Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hello and Good-by to January

According to long range forecasts, February will be a little warmer. That may be obvious, but I forget that. I forget that the worst of winter does not last long. By the time March is here, our average temperature will be well above freezing. That's not far away. So, if spring is fifty days away, some of those days will be pleasant. I'm pointing out the obvious to myself because it's not always obvious to me.

At this juncture, I am trying to get over a chest cold that has made me cranky, achy, and rather sedentary--at least when I can get away with it. This happens so seldom, and I am so spoiled, that it feels unjust. Actually, it seems that half the people I know have caught something. I love NyQuil, but the way. The daytime stuff, without the alcohol, not so much. But NyQuil, or whatever off-brand I can find, is always dreamy; puts me to sleep and lets me pretend that I am not sick.


Anyway, here it is, only Tuesday, and I wishing the week away. I'm ready for this month to be over, I'm ready to get The Superbowl over with, I'm ready to stop hearing jokes about balls, and I'm very ready for it to be February. Notice that February never outstays its welcome. That's nice.

To update my exciting life's happenings from last month, I finished The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, and found it enthralling. So much to discuss! Not many novels make the reader work quite that hard. I've got Mike reading it.

After that, I read our book group's selection, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs. The title of this riveting biography warns readers that Robert Peace will not meet the happy, successful ending that anyone with his talents, drive, and stamina should have. It's frustrating, puzzling, and very sad. I hope that Robert DeShaun Peace's story serves as a cautionary tale for those who start life with the deck stacked against them. Peace should have gotten out of Newark, but obviously felt anchored there out of some sense of obligation to his family and friends. People do need anchors, but unfortunately, he got involved with the worst side of Newark. A person's friends say a lot about a person, and he had some wonderful people on his side. And his mother, Jackie, is a superhero. And still. This story is hard to take, and will stay with me for a long time. 

And now for something completely different: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. This is a much happier book, and I'm currently enjoying it very much.

And now, I must go; there's one more thing about this month I'm ready to get over with, and that's our monthly last-Tuesday staff meeting. Hurry for it being the last Tuesday, though.

Okay, I must chop chop.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Last Week

Here it comes...The End. Well, not the end, not the end at all, but more to the point, the beginning of a new year. Remember when the sound of the year 2000 sounded so--out there, science fiction-like? Such a long time ago, now. So much has happened in the last 15 years. But--that's too much to think about right now, so I'll stick to this week, the last week of the year. Three more days after this one, and 2014 will be history.

Last night's movie was Saving Mr. Banks, the story behind the making of the movie version of Mary Poppins. I had no knowledge about the fact that Walt Disney spent twenty years trying to convince the author, P.L. Travers, to sign over the rights to the film. Emma Thompson portrays Mrs. Travers as a miserable, arrogant person who finds fault with everyone and everything. Travers is so prickly and difficult that one must admire the tenacity and amount of patience Disney and his crew exhibited in making this production happen.

It turns out that Pamela L. Travers, born Helen Lyndon Goff in Australia, had a sad, difficult childhood. Her father, Travers Goff, had an alcohol problem, trouble staying employed, and he died early. The seven-year-old Pamela was traumatized and never recovered from this loss. Saving Mr. Banks  posits that Mary Poppins was a re-write of Pamela's childhood; this magical nanny does more than save the children--she saves their father, Mr. Banks.

And by the way, lest anyone suspect that Emma Thompson's portrayal of this eccentric writer is exaggerated, there are tapes (as Mike pointed out, just like Watergate)--yes, P.L. Travers wanted all their working conversations recorded, out of a basic distrust for everyone in the room! Some snippets are played during the closing credits.

I'd forgotten how good the music was, and had completely forgotten what the story was about, and should view this movie again. Clearly, the talent involved was impressive. And about this movie: I liked it quite a bit, though it had some sad parts, while Mike thought it was good, but rather unpleasant to watch. That's a rocky recommendation: well done, but not one of those feel-good Disney movies.


