Ponder this:

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve razzle dazzle

Go away.
Come back at midnight and

click below!

Happy New Year!

Thanks to Northview Dairy for the link!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I won! I won!

I won Shreve's caption contest at The Daily Coyote!  ...and my prize is an Eagle Feather Artemis necklace! Look at this thing! It's huge! 
Very exciting!

Artemis is the Greek goddess of forests and hills, goddess of the hunt. This necklace is imbued with her strength and purity, connecting you with the earth, helping you find whatever it is you seek.

This necklace is made from a 4.25" length of naturally shed elk antler, which hangs from a dark brown leather thong. MC has adorned the antler with a single, stunning eagle feather. 
. . .
100% Natural
100% Eco-Friendly
100% Cruelty-Free
. . .
Elk grow a new set of antlers each summer, and each spring, they drop naturally. I go out on my horse and sometimes I'm lucky enough to spot one in the sagebrush.

If any of you aren't familiar with The Daily Coyote, I highly recommend it for a daily dose of natural beauty, the story of Charlie the rescued coyote, and his household.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Revisiting childhood storytimes

When I was very little we had many many story books, from which my mother would read to us at bedtime, or whenever we could coerce her into it.  There are a few stories from those books that have remained in my memory.

One is the story of the talking lollipop.  Another is the story of the sad neglected evergreen tree.  I have eBayed my way into ownership of the book containing those two tales.  As I read the former, it seems to me that it could never be published now, since to those who would see filth and danger to children everywhere, it would smack of pedophilia. Imagine . . . in those days it was just an innocent story. I don't think I was harmed by it.

The third story, which I had hoped was in this book, but is not, is about white holly berries jumping onto the smooth holly leaves and sledding down snowy hills ("Wheeeeeeeeeee!") until the leaves were all bent and prickly and the berries turned red from the cold.
...and that's why holly looks the way it does.
I'm still on the hunt for that one.

I have found, too, a book of Japanese Fairy Tales, published in 1905, to replace the copy we had [that probably burned up in the fire my crazy aunt started]. The illustrations are what I most recalled about the book, and I have only the vaguest recollection of the stories themselves.
I should probably read them now that I once again have the book in my possession.
There are images of the cover and pages in this post at Future Momo Jewelry.

Adogtion: It's a disease

Those of us with addictive personalities know that we might achieve remission of one addiction only to find Compulsion popping up in another area. I'm no longer even slightly inclined toward alcohol, thank God. But there are so many places where addiction can pop up:  eBay, food, and nearly impossible to resist, petfinder.com....

All my life I was a cat person. Cats suited me. They would cuddle and when it would be time for me to get up and do something else, they had several other attractive options to which they truly wished to attend. Dogs were nice but all that nonstop emotional exchange was distasteful to me. And then we got our first dog, a mini poodle. He and I bonded into One Being and eleven years later when he died I thought I would drown in my tears. It happened that the evening of the day of the dog's demise we attended a wake for an acquaintance and I was such a puff-eyed, swollen-faced mess that the bereaved were comforting me. Six dogless months passed and two mini poodles joined the perfect feline in our household. That was more than thirteen years ago. We've had a couple of real dogs, wonderful dogs, during the poodles' tenure, and each of them died too young. 

I have always been the caretaker, the cleaner-upper, the one to cart the animals to the groomer and to the vet for everything from well-scheduled vaccinations to the odd, "...well, I don't know....she just doesn't seem .....right." I have been the Minister of Medicine, pilling them in any way it could be accomplished, squirting liquid stuff into ears and other orifices, gathering samples to be carried off in labeled containers for analysis.  I have spent years of my life doing that stuff and I have lost yet more years of my life in worry over these animals.

Long ago we vowed never to get a dog from anywhere other than a shelter or a rescue organization. We have promised ourselves not to again add a third dog to this pack, and we are far past the stage where we want to deal with raising a puppy. I have sworn never to be another dog's sole parent. I have told Husband, "The next dog will be your dog. You will feed it, you will vet it, you will clean up after it, you will wait up until the appropriate late hour for Last Time Out."

