Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, You Did Have Brain Surgery

I had mentioned the other day that my bil and my sister would both be having surgery this week. bil, Tom had his surgery on Monday. Eight hours on an operating table. Yikes! I don't know if you'd have gotten me there, but I guess if I really needed to have surgery, I would. Eeuuuwww.

I may have trust issues.

He's doing as well as can be expected I suppose. He has no hearing in one ear, he can barely walk, his ear hurts and he has Bell's palsy. In short, he's still a mess. But this is only Wednesday. Tomorrow is a new day.

Since he is closer to here than home he has my number to reach me for anything he might need and so we had a brief conversation: How are you? Barely hear-able -- "Okay" and then he lists the same complaints he listed for my sister. "It's hard to talk when your face is drooping." Yes it is. I have experienced Bell's palsy myself -- twice. "I can barely walk." "My ear hurts." "I feel like crap." "I'm dizzy." "I'm nauseous."



You did have brain surgery.


I am heading north tomorrow to pick up my sister from the hospital there after she has her surgery. She will be on the operating table for an hour or so. Well, that's what she said. And although she's not having surgery on her brain, it's got to be better than Tom's.

An extra good wish in their direction would be appreciated. I'm hoping he is allowed to come home on Friday so that the two of them can settle into their routine for the next two to three weeks: sitting. More sitting. And more sitting.

Life Is Here -- Thank You!

Life On Flamingo Row has made it to blogger. At least in that I was able to do the transfer after I said to myself, 'one last time' and after having downloaded it to my hard drive with Spadix' Backstreet Browser.

Not a big fan of additional software being added to the PC; it did perform as the description suggested it would. Yippee!

Now the dilemma is to get the posts to actually show up in the blog. They are on the dashboard in the 'edit posts' area, but no matter the number of icons I click, nothing else happens. Since I immediately made the blog private I guess it doesn't really matter.

It only matters that it is here. I can now sift & sort, copy & paste and print entries to my hearts content, if I choose to. Phew. That's over.

And I thank each of you for your suggestions and assistance and help. I thought I'd never get this done in time.

Friend Walt's 'The Diatom Project' has been copied to my hard drive too. The plan for that one is to load it to a CD or print it out for Bonnie, his widow and then send it along to her. I had hoped to transfer it here to blogger as he has an account, but I'd need two passwords to accomplish that, so I've done the best I can for now.

Happy Day Ladies & Gentlemen! Happy Day!

My next project will be AOL pictures and those lovely shoebox albums. Who knew? (I guess we all did, actually) First thing this morning I went to follow the instructions in the official AOL e-mail with the links, etc. Guess what? Uh-huh. If you said to yourself, "they don't work.", you'd be correct.

Shaking my head, having a chuckle. If there is a technical thing I can mess up, I do.

**Update** I've had AOL open, but shrunken all morning while I waltz my way through Quickbooks to another monthly tax bill. Suddenly I hear click, click, click, click and voila! I had just over 100 e-mails notifying me of entries to Life. I guess it either takes a really, really long time for them to post or AOL is helping me out just as I was told they would. Gee. Only 741 posts to go. It's going to be a long e-mail day, but I am grinning from ear to ear. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frustration & The Art of Migration

Frustrated. Grrr.

Is there an art to migration of an AOL journal to a Google-blogspot-blogger blog?

'Cause I have tried all the tricks and nothing. Nada. Zip.

The process starts and sometimes stalls while reading posts. But if it gets to the very first entry in the journal, I am prompted to name it, check the address I want and a template. I may have the order of the process incorrect -- you'd think after nine times I'd have it down.

Following those steps closely I am gently surprised to find an additional blog listed on my dashboard and a link to finish the process of transferring the posts. I click there, I am prompted to publish the posts and I do.

Voila! Nothing. Nothing but the template with my profile. :::sigh:::

As I write this, try number ten is in process. We'll see where it goes. I've even had some help from a friend or two and from AOL and the blogger help pages. Lisa I know you didn't mean to break your promise ...

I claim I work better under pressure. That has always been the case, but I'm beginning to realize I'm aging out of working under pressure. You know?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Officially I'm Crazy. Off The Record, I'm Nuts

It's been an unusually long week. And it's just starting.
Today my sister and brother-in-law arrived so that I could drive them into Boston to deliver him to the hospital for a surgery tomorrow. He will be in the hospital until later in the week. He will ride back to Maine on a VA Shuttle Van Service.
She has driver herself back to Maine and I will drive to Maine on Thursday to retrieve her from the Maine hospital where she is having her surgery.
This was not the original plan, but everyone knows that things change; consequently plans change.
Throw a little Halloween into the mix and HSM 3 Senior Year! and there are going to be, bound to be some logistical problems. Argh!
To change the start of this unusually long week I asked Mackey ... just what he thought of the busy week coming up.

