Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm up too late, and other odd turns of events

A year ago, I would not have said 10 pm was way too late to be awake, but now it is.

A year ago, I would not have thought I would attempt a new job, learn the skills and do a good enough job to get a letter saying they would rehire me. Or that I would accept the fact that others would do the job faster than I could, but that was okay.

 A year ago, I enjoyed the anticipation of a grandchild and then found out how much I can love a little person that I haven't met yet. And I watched my son discover the same thing and realize that his life has been forever changed.

A year ago, I worried about my parents' health and watched as my father's failing kidney slowed him to a crawl. Then I watched as dialysis has given him a new lease on life, removing fluid and returning color to his face.

 A year ago, we had just lost a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law was fighting breast cancer. She successfully finished treatment and has enjoyed her son's new wife, cute stepson and brand new baby boy. One of our nephews got engaged, his sister got married and their father recently died, the first of J's 9 siblings to be lost.

A year ago, Ameranth was planning the first part of a dream of hers- to walk across the US- and she took that first step in Albany NY and walked the Erie Canal to Buffalo NY. No one was sure if she would actually do it, including her, but she did. Unfortunately, that success led her to planning the bigger walk this year!

A year ago, we enjoyed seeing Sectaurs as well as Ms. M and Mr. C move into their first houses. We had fun helping each of them with some projects this year and it's been interesting seeing their different styles emerge. When Ameranth moved out, Minnie moved in with Sectaurs, and we got to know her this year. She's a keeper! 

A year ago we had plans, J and I, as we do for each year. Some of the things happened just as we hoped, some were canceled or postponed and some awesome unplanned stuff  got done. That will happen again this year, and next year, and the next and I look forward to all of it, enjoying life with J and our families, wild and crazy as they are. 

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finally- Home and online

My 'vacation' from blogging lasted longer than planned, as did our trip to Rhode Island, thanks to a dead modem and a blizzard. This was the first time in many years that I have not had to work on Christmas Eve, so yay for having extra time off and enjoying the pre-holiday. We were busy busy cleaning for Sectaurs and Minnie, who came up on the 23rd to join us. That was nice- the visit, not the cleaning!

They drove home on the 25th and we headed to R.I. as we have for years. My birthday is on Christmas and my parents always had my party Christmas night, to keep it separate from the morning festivities. Over time, this evolved into a holiday tradition that moved to #5's house after my folks felt they weren't up to hosting the noise and confusion any more.Last year  #5 and spouse moved to an apartment and #3 offered her large home for the get together.

Which was good in some ways- #3 has the largest family and she's closer to CT for those relatives, but not-so-good in others- It's a whole 25 minutes or so to get there (That's a JOURNEY for Rhode Islanders) and the road to her house is narrow, windy and hilly. A few years ago my father tipped his van over there. Yes, that's right, hit a rock growing out of the roadside and slowly tipped over.

Anyway, I upset the apple cart this year by deciding I couldn't do the party this year. We get up Christmas morning and open our presents, have our cinnamon rolls that we can only have this one day out of the year (OCD kids grow up to be OCD adults), then we drive 4 hours to my parents' house. Ms M and Mr C come down to meet us, we go to visit J's family gathering for a few hours, then we head back to my side's party. It's exhausting and I felt like I wasn't getting to spend much time with our kids. I made the executive decision that we were cutting the day short(er).

When my father sent an email saying he and my mother would not be going to #3's either, since his dialysis had been moved to early Sunday morning, it caused an uproar. There had been some family drama already and #3 felt we were canceling Christmas, as did a few others. I did some explaining, and after #4 juggled her work schedule, we decided on a Sunday afternoon party instead. All was well.

Then, the Blizzard came. Cue the ominous music.

Yes, the snow stole Christmas. J and I drove my dad to his dialysis since the flakes started swirling early, and we thought my mother shouldn't drive. We drove the back way home and came up through Narragansett to check out our old house and the beach.

Not our old house- the Towers and Narragansett Beach. We saw several people walking to their cars, carrying beach chairs. Odd. Maybe they were watching the sun rise, although it didn't show up as this eastern view shows.

It wasn't that bad at 7:30, but it slowly started building up, and the party was called off.  In hindsight we should have driven home Sunday ahead of the snow, but we didn't and had to wait until Tuesday to make our escape leave. But I believe the gathering is planned for this weekend (we won't be there) so all's well that ends well.

