Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Blog Is Sponsored By The Letter H...For HALLIE, My Amazing Friend Who Agreed to Post This Entry For Me. (She MAY Have Come Up With This Title)

Well, I’m here! I’ve been wanting to post for a long time, and I made the commitment that I would manage, come hell or high water, to post a Friday Fragments post today (Jocelyn, this one’s for you!) Friday Fragments is hosted by Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who I’m sure has completely forgotten me, but who I’m hoping will welcome me back after a much-too-long absence.

* My new job (hey, how long do I get to keep calling it my NEW job? I’ve been here 8 weeks already!) is still taking up the lion’s share of my days. Yesterday I left my house at 6:50 AM and returned at 8:30 PM. That’s a long day. The biggest problem is that I have to fit all the other things I have to do into the few short hours I have at home. My weekends are a whirlwind of chores – shopping, laundry, bank, library – and I still don’t have enough time to get it all done. It’s a good thing I like this job; actually, after 14 months of unemployment, I’m grateful every day to have a job at all.

* What do I miss the most? You – all of you out in blog land. I wonder every day how you’re all doing, and what’s going on in your lives. I absolutely hate the idea that I’m missing out on your adventures, and I’m determined to find a way to get back to the blogosphere somehow. I’m still thinking audio blogs are the way to go, but I’m not sure I have the technical knowledge to make it happen. Maybe in the meantime, we should work out a schedule: I’ll assign you each a day and time to call me during my long commute and you can read me your blogs! Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all busy too, but really, isn’t it all about me?

* You may be happy to know that the clothing crisis has been solved, at least for the time being. A very dear friend has donated to me two large boxes of professional-looking clothes that, along with what I already had, make me look good enough to go to work every day. Jacqueline, you are my angel! I could use a few things to help round out my wardrobe, so I’m watching the sales, but I can manage right now. Whew, that’s such a relief. Who knew looking good enough for your job would be such a stressful thing?

* I got a new computer set-up at my job this week, and it came with two giant flat-screen monitors and a bunch of high-tech-looking hardware. My desk now looks like the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise. The second monitor is incredibly handy, allowing me to keep my boss’s calendar open for constant monitoring while I open other applications on the other one. I was thinking, though, that maybe I should open my favorite blogs on one monitor, so that I can read a few lines at a time in between various emergencies that I seem to be constantly dealing with on the other screen. Hmmmm. Food for thought.

* Every day on my way to work, I pass the street where the woman I believe is my birth mother lives. I actually work only a few blocks away from her house. It feels weird. I’m not sure exactly what I think, but it’s frustrating knowing that she LIVES RIGHT THERE and yet she may as well be a million miles away. For those of you who worry that I might become a stalker, I want to assure you that I have – so far – resisted the urge to detour down her street. See? I’m maintaining my mental health. No, really, I am.

That’s all I have time for today, but I swear that I’m back, and I’ll be around to visit you very soon. I miss you all terribly, and can’t wait to spend some time catching up on your lives.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fragments - Before Dawn Edition


It’s happened again – a whole week has gone by, and it’s time for Friday Fragments again. This is the place to report all those crazy, funny and random thoughts that roam around your brain during the week. The big brain, who keeps track of all the Friday Fragmenters, is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time. Go check her out – she’s a real, conscientious blogger (unlike me, who can’t seem to get her act together!) and she’s a hoot, too.

* I’m having blogosphere withdrawal. These 11 and 12 hour days are seriously cutting into my blog time. I started blogging during my 14 months of unemployment, and it became one of my favorite parts of my day, visiting my friends around the world. Now, I’m getting home late, having to rush around getting dinner, do a few chores and falling into bed, exhausted. There just hasn’t been time to even turn on my computer. I got up an extra half hour early this morning (4:45) so that I had time to at least post my Fragments!

* Not being able to read blogs is the worst part. I feel like all my bloggy friends are on vacation, and I can only wonder what a great time they’re all having. You’re all lucky I don’t know your phone numbers, because I’m on the road for about two hours and 15 minutes every day, and I’d be calling you, insisting you READ me your blog. Hey – that’s a great idea! Let’s organize some AUDIO blogs. I could download them to my Ipod every day, and listen during my commute. That’s BRILLIANT. I’m a GENIUS. Or is it just so early that my brain isn’t working yet? Hmmm. Better think on that.

* As soon as I’m not job-shadowing my predecessor, I’m sure I’ll have time to read a few blogs throughout the day, on breaks or at lunch, and I will NOT be working 9-10 hours every day. There is no reason one can’t leave that job after 8 hours – except for the occasional event or big project – and that’s going to be my goal. I have GOT to find time for some fun and relaxation, or I’ll burn out, and I don’t want to do that. I really, really think I’m going to like this job.

* Don’t you hate things that beep for no reason? We have a couple of things in our house that beep and we don’t know why. We’ll be sitting in the living room, playing cards, and we’ll hear this beep from somewhere in the next room. Nobody’s cell phone is there, and we can’t figure out what beeped. It drives me nuts.

* On a related note, I also hate beeping on TV. All the new medical dramas have this incessant beeping throughout the show, and it makes me want to scream. I know that real hospitals have beeping, and they’re just trying to make it realistic and all, but I’m not buying that excuse. In real hospitals, the nurses do NOT all look gorgeous, with perfect hair and make-up. And the sick people don’t, either. If they’re willing to overlook the fact that normal hospitals have normal-looking doctors, nurses and patients, then let’s just agree to forgo the whole beeping thing, okay?

* Okay, that’s all I have time for. I miss you all terribly, and I promise to come and visit you soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fragments - Late for Work Edition

Friday Fragment time. It’s the place to release your random thoughts so that they my fly free like a butterfly. If they come back to you…run! Mrs. 4444 started this whole thing, and keeps track of us all over at Half Past Kissin’ Time. Come join the party.


* I started my new job on Monday, and the good news is that I think I’m going to be very happy there. The people are just terrific, and the work seems both interesting and challenging. I actually think I might have found the right position after a year of looking.

* Even though I’m liking the new job, actually working for a living is going to take some getting used to…

* My commute is about an hour (give or take 10 minutes) each way, and traffic is proving to be a daily thorn in my side. It’s a good thing I have books on my Ipod to keep me company, because sitting still – on a road where cars should be moving at 40 miles an hour – is not my idea of fun. I’m getting a lot of books read – well, read to me – and it helps keep me calm, as well as makes me feel better, since I don’t have much time to read books with pages right now.

* I need to get my stamina up. Being home, working on the computer in my pajamas, taking a break whenever I felt like it – is a lot different that leaving your house at 6:50 AM and returning home at 6:30 PM. I’m so tired – mentally and physically – that I can hardly talk by the time I get home. By the time I’ve done dishes, laundry, and gotten my clothes ready for the next day, I’m exhausted. Hopefully I’ll get back in the swing soon.

* I wonder what the record is for highest number of individual blisters on one foot? I never would have guessed this, but the issue of what shoes to wear has become the biggest challenge of all. I’ve been wearing flip-flops or those stretchy clogs for a year. I pulled out my dressier shoes, but they don’t fit my left foot anymore (if you missed the earlier post, I injured my foot last winter, and somehow ended up with a left foot that is significantly wider than my right). I bought a couple of pairs of new shoes, and they probably would have been fine, except that this job has a lot of walking in it (something I would NEVER have guessed). I must have walked 5 miles or more at least two separate days this week. I have blisters everywhere – yesterday I had 7 band-aids on one foot and 5 on the other. When I got out of my car at home last night, I was saying “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow” every time I took a step.

* I have had no blog-reading time. None. I haven't even checked my email. I can't stand it - I'm wondering how everyone is. I hope I can catch up this weekend.

* As a bonus to my new job, I have also discovered the true nature of love (and I’m willing to share the secret with you!) Love is…

Standing in a cold, dark, nearly-deserted parking lot at 9:30 at night, even though you are bone-tired, alternately pretending to be the curb or a vehicle, so that your child can practice parallel parking for his driving test. It still counts as love, even if you are praying “don’t hit me…don’t hit me…” the whole time.

* By the way – Alex passed his driving test! Congrats, honey. I knew you could do it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fragments - Random is my middle name


Time again for Friday Fragments – although I’m so late today, I bet nobody reads it! For fragment perfection, one has to get up pretty early in the morning! FF is the place to dump all your random thought globules so as to keep them from coagulating and clogging your more productive brain activity. The big brain behind this whole thing is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who keeps track of everyone’s randomness, so check her, and all the other FF-ers, out!

