It’s in the can

The first real week of the new job, that is. I found it extraordinarily frustrating. I spent many years doing the same work and now, at the ripe old age of 45, I have changed track, albeit just slightly. I’m still in IT but my role is definitely not that of a sysadmin. I am still not entirely sure what’s expected of me – we had a massive emergency crop up on Wednesday that kept the team on their toes for the rest of the week. It could have been really bad but instead I got a chance to see them in action and I must say I am more than impressed. They churned and burned and did a massive amount of work (work that should not have been necessary) in a short period of time, despite an obvious lack of appreciation from some quarters.

I had scheduled a sit-down with the people above me and lay out what is expected of me both in a day to day sort of manner and what they would like to see changed. I want a feel for where they see the priorities so I know where to put my focus. That meeting got delayed in favor of all-hands-on-deck, though, and then I was sort of bowled over by all of the other things that kept cropping up. It seems that purchasing computers and peripherals for the campus is one of my duties. This is a process that lacks a process, so to speak. There is no documentation, there is no real supply of spares or of equipment that can be transferred from our cost center to another. The lack of a process means that I am juggling requests and quotes, trying to prioritize, and spending far more time than I should on the whole thing. I can see that I am looking at purchasing taking at least half of my time until it’s all fixed, and that might take months. And it’s such a hot mess now, it’s hard to know where to start.

The next couple weeks will be dedicated to a major, campus-wide project and the answers to what is expected of me and how I am to organize and prioritize will not be answered until after that. Meanwhile I will become more and more lost. The campus has not been notified of the changes that have been made so things that should go to me go to the person I replaced, which is itself causing problems. I don’t know why that piece was forgotten but it is yet another bit of this experience that is frustrating me and making things harder than they have to be.

But I was told by one of the members of my new team that he was impressed with something I did. I got another team member to smile and talk about something other than the things that make her angry. I met some new people, shook hands with them, made them laugh (or at least smile). These tiny blessings make the struggle almost worth it. They make me believe that I can  do this, that I will  do this.

Plus, I put an owl on it, and called it art. Just saying.

Meanwhile, on the home front, our newest family member Bunny Foofoo is settling in to a life of overturning his litter box at 2 AM and harassing Noel, the kitty. One of the old, copper pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom burst and caused my sweet Wayne all sorts of stress and heartache (I am so glad he’s a worker and just jumped right in and started fixing things). The pipe has altered our remodeling timeline and we are both list makers and planners so timeline altering is not something either of us likes. This, too, shall pass though. As does everything else.

I’ve started knitting a baby afghan for Baby Girl C, Wayne’s second granddaughter. I’m so excited about the idea of a wee baby girl. Her mom-to-be just found out this week that she is, indeed, a girl (we sort of figured that she would be, considering that her mom is one of five sisters and her only cousin is a girl). It’s the only yarn-like thing I’m working on because it’s insanely hot and all I want to do is drink wine spritzers and read Chick Lit. Everything else will be hibernating for now, and I am cool with that. It’s a phase, and it will also pass. 🙂

Book wise, besides the aforementioned Chick Lit, I accidentally stumbled across some not bad good books recently:

  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (YA) A girl is in a car with her family when they’re in a terrible accident. She has to decide if she’s going to stay (i.e., live). It was quite readable and may have made me cry, a little bit.
  • Let’s Be Frank by Brea Brown (Chick Lit) The male protagonist, Nate, a nurse in a pediatrics practice and a lover of well-crafted chick lit, poses as an author named Frank at the behest of his domineering girlfriend. She wants to publish books as a man and finds Nate to have the perfect look. It’s very well-written and funny.
  • The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza (Chick Lit) British author Coco Pinchard is a hot mess and I want to go out for a beer with her. She makes every mistake under the sun and makes you want nothing to be on the receiving end of one of her emails. Brit-chick-lit rocks. This one made me laugh out loud more than once and I might read it again,  it was so funny
  • Stray by Andrea K. Host (YA, Touchstone Book 1). This one I’ll be doing a full review on at some point, but as a synopsis: a Australian girl Cassandra Devlin who steps through something akin to a wormhole and finds herself in a strange, new world.