On Christmas Eve, we re-watched The Ref, a movie that is now quite old--1994! I still have to remind myself that that year is more than ten years ago. Anyway, Denis Leary is the burglar who blunders into taking a difficult couple hostage. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis bicker hilariously, forcing Leary, the armed criminal, to constantly act as a ref. It takes place on Christmas, which means that their quirky extended family enters the drama, as well.

We re-viewed Elf, as well. This flick is much funnier than I remembered it to be--really, there are some great, laugh-out-loud moments. Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, and Bob Newhart are all wonderfully cast. Will Ferrell plays the 6'3" human guy who is brought up by elves, then must adjust to life outside the North Pole. Just imagine...

We also played Scrabble on Christmas Eve, and a rare thing happened: I won. Barely, but still counts--


Sometimes, I sit and crochet--this throw is now 27 inches wide twice that long, and contains about four different stitches. I think I've settled, for awhile, on the 1/2 herringbone stitch.
I am currently reading The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, a 800+page Victorian mystery, which means I shouldn't be here on the interwebs, at all--so many books to read, so little time.

And, we had a marvelous cruise. I took some inept pictures, which I will post on the other blog.

So. Whatchaupto?

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Meditation

This morning, I did something I haven't done in awhile.  This won't sound like much, but--I ran alone without headphones. It feels a bit like meditation, except for the moving part. If the point of meditating is finding quiet time to oneself, then--this works. It may sound awfully boring to be running laps around the neighborhood, but it really does not matter where the run takes place, and the air is just as fresh. I do run a bit slower without the music, but perhaps that is temporary, I don't know. I do know that the music became too important.

It's as if I'm trying not to live through exercise. A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Why? What better past time am I rushing off to? It's one thing to look forward to certain times and events, but I find myself wishing every minute away. A couple blog posts ago, I even pronounced my auntie's visits dead--well, her death was greatly exaggerated; it turns out my body isn't quite that mature yet. Hold your horses. Patience, grasshopper. It's okay, everything's okay, nothing is so unpleasant that it cannot be tolerated a little bit longer.

Breathe in, breathe out, pack your lunch and take your headphones: that is what music is for, when the traffic is too bad to come home for lunch, but too loud at work to concentrate on reading anything. This season is happy, but it's overwhelming, and I am thankful that we got away for a week this month.

I will try to paws pause and remember to enjoy being here, being healthy, and being so amazingly lucky.

ps. This nifty Buddha Cat came from here: http://bmoussart.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-aceo-buddha-cat.html

Monday, December 01, 2014

Rabbit, rabbit! And all that

 Rabbit, rabbit, happy December, everyone!

As this year comes to an end, I have all these misgivings juxtaposed with all the excitement about--things. Big news, small news, little stuff, petty stuff.

 Big news first. What's taking place in Ferguson, MI is very important and very depressing. It's as if we, as a country, haven't grown much at all since the Civil Rights Movement.

 Another concern, related to not growing, is the general apathy about most of the big news. Even people who are online all day can avoid knowing anything about the world around them. I've been guilty of this: idling on Pinterest, ogling pictures on Bored Panda, and reading book reviews for hours without thinking to check my email, let alone the news sites. Pretty bad. If it weren't for my Facebook news feed, which includes Huffington Post, NBC, etc, I would forget to read anything of any real importance.

 Before the internet, I admit that the first place I learned about Rodney King was MTV. On that channel, they aired the infamous videotape of King being beaten and beaten while lying on the ground over and over again.  MTV was also the first place some of us were informed about Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid demonstrations in South Africa. But on Facebook, people only see what they've elected to see, interspersed with and disjointed by other people's half-baked opinions. And people's opinions get way off track...For instance, I am sad to hear about the rioting in Ferguson, because it's bringing further emotional damage to that community. However, people who are looting and burning businesses are not part of the meaningful protest that is going on. Sadly, there will always be jerks to muck things up.

Getting on with my joys and concerns, what is happening to Thanksgiving? I don't understand this shopping thing at all. It flies in the face of what this holiday is about. Mike just pointed out to me an analysis in today's paper that shows that Black Friday shopping went down from last year, while Thanksgiving shopping went up. It seems that all retailers did was spread the sales out over a longer time period--spreading the misery for their employees. It doesn't make sense for the shoppers, either; the best deals come later, and some are online only. I'm baffled. And don't like crowds, or traffic. The same people who can't divorce themselves from their smart phones are sitting in traffic, trying to get to the malls. I hope they're not texting.

