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One of the many things I like about Facebook? You get to learn things about your family that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.
The man laying on the ground in the picture above is my grandfather – my dad’s dad. He fought in World War II.
I’m just going to post what my Aunt posted on Facebook …
Dan said his dad never talked about the war much (who could blame him) but he would tell us this story often.
One day there was an order to head out, so some of his buddies got into the jeep. Right before Leroy got in, his commanding officer said “Hutton you stay”. That jeep was hit and Leroy lost good friends. He would say to us, “If I would have gotten in, you all would have never been here, that saved my life”. Glad he didn’t get in!”
Isn’t it amazing to think that one moment in time, that one split second decision my grandfather’s commanding officer made, led us to this moment: Four children, ten grandchildren, nineteen (?) great grandchildren later.
It sort of boggles the mind when you stop to think about it.
My grandfather is in his early nineties now. We lost my grandmother, my dad’s mom, about … three years ago (?). She developed dementia toward the end of her life and it was a terribly sad way to say goodbye. It was very hard on my parents, I know. And now my grandfather is being moved to a nursing home today because we have reached the point where he can’t take care of himself and it’s physically too hard on my family to help. (He’s wheelchair bound and he requires physical assistance to get into bed, go to the bathroom, etc).
This is INCREDIBLY hard on my grandfather. He’s FIERCELY independent, has been his whole life, so now that he is being forced into this situation, well, it’s been difficult, to say the least.
My parents came over yesterday and they filled in the details. It was heartbreaking to listen to the anguish in their voices and watch tears gather in their eyes.
My grandfather begs them to take him home. He doesn’t want to go to the home. Who can blame him?? But though my family tried to take care of him in his home for one week, the situation is simply more than any of them can handle. They’re trying to make deals with my grandfather, work hard, participate in physical therapy, work on his strength so that he can at least walk on his own again and then they can take him home and work on a schedule to have someone with him at all times. But my grandfather is being stubborn. I’m sure the whole situation is embarrassing and humiliating for him. I see this in patients every day at work. It’s SO HARD to succumb to physical restrictions and have to rely on other people to help you when you’ve been so used to being on your own, taking care of yourself, your whole life.
This situation makes me think of my own parents a lot. They’re getting up there in age, too. Though they are still both relatively young and stay physically active (they go to a gym to walk and socialize every day), I can see early signs of dependency. It brings a lump to my throat to think me and my siblings may be in a similar boat one of these years. And though you can promise you’ll never, ever, put your loved ones in a home, you can’t TRULY promise that. I think this situation with my grandfather has taught me that. All you can do is the best you can do for the situation you find yourself in.
I also wonder how our boys will react when Kevin and I reach that age. Getting older has never really bothered me before, but honestly, seeing my grandfather’s situation has opened up doors I never really knew existed before.
I learned that being in a home, a DECENT home, is terribly expensive. This will likely put a huge dent in my grandfather’s money. I have no idea how much he has, it’s really none of my business how much money he has, but knowing my family, he likely has a nest egg somewhere he can rely on to help him through this stage. I feel terribly sorry for people that DON’T have that money to fall back on.
Kevin and I have talked about making sure we have a will. But I’m not sure we have ever really discussed our plan if one of us ends up in a nursing home. I have made Kevin promise me he will never put me in a home, and vice versa, but my grandfather’s situation has taught me, it’s never quite that black and white.
I worry that dementia runs in our family. I mentioned my grandmother had it and there are signs my grandfather might have it, too. I’ve always worried about my own memory – I have trouble remembering things NOW. What will I be like when I reach my twilight years?
I think that’s one big reason I refuse to retire. Which, I realize is unrealistic, my body will deteriorate … I realize this. But I hereby pledge to work on keeping my mind active. I’m not saying my grandparents did not do that, dementia is not something you can likely prevent, but I will do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length.
In the meantime, life trudges on. All we can do is try and keep pace with it.
Filed under: Life
I was on ebay tonight - I buy almost all my clothes there - and out of curiosity typed my name in the search box. Lots of books and audio tapes and a few ARCs (kind of makes me wince, but whatever). And then this:
Why? Who would want a photo of me with my first book? Why can't I still look that young? What happened to that shirt? I loved that shirt. And it's being sold by Historic Images. Does 2000 really count as history?
By: Kristopher McClanahan,
Blog: Rodents Of Unusual Size
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Now Playing - Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis
.... Once again, there's been a gap and much has happened!
We are still living in Idaho, working on the shop and trying to get back to writing as well - I'm going to a lot of comic cons - about 1-2 a month and we are starting to get the house in order.
We lost Pooka to cancer just before Christmas, the rest of the
By: Karen Maxwell,
Blog: Write From Karen
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Weepy glees – have a box of tissues ready.
I cried like a baby from start to finish after watching this video. I think this scenario affects us so much because we have an innate fear of getting older. And an even bigger fear of not being loved because of how we LOOK/ACT when we get older.
I lost it when the guy commented about how beautiful she was to him, wrinkles and all. And you can tell he really means it, he’s just not saying it to be nice. That’s love. Pure and simple. *sigh*
And I love how they kept a sweet sense of humor about everything. That’s exactly how Kevin and I are – we often giggle like teenagers like that.
My age has never really bothered me before now. But I’ll be honest – I’m going to be 50 this year. The big 5-0 – half a century old. I don’t feel it and people tell me I don’t look it but when I stop to think about it, it sort of shocks me. How did this happen? Inside, I don’t feel a day over 30. Knowing I’m going to be 50 this year just feels … surreal. Unnatural. It can’t be real. There must be some sort of mistake.
I’m fortunate. I work with people half my age so they keep me young. I stay physically and mentally active. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have no plans to retire – why? I ENJOY working. I always have. I get a high out of being productive. And there’s NO WAY Kevin would ever let me stop – I can barely keep up with him now.
Do you think if I stay busy enough I’ll stay ahead of the aging process?
Well I’m going to try, damn it.
Filed under: Life
I recently had school visits in Central Oregon. Two memorable things about that visit: the librarian got deathly sick the morning of the visit, and despite our best efforts, I picked up what she had and took it with me to Wisconsin a few days later.