Right now I am reading a time-traveling book that I don’t love but that isn’t too bad. I’m trying to talk myself into spending the money to buy the second and third books in the series the Touchstone series. I guess since the first one was an e-library-book, I’ll buy them on Kindle – that way I won’t stress the imbalance of seeing books 2 and 3 on the bookshelf without a book 1.

Reading what I’ve written, it sounds like I’m insanely busy, especially when you take into account that the new job is demanding that I work a lot more hours than I have been recently. And then I remembered that we are also bike riding regularly, around 60 miles a week most weeks. I’d like to step that up but it’s hot and I can’t seem to get any more hours out of a day. Wayne registered us for this year’s Seagull Century earlier this week, though, so I have to ride regularly or I won’t be ready. Maybe I should sleep less, or something.

Until next time….

Take a deep breath, and then take another…

Wayne and I are on vacation this week. We’d made tentative plans for a super long bike ride and a B&B, then a return ride, but canceled and used the money we’d set aside to help a couple of our kids through a rough patch. We could have gone to work when our plans fell through but chose to do some things locally and sort of re-center ourselves. Today is the halfway point of our time off and I think it’s working, this whole reboot thing. 

I’ve been doing a great deal of reading. Much of it has been light and easy, nothing that I will bother to review. I’m currently on the second Jack Finney Si Morley book (cited by my mother as among her favorites). I was sure I’d read these before but it turns out I haven’t. They’re rather interesting, if dated. I love time traveling books, and the male traveler/protagonist is unusual  so that’s cool. The first book was written in the 60s; what’s “modern” for the characters is like time travel for me, also cool. I should finish the second one tonight and am eyeing a Wally Lamb as the next selection. 

Creating-wise it’s been a slow one. With my youngest step-daughter’s design help, Wayne and I built a cool shelf with hanging pegs for the kitchen and I’m working on some knitted bowls for that (they’ll be felted). I’m also making a bag, my design, out of some yarn like stuff I found on sale at Michaels. It’s like tee shirt yarn only fleece. It’s my non-thinking project, good for the car and knitting group. I have a baby blanket going for my oldest step-daughter’s first baby that I think will get frogged on the 9th and redone in either pink or blue (that’s when she’s finding out the sex – we all think it’s going to be a girl). And there’s a shawl and sock languishing. 

But! I’m not working on any of those. You see, we went kayaking yesterday. I thought my arms or chest would be sore but it seems I’m in better shape than I realized. The only thing that’s sore is my hands. Go figure. I’d just recovered from the sore wrists caused by riding a metric century on a hybrid bike on Saturday. I know. Nuts. At least I’m moving some to try to make up for my vacation eating. Peanut butter toast for breakfast. Grilled cheeseburgers for lunch. Fritos and peach wine for dinner. I know!

I might try putting something on the TV tonight, maybe a movie, and working on something easy like the 2nd wool bowl. Then I can felt them tomorrow and take them to knitting group on Sunday for show and tell. We shall see. 

I’d also considered getting in some hardcore revising on HPS during this bit of downtime but my brand new Chromebook had to be sent off to the repair fairies. I have some sort of block about writing on my laptop. I think because it’s work-issued, I feel it is a work tool and my writing is separate from my day job. I like having a dedicated device, you know? I guess I’ll miss the free copies deadline of June 30 but it’s all good. There’s next year, right?

So I’m lazy. I’m relaxing. I’m eating. But even though I’m taking naps and sipping iced coffee and losing myself in endless novels and rounds of Candy Crush Soda, I am still trying to live intentionally. Each day is an opportunity to choose my mood and where I will spend my emotional currency. I’ve learned a lot in the recent past and am thankful for those around me who support the changes I’m trying to make, who hold me up whenever I’m not too steady on my own mental feet. 

When we go back to work on Monday, I’ll be starting my first full week in my new job and I’ll need all the calmness, coolness, and collected-ness I can muster. I hope to prove myself worthy of the faith my director and CIO placed in me when they offered me this opportunity. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and nail-biting awesomeness. As an old boss likes to say, “front row seats to the show!”