Ameranth would say that the worst part of the trip was the actual drive down. Anna is always a very good traveler and we give Rosie a pill for her car sickness, so she sleeps most of the time. Boomer naps for maybe an hour then starts yelping a high-pitched bark that pierces the brain. Usually right behind the driver. We took out the middle seat and put a dog bed on the floor, thinking that perhaps sharing the seat and getting more attention might help him be quiet.
Can you see the demon light in his eyes? He did not want to to sit still.
I give Ameranth a lot of credit for not actually harming him, showing great restraint. That's one dog that does not take a hint.
Thank you to my parents for putting up with our dogs (and us). We had a great time, as always.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter begins

Winter is not a very happy time for me- I miss the sun too much. But after today, the days start getting longer again, and that's a good thing.

We had good news, sort-of bad news and very bad news today.  Ameranth was asked to stay on longer at work, so she was very happy about that. I was not asked to stay on longer and after 5 minutes of chagrin at never quite making the units-per-hour goal, I was relieved that the 3 o'clock mornings would end in two days. I won't miss those though I will miss the extra paycheck.

But when we got home we heard that J's eldest brother had died today, at age 68. We knew he had been admitted to the hospital yesterday with kidney failure, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but still it was a shock. He had diabetes for years and (in his relatives' opinions) had never taken care of it properly so we got annoyed each time we heard of the complications which came along. The kind of annoyed you get when someone you care about does stupid things.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music that gets me through my day

I listen to my music as I work and am amazed at how much clearer the lyrics are with earbuds and no distractions (other than picking the correct item, of course!) Some of them inspired this post which I worked on mentally as I walked, hoping that I would remember some of it when I got home.

I'll amuse myself by listing the songs at the end, so you can amuse yourselves by guessing the sources. Warning- old fogie songs ahead.

I need this encouragement in the morning:

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door.

And it hasn't snowed a lot yet, but boy, has it gotten cold! Because we get so warm working, I can't wear my normal winter outfit of long underwear, turtlenecks and hooded sweatshirts. The walk from the parking lot is made very quickly and I try not to let my jeans touch my skin until I am inside. Hard to do.

I look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

We've had several days of torrential rain and wind this week- the good thing about that was that it thawed out the frozen heap of dirt that needed to go back in the hole over the septic tank.

I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Here's an easy one that I think of when I'm waiting to log in my work and go home:

Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till the mornin' come
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home 

Now, I am not religious at all but I do enjoy the rhythm of this song- It makes me want to dance down the aisles, unfortunately, not quickly because the beat is more like the jazz bands for a New Orleans funeral.

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Then to finish up with songs that probably only J and the kids will know. First a song that Shoeshine has sung for his phone answering message and is a family favorite:

I'm a rambler I'm a gambler
I'm a long ways from home.
And if you don't like me well leave me alone.
I'll eat when I'm hungry and I'll drink when I'm dry,
And if moonshine don't kill me I'll live till I die.

Finally, one line that makes me think of J:
For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.

(And yes dear, I know you're not old)

Random Rosie picture:

Finished guessing? Here are the titles for anyone who's gotten this far.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town- Claymation movie- Mickey Rooney singing
Simon and Garfunkel
Bad Moon Rising- CCR
Banana Boat Song- Harry Belafonte
Anne Murray- (I can't quite figure out why some of the images were used in this video)
Moonshiner- Makem and Clancy Brothers
The Bard of Armagh, an Irish Ballad- sung by Tommy Makem

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh, day off, you went so fast!

It's been a tiring week. Dealing with septic problems, working 6 days, shopping madly today and ending up with having the power brush on the vacuum die. Sigh.

Our vacuum was pretty sad anyway and we knew it was not long for this world. Years ago, one of the plastic wheels broke off but it still slid around pretty well. The retractable cord took a few years off from retracting then surprised us one day by slithering wildly into place. Duct tape covers a crack in the hose and last year the other wheel went and the canister was on its belly, but still sucked dust. Now, it just plain sucks.

But enough of this- it's 6:35 and I have to go to bed!

Oh, this is what J and Ameranth did this afternoon while I was shopping (they went together in the morning)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If this is Tuesday, then I'm random


I really hate my work week starting on Sunday- I keep forgetting which day I am on, but I'm pretty sure it's Tuesday, and that means randomness.

During stretch break at work last week, an announcement from another department came over the loudspeaker. "Mark from replenishment, could you check to see if you're bleeding? Mark, look to see if you have a cut on your hand."
The Black Knight immediately popped into my head as we all looked at each other, wondering exactly what goes on in replenishment?

Red grapes have been my snack of choice for the last year, and I used to share one occasionally with Rosie, until the vet told me grapes were bad for dogs.(lots of grapes, not a few) Rosie has felt quite put upon since. This morning a grape fell to the floor in front of  her and we stared at it for a moment, then I told her to go ahead. As she delicately picked it up, Ameranth and I simultaneously sang to her: "Die, if you want to".
Too much Jesus Christ Superstar?

