Tag Archives: whining

The Winter of My Content

march snow 034The past four days have been an adventure.  Between Wednesday night and Thursday, I found 10 inches of snow outside The Barn.  With great glee, I celebrated the announcement that a certain community college was closed both Thursday and Friday.  At my place of employment, this means we are also closed and I don’t have to burn vacation days due to heavy snow.  It doesn’t take a lot of snow to trap me on the hill and nearly a foot was way overkill.

We had eight inches of snow over the President’s Day weekend.  I ended up with a full week off of work.  It was a lovely respite, but I did nothing but sleep, eat, read and watch Downton Abbey.

I had big plans for these four days off, but as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”  I seem to be in major nesting mode – I want The Barn to look as wonderful as I think it is, so a thorough cleaning was in order.  I also was looking forward to cooking.  After not cooking for most of the past ten years, I’m suddenly interested in it again.

march snow 003Day 1 of my four-day weekend, Thursday, I did some triage cleaning (Chez Barn was/is a Superfund Site) and finally finished putting all the Christmas stuff away.  Yes, yes.  I know, March, but, hell, it was July one year. I’m ahead of schedule!  It was so nice having my living room back that I wallowed in that room and admired the gorgeous snow and sunshine out my window.  It was very Dr. Zhivago-ish.  I also made the starter dough for a new sticky bun recipe.  I’m on a quest for the perfect sticky bun.  The potato soup I made for dinner was spectacular!  I could win a soup contest, my potato soup is just that good.

Friday morning, I woke up with a head of steam to clean and bake.  I turned the starter dough into finished dough and had it set to rise when the power went out at 9 a.m.  I trundled my butt-that-doesn’t-need-even-a-single-sticky-bun-much-less-a-dozen down to my folks’ house to see if they had power.

march snow 057They didn’t.  But they had a fireplace and the hearth proved a perfect spot to make old-fashioned percolator coffee.  After visiting with them for awhile, I took the big camera out for a photo shoot of Ma Nature’s glorious handiwork.  I tromped around Onafork and took some stellar photos, some mediocre, and some just bad.  (See the gallery below.)

When I returned, I called Appalachian Power and reported the outage.  I was told it would be repaired at 10 p.m. Sunday.  SUNDAY!  I was miffed.  One cannot clean and bake in a cold, dark house with no electricity.  I mean, really, it already looks like I clean in the dark.

potato soupBy the afternoon, The Barn was getting cold – 55F, to be exact.  I trundled back down to my folks’ after defrosting the windows of my car and cleaning off the snow.  I wanted to be ready in the event of an emergency.

We all sat around drinking coffee, laughing about how we were out of wood and having to burn old software manuals, and eating the leftover potato soup I made on Thursday.

Software manuals put out a great deal of heat.  We were comfortable and told stories.  Eventually, I went back home to sleep.  I have a heavy down comforter on my bed as well as a heavy bedspread.  I was confident I would be warm enough.  And I was.

march snow 006Saturday, I went back down to the parents’ house, because the only way to be comfortable in my then 42F house was to be in the bed.  One can only stay in bed alone for so long.  Plans were made for them to go to a hotel.  I decided to stay here and tend to critters.  By that time, we were down to broken furniture to burn in the fireplace.  A cheesy “wood” chair made in Yugoslavia doesn’t burn nearly as well as do software manuals.  Surprise, surprise.

Nonetheless, I was all zen and accepting of life’s curve ball when I discovered I had left my car running, ran the battery down and my phone was down to 10% power.  The only way I had to charge the phone was the car charger and that wasn’t going to work with a dead battery.  I lamented on Facebook and my friend/contractor sent his son over to jump my car.

I have been so blessed with the people in my life.  My boss texted me often to see if there was anything she could do to help.  Other friends called.  My Facebook world fretted about my well-being.  I don’t know what I ever did to deserve the friendships I have, but I’m very grateful.

at my parentsSaturday evening was spent in a haze of wine and contentment.  It would have been nice to have had some music, but, alas, I was short of that perfection.  I left my folks’ house at about 11 p.m. and returned to my toasty bed.  If nothing else, I did get a lot of sleep.  I drifted off convinced that the power company was lying to me and I would wake to power on Sunday morning.

Well.  I woke up this morning and I still didn’t have power.  Zounds!

