Ponder this:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Women, working for

Sometimes I think I really don't like women. 
I think I don't like working for women. 
Wait, let me rephrase that: I do not like working for women. 
It isn't them; it's me. My formative years (as the phrase goes) implanted and reinforced in me the idea that women are suddenly, frighteningly, threateningly changeable and therefore untrustworthy. Subordinate to a female, I often feel like Wile E. Coyote off the cliff and standing in midair about to fall into the chasm before he knew he was headed for difficulty. 
I have worked for many . . . many . . . women and the only exception to this rule [of mine, be clear about that] was a forty-something restaurant manager. She acted consistently; she made sense to me. She didn't have tantrums. She didn't solicit or tell secrets. She was even-tempered, spoke in well-modulated tones not hung with icicles, not lacy with blue flame. She was friendly without wanting to be...
 A Special Friend in You - US Soldiers - Customized postcard
I really liked working for her. To be comfortable at work, all I had to do was . . . my job.
I do not mean to say that women are not good managers of time, of tasks, of money, of other people. 
As I said, it isn't them; it's me and my reactions. Since I am such a wackamo, dragging along all this female-bosses-are-scary baggage, no doubt I misinterpret or overinterpret what female superiors say and do to me. 
Maybe a sudden scream across the room, "STOP SIGHING!" should not make me afraid to breathe, lest the noise of air traveling along my nasal passages disturb others' concentration.  Perhaps repeated inquiries as to my age and how many years I have in the retirement system would less often make me say "Hm," if issued from a male fifteen years my junior.
I swear that if I ever change jobs, I will do my very best to avoid working for another woman.
I said that twelve years ago, and I haven't managed it yet.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Waiting out winter

In October I mentioned that I was morphing into my October self.
I am now fully into my Dead of Winter self.
Coworkers ask me nearly daily, "Are you all right? You look as if you're going to cry." 
Or they say, "You aren't yourself today."
To the first comment, I answer, "This is my January face."
To the second, I inquire, "Who am I?" and they only repeat the original observation.
I could tell them who I am: I am my Waiting Self.
All winter I wait. 

I am just waiting, waiting, for Light to return.
My face apparently reflects that. I would never make a successful poker player.
Nobody says those things to me outside of work because when I am not at work I am asleep. I get home and take care of the dogs. If I'm ambitious, I provide some sustenance for Husband's consumption. Then I take off the makeup, get into my nightclothes and count the minutes until an acceptable hour to retire to . . . ahhh . . . my bed.  My soft, cuddly bed.

This is the first winter that I have given myself over, as much as I have always wanted to, to sleep.
It is working for me. I am not wretched in mood and body, as I recall being in other years.
Before electricity, there was the habit of First Sleep and Second Sleep, and that makes a great deal of sense to me. The sun goes down: this human wants to sleep.

Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Hi 30 °F
Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Lo 12 °F
Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Hi 29 °F


Lo 11 °F
Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Hi 27 °F

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 8 °F
Partly Sunny
Hi 20 °F

Partly Cloudy
Lo 3 °F
Partly Sunny
Hi 21 °F

It isn't warm that I miss so much, although I do love the summer-skipping-out-the-door-in-whatever-I'm wearing-or-not. All the same, isn't it kind and good of Mother Nature not to slam us from August temperatures into these "no higher than 30 . . . ever . . . into the foreseeable future" temperatures?
Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.   ~Robert H. Schuller 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter wind

When I am at home and safe and cozy, I enjoy the winter wind.
I love its screaming, wailing, whooping, a watchdog on patrol.
Snowflakes swirl and circle and dance in the air, fly off and away.
The snow on the ground shuffles and slides, crystal by crystal, into new formations . . . folded white towels in tidy piles between the upturned pots on the patio, frozen lake waves cresting in the lee of the barn.
Snow-horses gallop wild on silent ghostly hooves, tails flagging, up the field.

A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache. 

Sunday 160 - Justice

Justice is not an objective thing.
Justice is yanked about by clever legal minds, 
and is all Wild West justice, 
happening in the OK Corrals of courtrooms.

With thanks to Jinksy, who led me to the Monkey Man.

