Ramblings On A Cold Evening

Well, it seems like winter still isn't done with the Northeast, even though the vernal equinox was last week. Yesterday and today we had flurries and temps that were lucky to reach 35°F. In fact, it must have been icy this morning, because I was awakened around daybreak by a fire truck screaming down the highway and found out later that there were several accidents in the area. I know (I hope?) spring has to be on its way, because I've seen robins, but you sure wouldn't know it by the cold. I've actually been turning in rather early at night so I can snuggle up under my electric blanket to watch tv. It's kind of depressing because I'm really itching to plant a container garden this year, since I will now have the time in the evenings to actually, you know, do stuff, but I'm afraid it will never get warm enough.

Speaking of having spare time on my hands, financially things are going rather "not well" at work. I'm slightly concerned that by mid-summer I will be out of a job. It's a very complicated situation involving multiple "non-governmental" governing bodies, personality issues, money, and Lord only knows what else. I can't really say much else about it right now, other than to say that I'm surprised that with that black cloud hovering over my head added to the stress of just trying to keep everything running (it's really not a one-person job), I am surprised I'm not locked up in a mental hospital right now.

Actually, about two or three weeks ago, I did just about have a breakdown. I knew I was depressed - I couldn't eat much (I actually lost weight!), had to load up on valerian and kava to sleep, and couldn't get up the gumption to do anything but stare at the tv or aimlessly surf the 'net. Then something happened at work one day (right now I can't even recall what happened that set me off), but I came home and just could not stop crying. In fact, it was all I could do to hold it in while I drove home. I was completely beside myself, praying to God to help me, to do something - anything - to make it stop. Hours later, I eventually sobbed myself to sleep. Just as I was starting to drift away - you know that calm moment after you're all cried out and just drained? - well, I was laying on my left side with my arms curled around one of those big long pillows, and I heard a feminine whisper in my right ear say, "It'll be alright," kind of like a mother would to a crying child. I have no idea if I actually heard it with my ear or just in my mind. I have no idea WHO it was, either, but it gave me comfort for some reason. Didn't really stop the heartache, but it made it more bearable. I was telling a lady at work about last week it who immediately said that it was an angel, but I'm not sure. My first instinct was that it had to have been someone I had known who had passed on, but the only female I could think of is my grandmother, and it wasn't her voice (she had a very typical "Pennsylvania Dutch" accent).

Anyway, I'm feeling better now. Still trying to figure out who's watching over me, though.
  • Current Mood: pensive pensive

It's too early for this...

Had to get up early today because I'm getting a tooth filled....for the THIRD time in as many months. (I guess that's what happens when you don't see the dentist in almost a decade.) Then, even though it's supposed to be my day off, I'm going in to work. One of our major fundraisers starts tomorrow (unless Mother Nature dumps snow on us, which she's threatening to do...) and we are NOT ready for it yet. I still don't feel 100%, either.

God, I hate needles. Especially in my  mouth. I was going to have another cup of coffee to fortify my nerves, but then I remembered I'd have to brush my teeth again, so....

Dentist didn't want to do the filling with me having a cold, so it's rescheduled. What's another two weeks? This has been going on since October. I had an old metal filling - my first, actually - that was aching and causing problems. He drilled it out and refilled it, but I kept having sensitivity issues. The first time I went back, he shaved off some of the filling thinking it wasn't level enough. The second time I went back, he drilled it out and put in a temporary medicated filling. Today was supposed to be my final filling.

Oh, well. I was trying to figure out how'd I'd cough with him and his instruments in the way without peeing my pants, anyway.

(And here's another winter picture, since I was up and awake so early....)
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Sick Day

Only worked half a day today thanks to some sort of virus. Came home and went straight to bed and let the cat keep watch over me while I slept. It was lovely, except for her need to lay across my neck the whole time. (Trying to choke the illness out, maybe?) It hit about 50 degrees today, but I was shivering and stayed covered up all day.

