What was I thinking?

Friday, October 28, 2005


Ever really wonder if there is such a thing as karma? Generally speaking, karma is defined as "(in the Buddhist and Hindu religions) the force produced by a person's actions in one of their lives which influences what happens to them in their future lives." In more common terms, it can be defined as a) the law of cause and effect; b) what goes around comes around; c) you reap what you sow; d) totally innocent victims are rare; e) no good deed goes unpunished; or f) your actions create ripples that spread out, echo and constructively/destructively interfere with the ripples from the actions of others. You've heard the terms good karma and bad karma, I'm sure. Sometimes we see things in our daily lives that make us wonder if there really is such a thing as karma or, in some cases, poetic justice.

~~~~~Driving Karma~~~~~
I commute on an expressway system each day. I take an east-west expressway from my house until it connects to a north-south one. This morning, as happens every morning, the feeder ramp from the east-west to the north-south was congested, full of morning commuters. You can't be a wuss merging into traffic at this point -- people around here are discourteous, arrogant, and often extremely aggressive. I always turn on my signal to let the traffic in the slow lane already on the expressway know that I intend to merge in. I allow them opportunity to take their foot off the accelerator and just let me in. I've found this to be highly effective, for the most part. All too often though, as soon as I turn on that signal, instead of backing off, they accelerate, afraid I'm going to get to the traffic jam 10 feet ahead before them. And there's always a stoppage of traffic there -- that's why the feeder ramp is always so clogged up.

Anyway, this morning we're sitting on that feeder ramp, as always, waiting patiently to get to the merge point when, in my rearview mirror, I see a black Audi screaming up the shoulder of the feeder ramp. Clearly this man's time was more valuable than anyone else's on that ramp or the expressway. He slingshotted by, doing at least 50 if not more. I mean, he really rocketed past us. I looked in my rearview and saw the man in the car behind me just shaking his head. I muttered something about the Audi driver being an arrogant putz, and turned my attention back to the merge.

I merged into the slow lane without any problem and, as I always do, waited for a gap in the center lane so I could merge left. Typically, when there's a gap, it's filled from the rear of a line of traffic rather than the front. So, several cars behind me merged left and it was finally my turn. I was able to accelerate up to the speed limit and noted that the slow lane/merge lane was barely moving. There sat that black Audi behind a car being "taken for a walk" by a blue-hair, and not one person in the center lane allowed any distance between themselves and the car ahead of them, even though that putz in the Audi had his blinker on and clearly needed to go faster than the crawl he was already going. But, what I realized gave me the best belly laugh anyone could have on a morning commute. Everyone was intentionally blocking the putz in and some even were offering him the ol' one finger salute!

OK, so maybe it was childish and meaningless, but I went along with the crowd and blocked him in and, as I went by him, I smiled sweetly and waved. Thought that was more effective.

~~~~~Heart Karma~~~~~
Lisa's mother had open heart surgery back in May to clear out a lot of blockages in the valves leading to and from her heart, caused by her diabetes. Then she had to have the ol' roto-rooter done on one of her carotid arteries (the other one was completely blocked, and apparently they can do nothing about it).

It was difficult for Lisa -- I mean, that's her *MOM*! Her mother is doing considerably better, but still has some difficulties with discomfort from the surgery.

About 3 weeks ago now, I posted about her grandmother having fainted and subsequently needing a pacemaker installed. Grandma Ruth is doing well too (as I updated just yesterday).

In the meantime, Lisa's *father* underwent testing where it was determined that he, too, needed a pacemaker. That procedure was done yesterday afternoon and, the last we heard, he was doing well.

Lisa has a customer who orders stuff from her place of employment and, through a "gentlemen's agreement" she brings the stuff home, and Lee comes to pick it up at our house. He and his wife are really nice people, and they often stay and chat for quite a while. On Friday of last week, Lee called Lisa and told her that he'd not make it over on the weekend to pick up something he'd ordered and asked her to bring home. It seems that his father had a major heart attack, and didn't survive it. Lee had funeral arrangements to make, and other things to attend to.

Apparently, on Saturday, Lee's wife (Kathy) and daughter made a huge batch of peanut brittle, then went shopping, then drove over to her brother's place to deliver some peanut brittle. The brother opened the door, and Kathy collapsed in his arms. Kathy's brother *and* his son are both EMTs and they reacted quickly -- which is why Kathy's still alive today. She'd suffered a major heart attack and did not awaken until yesterday. They had, on hand, an A.E.D. (Automated External Defibrillator).

Lisa and I were trained on this equipment when we took our C.E.R.T. training last year. We were immediately sold on the idea of having an AED available in the home. This piece of equipment gives step by step instructions, both in writing and with audio prompts, on its use. It's easy, uncomplicated, and highly effective. All the user needs to know is CPR. If you can afford one ($200-$2,000) get one. If you use it only once, and save a life, it's paid for itself.

~~~~~Stupid Karma~~~~~
MEDFORD, Oregon (AP) -- A woman bought a winning lottery ticket worth $1 million with a stolen credit card and could wind up with nothing if convicted, police said.

Christina Goodenow, 38, of White City in southern Oregon faced numerous theft-related charges, forgery and possession of methamphetamine, said authorities, who searched her home Thursday. The card belonged to a deceased relative, they said.

If convicted of any of the charges, Goodenow will not be able to collect prize money from the winning ticket, said police Lt. Tim George.

Oregon Lottery officials refused to discuss specifics of the case because an investigation is still under way.

"I'll be fascinated to see how this shakes out," Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann said. "In my 12 years with the Oregon Lottery, this is the first time I've encountered something like this."

Goodenow purchased the winning ticket October 9 using a credit card that had belonged to her mother-in-law, who died more than a year ago, police said.

Goodenow traveled to Oregon Lottery headquarters in Salem on October 12 to accept an installment payment of $33,500. The $1 million grand prize is paid out over 20 years.

Detectives began tracking Goodenow on Wednesday after learning that she had used the credit card to purchase several items, including the ticket.

A search warrant served at her home Thursday turned up some methamphetamine, but little money, George said.

"Our investigation is still trying to determine what happened to the $33,500," George said.

~~~~~Patsy (Putzy?) Karma~~~~~

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, resigned
today after a federal grand jury indicted him on five counts related to the CIA
leak investigation. Cheney said in a statement he accepted Libby's resignation
"with deep regret" and said Libby must be "presumed innocent" unless he is
proven guilty. (CNN)

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove escaped indictment in the CIA leak
case Friday but remained under investigation. (CNN)
Well, someone has to take the fall, eh?

~~~~~Cosmic Karma~~~~~

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Actor George Takei, best known for his role as
Mr. Hikaru Sulu in "Star Trek," has come out publicly. He made the announcement in the current issue of LA gay magazine Frontiers.

Takei told The Associated Press on Thursday that his new onstage role as
psychologist Martin Dysart in "Equus," helped inspire him to publicly discuss
his sexuality. Takei described the character as a "very contained but
turbulently frustrated man." The play opened Wednesday at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Los Angeles, the same day that Frontiers magazine featured a story on Takei's coming out.

The current social and political climate also motivated Takei's disclosure, he said.

"The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," he said. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young." (365gay.com)

For all you "Trekkies" out there that are "family," there's a book out there, published SEVEN years ago that has homosexual characters! *GASP* While all the generations of the Star Ship Enterprise claimed to have traveled "where no man has gone before," they apparently didn't have the cajones to produce it in other than written form. With all the various cultures that were introduced, along with the concept of acceptance of *all* life forms, it turns out that they weren't all that afraid of the Borg. It was the queers.

~~~~~VERY BAD KARMA~~~~~

What awaits the little furry invaders in my office this weekend, when the facilities crew comes in to tear apart the air conditioning vent to find the hole(s) where the little buggers are coming in. They're also hoping to find where the water is leaking into the office, too. Oh, and, figure out why I'm not getting any heat.


What awaits me when I pop the cork on that bottle of wine tonight...

Thursday, October 27, 2005


It's frickin' COLD in my office! Only cool air coming out of the vents and, even though I spoke with Facilities yesterday, and even though I spoke with the assistant director of Facilities, I still have no heat.

The good news is, the office seems to be too cold for the little varmints to come in and shit all over my desk, as there hasn't been any sign of droppings for the past two days. Of course, that might have something to do with the mouse trap I have *on my desk* these days, too.

