What was I thinking?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Medications (Better Living Through Chemistry?)

At one point in the past year, I was taking a fistful of pills in the morning that was so big, I called it "breakfast."

It started off with Prozac. I knew I was suffering from classic symptoms of depression -- sleeplessness, listlessness, no interest or passion for anything I used to love. And the rage. God, the rage was horrible. I understand now why women were institutionalized back in the old days when they "went through the change." Prozac should be a primary consideration for any woman going through menopause. 20 mg./day of Prozac changed my life.

Along with the Prozac, I was prescribed HCTZ for my borderline high blood pressure. I was sure that the blood pressure stemmed from a combination of the menopausal rage/hormones as well as the progesterin the gynecologist put me on. I suppose that a small dose of blood pressure meds could/should be expected at the half-century mark. Particularly frustrating for me was the fact that, every time I went into the doctor's office for a follow-up, my BP was up, when it hadn't been at home. I can't say one way or the other what benefit I got, if any, from this medication. 20 mg./day of HCTZ kept my blood pressure in check, I guess.

Progesterin. Similar to a birth control pill, it's supposed to regulate the period, and "calm down" some of the raging side-effects of menopause. While it did, in fact, regulate the periods, they didn't calm down a bit, it elevated my blood pressure and, in the end, it became ineffective with regard to the regularity (or lack thereof) of my period. 20 mg./day for 14 days, then 14 days off the stuff regulated my periods -- I knew once again when to expect it.

Neurontin -- another life changing drug. A doctor prescribed this for me for the Restless Leg Syndrom/Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. He went with Neurontin (Gabapentin) because recent studies had shown it to be effective not only in treating RLS/PLMD but night sweats and hot flashes in menopausal women as well. He had me on 900 mg./day (300 mg. 3 times per day) but I kept forgetting the mid-day dose, and felt no ill effects from it. On my follow-up, I told the doctor that I'd like to reduce it to its lowest effective dose. He suggested that I take only 300 mg./day at bedtime but to adjust it as I saw fit. I take 100 mg. in the morning and 200 mg. before bed. I sleep well, my legs don't jump around, and I don't keep Lisa awake any more.

Along with all that crap, I was (am still) taking a multi-vitamin, and a Vitamin C tablet. I was swallowing 8 pills each morning, 3 in the afternoon, and 3 at night.

So, I decided to go off the progesterin because, while I was on it, I started a period -- not supposed to happen. After a sonohystiogram earlier this week revealed no endometrial polyps or other issues, I decided to just stay off the crap. I'll deal with the periods one month at a time, thank you very much. That said, I'm off the HCTZ now as well. My BP is back to normal and I feel fine. This morning, I discussed going off the Prozac with my doctor. I have her blessing, with the instructions to wait until my life's stressors have calmed down a bit. I figure to go off it after this semester ends in late May. That will leave me on the Neurontin.

I hate taking meds of any kind and typically will only take them for however long is absolutely necessary. I'd love to go off the Neurontin but the reality is that, unless I get off my ass and get exercising every single day, I'll need to stay on it. Exercising seemed to help a lot with the RLS/PLMD in the past.

So, tomorrow I will start, yet again, another "new" exercise regimen. I'm going back to Curves, getting my bicycle tuned up, got my new walking shoes and have joined a walking club at work. Hopefully, by summer's end, the only pills I'll be taking in the morning will be a multi-vitamin and a Vitamin C tab.

Of course, this is all "best case scenario." Once upon a time, I loved my job. Sometimes I'd have to be reminded of that, but for the most part, I really did love my job.

I hate my job.

I've worked alone since April 8 of last year. The stress of staffing two offices with three people, and trying to keep up the workload by myself in my own office, along with all of the administrative functions I need to perform has been too much. The Director of our group, in his infinite wisdom, recommended to our VP that we not re-hire for the vacant position as, he says, the work can be done by one person.

This is a department of 3 (used to be 4) providing typing, grade, exam, technical support to an entire community college with more than 600 faculty members. Add in the administrative departments who send work to us, and you've got a lot of typing jobs. The Director needed/wanted a new position in his office. Guess where my funding for that 4th position went?

I wake up every morning with my first thought being "I'll call in sick today." Each day lasts an eternity and all I can think about is 4:00 rolling around so I can get the hell out of here. I'm completely apathetic about the work that comes in, and have let my administrative tasks get behind. I just don't care. And there's no pill I can take for that.

So, I start counting the days until retirement.....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Yeah, the 7 words you can never say on television (or, at least the original 7 words). Later, "fart," "turd," "twat," and "dick" were added, along with many expressions such as "boffing the bald bishop," "jugs" or "the twins" and other euphamisms for body parts and body functions.

There's probably not one of those words or phrases that I haven't used or at least been amused by when I've heard them in an appropriate environment.

But, when students stand outside my office door or even IN the doorway waiting for their class (in the lecture hall across the hall from my office) and use every one of these words, loudly, I take offense. Not because the words offend me, but because the use of them in a public setting without any regard or consideration for others around them offends me.

Since I've been flying solo for almost a year, my tolerance level for this sort of thing has really diminished and I speak to the students about it. Of course, everything falls on deaf ears and I'm met with a belligerant "Who are YOU?" or "Just close your door." Today, I got the "...close your door" thing and, when I asked the student if she felt that actually solved the problem, she said "Yes."

She actually didn't see anything wrong with standing in an open business doorway and cursing like a sailor. Makes you wonder what her parents DID teach her, doesn't it?

