 6K.]

So, now I have a spreadsheet of all my expenditures, including sub categories, ready for the "accounting" of the profit on the sale of my house. Really, I think that the sight of that Excel workbook is almost beautiful.

Next, I have got to finish my novel and the scanning project!

Have I discovered that I was ill yet? The jury is still out. Does having a scratchy throat for four days count? I have to say that I would prefer to either become colossally ill or no longer having a reason to give thought to the area between my mouth and esophagus...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Do I have a cold? I sure wish someone would let me know.

I am continuing to swallow and cough ever so slightly. I start to think that my nose is beginning to grow stuffy and then all becomes clear on the breathing front. I feel as if I have been talking for days on end, but no real pain in my throat; it is just a bit scratchy.

Am I ill?

Today, I knocked a few birds off the fence. I called the retirement group, asked for the rep to forward the papers to me, picked up the phone again, called the CFO of my last job, and point blank asked him what I needed to do in order for the form to be signed. When he replied what form, I forwarded it to him directly, with proof it was the fourth time it was sent. Four phone calls later, the paperwork was returned to the retirement company. So, in two or three days, my new account should be funded.

I dragged my bones (remember they may be ill bones) out of bed at 8:30 AM to great the HVAC man. I was humbled by his kind remembrance of me and the fact that he prayed for me when hearing about the flooding here in June 2006. Sure enough, the inducer motor had decided to inexplicably die, growing ever louder by each cycle of the heater. Lo and behold, I had 14 days left on my labor warranty and the part was actually in stock. He left to fetch it, returned in under an hour, and completed the repair in less than an hour more.

I made contact with the temp agency and sent them my resume. My boss gave me someone to start with so I could have a personal connection, but he passed me off without ever talking to me. Here's hoping I could at least temp soon.

I spoke with the realtor. Perhaps I am naive, but she genuinely sounded as if she could sell my home much, much more quickly than I anticipated. I was both excited and quite frightened at the same time. Could this really be happening?

I checked out the Pods system. I think perhaps this will make the move much more economical. This was B's idea...and a rather good one at that.

I finished another chapter. Boy, it was not the easiest one by far. I struggle with nearly half the words and then ended up with five extra pages that have to go in the next chapter even though I want them in this one.

My writing student came over to work on another scholarship application. This one is a doozy: A Marketing Slogan and Campaign to Attract Young People to Government Service. In listening to her ideas, I had a most brilliant brainstorm that I am sure she will transform into a rather spectacular essay. This was just one of six applications she plans to knock off by the end of March. Go K!

I saved the best accomplishment for last: I found photos of Appleton! You can visit this site to see pictures of the festivals, parades, parks, farmer's market, and cultural arts center. Frankly, I found them quite enticing.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

All that running around and the realtor had to reschedule to this afternoon. My shower and vacuuming was for naught!

When it rains, it pours.

My vacuum cleaner has decided to retire. First the hard surface floor attachment broke. Then the hose extension called it quits. Now the handle broke. When she was here, my friend B noted that if I kept some of the cord wrapped around the hooks, it would hold the handle in place. This works...but not very well. I am NOT in a position to purchase a new vacuum cleaner.

My beloved water fountain that I keep on my deck is broken. I suspect that it happened during the great freeze of February. I noticed that it was empty and went to add water, thinking that it was strange not to have any water since it has just rained. I had turned the pump off during that storm to protect the fountain, but usually have it on since running it almost always keeps the water from freezing. The water remaining in the large dish must have done the damage when it froze because there is a large crack from one side to the other and the water I added merely splashed to the deck below. The dish, unfortunately, was the most expensive piece of the fountain at nearly $100...and that was five years ago.

The battery in my cordless phone no longer holds a charge. Not wanting to spend the money on a new one until I get a job, for many months now I have been telling folks to call on my cell since answering the land line generally results in me being attached to the kitchen wall. Since holding a phone is also painful, I tell people to call me on my cell phone.

Alas, my cell phone died three times yesterday. The battery, I believe, has decided that its lifespan has reached an end. I am thinking that cell phone batteries are not exactly the most economical of battery models.

Then, tonight I was struck by this loud, high-pitch whine coming from the new heater (just a year old). [B had mentioned that it was loud when she was sleeping in the basement last week; I should have listened to her more.] I called the repair service and someone will be here on the morrow. Thankfully, I know it was replaced in March of last year, so I am crossing my fingers that the labor warranty is still in effect.

