Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writing Wednesday- An attempt at work

Writing Wednesday- An attempt

Red and black she comes stumbling back to her desk, bleary eyed still from her nap. Japanese jacket stares hard at her computer and pretends not to notice. Flannel shirt works furiously trying to meet a deadline without an assistant. Meanwhile Token Male Leader sits in plexiglass and metal cubed office toiling away at emails and reports. Back on the floor Skinny and athletic returns from a meeting and immediately gets to work checking voice mails and emails all at once. Pink sweatshirt puts her headphones on and continues with her day, while Former cheerleader makes her printer grind away at something by mistake. Another desk is empty, left early because of the flu. Nicely dressed lady does invoices and then checks her favorite websites for new jewelry designs. Meanwhile I sit here and type.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Tangent- Popcorn!

Tangent Tuesday- Popcorn!

Jiffy Pop--

If that doesn't work-




Hot Air--

And last, from my childhood, but I couldn't find a Youtube video for it--

The spaceship--

Not quite the same as the one I remember, but that's about as close as I can get it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mundane Monday- work and school stuff

Things haven't changed with our budget. We are still in limbo, waiting. Sounds like we will be waiting all semester, and hope for some news in January maybe. It's going to be a long fall.

I am starting to wonder if I should be putting my resume together. If you go by the budget numbers, we should be laying off staff, and specifically, by the numbers *I* should be the one getting laid off. We're state workers though, and once you get rid of a job, it's impossible to get it back. We've seen it happen here over and over again. So they will keep me and hope the budget improves. They are stalling. Eventually, some time next year, my boss will retire. That will be the budget cut they need. When she is gone, her salary will hopefully be redistributed but the state will still save money by not having to fill her spot. We're pretty sure that is what will happen. It seems like the script has already been written. She's not the only one leaving either. People who are still a few years away from retirement have been identified, and cross-training is due to begin to start filling the holes for when they are gone. The hiring freeze still seems mostly in effect. Sometimes it gets overridden, but the director seems to be doing a good job of balancing things. When to hire, when not to hire, tough decisions for a brain bigger than mine.

Ultimately I did fill out the form and submit it to get the 90 minute class about how to go back to school. I'm hoping it will result in some sort of appointment or something, one on one with someone, who can help me piece things together to figure out where I stand, what I've accomplished so far, and what I have left to do. Maybe there is some sort of placement tests I can take to earn credits or something. We'll see.

I did look at some job listings, just for kicks. I'm tempted to bail because I'm so bored, but I'd have to move very carefully. Family finances are delicate, and I can't afford to just "quit". So I'll probably stay, wait things out, and hope for the best a few months from now.

Given that we are going to be in limbo for so long, I might repurpose the Monday blog post for a while. Not sure if I should focus on education, or another family update, or something else. I guess I've got time to figure it out. Suggestions welcome.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Friday- Fall is here!

This week our highlight was probably visiting a playground at the school in Montague Center. The school has been closed for budget cuts, but the playground is still there. I also saw another playground nearby, but we didn't get to it. We only stayed for 20 minutes or so, but Abby enjoyed it a great deal.

When I was doing the 23 Things stuff, I learned how to insert a picture. I may have forgotten already how to do that. Sad, but true.

I'm hoping this weekend we will probably get to Celebrate Shutesbury on Saturday. Unfortunately I can't find a good link for that. I thought for certain there would be something on the town website or somewhere. Guess not.

Another thing I'm hoping to do is get to Amherst to the festival that is happening there. It might be pushing too much to hit 2 festivals in one day AND get the oil changed in the car, BUT you never know. The Amherst one has been widely advertised. Here's a link--

One that we probably won't get to is the Belchertown Fair, although that's free and fun. It will be crowded, and it's probably just a little too far for us to bother with this year since the other 2 are closer. Unless we go tonight of course, since the other 2 are tomorrow only. I doubt we'll go though. Abby has been pretty wiped out at 5:30pm when we pick her up from school.

In case you are interested here's a link for the Belchertown Fair anyway. I can't resist any link with a dancing cow.

The weather forecast for Sunday is rain, so it should be a quiet day. Oh, except, it's my husband's birthday! So sometime Abby and I need to make a cake, or cupcakes, or both. I don't think he's going out Saturday night so I'm not sure when we'll have time to do it. Maybe Sunday morning.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trendy Thursday- the flu

H1N1, otherwise known as the Swine Flu, has been all over the news lately. At our monthly all-staff meeting at work we had a guest speaker from EH&S (Environmental Health & Safety). She told us all how to wash our hands, sneeze into our elbows, and use sanitizer. Common sense stuff, but it's really being drilled into everyone right now. She also said that "it's in the community, but we're not releasing numbers because we don't want anyone to panic". Great news, huh? So I'm using hand sanitizer like crazy, and should probably get some wipes for the bathroom to wipe things down in there too.