Husband has always loved German shorthaired pointers. Last weekend some friends stopped by with their eight-week-old GSP baby girl. Within minutes of their arrival I had her in my arms, her muzzle cuddled in my neck, and then curled sound asleep on my lap. I played with her feet and her ears. I adored her puckery little lips and her soulful hazel eyes.

Here I am, awake in the middle of the night, browsing through petfinder and admiring beseeching please love me hound eyes. Hound? Could anything be further from a cat? (Well, yes, in fact. A mini poodle.) The only thing that's keeping my heart in my chest is that all of the GSPs I see are far away and their blurbs indicate that adoption out of the area is not an option.
Thank God.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, my friends

We have underdone ourselves this year. 
In previous years we have foregone the tree, but I would get out a fabric snowman for the coffee table and put a big wreath on the six-foot-square upstairs window.  This year the decor looks the same as it did in August except that the screenporch plants are inside.

Husband and I haven't given each other Christmas gifts in years. We need and want nothing more of robes, jewelry, books...  We have no children, no grandchildren, so the only gifts I bought and wrapped this year were for a couple of friends and for my coworkers. For one coworker, who recently won an award for her original gingerbread man needlework design, a gold-sparkly gingerbread man tree ornament.

For Afternoon Boss, who among many other talents is an artist, a calligraphy pen set.

Last fall, Morning Boss asked me what to do with the sage she had grown, and I found, while browsing on eBay, a book about growing, harvesting and cooking with herbs.  Aha!  With perfect timing, it arrived in the mail on the 23rd.

It was with pleasure and a tickle of excitement that I wrapped these little gifts for delivery yesterday morning, the Christmas Eve half-day of work.

Of the three only Afternoon Boss and I opened our gifts together.  He loved his gift and will use it in his art.
Needlework Woman, who loves Christmas, and who will begin tomorrow counting down the days to next Christmas, happily accepted her little package and she and I and Afternoon Boss went off to Morning Boss's desk. As we approached I sang, "We three kings or Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse afar..." and we each placed our gifts on her desk blotter.

Morning Boss looked at me unsmiling. "I didn't get you anything."  
"I don't care. It doesn't matter."
"You said you didn't want to exchange this year!" 
I had said that, because I didn't want to obsess, as I knew I would, if I had had to choose a gift for her exacting self.  And I didn't want to add to her stress by adding "gift for June" to her list of Things I Must Do. I think I'm enough of a chore for her every day.  I hope that when she unwraps the book, she will see how minor a gift it is and will let the competition guilt drop away.

I didn't go looking for those gifts. If I had, I would not have had the pleasure of chancing upon them.  

Today our usual holiday gang will gather for Christmas dinner. R and E, who originally planned to spend the day with R's family, changed their minds and will be here, and BonBon baked and will bring a pie, since she doesn't like our traditional household Christmas dessert of crème brulée.  

Our group will be happy to be together today. If gifts are exchanged they will be small things. Our gift to each other will be our good fellowship.  It is said that friends are the family you choose. But you don't go looking for them, sweating, madly scouting through the hordes of humanity for them. 
You happen upon them...
...like The Perfect Gift.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Last night I read a Vanity Fair article about the code, the lives, and the decline, at the hands of wicked stepmothers, of the landed European aristocracy.  It's difficult for me to feel sorry for them over the selling off of Holbeins and other chattels.  What truly enthralls me every time I get started on this train of thought are the images of the historic stone piles. Not their size, although the idea of a home with more than two hundred rooms boggles my mind. It's the age of the things that quickens my breath. Seven hundred years ago, people were living their day-to-day lives in these places. Places that have been reduced to mere single walls standing...in those places, people had headaches, petted cats, hummed as they worked, admired colors. Life went on in those places.
I know it's my American perspective that makes all this seem so exotic.  Europeans are accustomed to the immense age of their surroundings. 

One of the places mentioned in the article is Cawdor Castle. It's grand and the grounds are beautiful, but just look at the walls and the dearth of openings in those walls. Think of the drafts blowing through.  Think of standing in one of those rooms, looking out one of those openings. What would you see? What would you be thinking of? ...hoping for?
Cawdor Castle
Think of the servants fixing meals in Cawdor's kitchen.  Smaller than I would have expected, but there wasn't a lot of need for storage of blenders and pasta makers.  It must have been one of the warmer rooms.  Look at the curved ceiling. Somebody's hands made that ceiling.  Maybe he was hungry, thinking about lunch, while he worked. Maybe he was worried about a sick child at home.