The cold has also forced me out of the office more frequently each day. I quit smoking SEVEN years ago last month. Since then, I don't take breaks like I used to so I've been walking at 10:00, 12:30 and 3:00 each day, for no less than 20 minutes -- often between 40 and 60 minutes during the lunch hour break. Last week I logged 65671 steps (an average of 9382 steps per day) and this week I'm on pace for 65894 steps (still short of my goal of an average of 10,000 steps per day). I've lost six pounds since I began this program and I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

Our neighbor Mary and I have taken to walking after work as well. But, since it's been so cold and wet, neither of us is motivated to walk outdoors. So, we moved her Gazelle Glider into my family room where mine is, and we've begun to "walk" indoors. I introduced her to SpikeTV Tuesday night, watching Maximum Exposure. It's sort of like World's Wildest Videos, except the commentator doesn't hold back comment on the stupidity of some of the people seen in the videos. It's humorous and helps make the time fly by when I'm working out. Mary seemed to enjoy it as well.

I actually begged off last night, as I had 9985 steps when I got home, and I was exhausted from the day's work, and the previous night's restlessness.


I saw the doctor on Monday, and she's referred me to the Sleep Center at Strong. For most of my life, I had some pretty violent nightmares -- the kind where my abuser still visited me in my sleep. Often I would wake up retching, sometimes unable to hold the contents of my stomach in place. I think the term "panic attack" would apply to these nightmares. About 5 years ago I began receiving hypnotic therapy which helped me to train my brain to wake myself up anytime certain elements of those dreams invaded my sleep. The therapy has been wholly successful and the monster is only a vague memory these days.

However, with the onset of menopause and the ridiculous conditions in which I work, my stress level has increased tremendously and I find myself, once again, without restful sleep. I have a condition called RLS (restless leg syndrome). Many people describe it as a "crawling" sensation in their legs but I describe it more as a sensation of a tremendous buildup of energy that builds up to a level so high that I *must* move my legs. It often keeps me awake for a while, and I seem to have found mild relief by having Lisa stretch my legs for me. While this helps me get to sleep, it doesn't help me rest. Apparently my legs jump and lurch throughout the night, causing Lisa some restless nights, too. I'm unaware that my legs jump around but when I get up in the morning, I feel like I haven't slept in a month. Clearly I'm not resting and not reaching a level of sleep that is required to obtain that rest. Lisa has also indicated that my arms sometimes "lurch" in a rhythmic fashion when I lay "spooned" against her back with my arm around her. As if that's not bad enough, I often wake up hot, so I pull my arms out from under the covers to stay cool. Then I get cold so I put my arms back under, which eventually makes me hot again. Even though the night-time temperatures are only in the 30s these days, our bedroom window remains open, complete with a fan which kicks on if the temperature in the room goes higher than 60 degrees.

I'd almost forgotten what it was like back in the days of the nightmares, to live without proper rest. There are days here at work where I could just lay my head down on my keyboard and fall fast asleep. It's not GETTING to sleep that's a problem, it's either staying asleep, or achieving a restful state while I sleep. And the situation at work has made the RLS worse, which keeps me awake more, which causes my stress level to increase, which affects the RLS more... It's a vicious cycle.

On the weekends, I seem to be fine because I stay in bed until I feel rested enough to get up. Last weekend, it was 10:00 Saturday morning before I arose -- 9:00 on Sunday. Me, who used to be up by 8:00 at the latest on weekends, sleeping in like a teen hung over on MTV videos.

So, it's off to the Sleep Center for me.


Lisa's Grandma Ruth has been doing very well (thanks Scotty for asking, sorry I didn't update sooner). She had her pacemaker put in and was sent home not long afterward. Lisa spoke with her mother just last night and found that Grandma Ruth actually was caught standing at the counter making Jell-o yesterday. Something she'd been unable to do for a long, long time. She apparently is more energetic and, with that energy, has a tremendously improved mood. With that pacemaker, apparently 90 doesn't feel so old to her any more!

Speaking of pacemakers, Lisa's father is getting one put in this morning, also. Her mother had open heart surgery this past Spring, and now her father's heart is acting up. It probably doesn't help that the man smokes like a chimney.

Lisa's stomach has been messed up again -- she's back on the Prilosec. I cautiously asked her last night if she'd considered that her problem is stress, as it started acting up when her grandmother's heart problems arose a couple or three weeks ago. I was relieved when she said that she figured that was exactly what her problem was. Perhaps the Prilosec is the best course of action for her at this point. We'll see.


The secretary on the 5th floor, directly over me, has caught 11 mice in traps over the past 4 weeks now. At the same time, she interviewed and was selected for a new job, which will mean a huge promotion for her. We're really glad FOR her, but really bumming for ourselves. So, I fixed her up a little "going away present."

Hehehe -- good thing she has a sense of humor, eh? And, of course, I crack myself up! LOL!


Lisa and a co-worker had plans to make applesauce this weekend. That's an annual event in Lisa's family and one she enjoys -- not to mention the fact that she enjoys the end product which is LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of applesauce. They're only going to do one bushel of apples, and Bonnie (the co-worker) was going to make dinner for us. Yesterday, I asked Lisa if she would be disappointed if I begged off -- I really have no interest at all in making applesauce when I've got gardens to winterize, rose bushes to prune and insulate, morning glory vines to cut down and remove, seeds to harvest, and other preparations for winter. She was absolutely fine with it -- that's one of the things I love about her, she's flexible, undemanding, and doesn't take things personally. It's s'posta be nice out this weekend -- with some sun and temps in the mid-50s Saturday, and sun with temps around 60 on Sunday. I want to get all the garden prep done, and try to help Mary get her garage finished up. I'd rather be moving like that than standing around peeling apples, mashing them, and watching water boil. I want to burn some CALORIES! :-) Can't rack up many steps making applesauce, can I?


Today's Joke of the Day from Fickle (WFKL):

John & Marcia decided that the only way to pull off a Sunday afternoon quickie with their 8 year old son in the apaprtment, was to send him out on the balcony with a Popsicle and tell him to report on all the neighborhood activities. He began his commentary as his parents put their plan into operation:

"There's a car being towed from the parking lot" the boy shouted.

A few moments passed:

"An ambulance just drove by."

A few moments later, "Looks like the Anderson's have company" he called out.

"Matt's riding a new bike..."

"The Cooper's are having sex!"

Startled Mother and Dad shot up in bed!! Dad cautiously asked, "How do you know they're having sex?"

"Jimmy Cooper's standing out on his balcony with a Popsicle too."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Each morning now, I have to tiptoe through the

to clean the

off my desk. There is no

in my office, either.

Then I go into the ladies' room to clean the germs off my hands, and have to duck the

I made the callous decision this morning to just sleep in, and get to work when I got there. It was about 9:00 when I came in and, wouldn't you know it, more water in the carpet, still no heat, mouse turds on my desk again, and I'm still flying solo.

I'm seriously contemplating closing the office anytime any or all of these conditions exist. Can you see the signs?

Closed due to water

Closed due to mice

Closed due to cold

Closed due to bees.

Closed due to mice that swim through the water in the cold office to shit on my desk.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I "borrowed" this from Annie's blog because, as she says, the questions are cool and not all "foo foo" like the ones you normally get.

1. Name someone with the same birthday as you.

Monica Lewinsky, but I don't own a blue dress, nor do I spit or swallow.

2. Where was your first kiss?

In Denny Clark's car.

3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property?

Yes. My brother and I were about 10 or so and found this half-constructed building in a field we were playing in. We threw stones through the wallboard, but didn't have any real concept that what we were doing was wrong, would cost someone a lot of money, or even illegal. It was just fun at the time. My mother ended up having to pay the owner $500 for the damages.

4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex?

Only playfully.

5. Have you ever sang in front of a large number of people?

Not solo, but I did sing in the concert choir in high school.

6. What's the first things you notice about the preferred sex?

I'm an eye person -- your lips and voice can say one thing, but your eyes truly express your feelings.

7. What really turns you on?

A razor sharp wit, beautiful eyes, and admittedly, I'm a boob hound. In my next life, I want to come back as a mammogram technician.

8. What do you order at Starbucks?

I had my first Starbucks coffee just this past weekend. I had a regular coffee. It was coffee, nothing more, nothing less.

9. What is your biggest mistake?

I suppose I could name things I've done, decisions I've made, or something similar, but I like the fact that, even the bad times in my life have shaped me into the person I am today. So, perhaps the biggest mistake I've ever made was in thinking anything I'd ever done in any part of my life was a mistake.