For now, though, I am still on vacation and there’s a certain lop-eared, wooly, silly bunny rabbit who needs his daily brush and a guy in 1912 doing crazy time traveling stuff that I need to read about. Those front row seats will still be there on Monday morning!

Startitis and the best of intentions

I saw a little red car the other day with a vanity tag that said “K2TOG” and got all excited; a fellow knitter! For you non-knitters, it means knit 2 together (a way to decrease the number of stitches on your needles). I’m pretty sure I could be her, or possibly but less like his, friend.

On the subject of knitting, I am in the midst of a nasty case of startitis, which can be roughly defined as the nearly overwhelming urge to start something new. I have a self-imposed three project limit. I am seriously considering changing that rule because I really want to start a new project. I’ve got a bad case of startitis.

Right now, I have a dishcloth, a baby blanket for a coworker, and a sleeveless sweater for me active. I did take a side trip into trying out an idea I had for a teddy bear – big fail, his head is so small he looks like he should be in the waiting room scene of “Beetlejuice” – but other than that it’s steady on with the three, all trying to behave and stay within my self-imposed boundaries and whatnot. But then…

A couple weeks before Christmas, my very bright and generally awesome son put in a request for some hand-knit socks. I decided it was an opportunity delivered on a silver platter to learn something new – toe up socks and magic loop! It had been years since I made socks, and then it was cuff down on double points, and it took about a week to make a pair. These socks, though, flew off the needles. And I was mostly winging it because the best circular needles I had for magic loop knitting were size 7, so I used some wonderful sport weight and sort of guessed my way through. And then I called them “slipper socks,” which was a bit of a truth-stretch; they were really “let’s test something new when we only have about 10 days to finish it because that will be super exciting” socks.

Let me tell you, toe up socks and magic loop together is a potent combination of pure awesome and I was hooked, immediately. I was so hooked that I put size 1 Addi sock rockets in our Amazon cart and made sure I still had sock yarn in my stash from way back. Well. The needles came a couple days ago and I desperately want to start a sock. I mean like crazy, like right now, like yesterday. But I have the 3-active-projects rule for a reason.

Ugh.

In an odd coincidental parallel (I believe life is full of these if you just pay attention), the 3-project rule was an intention that I started several years ago. I wasn’t finishing anything I started and I decided that I needed to limit myself so that things would actually come off the needles (or hook, natch) at some point, if only so I could start something new. I’ve stuck to this rule since then but have also eased my startitis by telling myself it only applies to things made from yarn. I occasionally need something new in the midst of the three projects, and I usually turn to sewing for that. Those projects don’t count.

Another intention dates to just last year when I decided to focus on being healthier. To me, that means straightening out my diet, exercising, getting the right amount of sleep, and taking my medications consistently. It worked, in fact it came out better than I expected. I am happier, calmer, more productive, and more self-he. My hair is bright and shiny, my balance has improved, and my general outlook tends toward sunny. Because I know it’s working, this year I added continue being healthier to my list.

Being healthier, though, is shorthand for something so much more. I want to try cutting dairy and eating clean. I am trying to read labels and if something that was a staple has funky crap in it, I am leaving it in the store and figuring out something else. At the same time, I am trying to expand our household diet. We tend to stick to the same things, many of which don’t fit the clean ideal. One thing that’s been on my mind is the idea of working pizza back in. We used to make our own pizzas every other week, sometimes more often, and who doesn’t love a good pizza?

And this is where I hit a brick wall, face-first.

How can pizza be clean and dairy-free? Clean foods are almost unchanged from their original forms. I can do the dough because I can choose decent ingredients that are close to where they started and control what’s in it. I can choose toppings that are close to where they started, like onion and green pepper, mushrooms, homemade sauce, even ground turkey. What I cannot do is find an alternative to dairy cheese that is also clean. The ingredients in dairy-free cheese are nightmarish. And I cannot imagine pizza without some form of cheese. So what do I do?

I think I need to investigate making my own non-dairy mozzarella. It should be an interesting experiment. If I can find all of the ingredients locally, this might be on the menu…

Intentions versus resolutions

Happy New Year! As an employee of a state University, I have had the awesome luck to have been off work since Christmas Eve. With all good luck comes bad luck, though, and my long and awesome stay-cation was greatly affected by a sinus infection, which seems to be almost gone now. Since tomorrow is a work day, I’m grateful that I have been feeling better for the past couple days. It’s also a great thing to start a new year on a high note, isn’t it?

