Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Losing the Disaster Lottery

Here at my home, the weather could not be nicer.  Mild temperatures, no rain, sunny skies.  I have the day off tomorrow and will finally start my yard cleanup.  My thoughts will be with people who have much more difficult and serious cleanup ahead.

I don't have cable or dish TV, so I Googled last night to find live news feeds to stay updated on the hurricane.  It was emotionally draining to see and hear of the stories of devastation.  I stayed up too late and when I finally slept, I dreamt of disasters.  I was tired all day trying to work.  But I kept on looking for those updates throughout the day.  I crashed after work, sleeping for an hour or so and waking up disoriented.

It feels so strange that so many of us can just have a normal, even perfect, day, when on the other side of the country such havoc reigns.  And, in fact, the storm is not over.  Strong winds and heavy rains still cover a huge swath of the country and up into Canada now.

I guess I should appreciate my good fortune and be grateful I was not a victim of the disaster.  But it's hard for me to look at it that way.  I keep coming around to the thought, it could happen to me and my loved ones.  I do appreciate that our government has programs in place to provide safety for people during the disaster and then help to rebuild infrastructure.  I take some comfort in that.

It got me thinking about all the huge debate over government disaster assistance and it struck me that this is not unlike the healthcare debate.  On the one hand, some say the government has no right to take my money to help others.  Donations to help should be voluntary.  Others say we have an obligation to help our fellow men, and individuals and charity organizations alone are sometimes not enough.

One thing I firmly believe, it is not right that some are wiped out by losing in the lottery of a natural disaster or a devastating illness.  I cannot join with those who congratulate themselves that they have not suffered such things and who would do away with safety net programs.  Out of simple human caring, I think it's right to pool our money to provide some sort of insurance to help those who find themselves victims of such events.  And we should do what more we can individually as well. 

But then, I am a bleeding heart liberal.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Ten more weeks till new-found freedom.  It almost feels as if I've been holding my breath for a long, long time and I'm finally beginning to exhale. 

I've been talking to a lot of retirees about how they felt when they first retired.  Almost universally they missed the routine of work, missed being around people, sometimes have a hard time thinking of how to spend the day.  Some say that lasted a year, others much longer.  I'm asking because I want to be mentally prepared.  Some of this will be mitigated by the fact that I've worked at home and lived alone for so long, it will not be strange to be alone suddenly.  I may miss the routine of work, but right now, I sure don't think so.  My closest friend says she adapted immediately--mainly because she never particularly like working anyway.

How will it be for me?  I can't be sure.  But I will listen to what others tell me and try to prepare myself. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nasturtiums in Late October

Everything in the yard is either dead, buried in leaves, or eaten by the deer. Except the nasturtiums that just keep on looking showy and pretty. Started from seed, these are the bargain star performers this year. Don't deer eat nasturtiums?

Friday, October 19, 2012


Can't help it, I have started counting down.  Eleven weeks from today - January 4th-- my last day of working for a living.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Sometimes the things we hold on to are not nearly as important as the things we let go of.
I just heard that sentence tonight and it resonated with me.  I'm very good at holding onto things.  Witness all the "stuff" still in boxes in my house.  But bigger than that is all the baggage I've been carrying around for a long long time.  I'm talking the invisible kind.  But I wonder, how do you clean house of that kind of "stuff"?

Is there something you think of every single day?  Involuntarily?  And wish you wouldn't?

It's a rhetorical question.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I assemble one more thing

I know I said I was finished assembling furniture.  But I still had this storage shelving to assemble for the garage.  There are boxes of various things I'm not ready to throw away, stacked in my office.  Been there since last February.  I'm sure ready to get those out of here--I've been needing a place to put them since I no longer have storage space in the downstairs.

I bought this shelving for three reasons: It was good sized (24' deep 48" wide), the box stated that assembly required just a hammer, and each shelf supposedly could hold 1000 pounds.  The box was so heavy, I couldn't get it onto a cart, and a guy at Lowe's loaded it onto a cart, helped me at the checkout, and got it into the car for me.

At home I wrangled it out of the trunk, carefully sliding it out, and with a little leverage, carefully lowered onto its end in the garage.  Then I just "walked" it to where I wanted it and carefully lowered to the floor.  Once there, I could just open the box and deal with individual pieces quite easily.

I had no idea it would be so easy.  Little button-like things on the shelf bracket slid into keyhole openings.  A hammer just tapped them into place.  What a welcome change from the old days of dozens of nuts and bolts and cross brackets.

Here is the first half.  The joints between the lower and upper were a little tough and took a little more diligent hammering.
 In all, maybe half hour to 40 minutes - no sweat.
I have read online reviews of shelving at several stores before deciding on these.  Some people complained about the pressed wood shelves instead of metal.  But I sure like just slipping the shelf into the brackets.  I don't mind them at all.  And the price was right, too.  $89.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I am autumn

I woke up this morning confused about the day -- thinking it was Monday, acting as if it were Monday, planning my activities.  It took me 45 minutes to realize it's Sunday.  The day yesterday was so busy, maybe I feel like I got two days' worth out of it.  Or maybe it's that age thing again. In thinking what to write today, I remember my poem "October" I wrote last year (http://bekkieslife.blogspot.com/2011/10/october.html). I'm linking to it here because today is just such a day again.  And because I'm reminded, I, too, am autumn.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The TV console that took two weeks to assemble

Well, that headline is a little misleading.  I started assembling this a little over two weeks ago.  And when I had it all together, the bottom drawer just wouldn't slide in.  I finally determined the rail was faulty and called and ordered a replacement which arrived today.  So here is the project that didn't really take two weeks.  Just three evenings separated by two weeks.