10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose?

As a young girl, I used to cut myself with razor blades in order to desensitize myself to pain. Long story.

11. Say something totally random about yourself.

"Something totally random about yourself."

12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?


13. Do you still watch kiddy movies or tv shows?

Hell yes! I recently purchased Robots and we just loved it. Some of my favorites are A Bug's Life, Antz, and Lion King.

14. Did you have braces?

No. My teeth weren't really important to my parents. As I got older, I guess I figured I was too old for them.

15. Are you comfortable with your height?

The only time I'm not comfortable with being 5'3" is when I have to get something out of a high cupboard that my almy 6' son put away. I've learned to just stand there and say "Need help" and he comes and reaches for me. Last year, for Christmas, Lisa bought me a step stool for the kitchen so I can be more "independent." hehe

16. What is the most romantic thing someone of the opposite sex has done for you?

Sign the divorce papers.

17. When do you know it's love?

You just *know*

18. Do you speak any other languages?

I know a little Japanese, a little French, a little Spanish, and some sign language (I can finger spell anything).

19. Have you ever been to a tanning salon?

Yeah -- I used to go every February or so for the month, not for the tan, but more for the "light therapy." Here where I live, the winter months are so gloomy that many people experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I used to go to the tanning bed in February (mid-winter) for about 10 minutes a pop, three times a week. That seemed to help a lot. I don't go any more -- haven't felt the need to in a long time.

20. What magazines do you read?

Gardening How-to, Girlfriend, Out, Time, and the bazillions of catalogs that arrive in my mailbox throughout the year. This time of year, the poor mailman must get a hernia lifting all that stuff.

21. Have you ever ridden in a limo?

Yes -- as part of a wedding party.

22. Has anyone you were really close to passed away?

Really close to? No. I loved my grandmother dearly, and she passed away in 1979. I've been to quite a few funerals in my life, but I've never had to experience the tragedy of losing someone close. Don't want to, either.

23. Do you watch MTV?

Only if I'm into self-abuse for the time being. I loathe MTV and most of those music video channels.

24. What's something that really annoys you?

Arrogant people, drama queens, banking fees, aggressive drivers, cleaning rodent turds off my desk each morning, Chimpy, the alarm clock, homophobes, buffet Christians, politicians, people who wear white shoes after Labor Day.

25. What's something you really like?

Gardening, knitting, curling up on the couch with a good book, down time, any time I spend with Lisa, chatting with my son, grapes, surfing the web, my morning coffee, music, laughter.

26. Do you like Michael Jackson?

I think there's something wrong with a guy who wears one glove and sings Beat It. I think he's a sick-o.

27. Can you dance?

I do the pee-pee dance quite well, especially just after I sneeze. However, I can't dance to music and, frankly, never enjoyed it.

28. What's the latest you have ever stayed up?

Oh man, I've had some "all-nighters" in my life back when I was young and full of energy. These days I'm lucky to still be awake for the 11:00 news.

29. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room?

No, but probably should have been. My last pregnancy, I was in labor for 45 minutes, and it was a 40 minute drive to the hospital. Suffice it to say that I delivered in less than 5 minutes after our arrival at the hospital.

30. Do you actually read these when other people fill them out?

I guess it actually depends on who sends them and how interesting the questions are.

Monday, October 17, 2005

We're back!

Gosh, I had such a good time the past 4 days!

Lisa went to Louisville, KY and had a great time meeting clients and customers. She went on an old-fashioned paddle-boat (river boat) dinner cruise the last night they were there and thoroughly enjoyed herself. I'm thrilled that she had such a good time!

I spent the 4 days with my aunt. Thursday we sat and chatted and, while she quilted, I knitted. Later we went out to dinner and had a fabulous meal at a place called Jack's Place Gaslight Grill. I had Chicken French that just melted in my mouth. It was served with mixed green and yellow string beans, and warm bread. It was awesome!

Friday we drove down to my hometown (Bath) and visited a couple of antique stores. She and her husband, Bob, bought a 105 year old house and she wanted antique doorknobs to put on all the doors. While we were down that way, I took her up the old Winding Staircase road, which has multiple switchbacks and hairpin curves, and is predominantly a dirt road. With the autumn leaves at what seems to be peak color, the drive up that road was just gorgeous! It comes out on top of Mt. Washington where you can look out over a large expanse of the Cohocton Valley -- a breathtaking view of autumn at it's finest!

I gave my aunt and uncle the free DVD player we got from DirectTV when we signed on with them -- their first experience into DVD usage. Bob is hard of hearing, with hearing aids in both ears, and he loves the fact that he can turn on captioning so he doesn't miss things. I also took down a dozen or so DVDs for them to view. Friday night we watched We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson.

Saturday my aunt and I decided to go north to look for antiques. She'd picked up a couple of sets of old doorknobs at a junk-fest we'd found down in Bath, but still had the bug. So, we went to a place called The 1812 Store. Of course, it had antiques but was more of a craft/gift shop. I found a gift collection called Willow Tree and, to my utter delight, found this figurine, called Two Alike.

As you can see, it's two females, back-to-back, hands together, in a sort of intimate pose. I was thrilled with my find, and bought it for Lisa (or, as she later said, for us). I wasn't at all disappointed with her reaction when I presented it to her -- it was just as I'd thought it would be.

We went to another antique store and, while I walked away from it no less than five times, I ended up buying an old copper coal scuttle with ceramic (patina) handles. As you can see, it's in relatively good condition and won't need a lot of attention. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with it, maybe put a philodendron of some sort in it, maybe put it on the fireplace hearth and fill it with kindling.

Saturday night we watched the 4-hour, uncut version of Dances With Wolves. By the end of Saturday night, I'd put 140 new rows on my current knitting project -- not bad.

Sunday morning I got up early so I could sit and have coffee with my aunt and uncle before it was time to leave. I left around 11:30 in order to be back in time to pick Lisa up at the airport at 1:22. I got to the airport around 12:55 and was pleasantly surprised to find that her flight was expected in about 10 minutes early.

When I saw that red hair from so far away, my heart just fluttered. She always has that effect on me. And even from as far away as she was, I knew that her eyes had found me, as she broke into a huge grin. We got her bag from the conveyor, said goodbye to her boss and colleagues, and went to the parking lot. Once we had her bags stowed in the rear of the RAV4 and got into the car, she leaned over and put her arms around me and just held me tightly for a few moments. God it felt good to be back with her!

We got home and unloaded the suitcases and stuff from the car and, once everything was put away, we went next door to check and see how Mary was doing. We went back home and turned on the football games and took up our positions on either end of the couch (each end has a recliner) with Tigga purring contentedly between the two of us.

After dinner, Lisa drifted off to sleep and I let her doze for a half hour or so, to take the edge off. About nine-o'clock we decided we could stand a shower and an early bedtime.

I don't usually discuss our private moments here because I think it shows a total lack of respect for one's relationship, but I will say that I experienced a huge emotional release last night and, afterward, cried. I don't cry often after our lovemaking but when I do, I think it unsettles Lisa a bit. Last night, however, she just softly said "Tell me those tears are because you fell in love with me again."

And then some!

To say I love this woman is to merely utter words. I'm frustrated by my inability to find the words that can accurately describe how I feel for her. In that regard, I'm impotent, but let it suffice to say that this woman that I love so deeply makes me feel safe, secure, loved, happy, balanced, calm, excited, at peace, optimistic, valued, and complete.

Simply put, I love this woman with all my heart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Thanks to my friend Michelle from Utah for this one! Michelle, this had me in tears...at work...with people looking oddly at me...

All I can say is, "Been there, done something similar." LOL!

All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - The epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.

My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: "Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet." So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom. It was one of those "cold wax" kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off. No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out. (YA THINK!?!)

So I pull one of the thin strips out. It's two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. ("Cold wax," yeah...right!) I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. It works! OK, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.

With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I apply the was strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my vagina and stretching down to the inside of my butt cheek (Yes, it was a long strip) I inhale deeply and brace myself....RRRRIIIPPP!!!!

I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!....OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!! Vision returning, I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip. CRAP!!! Another deep breath and RRIIPP!! Everything is swirly and spotted. I think I may pass out...must stay conscious...Do I hear crashing drums??? Breathe, breathe...OK, back to normal.

I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip!

There's no hair on it.

Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX???

Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip. I touch. I am touching wax. CRAP! I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair.