* I went down to the university yesterday to fill out some paperwork and get processed (wait, that sounds like I’m a salami) so that I can start work on Monday. I’m starting to believe it now, and I’m excited (and nervous) beyond words. The biggest issue continues to be my wardrobe, but I’m just going to have to make it work somehow. Maybe if I start wearing the same things twice in the same week, they’ll give me a clothing allowance.

* It’s funny that working actually COSTS money, and until I start actually getting paid, this is a bit of a dilemma. I need clothes and shoes, gas for the hour commute, money for a parking permit, and probably other things I haven’t even thought of yet. I did find out that I’ll get paid bi-weekly, which is not my favorite thing, but the benefits are very good. I’m just so grateful to have a job, I doubt I’ll be complaining about anything.

* I just read somewhere that it’s healthier to breathe through your nose. Evidently, a lot of people breathe through their mouths, which causes them to take shallow breaths. Shallow breaths signal the brain that you’re anxious, so it puts out stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When you breathe through your nose, your stress levels measurably drop, and you get more oxygen in your blood, which gives you more energy and makes everything in your body work better. I’m going to work on this by trying to keep my mouth shut more. Anybody who knows me knows what a challenge this is going to be.

* I am being overrun by these things, which I call Chinese Lanterns, but I have no idea if that’s their actual name. They grow all up inside my rose bushes, and sometimes up the side of my house. I think they’re a weed, but one of my friends loves them, and is always wanting to dig them up and transplant them to her house. I have to admit that they’re colorful, and they do appear – appropriately – in the early fall. Still, I’d like them better if they were a little more well-mannered in where they choose to grow. Here’s a picture of them (try to imagine zillions of them, all tangled up in roses and such)



* My current card-making obsession:

This card has a cool removable bookmark in it, so you can keep the pretty part of the card instead of throwing it away. The bookmark has magnetic strips on it, so it grips either side of the page securely, and looks good at the same time. I mean, who can't use a nice bookmark? Here’s a blurry picture of the bookmark:



* I’m going to get a bunch of them done – in different designs – this weekend while I’m still inspired. Of course, that requires me to finish the 101 chores I’ve also got on my list. I guess I better get started. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weave Me the Sunshine

We've lost another talented performer. Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary passed away yesterday after a long battle with leukemia.

I don't often comment on the passing of well-known personalities, but this time it feels like a personal loss. I grew up on the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. Their songs are so entangled with my youth, it's almost like a soundtrack to my memories. We sang their songs around the campfire - Lemon Tree, 500 miles, If I Had a Hammer, Puff the Magic Dragon.

We often speculated on the true meaning of Puff - did it refer to marijuana smoke, perhaps? - but I was lucky enough to meet Noel "Paul" Stookey when I was in college, and got the chance to ask him. He said that it was simply a song about the bittersweet experience of growing up, and wondered why we all had become so cynical. We are proud to include Stookey as a Maine resident. He and his wife live in Blue Hill, Maine and operate a recording studio out of their converted chicken coop.

My favorite Peter, Paul and Mary song is one of my go-to songs when I need a mood adjustment: Weave Me the Sunshine. It is on my Ipod, and my kids and I sing along with great abandon whenever we hear it.

Weave, weave, weave me the sunshine out of the fallin' rain!
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow and fill my cup again!

I loved Peter, Paul and Mary for their thoughtful lyrics and expressed convictions, which they performed with such beautiful harmony. Stookey told me that the most important ingredient in their success was their deep love and respect for each other. It showed.

Rest in peace, Mary. And thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Worst Blogger Ever

I can't seem to get my act together. I've been trying to get a job for so long, I almost don't quite know what to do.

Looking for a job in this day and age has meant being on the computer for hours every day, researching, scouring websites, revamping resumes and writing carefully-worded cover letters. I've been doing that for about a year now, and I'd gotten into a routine: Get up, make coffee (decaf, of course), check email, check the job-search sites, read some blogs, write a blog, do some more job searching, check a few more blogs. I'd basically repeat this pattern all day, with breaks for household chores or errands or my daily walk.

I was in the rhythm of it. It worked for me - all except the not having enough money to pay my bills. That part sucked.

Anyway, now that I know I'm starting work next Monday, I'm all of sudden in panic mode. Here's what it sounds like in my head:

What am I going to wear? Do I have 5 suitable outfits to get me through the first week? What about shoes? Should I clean out and wash my car? What if the president of the university parks next to me? The inside of my car looks like a giant purse. Speaking of purses, what purse should I carry? I have only one nice purse, but it's getting old. Maybe I should clean it with that leather stuff. Where is that leather stuff, anyway?

I need to clean the house. Why the heck didn't I get more stuff done while I've been unemployed? I was going to rip up this miserable carpet, and repair the screens and paint the kitchen. I should make some extra meals and get them into the freezer so it won't be too hard to get dinner on at a decent hour. I wonder what time I'll get home every day?

I should get a lot of walking in this week before I can't do it anymore. I'm going to miss being able to be outside as much as I have been. The weather has finally been beautiful for the last few weeks, and I'm going to be inside a building all day. I wonder if I'll feel like walking after work? Maybe I can walk at lunch time. I wonder what time I'll get lunch? Oh, geez, I'll have to pack a lunch. What do we have that I will be able to pack a lunch with? I wonder if there's a refrigerator. What about water? I can't stand drinking city water. I wonder if they have a bubbler or if they drink tap water? Will it seem weird if I carry my own drinking water? Oh, and what about coffee? I can't drink regular coffee. I hope it's not a coffee machine. I hate coffee machine coffee.

Anyway, you get the idea. I'm feeling completely scattered and nervous and excited, and I can't seem to sit down at the computer for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I'm going to try to get around to visit everyone this week - I want to know how you are all doing and what's up in your lives. And I'm sure you're dying to hear what I have to say about whatever you've said. Right?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I GOT IT

Only time for a quick post - but it's good news. Possibly the best news I've gotten in a long, long time: I got the job. I just got the call about 15 minutes ago, and I still can't quite believe it.

I will be among the employed again, and not a moment too soon, let me tell you. My sanity was quite literally on the line.

I have about a week and a half to get my life (and my wardrobe) in order, so bear with me as I rush around. And don't even bother to ask why I haven't gotten everything in order over the last year of unemployment, because I have no idea.

Thank you all for the prayers, good wishes and positive thoughts you sent my way. I know having so many wonderful people on my side is what put me over the top. You're the best.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Friday Fragments Time


It's Friday already and time for Friday Fragments, which is where I get rid of all those random thoughts that are tickling the inside of my head. Anybody can fragment, thanks to our lovely and talented hostess, Mrs. 4444 from Half Past Kissin' Time. She keeps track of all the FF-ers over at her site, and you should stop by and check it out. Actually, if you're not reading her regularly, why aren't you? She's funny AND nice - a perfect combo!


* Thanks for all the positive energy around my second interview on Wednesday. I think it went well, and I did find out that they called my references yesterday, which I hope is a good sign. I very much liked everything about this place, especially the people, and hope to have some really good news to share with you soon. I’m trying not to get too excited. I’m afraid if I don’t get it, I’ll be incredibly disappointed. Oh well, nothing to do but wait.

* Did you ever lose something that it is impossible to lose? Like something that it so big that it couldn’t be hiding anywhere? Or something you use every day, that only ever gets put in the same place, and has never left the bathroom? Doesn’t that drive you crazy? I was walking across the living room floor, holding an empty bowl and two chopsticks in one hand, when I stopped to pick something up off the floor. When I straightened up, I had only one chopstick. Could I find the other one? Nope. I looked everywhere, on my hands and knees, for half an hour. It literally couldn’t be anyplace else, and I still can’t find it. The biggest bummer is that it was one of the cool, shiny bamboo chopsticks, of which I only have four. I mean, three. I think my mother was wrong. Things really do sprout legs and walk away. If you ever see a shiny bamboo chopstick with legs, it’s mine.

* Having Alex back in the household is wonderful, but it sure has required me to adjust my grocery list. He is a snacker. We all snack, of course, but Alex has raised the idea to an art form. He would rather graze all day on snacks, and never have to sit down for an actual meal. Unlike Brandon, who loves to create elaborate meals using every single pot and pan that I own, Alex has no patience for food prep. He wants to grab and go. That box of granola bars that was lasting a week this summer is now empty in two days. The omelet breakfast does not work for Alex – cross off eggs and jot down bagels. Get more snack-size baggies (he’ll eat healthy food if it is in grab-able bags!) and serving-size pudding and yogurt. I’d love to hear your favorite grab-and-go snacks – what can you recommend?