But the second, much better thing, was that while I was there I met up again with old 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Perkins. I loved him as a teacher, and meeting him again, some 40+ years later, I remembered why. He still asks thoughtful, intereting questions and he listens attentively to your answers. It was nice to hang out with someone who was more my parents' peer. Fewer and fewer of my friends have living parents.
I got home, hoped I had escaped getting sick, and then the day before I flew to Wisconsin, I started coughing. I remembered the librarian doing the same thing, but hoped it was allergies.
After taking three flights to Appleton, Wisconsin - and for the longest flight, my seatmate was 6 foot 3, which meant he physically did not fit in the seat - I landed and quickly realized I was in trouble.
I ended up walking to a nearby Target and getting every OTC cold remedy known to man. The next day, my ride bought me chicken soup By that time, I was trying to refrain from even making small talk, because my voice was going. In between speaking engagements - 9 school visits and/or writing worshops and one book festival visit - I did everything I could to keep myself going. Lozenges, throat spray, Throat Coat tea, honey and water, sitting by the hot tub at the hotel, using saline nasal rinse, and drinking at least one bottle of water an hour (Appleton has sweet tasting water, so it mostly came from the tap).
The Throat Coat tea helped the most, but it was no match for how bad I was feeling. By my second to the last visit, I started thinking I might pass out. For my last talk, the kind librarian sent kids on a scavenger hunt to see if any teachers used stools with backs. They came back with two. Somehow I made it. I just didn't want to disappoint the kids.
I actually think I did a pretty good job.
I made a whirlwind trip down to Texas the other weekend to visit family. It was the perfect antidote to the most brutal winter I can remember.
Needless to say, my camera is filled to capacity with pictures of flora, fauna, nieces and nephew. And all I want to draw are succulents and cacti (ergo, the pattern at the top of this post).
Thanks for the creative shot in the arm, Lone Star State. I owe you one.
Current likes and/or loves:
* Fabric printing.
*Above freezing temperatures. High five, Mother Nature.
...the flowers are not far behind. A quick sketch of the day lily's tiny sprouts around my mailbox amongst the weeds I'll chase all summer.
My resolution for 2015 is a single word: risk. I'll be turning 56 this year. The opportunities I will have to take physical risks are narrowing. I also want to take social risks, and emotional risks, and risks with my writing - all kinds of risks.
So far, I've had a frank conversation with someone I respect but who also used an exaggerated campy "gay" voice to make some points. I think it was eye-opening for both of us.
And in three weeks, I'm signed up to do that Urban Escape and Evasion class, which includes a day spent trying to elude pursuers after you are "kidnapped."
This past weekend, I competed in a Brazilian Jiujitsu (grappling tournament). In this tournament, we were split up by gender, but in my grappling classes I grapple with men, usually only with men since none of the other women in my school regularly take BJJ class. One of my regular partners is 228 pounds, which let me tell you is a lot of weight when someone centers it and pins you.
For a long, long time, I said there was no way I would grapple past what I needed to do for whatever color of sash I was working on in kung fu. It felt too ob-gyn-y. Too rape-y. You couldn't tell me that one of the best positions was on your back with your legs wrapped around some guy's waist. It seemed too vulnerable and weird.
Guys will often grow up wrestling with their friends. None of the girls I know ever did that.
But then my kung fu school started offering BJJ classes four times a week and I started going to them. I am still don't have a very good offense. And at my gender and my age and my weight compared to many of my partners, I mostly play defense. But I have a damn good defense.
On Monday my Kitty reminded me small can be very deadly
I'm a flawed human being. No, no, no, don't laugh! I know that's not news. It's just....it's always interesting when I see myself through someone else's eyes.
Sometimes it's scary because they see this glowing, fabulous person on a day when I'd swear I look like Gollum.
Other days, I'm Sauron to them and have to remind myself that
This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.
We visited two apartments today.
The first one, we met the gal at the complex and she showed us an apartment on the 2nd floor. The first thing I noticed was – it was dirty. At least, it FELT dirty. And it was right next to a major highway, so there was the highway noise. And then there were REALLY squeaky floors. And the floors felt … bumpy. And I immediately felt sorry for the neighbors down below the unit. And it just felt … wrong. The boys weren’t too terribly impressed, but they haven’t really had anything to compare it to so …
When we left, we discussed the pros and cons. I felt like there were too many cons and I wasn’t impressed.
The second apartment, I had high hopes for. It’s the closest one to our house and the most reasonably priced. It’s near grocery stores and in the middle of a nice neighborhood. I crossed my fingers.
We didn’t have an appointment at this complex, we just showed up. (But to be fair, I had called them them day before and they said it was okay to do that). The guy was super nice and very helpful. He also showed us a unit on the middle floor and I immediately LOVED it. It felt right right off the bat.
The living area was a nice size. The kitchen is small, but again, it’s just the two of them. There’s also a pantry and a coat closet just off the tiny dining area. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. And the closet in the master bedroom is the BIGGEST closet I have ever seen. In fact, it’s so large, they could easily have a third person move in and use the closet as their “bedroom.” There is definitely room for a twin-sized bed in the closet. They’ve been toying with the idea of having one of their cousins move in with them… but we’ll see how that goes. It came as sort of a shock to Blake, when we talked to the manager more at length, that if their cousin moves in, he just can’t “move in,” he too will have to go through the application/approval process which means he will HAVE to have a job before that can happen. I’m relieved that was brought up and discussed because I really think Blake had plans on basically supporting the cousin and that would have been a bad idea all around.
They have several units available. And again, I think it might be a better idea if the boys either get a ground floor or a top floor – stay away from the 2nd floor. Having neighbors is bad enough, having a neighbor both on top of you and below you is double the trouble.
This complex has a pool, a BBQ area, and a laundry facility. And Blake is seriously considering paying an extra $15 per month to reserve a carport.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We left with some applications and went to our third apartment prospect.
But the manager was out and wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. So we went ahead and came back home.
The conversation we had with the boys was probably one of the best conversations we’ve had in, wow, a LONG time. We weighed the pros and cons of the 2nd complex and talked about a realistic move-in time. After a while, I said, “what, exactly, are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and start the application process.”
