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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays


Christmas over the years has changed - and changed back. Many, many years ago it was just David and I, when we got married we moved a big 3 miles from where I had grown up and 7 miles from where David had been raised. We celebrated the way we remembered, well, minus the screaming alcohol fueled fights for me, but that was an adjustment. I came from a family that put the tree up weeks before and took it down soon after. David's family waited until Christmas eve and then kept it up.mingling these two traditions meant the tree was up for a glorious 30 seconds so I waited to take it down. The entire day was spent running from one house to another, at that time everyone still lived on LI and I still had a (little) relationship with my father's side of the family. First child was born and then everything exploded. The tree got bigger, the present pile got deeper, house hopping got infinitely more difficult. Child number two arrived, more presents, more mayhem. My sister moved, I had drastically decreased the time we spent with my father's side, my mother remarried a man with half a dozen adult children. Time moved on, we eventually morphed our tradition into quick runs to family, home, then out to the Asian restaurant. It was so much fun. More family moved, Adam joined the Navy, we began to move -  and then there were three. We moved to the Poconos and found it almost impossible to find an open restaurant - so, I started cooking. We adjusted again, I made a turkey breast instead of a full turkey, tofurky for me. It was happy times, the novelty and all. Then Jackson joined the navy,got married -and now he and Brandi will be starting their own traditions. Adam has also moved, he lives rather happily on the edge of Kentucky and Ohio. And we are back to two. Just us. We stopped buying presents for each other years ago, this year I did try, but I picked it,put it down. David doesn't need anything, most of my needs are virtual.We still do the tree, still do the Asian restaurant, hang with the dogs, back to the beginning. Back to the start. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

v Is For Vegetarian

I usually pack a lunch when an office sponsored meal is in the offering. But since it was coming from Panera I figured there would be something I could have so for once I  came in with no back up food. And technically there was something for me to have -  while everyone dug into rich dishes of pasta I sat with, sigh, yet another plate of iceberg lettuce. Rosemary garlic chicken was heaped, I had steamed broccoli. And I know that my meat free diet is my own choice, no one is making me - and seriously I'm not starving, but it makes me feel so self conscious. It takes a very short period of time to eat a little salad, you end up sitting there pushing an olive around your plate hoping it will just be over soon. Bigger functions are actually better for meals, if you're signing up they usually ask if you have any diet restrictions - I've even found that most of the time they'll even ask what type of vegetarian ( for those of you interested I am an ovo-lacto which means I eat some dairy products). Things have gotten better since I first became vegetarian almost 25 years ago - my friend Jeanne had laughingly warned me not to EVER tell the waiter when I went out that I was a vegetarian, unless of course I didn't mind dining on steamed celery. And that was a good rule but with so many people going meat free for ethical, health, and other reasons most places have at least a couple dishes I can have. And I've also found that if you ask they frequently have non advertised  vegetarian meals or they will adjust the food for you.  One of the best meals I've ever had was when I started to order and the waitress stopped me and asked.when I said I was she announced that the chef would make me a great vegetarian meal - he did and I strongly suspect he was one of "us". I have come to the realization in the past few years I most likely will never be able to eat meat again, even after all this time I still cannot bring myself to even think about it too hard. I can buy it, cook it, store it - just can't eat it. I wonder if I started smoking again if I could eat it again. Most people that know me know that soon after I quit smoking my sense of taste came back big time - two things happened. First I became obsessed with chili, at one point I was even eating it for breakfast - for at least two months there was not a chili I didn't love. I remember going out to lunch with a friend who sat there in astonishment as I ate a pail sized bowl down to the bottom and mused about seconds. The second was an increasing distaste for meat that even eventally led to well, now. So I guess I'll just make sure I have my back up food - just in case and really in the grander scheme of things, if you only can have a salad it leaves all the more room for cake!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Great Cookie Experiment

Well, for the first time around things did not go badly. I've sent cookies out before, but not such a mass mailing. All told it was 14 boxes and with the exception of Nancy and Ray all out to relatives, from New Jersey to Nebraska they are out. Making them was not as hard as you might think, but I planned well ahead. I found my handwritten old recipe book for the gingerbread first. Out of everything I can make that is the one that really brings home the feeling of the holiday. Then Spritz of course, sugar cookies, molasses, chocolate chip. I wanted macaroons but some of the recipes were beyond complicated. I found one from Food & Wine that had 5 ingredients and minimal fuss - sold! My requirements were easily found ingredients, ingredients that could be used in multiple recipes - the chocolate chips are one of the main ingredients in my chocolate hard sauce and then were used in cookies. Idid a shopping trip specifically for what I needed, made up all the rolled  doughs a week  ahead of time, found all baking stuff. When I got home on a Friday I started baking gingerbread,  then got up early the next morning and rolled, baked, cooled, iced, decorated, dried, baked again. David bought me two giant containers and I layered wax paper to cushion and keep them fresh. Homemade cookies, especially gingerbread are better if they sit for a few days. During the week David brought home boxes - I had decided on flat rate priority mail rather than use the boxes that needed weighed. And then I packed, wrote out cards, taped, addressed, and stacked. David mailed them from our wee little post office for two days, half at a time. The second day he showed up with the remaining 7 boxes and a plate of cookies for the post lady. And then off they went. I checked my tracking and they have all either arrived or are imminently due. Cost wise I think between ingredients, shipping, and a few extra expenses  (I found some really cute Christmas cloths that I used for padding) it was close to $400 - not a cheap date, any of you. On the other hand I made enough Christmas cookies for everyone, just about. Did everyone that got them like getting them?Next year I am planning on doing it again and will expand my list a little depending on the feedback I get - but its been positive so far.This year was more of a trial run, it was a little hard to figure out how many cookies I would need, how long, etc.. But I have to say it was fun doing this and I very much liked that even though we are so far away from each other I can still do some baking for everyone

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Note To My Family

So far this weekend I have made 4 batches of  chocolate chip cookie bars, 3 sugar cookies, 4 of spritz, 2 soft molasses, 3 shortbread, 2 chocolate puffs, 3 coconut macaroon, 2 batches of eggnog cookies and last but not least four batches of gingerbread. You would be more impressed if you knew the above gingerbread recipe came from Bakum and crew, liz's family who I am sure are responsible for the phrase "go big or go home" - each batch of gingerbread contains 6 cups of flour to start. seriously, those people feel if you're not cooking for an army you might as well not even bother. I've made gallons of royal icing, chocolate hard sauce, iced, stacked and ready to roll. Because this year, this year I am not sending gift certificates. The boys and Brandi will get of course and Rhi, but everyone else gets cookies I made myself. The past few years our family due to being so far from one another has gotten into the habit of exchanging gift certificates - I have started to feel like we could just take the same money and shift it back and forth I get a certificate for Amazon, I send one for Applebee's. So this year I baked - it's not saving me any money mind you. The ingredients cost a fortune, butter, sugar, ten pounds of chocolate chips, they will have to be packed and mailed, actually it might end up costing a little bit more. Because I'm sending to more family members this year, instead of shrinking my list I'm expanding it. Maybe no one will like it, they could get broken and I could be responsible for a mass wave of crumbs washing up on everyone's doorstep. I might go back to gift certificates next year as this has been no easy task, I literally baked all weekend from  8 in the morning til 6 at night. But it was fun, I can still make the chocolate hard sauce from memory, still have that double boiler I bought at a yard sale. It looks about the 40's or 50's. When I bought it years ago it looked well used - and it continues to be to this day. I have not baked in years and it all came  back in an easy rhythm, I mixed and baked using one recipe that called for yolks and balanced that with one that called for whites, my timing was spot on - as soon as one batch came out the next was ready to go. And as of an hour ago, they are done, packed in layers and layers of wax paper. During the week I'll be getting the boxes from the post office, packing them all up tight and off they'll go. So be warned - don't look for your gift card this year. I will not be looking for one either. Just remember when you get your box of Christmas cookies - or Christmas dust - that someone was thinking about you this year and thought you were worth the work.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Traditions


 Tradition is what you make it, isn't it? Every year for the past four years we have spent Thanksgiving with Ray. To start the festivities off, he traditionally Cancels The Trip. This is done for a variety of reasons, it's too far, too cold, the weather, the time. We return volley with un-canceling, this year was faster than most. He called David early on Tuesday and I called him back before 9 am - the next time he cancelled us it was too late, we were 100 miles away. It didn't go as planned of course. My Master plan was to do a visit super early, get home, throw the dogs in the car,dump them in jail and off we go. The visit took longer than expected - of course!- when I got home I still had to finish packing, David was dawdling, the cats still needed to get settled... We FINALLY got on the way. Then halfway there David remembered he'd forgotten the dogs paperwork at home. ARRGH. The place we take them knows us and was not concerned, they said they'd just call the vets and it could be faxed over. So we finally get going and for once the weather was right, it was snowing like predicted. The roads were surprisingly good but it still held us up. Instead of the usual five and a half hours it took us over seven. We arrived almost 7 pm, tired and cold. We called Ray to let him know we got in ok and would see him in the morning, we had tiny four dollar frozen pizzas for dinner and turned in for the night. Morning wa much better - cold and sunny, snow melted. Ray looked great, he's recovered from the accident he had earlier in  the year. He's back to driving and doing his own grocery shopping, has gained back al it of the weigh he had lost. We went to the Stack for breakfast, did a little shopping, hung out at Ray's and then back to the Stack for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You might think that's a little weird or depressing, but it is the best night of the year. We laugh and talk of times past,the boys Setsu, Mikio, their kids, the crazy things we did. We talk of the years of Sunday brunches when everyone sat down to eat - sometimes as many as a dozen people. How that expanded into Sunday dinner too, hours of talking and laughing. The next day we went to the bookstore, drove byBest Buy -no thank you - and then for an afternoon at the art museum. We had dinner at the Arlington for a change of pace, then spent the evening at Rays. Saturday saw us off early - we had to be back by noon to spring the dogs. The ride back waa much faster, we manage it in about 5 and a half hours. So, that is our tradition - I hope everyone had a great holiday too.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A House Made Of Straw