* I think that if you drink decaffeinated coffee, it’s really important to get the good stuff. In my opinion, good decaf – which means spending more than $5 - for the 13 ounce bag that used to be a pound of coffee, but don’t get me started on shrinking packages and rising prices – is almost as good as real coffee. This week I’ve been drinking some store-brand swill that I bought in a moment of stupidity (or poverty). I can’t afford to throw it out, so I’m drinking it, but I’m pissed off about it. Ironically, because it sucks, it’s lasting longer than my usual brand.

* Do you know what high school kids can wear for gym class up here? ANYTHING THEY WANT. Yup. They can wear anything they want, as long as it is not the clothes they came to school in. They are required to change, but it doesn’t matter into what. You can wear jeans and a t-shirt to school, and change into another pair of jeans and a different t-shirt, and it’s totally allowed. Alex usually brings long basketball shorts and a t-shirt. Boy, things have changed since I was in high school. We used to have to wear these horrible stretch knit shorts and a horizontally striped, polyester polo shirt. Life is so unfair. Maybe this is one of the reasons I hated gym class, and only took the minimum amount I needed to graduate, and Alex signs up for it as an elective every year.

* When I was housesitting recently, I noticed that they had an air freshener in their bathroom that was called Moroccan Bazaar. I think Febreeze makes it - very elegant packaging, too. When I was growing up, we had two choices for freshening the air: Lysol and FLORAL. And neither of them was refreshing. Lysol makes me gag to this very day, and we all know what those bathroom smells are like when you add floral scent. Hallie, I know you have smell issues at work. Maybe you should try spritzing a little Moroccan Bazaar and humming “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca. Let me know how it works out.


I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend (if you’re in another country that doesn’t have Labor Day, I hope you have a wonderful regular weekend!) and I’ll be by to visit your blogs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hurry Up

Hey - I am here! I want to thank you all for the wonderfully kind words and all the thoughts and prayers sent my way last Friday. I had a good interview - which is to say, I really liked them and I hope they liked me. I think it is exactly the kind of job I've been looking for, working for some great people in a nearly ideal setting. I did get a call back for a second interview (this afternoon, in fact) so feel free to keep those positive thoughts coming!

I've been experiencing a bout of extreme energy, and it seems to be causing an unnerving amount of activity on my part. I've been tackling long-overdue projects at an alarming rate and I can't seem to sit still for more than a couple of minutes at a time, even at the computer. I may not know much, but one thing I've figured out is that it is useless to fight these odd moods. It's better to just go with it and see what happens. I'm sure it will pass in a day or two. In the meantime, if you stop by, be sure and ask to see my junk drawer. You'll be amazed.

I'll be back tomorrow with an update, and on Friday - because what would Friday be without Fragments?? Hope you're all well and happy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fragments - Electric Avenue


Time for Friday Fragments again – the brilliant idea of Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who organizes this revelry every week (in fact, she’s the HEAD reveler, which I think makes her in charge of beverages AND entertainment). Go check out who else is feeling random; you’ll be glad you did.

* In this very rural part of Maine that I live in, the addresses used to be things like RR 1, Box 280 or whatever. A number of years ago Maine decided to get on board with 911 systems, and everybody was assigned a number and street. A lot of streets were previously unnamed. Since many of the streets only have one or two houses on them, the towns allowed those people to choose the name of their street. This led to streets named after the folks who lived there (Simoneau Rd., Greta Ave., Record St.) or the landscape (Shady Lane, Pine Tops Blvd., Pleasant View). Sometimes they get creative (Hardscrabble Rd., Catmousam Rd., Nonesuch Place) or just plain weird (Seboomook Dam Rd., Umbazookas Ln.). Unfortunately for me, I live on Main Street, and thus did not get the opportunity to name my address. Too bad, because if I did, I would have snatched up Abbey Road before the people down the street got it. I always wonder if they’re big Beatles fans or if they have a child named Abbey. Maybe I’ll stop in someday and ask.

* I dropped Alex off at the high school yesterday, and was amazed anew at the outfits the girls were wearing. I’m lucky, I guess, because my boys were pretty easy to deal with on the clothing front: T-shirts and jeans, pretty much every day of their lives. They tend toward black t-shirts, but never got into goth or that odd too-big pants phase, with jeans hanging off their butts and their boxers showing. Some of the girls at the high school, however, seem to get most of their clothing from the Rural Hookers of Maine store. My mother would NEVER have let me out of the house in ultra-short skirts or shorts and low-cut tops. I wonder when it became popular to look like a prostitute? Even if I like the look, I think it becomes a sanitation issue – if they’re wearing thongs under there, when they sit down, what exactly is between them and the chair that 25 other people sat in today? Just wondering.

* I’ll be glad when the freshman parents get the clue about how to drive through the parking lot at school. It’s scary enough dodging the kids who just got their license and clearly do not know how to drive, let alone park, without dealing with parents who can’t comprehend one-lane roads or basic drop-off procedure. Rule number one: do not stop in the drop-off lane and proceed to have a 10 minute conversation with your child about what time you’re going to pick them up, what they had for breakfast, or why you don’t like rap music. Drop off your kid and keep moving; we have stuff to do.

* Within 6 miles of my house there are 4 Dunkin Donuts (for you city folks, this might not be a big deal, but in my rural area, it’s a lot). There is also one Tim Horton’s. Mr. Horton was a fairly recent addition to the landscape, and I welcomed him with open arms. His pastries look amazing, and there are a lot more lunch choices there. However, I don’t visit him any more, and I’ll tell you why: They don’t make decaf coffee after noon. I drink decaf only, and I’ve been this way for about 10 years. I used to have a big problem with migraines, and getting off caffeine was a big part of the mostly-successful solution. I like to swing through the drive-thru and pick up a decaf to help sustain me through Lacrosse games or track meets, because it gets cold on those bleachers. If you go through TH at 4:30 or 7:00 PM and order decaf, they say “We don’t make decaf at this time of day; you’ll have to wait while we brew some.” It takes 4 minutes to brew decaf, plus the time it takes them to prepare your coffee (and probably bitch to each other about how irritated they are that somebody asked for decaf). FOUR MINUTES is a long time in the drive-thru with some moron in a Volvo behind you, drumming on the steering wheel and staring daggers at you. Isn’t evening the time people SHOULD be drinking decaf? Tim Horton, you disappoint me.


* I'm off to prepare for my job interview. I can't tell you how much all the good wishes mean to me. I'm nervous, but it's a hopeful kind of nervous. I feel like I'm as prepared as I can be, and I got a pretty good night's sleep last night, so my mind is as sharp as it gets. I've practiced my interview questions and my confident, charming smile. I've done everything I can do. Feel free to send a little prayer or positive thought my way at 1:00 Maine time. I appreciate your support more than you know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Missing You

No time for a real post, but I wanted to say hello. Hopefully somebody noticed I haven't been around much the last several days (I have this recurring fear that I'll be kidnapped or something and nobody will notice until there aren't any clean dishes or clothes.) I am dealing with a bit of family drama, the return to my household of my youngest son (hurray!) and the start of school tomorrow. I am again woefully behind in blog-reading, and I'm missing my online friends. Tomorrow, after everybody leaves, I'm going to sit down with a cup of coffee and catch up with you all.

Have you ever noticed that, often, the person who suffers most from family drama is NOT the person who caused it? More evidence that life is not fair, I guess (as if we needed any!) but this, too shall pass.

I got a call for a job interview on Friday. It's a job I think I would really like, so I'm wavering between panic and excitement. I took a drive down to the building where the interview will be, so I will know where I'm going on Friday. Then I came home and tried on every single piece of clothing that I own. Then I balanced my checkbook to see if I could possibly afford to buy something new to wear. Then I tried on every piece of clothing I own again. Then I checked my roots to make sure the gray isn't showing, because who wants to hire an old hag? Then I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some hair color. Then I printed out my list of possible interview questions and answered them - out loud - to myself. Then I made a list of all the things I have to do, in order, before the interview (hair, nails, exfoliate, clean jewelry, lint removal - my clothes, not my belly button, in case you're wondering, although I may do both.)

Obsessive? I prefer to think of it as prepared - you know, like a Boy Scout.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This just gets stranger every week - Friday Fragments


Welcome to Friday Fragments, the place to say all those things you’ve been thinking all week. Mrs. 4444 from Half Past Kissin' Time is the Big Thinker who hosts this party, and her thoughts are some of the best around. She has links to all the FF posters – go check them out and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

* I have company staying at my house this week, and it’s not the casual kind of company that hangs around your house, reading and such. It’s the kind of company that requires MY company every single minute. Talk about finding it difficult to blog – it’s more like finding it difficult to complete a thought. I have to sneak off with my laptop to steal even a few minutes to read a blog or two! This may just be the shortest Friday Fragments in history.

