Thursday, August 30, 2007

More from life its ownself

Another update for the evening... a few thoughts about connections.

I took a nap after my last post and was awakened by a call from the one cousin on my dad's side who makes an effort to stay in touch with me.
We are several years apart in age -- he's 68 and I'm 52. Hard for me to believe there's that big a spread in years. But the fact that he tries so hard to stay in touch means the world to me.
I hadn't yet told him that I had moved -- he got a number for me when he called my old house phone number. So I caught him up on that, and he caught me up on his job, and told me his wife had gastric bypass surgery and had lost 89 pounds, I think he said. She's a tiny thing now, I know that much.
I last saw him at our last aunt's funeral toward the end of October or in early November last year. We didn't have much time to visit then -- he's the kind of guy who has to walk off his grief alone, without talking about it.
And then he told me about our cousin Darla, the daughter of this aunt. Sometime since the funeral, she and her husband of 20-ish years broke up, amicably.
Darla had cared for her mother for many years -- Aunt Geneva had Alzheimer's and Darla had moved her to a nursing home near where they lived.
I suspect that once her role as caretaker was finished, Darla had the time to look around at her own life and realized it wasn't the life she had wanted, that somehow the marriage had emptied itself out over the years when she couldn't give it the attention it needed.
This happens, as we all know, far too often. It happens with marriages and friendships and jobs and all manner of human connection.
And then we all spin off into little cocoons, wrapped up in our own loneliness and pain and misery, feeling as though we could spin off into space unnoticed.
Sometimes, as Cousin Jim said, a person can spin off with someone else, before they even realize it's happening.
The ideal is to see the spin starting and stop it before it tears us apart. More often, though, we can't see the spin until it's turned into a tornado and flung us far away from where we thought we would be, always standing safely in the same place.
Change is hard, and often painful. Standing still, though, has its own pain.
We may not know what or who is waiting for us to show up, finally. We don't know who may be at our next stop, waiting to say "You've finally gotten here!"
We don't know if we'll ever hear that or not.
Sometimes being spun out of our spot tears us out by the roots and we can never be fully transplanted. We get torn out of the garden we know, hoping we'll wind up in a nicer garden. Instead, we may wind up dumped on the compost heap.
All I know is that we have to try to hold on to what is good and helps us grow to be all we can be. If we're blessed, we make that trip to or with someone who can help us grow, and whom we can help grow.
Some of us wind up going through a heavy pruning along the way, feeling like the shears have taken more than we can bear to lose. Eventually, though, we may glimpse a new root sprouting, if our conditions are right.
After talking with my cousin, I found a little tiny root taking shape on my own pruned branch. I got an e-mail from someone who had rediscovered my blog and a particular story I had written about a historic ranch that had a huge impact on this area. And this is a woman who happens to live not far from me now.
Her note helped root me in my history again. Oddly, she was remembering a piece I had written about the ranch, which I am now writing about for a state Centennial project. Her note, from out of the blue, pointed me right back to some information I had forgotten having, which I need right now for this new project!
I don't know how it happens, this phenomenon of coincidence and the universe working together to bring us what we need, most of the time. I just know that for a couple of moments tonight, I felt like I had roots forming again, and I felt tended to and loved, hearing from my cousin.
My connections may be thin sometimes, but as long as I have my Jim, I will know there is someone out there who loves me and makes it his job to stay in touch with me and remind me that we have the same roots.

Updates from Home

Howdy everyone!
Thought it might be time for another update.
My 71-year-old co-worker who has been acting a might mean to me has had a little change of attitude -- once I dressed him down and recited a part of my resume to him. He had said something the other day that just went right over the line -- something about "that comes with experience." This time I didn't just walk away from him. I said "Bob, this is not about experience. This is about you and Kristi not listening to me and giving responses not based on the question I asked. And as for experience, Bob, I've been in this business for 30 years ..." He stopped me there, not believing how long I've been working. I told him I was 52 and went to work for Big Metro Paper while I was still in school.

Funny thing. He thought I was barely in my 30s. Once he found out I was a fogy, he actually started treating me with more respect and has spoken to me much more pleasantly, now that he knows I'm older than his own kids. (Yikes.)

I've finally made an appointment to see a new doctor up here and get back on track treating all my ailments. I made points with another couple of coworkers who like to swap stories about how bad this or that is regarding their health. I asked them to recommend a doctor. Oh how they jumped at the opportunity!