Then I make the next BIG mistake...remember my foot is still propped up on the toilet? I know I need to do something. So I put my foot down. DAMN!!!!!!!! I hear the slamming of a cell door. Vagina? Sealed shut! Butt?? Sealed shut!

I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself "Please don't let me get the urge to poop. My head may pop off!" What can I do to melt the wax? Hot water!!

Hot water melts wax!! I'll run the hottest water I can stand into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right??? WRONG!!!!!!!

I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment - I sit. Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together, is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub...in scalding hot water. Which, by the way, doesn't melt cold wax. So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cement-epoxied myself to the porcelain!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!

I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter "So, my butt and who-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!"

There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, "Are we talking cheeks or hole or who-ha?" She's laughing out loud by now...I can hear her. I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box. YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else's night.

While we go through various solutions. I resort to scraping the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better then to have your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!! By now the brain is not working, my dignity has taken a major hike and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this event.

My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace....the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend. It's sooo painful, l but I really don't care. "IT WORKS!! It works!!" I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up.

I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair....THE HAIR IS STILL THERE.......ALL OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

So I recklessly shave it off.

Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I'm going to try hair color......

Separation Anxiety!

Lisa leaves for Louisville tomorrow morning and will be there through the weekend, coming home Sunday just in time for kickoff for the early games.

Gosh I'll miss her, and I hate it when we're apart like this, but I also look forward to the reuniting as well. We always miss each other terribly and, usually when she gets home, you'd be hard pressed to find a gap between the two of us at night as we sleep.

But, it's only four days...

Lisa's maternal grandparents are both just about 90. Perhaps 91 but they're right at that 90 year mark. They've been married 66 years now. Both of them are sharp as tacks mentally but, sadly, they've had their physical and medical problems. Grandma an insulin dependent diabetic and has had cardiac issues for some years now. Grandpa had a degenerative bone problem where the bones in his neck literally...melted (for lack of a better term) to the point where he needed a steel rod inserted in order to hold his head up. He has some medical issues of his own, healthwise, but for the most part, they're still hanging in there and have done relatively well.

Two or three years ago now, Lisa's mother was told by Grandma's doctors that Grandma probably wouldn't last the winter. Since Lisa's parents usually "winter" in Florida, it was decided that they'd not go that year. Grandma not only lasted that winter, but has lasted to this point.

Apparently yesterday, Grandma got up to go to the bathroom (she uses a walker since she broke her hip some years back) and passed out. Not long after that, Grandpa found her sitting in her chair, slumped way to one side, and her teeth on the floor beside the chair. She was very rigid and stiff. He just held her and kissed her, believing he'd lost her, wanting to tell her good-bye. She wasn't dead, but her heart rate was dangerously low. She's in the ICU now, with a heart rate of around 40 and the doctors are talking about a pacemaker. She was apparently sitting up this morning, and doing relatively well.

Lisa's a bit nervous about going to Louisville with her grandmother ill but, as her mother and I have both told her, we can't just sit around, canceling our lives, just in case. Besides, Lisa can fly to PA from KY if need be, rather than flying home. I'm going to suggest that she go home next weekend to see her grandmother - it's about a 4 hour drive, not so far, really.

I just adore Lisa's grandparents. Her grandfather makes me laugh constantly, he has such a razor-sharp wit. And, don't think you can slide anything by her grandmother, either, as she seems omniscient. This fiesty woman is a dyed-in-the-wool Yankees fan and don't get in her line of sight when the Yankees are playing on television. I always enjoy visiting them whenever we go down there.

I think it takes a lot of courage to be married to the same person for 66 years. But it also takes a lot of love, a lot of patience, a lot of compromise, and a lot of forgiveness. They ran a dairy farm their whole lives. Married just before the onset of World War II, living through difficult economic times, raising kids to be productive members of the household as well as society, and never compromising on their values. As a young boy of 12, Grandpa's father passed away and it was up to him to run the family farm and take care of his mother and siblings. He recalls times when they were so poor, they blocked off all but the kitchen in the house, and remained in the kitchen to sleep, just for the warmth. Lisa often talks about her grandfather's "Farm of Distinction" awards, so particular was he with the cleanliness of his milking parlor, and the health of his cows. Year after year he earned these rewards. Lisa recalls him being a tough task master about cleaning and caring for the cows, which explains the awards. Lisa and her siblings grew up working on the farm as well, and I see a lot of her grandfather's ethics in her. Her grandmother wasn't one to shy away from the barn, either. She made a home for her family using whatever was available to her, and teaching her children to be self-sufficient and to work hard for, not only what they wanted, but for what they already had.

I can see Grandpa holding Grandma tightly yet gently, kissing her tenderly, and telling her goodbye. But I can also almost see the look of fear in his eyes at the thought of losing his lifelong companion, the love of his life, the one person in his life who accepted him as the person he is. Sixty-six years together.

Be well, Grandma Ruth!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fall Foliage

We went down to my aunt's house directly after work on Friday -- it's about an hour from here and, even though it was murky, dreary, and rainy, once we got outside of our own neck of the woods, the fall foliage was ablaze with color. I especially love the sumac in the fall, just as red as it can be.

We arrived at my aunt's house around 5:30 or so, and she'd put on a delicious soup made simply from chicken broth, that little pasta that looks a bit like barley, and spinach. It was exceptional and really hit the spot. We sat and chatted and laughed until nearly midnight. We brought an old "antique" slide projector that my father had left at my house, along with slides, and we sat and went through some of them, too. A lot of family history on those slides. Wanda (my aunt) was thrilled with them.

Saturday morning we got up and drank coffee and sat and chatted a bit. I put on a crock pot of chicken and vegetables which I would later make into chicken stroganoff, and then we left to go to the festival. It was foggy, drizzling, and not quite 50 degrees. Typical Fall Foliage Festival weather. Don't know we've ever gone and NOT had it cold and rainy.

On the way there, Lisa's cell phone rang. It was Mary. Her mother had passed away that morning at 9:00 and I think she just needed a friendly voice to talk to. She indicated that she didn't know what to do with herself that day and that everything seemed surreal. I told her to do something normal. Vacuum the carpets, brush the dogs, change the sheets on her bed, anything normal. It might help restore a sense of normalcy for her. We chatted a bit and I elicited a promise from her that, if she needed to talk or anything, just to call.

We met Michelle and Doug near the exit from the expressway and they followed us into the town where the festival was being held. They'd brought Cherlyn with them and she had a cute little hooded fleece underneath her little rain coat, and of course her Dora the Explorer umbrella. She was SUCH a good little girl all day as we roamed through all the exhibits, browsing the crafts and foods and clothing and art. We went by and saw the "tree sitters," and roamed up and down the side streets where individual yard sales are always held during the festival.

I had a hot dog for lunch and, about a half hour later we found another food booth that was selling artichokes and greens and beans. They had a combo plate of artichoke French and greens & beans -- I succumbed to the temptation. My aunt got the deep fried artichokes and Lisa passed. Of course, Michelle didn't even want to SEE the artichokes, let alone try some. The weather, as usual, didn't deter festival goers. For the most part, there was a misty rain that wasn't bad. It was more obnoxious to use an umbrella than to go without.

I got cold early on. Well, my HANDS got cold, especially the one finger on my right hand that I demolished 3 years ago while splitting wood. When it gets cold, it hurts. I bought a wonderful pair of wool gloves (handmade) at a booth for $6 and almost immediately I was warm all over. Amazing how just keeping your extremities warm can make everything else warm.

We prowled the grounds for about 3 hours, said good-bye to Doug and Michelle and Cherlyn (who calls me "Gramma Pat") and went back to my aunt's house. We sat around for the remainder of the afternoon and chatted and, about 6, I prepared the stroganoff, cooked noodles, and we sat down to a hearty dinner. We were all famished. I'd put in 8154 steps that day and, besides, OD'd on the fresh air and oxygen in my brain. After we'd cleaned up from dinner, we sat in the living room and I struggled to keep my eyes open. We had a great evening but, by 10:00 I was exhausted, and went upstairs to bed.

Sunday morning we got up, and I went in to shower. Or at least I tried to shower. I couldn't figure out how to get the frickin' shower to turn on. I finally got exasperated and just washed under the faucet in the bathtub. I think, though, that I washed with my shampoo and shampooed with my shower gel. I went to brush my teeth with my power brush and switched it on, and it went "WHIRRRRRrrrrrr r r r r r r r r r " and then died out. I shrugged and brushed my teeth with it anyway. What else could I do?