* Mrs. 4444 awarded me the Favorite Fragmenter prize from last week, which is funny because last week, her FF post had me laughing for days. She linked this video, called Stuck in the Middle With You, which got me thinking about the subject of things that, well, get stuck inside people. Many years ago, I attended a conference with a woman from another non-profit agency whose agency provided family planning and women’s health care. She once told me (after several margaritas) that she had removed an amazing array of objects from women’s bodies. Objects that were not the normal things one might find in there. Objects that they would have obviously attempted to remove themselves first, before suffering the embarrassment of asking for help. The list amazed, impressed and disgusted me, all at once.

* She also told me that the most interesting and unique items, once retrieved, were placed in their ‘hall of fame’ (which was a shelf in their back room) for them to enjoy for years to come. Of course, I had to stop by her agency a couple of months later for a meeting, so I asked to see it. Let me tell you, it was EVERY BIT AS IMPRESSIVE AS SHE HAD DESCRIBED. The most interesting item was a plastic gargoyle, which she described as a “neon green, hard plastic, angry-looking gargoyle” and, in my opinion, was WAY too big to be even considered for insertion. You gotta wonder how bored a person has to be…I mean, how does that even begin? “Gee, honey, I’m feeling a little adventurous tonight. What say we take that green plastic gargoyle that your sister gave the kids, and see if it fits in your…”

* Earlier in the week, I did a good deed at Wal-Mart. I’m not going to tell you all about it, because the specifics don’t really matter. What I will do, though, is encourage everyone to be friendly, and patient, with elderly people when you encounter them at stores or restaurants. It will make your day – and theirs, too – and you might just make a terrific new friend. I think it is absolutely criminal how some people treat others, just because they’re slowing down a bit as they get older. God willing, we’re all going to get there sooner or later - let’s show a little love and compassion, shall we?

* That’s all I got today. I will try to keep better track of my random thoughts next week. Have a terrific weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Secret Hideaway

I sometimes dream of a getaway - the chance to get away from my problems, from bills and job-hunting, from the stresses of everyday life. My ideal getaway location? Someplace hot, with swimming and my choice of adult beverages. Someplace nobody would bother me, where I can choose to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Someplace where I only need a bathing suit, a sarong, a hair clip and my sunglasses. Paradise.

Of course, because of my current situation, I couldn't possibly manage a trip to Paradise. However, I did just manage a couple of days at a spot just north of there. You may have read that I was house-and-dog sitting for friends of mine for the weekend. They have a really nice pool, and in exchange for 45 minutes of dog care twice a day (plus a couple of minutes of egg-collecting - who knew that I was scared of chickens?) I got to hang out poolside for the whole weekend. AND miracles of miracles - the weather cooperated. Yup. Here in Maine, we're having a heat wave (sing with me "a tropical heat wave...") and it's been 90 degrees and sunny every day for almost a week now!

Anyway, I had a great time, and took some pictures of my gorgeous locale.

This is the view from the upper deck. I took this picture around 9 in the morning, and that thermometer on the side of the tiki bar reads 80! And all this time I thought Mother Nature hated me.

A view of the tiki bar. This is where I ate breakfast and lunch and changed stations on the radio as my mood changed from classic rock (morning) to country (afternoon) to jazz (evening).

Here's a better view of the bar - home to many fabulous concoctions. I stayed mostly with Mike's Hard Lemonade, but I know the blender could have told stories of margaritas past.


In addition to their sled dogs, my friends had these adorable poodle puppies. They had six, but three of them have been sold so far. They're ten weeks old and apricot colored- aren't they cute?

One of them was forever jumping straight up in the air. I think they should call him Pogo. I had to take all the photos from outside their enclosure because when I was in there, they were all over me. Their fur is so incredibly soft, and I love how they don't have the long skinny noses yet.

Don't you just want to scoop this baby up and cuddle her??
Anyway, here I am, back to reality. Everything here is exactly the same - same miserable problems that were here before I left - but I feel a little bit refreshed. Sunburnt, and with some sore muscles (I guess I don't use my swimming muscles enough) but refreshed nonetheless. Now if only I could get them to go away for a whole week...



Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fragments - The Mojito Edition


Time for Friday Fragments, the place to share all those odd thoughts - you know the ones - that are just too random to be a post of their own. Summer is the perfect time to be random, so if you'd like to learn from the master, check out Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She is the one who started this fiesta, and she's still hosting us fragmenters every week. She picked my friend Andrew from A Long Patience as Favorite Fragmenter this week - yeah! And then she picked my friend Hallie from Wonderful World of Wieners for honorable mention. I'm so happy, I hardly noticed that she didn't pick me for anything... Oh well, go check them all out. Very funny stuff.
* This past week or two has been bad for cell phones in our neighborhood. First, I dropped my cell phone into a steaming hot, very full cup of coffee. Decaf. With cream, no sugar. I grabbed it out, but coffee had permeated every orifice. I took it apart, cleaned it, and air-dried it. And waited. After 24 hours, I put it back together, charged it, crossed my fingers and called someone. The good news? I could hear people fine. The bad news? They couldn’t hear me at all. I repeated the cleaning/drying process, and to my delight, it’s working fine now. There’s a bit of a murkiness around one edge of the screen (the cream, I’m guessing) but I can live with that. The day after I got mine fixed, the meter reader for the power company ran over his cell phone in my driveway. Ooops. And then, a couple of days after that, a friend of mine who was visiting dropped her cell in the lake. I think it’s Mother Nature telling us to drop the technology and enjoy what little summer we get.

* I must be getting old. For a bunch of reasons, and not just because I’m beginning the transition from tampons to bladder-control pads, either. When I was at the movies, watching the Ugly Truth and thinking murderous thoughts about the teenagers and their mid-movie texting, I kept wondering if some of them were old enough to be hearing some of the R-rated dialogue. Which is ridiculous, since I know my kids learned more on the bus in third grade than I knew when I graduated from high school. (“Mommy, what kind of a job is a blowjob?”)

* I am sick to death of not having a working oven in this house. I don’t bake a lot in the summer, but it’s nice to have the option. I have to bring all the snacks to my stamping club meeting tonight, and trying to come up with something good that doesn’t require baking is not that easy. Especially since the other women keep trying to outdo each other in fancy-ness. I can’t just show up with chips, dip and a bag of cookies from the store. Any ideas? Quick, because I have to be there at 6:30.

* Am I the only one who thinks the television talks to me directly? I swear, since I became really, really panicked about not having enough money to pay essential bills, and since I started thinking I might not ever have a job, I think all the tv shows are talking to me. “If you lose your job, we’ll make your payments. Too bad you weren’t smart enough to buy one of our cars before you got laid off.” “A recent study shows that people who are still unemployed after one year have the same chance of finding a job as getting hit by lightning. In a related story, large numbers of unemployed people are reportedly standing out during a lightning storm holding a nine iron.”

* Starting this afternoon, and until Sunday afternoon, I am housesitting/dogsitting for a friend of mine. They have sled dogs, like us, but only 10 or 12, plus a couple of house dogs, so it should be pretty easy. Food and water a couple of times a day, and let the house dogs out to potty every so often. Other than that, I think I’m free to sit by (or in) their gorgeous inground pool with the Tiki bar, outdoor fireplace and cool torch lighting. The weather is supposed to be hot and FABULOUS the whole time. I wish you could all come, too. I’d make you a kick-ass mojito.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Nice

Time for another edition of STUFF THAT BUGS THE CRAP OUT OF ME. I know I’m going to sound cranky, but I don’t care. Things are not going well, and I think a little ranting will make me feel better. I need to complain a bit, and this is where I’m choosing to do it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll put up a list of things that make me smile. Or not. Either way, here are some things that are currently bugging the crap out of me.

Scary commercials. I don’t go to see scary movies. I don’t like them. My life is scary enough without monsters and demons and crazed chainsaw murderers. I don’t mind hearing about scary stuff, I just don’t want to FEEL it, with the scary music and the graphic violence and everything. WHY, then, must there be a commercial for a terrifying horror movie on TV every 5 minutes? If I was watching a scary TV movie, I might expect a scary commercial or two, but when I’m watching Burn Notice? I even saw ads for Drag Me To Hell during a Lifetime movie. Really, marketing people? Your research really shows that people who watch Love’s Enduring Whatever also enjoy a terrifyingly bloody horror movie? Who knew? I guess I’ve outgrown my demographic.