The staff here is smaller than any department I've ever worked in. There's a lifestyles editor, an obit/religion writer, the county reporter, the business editor (by that I mean the woman who takes photos of ribbon cutting ceremonies.)

Then there are two sports guys, a "photographer", Bob the 71-year-old "city editor" (who is the guy who lays out the inside pages) and the managing editor(a brat) and me -- city government and education editor.

I've been here right at 3 months. I cannot imagine being here long-term. Covering city government and writing basically anything I want is all that keeps me going already. Sometimes that's great. Sometimes it's the best I can hope for.

I have another bit of controversy I'll be stirring up next week. It'll be another doozy, kind of in line with the toxic chemical spill of last Friday. I hear the big-city TV reporter that covers this area got chewed out because I scooped him. Too bad, so sad. La-la-la-la-la-- la!

This is one of the rare nights I am actually getting to fix myself supper at home.

Oh, a former employee came by the office a few days ago with a little bitty golden retriever puppy. It took about 30 seconds for me to have that puppy out of her hands and into mine. OH MY LAWD! It was soooo SWEEET and SOFT and CUDDLY! I held it right up against my heart and it just fell right asleep and felt like melted butter. Awwww!
Yeah, I'm bitten by the puppy bug. Must. Resist. At least for a little longer. Awwww!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I reached my limit

It's Sunday evening now, about 9:10 p.m. as I start writing. It's almost time for me to crawl back in bed. It's not that I've done anything strenuous today -- in fact, I haven't done anything heavier than a few loads of laundry. And seriously, that's not any harder than poking the clothes in the washer, pushing some buttons, going back into the house (my machines are in the garage), waiting, going back out and hauling clean clothes to poke into another machine and push a few buttons. After the button pushing comes the hardest part -- taking the clean, dry clothes into the house and hanging them up or folding them up and putting them away. It's a good time to discard the old, the stretched out, the holey or the clothes that can be donated because they are too big now.

And with the stress of this week I am feeling as though I, too, could be donated. Ah, but I'm more like the ugly argyle sweater that no one would take even if it's free. Yep, that's right, I'm feeling pitiful! Nothing new, it's sort of a chronic condition.

I'm homesick for my friends, and for my old house that is no longer my house; the one I spent 11 years MAKING my house. Oh well, I now have the project of making THIS house "my" house.

OK, so I've been in this house for three weeks now and have been staying in a stranger's house all this time. This is the first "at home" day I have had in months, and the first day I've taken to be at home here. I shut off the alarm clocks and slept in today. That's right, I missed church because God and I had an appointment here. He made me lie down. Not necessarily in green pastures, but in my bed.

It's been a hard week for me emotionally. A 71-year-old co-worker was ugly to me and said some things he ought not to have said. I've been stretched thin work-wise, and really was ready to get out of work on Friday with the great hope of not working on Saturday.

Right up at 5 p.m. I got a call about a creek where there was a chemical dumped in the water. The men in the yellow space suits were there vacuuming up the toxic mess and I went out to cover it -- photos and interviews of the landowner and the cleanup crew. They don't know what the chemicals were -- the sample is at the state Department of Environmental Quality. It's a couple of miles upstream of the lake that's our water supply -- not enough of the substance to be any threat to the water supply, but it could have been lethal to the horses that live on the property and the cattle on the pond next downstream.

I've had to do this kind of reporting a LOT in the past, so it's not something new to me. This time, though, I was dressed up -- sweater, nice skirt, pantyhose (YES! Dang PANTYHOSE!) and nice shoes. And I got into an area that had been vacuumed. After a while my feet and legs started stinging and I wanted to get home as fast as possible.

And I had dinner plans with my friend JT and his father, and I was late. Finally I got to the house, washed off the toxic stuff and changed clothes before I could finally meet them. They were very polite about waiting, which I really appreciated, but I felt very bad about making them wait.

Saturday on his way out of town JT stopped by for a little while to see my house. At that point I was feeling more miserable about the fact that I'm still not settled in. My car still has stuff stacked up in it from my temporary apartment.

So today I've stayed at home, feeling the full effects of my case of blues, sleeping late, eating whatever I wanted, pouting over not being able to connect my DSL and fussing to myself about buying a modem last night which so far has not done one thing for my benefit. I've even been listening to all the mopey music I can find.

Pout! Pout!! Pout!!! Whine! Why can't things go my way? Why can't I manage to get anything to work, or get someone else to make things work? WHiiiNEEEEEEE!