And that’s what we did. The boys filled out the applications and wrote checks out for the application fee. Kevin wanted to see if they could be approved on their own first before we agree to become co-signers. Either way, we are going to work hard to try and make this happen. The manager said they usually have an answer back within 24-hours. I told the boys to keep their phones close.
We never even returned to the third complex.
I’m so excited for them! This is such a big step in their lives!! We talked about priorities – what would they need to buy right away and what could wait. I even found a pretty sweet kitchen table and chairs on clearance at one of the furniture places. I think I’m going to try and talk everyone into going to a few furniture places tonight after dinner, just to give them an idea of how much things cost.
If today produces nothing else, it was a FANTASTIC learning experience for the boys. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face, but to actually hear someone else explain the process and do some comparison shopping was a much needed dose of reality for them. I was worried about them being able to afford it, but after delving more into their finances, and being shocked by how much they both have in savings (We’re doing something right!!), I’m more confident they will make this work. And they’ll still have keys to our house, they can come over and do their laundry and of course, they’re welcome to come over for dinners to save them money on food, at least, initially.
I’m hoping we have an answer by the end of this week. I hope they get approved on their own, but if they need a co-signer then let’s get the ball rolling on that process. Our goal is to get them moved in mid-March, IF all goes according to plan.
It would be nice to have them all settled before the end of April.
Why the end of April, you ask? You’ll see … :-D
Filed under: Life
I have the day off today and tomorrow.
Let’s take a moment and savor that sentence a moment ……………………………………
Okay fine. You don’t care. But I am loving it!
I haven’t had a day off since our Vegas trip in October.
Okay, okay … we’ve savored enough.
I got my gray covered this morning.
I ABHOR the hair dresser. Not because of where I go – they are actually super nice and their prices are fantastic – no, I hate going to the hair dressers because that means I have to be messed with and I HATE BEING MESSED WITH.
Body massages and pedicures are definitely out for me.
Know what else I’ve been up to today? Other than a nappie poo … or two … (Hey! It’s a day off, remember?? I can be lazy if I want to be …), calling apartment complexes.
I did a lot of research over the weekend. (I love doing research on the ‘net – so many things pop-up that you don’t think about). And I narrowed our search to four strong possible places for the boys to live.
Yes. The boys SHOULD be doing this themselves. No. If I waited for them to take the initiative they would never move out. I wish I was kidding. *sigh*
Since this is the year we kick them out (I’m DETERMINED to make this happen), then I’m taking the bull by the horns and getting this ball rolling. Plus. They are getting on my nerves SO BAD. They are both so immature and lazy and I’m sick of their little boy mentalities – ENOUGH.
All of these places are close to where we live. And the prices are reasonable. In fact, my first pick just happens to be the cheapest pick. And the closest. When I called to see if anything was available, I learned a con right away – the parking is a first-come-first-serve situation. Which means … what exactly, I’m not sure. But if they want to park under one of the carports, they have to pay an additional $15 per month – which is one reason it’s probably cheap, now that I think about it.
I called all four places today. We are looking at two tomorrow. Possibly three. Since I could never get anyone to answer the phone at one of the complexes, we’ll just take a chance and drop by tomorrow and see if anyone is available to show us around. And the fourth place? Didn’t have any units available until April. Which, may work out fine anyway as I’m not sure the boys would be ready to move out in a week anyway.
We’ll talk about that tonight at dinner.
We have an appointment to meet someone at my second choice at 10:00. When I told Brandon what we were doing, (he isn’t working today) he was NOT excited. When I asked him why, he sighed and said “it’s more responsibility.” Well freakin’ duh! It’s called LIFE son; it’s time to start living it.
See what I’m dealing with here? They’re spoiled rotten. And yes, I realize it’s our fault. Bleh.
Anyway, I’m trying not to get my hopes up about these showings tomorrow. I can’t explain it but I either KNOW it’s going to be right or it WON’T. That’s how it always is with me. I KNEW Kevin was the one for me. I KNEW this house was perfect for us. I KNOW whether I’m going to get along with someone or not right away. I KNOW if I like something or not right away. It’s just a … feeling. That’s the best way I can describe it. Granted, these apartments are not for me. And I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and let the boys do the talking … but ugh. I just can’t wait on them anymore. I’m ready for them to begin their lives whether they are ready or not.
And I’m being selfish – I want two extra rooms in our house. One will be an extra bedroom for either me or Kevin (I mentioned we don’t sleep together, right??) and the other will be an office and/or a workout room.
It’s going to be SO NICE to have that space. But I don’t want to get too excited yet – we still have to make this happen. Blake actually did a budget the other day based on just the money he makes and he can do this – it will be tight, but he can do it. Brandon … can do it but he may have to get another part-time job or get more hours at work. But I’m hoping that moving out will motivate the boys to DO something more with their lives. Right now, they just go to work and play video games. I mean, they will likely do that when they move out, but at least it will be on their terms.
This MIGHT motivate my nephew, my 24-year old nephew still living at home with his dad, I might add, to get a job and maybe move in with them. They have all talked about moving in with each other for years. That way, they could split expenses three ways and it will hopefully kick-start my nephew’s life into gear. WIN-WIN.
Time to grow up, boys!
Filed under: Life
* I've caught the weaving bug (seemingly, like half the internet). This tutorial
is a terrific jumping off point.
* The film Haute Cuisine
is delightful. But be forewarned, it'll make you ravenously hungry.
Isn't this amazing! A writer in Cummings, Georgia (Meghan Harker, http://exquisitelyodd.com/) found it in her till at work. She posted it on Twitter and a friend alerted me. I traded her $5 bills - only mine was in a copy of Girl, Stolen.
Can you help me find Clem & her friend SLY? I would guess Clem and SLY are in middle school. I originally thought Clem was short for Clementine, but a librarian in Georgia says Clem is a pretty common boy's name there.
After I put it up on Twitter and Facebook, I heard from KOIN-TV. Reporter Jenny Hannson and her photographer Ole interviewed me Monday for a story that will run on Friday (and be online) about the $5 bill found in Georgia with instructions that it be used to buy a copy of Girl, Stolen. There's a chance the story may air in Georgia as well.
