Archive for February, 2011

It’s bad enough that Graves’ Eye Disease has given me double vision.  That, alone, is enough to impact my whole life.  I can’t drive without one eye blacked out in my sunglasses.  When I’m in stores, I sometimes almost have an anxiety attack if it’s too bright and the crowds are too big.  I’m having more trouble focusing these days and have to go down the stairs very carefully.  And now, even when I read (which I used to be able to do with no problem,) I sometimes see two pages and have to work very hard to get things back to one.  All of these things have been working on me since last July, as I wait for the disease to “settle down.” so that maybe the eye surgeon can cure me.

But now, it’s starting to affect my appearance!  And that hurts worst of all.  You see, the double vision is caused by the fact that the muscles in the two eyes are not working together.  Some of the time you probably couldn’t tell if you didn’t know.  But, when I look straight-on in the mirror, I can see that one eyeball looks a little lower.  It’s off…just a bit.

To make sure of this I just took a series of pictures of my eyes, looking in different directions and then up, down and straight ahead because that’s the only way I truly know what they look like to others.  Aside from a broken vessel in one eye, many of the shots look almost normal.  But the straight-on one!  Not good.  I was going to post it here, but then I just couldn’t.  I was too embarrassed.  This is what I mean about this disease affecting my whole life.  When I go out in public now, I tend to avoid looking straight at people because I don’t want them to see me as a freak.  That’s not who I used to be.  I’ve always been a woman who would look you in the eyes when I was talking to you.  Not so much now.  I’m beginning to feel like a googly-eyed shrinking violet.

This whole thing is really starting to weigh me down.  All I want is to be normal again.  Is that too much to ask?  And now the whole googly eye thing like a big cherry on top of an already-sickening sundae.  Why is this happening?  The only explanation I can think of is that God is trying to teach me some humility.

If so, God…it’s working.  Can we stop now?




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What Jobs?

When I took early retirement at the end of 2005, a lot of people came up to me and said, “you’re so lucky!”  And even though I knew how they meant it, I kind of resented it at the same time.  Luck had nothing to do with it!  I had worked almost 30 years at one job or another.  And when I began to see that my company was becoming a place where I didn’t want to be anymore, it took another five years to pay off my house and get into a situation where I could retire.  During that time, while many of my friends were buying expensive cars and taking numerous wonderful vacations, I was staying home, saving money and perfecting my master plan.  I guess I’m saying all this because, once I did retire, I didn’t have a single regret.  Even now, I thank God each morning that I’m finally free to do whatever I want with each day.  It is truly as interesting and exciting as I always imagined it would be.

But even though I’m not working anymore, my heart goes out to those who need to work and who can’t find employment.  When I was working, I knew many people, men and women, who were in their forties who hadn’t put any money aside for retirement.  That always gave me the shivers.  What do those people do when they are downsized? Do they just expect to work the rest of their lives?  I really feel for them.

When I was young and working on my college degree, I was often changing jobs.  I’d haul out the Sunday paper and there would be pages and pages of want ads.  And it seemed like there was every kind of job imaginable available.  When I looked at my paper this past Sunday, there were three pages of ads.  That’s it!  Three lousy pages.

I decided to study them to see what was being offered and let me tell you, the results were pretty grim.  Guess what position had the most openings?  “Drivers,”  with twenty-one ads.   Most of them were for for big rigs but a few promised “you’ll be home each night.” Well, that’s certainly not the kind of job you can fake!  It’s good for drivers, bad for the desperate.   The runner-up position won’t surprise you at all.  It was for “Sales,” with ten ads.  Other than that, the pickings were few.

There was one solitary ad for a “Secretary,”  which, for some reason, really surprised me.  There was one “Paralegal,” one “Video Journalist,” one “Assistant Editor,” one “Irrigation Technician,” and one “Mechanic/Welder.”  It really brought home to me why unemployment is such a dire problem in our country.  As I perused these ads, I wondered what I’d choose if I were young again and looking for work.

And then I found it! Here’s exactly how the ad ran:

“SPECIAL OPS – U.S. Navy.  Elite training.  Daring missions.  Generous pay/benefits.  H.S. Grads ages 17-34.  Do you have what it takes?  Call Mon.-Fri. 800-777-Navy.”

Oh yeah, Baby!  That would be the one for me!

They had me at “daring missions!”  🙂







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Just looking at it on a hanger, you might not realize exactly what you’re looking at.  So I will tell you.  This is the coolest jeans jacket ever. If I had a dollar for every time a stranger asked me where I got it over the years, I’d be rich.  The thing I love about it is that it’s a feminine-looking jeans jacket, not a miniature man’s jacket.  Another great thing about it is that it nicely covers your derriere, which can be a plus in the looks and the warmth departments.  This jacket has class and personality.  If it had a voice, it would be saying, “you wish!”