On the other hand, there are things to do this weekend! There are 3 local-type fairs going on this weekend, and of course the Big E. How many will we hit? Too soon to tell. I think we've pretty much decided against the Big E this year. It's expensive, and I don't really want to be in a crowd that size. Kind of hard to avoid an occasional sneeze or whatever there. Really we should just stay home, but face it, we can't all live in bubbles. So we're taking our chances.

I tried to call the doctor's office twice today to schedule my "seasonal flu" shot, but after waiting on hold for ten minutes I gave up. I'm not sure if they have the kid ones ready yet or not, and I need to find out, but I couldn't connect to a human being so I'll have to try again tomorrow.

One of my coworkers has been out for 3 days with "flu-like" symptoms. Is it H1N1? Probably not, but we'll probably never knows. Word is that she is recovering and will probably be back at work tomorrow. We were told by the nice lady from EH&S to stay home for 24 hours after our fever disappeared, but Human Resources is going to make us use our sick time if we do, and who wants to "waste" sick time?

Personally I've got some allergies going on, no fever, nothing major, just sneezing and a tickle in my nose. I know it's an allergy because when I leave work, it's gone.

Speaking of leaving work... I'll post about the local fairs tomorrow, and more!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing Wednesday- Inside my coat pockets

Last night as I lay in bed, I thought "OH no! Tomorrow is "Writing Wednesday", what am I going to post. As usual I've been procrastinating all day on doing my blog entries, and now I have just a few minutes left before the computer and I part. What to say, what to say.... Okay, I'm going to cheat. Here's an old poem. Not sure if I ever posted it to the blog before, and I am not going to bother to check--

Inside my coat pockets by Me

Inside my coat pockets
the beginning of a poem
I pull out a refrigerator magnet
shaped like a pink frog
or Martha's Vineyard
next I find an old camera
with no pictures left of course
and what do we have over here?
some used Kleenex and a crumbled paper bag
where did this old watch come from?
ah, the orange bottle cap that inspired me
to write this.

That's only pocket one, let me go on.
Up here we have some seashells
mixed in with some sand.
And over here, let me look:
a pen, a business card, and some directions
a flashlight, a bottle of aspirin, and some fruit snacks
a quarter, a receipt, and some hand cream
and more and more fruit snacks.
I have no idea why.

And finally, the last one:
another bottle cap, a bit more kleenex,
my cell phone, and some car keys,
and of course a credit card and some ID.
These are the memories I keep.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Tangents- yes I have a few!

Okay, where to start today? My brain is so scattered!

1. I am slowly reading "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. In a section I read yesterday she talked about school lunches. When one of her students gets stuck, she asks them about school lunches. A simple subject, and yet everyone seems to have a lot to say about them. At first I thought I didn't have much to say on this subject because I didn't eat too many of them in high school. Then I thought about it and realized I could write a whole lot on this after all. I haven't started yet, but it's something to put in the wings for later.

2. Speaking of school lunches, Abby said to me this morning "Put a yogurt and some ketchup and some different foods in my lunch today Mommy." She had the attitude of "Don't screw it up Mom!!!" It was pretty funny. Different foods? Okay, I'll try. I hope chicken was what she wanted, and some rainbow colored goldfish crackers. Of course she got a juice box and strawberries too.

3. I had 2 nightmares last night.
In the first one I was about to jump off this huge metal thing. It was falling apart beneath me, and I was going to try to jump into the water nearby. If I didn't jump, I'd fall to the pavement. Odds are good that either way I was going to die. In the dream I was looking around to make sure my kid and my husband were safe on the ground. I wasn't afraid of the jump, or the consequences.

In the second nightmare there were 3 dying cats in an apartment. They belonged to my mother, but she wasn't there. She was somewhere south, and coming back soon. I went to the apartment to feed the cats, and there was a lot of uneaten cat food on the floor (the wet kind) and there were ants and maggots all over it.

Guess which nightmare woke me up and kept me out of bed for 2 hours? Yeah, the second one. I'm still haunted by it. Gross!!