I would love to find Clem and SLY and give them and their school library some books! And if you could help, I'd give you books, too!
Since our last transmission:
* Blizzards and book sketches have had me in mole mode as of late. Ergo, there's been many cups of this tea
* I'm completely obsessed with Natural Companions
, by Ken Druse. I've been using it for reference material -- it's a goldmine of botanical images.
* Anyone else watching the absolutely delightful Grantchester
* And I'm planning a craft night, tentatively for March, at my studio. Local (i.e, Seacoast New Hampshire/Southern Maine) and interested? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll keep you in the loop!
This is the 8th New Year's post I've written since starting my blog to chronicle my publishing journey. Coincidently five years ago I also skipped posting in the month of January and wrote my traditional New Year post on February 2nd, 2010. Know why I was late that year? I'd spent the previous twelve months being a mom to TWO kids, a situation previously undeveloped in my first two years on the blog. Somehow January just slipped through my fingers.
Also coincidently I'm late this year for practically the same reason. While the two children in question are of the paper, watercolor, and imagination variety they demand almost as much time, although they don't argue in the back of the car as much. And when I say two children, that's almost a misnomer for The Little Kid's Table which encompasses a whopping 13 characters. I like to think of The Little Kid's Table as being the Type A overachiever child - so many things to say, so many things to do, so many things to be right about. Kooky Crumbs, whose detailed sketches were just approved last week, is the quieter, artsier child. Right now it stands in the shadow of The Little Kid's Table on the drawing board, but as that one's deadline draws near Kooky Crumbs will get its time to shine.
Here are a few random pics that I snapped during the first year of raising The Little Kid's Table:
|Character sketches and initial thumbnail layouts|
|close up of my initial thumbnail layout. Some of these stayed the same, some changed|
|My stack of discarded sketches|
|One of my favorite spreads|
|The line up. I kept several illos taped over my drawing table for character reference.|
|This one and the one above were some of the first illos I did. |
I was trying to get the kids characters developed.
Finally let's have a look at my resolutions for 2015. I really struggled with these for the first year ever. Usually my resolutions revolve around professional goals but 2014 saw many years of professional resolutions bear fruit. After several weeks of letting resolution ideas soak in my brain I realized I kept coming back to work/life balance. I need to remember that just because I'm not dragging a pencil or paintbrush across the paper doesn't mean I'm not developing as an artist. So here's what I resolve for 2015:
1) stop thinking of chatting with friends on social media as "wasting time." Many of those same friends are illustrators or writers just like me, blessed with an abundance of ideas and projects, cursed with a lack of time and working in solitude constantly. Chatting helps.
2) In that same vein, stop thinking of sitting in my idea chair with a cup of coffee and a good book as wasting time. Reading good books is what gives me good ideas. Ditto on reading good books to my kids.
3) Make time to have coffee with friends that I haven't in a while, even if I'm on a deadline. A couple of times recently I've seen the theme of having an interesting life outside of the studio as being essential to being a great artist. All work and no play dulls the pencil. Seems like the universe is trying to tell me that I can't always rest on the excuse of "I'm on a deadline, I don't have time."
4) this one is the real kicker - don't feel guilty about keeping these resolutions.
If I go back to this resolution to listen to more music
maybe I've been trying to do the art/life balance for a while. Here's to a year of letting the fulcrum tilt back horizontal.
I love, love, LOVE this video. I’ve always had a problem with sanctimonious mothers who think THEIR way is the BEST way to raise a child.
I couldn’t disagree more.
I bottle fed my children and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I used to be ashamed to admit it because whenever I would mention it on this blog, or anywhere else, quite frankly, I would get the disapproving stink eye or a snarky comment. And then I would inevitably feel inadequate and guilty.
Not anymore, dude. I’m not even going to justify my decision – I did what I thought was best for my children and my sanity.
It always annoys me whenever people feel the need to justify their decisions. I’m sure you did what you thought best. End of discussion.
And that’s where I stand on motherhood issues.
Whether you bottle fed, breast fed, stayed at home, worked out of the home, used cloth diapers or disposable diapers – in the end, it’s really none of my business. As long as you’re doing what’s best for the child and your family, it really doesn’t matter. The ultimate goal is to raise our children to be responsible, educated, compassionate human beings; how you reach that goal is up to you. There is no “one size fits all” answer, no matter what you hear politicians, the media, or even other mothers try to convince us otherwise.
You do what’s best for you and your family and don’t you dare feel guilty about your decisions or feel like you have to justify your decisions.
Ultimately – it’s none of our business how you live your life.
Filed under: Life
I used to make elaborate New Year's Resolutions with 20, 30, even 40 things I was going to change, do, fix. I would be thinner and a better friend, run faster and pray more.
Often, the only thing that changed on that list was the year at the top.
This year, my resolution was a single word: risk. I'm increasingly aware of my own mortality. Time is flying by and I don't want to say "If only I had."
I got a chance to act on my resolution only a few days into the new year. A man I don't know well but respect often uses a series of funny accents as he makes his points: New York. Russian. Etc.
And one is a big campy gay voice.
That day, I looked around the room, trying to see if it made anyone else as uncomfortable as me. But I felt like I was alone. Still, I waited until everyone else had gone and told him how I felt.
The conversation took some interesting turns I hadn't expected. I think it was eye-opening for both of us.
And afterward I was glad I had taken that risk.
In a few months I'm going to be taking a class called Urban Escape and Evasion (I snagged the photo from their web site). You spend two days learning how to survive in a dangerous chanotic urban environment (say after a terrorist attack or being kidnapped in a foreign country), then on the third day you are “kidnapped: hooded, cuffed and taken somewhere dark and uncomfortable to start your day. You will be expected to escape, find your own transportation legally using your social engineering skills, and make your way to the first cache location, where directions for a series of tasks using all your new skills await.Meanwhile, expert trackers will be hunting you down, and if they catch you, you will have to start again from a more distant location."
I know this is going to stressful. As a writer, I'll be an outlier, surrounded by preppers and ex-military. My guess is I'll be older and one of very few women.
But for the risk, I'll have the reward of having so much amazing writing material. So it will be worth it.
Are you taking any risks this year?