The weather has been insane on the East Coast. I haven't seen a winter like this since I was a kid - and I mean a YOUNG kid, because I don't even remember it snowing enough to get us a "snow day" in high school. Last weekend we had about six inches of snow on top of about a foot of ice and snow from the week before. Since January 1st, we've been closed at least five times because of snow. Even I, who LOVES winter, am getting sick of it. One of my dear friends from high school lives in the LA area and has mentioned several times how visitors would be welcome, and I am SOOOO tempted. (Although when I looked at flights I was shocked that it now costs as much to fly to LAX as it did to fly to Ireland when I was in college. [And then I remember it has been almost 20 years since I've flown...]) It has been years since I've been to the beach, and I've never been to the West Coast; it would be quite the adventure. Plus, she's married and has two kids now and I haven't seen her in more than 20 years, so we'd have a ton of fun catching up.

Well, I should probably do some laundry, so I don't feel like a total slug for going home sick. Then, it's back to bed for an evening with hulu. Any suggestions on what to watch?
  • Current Mood: sick sick
  • Current Music: budgies screeching
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Sweet Blue EyesWent to visit my niece over the weekend. It seemed like such a short visit, compared to the two hour drive. My darling is now nine months old (as of Friday!) and has grown so fast that it makes me want to cry! Not only did I miss her learning to crawl, she is now also STANDING and even saying "Dada" and "Mama"! I miss her so much, and it pains me that I can't see her more often. I often get discouraged in my search for a job nearer to where my brother and his family live, and sometimes I give up for a while, especially when I don't get a single inquiry from my rèsumés. But then I look into those big blue eyes, and I think, "My GOD, I've got to keep trying!"

My job search is entering its seventh month. I suppose that is not all that long in the grand scheme of things, considering there are folks out there who have been unemployed in this economy for WAY longer. But it still blows my mind that businesses no longer seem to send out even a form letter saying, "Sorry, but you aren't what we are looking for." I thought that was the considerate thing to do? I understand that they probably get inundated with applicants, but still.... I have sent out dozens of letters and applications over the past months, and I have gotten responses from only TWO. The first one I managed to get as far as a phone interview, and the second I think they would have given me the job, but it was located about an hour from the town I was aiming for and didn't pay enough for me to drop my second job, so I didn't see the point. The other thing that irks me is that almost all of the positions I've applied for keep being reposted over and over again on the job sites. That either means A) they are being really picky about who they hire, or B) they really suck to work for and have a high turnover. Sometimes I feel inclined rewrite another cover letter and send out my revamped rèsumé again, but more often than not, I don't. I guess I feel like, "Why should I bother when they weren't interested the first time," but maybe I need to change that thought pattern and just go and re-apply to all of them. What do you think?
  • Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

How about that weather?

March snowSo the weather on the East Coast has been very weird lately. After a long, bitter cold stretch with several snow and ice storms, last week we finally saw temps in the 40s and actual sunshine. Then Sunday evening we were suddenly under a flood watch because we were supposed to get several inches of rain. I woke up on Monday morning to the annoying beeping sound snowplows make when backing up, only to discover that, lo and behold, the weathermen didn't predict the near-one-foot snowfall we got overnight. (Big surprise!) Now Mondays are my day off, so I didn't mind at all. In fact, I love winter and the snow, so I was kind of gleeful. Most of my friends, on the other hand, were not. My Facebook page was littered with complaints from everyone about not having snowdays (non-teachers), having another snowday (teachers), and just general annoyance with cold and snow. Covered Birdfeeder

I spent the day alternating between housecleaning (damn mice...), watching the outside birds trying to get through the snow at their feeder, and napping in the sun with Percy. All-in-all it was quite an enjoyable day, other than the shoveling snow part. I wanted to get my car dug out and cleaned off as fast as possible in case I got called in to work (I only live a mile from the pharmacy I work at, so I generally get the call when others call off for weather problems). It only took me about 15-20 minutes, but didn't take into account how wet and heavy the snow was, how out-of-shape I am, and mild asthma. Afterward, it took me about half an hour of laying stone-still on the couch before I could sit up without feeling like I was going to vomit. Lesson learned: over-exertion is not good after 35.