I went downstairs, went into the kitchen and got a coffee mug out of the cupboard and...the coffee pot had about a mouthful left in it. Of course, I'd already poured half and half into the cup so I had about a quarter of a cup full of slightly warm and slightly off-white half and half. (They have a "brewing station" so I couldn't see how much coffee was in it when I went to pour some.)

I went out onto the front porch where Wanda, Bob and Lisa were smoking, along with my quarter cup of off-white creamer. I announced, "If someone will show me how, I'll make MORE coffee!" Bob indicated that the brew station could only be run once per day and I just matter of factly told him "Look, I've had my ass kicked all over the place this morning, so don't you fuck with me too!" Raucous laughter followed. Bob poured the remainder of HIS coffee into my cup and went out into the kitchen and made more. Lisa asked how I got my ass kicked and I told her about not being able to figure out how to work the shower, mixing the shampoo and shower gel, and the power brush running out of juice, only to come down and find there was no coffee. More raucous laughter.

We hung out until around noon and decided we should be getting home, as we wanted to make sure Mary was doing okay. We got home around 1:30, went next door to Mary's and sat with her for about a half hour. She'd cleaned her house like a woman driven and was sitting and brushing one of the dogs. She seemed to be doing really well, and we left, promising to check in later. When we got home, it was damned cold in the house, since the furnace wasn't turned on and the windows hadn't been latched all the way when we left Friday. It was 58 degrees downstairs in the family room. I turned up the furnace, and went upstairs and turned on the oven to 350 degrees. Got a cake mix out of the pantry and baked a cake.

We sat and watched the Broncos, Bills, Jets and Patriots win on the four televisions I had set up. The Broncos didn't do all that bad, but they gave up too many rushing yards to Clinton Portis (former Bronco running back). Dallas handed Philadelphia their asses, and Green Bay walked away from a 4 game losing streak with a 52-3 win over the Saints. Cincinnati should be ashamed of themselves for losing to Jacksonville and, with that, Indianapolis is now the only team in the NFL that is undefeated after 5 weeks.

About 6:00 or so (midway through the late games) we took some cake over to Mary and hung out for a bit, then came home and dropped, exhausted, into our nice warm waterbed at about 9:30.

Sunday I got in only 5455 steps but, on the positive side, this morning the scales indicated I was down exactly 4 pounds since the first of the month. Gosh, if I could lose 0.4 lbs. each day, I'd reach my goal before year's end! Okay, maybe not before year's end, but certainly before MLK day in January! Wouldn't that be nice! I've got a goal of 1 lb. per week though, and I know that, at that rate, I can realistically expect myself to reach my goal by the time our anniversary rolls around again in July. My other goal is to get upwards to about 10,000 steps per day by the end of the month, as part of the Walktober program the college is sponsoring this month. In the midst of all that, I'll ride my bike (which is now on the trainer), get on the Gazelle Glider one day a week, at least, lift weights and climb stairs on the weight set at least one day a week, and do a stretching workout on the exercise ball 3 times a week, at least.

I'll call Mary when I get home and see if she wants to go for a walk with me, if she's home.

Lisa leaves on Thursday for Louisville, and I'll go back down to my aunt's house Thursday and stay until I have to pick Lisa up at the airport on Sunday. Lots of work to do between now and then...

Friday, October 07, 2005


OK, don't drink anything while reading this blog entry because, if you do, you're likely to sputter it all over your monitor. I LOVE this woman!

Power went out across campus today, and across the entire 'burb we're located in.

After an expenditure of $14 million to place a co-generation plant underground so that we'd have our OWN backup system, it turns out that there were no spare fuses, and Co-Gen was inoperative.

So, for most of the afternoon, we sat. And sat. And sat. Well, some of us did.

I decided that it'd be a good time to get in my "Walktober" steps. By the end of yesterday (10:oo PM) I had 4,682 steps in, which probably isn't bad for someone chained to their desk all day long. Today I already have 5,537 and it's only 3:30. After work, Lisa's going to pick me up and we're going down to my aunt's house for the weekend. Probably won't get many more steps in tonight but tomorrow we're going to the Fall Foliage Festival. This is typically quite a large setup, with arts and crafts and food and GRAPES! Concord grapes are in season now -- YUM! Oh, yeah, walking. We'll walk the entire gamut tomorrow, assuming we don't get flooded out -- we'll go, rain or shine UNLESS the rain is driving badly.

I ran into the mother of my younger daughter's ex-boyfriend yesterday at the grocery store. I asked her how Keith was, and tears welled up in her eyes and she said "Keith died." She said "He got sick," but then said she couldn't talk about it. Later she confided that she'd just been told yesterday that she has cancer, and is quite scared. I feel bad for her -- her husband turned out to be a loser junkie, and to have lost her son like that...not something I'd wish on anyone.

Lisa's on her way to get me now, gotta run!

Have a great weekend and, if you live in the Northeast, hunker down and stay dry!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mice, bees, floods

Here's an email I sent to my division VP today.



Once again I find myself enlisting your assistance in solving ongoing problems which affect day to day operations here in building 5. Please bear with me, I know I’m not known for being brief.



As you may or may not have been informed, I have had some difficulty in my office with water after a heavy rain. Joe N. from Facilities claimed the problem was from the air conditioner, and Joe C. from Facilities claimed the water was coming in through the walls. After the high winds and rain from the remnants of Katrina passed through recently, someone from Facilities came up to check for water, telling me that someone had FINALLY caulked the outside of the building where it was suspected water was entering. The jury is still out on that, as far as I’m concerned. The real test will be when there’s a driving rain from the east/northeast.

In addition to the aggravation of the water, what do you suppose is growing underneath the carpet where the water has accumulated and then dried several times over? My money is on mold and mildew. I’ve been told that Facilities does carpet replacement on a “rotating basis,” but I know for sure that the comptroller’s office has had new carpet twice in the 11 years I’ve been here, while we still have the same moldy carpets. Of course, it doesn’t make much practical/fiscal sense to replace carpets until we know for sure the water issue has been resolved.

Sometime around mid-June, during the time the air handlers were down and we were sweltering in high temperatures and high humidity, I discovered rodent droppings and urine stains in my two overhead cabinets in the back office of 5-212. These cabinets stored office supplies (pens, pencils, paper clips, etc.) and coffee supplies (coffee in a can, creamer in a plastic container). The amount of droppings indicated that there were either numerous rodents, or that they’d been undiscovered for some time. If I was a betting person, I’d bet on the latter. I hadn’t made coffee in some time.

I placed a call to Building Services, and they brought up two Victor “glue traps,” and put peanuts in them. One was placed inside the cabinet, and the other was placed on the countertop behind the coffee pot. I checked the traps daily until I went on vacation in early July. I was on vacation for two weeks and warily checked the traps upon my return. Nothing.

I usually keep a roll of toilet paper on the counter, for quick clean-ups, etc. In early September I was making coffee and my attention was drawn to something white. The toilet paper had been unraveled some, and dragged into the glue trap, and the peanuts were gone. Spring traps were brought in and, because I expressed a belief that it may actually be chipmunks, two “Hav-a-heart” traps were brought in as well. I got a heavy duty disinfectant from Building Services, and cleaned out the mess from the overhead cupboards, but left them emptied out, with the supplies sitting in a box on the floor, waiting to catch the rodents. Eventually I got tired of tripping over the boxes and, after examining the cupboard and ascertaining that there were no new droppings, I put the supplies back into the cupboard.

In the meantime, the office located directly over mine on the 5th floor has captured, in spring traps, 8 mice in the past 2 weeks. The secretary in that office has literally had one scamper across her desk while she was working. She told me that they had notified the Dean, who had notified Janet G., in an effort to get someone to pay attention to the problem.

A professor down the hall from me captured a chipmunk in a “Hav-a-Heart” trap.

Two weeks ago, I found mouse droppings on my desk. I cleaned them off, and the next morning found more droppings. It’s not unusual for me to come in and find droppings on my desk. There were droppings on my desk this morning. Finally, at some point between the time I left yesterday and the time I came in this morning, one of the traps in my office contained a dead mouse. Hopefully it’s the one that’s been leaving his calling card on my desk each night.