An award

Thank you, Miss Kim!
As the honored recipient of this award, my instructions are to:
Write a post about the award including a link back to the donor;
Share seven things about myself; 
Pass it on to fifteen seven bloggers I've recently discovered.
As regards that last, Elle, who favored Miss Kim with this little award, began a trend of reducing the number of recently discovered bloggers from fifteen to seven. Miss Kim followed that lead, and I'm counting that as a rule revision.  I don't go surfing through the blogging world very often and I generally find people who've found me first. So . . . a couple of these blogs are ones that I went searching for just so I could give them this award. 

So, now . . . seven revelations about myself.
  1. For an old broad, I'm a little bit of a makeup junkie. I don't overuse it, but I do over-buy it. I think it has something to do with the color charts, which, being colorful, seduce me.
  2. I think Maxfield Parrish's art is dreamy. Real artists have told me they don't like his work because "it's too commercial." Doesn't matter to me: I can go away somewhere when I look at his colors.
  3. I don't drink alcohol anymore. My sobriety date is September 29, 2005.
  4. If I were never to hear a shrill poodle bark again, it would be too soon.
  5. According to Peter Urs Bender, I am an Amiable, who, under pressure turns into a Driver.
  6. I like being up in the middle of the night, and arrange my weekends to accommodate that quirk.
  7. This is my hair. It is all you will ever see of me on this blog:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I wash my car twice a year, maybe three times, whether or not it needs it.

I live on a dirt road.
In three seasons it is, more or less, mud, and in the fourth season it is dust. It is altogether a thankless and unrewarding task to wash the car.
Yesterday I set out at eleven o'clock in the morning, thrilling to the sun sparkles on the snow. The dirt road was frozen and  preceding drivers' tires had worn down and evaporated the slush and snow on the surfaced roads so they appeared to be mostly dry. It struck me as a Car Washing Day.
I had ten quarters, two more than the DIY car wash requires to start the pressure washer. I turned down the little village lane to the car wash. Two of the four bay doors were open and both occupied and another driver and I waited for a free spot. After ten minutes or so, a bright clean blue minivan reversed out of one of the bays, and I moved to the head of the line that grew behind me.
A little silver car pulled in to the parking lot and drove right up to one of the closed bays. The driver got out and threw up the overhead door. "How enterprising," I thought. "Why didn't one of us think to do that?"
But he didn't go in; he moved on to the change machine.
The man in the car behind me got out and I watched him ask if the silver car man would be using that bay. He turned around and addressed me in pantomime: Go ahead and use that one.
I mimed back, "That guy isn't going to use it?"
He shrugged and threw his thumb over his shoulder.
I shrugged, tipped my head and flipped my eyebrows and drove into the newly opened bay.
The silver car man must have been the proprietor.

After you clean your car, you drive carefully. You stay far away from those dirty cars that pass you inviting you to eat their dust. You avoid puddles. You go on your way, to the library, to the supermarket. You get back home and the car looks just like it did when you left the house.
It's new dirt.
I guess that's an improvement.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? 
The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, 
or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I have been thinking recently and at odd moments of this building.  
When I was in my mid-twenties, I worked for an insurance company, fixing discrepancies between what the agents paid and what they should have paid. This building was owned by, and housed, an agency with whose monthly statements I spent a lot of time. One day my boss and I took a trip down Route 9 to meet with the agent.

 Payne Horse Barn designed by Julian Burroughs

All I really remembered of its history was that Eleanor Roosevelt had had something to do with it as a school for boys.  Ms. McCord, the Esopus Town Clerk, kindly and speedily responded to my inquiry with fascinating historical information.
She wrote:
"The building which you refer to was part of the Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne Estate and was used to house the horses and chickens for the Colonel’s estate.  The estate overlooks the Hudson River and consisted of 400 acres.  I did research your reference to [the insurance agency you mentioned] and they did own the building on the south side of Rt. 9W in the 70’s and lost to foreclosure in 1976.  This building is now for sale.
The main building on the estate overlooking the Hudson housed a school in 1937 under the Mission as a shelter for neglected Black Protestant boys, eight to twelve years of age, for whom there were no programs other than the State Training Schools.  Twenty such boys [were] sent here to an experimental camp and the response was great so it was decided to operate an all-year school at West Park for such children.  The name chosen for the school was Wiltwyck, the old Dutch name of Kingston. 
Early in the history of the school the Agency helped to secure local legislation to end discrimination against Black children and then opened its doors to children without regard to race, color, or religion.  Floyd Patterson, the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1960-1962, had been at this school; so the building in the city used by the school as a half-way house for boys returning to New York from West Park has been named for him.
 In May, 1942, the Wiltwyck School for Boys was incorporated with the approval of the State Dept. of Social Welfare.  As reorganized, it was administered by an interracial and nonsectarian Board of Directors.  In 1953 the school began to care exclusively for emotionally disturbed children and the program was now reorganized to provide individual case work and direct therapy where needed.  But the location of Wilwyck, eighty miles from New York City, added to the difficulty of recruiting and holding properly qualified staff so a search was begun for a new location.  In 1962 the school site transferred to Yorktown Heights.  The new campus was named for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who took an active part in the leadership of the School after its reorganization in 1942 and served as Campaign Chairman of a Building and Development fund for the new campus. 
This information is available in a book called the Town of Esopus Story and can be obtained from the Klyne Esopus Museum, P O Box 751, Port Ewen, New York 12466."