I don't know if these pictures will stay -  I've been having quite a lot of trouble with them lately. I mean I like my iPad, but the pictures just don't seem to come through but I miss blogging so I think what I will do is blog without the pictures. In other news some people may have wondered what happened with the houses - it's still going on and it's still quite a mess. We went under contract with this woman and she claimed that the title was not clear,  the family of the woman that had passed away, oh jeez,  this is just so complicated so let me start again. The man and woman that originally owned it had a land contract (that's a separate type of contract that you make monthly payments on) when he passed away she got a loan and she purchased the house and  that satisfy the land contract. When we went to sell it  there was a paper glitch because it was never taken off the deed . They had six children between them so this woman and her lawyer claimed the title was not clear. Two title companies said they would underwrite the title but she refused that, then we had offered to just let her out of it and she refused again,she became quite upset so what David did was he got six quick claim deed signed by the children l-et me tell you this is a lot harder than it sounds,. He had to pay a full day salary for four of them and I couldn't blame them for asking. I mean they had to give up a day worth of work for something that was really not their concern David had to pay for that to be filed and this all took about three weeks. We were supposed to close on that Monday and on Friday she told us through her lawyer that she was no longer interested the house, she decided not to buy it after all. This was a huge problem for us as the house had been taken off the market for two months of prime selling. This time of year it's near to impossible to sell the house - in addition we've been paying the taxes the utilities and the mortgage on this house and now we have nothing but to start over. Even if someone wanted it tomorrow it would be at least another two months for inspections, closing, etc..the house in Fairmont is not complete yet either so we have the expense of that. We had to file a claim with the title company and now they gave us a lawyer and we are going to sue this woman but in the meantime we have a house we cannot sell and cannot rent so my one salary is supporting three houses, taxes,utilities and all. A little bit of a stomach clenched. A little bit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

You can have too many friends


I was recently friended by somebody on Facebook that I had worked with briefly about a year and a half ago give or take .I realized after her first post chances were pretty good we would not continue to be Facebook friends or friends anywhere else for that matter. The first post I read was her and her friends posting they would not be going to Starbucks because Starbucks serves gay people  - of course God would be smiting them too but hopefully after they got their Mocha latte. This for me doesn't work on several different levels. First of all that's not very Christian or very human for that matter. I mean I honestly I cannot believe that there is a God sitting around proclaiming things like that. And second of all really - why would God even care who's getting some Starbucks coffee . Does he not have anything better to do like save starving orphans are quietly get rid of Obama? And then we get into the hell thing, for some reason religious people seem to want me to go to hell. A LOT. They mentioned it in general conversation and sometimes more than once. I don't mind them thinking I should go to hell - after all I don't believe in it nor do I believe in God but to me it's sort of like if your friend brought a dress and called the color forest and you actually thought it was the color of vomit. Or you thought have made her but look extra fat - it's okay to think it but you probably shouldn't say it out loud. First of all,  that's just your opinion and second of all, you don't even know if it's really true. Maybe only you're the one that thinks it's the color  of vomit. The bottom line is this is  a bunch of people telling you what God thinks. Why would God think about me going to hell or  spend any time thinking about how gay people shouldn't get Starbucks coffee. I'm personally glad that gay people can go to Starbucks for coffee and I don't have to boycott it. it would be pretty awkward for me. I would either have to give up drinking Starbucks coffee or send David in to get it for me. See that's technically okay because David isn't drinking the coffee and I wouldn't be going in but that's neither here nor there Starbucks lets everyone have coffee.  I very politely told that woman maybe  we were not friend material and quietly unfriended her. No one is going to change their mind and I can keep going to Starbucks winner winner chicken dinner!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Winds Of Change


We took the dogs to the game lands this morning, Reuben as usual ran like the wind - back and forth, up and down. Anyone that wants to outlaw electric collars has to take him for a week  without it and let me know how you made out. We usually just beep him and he comes right back but today he was very excited and it took awhile to reign him in. David was grousing, according to him all the Dogs Past behaved perfectly, yadda, yadda, yadda. I just laughed and said the dogs haven't changed - we have. Maybe it's because we're older, the kids are gone (Adam moved out a month ago and now lives in Kentucky), who knows. I reminded him of Lady, one of his first Vizslas he owned that the pound would cheerfully scoop up every time they saw her and wait for us to call. She would get snagged  as far as 10 miles from our house, sometimes be gone for a day or two. The only reason we got her back on a regular basis was the breed is very distinctive  and easy to describe, they knew who she belonged to.  The other reason was the fine was increased for each offense and she was a sure bet. The last time they caught her I said Maybe I Won't Come Get Her. The dog catcher laughed and said, Well, Maybe I'll Have A New Gun Dog This Year. I swore all the way there and all the way back, Lady of course could have given a rat's ass - she just wanted her dinner. We had one dog that ran off and after the 3rd time said the hell with you - we saw her happily riding shotgun in someone else's car and decided then and there to stop looking for her. We had cats disappear, reappear and then disappear - I don't remember getting too worked up about it. My grandmother Carter had Mama cat who procreated on a weekly schedule, she kept them in the lilac grove and you could play with them until they went crazy and feral. Then they'd run off and a new batch would take their place. But that was then and this is now - we get all of our cats fixed and vaccinated, they come in at night and we go looking for them if they're not. Vincent has lived with us for about 10 years and has spent exactly two nights outside. Scout, the newest addition has not been out at all since we rescued him from the garage. Molly and Reuben are taken out with collars on. I love to read so I've cleared paths in our woods and placed chairs around the whole place. They snuffle and hunt while I read - I can read outside just as easily as inside and I love being out in our woods so it works for all of us. But I think we get carried away sometimes about the pets - and I don't think we're alone in that boat, are we? Can you imagine what your great grandparents would say if they were told you take your dogs and cats for their annual shots and physical? That some of us drop them off in doggie daycare - or that I had a dog walker come to the house each day that we worked late when Pearl was alive? Or the stray kitten I adopted is not allowed outside until he's neutered and has all of his shots? But with our busier schedules, shrinking families and everyone moving away from each other, we depend on our pets more and more for social interaction and family. We socialize with Molly and Reuben on the weekends, with all my driving and working the idea of going anywhere just wears me out. I see people all week, my pets are my downtime.But I have said to David we need to be realistic about them, they will not outlive us, they might run off, you never know. He agreed - but that didn't change things, we are still going to worry on them, aren't we?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Catch My Breath


I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I last posted - where to start? It's been busy! A couple of weeks ago I had two consecutive conferences to go to so I spent a week or so trying to get everything done. I went to the first one on a Thursday outside of Pittsburgh - It's called Giving and Receiving Feedback but it's essentially Don't Be An Ass. After I snuck over to Harmony PA to cross yet another yarn shop off my list. It was run by a rather amazing young woman with dreadlocks down to her waist covered in a variety of crocheted items.I could have stayed there all week but I had Things To Do so I bought some yarn and vamoosed. Friday was a Run For It type of day, I finished up as much as I could and then Vamoosed again, this time in the direction of Janet and Diane's. My two day annual training for Bayada was Tuesday and Wednesday so I took Monday as a vacation day. I was going to stay overnight in a hotel halfway and wander my way to their house before dinner, but they had a birthday party to attend in NJ on Saturday. We had to leave by 11 am so there was no point to a hotel room, I drove straight through. On the way there David called to tell me they were moving the closing up for the Bridgeport house to Wed so I needed to find a notary and overnight the paperwork by Monday morning. Yippee. We did some stuff on Saturday morning involving Whoopie Pies and coffee and then headed for the Jersey Shore where I did not see the Situation, but I think his show was cancelled anyhow. I did see Diane's family and they are all pretty nice. Sunday we peeped a little at the Amish and mainly shopped, they were getting ready for their trip to Europe so it all got combined. Monday Janet and Diane headed to work, I headed to the do some Intense Amish Spying, since they live there year around the gild is off the lily for the both of them regarding the Amish. I wandered my way to the hotel in Philly and honestly - headed straight for my room and collapsed. Until I remembered I hadn't eaten anything and schelped over to the local Ruby Tuesday to eat, schelped back to my room and re-collapsed. Two days of 8 hours of training - yes, it's very helpful and I'm glad they do it, but when it occurs during the week and you have to drive 6 hours (after the 8 hours of training), go to bed around midnight and then be back to work the next morning - it's a bit wearing. To say the least. I called David on Thursday to see how the closing went - and it didn't. Seemed there was a weird glitch and the house not only didn't close, but the title was not completely clear as promised. We have title insurance BUT the house we are buying (which was supposed to be tomorrow) is now in jeopardy as it is a contingent deal. So the lawyer that cleared the title is frantically trying to fix it, the seller of house #2 is willing to give us a (little)extra time, we are holding off the vultures and I will be laying waste if this does not work out. And yes, we do have a back up plan so don't get your panties in a bunch - this is not our first rodeo and it's not the first time things have gone south at the last minute. We'll ride it out as we always do.This weekend has been thankfully quiet, we did our shopping on Saturday and went out to lunch, just the two of us. It has been so long since we've done that! This morning we loaded the Hooligans into the car and took them for their Sunday Jaunt to the gamelands down the road where they ran like crazy things for a couple of hours. I can't believe Monday is looming right around the corner, I wish I could rewind back to Friday night. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cooper's Rock