4. I bought Abby some of that "Crazy Feet" plastic fruit snack stuff. The box showed prints of flowers and some geometric stuff. I figured half would be flowers and half would be the other geometric one. Wrong! Only 1 package out of the 6 had the flowers on it, and I had to open each package to see what the print was. At $3/box the stuff wasn't cheap to begin with. If she doesn't eat the other 5, then that was one expensive fruit snack for the one she did eat. I wrote to Betty Crocker to complain. I doubt they'll do anything.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mundane Monday- Work and school

Right now I'm kind of bored with my job. We don't have a budget still because everyone is worried about Fiscal year 2011. So I'm not being allowed to do much Acquisitions stuff. At the same time, I applied several months ago, for a "reclassification" that would give me a raise. When I do have work, I think I should be getting paid more for it than I am. Sigh. You know what would really help me? I'll tell you.. a 4 year degree. I don't have one. I tried, couldn't figure out what I wanted my major to be, flunked a few math, science, and foreign language classes, and finally got good grades at Community College and got my 2-year degree. I'd like to go back to school but it's tough. Working full-time, kid, husband, only have 1 car...

Right now I have on my desk a form to sign up for a workshop about how to go back to school. I need my supervisor's signature on the form and then I could send it in to sign up. Realistically though, why bother? The odds of me being able to take classes are slim to none. When my daughter gets older I'm going to tell her to stay in school of course, but I'm also going to tell her to get that 4 year degree in something, anything, doesn't matter what. Of course she'll probably rebel against me, drop out, and have a kid when she's 16. God, I hope not. If she does then I guess she'll qualify for a lot of financial aide when she finally realizes I'm right and goes back to school.

A four-year degree would give me access to jobs in a better union. It would make me qualified for jobs that I'm not qualified for now. It's just a piece of paper, but without that piece of paper, I'm on the outside of things looking in.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Family Friday- updates from around Clessonville

Sigh. Just as I'm about to post this I got a message saying I could get back to work again, so I'm going to have to make this quick.

Updates on things- last Friday we buried my maternal grandmother, may she rest in peace. On Tuesday one of her nephews passed away from cancer. His twin brother was at the funeral on Friday. So sad to hear of the passing. This cousin of mine was a true hero, and memories will live on in many hearts. His parents were awesome too, and I attended both of their funerals. I will probably miss his though. It's too far away for me to go to it.

My mother and my brother are still fighting, and I think we're about to get in the middle of it. So far I've been on my brother's side, but managed to keep speaking to my mom. I have a feeling that could change any day. I'm sort of waiting for her to lash out at me.

We've had a crazy week. Last weekend was fairly quiet. Plans for the fair disappeared in the misty air as my husband had to work on Saturday and it was raining anyway. On Sunday the weather was all too nice, and the traffic leading to the fair was a long jam that sent me away.

Monday and Tuesday found us at the dentist and doctor's offices for Abby. All went well. She did great at the dentist, letting the hygienist brush her teeth. Her ears were good at the doc's the next day. Preschool seems a little concerned that her language skills may be behind. We mentioned this to the doc, and will follow up in April with him to see if she needs an evaluation and any Early Intervention. I'm thinking she is fine, but we'll keep our ears open anyway.

Last night hubby didn't get to sleep. He took a short nap as Abby was getting ready for bed, but then he went into work from midnight-8:30am. He came home so I could get Abby to school, and then he was back to work by 11am. It's been a long couple of days for him. He's exhausted now, and we'll be trying to get supper early so he can get to bed. I expect Saturday will be quiet because of this.

We do still need to get some Fall clothes shopping done for Abby, and I need to get some birthday shopping done for Hubby. Also the Big E is starting around now, and I'm not sure if we'll go or not. It could happen I suppose, I just don't know. Lots of things up in the air. The 26th is looking busy with car repairs in the morning and 2 local fairs/festivals to attend after that. Hopefully during the week next week things will be "normal" and quiet for the most part.

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Topical Thursday- Death

Well it's been a tough few weeks for me. My grandmother was fading, and then passed away on Labor Day. On Tuesday this week, one of my cousins (first cousin to my mother) passed away from cancer. He was 67, and the local paper in New Hampshire wrote a couple of articles about what a hero he was.

There has also been the death of Patrick Swayze, and Mary Travers. Mary of course was famous for her time with "Peter Paul & Mary". As a young child I loved "Puff" played on my step-father's reel-to-reel tape player over and over.

There have been others who have died this week too. I saw in the obits a woman named Ann-Marie who was my age, maybe a year older, leaving behind a child. Not sure what the cause of death was, and I did not know her, but sad to see none the less. It's hard to accept these things.

Death is always with us. Babies are born every day, and people of all ages die every day. My grandmother was a role model to me. I'm sure Patrick, Mary, and my cousin Dan, and Ann-Marie were role models to many too.