This, below, is the ceiling of the part of the building with the clock tower.  
It's the original riding arena, and it was where the Wiltwyck boys played games that needed lots of room.  
Our host and tour guide told us that the basketball hoops had still been in place when he'd bought the building.Photo of 1398 Route 9w

The realtor's blurb: "...create a dream estate..."  That insurance agent had a Dream. His insurance office was in the building (as was his and his wife's apartment, where the oval window is) and he had a vision of filling the whole place with shops and studios. It would be a huge quaintly styled shopping mall.  In the mid-1970s, giant buildings filled with stores were a novel concept. His thinking was ahead of his time, and the dream didn't turn into reality. By the time we visited the place, the bankruptcy process had already begun: my inches-thick file was useless.  The company would get a piece of whatever there was to be had, whether or not it balanced the account.

It is as close as I have come to being in one of the castles that so enchant me. It was only built in the last quarter of the 19th century, but to me it felt much older, its stone walls so thick, the windows so deep-set, the proportions so huge. It even had a kind of portcullis. While we walked through the building, our agent/host pointing out where he had planned to have this and that merchant or artist, I wanted to let the others go on ahead.  I wanted to hang behind and wander around and smell the stone and the dust and dream of what it would have been like long before.

As we were preparing to leave, my boss said to the agent, "Well, Phil . . . at least you had The Dream for a while.  And that's something a lot of people never have."

The building surely was one to inspire Dreams.  It must be, still, although I have seen it only once since 1976. Twenty-some years later, Husband and I were in Esopus as wedding guests and I made him drive back and forth on Route 9 until I spied, down the hill from the road, a corner of the roof. The driveway was chained closed. I was on fire to get out of the car and unhook the chain so Husband could see the place (...so I could see it again), but I didn't do it.
The building still grabs my imagination. I can still feel it. If I won the lottery I might take up residence there. And I would keep the chain across the driveway.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some things just seem self-evident to me

Mr. Loughner, of recent fame, is out of touch with reality. 
don't take the quiz . . . it's a long route to a Match.com-alike

He isn't an SOB; he is sick. Somebody should have gotten him hospitalized.
Sadly, of course, you can no longer hospitalize somebody against his will unless he's already exhibited that he is a danger to himself or others. Well, now that's done.

All the gun laws in the world won't keep somebody from shooting somebody if their grasp of reality is tenuous or non-existent, and if shooting somebody, or several somebodies, seems like a good idea. One Wal-Mart wouldn't sell him ammunition; another one did. 

I don't think the horrible incident has much to do with Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and their ilk, either. If it wasn't that bunch of wingnuts it would have been some other bunch of wingnuts that set him off. That's how crazy people behave, and to attribute this tragedy to either side in the incipient civil war is counterproductive and absurd.

A terrible, terrible thing happened in Tucson, yes.
It doesn't necessarily mean anything more than a man was sick in the head, his family had no idea how to deal with the problems he presented, and people got hurt and killed. It doesn't represent an entire trend throughout the country.

With this one exception, in my opinion:  People who are in need of mental health care and medication ought to be able to get it instead of being lost in their own heads among the rest of us.

Friko, you asked what I do when I'm suffering from insomnia. 
This is it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday, 6:10pm

Good news and bad news.

Good news first:  The meeting is the 17th, not today. I didn't realize until after noon when I thought, "OMG, I think I never sent out the agenda!"  I threw together the email distribution list, attached the agenda, took a final look at it before I hit SEND, and tada! the 17th.