Back like a boomerang, I went to my parents’ house yet again.  The fire had gone out and I couldn’t get that Yugoslavian chair to light to save my life.  Besides the cold factor, the more important problem was that I couldn’t make coffee.  I have a serious coffee addiction.  It was a dire situation.  After about an hour, in walked my parents with coffee and sausage biscuits.  Again, I was suffused with gratitude.

And then the power came back on, well before 10 p.m.  There was great celebration and I returned home to bake and clean and blog and upload photos and do laundry and put emergency light sources away…and…and…

It’s been a wonderful day.   The sticky buns turned out a tad gummy, but recipe tweaking should take care of that.  The house is still a mess and laundry isn’t even half done, but I am happy and content. These days  it’s good to be me – the winter of my content.  Contentment may well be the best state of being.  I know I’m certainly enjoying it.

 

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Filed under March 2015

Writer’s Block (or sumpin’)

I haven’t been able to write these past few weeks, months, years.  It seems that I have nothing to say, but I talk to myself constantly.  Clearly, I have plenty to say, but the tyranny of the blank page is winning.

I’m not sure what my problem is, but it’s as if all my words have dried up and blown away.  I sit down to write and nothing comes out.  Or sometimes, I get drivel.

[Warning:  the following is probably drivel.]

But it’s not drivel I wish to write.  Like many writers, I want to reveal the mysteries of the universe.  Or at the very least entertain with a good story.  It seems I am all out of new stories and I don’t feel like telling the old ones.

I tried to join a writing group tonight.  I got stood up.  Or I misunderstood the time or the place.  Or something.  It struck me that joining a writing group to force me to write was either pitiful or a stroke of genius.  I’m also considering a graduate degree in creative writing.  Also either genius or pitiful.  Perhaps  I need deadlines.  Externally imposed deadlines.  I’m not good at corralling myself.

I need to write.  I’ve often said that I don’t know what I think until I write it out.  The process of putting words in order orders my thoughts in a way that nothing else does.  I need to write.  And I can’t.

This is getting tiresome.

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Filed under August 2014

Berry Berry Bad

my dog is incredibleSo, the Berry Berry Sweet Dog is not getting better in spite of my efforts and that of the vet’s. So today” I took him back to Olson’s Animal Hospital fand we learned that he’d lost another 1.25 pounds. He now weighs 6.9 lbs. He was almost 9 lbs. when this adventure began and that was after a week of not eating much. Bless his sweet little heart. He’s been on antibiotics and decongestants, but whatever has a hold on him is not letting go.

drolsen

Berry, Dr. Olson and Sasha

Dr. Olson wants to keep him which is good because I told him that after losing Doug to a long illness and then Babette, my nerves are shot. This sweet little dog is never going to bond with me as long as I keep torturing him with pills and force-feeding. I’m sure Plan B which involves injectable antibiotics, IV for his poor little dehydrated body, and Sasha (the tech) doing the force-feeding is going to be good.

I love my vet. I got hooked up with him quite by accident. When my mom was running Doggie Daycare, Babette came down with a life threatening, indeed we nearly lost her, uterine infection. I told Mom to take her to the vet and I’d meet her there. I gave her directions. She went to the wrong vet. What a serendipitous event! Dr. Olsen and his staff are everything you want in a pet care team. He saved Babette and I’m comfortable about Berry’s future.

plan bAll of this has been nerve-wracking. Babette died while I was already grieving. Berry showed up in a rather spectacular way and now he’s in very bad shape. I really am a mess. I need this little dog and he needs me. All this chaos!

But I glanced at my magnet laden refrigerator this morning and found a Nietzsche quote I love:

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.

I think Berry’s name is now going to be short for Baryshnikov. I promised him I would be back for him. My little Mishka!

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Filed under November 2013

The Mailbox, Derecho, Dumpster and Beetle

I can read by this sucker!

July 7th (or maybe July 8th, it could be after midnight)

I’m sitting outside in the heat and neglect ravished garden writing this with pen and paper. It’s a night to make 72F past midnight feel like watermelon on ice.

The last time I blogged, I was trying to make my mailman happy. I may have succeeded. But here we are again, trying to make the mailman happy. HMOKeefe and the mailbox had a lover’s quarrel. He wielded a U-Haul and the mailbox stood silent, but not firm. After sprawling on the ground for several days in the debris of unwanted catalogs and carpet cleaning advertisements, the monster mailbox was tossed into the rental dumpster.

