So. What else is new?
Well, the Summer of Gardening is going well, in spite of the near-100 daily temperatures that have forced me to move my fragile-and-unlikely-to-survive Forget-Me-Not seedlings indoors.
Marigolds thrive in the heat. I have blooms in four or five pots, which is pretty cool.
The R.C.'s dianthus also seems to like the hot.
Much prettier than anything I'm growing. All of these live outside, but on the shady side of the balcony. I'm not sure any of them would survive both this altitude and the incredible heat generated by a concrete balcony and a stone building.
The sunflowers, that grow like weeds in Kansas, are growing much more slowly than I'd anticipated.
The R.C. had eight or ten of those going, before I burnt them up with the A/C exhaust. She has about four surviving now.
My bromeliad, an indoor plant, seems to be producing some kind of extrusions. I fully expect that the R.C. and I will be replaced by pod people sometime in the next month.
Or, you know, it could be thinking about flowering.
Otherwise, I went completely mad yesterday. I blew $70 (!!) on new clothes.
Ever since the diet, I've been down to three pairs of grossly baggy shorts and four ratty tee shirts to wear in my time off. Those, with three rapidly decaying polo shirts and two pair of jeans that it's really too hot to wear, have been rotated in and out of the laundry for the past three months as I cope with being off work full-time in the heat of summer.
Yesterday I found a really decent sale and got five shirts, two pair of shorts, and a pair of capris. Now, even if I'm out of work for the rest of the summer, at least I have something to put on my body, something that was becoming a concern. (I had to throw one of my original four tee-shirts away last week--it got too dilapidated even to wear around the house.)
(Capris, though. When I was a kid, we thought of those as being "old lady pants." Now they're fashionable again and I've been scorning them for the past couple of years. But there are times when you need something that's not as casual as shorts, but not as hot and heavy as jeans, you know? So I bought a pair. Time will tell if I ever actually wear them out in public.)
I probably shouldn't have spent the money, but I tell myself that in the olden days, back when I worked for a living, I'd have spent that much in books in one afternoon, without a second thought.
And new clothes mean laundry. What with one thing and another, I did five loads yesterday. Ugh. (Do I need to add the $9 I spent on doing laundry to the total of yesterday's expenditures?)
Spending.... In the 3-1/2 months that I've been unemployed, I've bought seven books, a purse, and these clothes. Beyond a few minor expenditures at the craft/hobby store, that's been the extent of my non-essential shopping. For me, that's a lot of restraint. I guess I was bound to break out eventually.
Which reminds me that She called yesterday, looking for a file. Fourteen weeks she's been there, and she still hasn't figured out that documents to do with company business are on the P.C., in a file marked, "company"? In spite of the fact that I've told her so half a dozen times?
She and Bernie still want me to work for them this summer.
Short version--she's proven incapable of learning or even wanting to learn to use the software programs to code jobs for the company, and it's either me or they find & train someone else to do it (an impossibility since you have to know the software to train it, and neither of them do) and it seems to them to be ideal all the way around that I should make some money while I'm job-hunting and they should get their clients serviced.
Put like that, it does seem sensible. And, at $25/hour, I wouldn't object to making a little money.
Only my experience of Bernie and my knowledge that after promising contract employees the moon, he usually winds up serving them mud pies, makes me hesitate. Knowing, as I do, that he underbids the hours necessary to actually do jobs, I just don't feel like getting into the middle of a fight with him about what he wants to pay versus what it takes to actually do the work.
Bernie said in his last email that, as I suspected and warned him, She spends a fair amount of company time living Her personal life. Lots of personal phone calls and suchlike. (One hesitates to mention that those same hours would have been more usefully spent learning the software--when I was young, we were taught that work came first during the hours you were being paid. What happened to that work ethic? I mean, She is older than I am, so it's not like She's some dumb kid.)
Anyhow. I'll think about that later. (But not too much later, because I have an email from Bernie that I need to answer.)
Other than that, it's 9:30 on a Saturday morning, so I think I'll go pour myself more coffee and start thinking about breakfast. Have a good weekend!
Okay, technically, not. And not mine, although I've glommed onto them.
Among the other (minor) things I'm doing to help tidy up Mom's 'estate' is helping inspect and catalogue her coin collection. Some of these she inherited, some she collected.
Technically she left the entire collection to the R.C., but in fact I'm the one who likes old coins. With the R.C.'s permission, I've been amusing myself off and on with these over the last week or so. I bought a book! Two books, in fact! (But only for the coins. I haven't started investigating the paper money yet.)
There are the expected bits--"commemorative" coins sold to people who don't realize that the only ones that will appreciate in value are the ones actually issued by the U.S. Mint, a partial collection of the new commemorative quarters (if in true "mint" condition, some of these are worth $0.75 each), great handfuls of pennies from the 50s and 60s (none of which are worth more than a cent since they're all circulated and thoroughly worn), JFK half-dollars, etc. None of them worth more than face value, but many of them interesting to look at.
(hidden behind a cut because lots of little pictures)Continue reading "Pieces of Eight!"
I need to make yet another trip to Kansas. The L-i-K-S is holding several boxes of things of Mom's that I volunteered to take charge of and get sold or whatever. Also, there are papers that need to be gone through, of course. There are legal issues* unresolved.
While I understand Mom's desire to try and get her things in order as quickly as possible, there are items she owned that one or more of us would have liked to have had as mementos, things that I have no idea where they are now and that I suspect the nephew who bought the trailer has already disposed of by now. I'm more than happy to take the stained glass (the R.C. and I sent 95% of it to Mom as gifts over the last fifteen years) and to take charge of the Hummels (I haven't yet figured out how to sell those, but I will) and a few other things, but I'm starting to realize that the things that might have been most important to us aren't the things that were of monetary value. (Although I'd give a lot to know what happened to Mom's wedding ring....)
A certain delicacy prevents you from claiming your parents' belongings for yourself while they're alive, no matter how eager they are to dispose of things, but afterwards, when your emotions start to settle, that's when you begin to identify which items you'd like as "keepsakes." The indecent haste of Mom's nephew to move into her trailer (almost a month before he was legally entitled to do so) prevented any of us from having the opportunity to really go through the things she'd accumulated and make sane decisions about what to keep and what to dispose of. I'm a trifle annoyed about that.
Otherwise, I'm fine. The weather is far too hot.