What frightens me is that this is the generation that's going to be in charge when I'm old and unable to take care of myself. If they don't have any manners now, they're not likely to grow any later in life and, when it comes to foreign affairs, I'm thinking that bomb shelters will be making a comeback. I'm going to start stocking food now...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

12 Years

I've been at my job for 12 years today. When I look back over those years, I see a lot of living:

  1. I became a grandmother for the first time.
  2. I turned 40
  3. I was sued by Steuben County Social Services for their mistake. (I won)
  4. My son won a national academic award and we traveled to Florida for the ceremony.
  5. My middle child graduated high school and started college.
  6. I got my first internet capable computer.
  7. I became a grandmother again.
  8. My second oldest left home.
  9. I had an adulterous relationship with another woman.
  10. I came out.
  11. I re-connected with Lisa.
  12. My baby graduated high school and started college.
  13. Attended the wedding of my oldest daughter.
  14. Became a grandmother again.
  15. Got a Civil Union in Vermont.
  16. Destroyed pinkie splitting wood. Out of commission and in physical therapy for almost 4 months.
  17. Became a grandmother for the 4th time.
  18. Got married in New Paltz, NY as a political statement.
  19. Learned my father remarried and my stepmother was 15 years my junior, and that I had a 10-year old stepsister.
  20. Got poison ivy so bad that I was sick for 5 weeks. Had to take steroids to fight the effects of internal contamination.
  21. Was un-invited to #2 daughter's wedding because I "...hadn't earned the right to be there."
  22. Went on Prozac due to depression onset from menopause.
  23. Got married in Niagara Falls.
  24. Sued employer for discrimination.
  25. My father is arrested for molesting his 10-year old stepdaughter.

In amongst all of that stuff, I saw #2 daughter through the death of her best friend, the breakup of a long-term high school relationship, getting a drivers license and petty selfish behavior. I saw my son through the suicide of a friend, getting his first job, learning to drive, and getting his drivers license after 5 attempts. I saw my oldest daughter walk roads that no mother wants to see her daughter walk, but then pull herself out of that life and claw her way toward something better for herself. I'm sure there are other things that I've just not thought of, but when you look at the list, it's pretty full of stressful stuff. No wonder I'm on Prozac!

We put the new floor in Saturday. It went very well, and it looks great. We were both pleased and surprised at how easy the process is. Don't get me wrong, cutting tiles to fit is tedious, time-consuming, and takes a lot of thought and concentration, but we got through it and can't be happier with the job we did. All that's left now is to paint/stain the new mouldings and get them installed. It really looks great! Sunday we just laid low.

I had a second sonohystiogram yesterday and, thankfully, everything looks normal. Last year, just about this time I had one done that revealed polyps in the endometrium. No such animals yesterday. I'll just have to deal with the heavy bleeding, now that I know there are no abnormalities. I'd rather deal with it than take hormone replacements. Just so you know...menopause sucks.

We also had a DirecTV DVR installed yesterday. I can't believe that we haven't had one long before this, as I'm a techno-junkie, but I just couldn't justify it for a while. Now that The L Word has ended for the season, there probably isn't going to be a huge need for it, but I'm sure we'll get plenty of "impulse" use out of it.

Speaking of The L Word, does anyone else feel as cheated as I do? The last few episodes of this season are so similar to the story line that was followed over 5 years in Queer as Folk that it became predictable.

WARNING: This paragraph contains spoilers for the season end of The L Word. If you don't want to know what happens, skip this paragraph. Shane asks Carmen to marry her (a la Brian/Justin) and, predictably, as Carmen is walking down the aisle, she learns that Shane has had a change of heart and no wedding takes place (just like with Brian and Justin). Bette is seen driving off into the darkness with Angelica, just like Michael did with Hunter at the end of one season of QAF. Tina boffs a man which seriously endangers her relationship with her partner, just like Lindsey did in QAF. Alice had a sexual relationship with her best friend Dana, in the same way that Emmett and Ted have a relationship. Dana dies from breast cancer where Vic died from AIDS and Brian survived testicular cancer. Dylan screws Helena over and still denies her sexuality, just like Drew Boyd the football hero. Might we expect a bomb to go off in the Planet in the coming seasons? Will one couple move to Canada so they can live free and not as second-class citizens? Can we predict that a politician will work to really enslave the GLBT community, only to be defeated because of a murderous cover-up? QAF was QAF. The L Word is NOT QAF and has no business "borrowing" story lines from it. Be creative! Be original! Be unpredictable! Give us a good story line because we're intelligent enough to not watch the show JUST because it's about lesbians. We're also intelligent enough to sniff out a smelly imitation when we see it, too.

Only another week and Brokeback Mountain will be out on video. I'm on pins and needles waiting for my copy to be delivered!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Weird Wednesday

We've come up with a game plan, for our spring/summer/early fall schedule. We really don't want to spend the whole time digging holes, gardening, etc. Most of our gardens are full of perennials now so we really only need to plant some large pots and get some annuals for instant color in the sun gardens. We also are being asked back for our "part-time" job maintaining the grounds where Lisa works. Her boss also told Lisa that she might want some help at her personal residence. We charge her $25 an hour for our labor -- it's pretty low, but it's gratifying for us.

Anyway, we're going to camp the first weekend of every month, the second weekend we'll do grounds maintenance at Lisa's job, the third weekend we'll use for recreation of any other kind, and the fourth weekend will be used for obligations (visits, weddings, etc.) Of course, since we set up the schedule, we can be as flexible or inflexible as we want to be.

We're looking at Letchworth State Park (sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the East). I've never been, nor has Lisa and we've been told it has some fantastic scenery and hiking trails anywhere from .5 miles to 20 miles. This is what we want to do -- camp, hike, and get away from comfortable technology. No charcoal, gas grills, or other conveniences. It won't matter what the weather is, either. Weather may be a factor as far as our activities once we get there, but we'll go regardless.

We'll cook over an open fire, sleep in a tent in a sleeping bag, use our kerosene lanterns for light. We want to do it this way, without any comforts, because we really want to learn these types of survival skill. One never knows, in today's world, when knowing how to live without technology might become necessary for a period of time. Since we took the C.E.R.T. training, we've been doing a lot of self-training in survival and emergency actions/preparedness.

Anyway, Letchworth looks like a good first outing. I belong to a walking group at work, and they've been talking about geocaching a lot -- the latest craze in hiking. It sounds like fun, with a purpose behind a hike, but the use of GPS technology is what turns me off. I'd rather have to use a compass and a map, similar to old hand-drawn treasure maps. Call me whacky, it just seems like it would be more challenging and fun to do it that way.