People using cell phones during a movie. I went to a movie recently, and I was really looking forward to it. Since I’m pinching pennies, I don’t go to the movies much and I was planning to have a fabulous time. I arrived just as the lights went down, and for a moment I couldn’t see where I was walking. I needn’t have worried, however, since 75% of the teenagers in the room were texting, and the combined light from their cell phones lit up the room plenty. Once the movie started, I expected it to stop, but it never really did. And every single time, my eye was drawn to the sudden bright light. SO annoying. Who are they texting? Each other? I wanted to shriek at them that I managed to get all the way through my teens and half my adulthood without a cell phone - maybe they could take a break for an hour and a half.

Online applications that take hours. A lot of jobs require online applications these days. Sometimes they’re pretty basic: name, address, phone, attach your resume and cover letter. Sometimes they require you to fill out an online resume form, in which you have to basically retype everything, including job history, which is a pain, but whatever. SOME of them, however, want to ask you questions. LOTS and LOTS of questions. I actually had one that required 150 questions. I’m not kidding, either. The first 60 of them were variations on the ‘how much do you agree/disagree with this statement’ thing, with statements like ‘I often struggle with my work’ or ‘I like to be in constant contact with my supervisor.’ Then there was a long section with word problems: “What is the next number in this sequence: 100, 52, 28, 16, 10” or “Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice went to dinner with Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc; the women can’t sit next to each other; Doc sits by Bob, Sleepy sits on a corner next to Carol, and Ted and Dopey sit across from each other. Which chair does Alice have?” Then they finished up with a personality test where I had to rate myself on levels of energy, honesty, intelligence and general going-postal-ness. TWO and a HALF HOURS. Really? REALLY? To work at your lousy chain store? I don’t care if I was applying for a management job. This should NOT be the initial screening tool.

Inconsiderate people everywhere. People who don’t care about anyone other than themselves. Who randomly stand in your way at grocery stores without checking to see if they’re blocking someone, Who pull out in front of you in traffic and then go super slowly. Who drop things and leave them there. Who make comments like, ‘you must not be trying that hard’ when you tell them you’re still unemployed. Or they say ‘are you still harping on that?’ when they hear that you are continuing to hope to hear from your birth mother. Please, God, however depressed or cranky I get, never let me become one of those people. Please make sure I always care about the other people on this planet, whether I know them or not. And, God, while you’re at it? Please keep me from running them over in my car, even when they bug the crap out of me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fragments - It's all I got


Time for Friday Fragments - the place to release all your pent-up thoughts, no matter how silly - or crazy - and set them free out into the blogosphere. Our resident Princess of Liberated Thoughts is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She keeps track of all of us random types, so go visit her and see what tidbits of brilliance you're missing.


* For the first time ever (at least since I started this blog) I went an entire week without blogging. Not only did I not blog, I did not READ any blogs. I went cold turkey on the whole blog thing. It was weird. I kept wondering how this person or that person was...how they were dealing with a certain challenge they're facing, how they were enjoying their vacation, their staycation, their break from kids. I realize how much I like my blog friends, and how much I miss them when I don't 'see' them.

* I didn't blog (or read blogs) for a couple of reasons. I started to think that I needed to spend even more time looking for a job. I already was spending 4-6 hours a day looking for job openings - on the internet, in newspapers, in employment periodicals, etc., but I'm not having much luck, as you all know. I decided that I needed to put all my effort into it, without distractions. So I did just that. I looked everywhere possible on the internet. I brainstormed a list of all the large companies within 50 miles of my house and checked their websites. I signed up with every possible employment agency, temp agency and recruiter that would talk to me. I visited the Career Center. I developed 5 new versions of my resume after two different experts advised me to 'dumb-down' my resume so that people would interview me. (Evidently my skills and experience might be working against me. Ha! Who knew? I thought it was just my age!) I read everything I could find on: resume writing, finding openings, better cover letters, how to walk the fine line between following up and harrassing potential employers. I even drove around the industrial park and wrote down the names of all the businesses. One week later? I'm still unemployed, but boy, could I give a seminar on how to go job hunting.

* The other reason I haven't blogged is that I don't want this to become a "poor-me, I'm still unemployed'' blog. Who wants to read that? I certainly don't. And I don't want to write that, either. Damn it, I WILL find something something to say that - if not interesting or funny - is at least not DEPRESSING AS HELL. Unfortunately, that was my reality this week, so I chose not to blog. Hopefully next week will be a better one.

* I have added a new thing to my list of THINGS I REALLY APPRECIATE. The new addition is: public restrooms that incorporate a long, winding hallway entrance, thus eliminating the need for me to touch a door handle that most certainly has more germs on it than the decomposing trash barges of New Jersey. If you add in good lighting, door latches that work, seats that aren't peed on, and sinks that work? I'm in heaven. I've become such a simple person, really. It doesn't take much to please me.

* I've been dog-sitting a bit lately. If only I could make a career out of it! I've made friends with several really sweet dogs, but I never think to bring my camera with me to their houses. This time, it was a one year old Golden Retriever (Ralphie) that was visiting me for a couple of days so I had my camera handy. We played a lot outside - he loves to play keep-away with a ball - but he was bored by my computer-job-hunting-frenzy. This is what he was doing while I was surfing:


Sometimes he switched couches:


* I was treated to another surprise, last-minute, 20-hour visit from Alex (and his girlfriend Tiana). Three weeks from now, he'll be back home - for the school year, anyway - and I can't wait. I've really missed him this summer. Here's a picture of the happy couple. Oh, to be 16 again!


* I've missed all my blog friends, and I want to say thank you for all the encouragement and advice you've offered. I can't wait to read about all you've been up to since last Friday. It will probably take a while, especially since the weather is supposed to be gorgeous for the next couple of days, but I'll get caught up with everyone. I hope you all have a glorious weekend.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Slip-Sliding Away - Friday Fragments & Freewrite






Gosh, we're back to Friday Fragments again. I guess I need to be posting a little more often - if this keeps up, my whole blog will be fragments. Oh, well, it's summer. People are random in the summer, right? Anyway, this is the place for all those thoughts that run through your head when you're sitting at traffic lights or trying to sleep. It was the brainchild of the effervescent Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. Go visit her, and see who else is fragmenting this week.

I'm also joining Friday Freewrite, which is hosted by Sara over at Ordinary and Awesome, just because I can do it all with this one post, and it makes Fridays twice the fun!


* I'm having a hard time finding funny, or even non-miserable things to blog about. I found out that I didn't get TWO jobs (that I had high hopes for) this week. Add that to some other personal issues and you might end up with a recipe for depression. My current coping strategy is to try not to dwell on it and keep myself busy. I'll let you know how it works out. I did read about an excellent strategy that Yaya has found helpful, and, frankly, I think she's on to something.

* Under the heading 'Things That Irritate Me' you can add "finishing a puzzle only to find you're missing a piece." I've been working on a puzzle - a really hard puzzle - for a long time. It was part of a series called Buried Blueprints which I love. The puzzles are very unique and no longer in print, but I've been able to get most of them on Ebay in the last several years. My friend Jocelyn came over and helped me work on this one, which was called An Egyptian Chronicle, and we had a great time chatting while we puzzled. Anyway, we found out one piece was missing. Arghhh. I have to say, this is the first time I've gotten burned on a puzzle from Ebay, and I've been buying used puzzles there for years. The biggest problem now is that I can't re-sell it. Does anybody want a puzzle that's missing one of its thousand pieces? I'd be glad to send it!




Here it is. Isn't it cool? Can you spot the missing piece?


* I was lucky enough to have Girls Night Out last night, and it couldn't have been more needed. My two girlfriends from college are the best. They are smart, funny, beautiful and supportive. And, as we were noticing last night, we never run out of stuff to talk about. EVER. We're making some tentative plans to take a trip together next year, and I sure hope we can pull it off - although I'm not sure the world is ready for the three of us, unleashed, as it were. Broadway, here we come!

* I've been stress-knitting again. Socks, mostly. If you're on my Christmas list, you're probably getting socks for Christmas. Sorry if I spoiled the surprise. Here's one pair in progress:




* My stove is beeping. Well, the timer is beeping. All the time. It's not the same beep as when the timer goes off. It's much, much quieter - if you have the TV or radio on, you don't really notice it. But I can hear it. Mocking me. I have no idea how to make it stop. I keep setting the real timer to its maximum time, because when the real timer is on, the other beeping stops. Of course, this means that every 1 hour 59 minutes I have to go turn off the real, loud, beeping timer. It's not a perfect system.

