I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I last posted here.  Facebook has been satisfying my need to share some of life’s tidbits, and affords me the opportunity to do so with very little effort, which is something that appeals to me more and more these days.  Besides chronic pain, the extreme heat has sapped me of whatever little bit of energy I might have left over when I get home from work.  Temperatures have been holding steady at around 88 degrees for several days now, and I’m not liking it one bit.  It’s much too early for this kind of heat.  Actually, as far as I’m concerned, there’s never a good time for this kind of heat.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a looooooong summer.

Speaking of summer, this will be my first without having at least one of my daughters around (since Rebecca was born in 1986).  Leigh is spending the next couple of months with Becca, and will be waitressing at Matt’s restaurant.  (Matt is Rebecca’s boyfriend, and proprietor of an Outback.)   At the end of August, she’ll be heading to SUNY Binghamton to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.  She just graduated from SUNY Delhi with an Associate’s Degree in their Veterinary Tech program, and earned a 4.0, which is especially noteworthy considering that she had an extra heavy course load (19 credits).  I’m so proud of her, and of Rebecca, as well, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree a few months ago, and is taking some time off before going on for her Master’s.

There’s not much else of interest to report… I applied to work summer school and am pretty certain I’ll be assigned to the position.  Once again, there won’t be any vacation for me.  I’m deeply disappointed about that.  I so look forward to getting away, but haven’t been able to afford to do that for the last couple of years.  The drudgery of life is really wearing thin… Oh well.  I guess I’ll be spending much of the summer in my favorite spot at home – on the front porch.

Song of the Day:  Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone

My brother, Mark, would have been 42 years old today.  These “significant days” are harder to bear than regular ones.  Mark’s twin, Mike, will have his own particular pain to deal with today.   My heart goes out to him, and to my parents and other siblings.  We all miss Mark so much.

As for physical pain, I’ve been suffering even more than usual lately.  The worst of it is that the scary headaches are back.  Living with chronic pain takes so much out of me.  By the time I get home from work, I’m too exhausted, both physically and mentally, to do much of anything.  Weekends aren’t much better, although I do push myself to get out of the house as much as possible.  It’s too easy to fall into a depression when I’m trapped inside for long periods of time.    It’s bad enough to be trapped in this pain-ravaged body.  I need all the distractions I can get.

Something else that is causing me stress (which adds to the pain) is that I will only be receiving one more paycheck until September.  This is quite disturbing because we can’t live on Daniel’s salary alone.   I applied for summer school about a month ago, and have been anxiously awaiting word about whether or not I got the job.

On Wednesday, My Friend informed me that she had received an email from the summer school principal informing her that she had been recommended to teach summer school.   I became distressed upon hearing that, and emailed the principal to ask if a decision had been made about the summer school Teaching Assistant position.  I reminded her that I have held the position since it was created, with the exception of the past two summers when I was unable to work because of back pain that was the result of a work-related incident.   (It should also be noted that the principal at the time the TA position was first created lobbied for it with me in mind.)

Ms. Summer School principal responded to my email by asking how many years I held the position, and saying that she has to check the “union issue.”  I suppose that means that the person who was assigned the position during the summers when I was unable to work has applied for it again this year.  However, it is my understanding that seniority is a factor, so I should get the assignment.  Also, I should not be penalized because I was unable to work due to an injury I sustained on the job.

I am a nervous wreck about this situation.  If I don’t get the summer school position, we are up the creek without a paddle.  Even if I do work summer school, it will only be 16 hours a week for six weeks.  We still won’t be able to make ends meet.  But, without that extra money, we will be in serious trouble.

All positive thoughts will be much appreciated.

Song of the Day:  Get a Job by The Silhouettes

Just like Pagliacci did

March 14, 2009

My Friend treated me to my first live opera experience last night. We went to see Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci, featuring Teatro Lirico D’Europa (European opera touring company). I enjoyed it very much.

We had a bit of a retiree reunion at the Opera House. Three former co-workers were there, one of whom is in her seventies and looks amazing.

Not much else has been happening, except that our washing machine needed to have the timer and a belt replaced. This has been a particularly bad month financially, with the $940 gas & electric bill, $162 for the furnace, and now $222 for the washing machine, not to mention the new car payment plus insurance. Oh my aching pocketbook.