There are bees in both rest rooms on the 2nd floor in Building 5. On Monday, David D. stopped by my office and reported to me that there was a bee in a urinal in the men’s room. I had seen a dead bee on the floor in the ladies room, but thought nothing of it until he reported it. I called Building Services and reported the bees. Zach came up with spray and told me that he’d killed 7 or 8 bees in the ladies room. When he and I went back into the ladies room together, there were two more flying around, which he sprayed and killed. Tuesday, I was in the ladies room and saw two bees flying around the air duct in the ceiling. One of them flew in and didn’t return. I reported this to Building Services, and was referred to Bobbi H. in the Safety Office. I placed a call to Facilities as well, and reported the problem since I figured that an air duct infestation would fall within their realm of responsibility. I also placed a sign on the door to the ladies room that said “BEWARE OF BEES.”

Bobbi came over later that day and we went into the ladies room, and I showed her where I’d seen the bees and explained to her that, if they were going up in there, it was likely because there was a nest there. I’m not sure of what actions Bobbi took, but not long after I met with Bobbi, I went into the ladies room and saw insecticide literally DRIPPING from the overhead air duct, right into stall #2. Someone had come in and sprayed the air duct, saturating it, and apparently not having any concern about the dripping chemicals. They also removed the warning sign.

This did not have any effect, as the bees are still flying around in the ladies room. Ilene B. reported two of them to me this morning, at the opening of the air duct, and Christine S. also reported seeing them at just about the same time. I went in, checked it out, and sure enough, there they were.

They have also been reported, by a student, hovering around the inside of a toilet. I am unaware of bees on any other floor at this time. I am unaware of bees in any other location than the two restrooms on the 2nd floor in Building 5.

Jeff, I no longer feel I work in a safe and/or healthy environment.

From an excerpt on molds and health effects (emphasis my own):

Molds can be found wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and something to feed on. In the fall, they grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, especially in moist, shady areas. In gardens, they can be found in compost piles and on certain grasses and weeds. Molds grow in our homes in moist warm areas like damp basements, closets, and bathrooms, even after the moisture has dried up. Also, molds can grow in places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, or foam rubber pillows. The worst place that molds can grow, however, is inside wall cavities and flooring of our homes, wherever there may be cellulose materials they can feed on, such as wood, ceiling tiles, or plasterboard, even if they are not visible, and they have sustained water damage at one time or another. This is very common if there has been a plumbing leak or a defective or worn roof.

From an article on health hazards posed by wild mice:

LCMV Transmission: LCMV is shed in the saliva, urine and feces of infected mice. People and other animals become infected through contact with these secretions or by inhalation of dried particles from them. An infected hamster may not show signs of illness, but may shed the virus, transmitting it to people. The virus is not thought to be contagious from person to person, except that pregnant women can transmit the virus to their fetus, which can have serious consequences (see below).

Infestations with wild mice pose a risk of transmission of LCMV to humans as well as pets. Block access to your home and other buildings to mice, keep all food sources inaccessible to wild mice, and use traps. For severe infestations, get a pest control company involved. If you need to clean mouse droppings, soak them with a bleach solution (1/4 c bleach in 1 gallon of water) first and then wipe them up rather than sweeping or vaccuuming, to prevent the virus from becoming airborne.

Mice also have been found to carry hantaviruses.

I’m sure you’re also aware that some people are allergic to bee stings – some severely.

These aren’t imagined or hysterical issues, they’re real health issues and, as such, should be treated seriously. I get the distinct “taste” that some of the folks involved view it as hysterical, or as women unable to cope with creepy/crawly things. While there may be some that are unable to cope with the furry or winged pests, that’s not the problem – the pests are the problem, along with the health risks they pose. The larger problem is the disinterest in the problem that has been displayed to this point.

As if that isn’t enough…

Each day, when student aides from the Print Shop deliver paper, they “toss” it on the floor, causing it to smash up against the air conditioning system, which is heard LOUDLY in my office. I cannot truly articulate how problematic this is, as it always startles me and makes me jump. With the stress of trying to cover this office by myself, my nerves are a bit jazzed up as it is. (I mention this only for informational purposes, as I’ve spoken to Bill G. about this.) Add to that these daily occurrences of smashing the paper against the air duct, faculty and staff constantly disrupting my work with questions about the copier, blown light bulbs in their classrooms, pests, overflowing toilets, students asking for green slips or where their professor’s office is, students standing in my doorway (waiting for class across the hall) cursing and conversing loudly, and you’ve got just a small idea of what my each and every day entails.

I have a condition called RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) and, in recent weeks, it has become markedly worse. This happens when I’m under a lot of stress. We all carry our stress in our nervous system. However, with RLS, as I become more stressed, the condition worsens and is manifested by incessant jerking and lurching of the legs at night. I sleep, but I’m not resting. Sometimes it’s so bad, I can’t even sleep. And, the more I don’t sleep, the less I can deal with stress, and the worse the condition becomes. It’s sort of a self-feeding thing. Severe exhaustion and/or stress can then exacerbate the MS, which has been in remission for almost 14 years now.

I’m already taking psychotropic meds along with blood pressure meds to alleviate the most problematic issues that stem largely from stress here at work. However, there’s only so far that Prozac will keep the monster at bay, if you know what I mean! :-)

I need help beyond the help that I can get from my physician, though. I need your help to light a fire under people to get them interested in resolving the issues over here, not masking the symptoms. Spraying the air duct was nothing more than masking the symptom. Having Building Services extract water from my carpet is merely masking the symptom. Setting traps for mice only masks the symptoms.

I usually try not to present problems without offering solutions, but I’m at a loss here. I can only do so much and, short of climbing up into the air duct myself to hunt down and eliminate the bee’s nest, and short of climbing through every nook and cranny in this building to find mice, I’ve done all I can. I don’t think there are people in this college, especially Facilities, that can say the same thing with any real conviction.

Some of these problems we can fix immediately, all it would really take is for people to actually do something. Some problems, I know, will take time. But inaction won’t solve these problems and, from my perspective, inaction seems to be the modality most used for problem solving around here. I shouldn’t have to send you these kinds of messages.

Anything you can do to help would be tremendously appreciated. Thanks for your time


I cc'd the Director of HR, Safety and Hazard Prevention Office, my boss, his boss, and the union president.

I got a reply from the HR Director that simply said "I shall arrange a meeting with Jeff ASAP and we move toward a course of action. I'll keep you updated."

I got a reply from the VP that simply said "Pat, I will read this over to night and get back to you soon. Jeff"

I then got another note from the HR Director that said "Jeff has already begun the process of setting the meeting. I'll keep you informed."

D'ya think I rang some bells today? I mean, after all, I already have the one lawsuit against the college, perhaps they're concerned about more litigation?

Or maybe, just maybe, they actually care.........


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying, "Yesterday, three Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and asks...

"How many is a Brazillion??!"

-Ba dump bump-

I Wonder How Many Sets of Body Armor $500,00 Would Buy

Anyone see this article?

Five hundred thousand of our tax dollars paid for this flying commercial.

From the amounts these people are paying, it appears that, just for lower body armor, this money could have been spent to protect 500 soldiers in Iraq.

It could have purchased over 50,000 pairs of goggles.

How many vehicles it could have armored is unclear, and how many lives it could have saved in Iraq or Afghanistan is something to ponder. But, as our soldiers go without the proper equipment, Alaska Airlines has a newly painted airplane. How nice.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I've talked some about Mary, our next-door neighbor. In this wedding picture of ours, Mary is the lady in the white pants on the far left side. She stood up for us at our wedding. She was probably the first person Lisa was really "out" to, comfortably. And, other than a very close circle of friends, Mary was the only person who knew we'd gone to Vermont and entered into a Civil Union. When we got married last summer, we asked Mary to be one of our two witnesses. As described in later paragraphs, she's alone, and we wanted her to feel included in something special because she's been so supportive.

Some history:

I bought my house in August, 1991. I never really saw much of Mary and her husband, Tom, as they pretty much stayed to themselves. We spoke from time to time, but that was about it.

On November 11, 1993, a Saturday, I backed out of my driveway at 7:15 AM, heading out to a city high school where I would take a civil service exam. As I backed out, I saw Tom up on the roof of his house, which really wasn't all that unusual. Tom was always doing stuff around the house. He was 45 years old. At about 2:30 that afternoon, as I napped on the couch, my kids woke me up to tell me that there was an ambulance next door. As the ambulance pulled away, I could see inside that they were frantically doing CPR on someone -- at the same time, I saw Mary walking through her yard toward her daughter's car, shaking her head. I said to the kids, "Someone didn't make it." It was Tom. Mary and her younger daughter had been out shopping and, when they got back home, they found Tom on the floor in the bedroom. An autopsy later revealed a heart condition that literally causes the heart to sort of explode, and is typically only diagnosed at an autopsy.