I had an interview on Monday but I suspect I'm not actually in line for the job (all the more so since I see they're re-advertising it this morning), and, this being a holiday week, there aren't many good postings out there right now.
And, as usual, I desperately need to do laundry.
The biggest problem--her trailer house and the land it sits on.
I find myself a bit annoyed that the whole "sale of the house"* thing went through so quickly--before most of us kids had any idea it was happening.
At this point, the jury's still out on the legality of the sale and just who the property belongs to. Possible mortgage insurance, a deed saying "paid in full" when no money was paid, the bank's own claim to the property and their potential unwillingness to let the loan ride for the next 15 years, and other questions remain unanswered.
Home again, home again!
After a trip where things went as well as could be expected, I'm still extraordinarily grateful to be home again.
The trip to K.C. was uneventful, unless you count the predictable adventures that accompany any Southwestern flight. Their unique system (no seat assignments in advance--get in line and take your chances) does facilitate quick boarding. In spite of the fact that the plane arrived late, we took off on time. I wound up stuffed into a window seat, next to "James," a chatty and informative bus driver. I've never talked with a professional bus driver before--I don't generally chat with strangers on airplanes, preferring to bury myself in a book and pretend I'm not squished into a metal tube flying 35,000 feet above ground--and James was very nice.
We discussed airports around the country--taking off and landing over the water at National, taking off over a sheer cliff face in Steamboat, seat assignments (this was his first Southwestern flight and he was wondering, with some trepidation if all airlines were switching to "no seats in advance" since, as a 6'+ guy, he was far from comfy when wedged into one of Southwestern's skinny center seats)--and tourism in general.
The R.C. and I splurged on a mid-sized car for the rental for the pleasures of a really good air-conditioner (Kansas! In summer! Heat and humidity!) and driving it made me determined all over again to buy myself a new(er) car once I'm employed again. The drive from K.C. to Lawrence was, again, uneventful, thanks to Mapquest and a good navigator.
Once in Lawrence, we checked in and were reminded, all over again, of why we don't stay in low-budget hotels. Granted, there aren't a lot of choices in this Midwestern college town, but Holiday Inn? Turns out half the place was shut down for renovation too, and there weren't more than half a dozen guest cars in the parking lot. Still. Air conditioning, a bathroom, and a bed to sleep in--those are all we really needed for such a short trip, and those were available.
Having neglected to provide myself with the cell phone number of the relatives I tentatively thought we might have dinner with, the R.C. and I were free for the evening. We drove "out east" (euphemistic in my family for going to the cemetery) and then "shot the square" in a flashback to my squandered youth. When I was young, there wasn't much to do in town. "Shooting the square" or driving endlessly around the four main roads that boxed the major part of the town back then, was a major source of amusement.
The experience was somewhat surreal this time. At moments, it felt as though we'd never left the 70's (Look! Taco Johns is still there, on the same corner, in the same building!) and at other moments, it felt like we were somewhere we'd never been before.
After the additional thrill of a hamburger dinner, we gave up for the evening and went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for Monday.
We both turned in early and, after tossing and turning for a couple of hours, I managed to fall asleep, only to awaken at 4:15 a.m. Granted, I refused to actually roll out of bed until 5:30, but laying there, wide awake, wasn't really that restful.
The service itself was very nice, I think. There were few flowers, most people choosing donations* these days, but the L-i-K-S and her girls had planted some very pretty white flowers in the planters and had chosen a gorgeous big spray of white flowers to deck the headstone. About 30 people showed up, more than we'd expected given the short notice and the fact that few family members live locally any more.
I have to say that it was nice to see some members of my father's family I've seen only rarely since he passed away, as well as some family friends who were close enough that we were all like part of one extended family when I was growing up. We all agreed that we should try to see each other more often--one of those meaningless promises you make when you all know you'll go home and become immersed in your own life again within 48 hours.
Offers were made for lunch, dinner, and additional visiting but I'm so lame that I'd forgotten about "waking" and hadn't scheduled time in the trip for the necessary after-ceremony visiting. The R.C. and I were scheduled to fly back to Denver that afternoon, so we swung by the hotel, changed into clean shirts (we were drenched with sweat), and took off for the airport again.
In retrospect, it sounds as though we were rushing through it all like a visit to the dentist. In my own defense, all I can say is that maybe I wasn't thinking things through clearly last week, when we talked about scheduling the trip and what should be done. I think I was so focused on what needed to be done, that I forgot about everything else.
The drive back to the airport was, again, uneventful and that was apparently the point at which we used up our quota of good-travel vibes. Our return flight was delayed on account of not having an airplane, then we sat around waiting for another flight to land so three people could make their connection, then we flew to Denver only to encounter a massive, slow-moving storm sitting on the airport, forcing us to circle for twenty minutes, at which time they threatened to divert us to Pueblo or Albuquerque.
The pilot, in an unusual burst of conviviality, gave us quite a discourse on micro-bursts and wind-shear, directing us to watch colliding and passing rain bands out the window and describing how tricky it was to try and land in contrary winds. Apparently when you're moving fast, it's not a big issue, but when you're moving slower, like when you're trying to land, being buffeted by unexpected winds from opposing compass points is very dangerous.
He convinced us. When the plane was finally allowed to land, we gave him a round of applause, both for the lecture and for his smooth landing performance.
"Thank you," he said over the intercom. "I'll be here all week."
Earlier today I went to the grocery store and bought a salad and a small ham.
That's my week so far.
** Please don't think I'm lacking in grief for my mother, or undisturbed at her passing. I remind myself that she made choices, and that we honored those choices. I'll never forget about her, or cease to think of her, any more than I've forgotten or stopped thinking about my father.
As always, I'm sorry (in retrospect) for the absence of postings.
As you might imagine, I haven't been doing anything that blogworthy over the past few days.
Having undertaken to work with various organizations involved in making the necessary final arrangements for my mother, I've been lost in a wilderness of phone calls and emails from Rob Roy, at the funeral home, who just can't be as disorganized and incompetent as he seems to be.
I think I've gotten what we want (or, rather, what Mom wanted) communicated to him successfully. For the most part. One battle I did not win was over the obituary. I failed to persuade Rob Roy either that it mattered to me that punctuation was used correctly or that I prefer traditional spellings of words, regardless of the fact that his company makes up their own spellings sometimes.