I'm officially crazy and off the record nuts because this weekend, in addition to prepping some meals for the week ahead and laundry and taxi-ing to Boston ... I've attempted no less than five times to transfer my AOL journal here to Blogger. And guess what? I go to my dashboard and see I have not one, two or three blogs, but a slew of them ... all with names I've given them, but not one dammed post in them. NOT ONE.

I'm madder than a wet hen! Does anyone know what that refers to?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Helicopter, Dervish, Hop, Skip & Jump Method of Dancing

I had the opportunity last night to go out with Dear Friend Barb to, a place. Which shall remain nameless because even though the place might deserve to be made public, I don't want to offend anyone. Mostly the people who were there. I might want to mock them a bit (new side of her? you think) They are probably there again tonight doing pretty much what they did last night, last weekend and the weekend before that and will do on weekends for the next how ever many years. Suffice to say it's an Elk, Moose, KofC, AOH or other type of private venue.

Let me be clear on this. I have no problem with private clubs of any ilk or purpose. No, I don't belong to one and last night may be the short of why.

So. Barb wanted to go see her hear throb Siggy. I wanted to stay home and watch 'Life'. But it was not to be. My conscience got the better of me and I told her I'd pick her up at 6:00 pm.

We drove north to the next state and were duly impressed by all the campaign signs along the roadway. In NH campaign signs are a way of life. Life Free or Die. What's that saying, 'New Hampshire leads the nation'? or something like that.

I can tell you I now know why we are in such a mess.

We arrived at the hall, paid our $10.00 entry fee for a light buffet and entertainment and an additional donation to the 50/50 drawing which at the end of the evening was $165.00. We met up with friends of Barb's from the private 'French Club' she belongs too (shaking my head here) and all had a hello, nice to see you, anyone like a drink moment or two. It was roughly an hour until entertainment time and I found myself drinking not one, but two Corona Light beers with lime. I rarely drink and when I do it isn't beer, so I'm fairly certain there was something in the air last night.

The tables began to fill up with people of all ages and fashion sense. From 'old hippies' with tie-dyed tees to country hunks to trucker types and middle aged school teacher looks ... fashion of every type and sadly size was there. Long hair, straggly hair, pony tails and racing insignia caps, beards, no beards, John Deer RULES! Key chains ... the kind that go from there to here or here to there. I have to admit I was dressed down for me. Neatly pressed jeans with a tailored shirt, earrings, necklace and low black heels ... and my friends were somewhere in the same ball park.

We, of course, were totally in the wrong ball park and it was pretty obvious to all in the room.

Not one to miss out on a good time, when the entertainment started I sat back and enjoyed what I could see of the show after having enjoyed the light buffet which consisted of standard buffet fare, but very good. Siggy started singing and the young crowd started whining. Where's the country music? No Aerosmith? I think we took a step back in time and space.

Eventually the crowd had tossed back enough booze the kill a cow, elephant and donkey and they began to hit the dance floor. Unfortunately it was during the performance rather than the dance set and one guy actually hit the floor. Fell right off his chair. Weirder than weird ... he hopped right back up and ask some woman to dance.

I commented to Barb that one of the bad things about drinking and dancing is that the booze makes you think a) you can dance and b) think that you're as young as you used to be.

The woman who headed to the floor with the old hippie in the purple tie-dyed shirt that didn't quite make it down over his rather sizable beer gut taught us all how to do The Helicopter. What you do is have enough to drink so that when you start dancing and you can't get the beat all you have to do is put both arms up and out to the sides and spin slowly in circles while angling up and then down in an alternating fashion. Interesting step I'll tell ya'.

The Dervish was displayed by the man in the striped shirt who made me positively dizzy as he whirled by and whirled by and whirled by all the while dragging some poor girl as if she were at the end of a whip.

Hop, Skip & Jump Lady was so darned cute I wanted to go hop, skip and jump with her, but Barbara put her hand on my arm and shook her head, 'no'. Damn!

Our other friends are ballroom dancers and they were just having the hardest time getting any floor space. Due to age and physical limitations they opted to sit out after one dance. "Too scary", he said. He was being nice.

As the evening wore on the drunken men did what drunken men do ... they developed delusions of sexy and it was not a pretty sight. And to be fair to both sexes, the drunken women somehow thought their stumbly sashays looked, um, appealing. Not from where I was sittin'.

There was one couple dancing whom I thought would be perfect for a Cialis commercial ... and he knew he was gonna get lucky, but I think, honestly, he probably passed out soon as his ass hit the bed last night.

After an interesting and entertaining evening, what I'm now going to call, Two For One Night In Strangeville, I stood up, put on my jacket and started walking to the door. A song with a lively beat was playing and I found myself sort of walking, dancing ... Oh NO! I'm like them ... to the door ... No! No! No! ... and when I turned back to locate Barb ... Sweet Peas! There was a man dancing along behind me reaching out for my ... tail feathers!

