Saturday, May 3, 2014

S.B.D. Seeking Long Term Companion.

I enjoy cuddling on the couch, belly rubs, and taking long walks in the neighborhood (or anywhere else).  I am a true modern dog - ready to lick the dirty dishes, help with the vacuuming, fertilize the garden, or eat...errr...take out the trash.   My hobbies are creating masterpieces out of whatever is left in the fridge, opening doors with my nose, and chasing squirrels.  I love spending weekends lounging in bed chewing on a bone or listening to sports talk on the radio.

Favorite color:  I'm color blind.

Favorite Shape:  round, like a ball  Or a crunchy red apple.  Or an onion. 

Favorite Food:  yes.

Favorite Beverage:  coffee with cream.

Favorite Song:  You Are My Sunshine.

Favorite Book:  I prefer chewing on a good paperback thriller (like the ones from my grand-mother) and once in a while spice it up with a hard cover romance from the library.

Favorite Movie:  Must Love Dogs.

Favorite Woodland Creature:  baby bunnies are pretty tasty.

Favorite website:  The Daily Puppy.

Dislikes:  Buckeyes, moody girl dogs, and having my nails trimmed.  I'm also not too sure about swimming pools or other large bodies of water.  I like puddles though.










Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes


Spring has sprung and we are rapidly moving towards summer now.  I can’t believe the pool opens a month from tomorrow.  A MONTH!  It feels like it was 6 months to wait just yesterday.  Swim practice is back underway (yay.  Not) but I don’t really get busy until this weekend when I will once again be almost entirely on my own.  Yay again.  Not.
Today was eye doctor day.  I hate the eye doctor.  I go every year – not just to the optometrist for my glasses – but to the ophthalmologist in Philadelphia where I have my eyes dilated, poked and prodded and am repeatedly blinded by bright lights while they check out the pits on my optic nerve and the color sloughing off my irises.   Occasionally, depending on what baby doctors are there, I have multiple people repeat the same dang things over and over again so they can see my freakish eyes. 
Today was my 6 month follow-up with my new glaucoma doctor.  Last time I was in he told me to come today ready to workout – that he’d want me to run a little and then check out my eyes to see if the pigment is clogging up the ducts or the pressure increases.  To me, “run a little” means 20 minutes.  So after I had my field vision testing I changed into running clothes.  The run?  3 minutes.  It wasn’t even enough to get my heart rate elevated.  I tried to explain that to him but…he thought that was sufficient to test what he needed to test.  I felt like an idiot running around the circle in front of the hospital.  In all today I had my pressure tested 5 times, had my eyes looked at 3 times, had a star trek scan of my optic nerves and ran for 3 minutes. The results?  All is well.  My optic nerves, though slightly wonky, aren’t any more damaged than they were last time he looked at them and with the exception of now having field vision testing and seeing him every year and the nerve scan every once in a while, I am good to go.  In the meantime, I sit here with my eyes dilated, looking like a cat on kitty crack or with what we in our household call “Crazy Pippi Eyes.”  It will take a good 8-10 hours before they are back to normal.
So today I am grateful that I do not need drops or a roto-rooterg to open up the ducts in my eyes and that, other than glaucoma and a little old damage  (or weird genetics, I guess), my eyes are otherwise healthy.  I am grateful that I only have to do this once a year and not every couple of months.  And I am grateful that I have my own sunglasses and don’t have to wear those ugly plastic things like I’m 80. 
Today I am also grateful that my presentation went well yesterday and that all the work I put into preparing was recognized by the people that matter (my team-mates).
I am grateful that the sun is shining with some regularity now, and that temperatures are consistently staying above freezing in the mornings. 
In other news…Change sucks.
I am not good at it at all.  Some things I can ride out – changes associated with parenting.  Changes to my weekend schedule.  Taking a different train.  But major changes?  Not so much.  Because of the government slim down (ha!  We need gastric bypass surgery and a starvation diet for a year) a ton of people in my office have retired.  They offered buy outs this spring and about 40 people left with that.  In the last couple of years dozens of others left just because it was time.  I didn’t know many of the people in this last group, but many of them I did know.  Some of the attorneys I worked closely with when I first started at my agency retired.  Some other people I crossed paths with regularly left including my supervisor for a year when I was on a detail.   I wasn’t particularly close to any of them and I didn’t go to any retirement parties for a variety of reasons, but the fact that they are all gone makes me sad.   Big changes are hard, even when they are good. 
Monday of this week our Branch secretary died.  She has been out for about 3 months – first trying to figure out what was wrong, then getting chemo and other treatments for what turned out to be a relapse of leukemia, and then the last month or so on hospice.  We’ve been sending her things as a Branch – flowers, cards, candy, and calling her once in a while to say hello, and I’ve been sending her cards myself letting her know how much we miss her.  The last one I sent was last week and I’m glad I had that last chance to tell her once more how much I appreciated her.  And now she is gone.  And even  though we weren’t friends, I am sad.  She was a good person and helpful when I had things that needed her to do. 
Today another woman in our Branch announced that she too is retiring at the end of June.  It is not unexpected but is a little earlier than anticipated.  Again, we are not that close, but I have worked with her for 15 years.  You get comfortable seeing the same people for years and years and years.  And then one day they aren’t there anymore and it is an adjustment.  I am struggling to put into words what I am feeling right now.  It’s not quite the same feeling as when a loved one dies, but…can’t quite explain it yet. 
In the last 2 years my Branch will have lost 4 people to retirement, 1 to just quitting, and 1 to death.  We are down to a Branch of 11, from a high of 18 just a few years ago.  It is too quiet and lonely in there some days since just about everyone works at home at least 1 day a week and 2 of the retirements  increased my workload dramatically.  On the plus side – I have my own annex now so I can keep my cube neat and organized and store all my less active files in another cube.  .  But…I am grateful for the job and the (occasionally) interesting work and the (few) nice people that are still there.  And I am happy for the people who get to move on to the next chapter of their lives that doesn’t require them to put up with the bureaucratic BS (at least in a work context).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today I am grateful for the warmer weather.  The trees are finally starting to bud and the flowers (not mine, but other people’s) are starting to bloom.  It might even be nice enough to do some yard work this weekend and maybe plant some pansies or impatiens. 