If I had been alive in those days, I would have been fortunate to have had a dwelling as rich and solid as this cottage (image from Thistle's Scotland).  How dark, damp it was, smelling of wet wool and smoke and bodies.  I suppose they hardly noticed.
Picture of cottage

14th Century Dacre Castle is available for rent   The interior photos make my heart beat faster, despite some obvious modern improvements. Think of the centuries of hands that have touched the walls of this spiral stairway....
Dacre Castle

...which brings to mind Frederic William Burton's
Meeting on the Turret Stairs, Fredrick Burton

If I could travel in time, I would go back seven or eight hundred years so I could feel the places in their newness. I would hear the sounds of feet on stone floors, watch [and no doubt, be one of] the common folk at their backbreaking chores, trying to stay warm, living their lives. 
I'm sure I'd be glad to come back, but I have a feeling that that life would feel faintly familiar to me.

Wouldn't it be nice if the font were a uniform size in any of my posts?

In my Real Life I am Donna Reed

I was born early in the fifth decade of the last century and for much of my life, I held on to the illusion of life as I had grown up imagining it would be. I would keep house as a career and have afternoon Tupperware and Sarah Coventry parties where I would serve crustless half sandwiches and molded gelatin salads to other housewives.  I would vacuum the house wearing powder and lipstick and shirtwaist dresses. There would be mashed potatoes every evening at six o'clock with a pineapple-baked ham or pot roast.  My short stint in college was wasted on me. Why work for four years toward a teaching degree when I already had my groom lined up?  I did not go enthusiastically into Womens Liberation; it was thrust upon me.  My groom married somebody else, I quit college (I never really wanted to teach anyway) and got a job to tide me over until the life that I was supposed to be living would begin. Sometimes I think I'm still working and waiting for my Real Life to begin.

More than ten years now at my place of employment, the longest I've worked in one place except when I was waitressing.  In the last couple of years I have been the birdie in a political badminton game. The newly-elected administration of Small Pond, far more able than I had expected and feared, seems inclined to make changes that might improve my working life. Afternoon Job has been relocated to a different area of the building, far from my back door field view, but it's a comfortable location. I have the promise of returning to Afternoon Job full time at some future point, leaving Morning Job to some person with excellent eyesight and knowledge of the difference between a credit and a debit. There would be an end to deciphering numerals in tooth-fairy-size print on sheets of paper covered with basmati rice-sized boxes. 

If I were sure I could trust that Afternoon Job would once again be my Whole Job I would not be considering yet more change, but that possibility is down the road a good bit and subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous egos.  In Small Pond one really can't predict the future. One sweep of a large fish's fin in this eyedropperful of water and the surface tension can break, discharging a miasma of anxiety and bewilderment into the working atmosphere.  And so, last week I polished up my resume and tailored a cover letter for a different employer. 
I sent out the resume last Friday. I had hemmed and hawed and wasn't going to send it and was going to send it.  And finally decided that just sending out a resume doesn't mean I'm bound to go to new employment. The possible outcomes are:  I will receive a job offer for the same or more money and I might use it as leverage to speed up the "back to fulltime Afternoon Job" process (probably wouldn't work . . . they'd let me go);  I will receive a job offer for less money and I'll get happy about where I am (most likely); I will receive no response; if the recipient of my resume calls and I've changed my mind, I can say, "Please disregard." 
I have nothing to lose.

It isn't my Real Life anyway.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Brides in 1957 and 1958, it seems, all wore off-the-shoulder gowns, bodices fitted, skirts full. Princesses with Miss America smiles, entering to Wagner, exiting to Mendelssohn, they were photographed posed on the altar, the trains of their gowns fanned in swirling display around their invisible feet, none of their attendants more beautiful than they. Or they were photographed with their proud but decidedly second-fiddle grooms as they prepared to enter the black limousine that would sweep them off to their wedding receptions where strict protocol of the order of dances (first dance, mother/son, father/daughter) and eloquent toasts made a marker of the day.