* This week's theme at camp is Mystery. All the counselors are dressing up as either famous detectives or characters from Clue. Brandon and Sandy went as Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White (the maid). And yes, I was up making an apron and a maid's cap at midnight last night. I'll be rewarded in the next life, right? Here's what they looked like:



I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hard to Believe


Proof that sled dogs and cats CAN get along: Bliss (semi-retired sled dog and part time couch potato) and Ursa Major (rescued feral cat who has really taken to the good life.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update

I didn't get the job. I just got the call. The company filled the position without even interviewing me and ignoring the recommendation of the employment agency. The woman at the employment agency sounded upset and told me that they hired someone 'outside the process' which I guess means directly, and not through the agency.

I'm so frustrated. Every recruiter that I have interviewed with seems to love me, but getting to the next step has been difficult. I'm beginning to wonder if it's my age. I found out that one job that I missed out on a few months ago was because they wanted someone young. All my years of experience seem to be working against me - either because the company wants to 'mold someone' the way they want, or because they think they can pay them less. Little do they know that I'm willing to work for a lot less than I'm worth at this point.

So, back to the drawing board. I have several other irons in the fire, but this was one I was very hopeful about. Time to develop some new leads. I knew I should have made friends with rich people who own businesses when I was young and cute.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Drift Away - Friday Fragments


We’re back to a rainy weather pattern (gulp) and also back to Friday Fragments, the time and place to unload weird, funny or random thoughts that are occupying cranium space that you could be using to store better stuff. The originator of this fun-fest is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who always has some crazy tidbits to say. You can also check out the winner of her Favorite Fragmenter Award.

* Thank you for all the wonderfully positive thoughts and prayers for my job interview. I interviewed with an employment agency, and it went really well. They said they were going to recommend me to the client, so the next step will be an interview with the company itself. I’m cautiously optimistic, I guess, but mostly I just try not to think about it. I also have another interview this afternoon, so at least it’s progress!

* I’ve been wondering about how the blog clock works, and I’m hoping somebody will clue me in. My blog posts never show the correct time, and the comments are all off, too. What is the time based on – the commenter’s time zone? the blog owner’s time zone? Blogger International’s time zone? Inquiring minds want to know. And don't get me started about scheduled post nightmares.
* My car is finally legal – I have a valid inspection sticker, so hopefully I’ve seen the last of the nice local police officer. And to those of you who suggested that he might be letting me off with a warning because he ‘liked’ me – I want you to know that he’s more likely feeling pity than attraction. He’s more Doogie Howser, P.D. – and he probably wouldn’t even get that reference. Those of you too young to get it, go ahead and google Doogie. I’m sure Wikipedia knows all about him.

* I didn’t end up dogsitting for my friend with the puppies – her event got cancelled at the last minute – so I don’t have cute pictures for you. I may get over there this weekend, so I’ll try to remember my camera so I can snap some shots of the fuzzy babies.

* On my way to pick Alex up yesterday, I noticed that as I drove toward the Canadian border, the percentage of people who have a disconnected plow in their front yard went up exponentially. I think at one point it was better than 75%. One guy had spray painted LET IT SNOW on the front of it. Clever idea, but he should have spaced it out better, because the letters got smaller and smaller as he ran out of room, and it detracted from his message.

* Alex’s girlfriend caught a ride with us to her cousin’s for a couple of days, and it was nice to see her. She and her mother live ‘off the grid’ in a town called “The Forks” – I know, weird, right? They have solar power and a generator, but no regular electricity, although they do have a regular telephone, and wifi. Ahh, the wilderness.

* I passed a sign that read “Dan & Scott’s Funeral and Cremation” – am I the only one that finds that funny? Honestly, doesn’t that sound like the guys that always threw the keg parties back in college? “Hey, let’s head over to Dan & Scott’s – they always have those big red plastic cups…” I’m not sure I could trust them to care for my loved ones’ final remains. Or, at least I couldn’t trust myself not to giggle the whole time. Hey, don't judge me. I'm under a lot of stress.


* Oh, and one last thing. Whichever spam agent has decided to repeatedly bombard me with emails that begin “Are you troubled by incontinence?” I want to ask them, didn’t your mother teach you any manners? I am NOT troubled by incontinence (except for the occasional sneezing/coughing/laughing incident), but if I was, don’t you think it would be a little impolite to keep bringing it up? Geez.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alive

Yes, I'm alive (but thanks for asking!). I'm just wicked busy (wicked, for those of you not from Maine, means VERY) and haven't had time to blog.

I've been running around trying to get stuff fixed on my car so that it will pass inspection. Mostly because the nice police officer who has stopped me three times to tell me that my inspection sticker expired in April is getting a teensy bit cranky. I think he was cranky because the last time he stopped me near a swamp and as he approached my car he was attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. This last time he mentioned that he had better not see me again - which I thought was kinda mean, considering we had become such good friends and all.

AND, in other news, after months and months and months of no luck on the job seeking front, I have two interviews this week. Anybody who wants to pray or meditate or send positive ions into the atmosphere around 2 pm tomorrow (Wednesday) or 1 pm on Friday, feel free! One of them requires me to run around and create a new portfolio of my work, which is a giant pain in the butt. The other one required a detailed online application that I swear to you took 3 and a half hours to complete. Still, if it results in a job, it will be a good thing, so I'm trying not to whine.

I'm driving to the middle of nowhere to visit Alex on Thursday, so I'll be away from the computer quite a bit this week. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with everybody in the early mornings - but don't blame me if my comments are a little odd. Sometimes my brain doesn't engage until around 9:00 AM.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thank God It's Friday (Fragments)


Time for Friday Fragments again. This is the place where I can spill all the weird and random things that occur to me while I'm stirring the spaghetti sauce or waxing my legs. FF were invented by a really sweet and funny lady, Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. Go check her out and see who else is playing with us this week.


* I read somewhere that the brain of a woman eating chocolate looks exactly like the brain of a woman during sex. That makes total sense to me. In particular, I find Ghirardelli dark chocolate mint squares very, um, satisfying.

* In the town that I live in there is a speedway, about 2.5 miles from my house, where races are held several nights a week during the warmer months – stock cars, modified, trucks, you name it. One weekend in July there’s a huge race – the Oxford Plains 250 – that is very popular. About 10 days beforehand, campers start arriving in town and begin parking on any patch of ground within a mile of the speedway, including the fields on both sides and the edges of the parking lot. There are literally hundreds of them, and they’re everywhere. It’s like a little community (we call it Trailer Village) and the beer is a-flowin’. There’s no actual campground facilities, but the speedway opens their bathroom facilities to the folks. I have no idea what they do about showers (and I don’t want to know.) The traffic in town gets crazy and the police force of our little town has to work triple overtime. It’s happening this weekend, and I’m going to take a drive or a walk through and get some pictures – I’m hoping to find the guy who makes a hot tub out of the back of his pickup truck – he’s my favorite.

* I’m getting pretty used to being home alone during the day. Tuesday I was wandering around the house after my shower – in just my underwear – when I noticed the FedEx truck driving away. There was a package in my mudroom. The guy had to walk right past my wide-open kitchen windows to get to the mudroom. The kitchen where I was dancing around in my unmentionables, singing along to Love Shack on my Ipod. Poor guy was probably scarred for life. I thought he drove away kinda fast.

* I’m housesitting this weekend for a friend of mine who has a litter of puppies she needs to have someone keep an eye on. I am making the supreme sacrifice to help her out, because I'm just a wonderfully caring friend. Did I mention that she has a gorgeous in-ground pool with a Tiki bar and outdoor fireplace? I know, I know. I’m just a giver.

* For those of you keeping track, this past week we have had more non-rainy days than rainy ones. Unbelievable. It wasn’t all sunshine, but it hardly rained at all. You can almost feel the pallor lifting from the whole state. Welcome to Vacationland.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shake Your Groove Thing

For many years, and up until a few years ago, I used to sing with the local chapter of Sweet Adelines, an international group devoted to barbershop singing for women. There were about 30 members, and I sang Bass or Baritone, since I have a low voice. It was not only some of the best singing I've ever been privileged to be a part of, it was also an excuse to dress up in girly clothes and makeup to a level I have not experienced before or since.

Once a year, the Sweet Adelines go to "competition" and sing two songs for judging by some incredibly picky professionals. We never won our Region (or even our division within the region) - although we did get 'most improved' one year - but we did our thing on the big stage, just like all the giant choruses. Each group sings one ballad (slow song) and one up-tune. During the up-tune, there's 'choreo' which is short for choreography, but sounds a bit more sophisticated than it actually was (at least in our group).