I cracked up laughing because this guy was young and I'm pretty sure he must have thought I was his aunt or someone he knew ... or he was too drunk to see just how old I am. I shot back around the table, urged Barb to hurry up and we headed home.

Laughing all the way.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reverse 911

"911. This line is recorded. What is your emergency?"

These are the first words a citizen in our town hears when they dial 911. Said with confidence, presence and authority, they are the words that let you know you have reached help. With ... whatever it is you need help with.

Reverse 911 is the flip side. You won't hear "911. This line is recorded ..." because you are not dialing. We are. We are dialing your number from a data base of phone numbers on an automated dialing system.

Your phone rings and you ... answer it.

Your phone rings and you ... ignore it.

Your phone rings and you check caller ID, see it is 'The Town of ____" and ignore it.

Your phone rings and you check caller ID, see it is 'The Town of ____" and you shrug and wonder why. Still, you don't answer the call.

Your phone rings and the call goes to voice mail where the automated dialer leaves a message. You may or may not check your voice mail.

"This is So & So of Such & Such Department with an important message."

The messages are varied and many. Road closings & detours, school closings, missing children, missing elderly folks. Name it, it's been put out there on auto dial by one agency or another in many cities and towns.

Last night while having dinner at a bit of a late hour, I heard the office phone ring. I Let it go, because I knew it would go to voice mail. Then the house phone rang. By the time I got there after just two rings, no one was there. I checked the caller ID and saw that it was The Town of ____ calling. I dialed back.

"_____ Police. Line recorded. Can you hold?" Sure. Why not. I work there. I know how hellish things can get.

"Hello? Can I help you?" Yeah, Hi J! It's Kathy. Did you call me?

"No. The Lt. sent out a reverse 911 about the road closings tomorrow and now every one is calling wondering why we called!" "I gotta go."

I waited a couple of hours and then called back.

Hey J. This is Kathy. I called you earlier because I thought you might need my help with a busy shift or a major call. And then I wondered if I forgot to show up for work. Sorry about that.

"No problem. The reverse 911 calls had 'everyone' calling in to see why we were calling! You'd think people would answer their phone or you know, check their voice mail."

Yeah, you'd think.

There's good and bad in everything. No system is totally perfect.

The good part of reverse 911 calls is that an important or urgent message can get to the citizens of town very quickly.

The bad part of reverse 911 calls is when folks don't answer the call or check their voice mail, but call back based on caller ID ... they swamp the dispatch center lines and the lonely dispatcher with calls ... which pulls the dispatcher away from real work.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yes! AOL itself celebrated five years of the 'journals project' existence this past summer and here I am today, celebrating my fifth year of journaling, now blogging I guess, in a new space with a new happier face.

I am going to miss journaling over there at AOL-J because my friends, we are what made that neighborhood fun, funny, silly, sad, grief stricken, stunned & stumped, supportive, glad, happy, angry, joyful, peaceful, enlightened, knowledgeable, along with putting up with tempers and hissy fits and tears of frustration when things on the technical side just would not work well. Or at all.

I have to admit, I found all of 'that' weird. Early on. I don't anymore. I found it comforting to know that at any moment on a given day a J-land friend was looking at their own computer screen (sometimes at the FLPL) and writing to me ... to all of us ... even though we all start out thinking we don't want or need an audience.
We do. Humans need to be in touch, to feel wanted and needed and cared for. Humans need to care for and about others.
I found it comforting to know that the friends who left us, through their own choice, God's Will, or even that dammed fickle finger of fate ... left behind their journals for us to visit, to read, to enjoy and remember. Whenever we wanted. I miss those that have left us -- willingly or not.
They enriched my life in as many ways as there are journalers and as you do every week.

When I first started this process I had no clue what I was doing, where it would take me or even if I would stay. Here I am today, five years later: I have learned about photography, politics, breast cancer, depression and Alzheimer's disease. I have new recipes, new links to fun places and a new outlook about just what constitutes friendship and social interaction.
I have become a better person because of each of you and your shared experiences. I have grown to know you, to care about you and to be a long distance friend. I have been able to share my own happy, sad, poignant occasions with all of you.

Why is that?

It is because of trust. I had no idea I would find trust, given and received, right here at the end of my fingertips.

As ethereal as this experience has been, it has been at the least as honest and real for me.

I have yet to come across the scary green monster hiding around the corner. Usually, over there, in AOL-J, they were right in your face. I have come across and come to know some of the most wonderful people. I hope only that I have been as good a friend to them as they all have been to me.

And so, as I say goodbye to AOL-J I also say thank you to AOL.
I was unwittingly sucked in to one of the rewarding experiences of my life.