This morning was a day of no excuses. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky, gas in tank and it's Sunday. I found my backpack and fired up the compass - we were not going for the day but I haven't been in so long this was a combination hiking/practice run. I only take Molly on these excursions, Reuben just wants to RunRunRun and it is super Not Relaxing. Not to mention he will be getting plenty of exercise in the coming weeks with hunting season right around the corner. So I put together my backpack with water and dog biscuits for Molly, a few dry items for me, and off we went. We did the main park first, it was early when we got there and not too many people. The trail we did gets rough at the end and you actually have to scale a steep climb of rocks. I could figure out how to get me up there, but Molly? As I stood there pondering something touched the top of my head and I started a bit - there was Molly peering down at me, problem solved. That was a fairly short path and it was starting to get busy so we got back in the car and headed back to the Henry Clay Trail. I took Molly off the leash when we started hiking, she's really great at this. She stays in view and comes back right when I call. I put the electric collar on her just in case, Cooper's Rock is 13,000 acres and if she bolted I'd be hard pressed to get her back. As we were walking I heard whining and looked to see a dog Molly's size heading right for us, crying and running. He ran up to us hopefully and then cried when he realized we were strangers. He had a collar on and I heard someone call faintly in the distance, he turned heel and ran back down the trail so I figured he was not lost. When we got down to the Henry Clay Iron Furnace we met him again with his owners who said he was uber friendly, he like Molly can walk unleashed.When I saw them coming I put Molly on the retractable leash and she put some distance between her and Mr. Overlyfriendly, but no panicking.  We hike for about 3 or 4 miles today, since we haven't really hiked in a long time, this was really a practice run. Walking by other people, going into the bathroom with me (I can't tie her by the door, if a stranger  walked by and she was alone she would freak), hearing people she cannot see - she did very well and once she remembered it was all good. When we got home she and Reuben went straight out to the woods and now we are sitting. I am going to work on the baby blanket I'm knitting for my niece to give to her cousin at her baby shower, I have to do a couple more rows around the edge, bind it off and then it's DONE. And then onto other projects. I have to make one more baby hat for someone in my office and then I might make a sweater. I found this great yarn at a clearance sale -  I got it so cheap and it's such an expensive linen mix I could cry! And it's more than enough to make a long sweater or cardigan so I think that will be my next project. I went to the yarn shop in Bridgeport yesterday, a little sad, After we sell the house there we won't be stopping by to check on it of course so I won't have a reason to go to Bridgeport anymore. But I'm sure I'll get out there again someday.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Green Acres Is The Place For Me.


It's been an interesting week - the Bridgeport house is under contract - not as much as the RE agent thought it would go for but more than we did. Either way it's not over til the ink is dry and everyone walks off - one person with a house and the other with a check. Our record for selling one house is four times, once right up to the day. We've already put in a bid for another house, this one towards Pittsburgh - that one is contingent on the other one being sold so we will see at the end of the month which way the wind will blow. If it falls through we have renters lined up around the block so either way we're in good shape. We have half discussed if it all goes through moving up to the Pittsburgh house and renting here for a year, just to see. Being closer to work would be nice, but honestly, I can't see it sticking. Even though though we have crabby pants neighbors on one side - it's just one side. And if we make noise at the porch such as calling the dogs, they rather hilariously scamper back in their house, sort of like banging a pan before turning on the cellar light to make sure the mice are out of sight. The dogs are used to having five acres to bounce around on and are strictly trained not to go in the front yard to the road. We are not so strict about them sneaking into the corn fields,I do call them back but it's not an urgent issue. We are used to our privacy, the woods I sit in and read, the quiet. Not that this neighborhood is exactly urban - but it's more than we're used to. Oh well, no point in discussing it until it's all said and done. We've also been discussing the things we need to do around here, the bathroom needs serious upgrading, the bedrooms downstairs I'd like to reconfigure and of course - counter tops are high on the list. But there's so much more to do - work is very busy, we are having the annual Employee Appreciation Picnic, I'm visiting Janet and her wife Diane the weekend after that and then a two day conference. October I'm planning on going to Norfolk, David wants to go back to LI to see his parents for a week AND Adam is moving out next weekend and will be living in Ohio. We're excited for him of course, but it does change things around here. It's been easier taking care of the kitten Scout since he keeps him in with him while he sleeps during the day. Scout will not be a kitten too much longer, he's rapidly exploding into a cat - next month we also have to get him to the vet for a check up, shots and to get fixed. He has no fleas and no signs of parasites which really lead me to believe someone did just dump him on us. We are grateful for the cat, but it's sad someone would do that to a creature that cannot defend itself. David is getting ready for the hunting season, today was the funniest thing. We were talking about it on the way to Bridgeport and I mentioned he had wanted to get some pigeons to train the dogs with. I needed new boots so we headed over to the Tractor Supply Store - and wouldn't you know it - there were people selling small livestock - and pigeons! I told David to go TALK to the guy and when I came back there was large cardboard box on my backseat cooing and rustling, HMM. I am phobic about birds, clowns and puppets with teeth and they fell in one of those categories so we went back to the Fairmont house where they will stay in their cardboard box til David gets them tomorrow morning and brings them back here to put in the coop he's been saving. I told him I was not driving around West Virginia with a back seat full of pigeons, honestly - you'd think I was some sort of hick!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rainy Days and Mondays


Well, Happy Labor Day for what it's worth. It's been raining for two days straight so that kind of put the kibosh on any plans. The one nice day Saturday we did the grocery shopping and checked on the houses, if I knew we were going to have crappy weather I would have saved it til today. Adam is in Ohio til this afternoon, he finished enrolling in electrician school out there, he will be staying with friends until he gets an apartment and he already has a roommate lined up. For some reason a lot of his friends from the navy migrated out there near Cincinnati so he's pretty excited about it. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about it, as much as you want them to be independent and out on their own, it's nice having them near too. He won't be too far, only 3 hours from here, so not to traumatic. Scout the kitten will miss him, we still have to keep him in the basement when we go out and with Adam sleeping during the day it was company for him. But Scout is rapidly expanding into a cat and is almost too big for the dogs to swallow without a fight so it won't be too much longer. And really, as much as kittens are little, cute and fuzzy, they're also genetically engineered to survive in much harsher circumstances than a house with two dogs - we've noticed if the dogs get over-enthused he goes to ground pretty fast. When he gets big enough we'll also start letting him out during the day, right now he has to content with sitting in the window and watching the world go by. I noticed this morning that some of the leaves are starting to turn, I was a little shocked but it is the first of September. Where did the summer go? Where did everything go? Lately I've been mulling over this very subject, 30 years ago my entire family lived in one place, now we live all over. I think a lot of it is seeing my cousin's children, my children!, my lifelong friends and their kids on face book. Birthdays, graduations,weddings, jobs - all right where  I am not. I remember throwing my sister's 40rth at my house and having to move an entire BBQ inside because of the rain, we filled the kitchen and living room. Adam's graduation was held at a park - this was before we, and everyone else moved. Jackson's graduation 6 years later we held at a restaurant. Then we scattered further, we are so far away from each other. Many families are in the same boat, economics and opportunities drive us. Long Island has not been my home for years and honestly, I would not go back. The crowds freak me out  - and economically we are so much better off here. And that is not what I miss anyway. I miss the parties, stopping over Bette's for coffee, walking the dog and running into people I know. Dinner at Grandma's, the beach at the end of the road where we all had our spots and no one else sat there because they knew it was taken.  It would be nice to live near one family that I either know or am related to, but that is not in the cards right now, is it?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today