Today I am also grateful for my smart daughter.  After a rocky end to last quarter and a rough start to the 3rd quarter that included a failure warning, she pulled everything up and earned 1st honors again.  I am so proud of her and she is very proud of herself and sees the payoff to her hard work.  We are going to try and end just as strongly.

Today I am grateful for the warranty I purchased for my glasses.  Toby got them a couple of week ago.  Again.  We were able to glue the ear piece back together but he also gnawed the lenses and there are some deep dings that I didn’t notice at first.  I haven’t gotten around to taking them in to be replaced yet.  I am also insanely grateful for the spare pair that I purchased “just in case” which are now my main glasses.

Today I am grateful for my new baby cousin.  No one down here knew she was coming, but now she is here and she is cute and I hope to get to meet her someday soon.

Today I am grateful for my parents.  They are here, they are in good health, and they are an important part of my life.  We celebrated their 50th anniversary on Friday which makes my head spin.  More on that in a bit.

Today I am grateful for the friends I have.  I am truly just plain tired of waiting for people to care about me or my life as much as I care about them and theirs.  It is a weakness and big shortcoming of mine.  I expect and hope – this time it will be different!  this time I will fit in! this time so-and-so will want to be my friend-  and then I am inevitably disappointed.  It is PATHETIC.  I am disgusted with myself to even type the words.  I feel like I am back in 6th grade when we went from being a class of good buddies to a class of cliques – the popular kids and the rest of us.  And then at some point, I was an outcast even from the outcasts.  Incidentally, my 30 year battle with depression also started that year.  Chicken?  Egg?  Up for debate.