More importantly, I say thank you to all of my friends here on blogger ... the ones I misplaced when I went private on AOL -J (some of you I've found again) the friends who had already left AOL-J (you may not realize it, but I still follow you here) and the ones who were able to stick around ... or rather did stick around through my happiness, my joys, my sadness and my silliness.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Happy Fifth Anniversary to me ... may the next five years in this neck of the woods be as rewarding and interesting as the last.

Oh ... and I forgot to ask: Did anyone else ever wonder 'is this a PHd candidate's social experiment for their thesis? I always sort of wondered ...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Totally Silly & Fun. Send It Along!

Subject: Mirror Mirror

Shrek, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were all having lunch together.

Shek said, I always thought I was the strongest man of the world, but how can I be sure?'
Angelina Jolie agreed. 'I'm told I'm the most gorgeous of them all, but sometimes I wonder.'
Brad Pitt said, 'I'm pretty sure I'm the sexiest man alive but I've never had it confirmed.'

They all decided that the best way to find out if their beliefs were true was to ask the famed talking 'mirror, mirror on the wall' to confirm for them whether Shrek was the strongest, Angelina Jolie was the most gorgeous and Brad Pitt was the sexiest. They agreed to meet again the next day for lunch to discuss their findings.

The next day Shrek walked up with a smile. 'Well, true. The mirror told me that I am the strongest man in the world.'

Brad Pitt perked up and said: 'And I know for sure that I'm the sexiest man alive.'

But Angelina Jolie lifted her sad, gorgeous face and said.

"Who the heck is Kathy Flamingo Feathers?!"

...didn't see that coming did you?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seven Things -- Blogistan?

Well, my friend, Maraca, you have me in your clutches with this one. I may do this in stages. Or not. I spend time of late thinking "maybe I will, maybe I won't."

Blogistan? Are you the first to coin that moniker? I ask because I have not read it here. Yet. Or rather, before today.

Vicki @ Maraca: Seven Things has tagged me to reveal seven things about myself, preferably random or weird things.

Here are the rules:
1) Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog
2) Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird
3) Tag 7 more people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs
4) Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Seven random and/or weird things about me:

I can, yes, I can, touch the tip of my tongue to the tip of my nose. (eeeuuuwww factored in)

My memory for all things 'my teen years' is mostly blank. I worry that this is not normal. Or is.

I do not vote in primary elections because I don't think it is the business of the lady at the counter, which party I am voting for. Registered Independents Unite!

Years ago I was a dancer. Tap was my specialty!

I have four new books sitting on the night stand waiting patiently to be read; I dust them free of charge.

My parents named us sans middle names and we were always referred to by our full name at home. Never a nickname.

I owned a 1976 Yamaha 400 motorcycle. Had to. I was The Parts Lady on Saturdays at a busy motorcycle dealership. When I sold it at the end of the same summer I purchased it there were 84 miles on it. I was a much better passenger than driver.

Okay, who to tag?
That's coming up in an edit a little later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh No! It's Sort Of A Funny.

Boston Girls. You gotta love 'em!

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties.

The first man had married a woman from Louisiana and bragged he had told his wife she was going to do all the dishes and house cleaning. He said it took a couple days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and the dishes were done.

The second man had married a woman from F lorida. He bragged he had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking. On the first day he didn't see any results, but the next day it was better. By the third day, his house was clean, the dishes were done and he had a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married a girl from Boston. He told her that her duties were to keep the house clean, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye; enough to fix himself a bite to eat, load the dishwasher and telephone a landscaper.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Campaign Sign Crime

The holiday weekend found crime rising with the theft and vandalism of campaign signs. Interestingly only one report included which campaign the sign was representative of. Hmmm.

C'mon folks. Really. We are reduced to stealing or destroying campaign signage? Geesh.

I'm thinking there are far more fun and interesting things to do on a weekend.

You know, like holler at the Red Sox and the Patriots?

Frankly, with the way this campaign is going I'm surprised anyone has the energy to care enough about campaign signs and their placement.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. Albert Camus

The Doctor Is Out (of his mind)

Nearly five years ago I had occasion to visit my physician for an annual exam. Normally this would be no biggie, but this particular year the visit loomed large in my mind and I was desperate for someone, anyone to understand ... anything at all about me.

On October 2, 2003, five years ago, my close friend's husband was killed in a tragic accident while target shooting at his gun club. His death at such an early age and in such a shocking way prompted me to begin journaling on AOL. AOL had just started up the journal feature in August of the same year. His death also was the beginning of a cycle of bad crap that just kept slamming into me.

His death. Another friend's husband died. My father-in-law died. My mother was ill, and in and out of the hospital. I spent hours of every day driving back and forth to her house to be sure she had her food, her meds, and some company. Two days before my birthday my husband casually walked into the kitchen and said, "I think we need to separate and get divorced." You could have knocked me over with a feather but I simply responded, "okay." He told me he wasn't happy. (and here we are today -- together)

Then, my mother died. And my brother didn't show up. For anything. My nephew was sentenced to life in prison without parole. My brother disowned his two sisters. My oldest was graduating high school and I was helping her with her college prep and feeling as though I was a complete failure at everything that I touched.