Time to see if the load of sheets is dry yet. I need to make my bed and cry myself to sleep. WHHHYYYYYYNE! Poor poor pitiful me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And a fine good morning to you!

It's early morning, with the sun turning the sky silver and the birds waking up. I have a minute or so to post before I get ready for my day. I've already had my orange juice, trying to give my body some of the healthy things it needs.

I had a prayer answered last night. With all the strain of moving, I've been having some lower back pain which seems to like to switch from side to side each day. So last night before I went to sleep I prayed for relief. I immediately found a comfortable position lying on my back with my knees bent. This allowed me to press the small of my back into the mattress and poof, the pain was gone. I feel great this morning, too. In the wee hours I got up for a bottle of water. I know part of the pain is caused by being dehydrated. I need to pay much closer attention to my water intake for a while.

Another touch of good news. I went to Wal-Mart last night and checked my blood pressure. This doesn't sound like it should be a celebration, but it is, albeit a small one. For the first time in a couple of years, at least, my upper number was less than 200. Yahoo! Now that I've been at this job for a couple of months, I have health insurance again and need to make an appointment with a doctor so I can get back on my medications. Yahoo!

Yesterday was a little exciting. The city's board of commissioners went to tour Kaw Dam and I went with them. I can honestly say this was a new experience -- I have never, ever been inside a dam before. We were taken into the deep-deep parts of the dam where the turbines turn and the butterfly valve allows the water to do its work to create power. Very cool, very massive, very overwhelming. Also very hot. Heat plus wearing a hard hat is a sure way to get the worst case of "hat hair" ever. I was physically drained when we got back on the bus to return to city hall.

Today I'll be writing about that tour and another story about code enforcement efforts. I'm also mulling over my plans for another deep but secret story that will take quite a bit of effort and may be another FOI case. I also have some history to write for our state centennial coverage.

Time to quit listing and start doing. Talk to you later.

Oh, a quick note. Since I've been offline I haven't been able to visit some of my other favored blogs. Last night I had time to visit Posie Gets Cozy and was devastated to learn that the author, photographer and creative force behind the blog and her husband have suffered the loss of their Corgi, Audrey. Dear Audrey, who was a star of the blog, was found to have cancer of the spine and abdomen and in a move of compassion was not allowed to suffer any longer. Her people, Alicia and Andy, are mourning as are all of us who had the chance to peer into their lives through the net. Be at peace, dear Audrey. The world misses you.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Whoa, Nellie!

I've been working like the dickens trying to find certain personal treasures in all of my yet-unpacked boxes. It seems like I have been unpacking up to a dozen boxes a day ... maybe half that but it feels like 100. One of the most-sought treasures has been my computer modem.

AT LAST! Today I found it, and it was by pure chance and luck, or God's blessing. I'm thinking the last.

The church I've been attending (and which I probably will join in September) had a potluck lunch today. I was invited to come along, though I had not prepared anything to bring. They said that was OK since I'm still new. Their handbell choir was beginning rehearsals today and I really wanted to go. It started at 6:15. I made a deal with myself that I could go, but only if I finished getting EVERYTHING out of my temporary apartment. There were little dribs and drabs left, and I just had to get it done.

It amounted to about two cars-full of the most basic things one needs for survival. I had the second load packed when something told me I needed to check the "hobbit closet" -- a small closet with a door just my size (about 5 feet) which was tucked into a corner of the living room beneath the center stairwell.

I didn't remember putting anything into this closet, and I had completely cleaned out everything else, so I did a final look just to be sure.

WAH-LA, there was a plastic box in which I had put my modem, a router and splitter that I had once used to connect a couple of computers to one monitor and keyboard. Now I have been working hard trying desperately to find the modem so I could use my computer from home. Halleluyer!! There it was.

Problem is, I'm not sure I'm really correctly connected to MY rightful connection. The only connection I can get to work properly seems to be a nearby wireless connection that's not secured.

I've bought my own wireless router and really want MY connection all to myself, just as anyone would. But hey, if I have to piggyback tonight, I'm happy it's there. Maybe there's an answer to this puzzle somewhere in the mail I've let stack up this week. Before bedtime I'll glance at the bundle and see if I can learn something. I probably should write a few checks, too.

Anyway, for the moment I am typing to you from the card table which is set up in mid-dining room for now. I am totally unorganized, even for me. I've had a pretty productive weekend, complete with plenty of napping and time just for myself and my own interests. I did work for a while yesterday, but stopped at a reasonable half day. It was the shortest Saturday work time I've put in yet.