J just came in to ask what I wanted for Christmas. Of course I drew a blank and told him I would think about it and meanwhile he should make his wish list too.
J: I told you I wanted a caliper.
Me: You told everyone you wanted a caliper. You can't tell everyone the same thing.
J: When I was a kid I made a list and my parents took care of sharing it.
Me: This is the opposite of that. You can't tell 5 people the same thing. Do you want to end up with 5 calipers?
 J: That would be fine with me!
 It would serve him right if he did.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Who needs Roto Rooter?

You know what's not fun to do after working all day? Digging a two foot deep hole to access your septic tank, opening that sucker up and staring at it to report when 'stuff' starts flowing again. In 28 degree weather with icy winds blowing. And I had the good job!

J is the man! And I mean that in a cool, hip, complimentary way, not the basic gender- stating that means he gets the dirty jobs. (Although it does mean that too) He was in the basement, bravely removing the cap from the sewer pipe and steeling himself for the backflow-which didn't happen, thank goodness. I had excused myself to the yard to watch for developments.

[The back story (see what I did there?) is that the alarm in our septic tank had been going off now and then for the last few weeks. (What? You don't have an septic alarm? You don't have a septic tank? I don't need to hear bragging about city sewers, thank you very much) Since our leach field is on the other side of the driveway and 50+ feet away from our tank, we need a pump to send the fluid out from the tank and the alarm let us know that the pump stopped working. We attributed that to the massive amounts of rain we had and just kept resetting the breaker. Then the alarm stopped going off, and the pipes started backing up. This was Friday afternoon and we figured it was time to call the professionals, who said they would call Monday]

So instead of calling, the pump people showed up bright and early, startling Ameranth who had planned a leisurely arising on her day off, not 2 men asking her questions about the whereabouts of the septic tank. They found a shorted wire and a broken elbow on the floats- word was the pump was fixed. Yay!  Until we tried to wash dishes and flush the toilet. Pump people advised that we probably had a blockage and might be able to find it ourselves. Well, we did want showers and a flushable toilet so we dug the hole.

That green box in the middle of the garden is the electrical stuff for the pump. We use that and the two lily clumps to gauge where the other opening should be.  I tried not to say too much about the bulbs and plants we dug up today. I sensed it would not go over well.

The plumbing snake was deemed too small (plus we couldn't find it) so he used a 50 foot garden hose to probe the darkness. He got a little perturbed when I pointed out that it looked like he used a good hose, not one of the leaky ones that were going to be thrown away anyway.  I reported a lot of water coming through and we thought it was all good but tests soon showed that we still had a problem. That's when Super-J stepped up to the plate. Or down to the hole. He reached his hand into the pipe with a scrap piece of electrical wire and cleared it the rest of the way. I stood there holding the flashlight and thinking "That is some man I have! Thank God I'm married to a handy guy! He certainly deserves the first shower. And everything he's wearing need to be disinfected or discarded."

So much for my sort-of plan to take a nap so I could get up and watch the Patriots-Jets game tonight. Monday night games stink. Hmm, that reminds me, I need a shower too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Patty-cake Cats

I saw this on the F***book and had to share. (Voiceover added to cat video)


My goodness, it felt great to wake up on my own, not to an alarm, this morning. Actually, I did have an 'alarm' in the form of Boomer, whining at 2:15 to get out of his crate, but I sent him out to pee, then let him join Rosie in the living room and went back to sleep until 6:45. Lovely.

He stuffed himself full of old tomato sauce at the compost heap after our walk in the field yesterday, so may have had a bit of a tummy upset. Serves him right- we have to catch the others and leash them, but he has always come when called before. The rare chance of food to himself overwhelmed his drive to please.

Deer hunting season is over, so it's safe to take our dogs out in the pasture now. Rosie and Anna spend most of the time with heads buried in grassy tussocks, hunting shrews and mice. It's hard to get pictures since all we see is three curly tails waving madly. (While resizing the photos today I realized that I had overtaxed the zoom, hence the pixelation)

Boomer was perfectly willing to fetch the stick as long as we would throw it.  He was throwing it in the air himself here. It started out with broken pieces on either end attached with flaps of bark and when he shook it violently, he was bonking them on either side of his head, which didn't seem to to bother him at all.

Going back to the resizing of pictures, here's few of us trying to time smiles and attitudes to the 10 second camera timer. I left out the one where Sectaurs was trying to get back in time for the 2 second timer.

I'll finish up with some J took about a week ago. It looked like fog at first, but I think it was smoke from a neighbor's wood stove, hanging in the air over the low part of the pasture where our little ponds are.