When I think of all the places and the situations this jacket has shared with me, it’s easy to understand how attached I am to it.  It’s been with me longer than any one man…or woman for that matter!  It has been washed so many times that it’s finally starting to show its age.  I mean, this jacket was bought at a store that doesn’t even exist anymore!  Last year I noticed that it was beginning to look a little shabby, especially at a couple of the seams.  That made me feel so sad.  My sweet friend, Iris, who happens to be a great seamstress, did something on one of her good sewing machines to make sure those seams didn’t fray anymore, which sort of holds off the inevitable a little longer.  I wonder if a day will ever come when I’ll finally stop wearing it. Right now, I refer to it as “vintage.”  Kinda like me.

And then there are my  tables.  There are two end tables, two parsons tables and a six-sided one. When my ex-husband and I first got married, we were so poor that we had bargain basement furniture in our first apartment.  Back then they had these stores (maybe they still do) where you could go in and buy an entire room of furniture, including lamps, for like $100.  We also had odds and ends that were hand-me-downs from relatives who had gotten better stuff. That was the best we could do.

We had a couple we socialized with who were older and more established than we were.  The husband was a history teacher like mine, but the wife had a great paying job working in the front office of the Kansas City Royals.  Whenever we went over to their house, we were very impressed by the quality of their furnishings.  Their home was like a showcase.  Well, it turns out that the wife’s brother was an interior decorator who had gotten all their furniture for them at a place that sold exclusively to decorators.  This came as no surprise to us because the stuff was really classy.

What did come as a surprise was that the wife got us a private pass to this decorator store (as if we could afford anything!)  Nonetheless, my ex-husband said “we can at least go and look.”  So we did.  The place was as awe-inspiring as we expected it to be, with a bunch of snooty salespeople gliding around, pretending not to see us.  We must have looked like Jethro and Ellie Mae Clampett, wandering through, eyes as big as saucers.  But then Max saw these tables – rustic, yet still quality and very, very heavy.  The cost was way out of our league.  But, the more we looked at them and imagined them as ours, the more we wanted them.  We finally figured out a way to swing it, using money he made by painting in the summers and on the weekends.  And I must admit they brought a touch of class to every place we lived.

The funny thing is, when we got divorced and were taking turns splitting things up, my ex-husband chose the pool table, leaving me the tables by default.  And so I’ve hauled these heavy, sturdy tables with me every time I’ve moved (which has been quite a few times!)  A couple of them have scratches and maybe a nick here and there but they are still strong and look fine.  There have been times when I’ve thought of replacing them just for a change and because they’re so old, but I couldn’t justify getting rid of something so substantial that was still good.

It’s nice to know that some things in this world were made to last.  Maybe I’ve been pondering longevity because I have a birthday coming up next week and I always get philosophical as I take another step down that hill.  Like the jacket, some of my seams are fraying just a little bit.  And like the tables, I have my share of nicks and scars.

But, also, like both of them – I’m still here.  🙂


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The Mole MUST Die!

Last week we were blessed with at least two days in the seventies.  At long last the heaps and heaps of snow that surrounded us finally started melting away.  And when it was gone, I looked at the area of lawn right in front of my front porch and saw this:

Well, actually, this is a shot taken AFTER I had furiously pounded down all the mole tunnels and runs.  It was the first time I took an objective look and realized that The Mole, working surreptitiously under the snow, has managed to kill off virtually all of the grass in that area.  He has left me with a mud pit!  That bastard!

If you’ll remember the research I did in November 2009,  summarized in this post,  moles are active 24/7.  And this particular maniac doesn’t just limit his destruction to my yard.  I looked at my neighbor, Marcia’s and this is how hers is shaping up. You can see the bare spots where he attacked last summer, too.

In fact, between her yard and mine he must have found an earthworm buffet because he doesn’t seem to bother my other two neighbors whose yards attach to mine.  I’ve always loved looking out my front windows and seeing my tree and stepping-stones.  This is how they look now.

You can see all the scars in the earth where this filthy creature has continued his destruction!  When I first moved here I was naive enough to think that the lawn maintenance guys, for whom we pay hefty home owner association dues, would do something to remedy the problem.  Silly me.  Last summer Marcia called and was told they had “put something down.”  First of all, I don’t believe that.  Second of all, if they did, you can see how well it worked!  The lawn care expert on the radio says that poison peanuts, mole stuff and stuff crammed down into their tunnels don’t work.  The only thing that works is a harpoon trap.  In my experience that’s right.  In my last house it wasn’t until I resorted to traps that I finally caught one.

But, when I knew I’d be moving here, I gave those traps away.  What I’d like to know is…WHY ME?  Every house I live in has moles, while most of the time the neighbors are blissfully mole-free.  It’s not fair!  I feel like I’ve spent half my life fighting moles and I’M SICK OF IT!  Sick. Of. It.