I know this isn't much of an update. Well, here's a little of what I've discovered in my unpacking frenzy: The people who packed me lack all common sense. A precious dresser set that belonged to my grandmother (delicate porcelain made in Germany about 100 years ago) was casually tossed into a box unwrapped, then topped with several books from my night stand. I am grateful it survived without a nick.

On the other hand, one box contained this item: A recently emptied Mr. Peanut jar (without the lid, mind you), carefully wrapped in layers of newspaper and positioned so it wouldn't get bounced around or bruised. Oh yes, the newspapers? Samples of my work, wadded up to fill the box. Thanks a lot.

Then there was a T-shirt, packed in another box, carefully secured in a metal pail that had been a media give-away treat. It was in a box along with some crystal boxes that held some of my small collection of jewelry -- sentimental pieces such as my great-aunt's ivory broach and a ring that a dear friend gave me one year when we were on vacation.

It made no sense at all to me, but it makes me fearful of a couple of other pieces I have not yet found. One is a tiny Chinese man carved from ivory that my mother had long before she married my father in 1953. It is tiny and delicate and very detailed, and if it is harmed I may hurt someone. The other is a vase that my grandmother won in a drawing in 1911 -- she had written a long personal history of the piece and tucked it down inside the vase. Let's hope they are both safely tucked in one of the many boxes still on the screened porch.

I wish I was finished with the unpacking. We had some rain today and I worry about some of the boxes getting wet where they are, but there is no place for them here in the house.

In other news: Work is going well. I have stirred up controversy with a series on restaurant inspections and a few stories about how poorly 9th grade students have been doing. My mind is already working on this coming week's stories. I do wish I could turn that off at will. I know my fellow journalists will agree that this is not possible, though.

I've been going through my old high school yearbooks. Many of my former classmates are on the boards and committees I cover. That's kind of fun.

Oh, a bit of irony. A historic home that was determined eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places missed out because the mayor and city commissioners decided to go ahead and put vinyl siding and new windows on the house at the request of the garden council, against the recommendations of the historic places advisory panel. Well, just this week, about two weeks after that decision, Laura Bush announced that we are now a Preserve America city because we value our historic buildings and our community's history. We're now eligible to apply for grants to maintain our historic places. The grants range from $20,000 to $150,000 I believe. Another touch of the ol' irony is that the niece of one of the commissioners earned her Girl Scout Gold Project by helping the city apply for this designation. Said commissioner voted against preserving the historic home in its original state. Yep, he's a vinyl siding kind of leader. I hope he appreciates this kinky twist!

There will be more to come now that I'm connected, by hook or by crook.

Oh yeah -- bell choir practice was fun. These bells are much lighter than the ones from my previous church, though. I about let my bell fly the first time I rang it. It will be hard to relearn how much effort it takes to ring.

Well, my friends, it is about time for me to head for bed. It's already 9 p.m.! I've become a real old fogey, it seems, being in the "early to bed, early to rise" camp for the first time ever. I real never thought I'd be able to overcome my night-owl tendencies. I am sleeping much better now that I'm out of the temporary apartment! That place really was giving me the heebie-jeebies. Did I mention that the upstairs neighbor just blithely walked into my apartment the other day because I had the door open trying to load out a few things? Didn't even knock. I think she had intentions of seeing what was left and deciding if she wanted to help herself to it. YUCK!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Can you believe it's been this long?

I was skipping back through my blog this morning looking for a post from the past about pork tenderloin. Imagine my surprise when I realized my bloggyversary is coming up this next Thursday! It's not the first anniversary, or the second, but SURPRISE! It's anniversary #3!

It is hard for me to fathom that this circle of friends on the web have been linked together that long. E.R. over at Erudite Redneck is the one who got me hooked. Countless others have contributed to my blog in various ways and even more out there have inspired me or touched my heart with their own blogs.

Here lately my blog has not been what I want it to be. Time and life has gotten in the way, especially the past couple of months, but I have hopes of recharging this and making some changes. It's time for me to shake things up here, the way the rest of my life has been shaken.

No time to get into it this morning, because I have to write up the police and sheriff's report for the Sunday paper, and there's a parade in 45 minutes. I'll be going to meet with a pair of guys who were co-drum majors in their class as they watch the parade together today. Now, at 58, they are scattered to other places, but one last hurrah with today's parade.