It's been awhile, hasn't it? A lot of changes. For those of you that are friends of mine on Facebook you know that we have (unexpectedly) adopted a new kitten. David heard it in the garage and we finally located a tiny,  terrifed little tabby. We were able to eventually coax it out, we had thought he was feral but I think he was just scared. He looked to be about 5 or 6 weeks - and a dump.It's hard not to feel bad, he was crying so hard, it was so sad. We kept putting food and water out for him, then brought him some old blankets to sit in. I moved one of Vincent's old litter pans in and he figured that out quick. Over the past weeks we've moved him from the garage to the basement and now upstairs. Molly is back to her cat staring ways but is getting better, Vincent hates him but will get over him. I need not remind him that no one was thrilled about his appearance so many years ago. Since Adam has been working nights Scouts spends the daylight hours in the basement with him, then is brought up if someone is around. He's still too tiny to let run and Molly is not entirely trustworthy. At night it's back to the basement but there's cat toys, a couch and blanket, food, and it's clean so it's not a bad place to be. Adam is currently in Ohio, he's planning on moving out soon if all goes well, he wants to move there as he has friends that live there now. It's nice to live somewhere you know at least one or two people We're hoping by the time he  goes Scout will be past the edible stage and we can start letting him out. Work has been busy, I've had to fill in a few shifts out in the field but it's a change of scenery so I don't mind. Kids are hilarious, I was filling in for one of our aide cases and the kid asked me if I was an aide. I said no and the kid looked at me and said "oh, you WORK for the aides" - this same party also suggested a makeover as "you would look better". It was a fun afternoon, I love children and their honesty, it does make me laugh. I have Monday off, we are not doing too much which is fine with me. I had considered it briefly but I work and travel so much staying home feels like a vacation! Today we went and checked on the houses, one might be sold!!, then just dawdled back home. We did the grocery shopping, went to the bookstore, a little here, a little there. In the coming weeks I'm planning on hiking the state parks, this weekend it's just too hot. We took the dogs to the park last week and then were panting like crazy so we didn't stay too long. It's the humidity I think, we run the dehumidifier during the summer and I dump the bucket on a daily basis. Not much else going on, it's the end of summer dodrums I suppose.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back In Time.


This week someone I've known since I was four passed away - it's bittersweet, isn't it? Even though I haven't physically seen him in years I thought of him quite often, his children - my friends have let me know how he was and have passed on my hellos, my Christmas cards full of how the boys were doing. As he passed we were all reliving the past  - Fabian was a bit....unusual. We laugh remembering the Do It Yourself Sailboat in which we were enlisted to assist, all six of us. Kate, Mark, Jeanne, Janet, Henry and me. One afternoon he had us bracing sheets of paneling on interior with epoxy in 90 degree heat, curved and bending to the walls. The idea that the glue would hold after about half and hour (day) and we could go on our merry way. This was before fumes were bad for you by the way. We let go slowly - it stayed and  as we swarmed down the ladder to the ground you could hear the paneling popping off the walls, I do believe we all headed for the woods....He paid us to correct multiple choice tests for his law students - we sat at folding tables with the answer grids, I often wondered as an adult what those students would have thought if they knew their tests being handed back on Monday had been reviewed by a group of elementary kids? When I went to visit them one summer in Brooklyn he took us all to a  high end fund raiser for the Governor one night because he thought it would be good for me to see, so he showed up with four bouncy children - we had ice cream in Little Italy at midnight after - he had his faults but they were shadowed by his sheer velocity - we can all tell stories about Fabian for hours,  I wish I had taken more time to appreciate those days, my brother mentioned the time he took us to the drive in( and keep in mind we all traveled together so if an adult went there were six children) where if you made it through the night of B horror movies you got free donuts. And we would have gotten the doughnuts if he hadn't woken up and realized what time it was. It's funny but all week I've been thinking of the times I would go back to if I had the chance. I would go back to the summer days in Brooklyn hanging out the window with a stick trying to whack the cherries off the only tree in that tiny back yard. Or Mark putting a sardine on a cookie to see if that would make me like them better. Sleeping outside in that giant patio he built that no one every ate in , but we slept in it all summer. My entire childhood into young adulthood is tangled in Palominos - we were all close in age. We lost touch a bit as everyone grew up, apart, but never completely. As I get older I start to lose people., some of my classmates, friends, grandparents pass on. I am more aware this year of the passage of time, when I think to where I would have liked my life to stay - The long hot days when we talked all night between the houses, discussing what we were going to do tomorrow until our parent's or theirs told us (again) to go to sleep. Or the year Kim, Liz, Richard and I became best friends, we lived at each other's houses.  I guess the years the boys were old enough to cart around and young enough to enjoy it. Those endless summers of the beach at the end of the road, Mel was alive, Adam and Jackson had their posse to play with all day. Setsu, Mikio and Ray were well. We had enough money - things were looking up. Jackson's senior year when we lived in Maidsville, Pearl was healthy, the hunting was good, I thought I had everything. So many shining moments.So many wonderful, happy memories.  And yet so many more to come.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

One Step Forward Two Steps Back.


This week has been a constant barrage of stuff. Nothing earth shattering, but it seems like all week it's been a struggle. Wednesday was my eye appointment with Dr. Fenghali, the glaucoma specialist that I've been seeing for about 3 years or so now. I had the laser surgery on both eyes about 2 years ago to keep it from getting worse. Since I started I have not missed an appointment, your sight is not something you want to fool around with.My appointment was first thing in the morning and I took a sick day from work. By the time my eyes recover from all the drops they use the day is shot. I also decided to drop my car off at the mechanic's as it needed an oil change, inspection and back brakes. I met David at the Subaru place Tuesday night and we left my car so they would have all day, then Wednesday headed over to Morgantown to my appointment. It takes about an hour or so, but in the end it was good news - pressure is down in both eyes and my vision has actually improved, I hadn't realized my new eyeglasses have a much lower prescription than the old ones. On the way downstairs David couldn't find his keys - they weren't  lost we discovered but they were conveniently locked in the van. Along with the spare key- and the sunglasses. Sigh. David does not have a smart phone and will not use mine so I was standing in the corner trying to see mine blinking and squinting. The first locksmith  I called was located in Union town but he gave me the name of a local one. I called and not only were they only five miles away, since they had just opened the guy was available right now. We were back on the road in about 20 minutes so it was not a huge deal. We did the grocery shopping and while we were out called the mechanic who told us we could pick the car up around two which was great. We could finish our shopping and then go the the car. We got there on the dot and were apologized to, they didn't have the right brake pads and had to go get them so we needed to come back at five. Which  was annoying. I had Weight Watchers on Thursday I lost a couple more pounds but I have to say it's a struggle every day now. I'm trying hard not to get into that not eating at all mode or eating a lot less because the problem is you can only do that for so long - and when you fall off the wagon it gets worse each time doesnt' it? The first time around I had to lose twenty pounds, the second time it was thirty five, now I'm looking at over forty. And each time it gets a little harder. It's not just vanity that drives me, it's the big picture. I'm healthy right now, but we have a family history of heart disease , cancer arthritis, diabetes, all the things that are very much affected by weight. Given the current economy and our finances  I'll probably be working into my 70's - I no longer worry about enjoying my retirement I worry if I'll actually get one . And if I can't retire til then I would like to enjoy a couple years of it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job right now immensely but I am not looking forward to being that pathetic 75 year old pretending I love working so much I can't stop. Arrgh. Enough of THAT. I have been working out in the mornings and am hoping we have a nice fall this year so I can take Molly really hiking - she loves the woods and the parks so much I know she'll get a kick out of it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Past Week.


What an interesting week. My boss did indeed ask to see me in his office - to tell me what a great job I'm doing, that I've taken over the job much faster than he thought possible and I'm an asset to the team. That blew me away - how many jobs do you have that the only time you ever get feedback is when they need to tell you something negative? So yes, I admit it, that made me feel really good. I've also rejoined Weight Watchers, my weight is completely out of control which I"m sure most people who have seen me in the past year are aware of. I don't know if it was all the stress from past jobs, menopause, or what have you but I'm closing in on 200 and that is the last place I want to be. I have tried dieting, exercising, etc... nothing works. But when I was in Weight Watchers a few years ago that did work for me. The issue of course is my job - if I go to a meeting near my office I won't get home til after nine, if I try for the one near my house I'll never make it in time. But with a little scoping around I found a meeting that is exactly halfway between work and home - so I can make it there in plenty of time and not be home too late. They've changed the program and I'm glad I rejoined. It still drives me crazy that I need something to regulate my diet and behavior, but right now I'm open to suggestions. The other thing that happened  is we developed a leak in our main line - oh how that sucked. David and Adam started digging a trench near the driveway and back towards the house - the next late afternoon I was downstairs doing laundry and noticed the wall seemed to have stains on it. I turned on the light in the corner and it was stains - water stains. The bad news of course is the leak was at the opposite end of the trench they had started - of course! - the good news is David fixed the leak and they didn't have to dig anymore . Our neighbor next door that is obsessed with the ditch in front of the house noticed of course. I have talked about this in the past - he is convinced the water in the ditch is from our septic system. Never mind that it's a small amount, that it just rained and frogs live in it, he is still sure that our septic system is leaking uphill. Sigh. We call him Mrs. Kravitz because that is exactly who he reminds me of. So, he saw David digging the trench and slowed down, drove his motorcycle to right in front of the ditch and peered into the ditch meaningfully. He didn't ask Adam or David what the problem is because he and his significant other have not spoken to us for over a year because of the aforementioned ditch. Actually, we're not even entirely sure what the problem is but I think he feels we did not do enough. We had it scoped, did a dye test and David finally cemented it off in an attempt to unbunch Mrs. Kravitz's underpants to no avail, he continues to be afflicted with twisted knickers. David got pretty upset and told me he was going to  buy a donkey with explosive diarrhea to tie next to the fence but I nixed that. I am encouraging buying sheep because apparently their poo smells. I don't care! I"m all That's Right, Teach Mrs. Kravitz A Lesson Buy Sheep! It can get quite tiresome as their behavior borders on bizarre, I've seen him sneak over when he thinks no one is looking to peek in it(one time it was him, his wife and the grandchidren all peeking in the ditch), he comes away disappointed but continues. I just wave when I see him - life is too short to waste on such petty nonsense.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Barefoot and Pregnant.


