Saturday, January 31, 2009

$mall Victorie$

Anyone who's perused my tags will see "money" far up toward the top, along with "worries," "religion," "Wally [my son]" and "Carl [my husband]".

Do quotes go on the inside or outside of brackets??


Got my stupid-ass car fixed today, again, and yes, it cost me a barrel of money. But I had enough at the ready not to have to worry about (or apply for) credit.

I need to give substantial credit where it is due -- to a very random act of great kindness from a stranger at the repair shop. As I stood at the counter, being told that if all the shop's wildest dreams came true and I said yeah, go ahead and fix everything, it would cost about $1600 ... to which I replied that I needed to focus on passing my emissions inspection so I wouldn't have to take time off from work to go to court and pay a fine ... to which they said that bit of work would cost me about $500, to which I said, silently to myself, "Shit," the woman at the next register nudged my elbow and handed me a coupon for 10% off any service. Just like that. I said thank you, still thinking all my thoughts of fiscal doom, but when he recalculated, it turned out that with the coupon I would have exactly enough (split between two bank accounts) to afford the job. Once I agreed to the work, I went back to the waiting room, but it occurred to me I ought to say thank you to the woman a second time, which I did. She saved me from having to cry in front of Manny, Moe and Jack.

And the "check engine" light is off, finally. Once back home, I had to go into Microsoft Money and rework all my bills, pushing back anything that allowed late payments for a surcharge, such as the mortgage. I still have to borrow ten bucks from Carl and get the car re-inspected during lunch on Monday, and once again I can forget about new clothes, jewelry or makeup probably until at least next September, but as it stands today, I will most likely not feel the urge to get roaring drunk. Which is good, because there's no alcohol in the budget. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, January 23, 2009

While She Was Rubbing My Ankle

I'm now halfway through with physical therapy, and it has helped. The people at the rehab hospital are very nice, very patient, and they listen. From my experience, the stories of "pain and torture" are myths. The therapists I've worked with all say that if real pain starts, the exercise should stop. The goal is not to hurt me, or reproduce the pain, but to strengthen the ankle. It's begun to hurt a bit on the outside now, instead of the inside, which to me is good. When the inside and Achilles tendon hurt, it was a reminder that the two small bones there had ground together, pinching nerves, ligaments, etc. between them. Outside ankle pain is something I've experienced numerous times before; it seems to dissipate quickly, so it's not a problem. I'm almost starting to remember what my real walk is like.

Anyway. My first session was an evaluation, after which they outfitted me with one of those fat rubber bands you use for resistance while exercising at home. The next two sessions this week were actual supervised exercises. The first time I wore my standard work outfit and regretted it as soon as I started perspiring. Next time I wore my church t-shirt under my work clothes and stripped down to it, changing back before heading back to the office.

The therapist wore a tiny cross on a chain. She noticed the discreet logo on my shirt and asked me about it. I was happy to give her a general sort of description of a Unitarian Universalist church, but had no intention of launching into any kind of a spiel. I assumed she was just making small talk. But at one point,
Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Wonderful, uplifting, historic. Even if it did take about 8 hours to actually see it.

Due to an early morning physical therapy appointment, I had to work through lunch, and clocking out for lunch was the only way anyone at my place of employment would have gotten to see it. One brave soul (about 6 months away from retirement and a true-blue I-don't-give-a-damn-what-you-threaten-me-with type) tuned in on her computer. Everybody else headed over to the break room or continued working as though it were just another day. Maybe those who appeared indifferent were doing exactly as I did -- going home to watch it on You Tube or news rebroadcasts on cable. But the atmosphere in the office was distinctly one of "We didn't vote for him and therefore we have no interest in anything other than making snide remarks to each other about him. And if you leave here to go watch it, well, we know all about YOU, don't we?"

Even a friend of mine from church, who works for a different company in the same building (a major sponsor of liberal events in our city), reported something similar. They had a TV there, but people who went over to watch felt vaguely uncomfortable, as though something were being recorded unfavorably in their personnel file.

I remember about 10 years ago, when I lived in Atlanta, the company I worked for installed a TV on every floor so we could watch -- are you ready? John Glenn participating in a space shuttle mission!

Some people recognize that history is a force that transcends personal opinion.

Best wishes for success and happiness, President Obama! Click Here to Read More..

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yakkety Yak

I seem to be on a roll tonight...not to produce any original, thought-provoking material, but to comment at length on other people's.

Forty minutes ago I was threatening to doze off in front of the tube and drag myself off to bed. Now I'm wide awake and verbose.

Was it the green tea? Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Answer at last.

See? Now we can all relax. Click Here to Read More..

Monday, January 12, 2009

Toby the Love-Hate Dog

Yes, we now officially have a love-hate relationship with Toby. Toby is the dog owned by our neighbor. Description of neighbor: Gets drunk just about every day, has a bunch of cronies who come over and stand around a barrel full of burning trash to stay warm. They pee outside, behind an old wrecked cinder-block shed.

Now. Guess how he keeps his dog.

Yep, you guessed it. Outside, all day, all night, year round, on a chain ... "I love my dawg," he says. You can tell ... he bought Toby a house of his very own. Probably even put a blanket in there. Yeah, that's luurve.