I think succeeded in persuading him that all of those names I laboriously spelled for him over the phone should, inf act, be spelled that way.
At one point, the R.C. pointed out that no one is going to know or care that an obituary in a local paper isn't grammatically accurate or contains oddball spellings. Most of the people reading it won't know good punctuation from bad punctuation. At that point, I realized I was becoming obsessive and I gave the go-ahead for Rob Roy to do it his way.
The R.C. and I fly out on Sunday and may see a family member or two that evening, others who are flying in for the service. The service is on Monday morning--it will be short, with just a small gathering. Then a little necessary paperwork, and the R.C. and I fly back home on Monday evening.
Thanks to the L-i-K-S's assistance, I won't have to be returning to Joplin at any time. She's transported the rest of Mom's stuff to her own place. I'll need to plan to go back there in a couple of weeks to finish the sorting and ship back here anything I want personally or have volunteered to handle the disposal of.
That leaves only the house to be dealt with. Fortunately the L-i-K-S has a good Estate lawyer who is going to help us weed through the morass of paperwork and laws to find out: (1) if Mom had mortgage insurance, (2) if that contract/deed sale to her nephew is acceptable to the bank or if they'll be coming back to us for money if the nephew ceases making payments ten years from now, and (3) what this means in terms of winding up Mom's "estate" and filing final tax papers and suchlike.
I shudder to think how long it takes to do this stuff for anyone who has an estate, you know? Although, I guess anyone with a lot of money/stuff to leave would probably have been more conscientious about 'planning' in advance. (I'd also imagine that families with more money have to worry about this or that person getting weird over the money. Mom trusted that the four of us wouldn't go peculiar.)
We're peculiar, but not really about money.Posted by AnneZook at 08:29 AM | Comments (3)
The L-i-K-S called ato say that Mom passed away a little while ago.Posted by AnneZook at 07:12 AM | Comments (2)
So. This evening I make yet another attempt to get on a plane. This time the flight doesn't leave until evening, so I have no good excuse for being too groggy to make it onboard successfully.
I'll be back (late) Sunday evening.
Sorry for the slowdown in blogging recently. I figure that the number of entries anyone is willing to read that alternately describe my job search and fret about my mother's illness is pretty small.
In other news--I have no other news. I haven't been doing much this week. The two things mentioned above, plus some house-cleaning and laundry are about it.
Have a nice weekend!Posted by AnneZook at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)
To confess to something I've been laying low and hoping to avoid confessing to for the past 2-1/2 days, I actually did not fly out to K.C. at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning.
In fact, having been shipped a paper ticket for the first time in the last four or five years, I completely forgot that when you have a paper ticket, they won't let you get on the plane if you show up at the airport without it.
I've rescheduled the trip for next weekend and I'll try again. I won't be able to get to Joplin this time (I'm only there for two days) but I'll be going back before long and will add a couple of days for the Joplin leg of the trip that time.
Just picture me, after having rolled out of bed at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday and made the poor R.C. drive me to the airport at 5:00, standing at the ticket counter and being told that I am, in fact, too stupid to be allowed on an airplane.
It was such fun....
In the meantime, Mom isn't doing at all well and instead of the 1-2 years they originally suggested, it seems that we may be looking at a time-frame more like 1-2 weeks.
We suspect that her kidneys are already shutting down, she can barely take food, and she can't have any water because her throat muscles can't deal with the liquid and it makes her choke. Her medical directive is specific about refusing breathing/feeding tubes and other treatments that will prolong life without sustaining any quality of life--decisions I understand and agree with.
Sigh. This is not easy.
Posted by AnneZook at 04:47 PM
| Comments (3)
P.S. The company that was absolutely going to make a decision on Friday and notify all interviewees by the end of the day? Has not written. I suspect they weren't able to schedule all of the interviews as quickly as they wanted.
The interview seemed to go well, but I was the first person they interviewed, so we'll see. They might find someone who blows them away in the rest of the "handful" of applicants they've decided to interview.
The company is planning to make a decision quickly, by Friday and will send out e-mail notifications to all interviewees, including the lucky winner :) of the position. (I need to find a way to check my email on Friday!)
Other than that, I have a 7:00 a.m. flight out tomorrow. I'll be back online some time Monday or Tuesday, after I get home.
Take care of yourselves!Posted by AnneZook at 06:15 PM | Comments (2)
This is not a peaceful place to hang out during the day.
At precisely 8:10 a.m., the massive mowers started up, right outside our windows. Makes me cranky (although not as cranky as the days when they start at 7:00 a.m.)
Then, about an hour later, a guy was messing with the cable/internet box outside the building, setting up someone's access (I presume) and messed up our Comcast feed. We had to keep dashing out to the balcony for half an hour, watching for him to come back, then convince him that the internets were working before he did his thing and make him go back into the box and fix whatever it was he'd messed up.
The L-i-K-S called a couple of times, with updates about Mom.
The stupid screen door fell off again, about nine times (every time we went outdoors). (I wish that "special order" door would come in.) We couldn't just leave it off because there was a bee loitering around out there and I won't have bees inside the house.
A missed call on my cell phone (one of the times I was talking to the L-i-K-S ) turned out to have been someone wanting to talk to me about an interview.
Once the mowers moved out, the guys with the 2500-decibel, gasoline-powered trimmers moved in and you couldn't hear yourself think anywhere in the apartment.
A callback to the potential interview where I left a voicemail and then a moment of panic as I realize I left them my cell number and couldn't then use my cell to make the call to Mom I promised the L-i-K-S I'd make at precisely 11:30 MT. (The R.C. called her.)
And, eventually, a callback from the potential interview, which I took in my bedroom with the windows hermetically sealed to block out the landscaping noises.
Yeah, okay, no, it doesn't sound like a lot of turmoil for a 3 hour stretch of time, but the R.C.'s phone was ringing too, with some business of her own she was trying to get done and as she was trying to get her laundry finished, I was trying to do some job-hunting online, and it really was something of a zoo around here for a while, there.
Anyhow. Put this on your "to do" list. Wednesday, 1:00 MT. Interview! The usual good wishes and positive vibes would be appreciated.
The R.C. says, "let's play a game" and I say, "okay" because I'm good-natured that way, and she says, "what's your favorite book" and I don't like that game.