I did not have that kind of wedding.  We were married in a church and I wore a knee-length cream-colored dress. No Lohengrin, no Mendelssohn, no father's arm guiding me down the aisle. My groom and I spoke traditional Protestant vows and the five of us in attendance dined afterward, but there was very little regal formality about the day. I'm not sure if I felt less married than if I had had the whole dog-and-pony show. I might have. I'll never know.

I recently attended a wedding. The Bridal Chorus began to play and the bride, gowned in voluminous cream satin, began hesitation-stepping across the lawn. As she reached the back row of standing guests, she stopped, closed her eyes, shook her head, sneering in dismissal. The music stopped. A moment passed during which the thought swept over us all that she was about to call off the wedding.

"I'm Too Sexy" began to play, she gave a large nod of smiling satisfaction, and sashayed to the arbor altar.
The cleric was the groom's brother, who'd received his ordination online.
The bride's sentimentally tearful personalized vow closed with, "...and you're the sexiest bitch I've ever known."  Before the groom delivered his vow, he observed, "that dress is gonna look beautiful on the floor."

Some people might have been scandalized; I was bemused.
This latest wedding was about the same number of degrees less formal than mine, as mine was from those fairytale weddings.
Was it more fun?  Is a wedding supposed to be fun?
In the end none of that matters.
The Day does not a marriage make.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Restaurant stories

I loved working with Sue. We were gaited the same way and we operated as one waitress.  The value of a team player is physically measurable in restaurant work.  Sue was funny, too.
A horrendously busy weekday lunch: some local event that no one had foreseen had people lined up at the door, and only the two of us on.
The cooks were prepping as they cooked. Sue and I were both flat out. A madhouse.
She and I muttering to each other:
"Is that your order up or mine?" 
"Oh, who the hell knows. You take it. I need to clear C7."
The very same day that the owner came in to observe.
Sue and I, sweating and cursing without moving our lips, couldn't help erupting into giggles every time we passed each other.
After a half hour of the owner watching us from the back diningroom, he called us both back to speak with him. We were hoping he'd fire us and let us go the hell home. Instead he told us how great a job we were doing, "...and you're still smiling!"
He dismissed us and we ran back to our tables to catch up the five lost minutes, laughing even harder that he had mistaken our near-hysteria for professional cordiality.

One dinner hour Sue, then five months pregnant, joined me in the waitstation, laughing breathlessly, her entire face bright rose pink.  She'd seen a stray napkin on the floor of the diningroom and had squatted down to pick it up. I gather it is the nature of pregnancy that a mother-to-be can do a thing one day and the next day have gained the ounce that makes that thing impossible: she couldn't get up. Squatting with the retrieved napkin in her hand, she slowly, gently tipped against a diner's knee. And stayed there, leaning against his leg, unable to right herself. Without a word passing, the knee chivalrously tipped her away, and she pushed herself upright.

Debbie was so pretty. And such a good worker. Reliably professional, kind, smiley.
Another crazy lunch hour. Filling ice, clearing tables, running dishes to the back, greeting people, waiting with bated breath, feeling the eyes of the waiting line while Loving Mom elicits from her four-year-old darling his preference today of the five different soft drinks available. Finally, finally, Debbie was able to get to a table that had been waiting a little longer than they might have been under other conditions.
"You're slow!" the woman customer exclaimed to Debbie.
"You're fat!" retorted Debbie, aghast at herself even as the words left her lips.
She got the order and hustled back into the waitstation before she started to laugh so hard she could hardly tell me the story.

Friday night busy.  Four or five of us on. An off-duty waitress, Donna, came in with her family, and sat at Chastain's table.  Chastain came to me after a while with a carryout container in her hands. "Here. Take a bite out of this. It's Donna's."
"I'm not doing that!" I said.
"No! It's Donna's. She'll get home and see it and think it's funny."
We went back and forth for as long as we had...probably ten seconds...and finally I bit into the leftover half sandwich in the container and put it back.
During closing, Chastain said to me, "You know that sandwich that you bit into? It wasn't Donna's. It was that  [malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman] that's always here on Fridays."