(Another reason why this seriously bothers me: a friend I used to work with died last weekend of a heart attack at 37. Sobering.)
  • Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

A Catching-Up Post

SalemIt has been quite a while since I've posted. My life has been a little insane the last couple of months. In January, I lost my long-time furry friend of almost 14 years. I watched Salem being born (to a stray that wandered onto our farm) in August 1997 on the day Princess Diana passed away. (I always used to joke that she had a bit of the Princess in her.) Against my parents' wishes, I made her into a housepet. She has been my steadfast companion ever since: through fleas and UTIs (hers, not mine!), bad boyfriends (mine, not hers!), and bouts of depression, she was by my side. Before Christmas she started off with what I thought was a respiratory infection, but after a couple of weeks of tormenting both of us with trying to dose her with bright pink carpet-staining meds, we discovered that it was fluid around her lungs due to a tumor in the throat area. On January 4 she was relieved of her earthly duties and moved on to the great cat tree in the heavens. I was not prepared for how broken-hearted I became (I mean, c'mon, she's just a cat.)

A week later, after moping in the deafening silence of my empty home, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to introduce myself to the wonderful world of budgies. I brought Sunny home and spoiled her with a huge cage and fun toys, and then decided she needed some feathered friendship, so I went out and found Stormy.Stormy SunnyMy house has not been quiet since then! These two acrobatic little monkeys are hilarious to watch, and even though several times a day they break out into ear-splitting budgie-talk (squawking), they are a joy to have. I am still hoping to hand-train them, but I have not yet been able to get them over the fear of me touching them. (By the way, budgies bite hard.)

Salem had not been gone more than two weeks when the mice started showing up in droves. I mean, I knew that I might have had a mouse or two hiding out somewhere, but once they realized the cat was gone, it turned into no-holds-barred, mouse chewing and pooping action. They got into everything; I mean everything. They went after my food, the leftover catfood, birdseed and treats, chewed through some of my dish towels - they even got into my closet and pooped on some of my clothes!

Even though I had told myself that I didn't want another cat, one day a few weeks ago I found a picture on a local shelter's website of a beautiful snowshoe named Chester. I rushed right out to see him, only to be met by a very lukewarm and introverted cat who had a host of health problems. I was disappointed and unsure as to whether or not he'd warm up to me once he left the shelter. I decided to visit the other cats at the shelter while I was there, and when I went into the room with the younger cats, one kitty stood out from all the rest. She had that "you talkin' to me?" look on her face, and when I nodded to her to say "yeah, you" she came running right over to me and started crawling up my arm and cuddling immediately. A week later, Percy came home with me.Percy

Percy is absolutely amazing. First of all, she is a total affection whore. When I am sitting at my computer, if I am not giving her enough attention, she will "pet" herself by rubbing her head on my back or my arms and cradle her head in my neck. She was never once afraid (once the car ride home was over). I expected her to hide under the bed for a couple of days, but she came right out of the carrier and inspected the entire place the first night. She has not been a picky eater (Salem hated all kinds of fish and would turn her nose up if the paté version of canned food was served). She sleeps with me every night, and I have actually been able to trust her alone with the birdcage! (Now if the birds were out of the cage, that would be another story!) Percy has also turned out to be an excellent mouser - she has caught THREE mice so far!

So, to sum it up, my life has been a circus for the last month. In addition to caring for my new babies, I'm still working two jobs and trying to search for a single, better job nearer to my family. I'm hoping to start keeping up with my journal a little bit more, but we shall see. I hope you all are doing well!
  • Current Mood: busy
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A Holiday Interlude

MaggieLast weekend we had my family's Christmas because my dad had to have surgery this week and Mom wasn't sure how he'd feel having a houseful on the actual day. It was so much fun just having three ENTIRE days off to spend doing "nothing" with my family.