So, I am going to make a concerted effort to give up on the people to whom I don’t really mean anything and who don’t really care if I am part of their lives or not.  I have a handful of people I love and trust who I will continue to count as honest to goodness friends, even though I don’t see any of them all that often, and the rest… {shrug}.  That includes people I work with, facebook so-called “friends,” a handful of relatives (not the ones who read this of course!), and a few others.  It sucks too much energy and joy out of me and I am done with it.    I won’t stop being me and caring about people and helping whenever I can, but I’ll be damned if I let myself get turned inside out and upside down by people anymore.  That said, I am beyond grateful for B, who is my very best friend and the ONLY person on earth who truly knows everything about me and loves me anyway.   I am also particularly grateful for my sister and my friends S, M and T.  I am grateful for my earthly friends, but even if they were gone, I would survive.  I need to work on filling myself with the only One who isn’t fickle, who will never let me down. 

Last week I sat through a leadership “training” thing at work on resolving conflict.  It was educational on many levels (although not on a how to resolve conflict standpoint).  Early on in the thing the presenter was discussing the types of empathy: cognitive empathy - knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking, emotional empathy – taking on the emotions of another person, and compassionate empathy - we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.  It is the 3rd type that was of particular interest to the presenter b/c he had NEVER heard of such a concept as being spontaneously moved to help someone.  He cited as an example strangers helping a woman with a stroller get on the bus as if this was the oddest most unusual thing in the world.  And I guess anymore it is.

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hershey Park Happy

 On Sunday we went to Hershey Park courtesy of discounted tickets I bought through work.  I am not one to take advantage of the offers our employees association has for things like this, but….I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go to Hershey for half the summer price.  We haven’t been to the Park in about 6 years, since my sister and her family came up to visit.

It was a perfect day weather wise – sunny, clear, warm but not hot.  It started off in the 50s and went up to the high 70s by the time we left.  It was a little warm wearing jeans, but not humid at all so it was still great!
We skipped church (went the night before) but still got a little bit of a late start so we could have breakfast together.  We still managed to get there shortly after it opened at 10am.  It was a bit crowded right by the gate, but the longest we had to wait for any ride was about 20 minutes and most rides didn’t have more than a 5 minute wait.  We got K to go on one mini-rollercoaster (the wild mouse) which neither of us particularly liked (hills we fine, whipping curves high off the ground, not so much).  K made B put his arm around her while I sat behind them laughing.  Other than that we went on a ton of pretty tame rides – monorail, train, music express, whip, kissing tower, Ferris wheel, carousel,  Flying Falcon, Tilt-a-Whirl, swings, etc -and  B went on his own to a few of the roller coasters. 
Much of the fun was people watching and it didn’t take long for us to realize that we are freaks compared to most of the world – no flip flops with socks, exposed undergarments, inappropriate tank tops, or seriously taxed spandex, and none of us needed a cart because we were too fat to walk.  We didn’t let our child pick the flowers planted around the park as landscaping, try to sneak her onto rides that she was too small for, thereby delaying EVERYONE while they made us leave, or let our child make a scene when she didn’t get her way. 
We spent about 2 hours when we first got there and then went out to the car to have lunch and headed back in until about 4:00pm.  It was the longest we have ever spent at the park and probably the best weather we have ever had.
We ended the day with a visit to Chocolate World which was torn up and chaotic but still fun.  They are doing major remodeling and it was a mess but hopefully they will finish the renovations before the main season starts next month.  We got our usual dozen of the best chocolate chip cookies on earth (well, my mom’s cookies are the best, Hershey’s are a close 2nd), took the “tour” with the singing cows, browsed the candy until I couldn’t take the crowds (about 2 minutes) and then declared that we had all reached our limit on being around people and headed home. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3-27-14