The repairman just left, and I have a lot to do, so, in the words of the immortal Porky Pig, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Reading: March by Geraldine Brooks

Song of the Day:  Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson

Another Death

March 4, 2009

This morning, I woke up with the same tension headache I went to bed with last night.

Let me explain.  Yesterday, I was having a discussion about furnaces with a co-worker whose husband works for a heating company.  I mentioned that I needed to get my furnace cleaned, and asked if her husband does jobs on the side.  She said he does, but is very busy in the winter, and therefore recommended that I give him a call over the summer.  I made a note to do so.

As luck would have it (my luck, that is), I came home to a freezing cold house.

Fortunately, I was able to get someone from the aforementioned company to come over pretty quickly.  He replaced the thermocouple at the cost of $162 ($125 of which was just for the house call).  This came on the heels of a $940 gas & electric bill.  (We have gas heat.  Still, that’s a lot of money for two months, especially considering that we keep the thermostat set at 68 when we’re home, and 65 during the night and when we’re at work.)

To add to yesterday’s bad news, I also learned that our elderly neighbor died on Sunday.  A few days ago, I asked Daniel if he had seen Helen.  I said I was worried because there had been an unusual amount of activity going on over at her place.  It turns out that I was right to be concerned.

Helen was a tough old broad.  I’ll never forget the first time I met her.  She introduced herself with a handshake that crushed my fingers.  I swear, it hurt so much I couldn’t wait for her to let go.

Helen was on dialysis.  About a year ago, she was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis.  Her cat, Lollipop, was hanging around our back porch late in the evening, so I realized something must have happened to Helen.  We put food and water out for Lollipop until Helen was discharged from the hospital.  Helen’s brother stopped by one afternoon, and I mentioned that we were looking after the cat.  He told Helen, and she called to thank us as soon as she got home.  She said she was especially grateful because Lollipop was the love of her life.  (Helen was a widow.)  I thought that was so cute.

A few months ago, I was out on my back porch around 5:30 pm.  It was pitch dark.  Suddenly, I heard Helen call my name.  She asked if I would help her.  I followed her voice to a spot between our properties, and found her standing there, afraid to move.   She said she had fallen, and, while she was able to get back on her feet, she was too shaky to walk to her house.  I asked what she was doing outside in the dark, and she said it wasn’t dark when she went out.  That meant that she had been standing there for at least an hour.

I put my arm around her and led her to her back door, step by painstaking step.  She kept stumbling, and had to stop and rest every few seconds.  A couple of days later, she sent me a thank you card.

Except for a few waves in passing, that’s the last real interaction I had with Helen.   It’s hard to believe I will never see her again.

Song of the Day:  If I Never See Your Face Again by Maroon 5

I’ve got a few things I want to talk about, but before I get to that I’d like to post the Bucket List that’s going around Facebook.  I was tagged by Penny.  (This list, by the way, is not the same as Fifty-nine Out of One Hundred.)

Things you have done during your lifetime:
( ) Gone on a blind date
(x ) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
(x ) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x ) Been to Hawaii
(x) Been on a plane
(x ) Been on a helicopter (in Kauai, Hawaii)
(x) Been lost
(x) Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers

(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t.
(x ) Made prank phone calls
(x ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(x ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain-naked
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x ) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating

(X) Gone to the movies
(x ) Been deep sea fishing
(x ) Driven across the United States

( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
(x) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(x ) Seen a falling star and made a wish
(x ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(x) Seen the Statue of Liberty

( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
(x) Traveled by train
(x ) Traveled by motorcycle  (It wasn’t exactly traveling, but I have been on motorcycles, as a passenger.)
(x) Been horseback riding
(x ) Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
(x ) Been to Disney World (Actually, it was Disney Land in CA)

( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean  (I’ve been on whale watches, but didn’t see any whales.)
(X) Been to Niagara Falls
(x ) Ridden on an elephant  (I have a picture of that experience, but don’t feel like digging through thousands of photos to find it.)

( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
( x) Been water-skiing
() Been snow-skiing
(x ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
() Been to a Major League Baseball game
() Been to a National Football League game

On to the next item… The last time I saw Dr. What Do You Want Me to Do, he referred me to an allergist because of my frequent problems with runny nose and sneezing.  I went for allergy testing yesterday, and it turns out that I’m not allergic to anything.  I do, however, have a deiviated septum.  I also have nonallergic rhinitis, which means that I am very sensitive to irritants such as dust and odors.  Changes in weather and chronic health conditions can also trigger nonallergic rhinitis symptoms.  The Mayo Clinic notes that this condition can make you miserable.  It sure does.  Lucky me.

In other news, we are going to pick up our new car today. Our current vehicle is a 1995 Chevy Cavalier.   It’s getting to the point where we are putting more money than is fiscally responsible into a car that is fourteen years old.  So, we looked for the cheapest decent car we could find and decided upon a 2009 Hyundai Accent, ranked number 17 out of 35 in affordable small cars by US News & World Report.  The color is charcoal grey.

We’re going to have to be even more creative in our budgeting now that we’ll be adding a car payment to our monthly expenses.  Our car insurance has gone up,too,  but it’s not as bad as I had feared.  Daniel called around (including Geico), and the best deal we got came from Liberty Mutual.  They also offered us a better deal on our home insurance, so we switched that over, as well.  Wish us luck!

Besides picking up our new car, we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with take-out food.  I don’t want to go to a restaurant because they’re too crowded and you get the bum’s rush on holidays such as this one.  Take-out Chinese will do nicely.  Not having to cook is a beautiful thing.

After dinner, I will snuggle up with my sweetie, savor my Lindt Lindor Truffles,  and watch a romantic episode of The Sopranos.  We don’t have HBO, so we’ve been getting the DVDs from Netflix.  We’re almost at the end, and I have to say that I can see why the series was so popular.  I’m really loving it.

Speaking of loving, go on and kiss the girl (or guy, whichever the case may be).

HAPPY VALENTINE’S Day!

Reading: Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Song of the Day:  My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

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The Christmas edition of “Getting to know you.” (My Friend sent this to me via email.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both.  Bags are easier, but unwrapping presents is part of the fun, so I always make sure to wrap some gifts.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real.  This year, we have a gorgeous Fraser Fir.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The first or second weekend in December.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first weekend of the New Year.

5. Do you like eggnog? It’s okay…

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Mary Poppins doll.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Daniel.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My brother, Mike.  (A gift certificate to Outback.) Even though my siblings and I have agreed not to exchange gifts this year (and that includes the kids), I wanted to get something for Mike because of all he’s been through.  He owes $60,000 in medical bills, and can’t afford to eat out anymore, so I thought this would be a nice thing to do for him and his girlfriend.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, but I haven’t put it out in years because there’s no place to set it up.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I don’t think I ever received a gift for which I wasn’t grateful.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Nightmare Before Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The day after Christmas (for the next year, obviously)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I can’t remember ever doing that.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Crabbies!

16A. Lights on the tree?
Yes, multi-colored.

16B. Lights outside? No; we don’t have an outdoor outlet.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh holy night.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I’ll be home for Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (or Donner) Blitzen and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A star made out of grapevine.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Having to be super frugal.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? I’m not into themes.  Since red is my favorite color, I guess that’s what I’ll go with.

24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner?
We typically have a pasta dish (this Christmas, I’m making stuffed shells) and some kind of meat.  I usually make a turkey, but wanted to do something easier this year, so I’ll be making a spiral ham.  Personally, I hate ham, but most of my family members like it.  Maybe I’ll make a turkey on New Year’s Day, just for us.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
SHOW ME THE MONEY.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?
Frosty the snowman.

26. Who is least likely to respond to this?
The Grinch.

Song of the Day:  Getting to Know You from The King and I

Santa Baby

December 9, 2008

Today’s Holidailies Prompt: Letter to Santa … or any other holiday icon you like.