Anyway, here's a photo of my former singing group onstage at Symphony Hall during our performance at Region I competition. in the midst of the big finish of our up-tune. The song is "You've Got to See Mama Every Night (or you can't see Mama at all)." I am in the front row, second from left, and am shaking my, uh, feather boa, like nobody's business. I was hot, baby, but you can see that for yourself...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Distractions

I'm having a hard time concentrating on the computer lately. Partly because I'm trying so hard to get a job that my computer time is spent looking for openings, perusing company websites, and contacting head hunters. I've been spending 6 or more hours per day just on the job hunt, and after that, my eyes can't take any more.

Oh, and then the other distraction: It's not raining. It's not raining. IT'S NOT RAINING!

I have been trying to speed-read through all my favorite blogs without commenting, but that seems a bit unsatisfying to me. I'm an extrovert by nature, and if I stop by to see you, I want you to know it. When I get to your blog, while I'm reading it, I feel like you're speaking to me. Just me - at least at that moment. In my mind, we're having a conversation, you and I, and I want to respond to you. That's what extroverts do.

Part of the problem is that a lot of the bloggers I read are funny and clever - sometimes downright hysterical, in fact. When I read something especially witty, trying not to comment on it is almost impossible. How else will you know I'm laughing my ass off?

Perhaps I'll give up sleeping. I mean, sleeping isn't that important, is it? Or, maybe, I'll get a great job where I can blog all day long if I want without them noticing. If anyone knows of an opening in a position like that, please put in a good word for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Africa

I usually don't pass on videos, but this one is simply amazing to me. Before you hit 'play' make sure your sound is turned up, and stick it out for the first 2 or 2 1/2 minutes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.




It really says a lot to me about teamwork - if a large group of people can make the sound of a rainforest, imagine what we could do if we all worked together.

We've come to the end of the touchy-feely 'love is all you need' blog post. Join me tomorrow for our regularly scheduled salute to sarcasm.

Friday, July 10, 2009

F is for Friday Fragments



It's time for Friday Fragments again. This is where I can dump out all the random stuff that isn't fully formed enough to be its own post. Of course, I realize the line is a fine one. If you like randomness, go check out our High Priestess of Fragmentation, Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She's the one who started this thing, and she's funnier than a cat in pajamas.

* I am following the Tour de France obsessively again this year. I have been watching the tour for about thirty years, and love love love it. I think it is the most amazing demonstration of the triumph of the human body - and the human spirit. It's a perfect combination of athletic prowess, strategy, physical vs. mental strength and a huge helping of human interest. It also doesn't hurt that the scenery through Spain and France is so spectacular. This race is unlike anything we have here in the U.S. and I'm glued to it.

* Some people have recently commented that they wouldn’t be able to stand living here in Maine because of the horribly rainy weather. To that I say this: Rain? That’s nothing. You should see our snowstorms. Truthfully, though, this is usually a beautiful place to live. Yes, we have to deal with difficult winters, but they are gorgeous and provide us with a climate for creative play – skiing, skating, dogsledding, building snow men and snow forts – you can’t do that in the south. This rainy spell in the summer is unusual for us, which is probably why it has been so hard to take. Maine is filled with natural wonders, from the rocky coast to the majestic mountains, and there’s a reason it’s called Vacationland. Just not lately.

* Oh, and for the record? Sunny again today, just like yesterday. It’s a miracle.

* My girlfriend Jonel, who has just started blogging (I knew I could suck her in) wrote a very sweet post about me on my birthday. I got all teary-eyed and everything. Click here to read it or check out her blog at Just Sayin'. I also received some wonderful comments and emails. You bloggy people rock. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to make it, but somebody is always there with a kind word and it keeps me going. I'm sending you all one of those smacky Dating Game kisses.
*I was going to put in a video of the Dating Game kiss here (for you younger folks who don't remember the show) but when I searched 'dating game kiss' on you tube, I got a bunch of stuff that made me want to gouge out my eyes. Although I did find a video of David Cassidy from when he was on the show. Love you, David!! But I digress...

* In case anybody in Hollywood wants to know, there is no need to make any more animated movies about rodents. Rodents are creepy. Cutesy, animated rodents? Still creepy. Having to watch movie trailers about animated rodents? Cruel. And creepy.

* Earlier this week I stopped in at Wal-Mart about 9:00 at night, and in the entryway (between the two sets of automatic doors) there were 6 of those carts – the ones that people use to drive around in when they have difficulty walking - all gathered together, with their drivers all talking at the same time. I slowed my step, hoping to hear what was going on (because I’m the curious type. Or I’m nosy. Whatever.) Anyway, it turns out that one guy was having trouble with his machine, and the others all came to rescue him. I love that we still live in a time where people will help each other. My batteries have been running low lately, and I might need rescuing any minute. Good to know that someone will be there.

* I never get tired of helping Brandon get dressed up for theme days at the camp where he works. Every Friday they have a different theme, and all the counselors dress up to match the theme. Brandon refuses to be outdone, so he really goes all out, no matter what the theme is. He’s dressed up as Robin Hood, a clown, a robot, a court jester, and of course his favorite: a pirate (Johnny Depp, even, complete with eye liner). It’s great fun. This year his girlfriend Sandy, who also works at camp, was here for the dress-up fun. The theme today is Movie Premiere, complete with red carpet and fun movie-related activities all day. Brandon and Sandy went off looking like celebrities - he was in an all-black suit, tie. fedora and sunglasses; she was in a long black gown with heels and evening clutch. I know the camp kids really get a kick out of it, but I think Brandon enjoys it more. He’s a ham. I wonder where he gets that from? I forgot to take a picture this morning, so I’ll leave you with this one of him from pirate theme day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Wanderer

Another rainy day. I can feel the melancholy in the air. It's hard to concentrate and I find myself wandering, both figuratively and literally.

Yesterday was my 49th birthday. I guess that means I need to update my profile (but I don't think I'll rush - let's pretend I'm still 48 for another couple of days). All day yesterday I found that I was holding a conversation in my head. A one-way conversation (okay, I guess that makes it a monologue) with my birth mother. I've been having this conversation since I was a child, but this year it seems particularly difficult, I think because I know who she is - where she is, even. It's one of those 'so near and yet so far' things. Since I can't seem to let go of it, I'm going to write it down and see if that helps. It went something like this:

Hey, do you remember what you were doing 49 years ago today? God, I wish I knew what it was like then - what you went through. There are a million things I want to know. Were you in labor a long time? Was anyone there with you? I hope you didn't have to go through it alone. I know you delivered me without C-section, and I'm glad you didn't have that particular scar to remind you - if you were trying to forget, which I'm guessing you might have been.

I wish I knew what it was like for you in the preceding 9 months, too. You must have been scared. I hope you had people - friends or family - who stood by you and helped you through it.

Do you think of me on July 7th each year - or is it one of those things that you thought about the first few years, but gradually stopped noticing? Did you picture me at different ages? When I turned one, did you wonder if I was walking? When I was five, did you think about me starting school? Were you ever curious about whether I got married, had kids of my own?

If only you'd talk to me. Answer some of my questions - or at least pass on the medical information I need so badly. If only I could say the things I've held inside for so long. If only I could tell you how much I appreciate what you did 49 years ago. Thank you for my life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just a Little Bit

We've just had two sunny days in a row. TWO! It went a long way toward drying things up, but the ground is still saturated. At least the house doesn't feel damp any more, and I might even be able to mow some grass tomorrow.

Because it was the first sun we've had in about a month, I have been staying off the computer and trying to get some outside chores done. I've decided that if we're going to have precious little sunshine this summer, I'll have to take advantage and save my blogging for rainy days. The weather channel says that will happen soon enough. Arghh.

I have been applying for jobs at an amazing rate, so feel free to send some positive thoughts my way. And if anybody has any 'how to survive hot flashes' advice, I'd be thrilled to hear it. They're happening all day - and night - and are driving me batty. I don't know what I'll do if summer ever actually comes!

In the meantime, I hope you are well, and enjoying a rain-free summer. I can't wait to hear all about your adventures.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fragmentation


Welcome to Friday Fragments, the place to unload all those odd, random thoughts you might have while you're watching the rain fall day after day after day. Mrs. 4444, from Half Past Kissin' Time, is the hostess of this party, and she's probably a lot sunnier than I am, so go check her out.
* I’ve been watching reruns of The West Wing (since I’m stuck in the house up here in rainy Vacationland) and noticed that a bunch of actors from that show have gone on to star in their own TV shows. As a matter of fact, I think USA network’s entire original programming schedule includes actors that used to be on the West Wing.