So, in addition to Letchworth, we're looking at Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain where the Winter Olympics were held, a 19th century fair out in Marathon (south of Syracuse), and the Wine Country Classic Boat Show down in Hammondsport. Other places will pop up, probably on impulse or by recommendation. We want to go to different places each time, but still within just a 200-250 mile radius of where we live.

I pre-ordered Brokeback Mountain yesterday. We haven't had a "film fest" in quite a while and we're anxious to have one with this film. Joe's girlfriend wants to see it and Joe has even indicated that he'd watch it, too. It was pricey, as DVDs go ($29.12 with shipping and sales tax), but I really want this film. It's such an important work and I believe that if people will open themselves up to watch it, perhaps they can gain a better insight into homosexual relationships -- maybe then they can understand that it's not just a sexual thing, but an emotional and spiritual relationship as well. The likes of Falwell, Roberts, Swaggert and Phelps see homosexuality as pure fornication and so strongly resist letting themselves see it as anything other than hedonistic fornication. If that's the case, then most of our friends, along with Lisa and I, are giving homosexuals a bad name.

Why, just last night we destroyed the right-wing image by coming home from work, doing a couple of loads of laundry, I fixed dinner while Lisa put some finishing touches on the luaun in the entryway. We ate dinner on the couch while watching World's Wildest Police Videos, then did up the dinner dishes, organized one of our kitchen racks with new baskets we'd just gotten, then sat down and watched American Idol. I knitted while we watched, Lisa brushed her cat. After the show ended, we went to bed. We did not indulge in hedonistic activities once we went to bed -- we dropped off to sleep almost immediately.

This is a very typical night for us. I can see how this lifestyle would frighten the religious right. I can see why they'd want to keep children from being exposed to it. I can see why they'd not want it spoken about in schools.


Bill Clinton ran into Dick Cheney while in Washington the other day. They got to talking and Cheney admitted that the whole recent hunting incident had really been a pain in the ass, but had been blown way out of proportion.

Clinton says, "I don't know about that, Dick. Why, when I shot someone in the face, they impeached me."

Badump bump

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Inquiring minds wanna know

1. You hate your job, but you have to stay there because you're too old to start again, or you have too much retirement to lose, whatever the reason. Your boss is a pure "yes man" when it comes to higher levels of administration. He agrees with you on proposals until someone at a higher level disagrees, then he does a 180. His standard response to anything you bring up is "Well, just do the best you can." You have an opportunity to blow off some steam at him, and you're guaranteed that he won't remember what you've said to him in 10 minutes. Give 'er a run, what will you say?

Just once I'd like you to ask your wife if she'll take your balls out of her purse and let you wear them to work. Do the best I can? What the hell do you think I've been doing! I don't want commiseration, I want leadership and support!

2. A colleague that you cannot stand is getting ready to give a big presentation to senior management. You notice that she has a pretty good sized boogie showing in her nose and you know that she'll be close enough to the participants in the presentation for them to definitely see the boogie. Do you tell her? Why or why not?

Hell no! I let her go in with that sucker hanging there and let the higher level managers see that they've got themselves a nose-picker as well as a brown-noser.

3. Same type of scenario as #2, but it's a cop who just pulled you over for speeding and his zipper (fly) is open. Tell him? Why or why not?

Yes. But how I tell him depends on how he interacts with me. If he's polite and business-like, I'd quietly indicate to him that the barn door was open. If he was a dickhead, I'd probably ask him why he was citing me when HE was the one exposing himself.

4. Your spouse or significant other is having a milestone 40th birthday this year. What are you planning to do about it?

Have a party. Not a surprise party, just a party. And, the invitations would go out with the request that no black or over-the-hill themed items be given.

5. What makes you like cats over dogs, or dogs over cats?

Personally, I think that dogs are a lot more work and much higher maintenance. Cats make me feel humble because of their independent, almost aloof nature. Love from a dog is an auto-response from the animal, but love from a cat comes on their terms and their terms only. Cats don't wake you up in the middle of the night having to go potty, nor do they yap in the background when you're on the phone. Cats are also naturally inclined to use litter boxes where dogs have to be trained to not shit where they sleep.

6. How many kids do you have as opposed to how many kids you wanted to have? Are there more in your future?

I had three, but didn't have any real goal on how many I'd have. No more in my future unless they're grandchildren.

7. Beer, wine, hard liquor, or tea-totaller? What brand/type?

Red, semi-dry/semi-sweet wines mostly. I love the New York wines (Torrey Ridge Scarlet Red, Bully Hill Love My Goat, Glenora Bobsled Red). I'm a huge fan of most Chianti wines, and, while reds are my favorites, I love certain chardonnays and Rieslings.

8. One of your closest friends is getting married and has indicated on the invitation that the reception will be outdoors and very casual. Do you wear what you wore to the ceremony? Do you change into something else? If you change, what do you change into?

Exceptionally good shorts or jeans (depending on climate) and top, with decent looking shoes. Heck, if they want casual, I'm going casual!

9. Tell the truth. When that obnoxious neighbor, friend or relative calls, and you see it's them on the caller ID, do you ignore the call or do you answer it? Why?

Absolutely. Lisa has a relative and we have a neighbor that, often, you just have to be in a mood to tolerate them because they're such negative, whiney people. This means that we ignore their phone calls frequently.

10. If you could have just one "do-over" in your life, what would it be?

When I was younger, I used to wish for do-overs all the time. At my age now, I think I believe that any do-over would have a huge ripple effect on my life following the do-over. I've come to accept that my life's mistakes have made me into the person that I am and if I were able to rid myself of even one painful or bad time in my life, I'd be a different person than I am. And I basically like the person I've become. I love my life today and it's my past life that has enabled me to both get here, and appreciate where I am. So, no do-overs for me.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Home Improvement

We got a lot done this weekend. Saturday we decided to reclaim the house from all the dust and debris that has been thrown around from all the construction. While Lisa picked up, dusted and vacuumed the living room, I scoured the kitchen, from ceiling to floor. It’s not that the kitchen looked any cleaner, because we keep it pretty clean, but that I knew it was cleaner because I had just done it. I washed down the walls, the cabinets and appliances, and mopped the floor. I always feel good when the kitchen is that clean, because I know how clean it is.