Winter is prevailing over Spring and now the long range forecasts from some sources are calling for a major storm next weekend.  Now, 10 days away I’m not going to get all amped up about it yet, but…seriously?  I guess it would be okay to be snowed in on my wedding anniversary (17 years!)  At least it LOOKS like Spring, even if it feels like January.  The sun is shining and things are greening up (as they freeze to death).  It makes me really want to spend some time outside.  Except it is COLD!!
If I was a runner, I’d be looking forward to a nice run in the sunshine without overheating.  Except I’m not a runner.  I think I’ve finally almost gotten to the point where I can admit that I never will be a runner.  I have a love/hate relationship with running…well, more like a tolerance/hate relationship if I’m honest.  I appreciate the efficiency of running – I can get a good workout in 30 minutes without needing a gym or a pool.  It burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, and if I ignore the discomfort, it gives a nice workout high.   But.   After my back problems last summer/fall and the continued pain in my left hip area (it’s really the back of my leg – too high to be a hamstring, too low to be a glute and it hurts into my hip.  What else is back there?  I have no idea,) I stopped running for about 4 months.  The cold and snow made it easy to not run and to focus on the elliptical and swimming with an occasional recumbent bike ride thrown in.  But…everyone around me runs and I guess I feel a little peer pressure to keep up and run too.  It’s not like I tore my ACL or anything – there’s no actual injury to speak of, just pain from my crooked back and high arches and weird stride. 
I have this annoying desire to be like everyone else, so about 6 weeks ago I thought I’d slowly start back to running.  I increased my runs per week from 0 to 1 (impressed, aren’t you?) and gradually increased the mileage on the treadmill from 1 mile to 3+).  It didn’t feel great, but it didn’t feel awful either.  This Monday I was feeling pretty decent once I got through the first mile and a half and I just kept going – doing 3.6 miles at a okay pace (between 8:00 and 8:30 per mile – this is okay for me, but slow for real runners).  I even did some “rolling hills” on the treadmill.  And then I stopped and tried to stretch out and suddenly became 80 years old.  My hip/leg/butt hurt so bad I limped to the locker room and tried to stretch under the hot water in the shower.   It didn’t help. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Watching Alaska


I am confused.  Is it Spring or Winter?  After a gorgeous 60 degree day on Saturday, the cold air has returned (20 yesterday AM) and yesterday it snowed.  WTHeck??  I had to put on the full, weirdo-winter gear to walk the dogs this week and break out the heavy winter coat for work.  I saw a cute picture on facebook with a little bird clutching a snow covered branch asking, “Spring forward?  How frigging far did you throw it?”  or something like that.
I am struggling with an overwhelming desire to call off work, find a place that is quiet and dark, and sleep for three days.  No particular reason…or at least none that I care to get into in detail at the moment in a public forum.  I have tons of vacation and sick leave stored up, so I could take a couple of WEEKS off without even feeling it.  But, I have so much work to do, I feel like I can’t spare even a day off right now.   Huh.  Perhaps THAT is contributing to the desire to sleep for days?
This weekend we headed up to State College to 1) visit my in-laws for Christmas (yes, Christmas – we kept hoping they would come down for a visit and to see K swim and well…then it was March) and 2) watch some of Y States.  We headed out after breakfast on Sunday and about half way there I thought to ask B if he had remembered the Christmas presents (yes, Christmas presents) for his parents and niece.  Nope.  Brilliant.  We brought Stromboli with us for lunch (super greasy, yuck) and hung out watching basketball for a couple of hours before heading up to campus. We waited in line for ice cream at the Creamery behind Purdue’s softball team.  Ironically, my sister and my oldest niece were visiting Purdue at the same time, so I texted her and then queried the Purdue coaches for good places for them to go to dinner near campus.  Small world.  K got a cone of lemon sherbet and B and I shared a cone of chocolate while we headed to the natatorium for the meet.  It was, literally, standing room only, and we ended up in the balcony at the turn end of the pool – great view.  No one could hear us cheering, but we were still there routing for our team and some kids from Reading’s team.  We could see the awards podium really well and got some decent pictures.  B had inventory the next morning so we, unfortunately, had to leave before the meet was over.  
I was disappointed overall with our team’s “spirit.”  Reading’s parents all sat together in a big clump and cheered like crazy for all the team swimmers.  Ours sat…scattered and left as soon as their kids were done.  I even got a “why are you here?” from one parent.  The attitude made me uncomfortable.   Because I want to see my swimmers?  If I could have been there the whole weekend, I would have.  Heaven knows I’m not good enough to COACH at States, but I am good enough to WATCH aren’t I?
Speaking of uncomfortable, I had my first ever “review” after 3 full seasons of coaching.  It was a little bizarre.   My "supervisor" couldn't find the evaluations, and spent way more time talking about how stressed she is about personal things (I feel a great deal of compassion for her as a human being) than discussing my "performance."  She did say repeatedly that I do an excellent job at whatever it is I do, how much she appreciates my willingness to sub and step in where needed, how I get back to her quickly and keep her informed, etc.  But she kept saying how I am a "brand new coach" and with the emphasis there and on how hard I “try to learn.” When I left I felt….deflated.  There was no opportunity to have a discussion, no chance for me to say anything, and the comments section on my newly completed evaluation form was completely blank.  I felt worse about coaching when I left than I ever had, even with what amounted to copious, albeit somewhat backhanded, praise. 
K and I have enjoyed the time off swimming. and it makes me not want to go back.  She is taying in shape by swimming on her own (or with me) 3 times a week, but during the week she is home by the time I get home from work and we can relax, have dinner, do homework, and read/watch TV together instead of rushing in different directions or seeing each other in passing at the Y.  Now that "Downton Abbey" is over, we are loving "When Calls the Heart" on Hallmark but the series finale is this week, so we will need to find something else.  We also really like "Buying Alaska" and "Buying the Bayou" – two shows on one of the 850 channels we have which local real estate agents show people three different properties in Alaska or Louisiana/Alabama.  B and I would love, LOVE, to move to Alaska.  Get away from people, hunt moose and caribou, fish for salmon, live off the land.  Mostly we like to imagine the get away from people part.   My cousin lives outside of Fairbanks (Hi, N!) and we envy the life she and her family have built, although I am sure it is super hard to be cold all the time and so far from family.   I wish Alaska wasn’t so far away!  It’s not like we could pop over for a weekend and scope out the area, or go interview for jobs, or look at houses…so it will just stay a dream for us until we are old enough to retire at which point we will be too old to move to Alaska.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Confessions of a Gym Snob: Rule of Ponytails