I heard on the radio Saturday that in a 5,000 square foot yard, one trapper caught twenty-one moles!  Can you believe that?  I can’t let myself even consider the fact that I might have more than one or it might drive me totally over the brink of sanity!

But though I’m tired and war-weary, don’t think for a moment that I’m going to concede this battle.  I won’t stop until I nail his dead body to a tree, as a warning to all of his comrades.  I simply can’t let him completely trash my property’s value.  Meanwhile, I’d better be thinking of buying some grass seed.

Oh, and if you think I’m alone in this mania, watch this wonderful animated You-Tube piece entitled “The Mole” by Jasper Carrott.  It would be hilarious if it weren’t so damned true.

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The Devil In Me

We all have them – a day or a week or a month where it seems like everything that can go wrong, DOES go wrong.  And they don’t have to be big things, just a bunch of little setbacks or disappointments is enough to really annoy us.  I try to be patient and to just take things in stride.  “That’s okay, I understand,” or “Well, that’s life!” But, as the things begin to pile up, the little devil inside crawls up onto my shoulder and  whispers “Stop being so damned nice!  It’s not okay!  Don’t let them get away with it!  Kick someone!  Smack someone!  Show them you’re not weenie!” This past week has been such a week for me.

It started out looking good.  On Tuesday the weather was nice enough that I could finally take Jilly (my car) to the car wash to get rid of all the mud and dirt that had accumulated on her sides from the snow.  It was seven bucks, but worth every penny.  When she pulled out, she looked gorgeous, all shiny and pretty.  Then I met my friend, Charles, for lunch.  This was really a treat because we hadn’t been able to keep our regular schedule lately, due to my Prednisone puffy face and then later, the oral surgery.  We sat there chattering like the two close friends we are.

Then I went home.  End of cheery week.  I got a call from my dentist’s office.  About a week ago I had gotten impressions taken for what they call a “treatment partial.”  What this is is a temporary partial containing three molars  which will enable me to actually chew food on both sides of my mouth for the three months I am waiting for my dental implants to grow in.  When they had told me it would take about two weeks for it to be ready, I wasn’t thrilled, but, hey!  What was I gonna do?  So anyway on Tuesday they call to tell me that the lab “had a problem” with the impression and thus I would have to come back in Wednesday to get impressions re-taken!  Oh great!  Of course I was gracious about it, but my little devil was fuming.  “So now how long will it take?” she asked. “Don’t they realize that you really need those teeth to eat?  You know, I don’t think they care about what you have to go through.  I really don’t!”

So Wednesday I wake up to fog warnings on the news.  I looked out the window and, sure enough, the fog outside was thicker than I’d ever seen it.  Nonetheless, nothing was going to stand between me and my teeth!  Aren’t I the woman who went out in the blizzard to have oral surgery?  Oh yes I am!.  So I gingerly hit the road a bit early to run an errand first.  Whoa!  One thing I had forgotten about driving in thick fog is that, not being able to see any signs or landmarks, you lose all sense of perspective.  It was actually quite scary.  I was heading to Walgreens but after a while I began to think I would end up in the next state over.  Fortunately I finally saw some traffic and joined a conga line of cars.  However, heading back to the dentist’s office I saw the turn when I was well past it, and had to turn around and go back.  The gal at the office had told me that it would only take a few minutes so I didn’t bring my Kindle.  Naturally I ended up having to wait ten minutes.  (“And no one apologized!” the devil-me pointed out.)  The office manager still thinks I’ll get the partial this coming Thursday, but I will be mighty surprised if I do.

When I inched my way back home and got Jilly into the garage, I noticed something discouraging.  She was totally filthy again! Seven bucks down the drain, just like that!  (“It was the dentist office’s fault! my little devil pointed out.  “If they hadn’t called you in, you wouldn’t have gone out in this stuff and Jilly wouldn’t have been splashed the way she was.  You ought to kick those people’s asses! “)

Thursday I had a 2:15 appointment with my eye doctor/surgeon.  He’s the one that told me that I needed to have appointments every six weeks to see if my eyes have stabilized.  Once he has three stable readings, he can do surgery and maybe, just maybe, I can join the world of normal vision once more.  This appointment was for the second reading.  They had already set it up for seven weeks because he had something scheduled the week before, so I was more than eager.  Then the phone rang at 9:30.  Bad sign.  It was his office, calling to tell me he had a “family emergency” and I would have to be rescheduled for next week.  “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!” I said, nice as can be.  Meanwhile, my devil-me was saying,  “Family emergency, my foot!  Ten to one he’s playing golf!” So now the second reading will be at eight weeks.  In a situation where hope is always retreating, it was just one more blow.

I could go on and tell you how on Friday my grocery store was out of three things I regularly use  for the third week in a row, but what’s the point?  Obviously I’m going to have to break up with that store.  I just need to work myself up to it.