Exhausted, but victorious. The post, that is.

Boston Boy spent most of the day installing a new mailbox using some New England method that bears no resemblance to how anybody I know has ever installed a mailbox. It’s not going well. I say, “Um, you’re trying to pound that thing into bedrock,” and he says, “I did this in Massachusetts” and then I don’t say, “What part of any of this reminds you of Massachusetts?” But it’s been 3 weeks without a mailbox and another day or 300 doesn’t matter. I’m not the mail junkie.  The new post is sprawled in the driveway, exhausted but victorious against insertion into bedrock.

Oh, yes, rental dumpster. It’s been exciting times around the old barn and, really, if you’ve never rented a dumpster, do so. Before things got worse, I had a lot of fun running around like June Cleaver on crack de-junking the house.

I am too damn old for all the excitement of the past several months.

In no particular order, I offer up the following as a sort of “What I did on my summer vacation” essay.

1. The Derecho.

2. Three downed trees.

3. 6 nights and 5 days (and counting) of no power

First floor of the house. For upstairs, add 10 degrees.

4. Heat index between 105 and 115

5. The pied-à-terre abandoned (hence the Uhaul).

6. Mushrooms growing on my carpet.

7. New subfloor

8. Termites, carpenter ants, squirrels and a possum, all in the house, and all evicted.

9. Rotten bookcases.

Where are my bookcases?

10. 105 linear feet of homeless books PLUS HMO’Keefe’s.

11. Moldy drywall.

12. Packed the entire first floor of the barn.

13. New HVAC.

14. Chose new flooring, paint, and more paint.

15. Sanded drywall.

16. Acquired my first extension ladder.

17. New solid bottom (doesn’t that sound sort of risqué?) dishwasher to protect the as-of-yet-uninstalled new flooring.

Ah, there they are. Those aren’t bookcases, they’re trash.

18. Burl the Handyman Extraordinaire retired. Found Shorty, the Whirling Dervish Handyman.

19. Sheer, unceasing, unspeakable chaos at work.

20. Flunked the mammogram. Passed on the 3rd try.

21. More indignities of old age.

22. Even more.

23. Still yet more.

24. Filled the dumpster (and then some).

Building a new subfloor, fa la la.

25. This is only a partial list. I’m leaving out 26 through 147, but each and every one of them hold promise of a good story when I get to the point where I can laugh.I got a wee bit drunk last night. It was my only hope for sleep. I’ll never sleep tonight. It is, literally, 94F in the bedroom and the entire first floor is a construction zone. The only furniture available for human bodies are the wooden kitchen chairs. The idea of wine as a sleep aid is revolting and I’ve been mainlining water so I’ll pee every 30 seconds all night. Might as well just sit here.

AH DAMN. I JUST SWALLOWED A BEETLE.

After the Derecho slammer jammed West Virginia, 85% of the state lost power last Friday, including me. I woke Saturday morning to air conditioned comfort much to my astonishment. That astonishment grew as I learned about the Derecho, the state of emergency, the suffering that hurricane force winds during temps in excess of 100 can provoke. For those of you as ignorant of this weather phenomenon as I was, a Derecho is either Spanish or Sioux for Straight Arrow (different sources different origins). It’s a hurricane force wind that arrives with no warning and travels a great distance in a very short period of time wreaking havoc. This one started in the upper Midwest and didn’t stop until it knocked D.C off the grid. In 10 hours.

I routinely lose power. If a cloud somewhere sneezes, my power goes out. How did I get lucky? I don’t know. But I lost power in the second storm on Tuesday and here I sit, swallowing water and beetles.

Third degree mosquito bites fer shur, dude.

Boston Boy is resolved to sleep out here tonight. If he succeeds, we’ll be at the E.R. tomorrow tending to potential Lyme Disease and 3rd degree mosquito bites.

The IPhone is keeping me sane. I switch between Facebook, the APCO website and email. One thing led to another and I found Charlene on Facebook today. By the time she accepted my friend request, the battery was dead. So the phone is on the car charger and I’m losing the battle against the bugs. The nifty new lantern which was the last non-electric source of light available for purchase in the state of West Virginia is attracting June bugs who subsequently explode like tiny, wet fireworks when they get too close to the flame. (Yes, it’s gruesome, but there are that many fewer for me to swallow.