That wasn't true, but the hits just kept on coming and I couldn't grasp what is was I needed to do to make it stop or bring some changes. And then my mother-in-law came to visit at what could not have been a worse time ... for almost three months and my husband invited his nephew to move in with us and help with household renovations ... The girls and I brought my mother-in-law back to Florida to open the house and while we were gone my friend's father died and my cousin died.

I was up to my arm pits in alligators and there seemed to be no help or rest for the weary.

It was time for my annual physical and I made my appointment. After the usual PE and health related questions the doctor asked me "How are things?" I asked, "Do you really want to know?"and let forth a steady torrent of all that had been going on for the last ten months ... all the while thinking he would point me in the right direction.

He sat quietly with those big brown eyes looking directly into mine. When at last I finished my abridged, but lengthy version of the events and tribulations of the past months, he put his feet back down to the floor and propelled himself on his little stool in my direction.

Hands on knees, serious as can be, he looked at me and said, "I think you should go home and talk to your husband." What? Did you not just hear what I said? "He's middle aged and probably going through a bit of a midlife crisis." I know my jaw had dropped by the second sentence. "I know when I reach his age, if I act this way, I'll appreciate my wife telling me." Exactly what I was to go home and tell my husband I wasn't sure, but I remember distinctly thinking to myself ... 'you are an ass.'

What I said was along the lines of: Listen. I went through menopause without a hitch. I didn't tell anyone I needed a separation or divorce although I'm damn sure I thought about it. I didn't need anyone to tell me that I was going through menopause either. I just sort of knew. I'm certain he will not appreciate me going home and telling him he's having a midlife crisis. And I know for a fact that you won't appreciate your wife telling you that either -- that is, when the time comes. (and I still think he's an ass)

So why am I writing this now? It's coming up on annual PE time. I'm still, four and a half years later, looking for a new primary care physician. When I need an appointment for anything I put off going until I'm sure I'll end up in the ED if I don't go to the office and see him. The last time I was in to see him, at the end of the visit he said to me, "You don't really like me do you?" Uh, no? But I didn't say that. And for some ridiculous reason I cannot bring myself to tell him what an ass I think he is. Or that he really ticked me off ... so the search is on, has been on, and will continue to be on until I find a new doc.

And he can keep his Prozac too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Have Some Fun With Birthday Wishes -- From Unedited Me 2/10/08

Robin had posted a challenge for us: My birthday wish...challenge

I took up the challenge with my little friend Mackey. But Robin had to add the video to her own journal, because back in February I couldn't. That's another bonus to being here on Blogger -- I can add my own video!

That's me. And my dog. Singing the blues, baby. Singing the blues!

Young At Heart -- from Unedited Me 9/27/08

I know. Seems I have a tad of a theme going here. Honestly I do not. I was out shopping yesterday and while perusing the aisles of my local Walmart I came across this film.

I like folks who are older than I am. I like younger folks too, but mostly, I like older folks. Call them seniors, elders, grandparents, old, aged, what-have-you. Any time there is a gathering of older than me folks you will find me sitting with the group listening to and thoroughly enjoying their stories.

Some thing in me is made up of that.

I bought the film for the outrageous price of oh, I dunno, $19.98 and brought it home to watch. I had to wait until last evening after dinner and the wait was killing me.
It was so worth the wait. So. Worth. The. Wait. Soworththewait!

Fox Searchlight - Young @ Heart - Official Site

Rent it. Buy it. Borrow it. I've been loaning it out. Be prepared to laugh, muse, tear up and bawl like a baby. Your heart will love this movie and your brain will tell you that no matter your age You Do Have Something To Offer.

Each of us do.

A Lady Never Tells Her Age - from Unedited Me 9/27/08

But can you guess?

HipHopForFunAndFitness night was a bit eventful, for a Thursday night, that is.

While playing with her little cousin prior to class, Emily tripped over a pile of exercise mats and sprained her right foot. Oh, it's fine(ish) today but she spent all of class sitting watching the women of a certain age hip hop their way to fitness with pulses, pushes, grunts, groans and sassy snaps. Eeeeegads ... my body does not move that way. Or fast. Oh, yes, it used to, but not anymore.

We are a fairly predictable couple of gals. Or maybe it's just that we get into a routine and find it difficult to get out of something that works well for us. She doesn't like unexpected change too much so I tend to go along with what is comfortable with her and not push the envelope to much in the direction of uncomfortable places or activities.

Thursday night is Papa Gino's night after class. Before we pull out of the studio parking lot I whip open the cell phone, dial Papa's and order "Pick up." "a Rustic pizza, a small order of chicken tenders with ranch dressing and two medium drinks." That'll be twenty to twenty-five minutes m'am. Just enough time to drive from the studio to Papa's with a five or so minute wait after we get there.