Lisa did a great job in the living room. It hadn’t been done really good for a long, long time, what with all of our trips to the southern tier to help Le out, and then our destruction/construction. There was a lot of dust around and we were amazed at how much crap got sucked up into the vacuum. Of course, the cats always get weirded out when we clean like this, and they always make themselves scarce. Cedar streaked out the door when it was opened, not to be seen again until later in the afternoon. Simba decided that the partially missing wall in Joe’s bathroom was an excellent place to hunker down, and Tigga stuck her head behind the computer table. She has this philosophy, apparently, that if she can’t see you, you can’t see her.

Sunday we were up early and out the door to the Home Depot by 9:00. We picked up four sheets of 4’ x 8’ ¼” thick luaun to cover the underlayment with (where we tore out the floor). I picked up a 21” prybar because the 14” one we had wasn’t getting the job done when tearing out the floor, and we still had about 2/3 of the floor left to tear out. These flat prybars are much better than a crowbar because they’re very flat, very slim, and can be inserted under mouldings and floors without damaging the item that is being pried up. In our case, it didn’t matter about the damage, but the idea was to get that flat bar under the old luaun.

We picked up a couple of runners that we spied, deciding they’d be a perfect fit when the floor is completed – one in front of each entry door (other than the garage door).

We got home, unloaded the truck, and I put a corned beef brisket in the crock pot. No sooner did I get it on when Bob and Wanda pulled up in the driveway. Bob is recovering from two bypass surgeries in 3 weeks (last one was about 3 weeks ago now), and for a 72 year old man recovering from surgery, he’s still in pretty darned good shape. He and Lisa worked side-by-side in measuring and cutting the luaun to fit into the odd shapes around our entryway. Lisa and I did all the physical work, under Bob’s guidance. We were grateful to have him there because we learned some tricks from him that, had he not been there, we’d have done a lot of work the hard way.

Lisa had a ball using her new air nail gun and compressor. And did it ever make the job go by faster! She’s so cute, with that big shit-eating grin on her face when she gets to use her new tools. Later, after Bob and Wanda left, we had to cut an 8 foot long, 1 inch wide strip of luan and we used her new table saw. Another huge grin on her face!

Besides Lisa’s ability to play with her new toys, we got one step closer to completing the job. Tonight Lisa will stop by the Home Depot and pick up some adhesive and a trowel, as we’ve decided to use the adhesive in addition to the “self-stick” backing on the new tiles. But we’ll pass on doing any of the work tonight. We’re a bit stiff and sore from yesterday’s labor.

Tonight she wants to organize her work area in the garage (as she feels it’s gotten out of control) and I’m going to sit down and try to get some more assembling done on Michelle’s blanket, get a few rows knit on our blanket, a few on little Brandon’s blanket, and a few on the new baby’s blanket.

We’re going to look for some sort of vertical style wall border to put between the entryway and the livingroom because I don’t want the green in the living room, nor do I want the blue in the entry way. This should be interesting.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


It's been a week of defects. Some funny, some not so funny.

Over the weekend, it was 60+ degrees and, by Monday, it was down to the low 30s and snowing. Talk about your defective Western NY weather....

Monday, I was hit with "I'm sorry, I dropped the ball and didn't give you enough time" jobs. Three exams that needed to be created, sent down for copy, and returned within less than 2 days. Two faculty members who normally plan ahead well in advance. Must've been something defective in their lives.

I continue to have "female" problems, probably associated with menopause and/or other problems that I've had in the past. In fact, it was so bad Tuesday that I called the doctor's office, and they ordered me in as soon as I could get there. I'm scheduled for yet another sonohystiogram later this month to determine what defects are causing these problems.

Tuesday night, as we sat watching American Idol Lisa said "Damn, it's cold in here!" Instantly my mind started racing. Had I turned the furnace back up Sunday night? I'd turned it down Saturday when we were painting because it was so nice out, I wanted to air the place out. Stupid to do that with the furnace still set at normal temperature, so I turned it way down to 55. So, I got up and checked the thermostat. Normal setting. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, and went into the laundry room and pulled off the front panel of the furnace. Sure enough, no pilot light. So, I lit the pilot light. And it went out. I re-lit it, and it went out. I did this several more times, to no avail. We put two extra blankets on the bed, and promised ourselves we'd call for repair the next morning.

Yesterday morning we got up to a frost 48 degree house. We didn't dawdle taking our showers or getting dressed. As soon as I got to work I called a company I've heard a lot of ads on (and I LIKE the ads -- weird, huh?) and was pleased to be told that they could be out at my house in under an hour. I arranged coverage at the office, and hurried home. It turned out that the furnace had a defective thermocoupler. The check for $98 I wrote wasn't defective though, I'm pretty sure. Got away lucky on that one.

So, I decided that since I had the rest of the day, I'd go grocery shopping and get my new Neurontin prescription filled. I dropped off the prescription (at the grocery store's pharmacy), did my shopping, and headed for the checkout line. The handicap checkout aisle was almost clear, so I chose that one. The cashier was just finishing up the order ahead of me, so I grabbed the separater bar, put it in front of my order, and unloaded the cart. I wasn't sure why the cashier was looking at me in such a bizarre fashion, and rationalized that maybe she thought she recognized me from someplace. I did a covert check on my nose to ensure there wasn't anything hanging out of there just for good measure. It turns out that she'd been eyeballing me wondering why I'd put the separator bar down, when mine was the only order on the belt. OK, I felt a little sheepish but wasn't overly concerned about it. She rang up my order, and stood looking at me expectantly. I stood looking at the register readout waiting for it to approve my payment. Uh. My payment! Sheesh! "I guess I should swipe a card or two here, eh?" I asked the cashier. She rolled her eyes slightly and said "That would be helpful."

I had promised Lisa crab legs for dinner, so I got the kettle on with water and turned on the burner beneath it. By the time she got home, dinner was ready and I was just setting the table. I always burn candles when I fix crab legs, to sort of drown out the fish smell. I lit the French Vanilla candle on the kitchen counter, and decided I'd use the new liquid potpourri warmer Lisa's mother had gotten me for Christmas. I removed it from its box, poured some potpourri in it, turned it on and.......nothing. A new, cute little defective potpourri burner.