I don't have One and Only Favorite things. It depends, you know? My "favorite" food is whatever I've eaten recently that was particularly nice. My "favorite" color is whatever I happen to like at the moment. My "favorite" song depends on whether I'm in the mood for pop, rock, or classical at the moment. (But favorite composer would always be Mozart.) (Although I do get into Strauss or Verdi moods.)
I have some "Mosts," though.
Most overrated (and overwrought) composer--Wagner.
Most overrated author(s): In the "pop culture" category--Stephen King. In the "classics" category--James Joyce.
Most annoying neighbors: The people downstairs who bought a giant cardboard tub and for some reason spend a lot of time breaking glass into it.
I might, given a month or two to think about it, be able to choose a single "very favored" book in each genre I read in, but one, single favorite of all the books I've ever read? So not possible.
Anyhow. She pushes and finally I say maybe, Dandelion Wine because while I'm not sure if it's my favorite book ever it's certainly the one that appears most consistently in my Top Ten over the years.
But she doesn't like that book and, not having my selective memory of our childhood, has never understood why it's so seminal for me.
She says, "Pick a better book" which is just wrong. Cheating!
I am entitled to my own favorites, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.
Plants: This whole "garden" thing is very disappointing. I swear those stupid seeds aren't growing at all. Except for the
weeds sunflower seeds.
A little internet research has revealed that those of us wanting early summer blossoms should be starting our seeds indoors a couple of months in advance. Grrr. (You know, where I was raised, in Kansas? You stick a seed in the ground and jump back so it doesn't hit you as it stretches for the sky.)
The weekend hasn't been punctuated by any outstandingly interesting events. Friday, I did some laundry. Yesterday, I went shopping and got away with a total of under $20 for the entire day. (Go me!) Today I gave myself an at-home "spa day" with a pedicure, facial, hot-oil treatment for my hair, etc. Tomorrow I'm going to Target to buy some bath oil.
Some weeks are more interesting than others. The past week hasn't been a big one for me.
I've been thinking about holiday cards. (Yes, already. Because they're a "spare time" activity and I have lots of that right now.) (And also I'm back on the diet, fighting to lose 5-10 lbs, so I need activities to occupy my hands.)
Yes, of course, I'm still sending out resumes. To the complete indifference of the entire Denver metropolitan area, I might add.
I'm hitting another of those worrisome points where I'll be sending out resumes Mon-Wed this week, then flying out of town to a place where my Verizon phone gets lousy coverage Thur-Mon, so I won't be available to take calls or schedule interviews.
On the other hand it's always possible that this week's resumes will fall into the same black hole of apathy as the ones I sent out last week. Shrug.
I won't be taking the laptop this time. I'm told that the phone service at my Mom's trailer has been shut off, so I wouldn't be able to get online, even with the lame dial-up account. Also, I'm flying to Joplin for a day, going to K.C. for 2 days, then going back to Joplin for another overnight stay before I fly back to Denver, so my travel arrangements are already complicated enough.
I fully intend to have some adventures during my stint of unemployment. I must admit that electronic searching on job sites is a heckuvalot faster than old-style "mail your resume to this address" newspaper ads and consequently, even checking all four or five jobs sites twice a day, I have plenty of spare time.
I'm just not sure what adventures or when. I'd like to go to the museum (or, really, several of the many museums scattered around the Denver landscape), back to the Botanic Gardens when the roses are in bloom, back to the Chamberlin Observatory on a non-cloudy evening.
Having spent money I hadn't anticipated spending (on Unexpected Medical Bills and Unexpected Family Medical Emergencies), I'm trying to find Frugal Adventures. There are plenty of things you can do in Denver for $5 or less.
Mother Digression Hidden Below Cut (Those Uninterested Should Not Click)
Job-hunting teaches you so much about what other people don't know. Punctuation, grammar, proof-reading. Little things like that.
Sometimes you can figure out what they're trying to say. Sometimes you can't.
The following knowledge’s are required - Why do people abuse the poor apostrophe in this fashion?
Able to think consequentially - A job ad shouldn't read as though you used a thesaurus to compose it.
....a very employee-friendly work environment!! - The exclamation point was not born a twin.
This position is responsible for some calculations of products - I can't decide if this means they want you to go to the shelf and count what's there, then subtract what's been sold, or what?
Compensation: $35000 per month - I am all about getting this job!
Sometimes, I think that what companies really need is someone to write their job ads for them.
So. Three prospects today. I've bookmarked them and am creating cover letters at the moment. Nothing in the writing arena, so I might have a better chance at getting an interview for one of these. Office Manager, Product Development Coordinator, and Logistics Coordinator. I have a weird collection of skills (or "knowledge's") that fit into a lot of different job descriptions.
Otherwise, another day with not much planned. Grocery store. Laundry.
I'm going to a friend's house for dinner tonight. She also has an aging mother with health problems, so it's probably going to turn out to be a mutual support group kind of evening.
And now, if I don't want to spend the day looking like Howdy-Doody, I'd better go dry my hair.
(Mother-related digression below the cut)
The thing about being unemployed is that you tend to lose track of things like holidays. I mean, I just realized that there's no reason to think that any of the three companies I applied to this morning are actually doing business today.
This whole "writing sample" thing is becoming a nuisance, too. One of the jobs I was applying for this morning wasn't actually for a writer, and they still wanted a writing sample. I'm not sure why. (Maybe they're trying to screen out illiterates who paid a professional service to write their resumes and cover letters?) Anyhow, I wasted half an hour writing something I could attach to use as a writing sample and I have no idea if it will fulfill their needs or not. (I suspect that I've only proven that I know what a paragraph break is and that I abuse commas.)
I guess if I get desperate, I could be a phone sex person. There seem to be plenty of ads looking for "creative" women who can spin "fantasies" and who like to talk on the phone.
What's up with my life otherwise?
Well, the seedlings are--seedy. I swear none of them have grown a fraction of an inch in the last week and one of the forget-me-nots lost two of its six leaves. I can't figure out if I'm over-watering, under-watering, over-sunning, under-sunning, or what. Stupid plants.
In the arena of fun and frolic, the R.C. and I took ourselves out to the Chamberlin Observatory last Saturday evening. The R.C. heard tell that they were having an Open House and letting us mundanes come in and take a peek at Saturn through the Big Telescope for the modest fee of a buck a head, so we trotted out, wrinkled bills in hand, to take a peek at the rarely open historic building and the "20-inch aperture classic refractor telescope."