'The Girl With No Life' works every Thursday evening. Her real name is Michelle and she is a high school student who is one of the best workers ever. She got her nickname with us - from us because any time we go in to Papa Gino's she is working. Honest. I don't think we've gone in in the last two years that she hasn't been on duty.. Doesn't matter the day of the week, The Girl With No Life is there.

Emily & I said our hellos, poured our fountain drinks and settled in for a few minute wait. The Girl With No Life and a co-worker, new girl in fact, were discussing what they were going to do on "Friday night, Kathy. I am off Friday night!!" The new girl is talking about a movie, bowling, hanging out with friends. Michelle is discussing the book reports she is going to have due very soon and how she thinks she should consider getting some of her school work done ahead. (Silly girl -- go out Friday night!)

The discussion moves tot he books they will be reading for classes this year: The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Beowolfe and as Michelle says, "In Cold Blood", she waves me up to the counter to pick up our order for take out. I say, "In Cold Blood?" She nods and says, "Yes! I heard it's pretty intense." I agree with her and tell her it is intense but not like a scary movie kind of intense. It's much ... "it's a true murder story. Right?" In Cold Blood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Well, yes, it's about two men paroled from prison who commit a mass murder and .... "I don't really know anything about it, except I know it the book was written before I was born." Yes. Yes it was.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mayhem & Chaos

... was not only in full swing right here in town, but elsewhere today as well. I arrived to work to hear the tail end of a medical; shortly after I heard dispatch for an accident without injury that quickly turned into an arrest; a domestic, another arrest, another medical and a missing teen. I know I was glad to leave work today and I wasn't dispatching, I was 'office working' -- for five short hours.

Geesh. My five hour work day flew by and I was simply listening to the goings on. I am fairly certain none of us would want to complete any of the paperwork that accompanies a day like today.

I left work and as I pulled up to my driveway, about to turn in, I thought, "go to the grocery store." So I did. Easy enough. Right? It's off to Danvers I go ...

I arrive. Park. Head in. Remember I left my green bags in the car, went back out. Got the bags. Back in. I have a thing about wanting to use them and forgetting the damn things every time I shop. But at five cents off per bag used ... heck, I'll take all the five cents I can get!

Sauntering is what you'd call my shopping trip today. I was on my own, Muzak lulling me into ridiculously expensive purchases -- but dang it! I forgot the mozzarella for the eggplant dish I want to make. Eggplant. $2.99 per pound. All varieties. Yikes! Maybe I don't want to make that dish after all.

One hundred and eighteen dollars later I was helping the 'bagger' finish packing up all that expensive stuff and the cashier was not being very nice to this very nice lady with some obvious special needs. Man. Those of you who know me, know how much I hate that.

I left after my thank yous to the bagger and my glare at the cashier. Really. She should know better. And while I'm thinking about that and sashaying my not so cute any more, very old butt out the door, I'm thinking: I should start a job coaching business ... except I don't have the necessary degree(s) for that and just how would I accomplish that and how much would it cost and hey buddy stop I'm in a cross walk and if you hit me and what is that noise?

The distinct whir of the Med Flight helicopter! That's what it is! I looked and watched in awe as the pilot maneuvered that helicopter into the tiniest landing spot I've seen yet. Between pine trees and phone lines and electrical cables and a building. All right next to Old Route 1 in Danvers. It was a Wow! moment because I am never unimpressed by the skill of the pilot and the sheer power of those machines. Wow!

I quickly loaded the groceries to the back of the car and drove further up into the parking lot. My way out to home anyway. Pulled over and parked. Got out with my camera and stood with some other looky-loos. There were fire trucks, an ambulance, a helicopter and a whole bunch of public safety types (okay, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics) I took what pictures I could from across the four lanes of highway, a median strip and two break down lanes while keeping one eye on the somewhat light, but still very fast, traffic as it went by. We looky-loos were standing well off the roadway on a grassy area on the parking lot, but you can never be too careful.

Some days when I see an accident or I am witness to an event such as this, I get a bit caught up in the moment. That may come from having been an EMT/firefighter for a number of years as well as being a dispatcher for so long. Black humor used to be my bed mate after particularly horrendous calls ... at least until I could process the information.

I won't pretend that calls and incidents don't bother me any longer. They do. I remember well specific calls that had huge impact upon me as a person and also made me a better public servant. I am better able to compartmentalize and sort through after all these years. I now recognize that I don't need to know the whys of. I just need to know the okays of.

While taking a few photos of the copter and a short video of the take off, I wondered just what had happened? Was this a child? An adult? What kind of accident or injury or illness brought this person to this spot in time? Fate? A larger plan than I? Surely one of the two.

My good thoughts and a prayer went out and up for this individual ... and their family and friends. And for all the public safety workers who put themselves in harms way each and every day.