I usually don't address topics on my blog, but the recent issues over birth control have me a bit rattled. In high school - many years ago for me, we had a wonderful teacher Mrs. Brisel. They were not allowed to teach birth control in class, but she would announce during health class you could see her after school. She probably single handed prevented more teen pregnancies than anyone I know. She would tell you what was available and where to go, and would give you the number and address of  the free clinic in Riverhead - she was non judgemental, she only cared about YOU. I will be forever grateful for her advice and information. About that time we had Roe VS. Wade, laws were passed and birth control became available for everyone, insurance covered it too. And now, the executives from Hobby Lobby are opening the doors to the 17th century. It opens the gates for other companies to follow suit,drop kicking women back to the dark ages I've had people tell me that women should pay for their own birth control - why? If people smoke or drink should they pay for their own cancer? If they drive a car should they pay for any injuries they incur? And if the insurance will pay for you to have a baby, why not pay for you not to?And like the executives from that chain, a great deal of those against birth control are religious people and men. I love the "God Said" approach - REALLY? I don't think so and even if you can squeeze that one out of your religious text let me remind you they also stoned people, fed them to the lions and hung them from crosses - you could also go around counter eye poking -if those things don't apply now, why should the restrictions on pro-creation still be here?.. You can't just go around picking and choosing what God Said and what you choose to follow.  And that is THEIR beliefs - if I work for a Muslim should they be able to dictate I wear a burka? If your boss is a Buddhist should you put the ham sandwich down? Times have changed drastically changed since the dawn of religion. You cannot have 8 or 9 children and hope to support them if you don't live on a farm and produce your own stuff - and you're successful at it.. Women WORK for the same reason men do, we have to  - I mean honestly, what guy has the means these days to support umpteen kids on one salary? And  survival wise, you don't need that many anyhow, one of the things that has very much improved is our health care, especially in pediatrics. I love old graveyards but the next time you're  in one take a close look at the stones, you'll see multiple children from one family.I was in one recently from the 1800's and there were five little graves from one family.Very few children survived childhood in those days - that  particular family got hit six times total (one was a double headstone). If you really want to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions, pass laws that EVERY man must be 100% responsible for any offspring he produces and be willing to  take them full time at the mother's discretion. And before you holler Foul keep in mind that's how it is for women now, isn't it? If the father refuses to pay child support or makes the choice not to have anything to do with that kid, you can chase him around legally but the bottom line is there are a large number of men that do not pay or see their children and there are plenty of women struggling with that. When the baby comes unless a woman is willing to give the child up for adoption and never see it again, she does not have that option to drop out of financial and parental responsibility and be able to just show up years later when she feels like it.Let's face it, birth control has done far more for women than limit the amount of children she has - it's given us educational and financial freedom, the right to live our lives the way WE decide, not the Moron Squad from Hobby Lobby or any other institution.  I had a patient years ago, an elderly woman who asked me how many children I had  - I said two and asked her. She said seven. I told her I was so impressed!, I could not imagine being able to handle that many kids. She gently placed her hand on my knee and looked at me, she said "Sweetheart in those days we didn't have a choice, you had to have the babies". She went on to say she loved her children very much and would not trade one of the them, but given the choice she probably would not have had so many. So, I have no problem at all paying for birth control and will continue to speak out. And anyone with too many children - feel free to drop it a the home of anyone at Hobby Lobby, I'm sure they won't mind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Settle In, Settle Down

My  boss emailed me that he wants to meet with me this week - but just to see how things are going and if I need anything. Things are going well thank you and I don't think there's anything I need. I am very much enjoying my job these days - it's not perfect and there's the occasionally snarkiness, but it's not serious snark and very little at that. I am navigating around the city pretty well, have my favorite shops and plan my grocery shopping around patient visits. I'm a huge fan of Whole Foods and a not so huge fan of Trader Joes - which is OK but not my favorite. I've been taking more pictures you might have noticed, getting the hang of it and the lay of the land so to speak. There's so many great pictures but no where to pull over a lot of the time. Or I have weigh whether it's worth since I'll have to try to get back into traffic, at certain times of day not an option. The construction is a pain - they've closed the Liberty Tunnel til the end of the month for painting so all the traffic is funneled into little side roads. I sat on route 51 for an hour yesterday, not a happy camper. After all, there's only so long you can watch Netflix and not get bored. But on the whole it's a fun place to scope out. David is busy with the houses, no bites on the Clarksburg house yet - if I hear one more time That Should Sell Fast I'll scream - no it won't. We are giving it another month and if there is not movement that will get rented and the Fairmont house will be sold. We always have a backup plan. We got a little break in the weather today, it's not chilly but cooled off enough to be comfortable. We have all sorts of things going on at the moment but nothing too tragic. I am trying to plan out things for the fall, we are hoping to get to Long Island at some point, a trip to Norfolk in October (maybe), NJ for Thanksgiving of course, maybe maybe maybe.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What Do You Want?


I had a short day this week, since I had worked late the previous day and had patients in a very beautiful area. I took a bunch of pictures, including one of a brick, weather beaten home with a large porch, it sat on a large grassy hill with a tilted road sign posted beside it and I thought to myself - that is what I want. When you drive a lot, you tend to wander around mentally, you'll have one thought and it will segue way into an internal conversation. I started thinking about how we all seem to think we should have this Ultimate Goal, What Do I Want Out Of Life sort of thing. Doesn't it always seem like everyone else gets there - and you don't? But on further reflection I think we do obtain our goals and then move on to a new one. When I was ten, my deepest desires were Jay Osmond, a dog, a bike with sissy bars and a banana seat and above all, to feel safe and to be left alone - the last being a life long ambition. In my teens I wanted Steven Tyler BAD, a car with bucket seats, to move to NY to be a writer. I wanted a walk up loft in an artsy neighborhood and ability to ride the subway without having to make fourteen phone calls to the Palominos. As I hurtled toward my late teens I wanted to be free of some of the people I had hung around with, to get away from the drugs and find a way to live with memories of childhood and myself. Going to my twenties still wanted to Steven Tyler but wanted David worse, no more studio lofts or apartment, no writer, but I did get the car with bucket seats - and a cat, my first, I wanted a child - and then another.  As time marched on I wanted to be a baker, ended up a nurses aide due to financial collapse and finding myself the breadwinner of the family for a period of time. Then finally college, to be a nurse - who saw that coming? Not me, I can assure you. Some of my goals have been fulfilled - just not the way I saw it. I do work in the city, but the city is Pittsburgh, not NY and the only things I write are supervisory notes and Letters Of Medical Necessity. But I am a writer, aren't I - I've had this blog now for exactly ten years. If you look, my first entry was in July of 2004. I don't earn my living that way, but I enjoy it and given the counter on the top that I started a year or so ago, so do some other people. And I do feel safe, finally. We don't have huge property but we have almost six acres, I have about 3 wooded acres to work in. I have old chairs scattered throughout to sit and read quietly, I have to say that is where I'm most content these days. My two Fearless Companions snort and snuffle their way through the brambles and have learned to stay within earshot. I've always been a bit of a loner, had brief periods of not being one, but for the most part I enjoy my own company, I enjoy the quiet of me. So in retrospect, maybe my goals have been accomplished, well maybe not all of them, but some of them don't need to be accomplished and others have turned into new goals. Life is static, ever changing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Look Ma No Hands