My biggest joy right now is that we are going on a cruise at the end of the week. I have two more days of work until I take the remainder of my PTO for the year, so I will have ample time to pack and do anything I need to do before we drive to Philadelphia on Thursday, where we stay overnight before flying out the next morning. Whatever happens, it will be a relaxing, good time. We will miss a week's worth of traffic and cold weather, too.

Also, I have not been sick this year. Sometimes, I feel old and out of shape, but that's not so often. I survived an understaffed Black Friday at work, even if I was a bit grouchy, and will return rested up and ready for the rest of the holiday season. Even if I must open the day after Christmas, it will at least be Friday! Why am I even thinking of this now?

And Mom's birthday was yesterday, which means today is December.

Anyway, I've babbled long enough. Happy December!

Whatchaupto? Here's a great, old video from back in the day--

 Special AKA - Free Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Be where now?

Oh, unstructured time, it's over so fast, especially when I sleep in, then turn on the computer, and start doing three things at once, in rotation. Laundry, gathering stuff to donate to Sal Val, eating breakfast, getting lost in a maze of googling, and am currently perusing a list called "authors named Michael."  How the heck did I get here?

Um, I was going to go running whilst the laundry churned, then rake leaves. Which will happen, but I needed a slower start this morning. And now I realize that today is Crazy Day at Sal Val, so perhaps I should gather stuff neatly in my trunk to drop off tomorrow....tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow.

Oh, yeah, I was going to decide what to read next. I just finished Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, which I enjoyed very much. There are so many books here, I'm overwhelmed with choices. If I choose a book book (an actual hard copy, not on my Nook), it will need to be something I can finish before we go on our annual December cruise, since one decision I am capable of making is that I'm only taking the Nook. That narrows my reading choices down to--scores of titles.

Hmm, how many pairs of flamingo slippers do I need? Do I need to have multiple flamingo beanie babies? Do I want to keep any of this stuff? Mike apologized for breaking some knick knack while he was vacuuming yesterday, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember much about it. All these flippant gifts of the past, how they do accumulate. I hope it's not too rude to a memory to give them away. I suppose I must keep the beer goggles, since there's actually a picture of me wearing them.

Should I run in Nearby Park? Probably, today being a week day...can't park at the middle school and go running around there, too much traffic (for me) to run right out the door. Man it's cold out there today. I'm really not ready for this. Wimp.

Sorry, I was looking at Sushi art. Mike and I went to Tokyo Diner on Monday to use his birthday coupon, both got the vegetarian combo. I've  been eating a fair amount of tuna lately, so this could be my Meatless Monday penance.

Oh, the garbage men are here and...gone. The trucks have this special fork thingie now that comes out and automatically lifts the bins and dumps them into the truck. Yes, we all have identical fork-enabled trash containers in these parts. And I've just missed watching the operation. It's the little things, ya know, that are fascinating. Maybe I'll catch the recycle truck. No telling when they come.

If you were presented with this salad, would you just dig in? Surely one should never feel guilty about eating a salad.

Oh, the laundry is dry, but I shouldn't walk down there in flamingo slippers, as they are dangerous. I'll get the bed made, anyway. If I'm home all day on laundry day, that's what I do: just take the sheets out of the basket and put'em right back on the bed. Saves me from folding them! It's the little things.

Now that I've walked downstairs, made the bed, folded the clothes, and put away stuff in the kitchen, I remember where I was going with the Michael stuff. I've collected a few authors, but not gotten around to all those books, especially Michael Ondaatje. But--there's still one by Michael Chabon I haven't touched yet--and there's Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer prize winner, still sitting there--but no, there are just as many Joyce Carol Oates books--ho, snap (as Mingus would say*), I'll never reach the bottom of that barrel.** If there were a superhero among writers...!

My stomach might be ready to consider running. I should at least get dressed for said activity and join the other older folks, doing time around the park. That will get me all warmed up to rake the leaves. It would be nice to get both accomplished before noon.