Across the highway, the Med Flight copter landed at the State Police Headquarters.

Not the best video. Not the worst.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Sky

Today was a big soccer day for Emily. Fall assessments take place about a month before the finals (in Special Olympics) and we are up early, and very tried when we arrive home.

Today, sitting watching, chatting with other parents I was enjoying the fall colors on the trees. Another mother pointed out the unusual cloud patterns just over the area where we parked our cars.

In four shots in under two minutes the change is really something. I don't believe I've ever seen a cloud formation like this other than on line.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

If It's October It Must Be Topsfield Fair Time

This weekend has so far been dedicated to the entertainment of Emily, H'auntie Maryanne and myself. Sis arrived on Friday afternoon and as soon as Emily was off the bus we headed to Topsfield for opening night of 'the Fair'.

Highlights of the Fair for me are the RCMP, the ladies bathroom attendant at the Arena Building and the kids pumpkin decorating. Oh yes, and I should mention the largest pumpkin contest.

We do purchase a few ride tickets and while we drive over on opening night and park in the main lot, on Saturday we take the shuttle bus which is just so easy ... the traffic on Saturday is backed up for miles and miles.

A few of our moments: The maniacal laughter in the background is none other than the videographer -- me!

This is 'The Surfer'. The ride is similar to a tilt-a-whirl gone horribly wrong. It looked mild enough. As my sister shouted, "For gawd's sake, I'm sixty-five years old! What am I doing on this?" That little fuss cost her a video.

Harley the Hallamore dog.

Mrs. Essex County returning to the Arena.

I'm not a fan of petting zoos, but I always visit because I feel that the animals need the love and attention of folks like me. This little llama knows how to open the hatch door!
A tractor as water element in a garden.

Oh, golly! The Himalaya. Mild. Real mild.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Excited -- Panicky

Here I sit after a long day of work, pick ups and drop offs and back to work. I should be worn out, exhausted, tired.

Somehow I find myself happy, upbeat, excited and just a tad panicked. The last because of copying journal files ... and the five hundred and thirty nine ways it can be accomplished.

I want to start off here with a huge "thank you!" to all of you. My old friends and new. The silver and gold of my life. There wouldn't be a whole heck of a lot of point or sense in starting anew without all of you by my side.

I like to think you feel that way too. Aw, heck. I know you do.

Each of us has one or two or ten or one hundred other folks here in our community, although the neighborhood is new, who make a difference in our lives every day. A supportive word. A virtual hug. Help with technical -- things. We are here for each other on lonely days, happy days, sad days, bl eh days and joyful days. Somewhere, someone is here, every day encouraging us to live our lives to the fullest and to experience all the possibilities that our ethereal world offers us. We are able to share with others in a way we would not have thought possible back when we were pen pals with, dare I mention it? Pencils and paper!

I am excited and happy to be starting here anew. I do so hope you are too.

Oh Dear! A Snafu!

I've been adding myself at your blogs by utilizing the 'follow this blog' button and creating a reading list from the blogs I follow, in the dashboard area.

Suddenly, I have a reading list but no snippets from your blogs. Wah.

I'm just hoping 'TheBlogger' is only experiencing high usage pains and this too shall fix itself in no time.


Update less than five minutes later: All better!

Saving Walt's Journal

Okay. Phew. I've been trying really hard to get in touch Walt's widow, Bonnie and finally today we connected!

I wanted to ask permission to save Walt's journal to my hard drive and then to print it out for her since she does not 'do computers'. Although she keeps telling me she will. (NOT!)

The Diatom Project

She was so grateful when I told her there were a few of us who wanted Walt's words on line with us so we can pop in and visit and feel his presence though he's been gone about a year and a half now.

Phew. Makes me feel so much better to know that Bonnie wants his journal to live. She told me she wants it up on line as a tribute to him and how smart he was. As a matter of fact she paid for an entire year of AOL service last November thinking she had to to keep the journal on line. (I gently suggested she call them and ask for the free version)

Made feel weepy all over again. He was smart and unique and such a good friend.

I'll figure out how to get it on Blogger later ...

As an aside, I had responded to a request from Guido of anyone in need of a dormant or deceased persons blog being saved ... so I do need to let him know I've got it covered. At least for the moment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Important Post To Me

From Life On Flamingo Row @ AOL-J.

Last night Emily and I headed to our HipHopForFitnessAndFunClass, aka torture for your weary body ... but you'll laugh while you're at it. When we arrived my sister-in-law was sitting in the foyer area with two mothers, Chelle & Elle, holding the baby, chatting. I overheard one say, "Kathy? Yeah, she can."
Approaching from where I've just changed my shoes, I say, "What can I do?" And Elle says, "We were just talking about people who can be a b***h and I told them you can be." As if my sister-in-law didn't know that! Well. Harrumph. What brought this on? I just smiled, nodded and said, "Yeah, that's true. I can be." Since I had no idea the context of their conversation there wasn't much point in getting huffy or offended.