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It’s strange. From October to December, there seems to be very little time to do much other than marvel at how fast time flies. I do as much as I can to get done what needs to be done. I love that time of year, even the hustle and bustle of it all. But from…
By: Karen Maxwell,
Blog: Write From Karen
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I’m not a social person. Not really. Though I bet if you ask the people I work with, or even my family, they would say that I am.
Yes. I CAN get along with people. Yes. I DO appear like I enjoy interacting with people.
But here’s a secret – I don’t.
I interact with people because I have to. Given the choice of being isolated or around people, I will choose isolation every single time.
Generally speaking, I don’t like people.
I would describe myself as being a chameleon. I tend to be whatever the situation requires me to be.
At work, I’m a confident, no-nonsense, efficient, humorous, compassionate co-worker with one goal – do my job to the best of my ability.
At home, I’m a wife, mother, daughter (in-law), and aunt. I play these roles when the situation warrants. I tend to laugh too loudly, contribute to conversations when appropriate, (or not), and play my familial role when necessary.
In public, I’m polite, considerate, and unassuming when around strangers.
I don’t have any close friends so I’m spared of having to assume yet another exhausting personality.
Whenever I’m alone, or I’m in public but by myself yet surrounded by people, my personal mantra is: please don’t talk to me. Ignore me. I’m invisible.
And yet. People still approach me. I get asked questions a lot when I’m in public. People take one look at me and assume I want to know their life stories. I assure you, I do not. Apparently, I have a trust-worthy face.
I was talking to my old boss the other day – I was toying with the idea of transferring within the company to a different position. I was a shoe-in for this position but it would be quite different than what I’m doing now – it would be in a quiet office, dealing with insurance companies all day long. I would have very little interaction with ACTUAL people. When I was weighing the pros and cons with my old boss, she said, “But Karen. You would miss the patient interaction. You’re so good with patients.” And I nearly laughed – she really didn’t know me at all. The LACK of interaction was one of the biggest PROS to the job, in my opinion.
It sort of made me sad that my work persona is so convincing that even people I’ve worked with for years don’t really SEE the real me.
I’m never outright rude to people. I always smile and pretend I give a rat’s ass, but inside, I’m desperately looking for ways to end the interaction. And I thank God every day people can not read my thoughts.
I would likely be burned at the stake if they could.
I don’t really dislike people, per se, I just don’t have any desire to be around people. I would much rather blend into the background and simply watch. I ADORE people watching. People are fascinating to me. I love watching the play of emotions cross their faces, their body language and mannerisms that give away what they’re thinking and feeling. These tell-tales may not be obvious to the casual observer, but to a people watcher such as myself (that sounds creepy), I see them.
I have a knack (gift?) for reading people. I can tell, within a few moments, what sort of personality someone has and then I adjust my personality accordingly. Queen bees, loud/obnoxious, vain, quiet, no-nonsense, shy, uncertain, braggart, brash, bold, vulgar … there is usually a reason for all of these types of personalities – some insecurity they are covering up, or exposing. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious. Sometimes it takes a while to get to know the person, but eventually, I start to get a picture of what type of person I’m interacting with and become the person they can get along with.
Sometimes I wonder who the TRUE me really is? I’ve been someone else to either survive a situation or to assimilate into a sub-culture so many times and for so long I don’t even know anymore.
I’m not sure I really want to know anymore.
People, generally speaking, annoy me. I find fault with everybody. She’s too loud. He’s too obnoxious. She’s too vain. He’s too confident. She’s insecure. He doesn’t possess a funny bone in his body.
I don’t know why I’m so critical of people. Lord knows I’M not perfect. I guess I do not want to spend the time, nor the energy, trying to compensate for these perceived flaws. Life is too short for the nonsense that comes with drama.
I realize I’m not painting a very attractive picture of myself, but I’m just keeping it real. I’m a realist, if nothing else. And that’s not always a glamorous personality trait, I guess.
Filed under: Life
Have you noticed, when you lay down for a nap, or settle into a comfortable position as you’re willing yourself to fall asleep – that moment when your body begins to quiet and your breathing evens out, grows shallow, gets comfortable, when your heart slows and beats a comfortable staccato against your breastbone, how many nerve endings quiver and jump?
I’ve been noticing it more and more. It seems my body is beginning to protest more and more the older I get. Luckily, the various body parts that occasionally give me problems tend to play nicely with one another – one part will flare up while the others grow quiet and wait their turn. My aches and pains rarely flare up all at once – my pain is considerate of my tolerance level.
I have a high pain threshold. I can take a lot before I reach the point of going crazy or crying uncle and see a doctor. I do not have a primary care physician because I’m rarely sick. If I ever reach the level of going to see an urgent care doctor, it’s serious. I try very hard to control my body, not the other way around.
I realize that I’m blessed with good health. This fact has never been more apparent than it has been since I started working in healthcare. My problems are minuscule, almost non-existent, compared to others whose bodies have completely betrayed them.
Nothing warms my heart more than helping a patient be able to walk relatively pain free, to come in for their post-op appointment looking 110% better than they did before surgery. It’s satisfying and it makes me very proud and honored to work for miracle workers.
I have predictable aches and pains – my biggest issues are:
Sinuses/Headaches – but I have that under control with Sudafed products and migraine medication. I can tell what sort of issue I’m having based on where my headache originates. If it’s in the temples, it’s caffeine withdrawal. If my nose feels like someone has a pair of vice grips on it and is squeezing, it’s sinuses (and this usually corresponds with the barometric pressure).
Low back – I started having low back problems shortly after falling off a 6 ft ladder when I worked for Wendys and tried to stand on the very top to change the marquee. I landed on my low back, knocking the wind out of me and bruising my kidneys. I have a permanent bump around my coccyx (tailbone) area. Kevin calls it my “tail.” I suspect, though this has never been confirmed with testing, that the tissues did not heal correctly in that area and whenever I get really stressed or really lazy, the muscles around my coccyx will swell and tighten thereby decreasing my blood flow in that area. It hurts to straighten up and walk. I have found that Ibuprofen and heat works really well at massaging those knots out. (Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and works to reduce swelling). I now know to do stretches, squats and to walk whenever my low back starts to feel tight.