One of the things I've noticed about being on the Neurontin is that I'm subject to some very bizarre dreams. Last night I dreamed that everyone had a massive infestation of maggots in their homes. You couldn't walk anywhere in any house without seeing them on the floor or in the walls or in the appliances and plumbing. They were just everywhere. So, everyone had to move out of their houses and set up "camps" in which to live outside until the infestation ran its course, which took a few days. Seems like there's a defect in my brain, if it creates shit like that.

During the morning commute, I was listening to the radio and the traffic report started. I was advised that, on the expressway, between two specific exits. there was a disabled eighteen wheeler on the left shoulder. Being right in that vacinity, and in the center lane, I decided I'd stay right where I was. Sure enough, up ahead, I see the county's HELP truck, with a flashing arrow telling drivers to merge to the right. As I passed by, I noted that the eighteen wheeler was missing fourteen wheels. It was a Pontiac Grand Am with a flat tire. No eighteen wheelers in sight. Makes me wonder what the defect was the person had that reported that one to the traffic reporters.

The barometer has taken such a roller coaster ride in the past week, my knee and thumb are screaming. Whoever came up with the oxymoron "minor arthritis pain" was defective. Nothing minor about it.

I was thinking about crawling under my bed to finish out the week, afraid of what's going to happen next, but there's a defect there, too. No underneath to the bed. It's a waterbed on a pedestal.

Good golly.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ten Thoughts

Sorry Jenn...had to steal it!

Here's a list of ten things I want to say to people I know but for whatever reason, I never will. I won't say who they are and I'll only use each person once. But, if you come here regularly, you'll know who some of them are.

1. I hate what you've done and I hate that you thought you had the right to rob a child of her innocence. Fortunately for her, you got caught and, while on some level it breaks my heart, you deserve whatever the future holds for you.

2. I hate you. I have no forgiveness in my heart for you. You were supposed to protect me but you hurt me just as badly. I hope you live a lonely life today.

3. I wish I could be like you. You're so strong and so loving, and you instinctively know what battles to choose. You give endlessly of yourself. You're a better person than I am.

4. I love you very much, but I don't like you very much.

5. Throughout my life, you were the one person who showed me unconditional love and respect consistently. You became my emotional crutch but you've lovingly helped me to stand on my own two feet and, in the process, release that tight hold I had on you. You're the brightest star in my sky!

6. I'm glad you've both come into my life. You've given me a very strong sense of family and I hope you don't mind that I look at you in much the same way I should have been able to look at my own family, but can't. I love you both!

7. I don't hate you. Never have, never will. I thought I loved you deeply once but you helped me to realize that it was a passing infatuation. You made promises to me that you had absolutely no business making, promises that hurt me deep to the core, but I don't believe there was malicious intent behind it. It's because of you that I have a wonderfully happy life with Lisa now.

8. I often wonder where you are, and what you would think of what I've become. I'd like to think that you would be proud of me, living my life with integrity, and trying hard to learn the lessons that life presents me on a daily basis. You taught me a lot about myself and I have often wished that I could look you in the eye and thank you.

9. You once said to me "You know you're just looking for a bigger dick." It wouldn't have been that hard. Trust me.

10. I know you have serious issues with my sexuality, Mr. Macho. I think you're just jealous that I get more pussy than you do.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mopey Monday

Woo Hoo! We're having a good, old fashioned thunderstorm! Lightning flashing across an ominously black sky and the distant rumble of thunder. I love thunderstorms! Unfortunately, this is part of the same system that killed people in the midwest and it's supposed to bring some pretty high winds. It's 52 degrees outside right now, with the forecast calling for temperatures in the mid to high 60s. Tomorrow the temperature will drop 30 degrees (yes, that's a thirty) and we'll get a snowy blustery day. Welcome to western New York.

We got a lot accomplished this weekend, in spite of Mary's incessant bitchiness and bossiness. She was in rare form Saturday and I'm glad I told her Friday that we'd paint on Saturday and that we wanted Sunday to be an "us" day. I couldn't have tolerated her for a second day -- not without harming her in some way.

Mary has such a negative attitude that often she's unbearable. It was 60 degrees and sunny out, so I opened the sliding patio door for some air. She said "Oh, can we all freeze to death so you can have your hot flashes?" I ignored it. Then she started bitching about how the "cold, damp" air would make it harder for the paint to dry. It was neither cold nor damp outside but that didn't matter. Then she began barking out orders to do things that we didn't want done, and argued when we told her it wasn't what we wanted. From 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM we put up with it. Lisa said last night that she could have done nicely without Mary's help. Yes, it's nice to have an extra set of hands, but we sure as hell paid dearly for the help, too.


We started with the ceiling. Now, understand that I've run a fireplace, a kerosene heater, and had lots of smokers in and out of this house (before I quit smoking almost 8 years ago). You get a lot of greasy smoke residue throughout the house with this stuff, and the ceiling in the entryway was pretty disgusting. I also understand that there was a chimney fire in the upstairs fireplace during the ice storm in 1991 and I'm not sure the ceiling was cleaned after that, either. I tried to wash it a few months ago, but realized quickly that the stippling was just going to destroy anything we used on it. We considered using a brush or a broom but realized we'd still have to wipe/rinse off whatever we used. You can see where I tried to wash it, just over the door. There's a clean spot there. You can also make out the greasy, blackish film from smoke and stuff. The walls are/were a beige sort of color (accented by primer in the picture, making them look whiter).

So, we decided to paint over the grime, and after that set, paint over that as well. We realized it was a bit chancy doing it that way, but what other choice did we really have, other than to spend hundreds of dollars to get the ceiling cleaned by a contractor? We used a flat ceiling paint (which Mary smugly told us would attract dust and dirt, because it did in her house). Mary and I did the edges of the ceiling (with me climbing the 12 foot ladder to do the highest points) and Lisa rolled paint on the largest surfaces using an extenstion pole and a roller brush with a 1½" nap. It worked beautifully, getting all around the peaks and dips of the stippling. Lisa indicated that it wasn't as difficult as we had expected it to be, and she had the ceiling painted in less time than it took us to "cut in" the edges.