Elle looks up and says, "Yeah, you can be. I remember when I used to be afraid of you!" "Afraid of me? Why?" "Back when I was Emily's speech therapist. I'm not anymore but I was then."

Okay then.

In the early years I would arrive at an IEP meeting about Emily, terrified myself. The school didn't make it easy. What Emily was entitled to - the no frills packet -- I had to beg for. Plead. Cajole. Argue. Cry. Stamp my feet and threaten professional advocacy service or worse ... an attorney. All with courtesy and calm demeanor.

Through it all, I believed Elle was in my corner. Or rather, Emily's corner. I believe that today, still.

I've been through five special needs directors, nearly as many student/school liaisons, and six principals. Each time, the process starts all over. Again. So if I got b***hy, or po'd. Oh well. I never lost sight of why we were there. We were there for Emily.

There were meetings when a cast of thousands would be sitting around a conference room table and I would arrive, sit down and pull out framed photos of Emily and set them down the center of the table so that each person in attendance would also remember why we were meeting. The meetings were not about money or control or cream puff services. The meetings were about just how, as a team, we could educate Emily and bring her to independence.

It so ticked me off (and still does) when team members couldn't focus long enough to accomplish a simple goal.

We moved on from the elementary schools and Elle. She had a busy, sad and happy couple of years there through the fifth and sixth grades. Her mother died. She married and began the adoption process. They bought a house. Sold a house. Traveled to a foreign country for their first baby. Then a second. Her best friend betrayed her and made life miserable for her at work. Finally they bought a house in a neighboring town and she took a job at the elementary school there. One day, a few years later, she told me she had to take a cut in pay and lose seniority even though she worked in the same school union; because she was now in a different community. It was worth it to get away from the strife at school in my community.

The consummate professional and one of Emily's school/student liaisons, Elle never budged and inch more than school administrators allowed and she never ever let on the whys of services not provided, not allowed, not continued.
She never even let me know she thought I was a b***h. True professionalism.

In defense of me I'm going to repeat what I used to say to myself as I would head out to school for another tedious meeting with people I never ever intended to meet or befriend or work with. Period. I didn't even like most of them, but given a chance to meet them elsewhere? Maybe one or two.

I used to say, "If they groan when you walk into the room, you are doing your job." "If they roll their eyes when you speak, you are doing your job." "If they start to fidget when you are making a point, you are doing your job."

That is how I got through many, many of the meetings regarding Emily's education.

And that is why Emily is who she is today. It is why she can read. It is why she can print. It is why she is bright and smart and happy.

Because I was a b***h.

Imagine that.

Why is it that everyone likes you when you agree with them, but as soon as you don't and you try to make your case ... you're a b***h. Why is that?
Me. A force to be reckoned with? Formidable? Scary? Not. At. All.

Why was Elle afraid of me? I think I know why although I didn't ask her. She knew that I knew what needed to be done. She could count on my arriving to meetings prepared and completely knowledgeable about the topic we would be discussing. She knew she couldn't fool me and yet she did her best to uphold the school's wishes while attempting to come to some agreement that would please me and more importantly benefit Emily. Under the direction of 'not enough money, personnel, time and crappy-a**ed principals' she did her job as liaison, as she was expected to.

I understood and I never held it against her. In fact, I never thought she was a b***h.

I wonder now did she think I would attack her? I never raised my voice or pointed a finger or trembled with rage. That wouldn't be effective. I used my words and my knowledge to the best of Emily's advantage ... and I wrote a thank you note after each meeting. Today I feel no need to apologize to any one of the school/student liaisons. Or Elle. I never intended to make anyone feel intimidated by or afraid ... of me. Or anything I represented.

But I did mean to make all of them tow the mark and educate Emily.

There's an old expression: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Emily is one fine pudding. She is deep, rich chocolate, layered with subtle mocha and vanilla, topped with fluffy whipped cream. A pudding full of calories and sugar. A pudding to savor and enjoy each day of your life.

That is my Emily.

Welcome To Flamingo Feathers

Well. Here I am having moved on from AOL- J. I want to rage against the man for this insult and offense but I know it's useless to get myself all in a tizzy.

Instead, I'll mosey on over here and set up my new digs in a new neighborhood. I'll welcome new friends and old friends and see where this goes.

I'm sad. Or rather, melancholy. What of Walt, Pam, Kim? Our other J-land Angels? What of their journals and the journeys we shared with them? My heart is in my tummy for the loss of our community, but I think I can ...

Embrace Change! I don't really have much choice now. Do I?

Welcome to Flamingo Feathers!

The Learning Curve

... is probably going to show you all the true technoramous that I am. However, I will slowly add the new little gidgets and gadgets and have some fun along the way. In the meanwhile, please enjoy our spectacular show of fall colors ... just down the road from my home.