To celebrate this new year, I put the Christmas decorations away and did my annual $20 redecoration of the living room, which consists of three yards of fabric, my sewing machine, and an afternoon. Last year, Wayne made me valance boxes, which I covered with some really cute red and black fabric. This year, through the magic of double-sided tape and a staple gun, I recovered them with some pretty gray and black fabric. Curtain tie-backs and new throw pillows complete the change. I love the feeling of newness, and I am particularly pleased that I found fabric that matches the lampshades I got a year or so ago.

We also started, in a slow and easy way, on remodeling the house. Our plan starts with the second floor. There’s a tiny room (my craft room before today), a large room (shared between Wayne’s daughters, again before today), and a weirdly shaped bathroom. We relocated the bedroom to the tiny room and turned the big room into my craft room and a storage room. The chimney is in the big room. Taking it down is the first big step of our remodel and when it starts coming down, the girls’ bedroom will be untouched. The relocation was a simple little thing we could do to start us on our path.

These small things, though, are discreet and complete in and of themselves. What will we do with the rest of the year?

I can tell you one thing we will not do: make resolutions.

I’ve been anti-resolution for a while now. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something” (thanks, Google). When you add “New Year’s” into it, though, a resolution takes on greater significance; it becomes a promise we make to ourselves. According to statisticsbrain.net, the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is between 14 and 39%. That means that somewhere between 61 and 86% of resolutions fail. Personally, I like better odds when it comes to keeping a promise I make to myself.

So instead of resolutions, I choose intentions. I intend to continue my more healthy lifestyle, to do the Seagull Century again and beat last year’s time, to do the rewrites and edits on Handsome Prince Stephen and try to get it published traditionally, to apply for the MLS program at UMCP and accept the decision with grace, to stop letting other people determine where my emotional energy goes, and to give the knitting thing at the library a try. These intentions are like resolutions, with the simple exception that I am promising myself to try and not to succeed.

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” (I know, I am all slow and whatnot) and this line resounded in my soul: “‘Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.'” I love the idea of being polite with myself. I deserve to be treated with care, especially when I am trying to make myself into a better version of me. More than anything else, this year I intend to be polite with me.

Generations

I am guilty of not looking at myself.

I’m sure I am not the only one who focuses on one thing in the mirror. I’ll look to see if my shirt is making weird lumps under my skirt. I’ll check to see if I have made a big road bump on the top of my head when I pulled my hair back into a pony tail. I’ll study my teeth to see if I got all of the egg out from behind my wires. But I seldom just look.

A few days ago, Wayne and I were hanging out, doing our thing. I was reading a book on my Kindle and working on an afghan I’m making (slowly because I am an idiot when it comes to estimating how much yarn I need and I keep running out). He was doing school work on his computer. We do things like that often; sit in the same place but focus on different things. We interact but we are both fine with not fawning all over each other. Anyway! I must have come to a particularly good part because he said, “You’re beautiful, you know? Even more when you smile.” What a sweet and rather random thing for him to do. I thanked him, smiled more, and went back to what I was doing.

But later, I looked.

I stood in the bathroom and looked. And I’m still a bit amazed at what I saw.

I have my mother’s eyes. They are big and bright, just like hers. I have her cheekbones, hiding under my freckles, and her chin. Her face was my blueprint, and it’s no wonder I am still told how much I resemble her.

I have my father’s nose, in miniature. I have his high forehead. Sorry, Dad, but I am thankful the nose and ears did not come as a set. 🙂

But then I saw more. I saw my daughter’s smile. I had no idea she had my smile. I was guilty of smiling, then stopping, then smiling, again and again, just to see her in me.

I have my son’s inquisitive look. As I checked all of this out, I noticed my head tilting to the side, and there he was. It tamped down a bit on the longing I’ve been feeling to see him, and an equally strong feeling that I need to let him live his life and just let him know I am here.