The bad news:  I am, apparently, losing my mind. I have been aware, for some time, that I haven't known what day of the week it is when I wake up, and that I remain unaware until I look at the dogs' pill containers and receive the advice that it is Monday morning, Tuesday morning, etc.  The malady has progressed to not knowing one week from the next.
The further bad news:  I have the whole week to dread a 5:30pm meeting next Monday. 
Husband has helpfully noted, however, that I might get lucky and get hit by an airplane before then.

Monday, 8:26am

It's winter.
It's Monday morning.
The sky is white.
The snow is falling sideways, but won't land copiously enough to make travel difficult.
I have a meeting at 5:30, too soon after end-of-work-time to come home, and too long after end-of-work-time to stay there.
I'm on the wrong side of a big bump in the road. 
I know I'll get past the obstacle, but first I have to get on my feet and out the door.
Sometimes inspiration is not enough.
Sometimes it's just blind determination that keeps a person going.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wood warms a woman three times...

...when she cuts it, when she stacks it, and when she burns it.

I wouldn't know about the cutting. I'm safer that way, being unhandy enough that I surely would be absent a digit or limb were I to try. 
But I do know about the stacking and the burning, and it's true.
So true.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's tax collection time in Small Pond. The very efficient property owners come in now, early in the month, and most of them are good-natured. They're prepared and ready to pay their bills and it's just another transaction. Not necessarily pleasant, but necessary all the same.  This morning, a maturely beautiful and energetic woman blew through the door and began to dig in her purse for the paperwork. She started to talk, at first in a moderate tone that quickly escalated to full good-natured rant. 
Just a guess . . . but I think she wasn't born on this side of The Pond...

"Oi 'ate to give awl this monnay, especially when the village don't do a bleedin' thing for yeh. They don't even take the bleedin' leaves! They used to! G------ville used to when Oi lived thahh!"

I don't know this woman, but Oi couldn' 'elp it. I slipped into the best lingual match I could come up with as I leaned toward her with: "Yeh! But'cha came 'eah, dintcha?"

"Oi did!" she answered.

There followed a hugely enthusiastic and entertaining story of her having followed, this morning, a fellow dogwalker "...'oo lets 'is dog shit wherever 'e pleezes and he don't pick it up! An' 'e 'as a big dog! Oi 'ave a lit'le dog and Oi alwez 'ave a bag, y'see! (waving the imaginary Proper Poop Receptacle above her head) So Oi picked up 'is dog's shit and followed 'im 'ome."
Triumphant satisfaction: "Naow Oi know where 'e lives, y'see! So I drove in be'ind 'im, an' Oi opened moi windaow an' I dropped the bag full of 'is dog's shit an' Oi said, 'Yoo forgawt this!'"
"Well, good for you!" I told her. "That's what people should do instead of calling here about it."
"Do people call yoo about those things! We' that's just stoopid. Oi'll take care of people like that m'self!"
"Next time," I said, "you should put it in a paper bag and put it on his porch and set it on fire."
"Oi should! (pause) Buttit probably wouldn't burn!" 
And she threw back her head and laughed to the heavens.
She'd finished her municipal business while she thrilled me with her story, a common one, but so wonderfully delivered . . . and before leaving, turned to Jane, who'd been stamping things and writing receipts. 
"Awlrigh' naow. Come aroun' the counteh 'eah and give me a 'ug. It's good t'see yeh."

The cast of characters is better, some days, than others.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Newark, New Jersey

For those who don't know, and there are probably fewer of those than I suspect, Newark isn't pronounced New'-ark. It's Noork. They tell me.
I don't know if people who live there are called Noorkers, or Noorkians. Noorkites? I checked Newark newspapers and they all seem to use "Newark native" in place of other labels. 

I was in Newark once, but never outside the airport there. I was flying Peopleexpress Airline to Tampa and needed to deplane and find my connecting flight. I was afraid to leave the gate for long once I found it, although I do recall finding the bar, buying and disposing of two martinis, and buying a pack of cigarettes. Whether it was the general pace of New Jersey, or the atmosphere of the airport, or my own nerves, I felt sped up. I asked the cigarette seller twice in the space of ten quick seconds for a pack of matches. I think New Jersey minutes might be shorter than New York minutes.
I have a cousin who lived in Newark. At a family reunion I asked him if he liked the city. Husband would say I badgered him. After my cousin had said it wouldn't be his first choice, but it was all right, Husband said, "There. You got him to admit he hates the place where he lives. Happy now?" My cousin was pretty laidback; he wasn't offended.
Peopleexpress was a good idea at the time. No frills, no extra expense. No food, no courtesy beverages. If you expected to eat during the flight, you brown-bagged it. I believe they did allow me two ounces of nuts in a foil bag, to tide me over. The airport martinis and the nuts worked for me for a while, but I was famished when I got off the plane. 
I haven't flown anywhere in years; I gather that although Peopleexpress is no more, they set the standard for modern air traveler discomfort levels.
And I haven't been back to Newark either.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crow sounds and hawk sightings