That following summer, I'd be outside mowing my grass and Mary would be out doing hers, and we'd stop and chat. We quickly began to team up on both lawns with both mowers, and it really made the task so much easier. From that point on, if Mary ever needed an extra set of hands doing something, she always felt comfortable calling me.

When Lisa moved in five years ago, she also began offering assistance based on her own abilities. For the past five years, that's the way it's been. If Mary needed help with anything, she'd call us, and we'd both go over and help out, if we could. Mary used to pay someone $20 a pop to mow her lawn but, this past spring, we obtained a riding mower and I asked Lisa what she thought about doing Mary's lawn, too. It didn't feel right to take money from Mary, even though she insisted, so we agreed to let her pay us. After the first month, I offered an alternative. I suggested a "co-operative" type of agreement. We'd mow her lawn, and she'd loan us tools we didn't have, or an extra set of hands doing some large project, whatever. And so, it began. Mary helped us patch and seal our driveway, and we did hers right alongside her as well. We mow her lawn and, while we mow, she weeds our gardens. She has a table saw that Lisa has needed from time to time, and we have hand tools that Mary has borrowed. She helped us clean our garage two weekends ago, and this past weekend we did hers.

Tom and Mary had two daughters. Tina is probably around 32 and Jaime is probably nearing 30 herself. Tina and her same-sex partner had a long-term relationship that finally ended. When they sold their house, much of the stuff in it that Tina kept ended up in Mary's house and garage. Tina suggested to her mother, at one point, that she sell her house, give Tina the proceeds to build a new house with, and Mary could live with her. Jaime and her boyfriend lived there with Mary for a couple of years after Jaime finished community college. I was surprised when Jaime moved out and moved in with her sister -- along with her fiance.

Mary claims that Tina refuses to come into the house where her father died, and that Tina and Jaime both thought they were entitled to their father's insurance money, his social security, etc. Frankly, I don't know, nor do I care, what caused the rift. I only know that one exists. Two years ago, Jaime got married, and Mary wasn't invited or included in any way in the wedding preparations or the ceremony. Having had a similar situation with my younger daughter, I know the hurt inflicted by this type of exclusion. Mary doesn't even know if she has grandchildren.

Mary's mother has Alzheimer's Disease. While Mary is Health Care Proxy for her mother, her sister has General Power of Attorney. The mother is in an assisted living facility, and has gone downhill quite quickly. Somehow using the General Power of Attorney, the sister had the Health Care Proxy overridden and now makes each and every decision regarding the care of her mother. The mother has been put on so many meds, I can't keep track of them, but she was sleeping all the time, and has difficulty swallowing. She cried often when anyone messed with her foot or ankle, and the sister just asked that she be medicated more to stop the crying. She needs to be fed, but the staff won't spend more than 10 minutes helping her. Mary has taken to going over every evening to ensure her mother eats. She says it takes about an hour and a half to feed her, but she eats everything. With her difficulty swallowing, the mother has taken to sticking her finger down her throat so that she can swallow things with a certain texture. She drools, too. The sister asked for meds to solve those problems, too.

Then, last week, the sister told her siblings that she was going to order that her mother no longer be fed, and be placed on "comfort care." That is, they'd provide only for her comfort, and just let her die. She was, after all, severely dehydrated, unable to take water, and unable to eat. She was unresponsive to much of what went on around her, and nobody could figure out why she cried when the ONLY male orderly took her to the bathroom, and stood there over her while she tried to urinate or defecate.

Mary finally had enough, and called and spoke with the doctor who, apparently, was unaware of the specifics regarding Mary's mother. It turns out that the reason the poor thing cried about her foot was that they didn't transport her in a wheelchair that had footrests and her left foot would drop down and literally go under the wheelchair, with whomever driving the wheelchair being oblivious to the poor woman's pain. She has a severely sprained ankle. The poor thing was on so many meds, they were knocking her out and dehydrating her. Well, long story short, they removed a lot of the meds, and her mother became a bit more participative in her own care, and began to get color back in her skin. She's no longer dehydrated, and Mary continues to go over every single day at dinner time to feed her mother. That way she knows her mother is getting at least one good meal each day. The siblings only visit for short periods of time, and completely un-ass the area at meal time.

Mary has a lot on her plate right now and we've done whatever we could to try to help out. I go over every day at 4:30 when I get home from work, and let her dogs out to "potty." I hang out with them a bit, play with them, give them some attention, and then turn on a light for Mary so she won't come into a dark house. I feel impotent as far as what I'm doing to "help" her out, but at least I can do something.

So, where I'm going with this is the phone call we got last night around 8:00. Mary had finished feeding her dogs and herself, and called to ask if she could come over and talk to us at 8:30. Lisa said "Sure, come on over." Lisa said Mary sounded very serious, and wondered out loud what was up. We both figured that her mother had taken a downhill turn, and she was having difficulty getting the one sister to do anything besides hasten her mother's death.

We were blown away by what she wanted to talk to us about.

After all the cussin' and fussin' over her mother, Mary explained that her eyes had been opened to a lot of things. Since her daughters can't be bothered with her she realized that there was nobody to make decisions in her best interest, if she were ever unable to make those decisions. (These two girls haven't bothered to go see their grandmother, either.) Mary is in the process of changing her will and for all intents and purposes, is disinheriting her siblings and her offspring. She wants us to execute her will, be her health care proxy, and to hold General Power of Attorney over her affairs should she become incapacitated. In return, she says, everything goes to us. She's made an appointment with her insurance agent to change her policy to name us as sole beneficiaries.

She's adamant.

We talked for a couple of hours about this. I asked her to make sure that this is really what she wants, in her heart, and not an act of spite or payback or anything else. I mean, we've helped Mary out all along because it's the right thing to do, and it's what neighbors should do. We didn't expect any sort of payment, and certainly didn't expect to be named as her sole heirs. We left off with me asking her to take some time, and really search her heart for her true feelings regarding her will. I told her we'd be happy to take responsibility for health care proxy and other matters, to ensure that her family doesn't try to hasten her demise, as they seem to have done with her mother. I have a program called "Will Writer" that has things like Health Care Proxies and the like, and told her I'd sit down with her to draw up those documents, but that she needed to consult an attorney and a disinterested party regarding her will. Lisa, being the practical one, asked Mary to articulate her desires to us, and she took notes. No funeral, DNR order, that sort of thing.

We talked a bit more about the types of legal challenges this sort of thing can bring about, and she's going to look into how best to deflect these challenges. The long and short of it is, these are her wishes and, at this point in time, she seems quite sure of them.

I'm still blown away. I'm blown away by her generosity, but I'm blown away by the circumstances that got her to that point as well.

If you're reading this, and you have even a little bit of conflict with your parents or siblings or children, make yourself a promise that tonight you'll call them, and just check in. And let them know that they can count on you to do the right things by them, so that when they begin thinking about the end of their lives, they don't feel so alone that they feel like the only people they matter to are the neighbors. Hug them. Tell them you love them. And above all, offer the forgiveness that you may have denied them to this point.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Day 1

OK, today is the first day of yet another attempt at weight loss. I'm going to start exercising, first, and not counting calories or water intake or fat/cholestrol levels. One thing at a time, one change at a time, so it's not so stressful.

My goal is no less than 20 minutes a day in exercise, alternating between stationary bike, indoor walker, exercise ball, stair climber, and weight machine. That's 5 activities so I'm not bored with redundancy.

Without further adieu:

Starting weight, 167.5 on 10/2/05
Today's weight, 167.0
Bike trainer, 3.3 miles, 18:09
Total bike miles, 3.3

What a beautiful fall day! Some of the trees have started to change (although most remain green with leaves just falling off) and the sun was beautifully brilliant this morning. It's the time of the year when each morning there's a heavy dew on the vehicles that causes a lot of glare in the sun until the windshield gets warmed up. You either have to turn on the heated defrosters or let the vehicle sit in the sun before you drive it. Either way, the windshield MUST be cleared off or you just can't see.