I know, I was still focusing on pieces. But I stopped and really looked, at the whole of my face. I don’t see myself as beautiful and never will. I was guilty when I was younger in believing in my cuteness, after being told of it many times, but cute and beautiful are much different, and I am too old now to successfully carry off cute. I don’t have a word that I think describes the whole me, except that I am them. It’s more than my face, but I can see it there. I can see my mom and dad, I can see my kids. I am made up of parts of them, and they are beautiful. I think that is enough for me.

Almost September

Was it just a week ago that I was complaining about how hot it is? It’s still hot, but my brain has caught up with my body and reminded me that summer is oh so fleeting. The mornings are getting cooler – I wore a cardigan yesterday and was not overly warm. The afternoons are still in the 80’s but they are breezy, as if the warm air is scurrying around and packing up, ready to move south to make room for the chilly dryness that is winter on Delmarva. Part of me is already mourning sandals and flowing skirts, sundresses and tank tops. Another part of me is eager for afternoons in front of the fire, hand-knit hats and scarves, the smell of autumn that poofs up when I walk on crunchy leaves.

Now that I am in no way involved in back to school, well beyond avoiding stores like Kohl’s from mid-August till early September, I am looking forward to this wonderful transition month. There’s something fascinating to me about wearing a warm sweater in the morning and running around in short sleeves in the afternoon. September exists, I think, to remind us that change is not really a bad thing.

This September is shaping up to be bigger than many (any?) that have come before. It starts with my oldest step-daughter’s wedding and ends with my first ever Century bike ride. I don’t know yet what will happen in between but I am ready for whatever change September chooses to bring.


 

Have I mentioned the problems I’ve been having with my eyes? Oh, I remember now. There was that rant about The Man, in the guise of the insurance company, sticking it to me. Well, it turns out that the new glasses are so amazing that it just might have been worth it, the whole getting it stuck to me or however that works. The frames are the best compromise I’ve ever worn between my desire to be flashy (Wayne used a great word to describe me that we can’t pull out of our heads right now, flashy is a poor substitute but it’s the best I can do) and my abnormally small nose. My nose loves those little nose pad things that you get on wire framed glasses, but my showiness longs for fat, plastic frames. The new frames are a gorgeous dark red color, not quite maroon, with red tortoise shell arms, that sit in the right place on my nose.

And then the lenses – WOW. They are the size of a normally nearsighted person, and believe me my nearsightedness didn’t improve that much. I am pretty sure they aren’t any sort of plastic, rather they are hardened unicorn tears, or maybe fairy sweat – magical. They’re light and wonderfully clear and so thin. Is it possible to fall madly in love with a pair of lenses? If you’re me, yes it is.

But the very best part is I CAN SEE. Yes, I know, it’s amazing and awesome and wonderful. I don’t have to strain. My eyes don’t feel like they’re bulging out of my head when I switch from looking at a monitor to something over there (you can see where I’m pointing, right?). The joy that comes from seeing clearly when you haven’t been is something I don’t have the words to explain, and it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve felt it. Suddenly things are clear again. The world has detail again. Black letters on a white page are little soldiers standing at attention rather than fussy, wobbly toddlers who are still getting their legs under them. Roofs have shingles, trees have leaves (or pine needles, of course). Gravel is made up of little, distinct pieces. The very best part is switching from close to far vision. It’s effortless, perfect, no strain at all.

I am considering sending flowers to the eye doctor.

 


I am planning, and expecting, a wonderful weekend. I have to do some work, but I don’t have to wear a bra to do it so it’s not so bad. I am going to be creative. I’m going to move and sweat. I’m going to see my parents and get Mom and Dad hugs (and hopefully a hug from my baby brother, he has the best hugs in the world). I’m going to do some cleaning, scratch Noel’s ears, talk to Wayne. I’ll write some, read a lot, walk fabric under the presser foot, go gaga over how gorgeous this man who chose to marry me is in a suit. I’m going to call my children and remind them that their Mom loves them. And maybe, if I am feeling particularly daring and chichi, I’ll get a pedicure. I am suffering from a deep and pronounced longing for dark orange toenails to hurry the next season along.

Change is good.


 

My special eyes versus my frugal husband

People, I am pretty sure poor Wayne had about thirty-seven tiny heart attacks yesterday.