In a book I read recently, The Truth of the Matter, crows were described as always sad-sounding. That stopped me cold, and it might be an example of why I didn't enjoy the book much. The author and I didn't see eye to eye on that. I don't think crows ever sound sad. They sound, to me, mostly like cavorting children: loud, jeering, rambunctious. 

Every morning last week I was tantalized by the pale flash of the underside of a hawk's wings as I drove down the hill road.  Somebody has parked a deer rib cage upright on a fence post there, for whatever reason, and I surmise that the hawk is shrewdly loitering and waiting for easy meals of whatever might dine upon the carcass.  My first thought was "Red-Tail!" because they are so common. One morning, however, he settled in a tree near enough the road that I could stop and watch him for as many minutes as I could spare in my early commute, and he looked so big ("...about nineteen inches tall, weighs two and a half pounds, and has a wingspread of around four feet.")his beak so ferocious, that I thought it must be a bigger member of that family. I'm so used to seeing Red-Tailed Hawks way up in the sky that I have, apparently, forgotten how they are constructed and that they are, most definitely, predators.  Yesterday he did me the favor of tipping his rusty red tail feathers at me. It's a dead giveaway. 
photo from Hawk Migration Notes

There in the tree thirty feet from me he looked gigantic and ominous as a bald eagle!
My respect for the familiar bird is renewed. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011


It is a new year now.
It is no longer 2010, and this is my helpful reminder to those of you who might not deal with dates a lot.
Go through your checkbook and put "2011" in the year blank on all the checks.

2011!  ...which, by the way, I wasn't sure I would live to see. I don't mean last spring I wasn't sure. I mean when I was twenty. I couldn't imagine living in a year that didn't begin with 19.
Having read the book, I think that I couldn't imagine living past 1984
Long, long ago, probably when I was about twelve, I calculated the year that I would be able to retire and came up with 2013. 

All that aside.
I've decided to use "2011" instead of "11." Plain old 11 could be November, or the day after he 10th, or the year. It confuses me. In the last century, only between 1932 and 2000 (inclusive) was it safely cogent to abbreviate the year to two digits. Now that I think about it, I don't know why I didn't have that trouble with 2010 (*see below).
I like the way "2011" looks. The first two numerals can be nice and rotund and whimsical, because they have those two nice strong posts behind them to lean against, to keep them in line.
2010: My handwritten zeros never look the same, especially when there's a completely different shape to form in between them. I didn't like writing that all year. *I used "10."
2009: Just a goofy number, isn't it? A pitcher-eared apple-cheeked Alfred E. Newman of a number.
Alfred E. Neuman
2008: My problem with 2008 was that sometimes I would make a little snowman out of the eight and sometimes I'd write it according to The Palmer Method . . . ∞ standing up instead of  overwhelmed, prostrated by the idea of its own longevity.
2007: I have a problem with 7s as well as 8s. I can't write them the same way twice consecutively. Sometimes they come out all flourishy and serifed . . . and sometimes they're nice straightforward over/down. 7. If the latter made a noise it would be a firm and slightly metallic anh-unh. And sometimes my "anh" wasn't long enough and the 7 looked like a 1.
2006: Too many round parts. I took up too much space with all those circles. On occasion I'd get carried away with all the roundness and my 6's tail wouldn't be quite visible: a problem.
2005: Once again, too many chubby little circles.
2004: Just too much going on with this one. Circles, lines, angles! 
2003: Circles!
Ionic Column

2002: Well, now. To my eye 2002 had a nice symmetry. It makes me think of an Ionic column.

2001: A weak sister to 2011. The roundy bubbly shapes were too much for the final digit's strength.  That poor final 1 was trying too hard and not quite standing up for itself.

Alrighty then. 
What to label this post but "quirks."