I am a "little" accident prone. Well, actually a lot. I have fallen on, off, down, into and out of multiple things, whacked myself in the head with a stick (don't ask) causing my forehead to swell, occasional bouts of profuse bleeding is not a cause for alarm. Recently I've been whacking my hands to no end for some reason. Not new of course - last year Reuben split the back of my hand open, I had to get shots of cortisone for the poison ivy that was so bad, I could not bend my fingers. Who knew that's what poison ivy looked like before it got big? This year, hmm, thorns from clearing brush and subsequent infections from not taking the time to clean them out. Then the surprise allergy to Bath and Bodyworks hand sanitizer causing my fingers to peel. This morning was a little over the top, even for me. I take a cup of coffee with me to drink at the office and since it's such a long drive I stick it in the microwave for two minutes, give it a stir and pop the cover on. By the time I get to work it's lukewarm the way I like it. This morning I was out playing with the dogs a little too long so I had to hurryhurry a bit. I put my coffee in the microwave - and I have no idea how this happened - I took it over to the sink so I could give it a stir and drop the spoon in the sink. Thank goodness for that little detail - I put the spoon in and the coffee came out like a volcano. It hissed and boiled up and over the side, it happened so fast! It poured over my hands before I knew what was happening but because I was standing at the sink I dropped it right away and threw the cold water on full blast and jammed both hands under. David was upset, but not freaking out - considering my track history it takes a lot to make him run. I had him go out and turn my car off, got a big bowl and filled it with a little ice and more cold water. After about ten minutes I stopped wanting to deglove myself, I think because I reacted so fast it was not anywhere near how bad it should have been. My right hand didn't get it as bad as my left so I drenched a towel in cold water, wrapped my hand and took off for work. I figured if it got worse I could find a place to get treated. By the time I got to work it was not too awful and I went out after our weekly meeting and got some lidocaine ointment. All in all, it not too terrible, a few tiny blisters here and there, my left hand is pretty scalded but no open areas. Why the coffee did that - I don't know. I think it might have been because I usually leave it in the microwave for a few minutes before stirring it normally instead of doing it right away. But I think tomorrow morning I'll be way more careful!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lightening Does Strike Twice.

A good friend of mine recently lost her dog of 11 years - I know they are broken up about it. When I asked if they were going to get another, she said she didn't know, she was not sure if she wanted go through that again. Anyone who's a pet owner knows the heartbreak of losing them. I think pets have become more like children - we no longer live on farms, anyone with more than two or three children is a rarity these days, we work longer hours and we work, families no longer occupy one town, they're spread far and wide. So no more family dinners, no block parties, aside from work our social lives have become pretty limited.  But the dog - there's  a friendly face at the end of the day, raring to go on the weekends, will attend all dinners and watch any program you want. As society has changed, so has their role, their rights are more protected - they truly are family. But they are not people, their lives are longer, but so are ours. Being indoors, not being exposed to parasites, good food and vet care have all extended their lifespan and still, 15 is long, but  12 is realistic. David and I have a slew of dogs throughout the years, some have been adopted as adults, some owned simultaneously, one that ran off repeatedly as we had too much going on and she was super hyper(and no we didn't bother rescuing her, we saw her in a car with someone a couple of weeks later, happy as a clam tail wagging. We left well enough alone). But we always have a dog. I know quite a few people that say they don't want another one - but me, I get a new one as soon as  I can. Heartless? Uncaring? Quite the opposite. When Pearl died I think everyone who knows me knew how heartbroken I was - she was the cream of the crop. My constant companion, hiking buddy and sofa buddy. But not a month later we were looking and two months later Molly entered our lives. She is not a replacement for Pearl. She is not Pearl and nor would I want her to be. But the hole left by Pearl has been very nicely filled by Molly, for both us an Reuben the Wonder dog. It's a two way street - Molly benefits by Pearl too, all the love and attention, the car rides and walks that Pearl got,  goes to Molly now. It gave us the patience and drive to make Molly a part of our family. We did not forget Pearl, but life goes on and when one pet leaves it gives another one a chance to share that happy home, to have someone to care about them, a playmate. So maybe a pet passing is a heartbreak, but adopting a new one, especially one that needs you - that is the heart mend.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

All things Considered.

I do enjoy NPR for awhile on my way to and from work. The show All Things Considered is one of my favorites - it's just a mix of every topic you can think of - and more. The wave of illegal immigration of unaccompanied minors escalating due to violence, an interview with a jazz artist, the struggles of Iranian women with education. Sometimes it's a hot topic, sometimes it's something totally off the wall - but it's fun to listen to and you actually learn quite a bit. If I'm invited to a dinner party six months from now I'll be the Queen Of Chit Chat and Obscure Topics.. We took the dogs for a walk this morning - due to my working some weekends and David being out of town it's been awhile. Reuben's attitude is sort..."eh". Molly's is over the top exuberant can't-contain-it joy. It's hard to get the harness on her due to the leaping and running. Reuben has gotten much better in the car, no more throwing up and this last ride he seemed to very much enjoy it - head out the window, ears flapping in the wind. David wore his fancy new watch I got him for father's day, it not only tells the time, but has a compass AND can tell you the barometric pressure. In the event we ever drop him down a canyon he's prepared. We took a different path this morning which was fun, I had to pull Molly from the little pond because if I remember correctly there are snapping turtles in there. Next weekend I have to do another Saturday visit, but that's OK - I really don't mind once in awhile. I've started taking pictures again, but stay out of the abandoned buildings. Unlike the backwoods of West Virginia there's a good chance I'll find more than a raccoon or a nest of squirrels. I've calmed down (a bit) with the shopping but make great use of the post office which is right across the road. Summer is almost here, our yard is so green it doesn't look real, the flowers are blooming and I continue to work in the woods clearing paths and keeping the ones I've cleared, well, clear. It's grows back so fast! I'll have to take pictures in another month, the growth is so thick that the paths I've made are starting to look like green hallways. I've made a couple alcoves for the chairs I brought out there, I have one in a sunny spot for cooler days and one in a covered spot for hot days. The dogs have gotten the idea if they don't wander too far - or come right back I'll let them muck around, doing whatever Important Dog Business they feel needs addressed. My ereaders are getting great use, but I need to be careful. Yesterday I was walking and reading and caught my foot in a root - down I went. I'm OK, a few bruises and my wrist hurts a little, but nothing too tragic. My ereader was fine too, thank goodness! I honestly cannot live without it, not a bit! My nose is constantly in a book since summer is right around the corner - don't you love summer reading? Mine tends to involve vampires, warlocks and wizards - so enjoying it. I continue to knit - slowly for now as I tend to be outside when we're home. I usually get home between 6 and 7, change into my yard clothes, grab the dogs and we stay out for an hour or so. I tend to feel guilty about the dogs being in, but I'm pretty sure I mind it more than the "poor dogs" snoring away on the couch in the air conditioned house do!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Girl


I had to do a visit on a client today - Bayada's policy is we do a weekly visit on new clients for a month and if the nurse just happens to only be weekends - so be it. Given the fact it's a 3 hour round trip for a half hour visit there has been some concern in the office. But not all of the visits have to be done on the weekend and..... it's really not hurting me. Since I'm new to the city it's all a big adventure, none of that been there done that stuff yet.  If I have to go in on the weekends it gives me to time to look around without getting stuck in traffic. I had an incident during the week where I had to pick up meds - I found the pharmacy but couldn't find a place to park. I circled around a few times, with people on my tail of course making it impossible , it was the middle of the city. On the 3rd time around I spotted a small street behind and pulled in what I thought were the pharmacy spots. I was only going to be a couple of minutes so my parking was not so great. When I came out this woman wearing big stretchy pants with her hands firmly planted on her hips marched over and gave me What For. Apparently I had accidentally parked in the dentist spot AND had parked over the line. I did apologize but she was so invested in yelling at me I figured I'd let her continue, sometimes its' more time efficient to get yelled at and I didn't have time for this. She said her piece and stomped off - I got in my car and made it to the client's in plenty of time, but it was just frigging annoying wasting all that time looking for a spot.  So I made time this morning for a little driving around the city.  I left around 10 this morning as I wanted to see the Whole Foods in the middle of town - the good news is it was easy to find. The bad news was it's Sunday and it's PACKED. I found a spot in the back of the parking lot, nabbed the last small cart, brought my re-usable bags (if you don't you're almost sneered at since you obviously don't Care About The Environment. You probably even Hate Kittens.). It was the usual crowd - there's a percentage of people that feel the need to dress like they live in an organic tree house, all hemp and Birkenstock when they shop at the organic based stores. Not me - had my orange rubber sandals and my bags from Wegmans made out of some material that will far outlast mankind. Shopping was fun since I could combine it with sightseeing, I got online which was not too long. I noticed behind me was a mother with a  young child and a baby, old enough to walk strapped in her cart. I asked her if she wanted to go ahead of me, but she smiled and declined, saying she would be OK. The baby was at that evil age - not that the baby was evil, but you KNOW what I mean. They're all screaming and hands, what ever you want them to do, they don't. The moment she said this the baby bent it's little legs in the cart and like Sampson, broke the bonds that bound her in the shopping cart. It started randomly grabbing while the sister danced around the cart. I very politely said "are you SURE you don't want to go ahead of me?" The nice thing about not being in a hurry is you can be kind instead of looking at your watch and you can let the person with the exploding baby go ahead of you. So we switched places and I was very pleased to see the cashier call someone over to help her get the groceries to the car too - people can be very kind, can't they? I stopped at a yarn shop but did not buy anything, I saw yarn I liked but would have had to buy a bunch to make anything- and I really didn't want it. I saw the client who's mother was aghast at how far I had to drive until the Dad asked me how my shopping was going - totally lost the sympathy vote. Did not shop the way home, but found a great graveyard to have lunch in. My gas light went on so I did what most people would do, took a picture and posted it on Facebook. I managed to make it to the gas station - my tank takes 13 gallons I think and I pumped 12.67 - hooray me! I'm back to knitting my socks, I did the heel on the second one in the car and when I tried it on last night it was way too short so I had to frog it all back - yuck!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

So It Passes.