The petulant child within wants to wail over the fact that between that blasted noise ticket and all the things that are breaking I am most assuredly feeling the pressures of being rather broke just at a time when B and her husband tried to make this month financially easy for me.

The wee bright spot of this day was that I was able to play on-line Scrabble today with B. I won!

NOTE: Just when the unemployment is running out, and I am ready to begin the temporary work that will pay little beyond those government checks, I fear I am falling ill. My throat feels as if it is coated with the sludge I found in the pipes when I first moved into this place. I keep having to swallow hard or cough ever so slightly to clear it. I also think that I am a wee bit stuffy. I need to consult with B to hear how her illness struck. Given that she is seven days gone, I am rather confident that there is no possible way her germs can be still lingering about the premises. I don't suppose I can blame Kashi?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tomorrow the realtor is coming, so I could not put off getting the boxes from my old office up into the attic so as for the house to not appear so crowded. I had boxes in my utility closet. I had boxes beneath my desk. I had boxes in my basement closet. Boxes, boxes, everywhere.

I wondered if I would have been able to do so by myself without causing great bodily harm, so I am proud to relate that I was able to accomplish my task with only one additional scrape to my person.

The desk boxes are still in the basement closet, but four other boxes from that closet are in the attic. Also relocated are the four boxes from the utility closet, the two from my office, the chandelier, and the packing materials that I have accumulated thus far. They are in company of the five chairs, three-tier table, and bird playpen I moved a couple of weeks ago. It only took a dozen trips up and down the stairs and then the same up and down the ladder to accomplish this. The lessons I learned in Africa on carrying stuff on your head came in quite handy in trying to climb the ladder with those heavy boxes.

While I do not look forward to moving it all back down from the attic, I have to admit that the change is a positive one in not emphasizing the smallness of the place in which I live. Seriously, if someone moves in without all the antiques and the 2,000 or so books I own, he/she might think it rather spacious....that is until he/she walks into the microscopic kitchen. Hopefully the new owner will be more of a out-on-the-town person than a chef!

Can you tell I am quite nervous about the first impression of my home on the realtor tomorrow?

Now...if I could only come up with a place to live.

NOTE: That wonderful Victorian home in Green Bay sold. I found another home in Appleton that would fit me well. Notice the green paint! I really do like several of the things about this area of Wisconsin, but I have not noticed many jobs listed in the papers there or on on-line portals. That does not bode well for me.

Nashville looked good there for a while: plenty of job listings, affordable homes, country music. However, today I learned that it has one of the worst traffic congestion problems in America.

Back to the drawing board...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I replaced the chandelier with a ceiling mount light today. I found one that I thought was fine for $18.88, so the outlay of expense was palatable given that I have entered my ninth month of unemployment. I thought the swap process would be a snap. Oh, how I was wrong.

The chandelier came down fine. The new cross-bar went up fine. I remembered to turn off the power, so uncrossing and re-crossing the wires went fine as well. Two screws to go. One screw to go. Thus far, I had only spent about 15 minutes on the job.

Alas, that final screw. Two blasted hours later, two entire hours, I finally managed to slide the final screw into the slot so that I could complete the hanging process. A few more minutes more, I had the light bulbs in and the glass shade up. [I will not write about how long I spent trying to figure out why the light was so faint until I noticed the position of the dimmer lever on the light switch.]

I was right in that the position of the light in relation to the table below is not as noticeable with the ceiling mount fixture as opposed to the chandelier. The space looks even larger now without the chandelier, the ceiling a bit higher.

However...I most discouraged by my ineptitude of the past two days...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Blasted blades!

The passenger side wiper blade popped right out. I pressed the magic lever, and it slid free quite smoothly. I was quite hopeful, therefore, that all my anxiety about replacing the wiper blades by myself was for naught.

Then I moved to the driver side blades.

I pushed and pulled. I pushed and pulled some more. Fearful of breaking the wiper arm, I stepped back and tried to calm myself with a few deep breaths. Doing so was not much help...either to my nerves or to my success.

I stepped back inside to fetch a small flat-head screwdriver, thinking that I could use it to get at the lever more effectively. Since I was standing on the left side of the car, I could not get a proper view of the lever the way I could when replacing the passenger side blade. So, I leaned and twisted and poked at the thing with my screwdriver to no avail.

Now, while I was working rather unsuccessfully on the driver side, there were several men who walked by, ignoring my plight. I had thought that perhaps on of them would stop, but they did not. Even when the screwdriver slipped and sliced off a good chunk of my left palm and I cried out in pain not one of them stopped.