The devil-me is getting disgusted with me.  She wants me to bitch more, to raise a stink now and then.  She thinks people are rolling right over me.  And she could be right.  I don’t know.  I’d rather not argue with her.

Believe me, she’s not someone you want for an enemy!

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Foreign Instructions

Don’t you just love it when you have to put something together and the directions have been written by someone who is obviously not an English speaker?  And when I say “love it,” I mean “hate it!”  I can’t tell you the hours of my life I have wasted assembling something, trying to understand what was actually meant by the writer of the instructions.

I had another great experience not long ago.  Due to the fact that I had an unfortunate accident of the glass-breaking type, I had to order another mist fountain for my bedroom.  When it arrived, I should have known there would be problems when I saw the front of the instruction sheet.

“Three Leg Fog Spring Light?”  What’s a three leg fog?  (Just kidding.)  Anyway, it’s just  a simple mist fountain, people!  And what’s with the schmaltzy-looking flowers that have been attached?  There are no such flowers (and I wouldn’t want any!)

Fortunately, I’ve put one of these together before so I didn’t really need the instructions.  But number 5 was so priceless that I just had to share it with you.  I’ll record it here just as it was written, misspellings and all.

“5.  Add pure water without alkalescence and without fatness to sprayer black senser,  3 cm high.

(Caution: water lever too high will make spraying effect not good, too low will make spraying failed.”

Hmm.  Now I’m wondering where one gets fat water or, heaven forbid, water with alkalescence, whatever that is.  At any rate, you’ll be glad to know that I got the whole thing up and running and I did not “make spraying failed!”

But, seriously, how much would it cost to hire an English proofreader for this stuff?  Huh?  Not all that much I’d think, but then, that’s just me.

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I know these kinds of lists are floating all over the Internet, but I recently received one I think has some pretty funny (and true!) points.  If I knew who wrote it, I would be glad to give them credit.  Meanwhile, enjoy!

You know you’re getting older when:

1. You find yourself beginning to like accordion music.

2. You’re sitting on a park bench and a Boy Scout comes up and helps you cross your legs.

3. Lawn care has become a big highlight of your life.

4. Your underwear starts creeping up on you … and you enjoy it.

5. You tune into the easy listening station on purpose.

6. You take notes during commercials for laxatives and motorized wheelchairs.

7. When you light the candles on your birthday cake, people form circles and sing “Kumbaya.”

8. Someone compliments you on your layered look … and you’re wearing a bikini.

9. You keep repeating yourself.

10. You start recording daytime game shows … if you can figure out how to operate the DVR.

11. At the airport, they ask to check your bags…and you’re not carrying any luggage.

12. You wonder why you waited so long to take up macrame.

13. Your insurance company has started sending you their free calendar a month at a time.

14. At cafeterias, you complain that the gelatin is too tough.

15. Your new motorized chair has more options than your car.

16. When you do the “Hokey Pokey” and put your left hip out, it stays out.

17. One of the throw pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle.

18. Conversations with people your own age often turn into ailment one-upmanship.

19. You keep repeating yourself.

20. It takes a couple of tries to get over a speed bump.

21. You discover the words whippersnapper, scalawag, and by-cracky creeping into your vocabulary.

22. You’re on a TV game show and you decide to risk it all and go for the rocker.

23. You begin every other sentence with, “Nowadays…”

24. You run out of breath walking down a flight of stairs.

25. You look both ways before crossing a room.

26. Your social security number only has three digits.

27. You keep repeating yourself.

28. You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.

29. It takes you all night to do what you used to do all night.

30. You go to a Garden Party and you’re mainly interested in the garden.

31. You find your mouth making promises your body can’t keep.

32. The waiter asks how you’d like your steak … and you say “pureed.”

33. At parties you attend, regularity is a popular conversational ice-breaker.

34. You start beating everyone else at trivia games.

35. You frequently find yourself telling people what things used to cost.

36. Your back goes out more than you do.

37. You keep repeating yourself.

38. Cafeteria food starts tasting good.

39. You refer to your $2500 stereo system as “The Hi-Fi.”

40. You attend all the RV shows that come to town.

41. You realize that a stamp today costs more than a picture show did when you were growing up.

42. You actually call movies “picture shows.”

43. Your grandchildren don’t know what stamps are.

44. Your childhood toys are now museum pieces.

45. Many of your co-workers were born the same year that you got your last promotion (as it happens, the last time I was in a traffic accident, the woman who ran into the back of my car was born the year I got my first driver’s license).

46. The clothes you put away until they come back in style … are back in style.

47. All of your favorite movies have been reissued in color.

48. The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique.

49. You keep repeating yourself.

50. You find this list tasteless and insensitive.

Number 16 is my favorite.  What’s yours?


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