My six-month-old niece Maggie totally amazes me. I don't get to see her very often because my brother's family lives about two hours away. As soon as I walked in the door Friday night she started leaning towards me with her arms held out. She knows that lifting her arms that way means "up" to the person she wants to go to. She is also very inquisitive - she was hardly fully in my arms before she started ripping my glasses off my face, pulling at my rings, and poking my watch.

My brother had a cold, and she soon realized that if she coughed, people would pay attention to her as well. It was so cute to hear her fake little cough followed by her giggle as we laughed at her. Then, when we were at the dinner table she was constantly mimicking our chewing. In fact, when my dad teased her by holding a piece of cheesecake in front of her, she leaned forward, opened her mouth, and tried to get some for herself! The cutest thing ever, though was when I was holding her and my brother, her father, started shaking a sleigh-bell at her. Her eyes got big and she got so excited. He handed it to her, and instead of her trying to put it in her mouth like she had been doing before, she started whipping it back and forth to make it ring. She was so pleased with herself that she was screeching and laughing with the rest of us. I really wish I had gotten that on video.

Are all babies this smart? It has been so long since my brothers were this small that I really don't remember many of the details. I am just so blown away by how she obviously understands what we say and do and responds to it as best as she can. It's neat to see her intently studying faces and carefully trying to imitate mouth movements. (I must have looked totally insane as I made silly faces at her all weekend!) I love how her little eyebrows furrow and her nose crinkles when she is really concentrating. It's also interesting to see how frustrated she gets when she can't respond the way she wants to. To me she seems less like a little baby and more like a small person who is "trapped" by a body that hasn't fully learned yet.
  • Current Mood: loved loved

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I've been meaning to post pics of a few projects I've worked on recently. I am a knitter and crocheter, and I love making things for babies, especially now that I have a gorgeous niece! My SIL had a favorite blankie that she carried around until she was about five. This past spring, she asked me if i could fix it. It had several holes, a large stain, and a shredded border on one side. I said, "Sure!" and promptly ripped the shredded border out to re-use the yarn for patches.

At first I had a LOT of trouble trying to get the patches to "look" right. In fact, I got REAL nervous that I wouldn't be able to fix it and had ruined it by pulling it apart. Then I found a website by a woman who works with crocheting as a living that showed how to fix holes. Within two weeks, I had it done.

The stain was the difficult part. I assumed it was baby cereal (found out this weekend that it was gum!). I soaked it for at least 24 hours in oxyclean and palmolive and then washed it on gentle. Still there. So I did what the lady with the website suggested: cut it out and patched the hole!

I am very pleased with how it turned out except for that last patch job. I think the border was done in single stitch and I did it in double stitch, just to get the darn thing done. SIL didn't notice it til I pointed it out. She was just ecstatic that I fixed it! So, the pictures I've posted are of the damage - I actually forgot to take pictures of the finished piece!

The last photo is of a blanket and pillow cover that I made just for myself - which almost NEVER do. I saw the yarn in the local craft store for just $2.99 a skein, and for Lion Brand Yarn, that is pretty darn good! It only took me about two weeks to make the blanket using the pattern on the yarn label, and I added the border because I thought it just "needed something." The pillow cover I did in maybe two or three days. I still have yarn left, so I'm thinking about making another cover, this time using stripes of color instead of using the afghan pattern.

Now I am working on two hooded sweaters for my niece for Christmas, one using a soft boucle in purples and pinks, and the other using baby sport weight yarn in yellow and white. If I have enough time and enough leftover yarn, I may pull some other patterns out of my pile and make her a couple more. I know the boucle I will have plenty of, but I'd also like to make her a hat, mittens, and socks with it.
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