We finished with two coats of paint on the ceiling and the walls, at around 8:00 Saturday. Sunday we slept in until about 9:00 and then decided to go to the Home Depot for mouldings and to actually buy the flooring that we had picked out (it's a self-stick tile). We had a list of things to look at and we ended up buying new hardware for the doors because, with the green, the brass doorknobs and hardware looked terrible on them. We found some in "antique bronze" and decided they would do, because the ceiling fan is a similar metal. We got 7 cartons of floor tile, a gallon of primer, two lock/key sets, and a dozen or so 8 foot lengths of various sized mouldings. We had a blast shopping, because we knew there really wasn't a strict limit on what we could spend -- we're putting our tax returns into this project. It's a lot more fun shopping for stuff like that when you don't have a strict budget!

After we got home, I pressed Lisa to go back to the Home Depot and buy the combo table saw she'd seen there. It was only $167 and was a 10" saw, with the tilt/angle ability to miter cut mouldings and frames. She hemmed and hawed and I told her that, with all we were planning to do in the house, it's not like it would be a waste of money. So, off she went and, while she was gone, I installed the new locks and handsets. She came back with a huge grin on her face and said "I feel LOVED today!" LOL! Lisa and her power tools....

So, after she got back from the Home Depot, we decided that there was no time like the present to get started tearing the floor out. There are/were 3 layers of vinyl flooring that we had to get through, all 3 of which were old and brittle. The top layer was the brown you see in the picture, the second layer looked like a cream-colored imitation ceramic tile liked you'd put into the bathroom. The third layer was a really LOUD LOUD LOUD red flowered pattern. Very 70s (the house was built in 1971) and very YUCK! We got a little bit of the vinyl out and realized quickly that it would be prudent to just tear out everything from the thin underlayment up. Lisa went out and got her prybars and we started the destruction. Every couple of feet we ran into heavy duty floor staples and we had to stop and tap them into the wood flooring underneath. We got about a third of the floor torn up last night and will work more on it tonight. I've decided that I'm not going to post "after" pictures until the entire project is done.

To this point, the walls turned out a bit greener than we anticipated but we also believe that once we get the trim up and replace the "decor" it will soften up the green and make it what we had wanted, which was a white-looking green. I'm very pleased with the colors on the doors and the trim pieces

I love "creating" with Lisa. We work very well together (most of the time) and between the two of us, our creativity surprises both of us. I think I could have fun re-doing the inside of the house and not spending much money on the gardens this year. We've got mostly perennials in them so they don't need much planting. We just need to maintain them and, when we hanker for sun and fresh air, that's what we can do. Sure, I'll bust a few bucks and buy annuals for immediate color, but I'm really psyched about re-doing the house.

Saturday was my middle granddaughter's birthday. She turned 7. This is the one that has her Grammie wrapped, in a major way. She's just a little munchkin, weighing no more than her sister who is 2 years younger than her. She's tiny, petite, and an imp. She reminds me of her mother -- perhaps that's why she has me wrapped so well.

I continue to have to work alone in the office, and have difficulty keeping up, but somehow I manage. Mostly because my mindset is that, whatever doesn't get done in one day, just doesn't get done. And, I've invited the faculty to complain to my superiors if they feel work isn't getting back to them in adequate time. What else can I do?

Instead of sitting here typing exams and creating macros for grade sheets, I'd much rather be home destroying the floor. Or doing ANYTHING other than being here at work.

Back to the salt mines...

Friday, March 10, 2006


This has been the longest week in history! Most likely it seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace because I’m really looking forward to the weekend – we’re staying home and doing something for US!

Last night we got started prepping for our paint job this weekend. We removed mouldings from around everything but the sliding patio door. We took the blades off the ceiling fan and cleaned them. We also took a concrete broom and “swept” the ceiling really good. Can’t believe the stuff that fell – stuff that wasn’t really visible to the naked eye. The ceiling hasn’t been done since I moved into the house 15 years ago this August. And I used to smoke, we’ve got a fireplace, and I’ve used kerosene heaters in the past. Needless to say, there’s a greasy grayish film on the ceiling. It’s a textured ceiling so it can’t really be washed – I’ve tried it. It tears up any sponge or rag you use with all it’s peaks. So, we decided we were going to paint over the grime, let it dry, then put a second coat of ceiling paint on it. That should keep the grime from sliding around on the finished product. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ve got the largest napped rollers made, so they should handle the peaks in the ceiling well. I think it’s going to be tricky because the ceiling starts off at about 8 feet where the garage entry is, and by the time you get to the other side of the entryway, it’s 12 feet or more. Lots of time on a ladder, I think.

Mary will come over tomorrow to help out, and it’ll be nice to have that third set of hands. But we’ve told her that Sunday we want some “us” time, because I just can’t handle Mary for an entire weekend after all that we’ve been through lately. It’s likely that we’ll continue work on Sunday, but without Mary. I just need some quiet time.

It’s 58 degrees out right now. We’re supposed to get 50 mph winds until 2:00 this afternoon, but they’re predicting temperatures right around 60. This morning I did a small “walkabout” and noted with excitement that our tulips are starting to come in, and the crocuses are peeking through as well. The daffodils have been trying to come up since January. We even had two roses bloom on the rose tree in the house. And, this morning on the way into work, the sky was lousy with gaggles of geese flying in formation. I think spring has sprung!

It’s supposed to be sunny and 55 tomorrow (without the heavy winds), so I’m throwing the windows and doors open and airing out the house. It’s amazing how the seasons tend to mirror my life – I’m reminded of a poem from long ago that went like this:

In the Fall the leaves came
To burst and burn and sear with light
Falling into the winter of darkness
The Winter of despair

Fall always sort of bums me out – all the beauty that we’ve created during the summer dies back and becomes this dismal brown. No leaves on the trees, no flowers, no sun high in the sky warming the back of my neck as I work in the gardens. Then there’s the gloom of winter. Around here, it’s even gloomier than most places, with the sun present less than 20% of the time during the winter. We often go long stretches of time without seeing the sun, and you can sure tell that it affects the mood of the world around you.