It's been a pretty slow day around here, the weather is quite lovely this weekend. I spent it hanging out with the dogs, did a little shopping yesterday but not much. I continue to work in the woods, if I don't keep up clipping the growth back the paths I've managed to clear over the winter quickly revert to Deep Woods Status. I used our old patio chairs back there, recycling them to be seating for reading - I take my ereader out there. I sit in my little wooded alcoves while the dogs pretend they are Wild Savage Things. Since I have a few chairs we can change the area so all the wildlife is equally harassed. Reuben has gotten quite stealthy, the other day there was a woodpecker not paying particularly close attention to the world's finest and almost lost his tail feathers. It was pretty close and I doubt he'll be that neglectful again! The rabbits continue to tease them, the usual. I have been plagued as of late by unexpected bouts of grieving. It's not very bad, but it's like the other day I was driving home and all of the sudden all I could think about was our dog Pearl and how very much I missed her. Or last night while reading a part of the current trilogy one of the characters passed away and there I was, with tears pouring, just wanting Mikio and Setsu back, if only for a short time. I'm not sure if that's a result of age - or not. As we get older of course people close to us start passing away, aunts, uncles, grandparents - and it's not the fact that they die that bothers me so much. I'm going to die too - not a newsflash, we all come to the point (of course with me, my enormous yarn stash will keep me here through the millennium...). But the part that bothers me the most - is the alone part. When people and pets die, it's so awful at first - it gets better, but it never quite goes away. 90% of the time it doesn't bother me, usually it's pleasant memories but there are those times when it truly stills my heart. And the grief is so tangible, such a solid thing you can almost place your hand on your chest and feel it. Then today, it passes and I'm left feeling a little drained and at loose ends - by tomorrow it will be gone. In the meantime I keep busy which will help it pass, I scrubbed the basement floor, cleaned out the fridge, play with the dogs in the woods. David is still on hiatus so Molly and Reuben are enjoying sleeping in the bed, they flop down like their bones have melted. I have a busy week coming up at work, but that's fine. I am still enjoying the whole thing and better yet my health benefits kicked in today! I am no longer a risk. Since I have vision I can get new glasses, I lost mine a couple of weeks ago for good - I have the pair from last year so I can see but I can use a new pair anyhow.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Logistics.

Photo: Another cop! Bastards!My dentist's office called the other day to schedule an appointment and I told her I'd call her back next week. This morning I was thinking about it, I might need to get a new dentist. Working in Pittsburgh makes having appointments a bit of a challenge - I leave around 7am, get home between 6 and 7pm so that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for anything else during the week. Some of it I can work around, my car gets serviced in Waynesburg so if I work late one day I can leave a little earlier the next. I worked half a day Saturday so I was able to leave early yesterday to get new tires. Mine were balding and then last week the back one started a slow leak. Waynesburg is sort of on the way home so it's do-able. My doctor has weekend hours and the glaucoma specialist who is also in West Virginia - well, for him I'll just have to take a personal day. My eye appointments I generally can't drive anyhow and even when I worked in West Virginia I would have to take the day off anyhow. But aside from that stuff - and most of it is workable, it's not too bad. I've been doing a little bit of exploring around the area too, Pittsburgh can be very surprising. One of the things that surprised me is what a green city it is - there are organic stores all over, lots of biking, jogging trails and parks. When I shop I bring my own reusable bags - and in most of the store they'll ask if you need one at all. I'm still wending my way around it but spend more time (sort of)knowing where I am as opposed to not a clue. I'm getting there. Things are a bit slow at home as you may have guessed, the house in Clarksburg remains on the market - I think the one in Bruceton took about 3 months to sell so no widespread panic in the streets yet. David has started gutting the Fairmont house - he's putting off buying major supplies until we have a buyer for house #1. We're actually playing around with keeping house #2 for a rental and then borrowing against it for the next round. This is a work in progress, we started off living in them and moving, then we lived in one for awhile before buying the next one. Then we bought one big one that we did NOT live in, now we have two that we do not live in, on and on. Right now we're at the yucky part where all our money is out and mine is the only coming in. But I make fairly good money so we're OK for awhile. This part stresses David out so he has been put out to pasture for a week - part of the problem with being your own boss is you don't get paid vacation. Unless I make him take it, he doesn't stop. On the knitting front I'm on the second sock - I will be knitting either another shawl or a blanket next, have not quite decided. I've filled up my ereader with summer reading books and I've cleared quite a few paths in the woods we own. I put some old chairs out there so while the dogs dork around and harass the local wildlife I can sit and read for the summer.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea

Most people that know me know that I'm crazy about Vizslas - when I met David years ago he had a 9 month old Vizsla puppy named Lady and a 15 year old named Pooka - and I've never been without since. People that own this breed tend to be the same, we have friends on Face book and their pages are lousy with dog pictures too, what the dogs did today, etc.., if you open their wallets they'll have more pictures of the dogs than the kids. My two are incredibly photogenic and will work for biscuits. But as much as I love them, I would not recommend them to everyone. On the pro side they're loyal to a fault, non aggressive, playful. They aim to please and incredibly smart especially if it's something they enjoy. Molly knows that when I get the orange harness out she's going to the park and she leaps and twirls with great abandon, when I open the kitchen door she heads right to the back door of the car, even remembers to sit in the back. They're excellent companions, always up for a car ride, a walk - if you take a nap they're up for that too. They smell good - none of that "doggie" smell and they clean up nice - never met one that did not like a bath. Very sociable, our guests are their guests and if you don't like dogs, you most likely will not enjoy your stay with us. They're hard to discipline as they tend to be so funny you can't bring yourself to do it. Love to play, they start from the second they get up til they pass out at night and two will play constantly. But the cons - they NEVER leave you alone. You will be followed from room to room, if you go out to get the mail, Molly and Reuben will stand at the door crying until you come back. Because you ARE coming back - aren't you? They tend to be quick and if not well disciplined can take off before you even realize they're gone. Ours wear electric collars at all times outside because once they're off and running they can cover a corn field in no time flat. When I was out yesterday I turned my back for one second to stir my BBQ and looked up to see Reuben (gasp!!) racing down the road - he was ousting the neighbor's beagle mix from the yard. Molly is a counter surfer extraordinaire and can down an entire loaf of bread and be back on the couch before you blink. They need constant attention and exercise, if left alone for what they consider too long they'll dismantle your house rather cheerfully and take the fifth when you come home. But all in all, I wouldn't trade them for any other type of dog - even though they can drive me crazy for the most part I love them to death. In other news, the house in Clarksburg has been shown a million times but no bites yet. We are debating dropping the price as opposed to the watch and wait. I continue to work on my socks, one is almost done and the other of course will be started right after to avoid the Second Sock Syndrome. I went to the Sheep and Wool festival in Waynesburg last weekend - just for an hour. I bought yarn (of course) and apple butter, but it was not that great. Not as many vendors and no, I didn't enter anything this year. I did two years in a row and both times it was far more trouble than it was worth, especially the one year when I had to drive over to one of the organizers house and pound madly at her door to get my shawls back - after two weeks of calling and leaving messages!!




Photo: The sock so far

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Just One Moment Can Change Everything.


The name of this photo is the kiss of life - it was taken in 1967 by Richard Moribito, a journalist working in Jacksonville Florida. He just happened to be driving by that day and came upon these local workmen.  The man hanging down had sustained a huge electrical shock that had stopped his heart. His coworker grabbed him  and administered CPR in midair restarting his heart. He saved his life that day and that young man lived for 34 more years. The journalist won the Pulitzer Prize for this picture in 1968 it was a life-changing event for everyone- I wonder if the photographer ever stopped and shook his head in amazement when he thought about that day - if  he happened to be driving down that road that day five minutes before or five minutes after he would've missed the entire event. What about that young man that died - what were the chances he would have a coworker with the ability and the clear head to bring him back to life and that coworker would be right next to him at that exact moment? I suppose it works the other way to like having a fender bender and you kick yourself sitting there waiting for the cops to come - thinking what if I hadn't been late for work, today - would I still have hit this car or missed it entirely? Or is it an event just waiting to happen, a pre-ordained moment in time there is no escaping? How many times have we embraced the What Ifs in life or the Why Didn't I's? Why didn't I save my money instead of blowing it all on concert tickets? What if I had finished college at 20 instead of 30?Why didn't I move sooner - or why did I move at all? We all have these demons, but I think if you get so wrapped up in that thinking, you end up stuck. Most of the things that I've done - or not - there was a good reason at the time, or at least one I felt was good enough. Do I wish I had finished college at 20? Yes -but looking back I also know I was not ready or mature enough at that time, I had a child, bills, too little time and too little money. I'm getting to that age where I'm starting to look back on my life and though I see a lot of mistakes, I don't see too many regrets. Someone asked me recently about CPR and I told her without question I didn't ever want it. She came up with a few What If's - but as far as I'm concerned, if my heart stops, it stops. Done deal. I am not angling to go right now, I have a good life, a great husband, two dogs and a cat I'm nuts about and enough yarn to keep Siberia warm. But at the end of the day I can look back and say - I did it. I may not have done it well at times, but I raised two great kids, my behavior at times has been atrocious but other times has been stellar, I haven't killed anyone and even if I don't succeed I do try to do the right thing. The people I don't speak to, well, that will continue. I have desire for closure or to set things straight. It would be nice to resolve things but we were not close before so it's not a great loss. If it happens it happens if it doesn't oh well. I think people take death way too seriously, it happens to everyone - no exceptions. You can delay it but you certainly can't outrun it - and it's most likely the adventure you hope it is.





Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ka-Ching.

Well, first off, Happy Easter. Not a big deal around here of course, we have no religious leanings,  other than the House Of Peeps. I take this opportunity once a year to eat myself sick on Peeps, an event I participate in yearly as that is all my stomach can take. We are going out to dinner later and then that will be that. I finished the blue shawl the other day, I now have four hand knit lace shawls of varying colors and weights rolled up in my closet - I am getting rid of them as they do no good sitting in my closet. I suppose they could be heirlooms but in my opinion I still have a few good years left in these hands to produce something of that magnitude. I'm making a pair of socks next while I think about my next project. I have to stop buying sock yarn, little sock knitting bags, sock books, etc... I'm up to my ears in that stuff and find it irresistible. I announced to David the other day my next intention was to knit all the yarn I own - that got me a big eye roll and snort of derision. I suppose I should stop buying all that stuff to start off with and it would probably be do-able. These days I can think about it though, I've been at my job for two months now and I have to say the biggest difference in my days is I have time now to read, knit and play with the dogs. Don't get me wrong- travel to and from Pittsburgh on a daily basis takes it's time but after doing the math -


My mileage on my car is exactly the same as when I worked as a visit nurse.
I leave 10 minutes earlier in the morning than I did when working locally, I get home about 45 minutes later so all in all, I've only added an extra hour to my day.
BUT I am no longer doing 1 to 3 hours of paperwork at night so that negates the aforementioned hour.
I am no longer on call so that means little to no weekend work. If I work late at this job - say I have to see a client at 6pm, those two hours are flexed into my schedule and I can take off two hours on another day.
I can work from home two days per month, so if my car needs to be serviced, etc I can schedule it for that day. We are given laptops so  I can do everything I need to from home.


So on my paperwork day I did drop my car off to the dealership, I was bit over on my oil change and I needed a new windshield. The glass got whacked with a rock from a dump truck a couple of weeks ago and got a nick in it. Normally, people ride around with those little dings forever, but not me. A day later we had a very warm day and the cracks just radiated out from that little nick, one all the way down and the other starting to snake across. Sigh. It has been a very expensive month I might add, we got a little Whack-O-La with the taxes this year since we did very well. Then David decided to wash the curtains in the living room that came with the house - they promptly disintegrated. My car. The dogs needed tick stuff, they still need to go to the vet. There were a few other bumps and dings so we've managed to spend my paycheck just about every week. But the Clarksburg house will be on the market officially next week, then David does a few things around here - and will be taking a few days to see Ray, then will start on the Fairmont house while we scout for the next project. The dogs are doing well, we took them both to the park this morning and Reuben is doing much better in the car. The only thing we can't do is back up into the driveway, that makes him blow his cookies for some reason. So, all in all, things are OK this week - Happy Easter!




Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

Spring has finally come to town - and of course we have zipped from the mid thirties to the 70s, par for the course around here. I'm not swapping out my clothes quite yet, next weekend if the temps remain stable I'll do it. I did thin down the winter stuff though to get a jump on things. I took Molly for her first walk of the season at Friendship Park, it's funny how fast they regress. When we got out of the car her tail was firmly tucked, she approached the path in a crouch, flinching when I stepped on a branch. But with in half an hour she remembered, tail up and trotting right along. We've been out in the yard quite a bit, doing some more clearing out in the woods where we spend a great deal of time these days. There's plenty of stumps for me to sit on and read while they sniff and dig holes pursuing imaginary prey. Our backyard is still a bit uncomfortable, our neighbors next door stopped talking to us because of all things - a ditch. Last year we had heavy rain and the ditch that runs in front of the houses also goes to a French drain that keeps our basement from flooding. With the constant rain we had  it ran in the front of the neighbor's - the neighbor announced to us it was coming from our septic system. David and I went to look, there were frogs in it and no smell, so we told him it was most likely just from the rain, if it continued after things dried up, we would address it.  I did a dye test just in case and David scoped it - it was coming from the French drain. In the meantime the neighbor sent a sample to the water company - David asked if he'd told them where he got it and he said he did - but when he gave us our copy it stated "from neighbor's leaking septic system". Sigh. David called and spoke to the company, when they were told it was from a ditch they said the fecal levels were actually low. Since we had had about enough of this nonsense David dug up the drain on that side of the house and cemented it off so if we do have heavy rains the one furthest away from their house will drain.  David called him and left a message - and that was that, he and his wife are never EVER speaking to us again. I actually didn't realize this for a month or two, one day I waved and - I kid you not - he turned his back and marched into his house like an irate 5 year old. Part of it is funny, I have to say there are times when I go out with the dogs just to see what he'll do. If his dogs sneak over here he frantically starts calling them, one day they got loose in our yard and I grabbed them since I didn't want them to get lost - that was a bit of a kerfuffle for him! He had to come over to retrieve them since standing on the property line and yelling at them (while trying to not to look at me) was not working, since they were dancing around me and my two. He came over, got them and left - no thank you or anything! Since we only saw them to occasionally talk to with the rare dinner it's not like we lost real friends. But it's just annoying since the second we come out he starts skulking around his yard and makes a show of how he's not talking to us. Honestly, it's a bit weird. Oh well, nothing I can do about it. Work continues - I've been pretty much on my own for awhile so I'm just getting into the rhythm of things. I go for a week of training over my birthday in NJ but David and I will celebrate when I get back. I ordered a new ereader, that's all I really wanted. I have to Kobo Vox which is more like a tablet - I really want a new reader. So I got the Aura HD. I do use my ereader constantly, since I've gotten it I read every day. The shawl is coming along, I'm halfway done with the border, then I'm done and on to the next project! Which will be socks - I was putting some yarn away and I have so much sock yarn I can't even talk about it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Drive.

One of the things everyone seems to focus on with my new job is the drive. YES, my job is a little over 60 miles away - that's 120 miles daily just for the commute. And yes, it does take about an hour and a half each way. But as I 've said before one of my many talents is to amuse myself endlessly in the car -  I obviously enjoy driving since I've done it for years. When I lived in NY my commute to the hospital I worked at was about 50 miles each way, I've dorked around  the country and have been in home care and on the road for over ten years now. So, what do you do in the car for about 3 hours a day? I have CDs of course and being alone I can sing my heart out. There's no one in the car but me! I listen to public radio, are you surprised? The topics are beyond interesting most of the time, occasionally I'll take a break because they'll be focused on one topic and there's only so many reports you can listen to. I eat - I have a nifty little container that has a center for dip so it's usually carrots and hummus on the way home. And I found a site for audio books on my smart phone, the classics are free so that I listen to. I spend way too much on books in real life and with about 30,000 free books to chose from there's always something I can listen to.
I sight see a lot, I take a different route still just about every week as long as I stay off the main drag I'm fine. I could take the highway all the way up which would of course be faster, but once I hit the city it backs up and I can literally lose an hour sitting in traffic. Which I'm getting much better at I might add. Working in the city is so different but the traffic doesn't bother me as much as it had previously. I've learned to add an extra 20 minutes or so if I'm heading across town so I'm not freaking in my car. My new GPS is working much better too, one of my co-workers had told that Garmin works the best in the city and she was right. I do have one on my phone but the problem with that is if you don't have cell service you're sort of screwed. Directions from people still remains hard, if you live in Pittsburgh you say things like "it's on the south side" or "they're downtown Pittsburgh". I know where the Pitt Bridge Tunnel is and the Blvd Of The Allies, anything after that I have no idea.
And not to mention I've managed to hit ALL of the yarn shops in Pittsburgh, I think there's five. I got to the last one this week, it was OK, my favorite one is in Shadyside. I still have not found a decent Asian market so I'm heading to WV today to go to the one in Morgantown to stock up. I don't need anymore yarn thank you, I have slowed down (a bit) believe it or not. I'm on the edging of the shawl I'm knitting, it took me about 5 tries to remember how to do it. One of the knitting stores I like to stop in when I'm in the area asked me if I'd like to teach a lace knitting class. I am still thinking about it, but the problem is I would be obligated to do it for a few weeks and until I feel like I have time I don't think I can. But I'm beyond flattered someone asked.