It’s a dandy lantern – 1500 lumens with an electronic ignition. If it just had wi-fi, I’d be all set.

I need a strait-jacket.

Besides every hotel being full to bursting with tree trimmers, power workers and the heat-tortured citizenry, we’re not in a hotel tonight for fiscally prudent reasons. Nor were we last night, but we were Thursday night because otherwise I was going to end up in either prison or the psych ward. But the, “Gee! Let’s put in new flooring” torture and massacre of every penny and more in the budget has the checkbook keening loudly, although not loud enough to drown out the neighbors’ three, yes three, generators. I hate the sound. Hate it. It sounds like a stampeding herd of semi-trucks. I just know the neighbors are over there wearing sweaters and surfing the Internet while sipping something frothy with lots of ice.

[Connie looks forlornly at the 2” of dirty water in the bottom of the cooler.]

So, it seems I’ve blogged again.

Find contentment in creating chaos.

It’s now Sunday evening, about 10 p.m. I’ve had power since shortly before 2 p.m. Of course, another storm arrived shortly thereafter which is wreaking havoc. Thus far, the power is on having only flickered once or twice. I have the AC cranked. I’m going to get this house freezing so if we lose power, and I expect to, we’ll have some spare cool air. However, the heat has broken. It’s a good 30 degrees cooler outside than it was this time last night. I expect to sleep well tonight. Last night I prowled Walmart after writing the above. Heat-induced insomnia is a terrible thing. I did manage a few hours of restless half-awake-half-asleep-all-miserable time in the bed. I did persuade HMO’Keefe to sleep indoors last night so no hospital adventures for us today.

Sleep well, y’all. And try to find contentment in chaos.

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Filed under July 2012

Returning to the world with grace and style.

Oh sure, I suppose it could be colder and the morning commute worse, etc. etc., but I might have handled it with more grace if draped in fur knowing TrueLove SuperStud was watching.

I left my office for vacation on Dec. 21st. Today was my first day back. After nearly two weeks off, I could still use some more time. That I stayed up last night until nearly 2 a.m. fighting with the damn sewing machine didn’t help me transition this morning.

He was an (externally) gorgeous man.

I used to think it a sign of a great vacation to return to work more tired than when I left. Sometimes, I still feel that way. The truth is, this time, I am not more tired. Two weeks off did me (and my abode) a world of good, but like hitting the snooze alarm and muttering, “Ten more minutes, “ I wanted a couple more days.

And I certainly didn’t want 16F and a dusting snow that turned to ice on the windshield.

While “on vacation,” I kept the house a balmy 72F, sometimes a tropical 75F, round-the-clock. Aberrant behavior, you betcha. I loathe paying Appalachian Power one cent more than I have too. But, hey! I was on vacation.

After the indignities of the day (filling the gas tank, finding myself too large to button the stylish down coat that matched my stylish high-heeled boots which also felt too small, and walking into small, but muchly unwelcome problems at the office), I returned to a home holding, per the thermostat, at 55F. The thermostat’s been cranking since then and it may achieve a room temp of 70 or so before I crawl into bed, but since my last act on the way up the stairs will be turn it down to 58F or so, tomorrow morning will be unpleasant.

Eventually, I’ll acclimate to this, my normal winter regime. And, really, I shouldn’t complain. Unlike last year, winter pretty much arrived when it was supposed to. Theoretically, it could all be over but the shouting in 10-12 weeks. But the truth is, I left the house today wearing stylish boots and returned home wearing my office slipper booties because they were warmer and more comfortable. I also parked at a meter instead of in the lot I pay to park in. The meter was a half-block closer to the door.

I’m going to need a few more days to handle Old Man Winter with grace and style.

Well, yeah, it's not this bad.

Still, the cold is paralyzing me. I’ve been so productive around the house the past few weeks and I’ve loved catching up on projects, starting some new ones, planning some others and enjoying the improvements. The last thing I need is to spend the next 12 weeks burrowed on the couch shivering my my-time away.

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Filed under January 2011

Apparently, I need a Grampy

It goes without saying Betty Boop always gets the help *she* needs.  I need a Grampy.

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Filed under December 2011

Back Ache Blues

This guy must have been in my bedroom this morning.  (You’d think I’d notice a strange man in my bedroom, but such is the agony of the Back Ache Blues.)

 

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Filed under December 2011