Driving in to work today in that brilliant sun, with the colors of fall beginning to emerge was beautiful. It's sad, too. Another all-too-short summer season gone. The gardens are starting to look a bit tired, but the mums are brilliantly blooming enough to give them some color still. The cats are shedding their summer fur, preparing for the colder weather. The squirrels and chipmunks are furiously collecting food for their winter stores. Pumpkins can be seen in the farm fields. Seasonal items are displayed in the stores for both Halloween and Christmas. People are starting their Christmas shopping. This time of year always makes me melancholy.

I had a hard time turning 50. I think that the hardest part for me was the sudden realization that there are probably fewer days ahead of me than behind me. I feel like I wasted part of my life, hiding behind my perception of being a good mother and doing all for my children, at the expense of my own happiness. I'd do it again, don't get me wrong, but I sometimes find myself watching Lisa (when she doesn't catch me staring at her) and thinking to myself "If only we'd had more time, sooner." I've expressed this often to her, and while she agrees that she would have liked to have gotten together sooner, she's practical enough to understand that we had to journey through our lives exactly as we did in order to arrive at where we are.

Lisa's former partner was in my reserve unit. I've known them both since 1989, and they lived in the same apartment complex I lived in. In 1991, when our unit was mobilized for Desert Storm, I was sent home after three weeks (I have MS, supposedly) and Lisa helped me unpack my apartment that I had painstakingly packed up before we left. I felt the attraction to her then, but that was a point in my life when I was still stuffing that size 16 problem into that size 8 niche in my psyche. Lisa and her partner "ended" after a 5 year relationship, but she remained in the same household with her, becoming "roommates." The former partner denied the relationship, even to Lisa's face.

I moved in 1991 and we lost touch for a while.

Me? I finally let that oversized issue break free of it's too-small storage bin about 6 years ago. I "met" a woman on the web, a married woman. We lived on opposite coasts, but carried on a very passionate affair, off and on, for about two years. I compromised every single value I'd set in place throughout my life, and had an adulterous affair with someone who, it turned out, only set out to play games with me for her own gratification. I was on the downhill slide of that relationship when Lisa came back into my life.

I worried constantly about what I was doing with Lisa. I thought I still had feelings for the married woman, but then again I had this huge longing for Lisa. What was fortunate for me was that Lisa patiently waited, listened to my problems with that other woman and, even though I was sleeping with Lisa and still carrying on with that other toxic relationship, she remained silent about it. She knew it had to run its course my way, in my time. And it did just that.

And so we learned something about ourselves through these really bad relationships and we've come to realize that we had to have those toxic relationships in order to value the one we have with each other. We share a lot. We laugh a lot. We love a lot.

I worry that I'm making her older than her years (she's 12 years my junior). I worry about what kind of place she'll be in after I'm gone -- will she be able to keep the house, will the kids fight her for what should be considered rightfully hers?

We're lucky we live in New York State. My Civil Service retirement system is mandatory and, about a year or so ago, the guy who administers the plan announced that same sex spouses will be treated no differently than opposite sex spouses when it comes to the state retirement benefits. I think my lawsuit my help provide for her in other ways, assuming the college is forced to recognize the marriage.


We didn't get any grass mowed this weekend. Saturday we went to the Home Depot (Lisa calls it the "Frederick's of Hollywood for dykes") because she wanted to buy a tire chuck to go with her new compressor. I'd asked her to ensure the tires on my bike were inflated properly before we put it on the trainer for the winter. Joe had given her a gift card to the Home Depot and it seemed to be burning a hole in her pocket. Rather than let her go unsupervised (she's as bad there as I am at the Garden Factory), I accompanied her. I got to looking at a Rubbermaid storage cabinet that I thought would be perfect in her "workshop" in the back of the garage. There's a roof leak back there that we can't seem to find the origins of, so I worry a lot about her power tools. This Rubbermaid cabinet would be a perfect place to store them, and it would give her a ton of room on the countertop back there. When she realized I was serious when I said "Let's get this," she was psyched. That's one of the things I love so dearly about her -- there's this childlike glee that shows on her face when a situation like this arises.

So, we went home, assembled the cabinet in our newly cleaned garage, cleared out all the crap from her workshop, and began cleaning the area out. Now, all of her power tools are neatly stored in the cabinet, her hand tools hanging off the pegboard above the workshop counter, the floor swept, and all kinds of room for her to move around in. Once winter sets in and she commences to putzin' and futzin' out there, she's going to have a ball. And, now that she's learning woodworking, it gives her a place to work.

Yesterday morning, at 9:00 I went over to Mary's, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a full carafe in the other. I knocked on her door and, when she answered it, I said "C'mon, woman, get your butt in gear and let's get that garage cleaned out!"

So, we spent the morning emptying out her garage and sorting through things. Lisa hung shelfs and attached metal racks to the walls (for stability) and we got down to business. Mary had a tough time in spots, though. The crib used for her kids was in there, as well as a cradle. She put them both to the curb, but later, I noticed the box with the cradle was missing from the curb, and even later, saw it in the garage, tucked aside safely. Mary's two daughters have nothing to do with her. Her husband died 13 years ago, at a very young age (in his 40s). Yes, Mary is a difficult person at times, but she'd give you the shirt off your back if you let her. Her girls both thought she should sell the house and turn the proceeds over to them. They also thought she should give them all the furnishings and stuff, too. Since she didn't do that, they've turned their backs. Her younger daughter was married last year, and Mary wasn't invited.

Anyway, when 1:00 rolled around, I went in to watch football. Lisa stayed over at Mary's and they put her garage back together and it looks pretty darned good. I didn't sit still and watch football, I did four loads of laundry, made bread, fixed dinner, and changed our bed.

Speaking of football...

Denver won yesterday against Jacksonville. I'd picked the Jags in the pool because I just didn't think Denver had it in them. While they won, the game was a yawner nonetheless. Either I just wasn't into it yesterday, or there just weren't any really good games on. Oh, sure, Washington pulled it out at the very end in overtime, and Detroit almost knocked Tampa Bay off at the end, but the games themselves just weren't all that exciting. Philadelphia trailed at one point 24-0, and overcame that deficit to take out Kansas City 37-31. That was the closest to really exciting that football actually got yesterday.

Jake Plummer leads the lower half of the NFL's starting quarterbacks in QB rating, with an unimpressive 77.9 -- has 4 TDs, 3 INTs, and 8 sacks. To his credit, along with moments of major stupidity, he has moments of brilliance. Idiot savante comes to mind.

The Manning brothers remain neck and neck in QB rating -- with younger brother Eli only 0.4 points higher than Peyton. Eli has thrown 9 TD passes (tied for 2nd place in the NFL) to his older brother's 6, and both have just 2 INTs.

It looks like Joe is in a 3-way tie for first place in the pool, so it will come down to tonight's MNF tiebreaker. All three have Carolina, Joe has 31 points, the other two have 39 and 41. Should be interesting.

Friday night we're going down to my aunt's house to spend the night. Saturday we're going to the Cohocton Fall Foliage Festival. We've asked Michelle to join us, and we are trying to make it an annual "Girls Only" event. Next Thursday, Lisa leaves for Louisville for the International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Expo. She'll be gone for 4 days, and I'm going to go down and hang out with my aunt for at least 2 of those days, maybe 3.

It's really cool having family around. It's really cool having a "motherly" type of relative around. My Aunt Wanda makes me feel like I matter in her life. It's sort of a unique thing, and I think I can't get enough of it. Not sure I want to! She's a very strong woman, and it appears that she and I are cut from the same cloth.


Speaking of being cut from the same cloth...

I've got only one more strip to make, then I'll be ready to assemble Michelle's afghan, and that project will be completed. I can box it up and wrap it for Christmas, and be done with it.

I'll start little Brandon's blanket as soon as the first project is all wrapped up. I've put our blanket aside for the time being. Today I'll map out the patterns and sequences for the little guy's blanket, then all I have to do is knit it.

If you want to see a really cool blanket, check this out. She's used the 50 states to make up the red and white part of the blanket, and stars to make up the blue part. It's too bad you can't really make it out by the picture, but I know she has the patterns for the states, and I can make out in the picture what she's done. It's really awesome, and I hope that mine comes out this good -- the colors on mine are much brighter, as I wanted it to be a brightly colored one for the little guy's room. This woman is raffling off the blanket, and claims that half the proceeds will go to a local charity, but fails to disclose where the other half will go. I'm sure the IRS would be interested in knowing where it goes...

I can't look ahead to the future
and I'm too old to run home to the past.
So now while you sleep beside me
I'll do what I can to make this moment last.

Rod McKuen