My vagina feels like it’s falling out – I know. I’m sorry. But I’m just keepin’ it real. At first, I thought maybe my pelvic muscles were getting weak. Which, they might be because your muscles do get weaker as you get older. And I did have a large bowel resection (my large intestine had a few twists in it that required three feet of it to be surgically removed). As a result, I’ve been doing squats and reverse sit-ups to counteract that possibility. I don’t really know how to describe this feeling. Whatever is happening, it puts pressure on my bladder and I have to pee a million times. It’s not a UTI, it’s just an overwhelming urge to pee. I’ve really been paying attention to what I’ve been eating and when it happens. I think I’m eating too much fiber. I make two scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice and one fiber bar for my breakfast in the morning. Sometimes, instead of eggs, I eat a bowl of oatmeal. I force myself to eat a heavy breakfast in case I don’t get to eat lunch and I’m not dying of hunger later. I then eat another fiber bar mid-morning to take the edge off my hunger. You can imagine what happens when I get home from work. Since I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of food I’m eating, I’m wondering if all the fibrous foods I’m eating is putting pressure on my intestines and since I’m not eating that much food, there’s nothing to “squeeze” out? And the pressure on my intestines is putting pressure on my bladder? I have no idea if this is what’s going on, but I’m going to experiment in the next few days and test my theory.
My left (dominant) arm is weak and hurts – This pain started a few weeks after my flu shot. (*SIGH*) I have VERY STRONG FEELINGS AGAINST THE FLU SHOT but if I want to keep my job, I’m required to get the damn thing every year. I think the girl who gave me my flu shot this year did it wrong. I think she gave it to me too far up my upper arm. I never felt a thing. I didn’t feel the prick when she stuck me or any burning after the poison was injected. I did a little research and that’s actually not a good thing – to not feel anything. I’ve had forearm and elbow achy pain ever since. I almost went to the doctor the pain was so bad – it was keeping me up at night. However, after doing a little research, I began to ice it (which really helps), put a heating pad on it, (which hurts like hell the next day but then evens out and doesn’t hurt at all for several days after that), and took Ibuprofen, which really, really helps (which leads me to believe that I have some inflammation going on in there) but Ibuprofen is not good for your liver, so I only take it when the pain gets unbearable. I also have pain in the palm of my left hand, too. This pain is aggravated by typing so I wonder about carpal tunnel, though I don’t have numbness in my fingers. The pain does seem to be getting better, so maybe it’s just muscle strain. I haven’t given up trying to control it on my own yet and have no plans on going to the doctor for it at this time.
And that’s about it. That’s the extent of my aches and pains. This may sound like a lot to some but it’s really nothing compared to many people. I rarely come down with colds and I honestly can’t remember the last time I came down with a cold. (And no, it’s not because I take the damn flu shot – I wasn’t sick for years before the stupid thing). Whenever I start to feel icky, I suck on a Zicam, use nose spray and burn the back of my throat (which burns off any lingering bacteria – and yes, I know it sounds crazy but I SWEAR it really helps).
All of this to document how little discomfort I have now. I’m curious to see if and/or when this changes as I get older. I think the key to staying on top of aches and pain is to keep moving and that’s exactly what I plan on doing – staying busy and physically moving.
Filed under: Life
By: K.G. Schneider,
Blog: Free Range Librarian
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Last Tuesday, January 6, as I walked out of the hospital in New Mexico where my mother is staying due to a series of medical events — a planned hip replacement, followed by an unplanned stroke and then a very unplanned leg fracture — I saw two huge Christmas trees in the hospital lobby — the long-life kind, not living trees cut from the ground — shorn of their ornaments, which lay in bags on the floor.
At the wrong moment, or listening to the wrong music, the trees would have seemed forlorn, but to me they were expectant. For many reasons, good and not so good, this holiday season was very muted.
A year ago I remember remarking to an esteemed colleague in my doctoral program that I would stay on track with my doctoral work as long as I didn’t have anything major like a job change or a family medical crisis, a statement intentionally hyperbolic. By this past November, as my mother was on the cusp of her own medical journey, I had accepted a position, effective this morning, as Dean of the Library at Sonoma State University — an opportunity that came with very complex emotions about leaving Holy Names, but perhaps because of those feelings was absolutely the right opportunity at the right time.
I had been on a wonderful odyssey at Holy Names, one in which I felt that our initiatives and efforts, large and small, were deeply appreciated, and where I had the unique chance to build a library and a team from near-scratch while I learned the runic ways of higher education. I remarked to a dear friend last summer that I didn’t feel “done,” and he paused thoughtfully and commented that no one is every really done. That wasn’t the only epiphany, but it factored into many other conclusions I had about how much more I could do where I was at this point in time, as well as what I wanted to accomplish in the last decade-and-plus of my career as a full-time library leader, and also our strong desire to remain in our beloved NorCal.
By December I was also immersed in my mother’s medical crisis. My sister and I have become entwined with one another in ways that are surprising and salutary, speaking, texting, and emailing daily, pacing our way around our mother’s situation. To add to it all, Sandy and I were also tangled in a massive head cold that for her developed into bronchitis and for me colored all the rituals and gestures of my departure from Holy Names, and our farewell to San Francisco as residents of five years, with a thin grey coating of exhaustion.
Thanksgiving was about apartment-hunting, wrapping things up at Holy Names, beating back the cold from hell, and packing. Christmas was something other people were doing. Sandy and I gave away tickets for events (not wanting to be those people coughing nonstop in a theater), had a nice meal and cocktail here and there, slept a lot, and called it a season. My sister and I tag-teamed calls, emails, and travel to and from New Mexico. Sandy and I coughed and packed and coughed some more. My final commute from Holy Names was during a wind storm so powerful that the radio kept reporting traffic jams caused by trees falling on cars; I gripped the wheel of Misty, my Prius, and we soldiered on to Santa Rosa. By New Year’s we were in our new home, coughing a little less. This past Sunday I set down my Ikea allen wrench to go visit my mother again, leaving Sandy amidst the boxes in a house without Internet or television.
At some point I decided to stop flogging myself for not having the mental bandwidth to work on the data analysis for my qualifying paper. I had a perfect timeline, and then life happened. It wasn’t just chronological time that was scarce; it was the intellectual space to wrap my head around anything other than the next crisis-laden phone call or the next moving-related problem.
