Sunday, October 15, 2017

A different world

Marc has a school reunion this weekend. So that had us flying back to Wichita, Kansas, to attend. Our friend Bob has been gracious enough to put us up in his lovely home. Bob has had the kind of brutal year I wouldn't wish on an enemy. His partner of almost 40 years, Brad, passed away suddenly earlier this year.

Despite that, you wouldn't know it to talk to Bob or to see how wonderful he is as a host. We are very fortunate to have a good friend to stay with, as well as a comfortable place to stay. We could have used points and stayed at a hotel in town, but he wouldn't hear of it. We are very fortunate. To top it all off, his home is on a lovely little lake, and I love sitting out here, enjoying the view and listening to the ducks talk to each other. Bob actually puts out food for the ducks, and so they come up to his house to eat. It's cute to watch!

    A shot from the deck. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

An interesting time of semi-employment and volunteer work

I've been unemployed for a long time now. Over a year. I never thought something like this would happen. When the old CEO retired, a number of us discussed the possibility of our being let go by a new CEO. Sure enough, the new one let every member of executive management go. She used a budget excuse, but that clearly was a lie. She just wanted to bring in her own people.

When we had those discussions, we agreed that with our experience, we shouldn't be out too long. Well, the joke was on us. I think age has something to do with it. People don't want to pay for experience, and they'd rather have someone in their 30s than their 50s. So I've now been out for over a year, passed over for jobs for which I was very well qualified. If some employers had done that, well, that's how it goes, but to have so many jobs where I can't even get a face-to-face interview, there's only one explanation I can see.

So I've helped some organizations for free, and I've been doing a bit of legal work. That pays pretty well per hour, but that's a couple of hours here and a couple there.

Thankfully, Marc is working, and we haven't piled tons of debt on ourselves. Still, this is beyond unsettling.

I'll keep doing things. I'm also working on some political efforts I believe in. So I'm staying busy and productive, but I look forward to a more normal work life one of these days!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Blog Tribe and a time of loss

On June 30, 2004, before I'd ever heard of something called Facebook, I finally caved to pressure from my dear friend PatCH and started this blog. From the blog, I shared much of my life--and my life with Marc and our dogs--and I made some amazing friends. More true friends than I ever could have imagined.

It shouldn't have surprised me that I could make such good friends online, since my initial introduction to my best friend--my husband Marc--came on an old online technology called IRC, but still there's some surprise in the volume of dear friends who came into my life through blogging.

I often lament my lack of attention to this blog. Blogging is a far better medium than any of the newer social media, but it also requires a bit more time and thought than a Facebook post. Still, I should give it more attention.

When I think about the friends I've made on here, I'm sometimes reminded of the ones we lost. This week, we mark the passing of Scott Barnes of the blog "Sardonic Bomb", gone suddenly at the age of 50 last weekend. Earlier this year, we also lost Alex. He was only 43. He had a couple of blogs/sites, the main one I followed called "Epicureal Thoughts." Both of them were artists. Scott was a photographer. Alex painted. Both brightened their parts of the world.

The funny thing is, there are members of this blogger tribe I feel close to, even though we never met. These two are good examples. We never got to meet, but Alex's death crushed me. I agonized as he fought for his life, being in intensive care for weeks, only to lose a battle when the damage was more than the doctors could fix. Then we got the news of Scott's sudden death--at least, as Jay explained, he had just finished having fun on a rollercoaster when he died an instantaneous death. Nothing makes death okay, especially at only 50, but at least he didn't suffer.

Although we never met, Scott and I had spoken on the phone. Interestingly, one call I remember was when he'd suffered a loss. I had been through a lot by that point in my life, having lost loved ones and found ways to cope. So we talked about it. Even in tough times like that, I enjoyed our talks, as I've enjoyed the many talks I've had with his partner, Jay.

It's a human failing that we think there always will be time to meet people. That's how I thought of Scott. I missed a visit he made to New York not so long ago, but I figured I'd catch him next time. Now, after our schedules not clicking multiple times, he's gone and "next time" will never come.

I've been blessed to make so many friends on here. I hesitate to start mentioning them, because I'll miss someone. But to give you an idea of how many people this medium brought into my world: Byrne and Andy and Pony and Rob and Jay and Scott and Alex and Patrick and Jason and Matt and Patrick and Michael and Aaron and Deidre and Pua and Richard and Toddy and Jeff and Glenn and Atticus and Joel and Steven and Albert and Karen. And there are more. I feel quite sure I've missed any number of friends.

Most of these people became friends IRL (in real life). Some of them are among our dearest friends now. But even those we never got to meet became close. Over time, you can develop quite a connection through blogging, then private messages and then phone calls. Three of the people I just mentioned are gone. They were too young, but we don't get to decide that. They're gone, and while I never got to hug those three and see them face-to-face, their loss is very real.

Rest in peace, my friends. And the rest of us? Let's not allow too much time to slip by between meetings. Okay?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I've discovered the secret to immortality!

And the secret to immortality is... mothballs!

My grandmother died over 13 years ago. We inherited some lovely furniture from her. In some of the furniture, she'd used mothballs.

Sometime last year, my sandals got dropped into a drawer. Probably after our summer trip to Savannah.

Since it's pretty warm today, I dug them out. I'm now walking around with the smell of Nana Nan's mothballs wafting up at me. *sigh*

Nana lives on!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sorry blog. I don't mean to abandon you. For now, here's a book review!

The Prisoner (John Wells, #11)The Prisoner by Alex Berenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Prisoner is the latest installment in the John Wells series by Alex Berenson. Unlike too many other authors' series, the John Wells novels don't take the easy or simple route. Our hero doesn't have magical strokes of luck or flashes of (literally) unbelievable intuition that save the day.