(I don't know why I got all folksy there, but I'm better now.)
The building was fascinating, especially up top, where the telescope is housed. We got to watch them rotate the dome and reposition the telescope. Several times. Sadly, billowing cloud cover prevented them from finding any astronomical bodies that anyone could actually look at, but it was 'way cool to watch them trying. Well worth a buck, we both agreed.
Checking the literature, we see that we can make reservations almost any Tuesday and/or Thursday evening and, for three dollars, get another chance to actually look at something. It's definitely on our list of Things To Do This Summer. (They do an Open House once a month, but we have a small hope that the extra two bucks a head will cut down on the hordes of shrieking children present.) (That's sour grapes on my part--every time we wondered aloud what this or that bright spot in the sky was, some eight year-old piped up to inform us that it was Saturn or Venus or whatever. Little know-it-alls.) (It's true, though, that the Tues-Thurs opportunities are limited to a dozen people a time, where the Open House evenings are for all comers. It would be nice to have the opportunity to look through the telescope for more than three seconds without the uneasy guilt of picturing a line of 50 people waiting impatiently for their turn.)
Yesterday, I did--pretty much nothing. A 30-minute walk to check a flower bed where some peonies should be bursting into flower any day now. A short conversation with my mother* on the phone where I confirmed that I'll be back out her direction in a week or so. A lot of reading.
I'm already thinking of holiday cards for the upcoming year. The R.C. pointed out that now, while I have a lot of time on my hands, might be a good time to start working on potential designs for cards for the fall. It's not a bad idea, even if I am seriously considering buying cards this year. I mean, why spend hours making cards when for $20 I can buy enough cards for everyone on my list and then come? The commercial ones are prettier, too.
Still. Pretending that I might make cards was a good reason for me to dig out the paper, paste, and scissors yesterday.** In fact, I amused myself for an hour reorganizing the box I keep paper and scraps in and digging around to figure out what bits and pieces I have that could be turned into cards. I even came up with one potential design.
And, speaking of digging, I did finally get around to pulling out the drawing supplies this past weekend. I spent some time on that, as well. Mostly flipping through the pages of old sketchbooks and admiring or condemning various drawings. If the amount of time I've spent thinking about drawing translated into practice, I'd be all limbered up and ready to produce something recognizable by now. (I seem to be using Harold Hill's Think System for learning to draw these days.) I was almost there, back when I was taking classes but of course daily practice helps a lot.
My teacher had a certain amount of contempt for creating shading and depth with pencil effects (See example), something I was reduced to learning out of a book when, in despair, I looked around the class and realized that everyone there was a thousand times more creative and experienced than I was.
You're supposed to do a lot with line, of course, but even though this was ostensibly a "beginning" drawing class, she didn't teach us about that. I'd like to use that as an excuse for why I'm unable to produce the desired effects when I try to sketch, but I know better.
Drawing is just like writing. Those who have genius do go farther, but no one goes anywhere without practice and anyone who practices regularly can achieve a certain minimum proficiency.
I need, for instance, to practice until I can achieve with pen-and-ink, the same 3D effects I learned to achieve with pencil. More than that, I need to learn to look at things, until I can see shapes and patterns. (You might wonder why someone so auditory took on a hobby so visual. I know I do.)
So. Plans for today include....
Well, I don't have many at the moment. I got up. Drank coffee. Did the job-hunt thing. Now I'm blogging. At some point I need to gas up my car. I intend to go out to lunch.
Life's pretty exciting in the Unemployment Lane these days.
* I hear she got all fired up Saturday and demanded that we all appear on her doorstep next weekend and help her wind up her affairs so she could check herself into a nursing home, but by the time I talked to her on Sunday, the mood (or the problem or whatever it was) had passed. From what she tells me, the disease is progressing faster than anticipated, but I won't believe that until I see her again. She's--not reliable on things like that.
** In Anne's World, you're never too old to play with paper and paste and scissors.
The sun is shining. (After the rainstorms we've been having, this is a blog-worthy event.) There's a promise of spring warmth in the air. It's gonna be a golden day.
In other news.... Well, not much is going on. The housecleaning desperately needs to be done. The laundry pile is growing. I'm trying to care.
Oh! And there's some kind of SGI* thing going on in the building.
When we were in the stairway yesterday, we noticed that back in the corner, behind the shopping cart someone stole from Whole Foods, there was a flat, white box of the Inexplicable Electronics variety.
In spite of the fact that the two cords or cables hanging from the box were connected to nothing, the box featured a number of glowing green lights of the UFO variety. It made no noise and seemed not to be labeled with anything that might explain its function or purpose on the floor of the stairwell. It just--sat there. Glowing.
Very suspicious, don't you think?
I have a credit card payment due on 6/17. The minimum (although I don't normally pay just the minimum) is $247.00. Wincing. Looks like those medical bill payments landed. Sigh. So. I have less than a month to get a job and get a paycheck. Or, you know, start selling body parts and/or personal belongings.
With only one recent interview under my belt and that company not planning to hire until 6/1, the odds don't look good. I wonder if it's time to hit Starbucks or someplace like that and get at least a part-time job?
I have no plans for today, unless the aforementioned household chores suddenly take possession of my brain. It's not easy to think of things to do that don't cost any money, you know?
(Speaking of Starbucks! The R.C. just returned from her morning walk and brought me a latte! Isn't she the just the greatest?)
I mean, I could happily wallow around the house, reading or practicing drawing, all day, every day, except that being that inert gives even me a headache after a couple of days. The weather hasn’t been nice enough to go walking just for the sake of getting out (although today looks promising) and I'm not a huge fan of walking just to be walking anyhow. I have no objection to walking in order to go somewhere, even if it's a couple of miles away. But just random walking isn't that amusing. (The R.C. is always up for a walk, because of her back problems, so I can make her go with me to talk to me I guess.)
But it's not fabulously interesting to look back on your day and think, "I went for a walk." Feels sort of geriatric, in fact.
Meghan asked me about a syndicated feed on the blog. It doesn't have one and I have no idea how to set one up. I know bloglines offers a feed using annezo.net/index.xml but she uses LiveJournal and I have no idea how to set up whatever kind of feed that site uses. (Let's face it--if it wasn't written by the people who designed the site for me, it doesn't exist.)