Spring always brings new hope, new growth, a freshness that makes me feel like I can start over, no matter how bad the winter might have been. I love the squishy sound the grass makes underfoot as we walk across it after a heavy spring rain. I love the fresh-scrubbed smell of the outdoors. I love the early spring flowers that often can be seen peeking out from under the last of the snow. I am SO ready for spring!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wednesday, and no Whines

I'm a bit better today. I've had a real go-around with this back problem. Lisa has massaged it nightly, and I've been to the chiropractor five times in the past week. Each time I go to the chiropractor, however, it seems worse. He's not as gentle as Lisa is.

Last night Lisa massaged it with Blue Stop, as she has frequently since this started. I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in a long time since all this started. I can't rave enough about Blue Stop and I can't understand why doctors don't know about it. We gave some to Lisa's mother a couple of years ago when she was telling us that the pain in her hands wakes her up at night. The first night she used Blue Stop, she slept all night, and has since. A guy from work had surgery a couple of years ago on an ankle that he broke, and I gave him some when he complained that it ached terribly in the cold weather. I gave him some Blue Stop, and the following week he stopped by my office to tell me that he'd had no achiness since he began using it. The Director of Building Services has a problem with his hip grinding bone against bone. He used some of the Blue Stop that I gave him, and felt significant relief. This stuff is pricey (about $28 for 8 oz.), but it's worth every penny. And, a little bit goes a long way. I order direct from the company, but you can get it at drugstore.com or cvs.com. If you have pain or inflammation, this stuff will help.

I'm bumming these days about Le and Vanessa and the whole situation with my father. Le is seeing someone -- a professor from the college. He's 50, she's 35. She wants a lot of kids, he doesn't want any more than the two he has from his first marriage. I worry about Le having gotten into a relationship so early while her life is so complicated. I wonder about a man who would date a student involved in such complexities. Le's vulnerable right now and her hatred and anger regarding my father threatens to burn her up from the inside out. I worry about how her choices will affect Vanessa. I also worry that Le will disappear and we won't know where she is.

Honestly, I can't blame her for her feelings of doubt when it comes to trust for any one of us related to my father and her "friend" has no emotional investment in the situation whatsoever, so I think it makes it easy for her to think she can trust him more than us. But I don't want to see Vanessa uprooted and yanked away from the only "family" she has left in her life since having to leave her entire family behind in Brazil. She worried initially that, if my father wasn't going to be her father anymore, that would mean that we're not sisters any more. I've grown very fond of that child.

My father called me yesterday and told me that he was going to take a plea deal. He'll go to state prison for a two-year sentence, of which he has to serve 11 months minimum. He's asked me to handle his personal affairs while he's incarcerated -- pay his bills, make medical decisions for him, etc.

Lisa's having a very difficult time with my involvement with both sides of this issue. She said last night that it looks like I'm "playing both sides," but I can't seem to make her understand that I can only do what I feel is the right thing to do on both sides. I can't turn my back on Le and Vanessa, and I can't turn my back on my father. Yes, I want him to have to go to jail because of what he did but, at the same time, he's still my father and I feel a certain sense of obligation to him. Deep down, my father knows that my asshole brother and his asshole son won't act with his best interests in mind. Rather, they'd act with their own interests in mind, and they'd rob him blind. While my father may hate what I've done to assist the prosecution against him, I think on some level he knows that I did the right thing.

Don't get me wrong -- the right thing has had a bitter taste on both sides and I often fear I'm losing my perspective on what's right and what's wrong in my role in this whole thing. All I know is that both parties in this thing need me and have entrusted me to act on their best behalf. Good thing I'm not a lawyer. I've spoken with the Crime Victim's Advocate on several occasions and he marvels at what I do for both sides. I've asked him to help me stay honest in doing what's right, without acting emotionally.

So, my father will go to state prison. He's scared shitless, and I can't say as I blame him. But, at the same time, he deserves it for what he did to that little girl. Half of me gleefully accepts that he'll go to state prison as a child molester and have a really rough life there -- and with his nasty attitude toward people in general, that's not going to play well for him either. But the other half accepts that, given his age and his propensity for treating people like the scum you scrape off the bottom of your shoes, he'll likely be beaten, raped, or worse. I suspect that when my father goes off to prison, it'll be the last time I see him alive, given his age, his medical history, and the crimes for which he was convicted. That's my reality.

That, and the probability of losing Le and Vanessa.

On a lighter note....

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning to follow up on my blood pressure and the fact that I'd reduced my HCTZ by half for the past month. My BP readings have been good, but got worriesome when I went back on the progesterin in early February. That stuff screws me up so bad I decided that I'd let nature take it's course with this whole menopause thing, and discontinued the progesterin. My BP went back down to normal.

The problem was that, when I was in the doctor's office, my blood pressure was always elevated slightly. The doctor once asked me if I was nervous. Me? Nervous about a blood pressure check? HELL NO! But, there it was, elevated.

So yesterday we're talking and I showed her my BP readings for the past month (with and without progesterin) and she agreed that I could stop taking the HCTZ altogether (YAY!). She sort of shook her head and said "I don't understand why your readings are always so high here in the office." I told her "Well, every time I come here it's first thing in the morning, and I don't have coffee before I come so that doesn't screw up the BP readings. I get here crabby, still waking up, and the first thing your nurse does is make me get on the frickin' scales! And you wonder why my blood pressure is up here!?! " The woman literally choked a laugh out. Hehe Hey, you know, that sort of sets your tone for the whole day, having to stand on scales WITH your jeans and sweater and everything else on. Talk about poo-pooing in someone's Easter Basket first thing...

I really want to get back on track with my walking and going back to Curves. I haven't been to Curves since late November. All this BS with my father and Le has consumed my life since his stroke in early December. I want normal again.

I've been given strict instructions that I'm to be prepared to paint this weekend. Hey, you don't have to tell me twice. We've had the paint and stuff for 3 weeks now, but have been at Le's house every weekend since we bought it. I'm really psyched about the theme and colors we've picked out and I think that re-doing that entryway is going to be good for both of us, psychologically. I hope I remember to take before and after pictures.