We had a pretty limited menu at the place. Most people came in knowing what they wanted, we got it for them and they left.  Every now and then somebody would ask for some small out of the ordinary thing. People who didn't eat pork would ask that the cook use a different knife when he prepared their food, or people from other countries would ask for "Glass vatter pleze, no ize." 
I can't recall what it was, but I remember an upper-crusty type who wanted one of the regular items prepared in a way  that was way out of the league of restaurants to which ours belonged. When I tried to explain to him the limitations of the kitchen, he retorted, disgusted, "Well! I should think they'd be able to do that. This isn't the Ritz, after all."

I own a book entitled Waiting: the true confessions of a waitress, by Debra Ginsburg. I identify with nearly every story she tells.  One of the chapters is entitled, "I am your waitress," in which she writes about customers who don't recognize the waitress as a person when they see her out in the real world.  
Being a waitress is acting. Put on the uniform: become a clothed smiling mirror.

Every waitress develops her regulars whose orders she can give the kitchen as she sees them approaching the door.  She and those customers share a little intersecting piece of their days and enjoy what seems to be a friendship. But isn't, really.  Some customers make the mistake of thinking the waitress, as she is in uniform, is as she is in her real life. I let it happen to me only once. A woman with whom I had interesting, if short, conversations during her lunch, invited me to a Celtic festival, to see a particular singer. She had a little crush on him because of his brogue, I think. We had a bit of trouble finding him, and she was disappointed. "He is such a spiritual man!"  When we were about to give up we happened across him and listened for a half hour or so. She kept looking over and smiling in confirmation: "Isn't he wonderful?" He sang the songs you'd expect: Danny Boy, Greensleeves...  He rollicked into The Scotsman's Kilt, and at the punchline, I shouted with laughter and my customer's jaw dropped. She turned away in embarrassed shock. As we hustled to the exit, she harrumphed that she had thought he was "such a good Christian!"
I think I probably swore once or twice while we were on our outing and not only did she not invite me anywhere else again (for which I remain, to this day, grateful) but she stopped coming in for lunch.
She was one of those people who think that performers are their performances. 

Editing to add: There's that tiny font again! Sorry.

Winter thrill ride

Last week there was a snowstorm.

Unlike last year, I was prepared, my studded tires applied in the nick of time. I set out for work confidently and a little early, to give myself time to reawaken my winter driving skills.  I hadn't foreseen that the road crews had all slept late, leaving all the roads as God and Mother Nature had modified them.

Down the little one-lane hill road I went cautiously. At the bottom of the road there is a sharp drop where dirt road meets state route. I slowed far in advance, and still slid halfway out across the road. Fortunately, no traffic from either direction.
So. This is good. Now I know just what I have to deal with: Purely treacherous roads.

Slowly, slowly, twenty on fifty-five-mile-per-hour roads, with the occasional floaty feeling that means complete loss of traction, I made it to the interstate. The stretch that I travel of this particular interstate highway is known and respected for its exposure to winter winds and resulting ice.  There was no wind that morning, and as I left the exit I was pleased to see that I was the only westward traveler in view. I trundled down the highway, feeling ice ridges under my tires.  After a while, a few vehicles caught up with me. Most stayed well back.  A tanker truck passed me on the way down a hill, and as it passed, I enviously eyed its confident forward momentum.

Between my entrance and my exit the interstate goes through three or four climates due to the changes in elevation.  At the highest point of my route, the guide rails have been breached and mended many times.  There the highway overlooks, to the north, and four hundred feet below, the two-lane state route that could have been my alternate route.  It also overlooks a yellow house where I imagine, on bad road days, the residents might sit at their kitchen table and watch vehicles rolling one after another down into their back yard. It is a landmark: "The yellow house where the cars roll down." I might have smiled to myself as I passed that point without mishap.

My exit is at the top of a long hill. The tanker that had passed me was still in sight and I saw its bulk sway over to the right shoulder, tires caught in snow and icy ruts. I made a mental note to avoid those ruts. They grabbed me despite my preparation.  I was careful to maintain my breathtaking thirty-five miles per hour. I emerged from the ruts. To my surprise, then, my car began a graceful and balletic sliding loop to my left. I watched through the windshield and the side windows as the world turned around me.