* Alex, who’s away for the summer, has actually called me several times. I don’t know if somebody is prodding him to call, but I don’t care. It is so wonderful to hear his voice on the phone, especially because he initiated the call. I sent him up a couple of care packages (snacks that he likes, a computer game, a favorite shirt he forgot) and he called to say thank you, but a couple of times he just called to chat. Un-freaking-believable. It made my heart all squishy inside.

* If you were planning to visit our beautiful state for vacation this year, you might want to wait a while. They announced on the news that it has rained 24 out of the last 27 days. The ground is so saturated that people who live on the edge of hills, cliffs or water frontage are being encouraged to check the stability of the land their houses are on. THE STABILITY OF THE LAND UNDER THEIR HOUSE for Pete’s sake. You might wake up and find that your house is in the lake. Nice. Aren't you just dying to come visit? Maybe you could rent a cabin on a lake. One that's actually ON the lake. Vacation memories in the making.

* On the plus side, we’re saving on bottled water. We’re hardly going through it at all. I think we may be absorbing so much liquid through the humidity level of the air, so who needs to drink anything?

* I may have mentioned this before, but I think that commercials for things we can’t get up here should be banned from my TV. If I see one more Sonic commercial, I may scream. We can’t go to Sonic. THERE ARE NO SONICS. There are no Cici’s Pizza buffets, either. Stop telling me about them.


* I was trying on my sandals – pretending that it was nice enough outside to wear them – and found something troubling. My left foot no longer fits in any of the sandals I wore just last year. I guess whatever happened to my foot this past winter (coincidentally the thing that still hurts like a bastard) has caused it to grow. It’s noticeably bigger than my right foot. Hmmm. I hope that doesn’t start happening to other parts of my body. Maybe I have some disease that makes everything on my left side bigger – foot, ear, hand, boob? Boy, I really hope it doesn’t affect my left ass cheek – that’s already plenty big enough. Not that attractive, I guess, but I wonder if I could get my own TLC special?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can't Stop the Rain

Can't talk about the rain. Can't talk about the rain. Can't talk about the rain.

I've promised myself that I will not devote any more blog-space to the rain. You've heard enough about the freaking rain already to last a lifetime. I know that if I mention that it is still raining, you might just click away and never come back. So I won't talk about how it is making everyone in the whole state cranky. About the ground that is so saturated that it's turning into quicksand. About the dog yard that has black and green stuff growing in it that I can only assume is mold (?) and that must not be good for dogs to be walking on all day. About towels that won't dry and carpets that feel damp to walk on.

Instead, I will talk about all the great stuff that's going on here.

Hmmm. Wait. Gimme a minute. I'll think of something.

I applied for several jobs this week. All of which I'm completely qualified for. A couple of them should be beating down my door, begging me to work for them. I've decided that I don't really like the whole 'apply online' trend. Often, there are online applications to fill out, and space to attach your resume, but it's not the same. They almost never list the name of the person you're actually applying to, which makes it difficult to call and follow up. My auto-filled work history doesn't look as nice as it does on a crisp, clean sheet of high-quality paper. An emailed cover letter just isn't as impressive as the one you can hold in your hand. It just seems to be taking the personality out of the whole job-hunting thing, and I happen to think that is where I shine.

That might be all I got...

Oh, except that yesterday I didn't have to clean up any cat puke. None. And none yet today. It might be a new record. Who says nothing good ever happens around here?

Are you scared about what Friday Fragments might look like tomorrow????

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baby, It's Over

The play is now officially over, after the cast and crew gathered one more time last night to strike the set. It was quick. What took hours and hours to design, construct, refine and paint took only minutes to destroy. It gave me an odd feeling, looking at the stage, stripped back to bare walls. Working on the play has given me something to do, someplace to be, at a time in my life when I really needed that. I feel a little lost, but I'm proud to have been a part of it. My friend Andy Turner (the director) wrote a great wrap-up piece, which you can read here.

I was totally surprised to find that my two college friends - the ones I get together with for Girls Night Out - made the long drive up to see the play on Friday night. I couldn't have been more stunned. I am almost never caught unaware, and generally not a fan of things I don't know about in advance, but this was one of the best surprises ever. One of them even brought her teenage son, who's involved with theater at his high school and is quite the dancer. It meant so much to me that they made the trip just to support me. They said they enjoyed it, and it really made my night. Jonel, who's a brand-new blogger, wrote about it here.

Thank you to all those who emailed me or commented to express their concern over my reaction to Billy Mays' death. It is a sad time for those of us 'As Seen on TV' fans. There aren't many people who can shout consumers into buying stuff, but Billy had the gift. He'll be missed by insomniacs the world over.

I don't know if it's the weather (we're still getting rained on. every damned day.) or the apres-play letdown, or the other million things going on in my life, but I'm feeling like staying in bed all day. It's after noon already, and me? Still in my pj's. Soon, though, I'm planning to head to the mailbox for my daily dose of "we were impressed with your credentials and experience, however, you were not selected for an interview" letters. That's always fun.

I hope where you are is sunny and warm.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fragmenting Away


Time again for Friday Fragments, the place to spit out that stuff that occurs to you in the shower or while you're putting clothes in the dryer. It was the brainchild of Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time, who hosts this party every Friday. Go check it out and embrace the randomness.

*Well, the sunny weather didn’t last long. After one hot and humid day, we’re back to cloudy weather. I’m going to try really, really hard not to whine, but I’m not promising anything.

* Have I mentioned lately that I love my son Brandon's sense of humor? We both find amusement in the oddest places. Recently I found some sleep pants for him at Walmart. They were lightweight cotton, just like he likes, with Coca Cola designs, and they came in a tall metal can. The best part was that they were marked down to $3. Score! When I got home, after I gave them to him, I was looking over my Walmart receipt (you can never be too careful) and noticed how that particular item was listed. Canned Pants . . . . . . . $3.00. Go ahead. Say it out loud. CANNED PANTS. We're still giggling, and I think it will go on a while. "Hey, are those your canned pants you're wearing?"

* We had a good-sized, if slightly quieter crowd at the play last night. Earlier in the process of putting on this play – back in rehearsals, when I had heard the lines over and over again until I wanted to scream – I wondered how on earth actors in a show on Broadway managed to do the same show, every night, for a year or more without going nuts. After dealing with dropped lines, medical emergencies, lighting or sound gaffes and the unpredictable and changing energies of the audience…I realize that it’s never the same show twice.

* One of the other bloggers that I read, As Cape Cod Turns, mentioned this week that she was in the airport very early in the morning with her jump-rope team children, and wishing that everyone else there would wear more obvious signs (like team jackets) so that she would know why they were there so early. This idea is something I’ve wished for myself for a long time. I think it would be cool if people wore signs that explained something about them that I’m dying to know – without having to actually ask them, which might appear rude. A larger version of a stick-on name tag would do nicely, and could explain things like WHY I CHOSE THIS OUTFIT or WHAT I’M TRYING TO EXPRESS WITH THIS HIDEOUS TATTOO/PIERCING or WHY I FEEL JUSTIFIED IN STANDING DIRECTLY IN YOUR WAY WITHOUT ANY SIGN THAT I WILL EVER MOVE SO THAT YOU CAN REACH THE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP.

* Did you ever find a freakishly long hair, growing out of you, somewhere that horrified you? And did you ever discover this when you were out in public, and completely unable to remove it? And then, were you so obsessed with it that you could no longer concentrate on anything else until you got home and plucked the offensive thing out? And then, did you have a hard time not thinking about how long it took to get to that length without you noticing it? Oh, well, then…me neither.

* Hallie, over at Wonderful World of Wieners, is still doing her fundraising raffle. You can enter for as little as $1, and you can win one of 25 prize packages. We figured out the other night that there are THOUSANDS of dollars worth of prizes, and some really cool stuff you can see here. The best part is that the money all goes to increase awareness for organ donation, which is a terrific cause. Read about it, or just go donate. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, but I’m planning to win the New England prize package.

* Finally, I want to ask you all to do me a little favor. My friend Jonel, who I’ve talked about here on this blog, and who is a vital part of Girls Night Out, has finally started a blog of her own, Just Sayin'. I’ve known Jonel since college, and love her madly. She’s been there for me through so much – happy times and sad, victories and failures, so many tears, but even more laughter. I really couldn’t have managed without her in my life. She’s got a terrific sense of humor and a unique way of looking at things. She’s doing Fragments, too. Please, go and welcome her to the blog world with a comment. It would mean so much to her – and to me.