Dear Santa Baby,

Slip a million under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awfully poor girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a million in my pocket, too, yoo hoo
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the payments I have missed
Think of all the creditors that are pissed
Next year I could be oh so rich
If you’d check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna win the jackpot, and really that’s not
A lot
I’ve been a pauper all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there’s one thing I really do need, to feed
This family of mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, fill my stocking with large bills next, and checks
Sign your ‘X’ on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With notes of the denomination “C
I really do believe in demand and supply
And that happiness money can buy
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, there’s something else you can bestow, more dough
Not in escrow
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Love,
Stephanie

Song of the Day:  Santa Baby written by J. Javits and P. Springer,  originally sung by Eartha Kitt

I’ve always liked the idea of Holidailies and decided to give it a shot this year.   I don’t know if I’ll be successful  – the thought of posting an entry every single day until January 5th is a daunting one.  But, what the heck.  It’s worth a try.

Today’s prompt:  Introduce yourself

I am 54 years old but don’t feel or act my age.  One of the things to which I attribute my youthful attitude is the fact that I am surrounded by teenagers five days a week (while school is in session).  I work in a computer lab in what is classified as an inner city school.  For the record, this is the same high school I graduated from in 1972.

I have two daughters – Rebecca, who will be 22 years old on Sunday,

and Leigh, who is 20.

Both girls are presently in college, which means that we are really feeling the squeeze financially.  Rebecca will earn her Bachelor’s degree next year (after finally settling on Sociology after switching her Major six times), so the money situation should improve somewhat.  (The girls are on their own as far as Master’s degrees go, and, in Leigh’s case, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  We’ll help them as much as we can, but they’re going to have to take out large loans.)

Daniel (my 2nd husband) and I will celebrate our 4th anniversary in March.  Being married to someone who suffers from chronic pain is not an easy row to hoe, but Daniel is very helpful, patient, understanding, thoughtful and loving.   I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Speaking of chronic pain, I have Fibromyalgia (accompanied by Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic fatigue), Degenerative Disc disease, a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, pinched nerves,  Anticardiolipin antibody, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (mild), and a persistent pain in the right shoulder blade that drives me out of my ever loving mind.

Our nest is pretty close to empty.  Rebecca lives at her father’s place, and Leigh is away at school.  On the other hand, we do have dearly loved “fur children,” Eleanor Rigby, a cockapoo, and Penny Lane, a dachshund.

I am an avid reader. Knitting is a more recent obsession, having learned how to do it only about a year and a half ago.  Music has always played a very important role in my life.  My tastes range from The Beatles to Linkin Park to Mendelssohn to Modest Mouse to Conor Oberst to Broadway soundtracks to The Talking Heads to U2 to the B-52s to Elvis Costello to Radiohead to The Clash to The Shins to opera, and so on.

To sum things up, I yam what I yam.

Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Song of the Day:  I Yam What I Yam from the Popeye Soundtrack

A couple of you mentioned MonAvie in the comments section recently.  That was the first “unnecessary” expense I eliminated when it became apparent that we would have to do some serious belt-tightening.  Since canceling my “autoship,” I’ve returned to the Land of Deep Fatigue.  Believe me, there are a lot of places I’d much rather revisit, Hawaii, for instance

Seriously, I am so tired by late afternoon, I can barely speak.   One upside to this is that I fall asleep almost as soon as I close my eyes. After all the nights I’ve spent tossing and turning and longing for Morpheus to cradle me in his arms, I have to say that it’s a wonderful thing to slip into slumberland so swiftly.

Unfortunately, I have a problem staying asleep.  I wake up quite a few times throughout the night, for a variety of reasons including pain, my bladder, doggie disturbances and a snoring spouse.  Consequently, I don’t feel rested when I wake up.  Non-restorative sleep affects my pain level, as well.

Anyway, back to eliminating expenses.  Monavie isn’t the only casualty in the budget-slashing massacre.  My Christmas list has been cut almost in half.  Last year, I gave gifts to thirty-three people.   Besides family, there were friends and co-workers (including a Secret Santa) on my list.  This year, the number of gift recipients has been whittled down to eighteen.  (That’s still a large number, but bear in mind that there are twenty-one people in my family.)   Six of those people will be receiving knitted items.

My Friend, mother and cousin are getting a “sharf.”  (I’m keeping some of the shawl/scarves shown below for myself, by the way.)  As you can see, they can be worn in several different ways.

My father, grandmother and ex MIL are getting afghans.

Speaking of Christmas, I’m going to the Christmas Tree Shop in Danbury, CT with my mother early tomorrow morning, so I’d better hit the sack.

Song of the Day:  Goodnight by The Beatles