With my infrequent blogging, I am sure you remember the post where I discussed the freaky stuff happening with my vision. Well, it started happening more often, and one day I actually caught myself driving when my vision was blurry and my eyes refused to focus. In the manner that such things normally happen, I was driving to a doctor’s appointment. I asked her about it, thinking it might be a reaction to my medication. I was told to go to the eye doctor.

I called the good eye doctor (not the guy behind the glasses place in the mall) and they had a cancellation in two days, so I snatched it up. And then…

There are a few things that I might need to clear up before I go forward. My eyes are really bad. I was told by one optometrist that I am the “second most near-sighted person” she had ever met, and I was really close to first. I have astigmatisms in both eyes, and I recently developed a need for bifocals. What’s funny is that I needed bifocals as a kid but outgrew them, and spent a good twenty years without them. There was a time when I could not go over a year without new glasses because my eyes were getting worse so quickly. I learned how eye charts work when I was in high school (that’s a story for another day). I know what it’s like when my prescription changes, in other words. I am very aware of what’s going on with my eyes because they are so crappy… I mean special.

Now Wayne is blessed with excellent vision, better than 20/20. He’s had one eye exam in his life. Most of his daughters are nearsighted, but in the way of normal people. They can do things without their glasses, even driving. The only thing I can do without my glasses is call Wayne to help me find my glasses, because without them my world is some sort of weird modern art-like place of two-dimensional, blurry blobs of colors that bleed into each other.

So I am sure that you can imagine my “pshaw” when the eye doctor told me it was probably that my prescription needed to be changed. I offered my best arguments: my eyes haven’t gotten worse in years (barring the bifocal thing of course), I would certainly know if it was that because I’ve dealt with this nonsense for most of my life. Yeah. She was right. And I was fooled because I am now less near-sighted! Yay for my forties! I am less tall and less near-sighted! Now if I could only figure out how to be less tired, less in love with cotton candy, less a fan of high-calorie beers…. I could go on forever.

I decided that with the prescription change and all of the problems I’ve been having, I needed to order my glasses at the eye doctor’s little optical store. I called Wayne and told him I couldn’t drive myself home and I wanted to get glasses there. He said he would help me pick frames when he came to pick me up and take me home on his lunch break. And then, I tried to kill him.

I have to have the thinnest, most light-weight plastic they make lenses out of. Back when they only had glass and normal plastic lenses, the sides of my lenses were more then half an inch thick and they were so heavy that they bruised my nose (yes, even plastic lenses). It’s not vanity, it’s need. I have to have bifocals. Add those together and you come up with the most expensive lenses in the universe. Because they are so expensive, I need to pay a little extra for scratch and smudge-proof coatings. And I really need anti-glare, because one of my problems (and the reason I can’t do anything after getting my eyes dilated at the eye doctor) is that my eyes react slowly to changes in light levels. Glare is a demon to me. I was once told that if I had lived before plastic lenses were invented, I would be legally blind. That’s how special my eyes are.

I am crippled, dysfunctional without glasses.They are a necessity.

Add all of this up and you come up with thousand dollar glasses that I cannot live without. Insurance covers $120 on one pair of glasses a year. That’s barely a dent in the cost of my glasses. And I totally forgot to warn Wayne. I could order them online for a little less, but with these changes and the eye doctor not being 100% sure that she’d gotten everything right because I was already dilated when she checked, I needed to do it locally, and in a place where I would have real and fast assistance if I needed it. I forgot to warn poor Wayne, and the price tag punched him in the gut with a giant fist.

Later, he told me that he finds the whole thing wrong. I need them. If I needed a walker, would insurance make me pay almost $900 to get one? How about a cast? Or surgery? He sees my glasses in the same light, and the more I need them, the more they cost. The system is broken.

I think it would be excellent (and the right thing to do) for insurance to cover the full cost of my lenses and I pay for the frames. That way if I want to be vain and shi-shi, it’s on me. But the part that I have to have just to make it to the bathroom without giant bruises? That part should be covered.