And so today I leave you with some words of wisdom that were imparted to me just this morning: Never trust a fart.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brokeback Something

I'm home today, for the second day, with some pretty weird back problems that started late last week.

I've lost a bit of weight and have gone from a size 14 to a 12 -- some size 12 jeans are still a bit snug, depending on their age. So, I put on a pair of size 12 jeans the seemed quite find, and went to work. As the day progressed, the skin that contacted the jeans was beginning to feel irritated and sensitive to the touch. It stung, like it would if it had been burned.

By Friday morning, I had a really tender spot on my back, right about where the lady in the picture is holding herself. I decided to wear a pair of size 14 jeans, so they wouldn't be snug against this spot. It felt bruised and tender, and the skin was still very sensitive. It was weird because it didn't hurt to move in any way, just to touch it.

By the time I got home from work Friday night, it had started to hurt pretty good when I moved a certain way.

Saturday we went down to Le's to take Vanessa home and to fix Le's shower (it was disgusting, with the walls all rotted out...yuck!). I was pretty much useless to Lisa as my back was bothering me pretty good by that time. I was extremely tired and just didn't feel right. We spent the night at Le's -- Lisa in Vanessa's bed and me on the couch -- big mistake. By Sunday morning I could barely move.

I worked Monday and had such difficulty sitting or sitting AGAINST my chair that I was unable to focus on much of anything. The skin had become ultra sensitive and the "bruised" feeling had spread from my hip to just below my shoulder blade.

I went to the chiropractor yesterday and he beat the dog-snot out of me. He said that sensitive, burning sensation on the skin was the nerve endings firing up. He instructed me to ice it every hour for about 20 minutes a pop, and if Ibuprofen helped, to take some of that too. I stayed home sick after that, and am home sick today. While I have some relief (thanks to my chiropractor), I'm still a hurtin' puppy. I'll go back to the chiropractor tomorrow and Friday, and see how things go from there.

Today my shoulder feels odd, and the sensitivity of the skin has spread up to that area as well.

The thing is, I have no idea what happened. It started off small with what seemed to be skin irritation, and just got bigger and bigger. A year ago today I fell on the ice outside work and busted my tookas pretty good. I still have some tenderness in my tailbone from that from time to time, but this is clearly something different. I worry sometimes that the MS is rearing it's ugly head again, especially when something weird like this pops up. I've been in remission for 15 years now and live a normal, full life. I had such a mild case of MS that it's possible the myelin has repaired itself and I'll have no long-term problems from the scarring that occurred. BUT, I can't help but worry when things like this pop up with no explanation.

This is the time of year that I start planting seeds for the spring. It's tedious work sometimes, requiring long spells of sitting and hunching over the trays. Hopefully this crap will clear up soon because I'm ready to start!

Of course, around here, Spring doesn't break through until we've had one last snowstorm in March. They're predicting up to 6 inches for tomorrow, so hopefully we're getting it over with early, but I doubt that. The ice storm in '91 happened on the 4th, the blizzard of 93 happened on the 14th, the ice storm in '96 happened on the 7th, and the ice storm of 2000 (or 2001?) was in the middle of March as well. It's sort of like winter's last hurrah before letting go.

But then again, we've hardly had much of a winter, when you look at the big picture. At no time has there been any piles of snow where snowplows came through, and for the most part, we've seen our yards most of the winter. During January they actually started to green up a bit, and our spring bulbs had started to push through the ground. The last time we had such a mild winter, it rained and was cool most of the summer.

I finally had the discussion with Lisa last night about selling her antique truck. We've not been able to do a thing with it in the past 2 years, and didn't even get it out of storage last summer. She agreed that she's largely held onto the memories associated with it (from when she was in college) and that it may be time to just let it go. With all the work and time and money put into it restoring it to it's ORIGINAL state, we decided that $8,500 isn't outrageous. It's middle of the line in classic car value for it's make and model year. It has only 1957 F100 parts on it, no hobgobbling or cannibalizing from earlier/later models or anything like that. Purely original. So, if you know any antique truck buffs, send 'em our way. Lisa wants to sell it to someone who will keep it in it's original state, and not chop it up for a street rod.

Basically, when Lisa was in college in the late 80s, she had an internship opportunity in Buffalo, Wyoming (she has a degree in Conservation). She needed to get out there somehow and her father bought this truck for her to use to drive out and back. At the time, Lisa was with her first partner, and the two of them drove cross-country out to Wyoming and back that summer. Afterward, her father took the truck back and eventually sold it to a guy, who sold it to a guy, who sold it to a woman, who sold it back to Lisa. The woman was meticulous about tracking previous owners and, when Lisa ran into her at a car show some years back, she was excited to learn that she had found her old truck. She told the woman that, if she ever decided to sell, to give her a call. That call came about 4 years ago.

The reality is that Lisa wants to get into woodworking, and is planning on buying a table saw with her Christmas money and gift cards. She can't do that kind of stuff with that antique truck parked in the garage. She insists that she could park it outside, but I believe that would be an open invitation for the little assholes that live in the neighborhood to engage in tomfoolery with it. And, frankly, I want my garage back. It's a 2-car garage, but that thing is so big it takes up pretty much the whole thing.

We had a great time with Vanessa last week. Friday we went to the Strong Museum and the National Toy Hall of Fame.

We really had a great time, and the week with Vanessa seemed to go too fast. But, I think that towards the end of the week, she was missing her Mom. She's a great kid. I love the picture of her and I with Big Bird, even though there was a lot of eye-rolling prior to the picture. Lisa and Vanessa had a great time with each other -- it was like having two kids.

Le asked us if we were considering having children together. I told her to BITE HER TONGUE and get that thought right out of her mind. Perhaps if we were 15 years younger I'd consider it, but no way now. I do think that if there was a way that we could put both of our genetic materials together, we'd make an interesting kid together, but that's not gonna happen, and the world will just have to be deprived of that.

Besides, who the hell wants kids that are younger than their grandkids?