With blood running down my hand and still unsuccessful, I decided to climb up on top of the hood so that I could get a better view of that small lever. I was afraid that I would dent the hood, but managed to get up there without doing any damage. It was this awkward act that finally compelled someone to stop and offer help.

Wouldn't you know that he had the old blade off in about 10 seconds, that is after I got his hand all bloody when he was helping me down my perch on the hood.

It is my firm contention that I loosened it for him.

Perhaps I don't need to replace the rear wiper blade after all, eh?

Friday, March 02, 2007

One sprayer repaired and another one breaks.

My bottle sprayer, a chief disciplinary tool for Kashi, died an agonizing death today. It doubles as a portable shower for the birds. I was in the act of giving them a bath when it suddenly squirted them instead of misted them. Puzzled, I adjusted the nozzle and returned to spritzing them. A few moments later, I nearly knocked Fancy off the top of the cage with the jet stream that went forth from the sprayer. A few more futile adjustments later, I realized that the sprayer somehow died from the last time I used it (incidentally to squirt B while she was sitting in the green chair for laughs).

Dad and I went to Wal-Mart this evening, but I failed to remember to purchase a new sprayer. I did finally remember to get replacement wipers for my car (the front windshield, that is; I forgot about the wiper on the back window). My father also bought me a tank of gas. Given the fact that gas prices have inexplicably risen rather quickly of late, I am thankful for the free fill-up.

I asked him to replace the wipers, because that is not one of my skills. My friend B was the one to take care of it on my other vehicle. I may be able to disassemble my kitchen faucet, but those pesky little pins that are supposed to allow the blades to slip right out escape my skill set. He said it was too dark...perhaps later. Later means I will have to do it.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oh how I missed my sprayer! Cognizant of the need to be respectful of water conservation, I did not spray all night long, but I wanted to in gratitude for its return. Really, cleaning a sink is ever so much easier if the sprayer is working.

The repair I effected was not without its missteps, however. When I took the faucet apart, I discovered the diverter in three pieces. I carefully removed them and then probed for any stray debris. All was going well until it came to reassembly. You see, I had to complete the repair with no instructions, only parts. The top of the valve gave me fits as I tried to finish the assembly. Four times of putting all back together, twisting open the water shutoff valve, checking the faucet was what it took to get all the pieces in just the right position. Still, even with the stumbles, I was quite thankful the faucet had been repaired.

When calling for the part, I did take the opportunity to point out to Kohler that this was the fourth time a repair was needed on this Fairfax faucet and perhaps there was a flaw in the design or manufacturing process of the parts. I really wanted them to send me a whole new faucet, but while I have successfully repaired it four times, I do not know how to completely replace a faucet.

Since I had to empty out the cabinet beneath the sink, I took the opportunity to clean it, recycle a few items and throw some others away. Since that cabinet was cleaned, I went on the clean the rest of them, deciding to recycle a few containers that had blistered with overuse. I must admit, though, that in that fit of appliance cleaning before B arrived, I neglected to notice the dishwasher. There I was, sitting on the floor emptying out the cabinet to be able to reach the water valves and I glanced at the dishwasher. Oh, my..was it dirty! At least B didn't notice. does an appliance get dirty just sitting there?

Keeping on track with productivity, I repaired the molding around the front door that had been removed by the handyman who was going to install the new door and then backed out of the project. I nailed it back as best I could, but since the wood had been painted again and again in the last 60 years, I could not fit it back as it once was. A careful application of caulk covered the remaining crack. Tomorrow or the next day, I shall paint it and the doorway will be as good as new. I will say that not seeing the gap in the molding did much for my spirits once this repair was completed.

I also washed the sheets and towels from the guest room, made the beds, and cleaned the bathroom so that all was set to rights after B's visit. Much of this was because a realtor is coming for an interview on Tuesday, and I do want the house to show well to her.

The mail brought the news that my county believes that all this talk of a housing crash is mere footle. The tax value of my home, in their opinion, has risen another $40,000! An accompanying pamphlets gave all sorts of reasons why in this particular time the assessment is actually a positive step. Hah! They just want more money. I was discouraged by the realization that I will have yet another escrow shortfall and a higher mortgage payment should I remain here. That realtor cannot get here soon enough.

I will finish by saying that my brother surprised me once more, calling to see how I was doing and checking up on my goal of finishing my novel and the scanning project by the end of February. With B's visit, I was not able to do so, but I have started scanning and writing again. He listened to me and encouraged me to finish my two projects.

Hmm...something to be thankful for in a week that has been quite stressful.