Okay, really, I need to get up--in more ways than one, that is, I really will get sore and antsy. It's probably a good thing we don't have a lap top, I'd find endless ways to squirm online.

I'll try not to notice all the little piles I've made on my way out.

It's cold out there already. Just sayin'

How cold is it?

*that comes from my last read

**no particular need to do that

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am here -->

It's always surprising, how many people come in to see us on a Sunday. At the bank, that is. Today was the last day  for one of our teller supervisors, who will be starting a new, back office job next week. In my almost seven years at the same job (same location, same bat channel), I have never seen so many staff changes occur in such short order. Most are just rearrangements; I have met most of the new staff before at some point.  The big, important change will be the shortening of our branch hours, and that will be revealed to us in the next couple weeks.

So, we will endure our present hours for one more holiday season, and we're bracing ourselves. We will be low staffed for awhile, and meanwhile, the problems continue to roll in. Retailers continue to be hacked--after Target, it was Home Depot, and now Kmart. The Paytime Compromise was especially bad, since it wasn't merely debit card numbers, but bank account and social security information, as well. People come to the bank irritated with us, as if we created the problem. A few people have told us that this is very irritating, and asked, how many times is this going to happen? Honestly, I think people will soon start shopping with gift cards and cash. This is, indeed, horrible. All the bank can do is contact customers when their cards appear on the hack list, and make new cards. Which, by the way, gets very expensive for the banks. (Of course the bank doesn't charge customers for new debit cards when this happens.)

Sometimes, I think Ourbank has a giant KICK ME sign somewhere, the way non-customers will stumble in and start making demands. The strangest one this week was a guy who said he was traveling, and lost his Visa card. Was it drawn off our bank? No. Did he have an account here? No.  Hmm. He was disappointed that we couldn't make him a new card (!) and then asked me to do a cash advance. A cash advance off---the lost card? Yes, he knew the numbers by heart. Oy. I told him we had to have the actual card.  Resigned, he then asked me how to get to some place I've never heard of in Baltimore.

People are always bringing in their trash, too, but today was the first time someone handed me a banana peel. Okay, now I'm venting. But really? And yes, our coin counter charges non-customers a 5% fee.  THAT piece of information is posted in two prominent places. Those who stomp off can go to their own banks, or use Coinstar--which, by the way, is twice as expensive.

Speaking of complaining and unrealistic expectations, some of our staff changes started as a flight from a certain supervisor; at least two people requested transfers to get away from one particular individual.  When said supervisor was rotated somewhere else, they tried to change their minds, but were told no, it's too late now, you've committed to moving.  One of them put in her two weeks notice.  One hopes these two young women will be less rash (and petty) next time. Just an aside: I believe the one who quit was the instigator and the leader of the drama club, and that things will be different, and quieter, without her.

This is the start of my third writing session on this--wasn't I just saying that a personal blog doesn't have to be polished? So, I am rushing off for another thin-staffed frenzy, knowing that it won't, can't be as bad as yesterday. After all, it's Veteran's Day. Yes, we're open normal hours, and we're the only ones.

And tomorrow's my day off. I'll get caught up on everything tomorrow!

Monday, October 20, 2014

More October

So many conversations start, "Is it really ______________ already?" where the blank is filled in with a date, not a time of day. The hours often crawl, but only during working hours, while the days speed by. The weekends are over in a flash.

Time's passing brings change, and one  I'm looking forward to happening next year has not been announced yet, so the suspense is building...The bank I work for might be forced to shorten its hours because the stock holders want to see a reduction in operating expenses. (The company's stock is already doing well, but apparently not well enough.) Surely, we will still be open more hours than any other bank around here, but scuttlebutt has it that the drive-thru will no longer need to be staffed until 8:10 pm every single night--perhaps only Thursday and Friday. If the entire bank can close at 6:10 pm most days, that will make a nice difference in my life. Right now, with just two part time tellers, we full timers are picking up some closing shifts. And for some reason, every time I work a closing shift, it's followed by an opening one. Swing! Get home after 8 pm, get up at 6 am and do it again. Drat.