So what can I take away from some of this? I hope that to my daughter I will be a role model too. My daughter will not have the grandparents I had growing up, but maybe if she has kids some day, they will have a grandmother who they look up to. It's up to me to do my part to try to give my daughter that. It's up to me to be the best I can be, and be a good wife and a good mother, and put my best foot forward. No sense on dwelling on myself when there is work to be done.

Work by the way is slow. Conditions near my desk are unpredictable and at times very non-conducive to actually being productive, but I show up every day anyway. That's the best I can do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing Wednesday- I 'm going to jump in!

Writing this as I post it--

I'm just going to jump in! The lake is freezing cold and was covered with a thin mist this morning.
I'm going to jump in anyway. No, please don't! Let's leave the ducks alone. It's their turn now to enjoy the water and the beach, and the chilly air.
I'm going to jump in! I heard some of my writing might be published online soon. No confirmation on that yet. We'll just have to wait and see.
I'm going to jump in! One-Minute Writer today was about Role models and celebrities.I thought about posting on that, but while I was all for role models, I don't care much for celebrities.
I'm going to jump in! I'm back I guess. After taking a little rest, and showers at 1am to clear my head, and dreams of screaming, here I am.
I'm going to jump in! Is this a poem or a rambling? I'm not sure. It's just here. Now. Fresh in your face.
I'm going to jump in! The water is cold, but his arms are warm, and slowly I am melting into fleece and comfort, and acceptance. Ready for whatever happens next.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taking a few days off

Grandma A. passed away yesterday- September 7, 2009- Labor Day. I'm working today, but will be taking the rest of the week off. Funeral is Friday, 9/11. Figures.

Anyway, I'll try to get this blog going next week when I'm feeling better. No sense in beating myself up trying to do it this week.

Rest in Peace Grandma. I love you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Family Friday- A long weekend ahead and some Abby updates

Abby's best friend at preschool is gone, maybe temporarily, maybe long-term. Not sure at this point. I have the mom's cell phone number and I'm supposed to set up a play date for her. In the meantime Abby has a pretend friend with the same name and they play together a lot. I wish she would gravitate back to her other friends, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm sure it will in time.

Another Abby-ism is that she has gotten in a rut with her clothes. She insists on wearing the same outfit every day for many days in a row. So Aaron has been doing laundry EVERY night, sometimes just rinsing things out in the sink, but he has been making it possible for her. He gets the chore of helping her get dressed in the morning, and helping her get her pajamas on at night, so it's really between the two of them. It saves time in the morning if she can wear what she wants to wear. Otherwise we have a tantruming child, who is not getting dressed, and that doesn't really help our schedule much. I'm hoping this is a short-term phase and we can break her of it soon. I certainly want to try.

We also want to get her out of our bed, but we've been saying that for over 2 years now, so don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile it's Labor Day Weekend, or just about. We promised a coworker that we'd visit a tag sale in Greenfield, so we've got that on our radar. If it's warm enough, I know Abby would like to go for one last swim. I'm not feeling well though (some kind of stomach thing) so I'll have to talk Aaron into it. Not sure if that will happen or not. We also have an invite to stop by my mom's house and visit my brother and his son. We tried this last weekend, but Abby was asleep in the car when we got there. I'm not too worried about the invite because I think, or I'm hoping, we'll have lots of opportunities for this.

Saturday night Aaron is going out, as usual, and my dad is coming over for supper with Abby and I. That should be different. The house is a mess, but I don't care. I haven't seen my dad since June and I miss him. Can I say that? I miss my dad. Not sure why, but I do.

On my radar is to see my maternal grandma again. With or without Abby and Aaron, I don't know yet, but it's on my radar. And of course there is that playdate that I haven't set up yet. We'll fill in time with grocery shopping too, and some other things, but I really don't have everything planned out. It's good to be flexible on the weekends and try to "go with the flow" as much as possible. The downside of that is sometimes we get lazy and get nothing done at all, but hopefully we'll find some middle ground.

Probably won't be posting on Monday since I won't have internet. So have a good weekend everybody!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trendy Thursday- Everyone is talking about Universal Health Care

On Facebook this morning I noticed several friends with statuses that reflected a view in favor of Univeral Health Care. No one should be denied health care because of an inability to pay. No one should die because they don't have insurance. Etc. etc. Keep this as your status all day.