The hard step: Attach two sides to four different pieces of wood at once using cam locks and wood pegs. Nine pegs to line up on each side.   This step took a lot of patience.  Luckily I'm long on that commodity.
The first side was easy. But the second side was oh so tricky trying to keep all four unruly pieces of wood in place so as to slide all nine pegs into their proper holes. My struggle was interrupted by a long phone call from a friend, which relaxed me enough that everything just went together on the next try.  So far so good.

The basic cabinet was done. I decided to wait until the next evening to do the top and the drawers. I thought nothing would be as hard as those sides were.  But the drawers turned out to be a demon.  Well, one drawer anyway and just one side.  It just wouldn't slide in. 
I finally determined the rail was faulty.  I gave up until I could get a replacement rail.  When I examined the replacements (they sent me a pair), it took me a bit to figure out they had sent the complete assembly with drawer side and cabinet side.  I got the piece I needed and studied the job.  I wasn't sure how hard this was going to be as the rails had been factory installed and I had not had to attach them originally. But it was not hard at all--just four small screws. Easy out with my power drill.  Easy back in--carefully screwing in by hand.  And then the drawer slid in like a charm.   
So the TV console is finished. No more furniture assembly remaining to do.  No more construction.  Even the final inspection is over.  The place is ready for me to move in. I can finally put this room together.  Pictures soon of the completed remodel.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another take on the Red Hat poem

Three years ago (how does time pass so quickly?!) I wrote a blog post on Growing Old and The Red Hat Ladies. Just three short years ago!  Oh how our attitudes can change when our bodies and minds begin to show the first evidences of age.

This morning I broke my little 4-cup coffee pot--banged it on the marble countertop.  Not on purpose, of course, but just being clumsy and in a hurry.  It's something I've begun to notice about myself lately.  Clumsiness.  And forgetfulness.  And a kind of general ennui that's hard to pin down.  I guess it's age.

And now I think of the red hat poem as not only some deliberate act of rebellion, but perhaps also mere surrender to age with its foibles and wacky impulses.  Yes, I am feeling it now.

Jenny Joseph was in her 30's when she wrote the poem, and so wrote it as one who could only observe old-age behavior.  Well just you wait, Jenny Joseph, when you're 65 and you start to realize not just what we do, but why we do it.

My thoughts are a bit more tempered now towards the red hat ladies and their luncheons and parties and dressing up.  They refuse to surrender.  And a group is always stronger than one alone.  Strength in numbers.  And good for seniors who are starting to get clumsy and forgetful.  I may not join the red hats, but I'm going to start looking for a group that's the right fit for me.

The poem bears repeating.

by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A watershed day

Every once in awhile you have a day that turns a corner, or opens a new path, or simply finally answers a nagging question.  Today was one such day for me, and I must say it has gone a long way to relieving some personal anxiety I've been suffering.
  • The city inspector finally came (for the third time) and everything passed on my remodel.  Now there are no more strings left.  I finally feel like I can retake possession of half of my house and start living in it again.
  • The much-dreaded water bill arrived after the leak I had discovered.  I'd had nightmares of a bill in the thousands of dollars.  But the bill was, in fact, perfectly normal.  A huge relief.
  • I submitted my resignation at work giving as my final day January 4, 2013.  My boss had asked if I wanted to make it official since they couldn't post my job and begin interviewing until I did so.  I have told them all along I would give them plenty of time for interviewing, hiring and training.  Three months should be enough.
I'm one of those people who dares not take too much joy in a good day lest the gods or Karma, or some such, decide to take me down a notch.  So I'll try to just keep on an even keel, even if I'm smiling a bit more than I have in weeks.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What triggered the scanner

Another one of those slightly annoying things happened.  I had ordered some divorce documents from the court that I will need for my social security application.  And the court charged me $6 and sent the certified copy along with someone else's new divorce filing.  It was an original document--I could tell by blue ink for some of the signatures.  Dammit, I'm going to need to get this back to the court.

Right, I could have just tossed the papers and let it be someone else's problem.  But my concern was for the couple involved who already have enough stress and trouble without the papers getting lost.  Sloppy clerk work but nothing to do but return the documents.  I called first and got put on hold for 3 or 4 minutes. Then I was interrogated as to my name, my case number, and who helped me (I swear I began to believe I was in on something criminal).  They instructed me to mail the documents to the court clerk, but since I pass the court on the way to the post office, I suggested I could just drop them off.

At the courthouse I learned that to get to the clerk's office you have to walk through the same metal detector as you would for court.  I beeped it twice.  What the hell?  The only metal on my entire person was the button on my jeans.  The deputy then said, "Try this, turn sideways, hold your arms straight out to the sides and walk sideways through the device.  I complied noticing he seemed rather focused on my chest.  Again, what the hell?  Was he just having a little fun with me?  But no beep -- I passed.

It was only later that I thought about another possible answer:  the underwire bra.  I rarely wear them because they're just not comfortable.  But in a moment of vanity I had decided I wanted that nice uplifted look today.  Mystery solved.  When I walked straight ahead through the device, both boobs passed through at the same time, apparently just enough to trigger the device.  Going through sideways allowed one boob at a time which apparently fell below the level of detection.  HAHA!

Boy am I embarrassed now!