It can't be helped, and I'm not complaining about the way things are now, but I'll be elated if we get a break next year. And, I must add, complaining has recently gotten a couple people fired...recently, it was decreed (passive voice invoked for lack of knowledge) that about half the teller chairs in each branch had to be confiscated. It was some strange, mean-spirited decision that caught us by surprise, and a teller at a neighboring branch blasted the company on Facebook, which was not a smart move. She was gone very quickly. Another teller just got canned for getting into an argument with the assistant manager of her branch. She'd been there for five years, and was a conscientious, hard worker, so I was flabbergasted at that news. Since I would like to stay employed until the end of 2019, I'm going to be make a point of being very quiet. My age already makes me different, so it will take some extra cautiousness to fly under all the radar.


This weekend, I took the plunge and created an account on a local meetup site. I've been afraid of doing this, but there's really no obligation to make good on this threat of meeting people. I'm starting extremely small, which in this case means me and ONE other woman running around town on ONE Thursday morning. Yes, I am creating an obligation to show up and run, because that's what things have come to. (Next week, not this one, since it depends on my swinging schedule.) And I'm getting a lot of email updates, beckoning me to come to many events, the more the merrier.

That day, Oct 30th, will be very scheduled, since I will then go straight from work to the burg's library to hear a talk on paranormal and ghosty things. I have no idea what to expect, but it's almost guaranteed to be interesting. It does mean that I'm skipping our trick-or-treat night; Mike will be away with his high school buds, and I'm working late enough to miss part of the parade, anyway. The few we get, that is.

Hmm, it'll be interesting to see how I deal with so much action :)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Little Stuff

With me, it's always the little stuff. I don't do big stuff.

However,  made--or I should say assembled--a wreath. Here it is--

Ta-duh....since today is the 165th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death, I've been thinking ravens. And, on Pinterest, I've seen some very cool Poe wreaths. On another site, I saw that some guy made a Baltimore Ravens Wreath with lots of tulle. This is SO cool. At some point, I'd like to make a tulle wreath, but it would take some tutoring. Anyway, this is my okay version, for someone who didn't have a clue what she was doing. The flowers and bird came from The Dollar Tree, while the styrofoam wreath, black-and-white ribbon, and black bow came from Michael's. Actually, I didn't buy enough of the patterned ribbon, so I used some of Mike's black duct tape for the background behind the flowers (hope he doesn't mind). The lace hanging down from the raven was left over from--something I can't remember, and I didn't bother gluing stuff because I have plenty of straight pins. See, this way I can alter it if I decide it sucks.

For instance, perhaps the flowers should have been up one side or the other, not all on the bottom....hmm, wouldn't hurt to have some kind of cat motif on it, as well.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend Update

Last night's movie was Tim's Vermeer. It's a Penn and Teller film that's not about Penn and Teller, though Penn Jillette does narrate this documentary. It's about his friend, Tim Jenison, an engineer and inventor who thinks of himself as a non artistic geek. However, he loves the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch master whose paintings Girl with Pearl Earring and Girl with Red Hat  became so iconic. Tim set out to discover just how Vermeer managed to paint with such photographic detail 150 years before the invention of photography.

Tim chose The Music Lesson as his project. (Nothing too difficult, huh?)

Then, he went about recreating the entire setup, and true to his obsessive tendencies, everything was exactly to scale, he bought the cello, he acquired the tapestry, the windows...no detail was overlooked. His daughter was home for a month for the holidays, and she wound up putting on the dress and posing for a very long time. Penn remarked that no student was ever so glad to get back to school. Anyway, though, Tim did paint his Vermeer.

In my mind, he proved how Vermeer was able to achieve what he did circa 1662. It took Tim Jenison long, hard hours, days, and months to paint one picture, and he admitted that if it weren't for the film, he would have given up. Yet, Vermeer painted dozens. Today, about thirty-four (34) existing paintings are attributed to him. I stand in awe of Johannes Vermeer in a different way, now: he invented something that worked like magic, an idea that allowed him to paint exactly what he was seeing. His paintings might actually be the first photographs.

I'd recommend this documentary!