You know, I have the time, now, to stop and learn about stuff like that. I should do that, shouldn't I? Once you dive into software stuff, it's usually much simpler than you expect, to learn how to do things. (I'll get right on that, as soon as the R.C. agrees that it's fair for me to hog up the computer for six hours a day.)
I have thought of at least one "no money required" activity that I should undertake during this temporary hiatus from being a productive member of society. I really should get over to the storage unit and start cleaning things out. (Also? I could bring some of those boxes of books back to the apartment.... If I tried, I'm sure I could find room for another hundred or two.)
That's about it, at least for now. It's only 10:00 and I haven't done that much today.
Further bulletins on the SGI, the job-hunting process, and/or my daily activities as events warrant or as the mood strikes me.
(Web stats continue to bemuse me. You and I both know there aren't 70-80 people a month reading this blog, just as we know there aren't 300+ people reading Peevish every day. Why can't I get the "hit count" stats cleaned out of the spammers or whoever it is hitting the blogs?)
* SGI = Secret Government Installation
This is an abbreviation the R.C. and I have developed to describe any and all weird and/or inexplicable buildings, events, or occurrences we might encounter.
Thanks for the good wishes yesterday afternoon.
I'm not sure how the interview went. Generally during an interview, there's a magic moment, an instant when you can feel the interviewer's guard go down and you really start to bond with them. I didn't get that from yesterday's interview. I did very well with Lady #1, the one who handled the initial phone screening and who chatted with me about the position for a few minutes while we waited for Lady #2 to show up. Lady #2, when she appeared, wasn't quite as easy to read and I never really felt I was giving her the answers she wanted to hear. (That's important, since Lady #2 is the boss of the department in question.)
Oh, well. It was an interview, right? At least if someone likes your resume and cover letter enough to give you a call, you feel a little less like the unwanted tidal trash on the beach of life.
Today's catch wasn't big. Two writing jobs, though, which made me happy even just to apply for. (I'm so glad they changed the rule about ending sentences with prepositions.)
One was a tech writer position (thank you to my friend, Megan, who forwarded the link to me) that I probably won't get because I have no "official" tech writing experience, even though I've written half a dozen or more technical and user manuals.
Another ("Full Time Writer") I probably won't ever hear about again because I have no idea what to submit when someone requests "writing samples" with your resume. Also, that one was a "work from home" position for a company based in CA. I'm not sure I'm looking to spend my professional life home alone, but who knows? (The thought occurs that if I got a job like that, it could be done even in Missouri....)
A few days ago I also applied to a "Writer / Researcher / Editorial" ad. Candidates will be responsible for a multitude of research concerning various important historical figures, creating compelling non-fiction prose, while also assuring compliance with standard English usage and grammatical rules. No, you don't have to tell me I'm not qualified for that one, either. I know my grammar is appalling and my punctuation is erratic. (I could learn, you know. If I wanted to.)
Still. It makes me happy to apply for writing jobs. :) I like to fantasize that I could be a writer.
Got a call earlier this afternoon, and I have a job interview at 2:00 MT tomorrow.
Send a few good vibes my way, okay? :) Thanks!Posted by AnneZook at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)
Garden-wise, Monday was a huge success. Most of Denver's Botanic Gardens were in full bloom, making a tour through the winding paths on a warm, sunny day a sheer delight*.
It was a bonus to discover that Monday was one of the rare no-admission days**, a clear savings of $8.50! Beautiful and frugal! (Frugality is important to those of us who have thrown away perfectly good jobs just because our bosses were lunatics and we were disinclined to undertake a daily 80-mile round-trip commute for the pleasure of continuing to work with them.)
My baby digital camera has two settings, for either high- or low-resolution pictures. Up until now, I've always used the 'high' setting, thinking that any outing I undertook could probably be sufficiently documented with 20 pictures. For Monday's BG outing, I reset the camera to 'low', thinking that I might just want 80 pictures. I took 40, only three of which came out decently, so I don't really have anything in the way of really gorgeous photos to share.
The BG features Romantic, Herb, Victorian, Water, Monet, Montana, Japanese, and Rock Alpine Gardens, among other "themed" areas.
Making lavish use of micro-ecosystems (I think that's the term), every area, including in the amazing Tropical Conservatory, walking through each area was like entering a new and entirely separate garden.
On to the
Pansies are not only the easiest to photograph, they're the easiest to grow, so we saw bazillions of them all over the place (outside of the "themed" areas.)
Some of them were in unusual colors , including one bed full (and here I really regret not getting better shots) a bed of almost true black blossoms.
I have a weakness for irises and those were also sprinkled throughout the gardens. I've never seen "champagne" colored ones before.
Columbines abounded, in many colors.
I tried photographing one of the many 'water features' of the place, this one in the Monet Garden, but….
And, of course, there were tons of blooms I couldn't identify at all.
It doesn't show in the picture, but this gigantic plant, in the Tropical Conservatory, was probably twenty feet tall. The flower you can see blossoming in the center there was bigger than my hand.
It's too early in Denver for roses and either it's too early or we missed the Lilac Garden, so we're going to plan to go back later this summer.
Anyhow. That's the Public Gardening portion of the program.
More personally, my own little incipient balcony flower garden is--much the same. Flowerless. (Never again with the seeds. Next time I buy full-grown plants, already in flower!)
The sunflowers are growing like--well--weeds. Which, since they're practically a weed back in Kansas where I was born, surprises me not at all.
The marigold shoots are starting to take off although not yet developing that bushy aspect that leads to blossoms. Still. There must be fifteen or so potential plants among the five pots, so I feel fairly confident that at least a couple of them will eventually flower.
I think I have a second forget-me-not seed sprouting! I planted 20 or more seeds, so having a potential second plant developing is very exciting. This morning I ruthlessly destroyed a sunflower that seemed to be growing too closely to the new sprout. Time will tell whether or not these unexpectedly fragile little plants can be coaxed to thrive on my balcony.
There's a weird sort of thing on the leaves of most of my plants, although not on the R.C.'s, which is odd since they live on the same shelves. (We bought rolling shelves to keep them on.) A sort of brown speckling or something the R.C. refers to as "mange". I'm afraid I've been over-watering them. I'm going to try leaving them alone for the next two or three days and see if that cures the problem.