As always in such circumstances, time slowed.  Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, I had plenty of time to look about me and to wonder what was going to happen next. I noted that oncoming cars were far enough away that collision was unlikely, and I had enough time to think, "Finally, after all these years, today I will be be one of those poor slobs whose cars sit in the valley of the median while other commuters pass and smugly wonder what happened to get it there."

The car stopped looping and began a straight rearward glide south toward the edge of the road. Then I could apply my brakes, and was satisfied to feel the studs digging in. I stopped, still on the road and facing due north. The whole three-quarter loop took, perhaps, four seconds.

A small white car that had been following me had stopped, staying out of harm's way.  I looked out the passenger side window at the driver to see if she would go past but she remained where she was, waiting for me to sort myself out. I gently touched the gas pedal and resumed my controlled-slide commute.

Nobody at work had expected the weather to be as bad as it turned out to be. Morning Boss said, "I'm not sure we should be here at all."
"Well I'm not goin' home!" I cried.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Freedom on the hoof

Yesterday afternoon, I stepped out the back door at work to take a moment. The rear of the building is surrounded by hayfields.
Some movement caught my eye: a big doe running and leaping down the snowy hill toward the two-lane county road. She had a good distance to go before she got there, but I worried for her until I saw her, a few minutes later, alternately walking and trotting back up toward the woods.
I had heard no sound that might have startled her; I was far far away, and quiet, so I doubt that I was the cause of her flight.  I think it's still hunting season but I feel sure that she wasn't pursued by hunters or I would have seen her drop out there in the huge open field.

Photo of white-tailed deer doe in the snow
Photo of white-tail deer doe in snow from: Nature of New England

Maybe she was just enjoying her day.
She certainly improved mine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I want to move to Tennessee

I spent some time today online looking at Tennessee rural real estate ads.  I've never been there, even for a visit, so I don't know one county from another, or what cities to search in, but it's a little dream I indulge every now and then.  If I stay in this state I will never retire; the state and county taxes would render life as I know it extinct.  Tennessee seems a lot more economical.  And Tennessee scenery looks a lot like what I see here; that's important.  It's the same mountain chain, just farther south.


A few years ago there were some contractors from Tennessee  working on the local WalMart.  During our conversations in my office, one of them told me about his home in Dickson County.  He's the one who started this idea rolling around in my head, by telling me that he had all four seasons, but winter lasted only from late November through about February. I like my seasons, but I don't enjoy living with winter until late April. I'm afraid one of these winters I'll just grow roots into my couch and never be able to move again.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sweet Relief of Saturday

The quote for today in that little gadget up there is: "Change before you have to." I'm putting it into the body of this post because, automatically generated, tomorrow's will be different.  Since that Jack Welch quote piqued my interest, I checked out some others of his, and read a short bio. Brilliant man, captain of capitalism and industry, tough businessman, big deal in General Electric. His function was to increase industrial productivity, and that's reflected in many of his quotes. His brilliance acknowledges the human element as well.

Change before you have to.
Well, I'd like to, but I don't think I'm capable of that kind of self-discipline. I fight change with every fiber of my physical and mental being, until I am crushed against the wall of impossibility of escape or avoidance. I fold, and at last crumpled boneless, find that the wall is not solid stone, but ocean water through which I can pass buoyed by its mass. Maybe what's called for is not, in fact, self-discipline, but an easier go-with-the-flow attitude. Sometimes I have that and sometimes I don't.  I know from whence my resistance comes and it doesn't matter. It just is.  I dislike hearing people say, "That's just the way I am," but in this, it is the way I am. I expect never to be otherwise without determined application of tools, coping skills, that are not thoroughly ingrained.

I clawed my way through this last week, climbing the sheer rock face of a mountain on which I could neither stop nor descend, but only progress upward or sideways at whatever pace I could manage.