No, no particular need to talk this out.  I am not going to miss my Aunt Flo.  Not a bit. This might sound cold, but her visits were always inconvenient, sometimes painfully so. That said, there were times when she actually took a hint and took a hike--I very much appreciated that she did not come all the way out of Fort Jackson with me, especially during bivouac week. That was surprisingly considerate of her, but that was a long time ago, about three decades. Okay, a wee bit more than that. But anyway. She's lost her energy, she's fading, she's quickly becoming a pest of the past.

I seem to remember a certain episode of All in the Family when Edith goes through "the change". Since I was young kid, I did not fully understand what all the fuss was about, but it was clearly something terrible, something all us women would have to--endure. Well, I still don't know what all the fuss is about. Just sayin'. So far, it's my favorite part of getting older.

Enough of that.

My least favorite topic right now is that I might be reaping the consequences of youthful sun exposure. Consequence: it has such a negative ring. About a month ago, I dyed my hair, something that is actually against everything I believe, and yet--I've been doing it for ten years, using the same inexpensive product in the comfort of my own bathroom. I've also grown out my hair quite a bit, another way of avoiding unnecessary human contact. (I see what I'm doing here.) This time, I wound up with a red mark on my face, and assumed that I'd developed some kind of allergy. After it hung around for weeks, I went to my doctor, thinking that she could give me medication to make this leave me alone. Well--this is where I get to the topic in the first sentence--she told me that there was no way no how this was contact dermatitis. She's given me a referral to have a skin shaving biopsy.

Just when I thought I'd had my last trip to the doctor this year...I'm so tired of making appointments. Bright side: I have satisfied my deductible. (There's a first time for everything.) And for now, I find myself more stressed out about getting this over with than what the actual results might be. If it is a squamous cell, it'll be an early call. Honestly, it doesn't look like much, and I was a little embarrassed about even being there.


Back to films...here's a short one, Danish with English subtitles. It would be a tad too ironic to put it one Facebook...

No9 NEW STATUS from The Current on Vimeo.

Okay, I need to go read...I have a pile that are screaming out my name and furious about the neglect they've suffered.

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I'm off this weekend! Two whole days to get stuff done, exercise, and read. So far, it's mid-morning on Saturday, and I have not even read all my e-mail. The problem is the number of sale notices I get. And, as we all know, the distractions just get worse as soon as we click on the link that leads us to those cool shoes: even when we wake up and realize we can't possibly need or want anything shiny today, or next week, or next month, we will see those cruel shoes everywhere we go on the interwebs. They know where we live and they know what we want, what we really, really want.

However, I did cut Mike's hair, an act that has been scheduled for quite some time. He reminded me a couple times this week that he'd really like this to happen right after his run today, because he knows how I forget stuff. Now, there's a man who knows how to use a day off. Yesterday (on a day off), he got up in time to go running before the plumber came to fix our shower, then he went off to his eye appointment, vacuumed, and cleaned the bathroom. By cleaned the bathroom, I do not mean a quick, cursory wipe down. Things seem to be glistening.

He's off on a bunch of errands now, as I sit here thinking about a bunch of stuff, none of it very important or interesting. I must work on Labor Day, but it will be a short, easy day in the drive-up window (just so the company can say, we're open!).  This is happening because we are so dreadfully bereft of staff at this juncture that the only part timer we have left isn't allowed to have more than twenty-five (25) hours a week, and we need him other times.

And--vacation time is upon us. Four more work days! Even if they keep me overtime, I will NOT be reporting on Friday!  By the time I get back, the staffing situation will be improving.

Soon, very soon, that desperate feeling that comes over me when I imagine being stuck at work all night with coworkers who can't conjugate simple verbs and let drama upstage everything more important will be a thing of the past; it will be back to sane schedules for everyone, and there will be much rejoicing.

I will not hear the words, that transaction was ran wrong, or you shouldn't of did that for many days. And no, Weird Al, they are not being mocked online because few know better and even fewer care. (They could not care less.)

There are so many odd things going on in my head just now that I'd really better start moving. There will be pictures, later...

p.s. We will be staying at a resort in the Riviera Maya region, the same place we've been visiting for years now.