Okay,I get it. I get mad when I hear that when my mom lived in Florida she never went to the dentist because there was no state program giving her dental care. I was upset when a single-mom with 4 kids in Florida said she doesn't take her kids to the doctor on a regular basis because she can't afford it. I get that part, and many years ago I was in favor of universal health care. I'm older now though, and I don't think the issue is as simple as I once thought it was. What about the rich guy, a celebrity, or maybe just a professor or a business person or whatever who can afford a private doctor out of his pocket? Should he be required to have insurance when he can pay cash? I don't think so. I don't think Michael Jackson's doctor accepted BlueCross or Medicare, do you?

Anyway,it's a hugely debated issue and a lot of people have already weighed in on it. Here are a few highlights that I found just doing a quick search of the internet--

I kind of like this one because it's so simple--

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Writing Wednesday- a short piece of fiction

Writing Wednesday

I don't have much time, and there is a lot of noise here. Let's see what I can do. I wrote something last night, but it's all in my head. It never actually made it to print. Going to try to do it now...

It was a warm and sunny August morning in Laramie, Wyoming. A Mexican maid took her tablecloth and spread it on the hotel sidewalk and began to set out her tortillas to warm and bake for the day. Inside Room 106 a man showered, and his bride cried. Finally she pulled herself together and went out to greet the sun. She walked barefoot to the hotel lobby, hoping no one would complain. She filled 2 styrofoam cups with cheap coffee, one black, the other with powdered cream and sugar. She put a bagel and a muffin in the pocket of her sweatshirt, and went back to the room again. The lobby had been empty and no one had seen her. She passed the maid still on the sidewalk, and paused outside the room to watch the chain of Harley Davidson motorcycles rumble down the road toward the Interstate, on their way to or from Sturgis, she wasn't sure. She went back to 106 and set the coffees down, and took the muffin and bagel out. One sip of the powdered coffee and she knew she'd need to dump it down the bathroom sink. As she tried to remember where the truckstop was, her man came out of the bathroom, smiling and calm. The bruises on his body told her he must be in some pain, but he obviously didn't want to discuss it. She offered him the breakfast, but he declined so she dumped out both coffees and put the food in the trash.

A knock at the door. The maid was asking in Spanish if they were gone yet. It wasn't quite checkout time, but all the other guests had left. "No, not yet" the bride replied, "Just a few more minutes please". So the maid went back to the sidewalk and her tortillas. A little boy appeared carrying a small pinata. "Is it time yet Momma?", he asked. "No", she smiled. After Room 106 was clean, she would finish with the fiesta preparations. There would be a birthday party for the child with the pinata, and they would have all afternoon for it, until 3pm.

At 3pm, check-in time would come and new guests would arrive. By then the couple in Room 106 would be somewhere else on the Interstate in their dusty rental car, heading somewhere to spend another night in an air-conditioned hotel room, with a stop or two for truck stop food and gas along the way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Tangents

I'm going to make good use of this one! I'm so unfocused today with all the noise and everything going on. So here's a few "tangents".

The "Crunchy Chicken" blog mentions a book called "Sleeping Naked is Green...". I'm not going to read the book, but the blog write up is good. I used to sleep naked a long time ago, but I decided that having a lower heating bill by putting some clothes on is also a green thing to do.

On another tangent - we went grocery shopping last night and my husband and daughter reached for the Golden Oreos. For some reason I think that regular Oreos are a no-no, but an occasional "golden" one is okay. Then they reached for "Double-stuffed" and I thought "well that's not so good", but they went in the cart anyway. After my daughter went to bed, I found my husband had opened the package before I did so I had a couple. Then I looked at the calories. 2 cookies have 150 calories! YIKES! Today I looked up the calories for the other kinds. 3 of the regular Oreos (chocolate cookie, white frosting) have 140 calories. The golden cookies actually have more calories than the chocolate ones. Of course if you only eat the frosting then you are only getting 20 calories, or 40 calories for the double-stuffed. My daughter usually just eats the frosting. I think I'm going to have to stay away from them. A bowl of cereal with milk has less calories and is more filling.

On a third tangent... after visiting the nursing home this morning, I came back to work for more construction. I was hoping they'd do it while I was gone, but no such luck. So I opened up some music and put my headphones on for a while. Here's what I was listening to--

The noise got louder and I finally had to resort to ear plugs. I HATE ear plugs. I'm hoping that these guys call it a day soon. I don't think I can keep the plugs in for very long. Meanwhile we have computer issues that are not my husband's responsibility and my work flow is being hindered a great deal. Oh darn. Maybe I should have stayed at the nursing home longer, but that wouldn't have done any good. Oh well.

Join me tomorrow for Writing Wednesday!