A lengthy delay in Internet access to our new home compounded issues; I spent a couple of weeks highly underconnected, which refreshed my empathy for students who lack reliable Internet and high-end equipment. Out of desperation, because my home computer was a 17″ laptop with a dying screen (which was adequate when the laptop just sat there on my desk at home, less so when I contemplated dragging its fragile self to coffeeshops), the afternoon before my next trip to New Mexico I bought a laptop at CostCo which turned out to have a corrupt wireless driver that three CostCo support concierges helped me reinstall as I crossed the country. I could feel my ribcage loosen when I finally got fully online. I am still in awe of how expertly these support techs managed my case from airport lobbies and hotel rooms.
One morning, juggling too many things, I realized I was afraid I’d never get back on the doctoral homework horse again. As soon as I thought that, a business card with esteemed colleague’s name on it fell out of a drawer, and a minute later I received a chipper email from him, thanking me for suggesting the qualitative analysis product he was productively using for coding interviews, and asking how I was doing. This is the sort of colleague who also juggles too many things and then sits in a chair, scoots up to his desk, and stolidly soldiers through homework, reminding us all that It Can Be Done.
So: Santa is real, and he didn’t skip our house this year, after all.
Two providers, four modems, and nearly three hours of telephone holds later, we have Internet and (because we are old-fashioned boomers) television. We have found stores and restaurants and a lovely walking/bicycling path just blocks from our home; our neighbors have been neighborly, the area food-friendly and beautiful. The coughing is almost gone. The medical crisis proceeds as these do. Sandy has found Meetup groups to do interesting walks around our new city. Samson, bribed with copious quantities of bonita flakes and other cat treats, has adjusted. The mountain of boxes has dwindled, and we have found electric toothbrushes and tailor’s chalk and many other things we were looking for.
In less than an hour I drive to my new job. My next-to-last doctoral class will begin in March. The liturgical calendar will tick through the Feast of the Ascension, then Easter, and before I know it, I’ll drag Piney III from the garage (we have a garage..!) and we’ll bedeck him and hang stockings. And yesterday, early in the morning, I refocused on the data analysis for my qualifying paper, making excellent progress; in future Sundays I’ll resume worshipping at Church of the Tam–barring any other crises, which in most cases, as I was reminded this Christmas season, are not mine to bar.
This is my great grandmother Martha L. Bond Henry. Family lore has it that before she married my great grandfather she was married to a man named Carroll. There was a daughter named Sarah, a baby who died. Mr. Carroll died. Marha married my great grandfather. Sarah shows up in one census and is gone by the next. That same family lore has it that she went back to her father's people.
After my mom died in the fall of 2013, I found this tintype of Martha in the photos my parents had kept. My dad had written a little bit about his family, but Martha died before he was born and he knew nothing about her past. He quoted part of an old note of my grandmother's saying "She was a beautiful woman, but she had no liberty to express her personality. She could not read. She was gentle and sweet in her disposition and did as she was told."
(i'm pretty sure Grandma Effie would never have called herself a feminist, but she was one all the same. My dad used to talk about a job his dad had in the 1920s. When he felt called to preach, my grandmother took over the job. For half the salary. Because she was a woman. Even though my grandfather wasn't making any money.)
After I found the tintype, cue months of obsessive Ancestry.com searches. I spent months chasing a Martha Jane Bond born in the same year, but it turned out she wasn't my grandmother. On the other side of the country, a woman was researching her husband's relatives from the mid-1800s - including a family named Bond. Thanks to Ancestry's DNA tests and a lot of joint sleuthing of places and names, DNA and records, it seems very likely we share great-great grandparents.
I'm not sure why, but it's very satisfying to have solved this 15-month puzzle.
At least, temporarily.
At least, I HOPE it’s temporary.
Kevin has a special-needs uncle – let’s call him Roy. His grandmother adopted him out of foster care when he was a toddler.
I guess, technically, he’s not really special needs. He’s not retarded but rather, just slow. His birth mother drank and probably did drugs when she was pregnant with him which caused brain damage. He’s only a few years younger than myself.
Kevin’s grandmother passed away and he’s been living with Kevin’s parents all of these years.
However – Kevin’s parents are getting older and it’s harder for them to get around and quite honestly, they just want to live their remaining years peacefully. The situation has become tense and Kevin became his co-guardian – he’s now fully (or will be when his mother passes away) responsible for him.
We knew, at some point, he would need to get out on his own, learn to be independent. The challenge? He can’t really be by himself. He has no concept of money. He will never drive. And he doesn’t always have common sense when it comes to some things. So he will need frequent supervision. Our plan was to get him moved into an apartment and the family would take turns dropping by to check on him – take him meals once in a while, etc.
I came up with the plan of moving him into our rental house across the street. He would pay us rent and we could keep a close eye on him. (He gets money from the government every month due to his disability and might I just add – THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS WERE MEANT TO DO: to help those that can’t fully help themselves. NOT SUPPORT PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF WORKING. *ahem* Focus Karen, focus). No one is currently living in the house now and we need to get someone in there so we can start paying down our loan.
Kevin originally bought the house with his parents in mind and they are still welcome to move in, as soon as they sell their house. The problem? Who knows when that will be. It could be months. It could be years. In the meantime, Roy can live there and we’ll come up with another solution if/when his parents sell their house and/if they still want to move in when that happens. We talked about this plan and he was going to present this plan to his parents after bowling with Roy.
Things sort of reached a breaking point on Sunday night. Kevin left to go bowling with Roy and was gone for several hours. He was gone so long, I started to become worried about him. When he finally came home, he had Roy with him. He felt like the situation was getting worse and why wait?
Our plan is happening now.
The problem is – Kevin didn’t do this gradually so Roy doesn’t have any of his stuff moved into the house yet. So, he’s living with us until we can move him into the house. I’m sure we’re still going to have to “introduce” him slowly to being in the house and living on his own. I’m going to try and talk the boys into spending a few nights with him at the rental house so he doesn’t get scared being on his own. Plus – it’s always a little spooky spending the night in a new place.