Stay tooned to this station!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hello, old friends!

It's been incredibly busy for the past week or more. I know it's been a good long time since I posted last, but I've gone through some H-U-G-E changes with very close timing (I wouldn't quite say split-second timing, but for a while there it was down to a matter of minutes of getting everything through at the right times.)
Quick summary: I had to do a special back-to-school section at work last Wednesday -- it really got dumped on me and was more than I could handle, all things considered and with a big dose of BAD timing. It was a 24 page section for which I had to write all the stories, take the photos and put the pages together. My boss was sick the day it all was going together. (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but that's another dramatic story). My hope was to leave town at 5 p.m. Wednesday, but I didn't even get out of the office until 8:30 p.m.
I also had the final walk-through on the house I was buying and went to the pre-closing. Everything was set on this end; just waiting for the closing company on the old house to wire the money Friday to complete this transaction.
Thursday I was anxious to get to the preclosing on the old house. But I had to see what my insurance company would cover on the roof, which had to be replaced in order for the buyer to get the house insured. The agent had faxed me a statement Wednesday night while I was still at work and told me he'd have a draft for me Thursday morning. I picked that up at 9:30, got it in the bank and went to the closing promptly at 10 a.m.
Of all the closings I've ever been to (and I've owned 7 houses now), this was the most interesting. It was almost a party atmosphere at the title and abstract company, with happy people shaking hands, smiling and positively giddy about their transactions. The waiting room was full! And then...
Mr. Chicken came out in full birdy regalia. Actually, it was the Schwann's man who was having to do a chicken promotion and was forced to wear a chicken suit. He had customers who worked at the title company, and hey, what better way to keep the kids in these families entertained while the parents did their transactions? It was great fun. My closing took three minutes and I was out of there.
Had lunch Thursday with my best friend and her mom, who came up from Dallas just to help pack up some of my things. Now I ask you, isn't that great? It's one thing to have a friend or friends who are willing to go through such torture for you, but when the mom shows up and packs about 6011 boxes of books for you, that's some kind of angel at work.
Friday the movers came and loaded up the truck. I finally had a meltdown when it came time to load out the garage. I just could not take it one more second and just shut down emotionally and physically. I told the guys I was just going to have to walk away from doing the garage. They were good enough to go ahead and load up the things they KNEW I would need to take (crappy neighbor had stolen my mower, so that was one less thing.) Anyway, I was waiting to hear from my Realtor to make sure the abstract company had wired the money to the abstract company in the new town. The company handling my purchase was having all kinds of technical problems with computers and other stuff and could not confirm the transfer.
At one point I had to pull off the highway onto a dirt road and pull out my briefcase from the back seat to get the contact numbers so my buying Realtor could call the selling abstract company.
I arrived in town about an hour later and called the Realtor again to see if the wire had come through. She said she would meet me at the title company. Just as I pulled up, the movers called to say they were in my new house and wanted to know which bedroom was going to be the master. I had a fit! Not only did I walk past the title company door and try to go in the wrong business while I was distracted, but I had to tell this guy I didn't even have a key yet and how did he get into the house anyway?
Well, turns out the back door had been left unlocked when the plumber came to fix the outdoor faucet.
I sit in the title company for another 20 minutes before the FED number came in to confirm the wire transfer. My closer came running out with a paper for me to sign and the keys to the house.
By now it was close to 4:20 p.m. The movers had unpacked half the truck already. They were really hauling!
At 4:50, I got a call from the title company saying they had finished writing my check for the balance owed to me (the excess from what my old house sold for that was above what I paid for the new house.) I got there at 4:59 after the movers finally got on the road, and got it to the bank across the street promptly at 5 p.m. It was a miracle of timing, because there are no extended hours at small-town banks!

I've been unpacking boxes like a possessed woman since last Friday, trying desperately to find my laptop and camera, which they packed without telling me. I finally found them tonight. Now I just need to find my little box that has the modem and all the wires and I'll be able to be online from the privacy of my own new house! I haven't been able to do that for two months!

I'll catch up more later. These are the high points for now.

Congrats, Tech, on all your good fortunes with the new book! Can't wait for payday so I can order my own copy!

Keep up the good work on your house, E.R.

Frenzied, thanks for letting people know I was still kickin'.

Everyone else.... I hope to hear from all of you again soon, and will be back in conversations with you before much longer! I can't wait! Too much has happened without me knowing!