Wells is smart, experienced and tough, but he's still human. He makes mistakes and he feels his wounds. He can endure things that would finish most of us, but he still pays a price. In The Prisoner, he tries to balance a part of him that's pulling him to domestic life and tranquility that he's certainly earned against his internal call to duty that he can't resist. A serious threat is looming--a threat coming from a place that jeopardizes the US too much for him to ignore--and he can't just walk away.

To try to get to the bottom of it, Wells has to put himself in dangerous places he knows all too well, risking his own safety in the process. The tension in The Prisoner is palpable, and, sadly, much of the action is all too plausible in today's world. If you like espionage/terrorism-centered novels but find yourself rolling your eyes at some of the more simplistic authors' work, then you should try this series. Alex Berenson writes novels that make you think, don't take easy ways out and still give you an exciting ride!


View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

This is the example a leader should set?

Our new president continues to be hard to understand or believe. Still, the ease with which people can push his buttons can be entertaining.

Honestly, I'm partly horrified and partly pleased with every silly thing that sets off a Trump storm. The pleasure comes from the fact that few people deserve the irritation more than he (that, and it keeps him from doing more damaging things with that time). The horror is fueled by the example he's setting. How many millions think this kind of childish behavior is acceptable in an adult? I don't believe that leaders used to be without flaws--far from it--but there were certain expectations and levels of respect that were understood to be a requirement of such positions.

But this behavior? The way this man behaves would have gotten me in trouble as a child, let alone as an adult. My parents weren't old fashioned in most ways. In fact, they were very open, accepting people, but they did expect certain standards to be observed, particularly in public. For example, when I was a kid, I was taught that if I were lost or in trouble, I should look for a police officer. And then there's that title, police officer. I remember once using the term "cop," and I was nicely but quite firmly reminded that this is a person who works to protect the rest of us and is entitled to respect. I was to say police officer. RESPECT mattered.

Okay, that example may be a little out of date--different times--but respect still matter. Certain levels of civility and respect are vital. In the latest Trump bad behavior, he is showing his disdain for the courts, because judges have dared question the Constitutionality of his actions. This is unspeakably damaging to the Republic. No president before this one would do this. He is signaling to millions that it's okay to disrespect the judiciary. Not that judges don't make bad decisions--no one is perfect--but respect for the courts' role is vital. The three branches must respect each other's role.

This man isn't fit to be president. Anyone who could act as he does is simply unfit. So keep torturing him via Twitter and wherever else. He deserves every bit of it! Sadly, none of that is going to measure up to the damage he may be doing to our country!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sources of satisfaction

As you may know, I lost my job about 8 months ago. Nothing I did to deserve it. My CEO retired, and the new one wanted to bring in her own people. I (and some other people) were in the way. That's life, unfortunately.

Since then, I've been looking for work. Given my experience and credentials, prior periods of unemployment (like when St. Vincent's went bankrupt and we all got laid off) were relatively short. A month or so. Not this time!

I've had some nibbles, but really very few interviews for this much time. No new job, either. Along the way, Marc and I talked about my starting my own business. I'd certainly seen others do the same.

So I went through the process to create an LLC for some protection, got myself insured, and I'm figuring out what to market and how. Luckily, my husband is a marketing guru!

Did I mention that it's unnerving and depressing to be unemployed? And every rejection for a job is a rejection of you as a person? Maybe I shouldn't take it that way, but that's how it feels!

Half our income is gone, but we've been careful over the years, so we're not buried in debt. Our care is being rewarded now. We have to budget much more carefully, but we're okay!

Back to the main thought behind this post--in the midst of disappointment, frustration and self-doubt, working on this business idea has been a real mood booster. We don't have the first penny of business yet, but building a structure and watching it come together has made me feel so much better!

All I'm doing this evening, as I watch the Super Bowl in the background, is sketching out more of the services we can provide, and it's so satisfying to see it down on paper! Not doing business yet, but I'm getting something done. That's enough for now!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Maybe there is no complete healing

Marc has told me many times that grief over the loss of a dear loved one is something you get through but you never really get over. He may be right.

Like so many of us, I've suffered terribly painful losses in my life. My Dad. My Mom. A number of others dear to me. I've realized over the years that my reaction to grief is to try to bury it as deep as I can. I was raised to be strong for those around me and not cry. That was my Dad's advice. He was a very loving father, and he meant well.

In any case, I did that with the biggest losses in my life. But I've realized over time that the pain doesn't go anywhere. It's buried in there, just waiting for something that makes it leak out. 20 years ago, I might have been moved by a film I saw but never would have been brought to tears. But now? Push the right buttons, and I'm all choked up.

What really brought this home today was a reminder of Jet. She was our dog when I was a boy. She was two years older than me, and she died when I was in elementary school. Here's a photo of me and Jet when I was 3 and she was 5:


Today's reminder brought me back to a day in 1978. I came home from school as usual. When I got here, the TV was on, and there was a commercial on for the Bronx Zoo. There was a lion on the screen. I said to Mom, "speaking of lions, where's Jet?" And Mom told me... Jet was gone. I remember I cried then, but in the years to come I got better about burying it, even as the losses piled up.

I'm crying as I type this, remembering that day when Jet died. That's almost 40 years ago. So when does the pain fade away? I guess maybe it doesn't. I'll always miss everyone. Dad, Mom, Uncle Allan... everyone. And the doggies... Jet, Hoyt, Bernice, Mandy and my baby boy Dodger. It seems the pain's never gone. I've just hidden it away. I guess it's how I am, and I need to make the best of it.