My rule of ponytails:  Anyone who spends as much time fixing her hair BEFORE she works out, as I spend fixing my hair AFTER I work out and shower, should concentrate her efforts in happy hour, not the gym at 5am.  Or maybe I’m just a hot mess when I roll out of bed and head to the gym and should spend more time on my own appearance so I don’t offend the sensibilities of the other gym-goers at 4am? 
I am also a snob in general, I realize.  Lately I have replaced my efforts at gratitude with efforts at being snarky.  For example…why do people who sit 20 feet away from me have to CALL ME on the phone?  Can’t you just get up and come and visit me? 
Why, when there are dozens of empty seats, does the same Indian woman sit with me every day and video chat with her friends/sister/someone on her phone?
Why do people in my neighborhood put their trash out on the curb in bags or open cans so the skunks/raccoons/cats/neighborhood fox, get into it and spew the trash all over the place?
Alright, I’m done.  For now.
Back to gratitude.
Today I am thankful for my job.  There are a ton of things wrong with it, but I am glad that I have it.
I am thankful for my upgrade to Office 2013.  I didn’t like it yesterday when I got it, but today it is growing on me.Today I am thankful my parents made it safely back from FL.

I am grateful that my eldest niece is very interested in an Ivy League school that might allow us to see her swim once in a while!
I am grateful that K’s grades, after taking a precipitous turn earlier in the quarter, have rebounded to normal levels.  She even got a “progress report” for her grade in 1 class which had us worried.  I couldn’t say out loud that I don’t really care about that class – it meets once a week for 45 minutes and she doesn’t even get a number/letter grade on her report card and the teacher is…maybe not the best – so we addressed it, talked about strategy to pull the grade up, and moved forward.  Another grade on the report card was surprisingly low and we immediately talked to her teacher who assured us that it was a mistake.  Phew.  That was a relief.  She has been trying harder on the whole studying thing too, making more of an effort to have us quiz her and reviewing more than the night before.  Hopefully it will pay off.