The neighbor's a good guy. Really. He tries. Just because he doesn't succeed isn't necessarily a reason to hold anything against him. He's pathetic and he's a loser, and that about sums him up. But there are many, many worse people in the world and it's one of those things where you say, if he left, one can only guess what sort would move in. The old "better the devil you know" dilemma.

But Toby, true to his tied-up, fenced-in, neglected dog nature, barks ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, ad infinitum. Loudly. He's a beagle, so he always starts out with a nice, robust howwwwwwwwl! And then the hysterical yapping commences.

Drives Carl nuts. Carl is a nervous individual and a fitful sleeper. He grabs naps whenever he can, and that's generally when Toby decides to howl and yap at something. I bought Carl the loudest table fan I could get and he runs it year 'round, just to drown out Toby. Sometimes even the fan doesn't help.

Last night, Carl tried to grab a nap around 7pm (he wanted to be awake for Desperate's a new season). Toby, however, was in fine form, just off the scale. I even went to the living room window to see if anyone was out there provoking this ruckus. It doesn't take much, but when Toby goes on at such length, it means a group of pedestrians (often with their own dawg, invariably a pit bull) is loitering in front of my house or the neighbor's, just taking their time getting along up the street. I didn't see the expected crowd, just one guy walking at normal speed. Once that lone pedestrian disappeared from view, Toby quieted down, but it was too late for Carl, who emerged from the bedroom grumbling under his breath, cursing the entire canine species.

So this afternoon I get home from work and there's my neighbor outside. He greets me -- we rarely have long conversations, but they're friendly nonetheless. I was pondering whether or not to broach the subject of his little noisemaking quadruped, when he said "Say -- you hear Toby last night barking up a fit?" Um, yeah... I told him yes, and he said "Well, I knew somethin' was up. I looked outside, and there was a man right there--" he pointed to our living room window -- "tryin' to peek in through yo' window. He come 'round from the back, so he probably was casing your back patio too, so make sure you got everything locked up. And then he come 'round and tries to peek in your window. I told him he got no business on your land and told him I was gonna get my gun and call 9-1-1, and he took off right quick." I thanked him, went inside and told Carl.

So much for trying to shut Toby up. No telling how long the trespasser was lurking around; he might have looked in through the window of the office when I was sitting right here in plain view.

Words fail me, trying to express how much I love this neighborhood... Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On the Last Day of Christmas...One Busted Blogger

Could this happen to anyone, as the man claims?

I tend to doubt it. Perhaps he needs to consult a neurologist if his memories are that disorganized. Click Here to Read More..

Monday, January 05, 2009

Microwave Haiku

Farewell microwave.
Sixteen years you served us well...
Almost seventeen. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Volly vs. the Jehovah's Witnesses

Earlier today I was enjoying some sofa-spud time when the doorbell rang. More than one person from the neighborhood association had indicated they'd be dropping by for various wrap-up business, so a caller was no surprise. Unfortunately, the two well-dressed ladies were not anyone I recognized; they were brandishing copies of the Watchtower, which made me quite glad the screen door was securely locked.

"Good morning, ma'am, have you heard about the terrible disaster that has befallen Kingston, Tennessee?" They meant the coal-ash spill that is threatening the watersheds there. So, yes, I told them I'd heard about it.

"And, in your opinion, is it within the abilities of humankind to control disasters such as this?"

"Absolutely!" said I.

That stopped 'em in their tracks.


"Oh, yes, ma'am," I replied, with a big smile.

"Oh. I see. Well. We have some lovely copies of our publication, and would like you to accept them with our compliments."

"That's okay, I'm sure you can find someone else on this block who would be interested. Have a good day."

Are you proud of me? I am. I earned my scarlet "A" today. Click Here to Read More..

Tough Love. Very tough.

Wally's father has decided as of today to cut him off completely. That includes college. The status of the loan I reluctantly applied for is still uncertain, and even if it comes through, it wouldn't be enough to cover all the costs. Though Doug is way down on the list of my favorite people, I do understand why he has arrived at this juncture. Wally seems not to learn from experience, if there's the merest chance of a bailout from anyone. So he will essentially be homeless. When he arrived in Doug's neck of the woods for winter break, Doug and his wife wouldn't even let him stay with them -- they found a friend whose basement was available for Wally to sleep in. If he came south and wanted to stay with Carl and me, I'd have to think very carefully about this. Wally can be an absolute pig; he and Carl seem incapable of being civil to each other, and Wally would surely find a way to put me on the hook for some outrageous expense, most likely under the heading of "automotive." And Carl and I are barely keeping our heads above water as it is.

I have derided Doug in the past for being stingy -- of having more than enough money and not in danger of being poor -- but the issue is something entirely different. It's about the value of an investment. When someone invests money, time, thought and emotion in someone, and that person shows no interest in using it properly, the investor begins to feel that those things have been wasted. Material things, in particular, seem to just fall down a bottomless hole. Cell phones get destroyed inside of 6 months; furniture is confiscated by angry landlords; clothes are "just not right" after 2 wearings, and crippling overdraft fees (paid by one parent or the other) are shrugged off time and again. Wally has truly squandered years of goodwill and care on both Doug's part and mine. Certainly, he resents us both for the divorce and the remarriage, but sooner or later he has to realize that the only person he's hurting by "getting back at us" is himself. Perhaps he thinks it would kill us to see him fail in life and that's why he's doing it. He's going to discover he's wrong. I think that time has come. Click Here to Read More..