Me, and my special eyes

After a week or two spent staring at glowing rectangles, my eyes like to just sort of give up, and force me into an out of focus day. So far, thankfully, this has happened only on weekends, but these “episodes” are coming more frequently so it’s a safe bet they will happen on a day I need to drive to work, sooner of later. It’s scary, and Wayne thinks it may be scarier for me than it would be for “normal” people (not sure why I put that in quotes, considering I am quite in tune with my abnormality). The eye doctor said it’s just a lovely side effect of aging (I added the lovely in there, he’s not real fond of adjectives in general). And so…

Yesterday, I lost most of the day. When I got up in the morning, my eyes were focusing slowly and painfully. The struggle to force them to make sense of what was around me, to squirrel through the blurry fog, made them ache, and the ache transferred to my head. I am on call so I had to look at the computer to do on call checks. To see the screen, to focus on it, I had to take my glasses off and lean in really closely. The strain made them water and burn. Wayne noticed and sent me to bed.

I laid in the darkened bedroom with my glasses off and let my brain do its worst. When I was a kid and my eyesight first started heading south, it wasn’t particularly scary. I think it was just a thing until an eye doctor told me that if they hadn’t invented some particular sort of lens, I would be legally blind. I think I was in fifth or sixth grade at the time. His words have never faded; I can still hear them in his voice, I can still picture his office and feel his oddly moist breath on my cheek as he did his eye-doctor-y stuff. His words led me to practice blindness. I would take off my glasses, blindfold myself, and try to make my way around the house. I’d try to do things like get a glass of water and find the bathroom. It was a pretty morbid game, if you think about it.

It is also a fear that stayed with me.

On the days that my eyes choose to not work right, that fear comes back. Wayne knows about it and understands. He takes care of me, perhaps too well. He won’t let me drive and he urges me away from the computer. He keeps the bedroom dark, visits me, brings me coffee or tea. If it lasts longer than a few hours and I start getting scared, he talks me down and lets me cry. We discuss how long ago it happened before, we talk about what we will do if it happens on a weekday (which, sooner or later, it will). And he lets me rest.

Sometimes, it clears up in an hour. Sometimes, it takes most of the day. Yesterday was the second type. I didn’t feel steady until well into the afternoon. I missed my brand-new step-daughter’s bridal shower because of it. I was going to try to do it, and Wayne had offered to drive me, but the idea of being in a strange place, with people I did not know, and eyes that weren’t working scared me. My mind reading husband got that and called his mom to tell her I couldn’t go, and then had one of the girls take my contribution with her. And I rested.

They are fine this morning, thankfully. Not perfect, because they are my eyes, but I don’t expect perfection. I can focus without straining. I can look from one thing to another without trails of light or foggy auras that I can only make sense of because I am in my kitchen and know everything in here. The headache is almost gone and the fear that this time it won’t stop has calmed, because it’s obviously stopped. I will be able to write, to do my on-call checks, to go grocery shopping. And of course, I will be able to spend some more time asking Google for a cure that probably doesn’t exist. I wonder if it is finally time for Lasik?

Checking it twice

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” (John Lennon).

I am a lover of the list. The to-do list, the shopping list, the what I want to knit list, the Christmas card address list…. I surround myself with, and take comfort from, lists. I can, and do, function without them, but my head is full of big things and small things get left by the wayside if they don’t get written down.

One thing I don’t write down, or spend a lot time contemplating, is any sort of “five year plan.” The idea is preposterous to me. Can anyone really plan that far out? The only truly predictable thing about life is its sheer lack of predictability and its tendency towards chaos. Where do I want to be in five years? Happy. I think that is enough of an answer for me.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).

My plan for today was elastic, yet structured. There are things I want to accomplish on my Monday off. There are errands: I need to pick up several small but lovely and gift-wrappable items, I’d like to bless the local vegetable stand with my largesse, and some gift certificates need to be purchased. There is housework: the bathrooms both need a little love, the broom is lonely, the cobwebs are starting to look like modern art. And always, there is exercise.

Moving was really the only structure I was hoping to have today, and I had it planned by the clock. Get up at 4, like I have to the rest of the week. Do the 4 mile workout video. Shower, dress in some sort of cute bike riding appropriate clothing. Ride to the orthodontist. Ride home. Take the grandbaby to the zoo later and walk around the whole thing, plus go to the park and swing. A day of movement, with occasional other stuff thrown in.