We've had to move them all indoors for a few days too, since temperatures dropped from the 80's down to the 60's in the day and 40 at night.
My bromeliad is surviving just fine since I bought it as an already-healthy plant. I don't see that it's grown much, but a bromeliad never seems to be growing until the day you realize you need a pot a yard wide to hold the fool thing. Anyhow, it and the begonia aren't really part of the garden. Not properly. They both have burgundy-colored leaves and I bought them as decorator plants for the bedroom. (I didn't even realize the begonia was a flowering plant until it flowered one day.)
I've been roaming around with my little camera taking a lot of flower pictures recently.
That's about all I had to say today.
* Not being a fan of bugs, big or otherwise, I paid no attention to the special Big Bugs Gigantic Eco-Sculptures exhibits. I've seen giant ants (in Them!), Praying Mantis's wig me out, spiders are just gross, etc. Ignoring twenty-foot representations of such infestations added, I think, largely to my enjoyment of the day.
** On the drawback side of the equation, well, it was a free day. Which means Denver's ubiquitous stroller-brigade was out in force.
Anything in Denver that doesn't cost money attracts hordes of women pushing strollers laden either with their yelling offspring or a selection of coats, purses, and hats (while the offspring run riot through the passing foot traffic).
What I think I object to most is the tendency of a significant percentage of these women to use said strollers as battering rams to force their way through crowds.
Also? The size of the strollers. Years back, a stroller was a thing designed to carry a child too small to walk any distance. It was a compact device, combining convenience with portability.
Today's strollers are the SUV versions. Extra buckets front, back, and sometimes side, make them handy for carrying your offspring, a week's worth of groceries, and probably the dog. A woman pushing one of these is a serious force in a crowd of pedestrians.
I'd like to make it clear that I am very fond of babies and even toddlers. (Of the non-yelling variety.) Nevertheless, I don't yield for strollers. Regardless of the amount of debris you've chosen to burden yourself with on today's outing, you're entitled to the same amount of space as anyone else--meaning 1/2, and no more, of the width of the sidewalk. And you're no more entitled to take your half out of the middle than anyone else is. Which means, not at all.
I guess it's fair to say I haven't been up to much since I got back to town. That and intermittent internet access problems have been keeping me offline. The Little Man came to fix the net access a day or so ago, though, and now we're back to our usual blazing-fast, incredibly reliable service and daily blog posting will be easy.
That doesn't mean I have anything to say.
Seedlings - All remaining growths seem to be surviving. A few even seem to be thriving. I'm embittered by the realization that the joy of growing your own plants from seeds has to be balanced by the frustration of having to wait months to see any flowers.
It looks like only one of those forget-me-not seeds actually sprouted and survived the first 30 days. The one seedling that's left is, very slowly, starting to show signs of progress.
The marigolds are looking sturdy, though. I think most of those are going to make it to the blossoming stage.
I really should have started these three months ago. At the rate they're going, it's going to be September before my little flower garden has flowers. If I had the money, I'd go out and buy a handful of already-flowering plants to add a little color to my balcony-based garden. Sigh.
Yarn-based pastimes - Largely all stalled. The mood has not been upon me recently. I ripped out two projects (one "completed" and one "in progress" to start them again because I didn't like what I'd done. I need to get back to them.
Maybe later today. I can knit while I watch the last two episodes of ReGenesis that I'm behind on. Or while I finish watching Veritas, a show that annoys me with its wasted potential and yet remains just good enough that I'm watching the DVDs and musing on What Might Have Been.
Drawing practice - An idea that's still in the conceptual stage. I'd like to spend some of this unexpected free time on drawing practice. Really, I would. But being unemployed is depressing and I can't write or draw or do anything very creative when I'm depressed.
So, the downer topics:
Job-hunting - The process continues. I send out resumes into oblivion. It's one thing to know that it always takes months to find a new job--it's quite another to be in the middle of the process so often, as I seem to have been for the last five years.
Mom - From what I'm told, she's gone into a bit of a tailspin since she got the 1-2 year diagnosis. I don't blame her and depression is one of the things to be expected when someone has received notice that they only have a year or two to live, and that the quality of their life is going to be going down until then, but it's worrying.
The R.C. was planning to make a trip down there before I went again, but I think I'm going to have to schedule a return visit fairly soon. I'm getting questions from the L-i-K-S and sometimes from Mom about the promised return visit. I don't know what I can do, even if I go. Mom needs someone to really discuss her finances with, someone to bully her into making a will, someone to start the process of vetting nursing homes, since she's going to need 24/7 care before the end, someone to arrange for her sister and b-i-l to get some kind of care stipend each month, etc., but my mom isn't amenable to discussing such things. I'm not really the Take Charge kind of person to do it, not in my own eyes, but--I'm the one who needs to do it. I'm the oldest, except for my brother and he's the least-suitable of all of us.
The weather is gorgeous and I've talked the R.C. into a visit to Denver's Botanic Garden tomorrow. I'm planning to take my little digital camera, so maybe I'll have pictures to post!
Fun-wise, I've gotten together with friends a few times in the last couple of weeks, mostly for conversation. While I enjoyed it, it doesn't make for interesting blog-fodder.
I've made it in and out of two bookstores without making a purchase. I was doing well with Frugal Living until Friday when I fell for a book at Tattered Cover LoDo. No, I didn't need a $16 anthology of the stories that inspired some of today's top SF authors to write themselves (The World Turned Upside Down), but I don't care. I wanted it, I've been reading it, and I've been falling in love all over again with some of my favorite Golden Age SF authors. I may have to go to storage and dig out some of those cartons of SF books I put away a few years ago.
Other than that, I've been re-reading Alexander Kent's Bolitho (naval) series. It's gotten me back into the mood for Napoleonic War era stories again, so I think I'll re-read Dudley Pope's Ramage series next. I'm finishing the last of Cornwall's Sharpe books and being happy that I went to the expense of buying them--it's a series I'm sure I'll read again.
And now I'm brooding on books in general. I don't particularly care for contemporary fiction, but a couple of friends are suggesting that we start our own knit-lit group (knitting and book discussion) and I'm a bit concerned. I'm scanning my bookshelves and wondering if there's anything I read that they'd enjoy, wondering what they, themselves, read when no one is looking, and wondering if I'd have anything to say in a book discussion group anyhow. Sure, I've read 50,000 books in my life, but outside of a classroom, I don't think I've ever done any organized discussion.