I go to drop off my jacket in the Afternoon Office and find it in complete upheaval. The department will be moved to a different room by 12/15; the Power That Be has begun moving out my files to the new location, and has moved everything that is left to different and oddly angled positions. The coat rack is gone. I leave my jacket on the back of my Afternoon Desk Chair and return to the Morning Office.
End of the month stuff. Every total must match. Fearsome.
My every total does not match; I need help to find my mistake of a transposition of numbers.
In addition, two payrolls to do, one regular, one hitherto unexperienced end-of-fiscal-year payroll process. I overlook two employees' special payments and thereby turn the two payrolls into three. Rattled by that failure, and aware of the clock edging toward the end of my time to complete my tasks, I hurry through the regular payroll and create a one cent deficit. Hours of time invested in checking figures, checking figures, and failing to find the penny. All the while my heart pounding and my thoughts scattering, reading numbers (in size 2 font) that aren't there.
Morning Boss asks if I am upset over the Afternoon Office upheaval or if it's something else.
Jack Welch: "Be candid with everyone."
"I'm less upset than I am terrified," I tell her.

Still checking those payroll numbers in the morning, complete ongoing upheaval in the Afternoon Office. So much has been moved that the room echoes.  Unable to get enough of a grip on myself to adequately perform the Morning Job, and deprived of the tools I need to do the Afternoon Job, I slip into a vortex of frustration and fear, exchange words with the Afternoon Boss. Morning Boss calls, reminds me I've forgotten to do a monthly billing. Toes dragging, tears welling, I return to the Morning Office and mindlessly follow written instructions to do the neglected billing. Peripheral coworker asks if I want her to stuff the envelopes for me. "No. I need to do something I know how to do. I know how to fold paper and stuff envelopes."

Morning Boss finds the penny, on which I had not yet quite given up.
"Show me!" I cry. "What did I do to make that happen?" She enlightens me, gently.
Jack Welch: "I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success."
Maybe I'll remember it next time, but with these full moon nerves, I can't be sure.
That's the worst thing about fear: it disables me.

Morning Boss talks while we work, catches herself. "Am I talking too much?"
"No. I feel better when you talk than when you don't."
"When I don't talk it isn't about you, you know."
"My brain knows that; it's my nervous system that doesn't get it."

I am worn thin, a stick figure going from one task to the next sans enjoyment or triumph or, thank God, fear.  I tell Morning Boss, "It's very embarrassing never doing anything right."
She replies with fine irony, "I don't know how you could make these mistakes in this working atmosphere! What the hell's wrong with you?"
A comfort, that response: acceptance, compassion, forgiveness.
Jack Welch:  "Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act."
I leave work early, come home and sleep. And sleep. And sleep.  Thursday evening, Afternoon Boss phones from the hospital to which he has been admitted through the ER with chest pain and attendant cardiac symptoms.

Power That Be asks me if I know about Afternoon Boss being in the hospital.
"Yes," I say.
"Did we do it to him?" he asks me, "Or did he do it to himself?  Does he feel he has to help move the office?  I told him he didn't need to, that I would get other people."
Morning Boss, nearby, speaks up: "Of course he felt he had to. We all feel that way because we're afraid we'll lose our jobs!"
I speak with Trusted Friend after my workday is over. Trusted Friend makes of himself a blank canvas against which I throw events and my reactions.  He takes it all in, summarizes it for me. The painful emotion recedes, a watercolor wash that enhances the clarity of the bold print headlines of actual events:  I see how things really are. 

Jack Welch:  "Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be."
Speaking from this Great Relief of Saturday, The End of the Week From Hell, I would amend that to, "Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be, or as it appears to you through a veil of emotion."

I am left with feelings of great gratitude for people who, with contributions of compassion, kindness and humor, helped me climb through the week. It's times like this that I realize the truth of "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Returning to add: I don't know why the last part of this post is in minuscule font...I have fiddled and fiddled with it and can't fix it. Like the penny, it is a riddle that is beyond my capabilities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Merriam Webster's second definition of lunacy is "intermittent insanity once believed to be related to phases of the moon."

Once believed? I believe it now.

In one hour, the moon will officially be full. I'm suffering great distraction of the mind. I can't keep my thoughts straight. It's one of the hallmarks of full-moon-itis for me.
In the days when we had a boat, Husband would tell people that on full moon nights, they could find June at the end of the dock howling at the moon.

This month there are two, count 'em! ...two full moons...today and again on New Year's Eve.
For joy.