But it’s time. Kevin’s parents won’t live forever and no one in the family really wants him to live with them. And to be perfectly honest, Roy is mentally capable of living on his own, he just hasn’t up to this point. There has always been someone to baby him and look after him.
And he won’t be “alone” per se, the family will still be available and did I mention we’ll be across the street if he needs anything?
I think it’s a win-win for everyone, quite frankly.
This is going to be quite an adjustment on everyone’s parts. I think this will actually be good for Blake. He has always had a special connection to Roy – Kevin’s grandma watched Blake when he was a baby so I could continue to work and Blake and Roy have sort of grown up together. They are pretty close. For example, right now, Blake is watching TV with Roy and I can’t tell you the last time Blake came out of his room to watch TV. I think he feels like he needs to take care of Roy and that might be a good thing in the long run for Blake. Roy gives him purpose. He feels comfortable around him and he’s the most animated whenever he’s around him.
Again, a win-win situation. Stay tuned … we’re turning the page to another chapter in our lives.
Filed under: Life
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For those of you just tuning in …
We moved Roy into the house on Saturday.
It was … fun … ish.
The house needed a good cleaning though. It’s been vacant for a little over a year and with all the construction that we’ve had done and Kevin’s projects that he’s been working on, it was a giant dust storm. (In fact, when I got done cleaning the wood floors – which nearly the entire house is wood floors, I was actually wheezing).
Then Blake helped me move his tubs of clothes over to the house and Kevin went over to his parent’s house with Roy to get the rest of his stuff.
Two truck loads later (no seriously – TWO truck loads), we finally have all of his stuff moved in.
And the place is JUNKED up.
Let me explain.
I know people do what’s necessary to cope with stressful situations. I get that. However, it annoys me to no end that Roy’s caregivers didn’t see, or plan, for the bigger picture. Instead of allowing him to spend money on superficial, spur-of-the-moment and rash desires (I think he has five remote cars, one violin, a drum set and countless video game systems) in order to entertain and appease him into submission, why didn’t Roy’s caregivers start a hope chest for him. Like a bedroom set. Living room furniture. Kitchen gadgets and appliances. Items he could store away in his “hope chest” so that WHEN he moved out (because come on – it HAD to happen one day, one way or another), he would be better equipped to start his new life.
Instead, when we moved him into his house, he had nothing. Nothing. Not even his own bed. And being the middle of the month, and several hundred dollars poorer (not sure where that money went, quite frankly), he’s starting out with the barest of bare essentials.
We ended up buying him a $100 bed frame. It’s rickety and sheer plywood, but it’s a bed. He didn’t have enough money to buy a mattress, so we ended up buying him an air mattress. And he’ll likely have to sleep on it for several months because we’ve already budgeted his money out a few months and he has upcoming expenses that he won’t be able to get out of, unfortunately.
He doesn’t have anyplace to put his clothes, so he’s quite literally living out of plastic tubs, for now. He does have his own TV and plenty of entertainment, OF COURSE, and his own recliner that actually belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother). He also got her dishes and towels, so there’s that.
We bought him super cheap (like you can actually bend it with your hands) cookie sheets, silverware, kitchen gadgets, toaster and pots and pans. (The pots and pans are so small, like almost look like they belong to a doll, but they will work for now since it’s only him). He already had a George Foreman grill and a toaster oven, which he’s okay using. We’re not sure he can handle a full-blown oven yet. And I’m not sure we feel comfortable with him trying. So, he’s not to use the oven, for now.
Of course, the house has a microwave and a fridge, so there’s that.
And that’s pretty much it.
I can assure you, Kevin now has full control of his money and will make every dollar count because Roy is going to need every dime in order to make a life for himself. No more brainless purchases. We counselled Roy and told him when it comes to money, bills first, needs second, wants third. Period. That’s how life works.
So what the heck was the two truck loads of stuff, you ask? Good question. We haven’t had time to go through it yet. But just Kevin’s initial survey? It looks like we will be donating a bunch of stuff to the Goodwill and/or filling a dumpster.
Roy has his dog. Who is 11 years old and not getting around very well. She belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother) and she has several teeth that are rotting away. They made an appointment for her to see a vet the beginning of next month (government payday) and Kevin found out how much that is going to cost: $320 – they will have to put her to sleep and pull several teeth. And they also cautioned that since she’s so old, she may not even survive the procedure. So … Roy has the emotional stress of not knowing if his dog will survive another month or not.
This poor kid (I call him a kid, but he’s 44 [?] – a kid in a man’s body) has been through so much in his lifetime. I found out some pretty shocking news about his birth mom – Roy told me himself. I never knew his family history and I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say, NO ONE should have to go through life with the crap that Roy has had to go through. I think that’s another reason Kevin and I are so determined to help him – we just feel sorry for the guy.
I’m a little annoyed with Kevin’s family, to be frank. I feel like everyone is just waiting to write Roy off. No one offered to help move him into his own house, no offers to periodically bring him food – complete silence. (What the hell??) Granted, we have no idea if Roy will be able to handle living on his own, but at least this way, we can say that we tried it. This is a trial run for Roy. We’re hoping he’s able to handle it, and himself, and if/when the time comes that his parents want to move into the house, Roy will be used to living on his own and will prove that he CAN live on his own, so we can move him into a nearby duplex or apartment. If Roy can not live on his own, then we will have to look at a housing program for him. Which, in some ways, may be better for him because at least this way he will have people around him and can make friends.
Roy has lots of acquaintances. He is the most sociable, and likable quite frankly, person that I know. He has no qualms walking up to people and striking up a conversation. (Which is both a good and bad thing). But friends/friends? I’m not sure. He goes to church every Sunday (Kevin has been taking him) and he has friends there. We sort of have a standing joke that people are always saying “Hi Roy!” to him wherever we go. He seems to know EVERYONE. But I don’t know how “close” these “friendships” are, you know? I think people are just being nice to him because of his mental condition. I don’t know that Roy has ever been close to anyone outside of Kevin’s grandmother.
So maybe a home would be good for him in that aspect.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re in trial mode now. We’ll just have to see how he does and hope he doesn’t hurt himself or burn the house down.
Filed under: Life