I had a good, reasonable, do-able plan and it felt wonderful.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” (Woody Allen).

I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I am not a master of mystery at all, am I?

I woke up to the sound of Wayne brushing his teeth, which meant it was no earlier than 6:15. I laid in bed for a minute, maybe two, trying to make my sleep-addled brain adjust to this changed schedule. And then I remembered that I had to get the bike lock off of his bike before he left so I jumped up and got dressed in the clothes that were laid out for my workout. You may be certain they are not “cute.”

There was a flurry of activity, a cliche that really does suit, and then he was gone, pedaling towards work and I had not enough time for a workout and the nearly overwhelming urge to write. Anything. Something. Everything.

I braided my hair first because I know me. I know I can be expected to not lift my fingers from the keys until I have only five seconds to leave or I will be late. Sometimes I don’t even save myself the five seconds. I made a smoothie and added peanut butter because the extra calories will be good on a ride. I brewed a little coffee and fixed myself a cup (black, with ice). And I sat down before my laptop and realized I had no plan at all about what to write.

And now? It is a minute later than the time I should have been walking out of the door.

See why I need lists?

Sweet summertime

One of the many things I love to do is playing a game where I try to come up with a title for something random. This morning could be titled “Down Twenty-five” because that’s what the scale told me (happy Friday, Karen!). This is one of the things that cause me to wander around inside of my head and wile away time that would be better spent on reading or working, but it’s fun. All work and no wandering lost inside of her own head makes Karen a dull girl.

Even though it’s not over yet and something big could still happen to throw everything out of whack, title-wise, I am playing around with a descriptive name for this summer. Some options:

  • The Summer of New Names: I married Wayne and took his name, and his eldest daughter is marrying an awesome guy and, I think, taking his name.
  • Walk A Million Miles: Maybe not a million, but certainly enough to walk a hole through the sole of my shoes. Perhaps a subtitle: Buy New Shoes.
  • Whole New Wardrobe Season, because twenty-five pounds is a lot to lose and my clothes are too big. Many of them, anyway. I am not complaining!

I think, though, at least for this morning, the choice is simply Sweet Summer. It encapsulates so much of our lives right now. From the joy of being newlyweds to the visit to Hershey, it fits.

We have a bunny who got accidentally trapped in the back yard. We’ve named him “Honey” because, while I like titling days and seasons and meals, I am the queen of boring when it comes to naming living, furry creatures. Honey Bunny is an endless source of amusement. He hangs out under Wayne’s ramp and comes out to nosh on wild strawberries and the just-born bell peppers in the garden. He loves (note – sarcasm) playing with Noel, our cat. From his name to his favorite foods, everything about him qualifies as “sweet.”

And then there’s the overabundance of cherry tomatoes. They are little spheres of juicy sweetness and I love them, but I am picking them at a much faster rate than we can consume them. Yesterday I picked twenty-three, as an example. There are two bowls full of them in the fridge right now that will become something this weekend. Perhaps I will roast them with some fresh garlic, olive oil, and kosher salt. I could make some salsa – chop them coarsely and mix in some diced peppers (bell peppers from the store, thanks to Honey, and Serrano peppers from the garden) and red onion. I’ll mix it into my salads and scrambled eggs. Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Of course, the sweetest thing about this summer, for me anyway, is us. We are so wonderfully happy that we would give you a mental toothache from the sweetness. Yes, even after living together for a couple years. Being newlyweds is an amazing thing. Not that we needed this, but it’s like a spark of newness that sort of ups the highs even higher. I look at him doing some random thing like changing brakes on a car and see his wedding band sparkling and my heart goes “SQUEE! that’s my husband!” Without him putting it into words, I know that it happens to him, too; I can see it in the way he looks at me, feel it when he hugs me.

There’s a reason why there are so many songs about summer, and I am living it this year. The sand under my toes at Ocean City is warmer. My legs are powerful when I pump the pedals on my bike. Food tastes better because I am seeking out new flavors, a necessity when one is trying to train themselves to eat less. I feel good, from my center out, and I am surrounded by sweetness and sunshine. Indeed.