I mean, yes, they're friends, so I don't have to worry that either of them will throw offf the mask and stand revealed as a Harlequin fan or anything, but not reading sloppy romances still leaves a lot of book territory.
The R.C. likes biographies, for instance. I'm not a big fan, so I probably couldn't "discuss" a biography. (Just by way of example. She's not one of the people talking about starting the group, although she's welcome to come along.) I mean, you can't read just one, right? If you actually care about what a person's life was like, you have to read from a dozen sources to evaluate how accurate the biography is and to fill in the gaps and stuff. Sounds like a lot of work.
I like mysteries and SF/F, but I read very little that's contemporary. As the aforementioned anthology suggests, I have a fondness for Golden Age stories, in both genres.
I read some nonfiction, but usually writing-related or history stuff. Or mythology. Or, very rarely these days, philosophy.
It's very worrying. What if they hate everything I like?
Yes, I made it back from Missouri last week with no problems. Intermittent internet access combined with a run of gorgeous weather means I haven't been spending much time at the computer.
Mom got stronger and feeling better every day while I was there, which was very reassuring. On the other hand, and in the less than good news category, the prognosis is 1-2 years.
Yarn stuff: Haven't been making progress.
Seeds stuff: Most of the seeds I planted have sprouted but they seem disinclined to actually grow big enough to develop flowers. |-( Maybe I'm not being patient enough....
Job stuff: Many resumes sent, no reaction from the business world yet. These things take time. Maybe i'm not being patient enough....
Drawing stuff: Having wasted much of this week in ways that wind up merely passing the time and not using it, I've decided to start spending at least an hour a day on sketching practice.
More soon, I promise.Posted by AnneZook at 07:45 PM | Comments (2)
My return to civilization draws nigh. In the meantime, the rest of the trip has gone reasonably well. Especially when you consider I've spent the last six days (about ten hours a day) with people I don't particularly like and who don't particularly like me (my mother excepted, of course).
I wouldn't say we've all been on our "good behavior" since these aren't people who think "good behavior" should be wasted on family, but we've all remained reasonably civil.
I've dodged a few bullets and let pass, with an absent smile, several remarks that, in other times, could have been the foundation for a major family feud. I've accepted being characterized as a superficial, shallow, homeless ("an apartment is not a home") old maid with no feeling for the importance of history and heritage but living large on the abundance of my ridiculously large salary. Among, you know, other remarks that I didn't bother to remember.
Anyhow. Everyone seems to be settling into a routine with Mom still getting just a bit better every day. There are some things to work out around finances and getting occasional "relief" help for Billy Jo and Billy Bob, but that will come with time. Right now, I'm planning to make another (shorter) trip back out here in six weeks or so to see how it's all shaking down and to make sure this arrangement is still working for Mom for the foreseeable future.
She's still having visits from physical therapists and occupational therapists and a "bath lady), each twice a week, but those services are due to run out in another week or so. (It's something the hospital here provides as part of the service for four weeks after release for seriously ill patients.) If she continues to need such assistance (especially for personal care), we can arrange to hire someone to come out two or three times a week.
I looked into changing the date of my return flight, so I could be here for the Big Appointment next Wednesday, when she's supposed to get a lot of information about what to expect, disease progression, services available, etc., but the tab was $670 , which felt a bit steep for an unemployed person whose credit card is already starting to smoke a bit. I'm going to call them next Wednesday evening and find out what the specialists had to say.
Today went quietly. No "company" but me (and the occupational therapy lady and the bath lady), and everyone seemed relaxed and ready for a quiet period of adjustment. We ate lunch (Campbell's beef & vegetable soup and spam sandwiches on white bread and would it be rude to say that I dream about decent, reasonably healthy food?) ("Trapped in Missouri--send sushi!") and then picked up the mail.
The bulk of the afternoon was spent reading sale flyers and catalogs. (For anyone feeling a need, Goat Ration is on sale at $9.95 for a 40 lb bag. Bull gates, squeeze chutes, and assorted straight ducks are also available at bargain prices.)
For one reason and another, the afternoon's conversation touched upon such rarified topics as the VietNam War, foot fetishes, the school system twenty years ago, neocon scariness*,and furries.
Eventually the excitement of this palled on me and I returned to Mom's trailer to work on tidying up. I'm stripping all the beds and washing all of the towels and sheets and whatnot, cleaning the perishable foods out of the cupboards and refrigerator, and doing some of the other things that have to be done to prepare a house to be largely uninhabited for the foreseeable future. Cleaning and stuff. Also. Packing. (I'm going home!)
I may go back there for another short visit this evening. Depends on how the cleaning and tidying go.
Mostly? I want to sleep in my own bed, wash in my own shower, ready my own books, sit in my own chair, and be able to reach more than one store (grocery or otherwise) without an hour-long drive.
* This bunch, as dirt-poor borderline southerners, were rabidly Republican thirty or so years ago. They ranted about "government handouts" for old people who hadn't had the sense to save for their retirement, wanted more money spent in schools where their kids were being educated, and yet were mostly in favor of small government with everyone fending for themselves because they had a rooted hatred of the "welfare state", a thing they complained about a lot without actually having any understanding of what a "welfare state" really looked like.
Now that they're old and getting infirm, they're incensed about the lack of social and government programs to help the elderly, the ill, and the poor. They're furious about the amount of money spent on schools, considering that schools and kids have too many programs devoted to them.
And they're still for "small government" and still harbor a lot of anger about the "welfare state" although they have family members who are certifiable (and a few certified) who wouldn't be able to feed and clothe themselves without their social security mental disability payments.
Things I wouldn't have expected to hear 30 years ago?
They loath Bush Junior and all of his cronies and colleagues (although they're so poorly educated that they refuse to believe that the "West" has now or ever has had anything to do with the development of the current situation in the Middle East) and are adamant in their hatred for "Republicans" (by which they mean the current crop of neo-cons).
Things I heard 30 years ago and heard again today? They're all for "state's rights" and they have no more idea what that means now than they had three decades ago.
A meeting of the minds was achieved with the agreement that the money being sent over to use for killing people in Iraq could have been spent here in the USofA to 5000% greater advantage. (They refused to accept that the USofA has now or has ever had any responsibility for the situation in the Middle East.) And they bitched about the high price of gasoline.