Holiday Letter Thursday, Dec 5 2013 

What have I/we done all year? Something, hopefully, worthy of repeating to others. Each year, with our Christmas cards, (YES, we still mail them!) we send a short letter of what we’ve been up to during the year.  I know, I know, for some folks a letter like that means an exhaustive list of accomplishments (I won the Nobel Peace Prize and American Idol!), or line after line of expensive vacation details (the sheets were soooo soft, the beach was just for us!) or a page of the awards their super over achieving kids received (Lettering in all sports, plus a 10.0 grade point average, and still has time knit prize winning sweaters).  Our letters have never been like that and it is not because we don’t travel or our kids, when in school, didn’t get good grades.  That type of letter just doesn’t reflect us.  Heck, we used to joke that the letter would say just things like, yep, we are still married, for those of you that said it wouldn’t work out.

I sat down this year to write the little letter and kinda drew a blank.  What have we done all year?  Worked.  Slept.  Worried.  None of that is anything but life and certainly not letter worthy.  Well, we are still married, so there is that.  Maybe it is time for THAT update.  Although it has only been 37 years, so it is possible it may not work out.  Bad if the haters won after all.

2013 was a year of working our butts off, trying to gain a better foot hold on if we might ever be able to retire sometime before we die.  We are lucky to both have good jobs, and some savings, but the last few years have not helped with any retirement plans.  So, how does one put that in a holiday update letter?

Maybe I should wait and bit and see how December goes……

Goodbye Daisy Monday, Nov 18 2013 

Over the years my hubs and I have loved many animals.  Most were rescue animals, strays and such that came into our lives when we were not necessarily looking for another pet.  Regardless of how they came to be with us, once we saw them, it was all over and we were theirs.  At the peak of the animal invasion, which was several years ago, we had five dogs and seven cats. Chaos runs toward normal.

Recently we lost a member of our family, a blue healer named Daisy.  She was a sweet natured, slightly overweight beauty that could growl like the meanest dog on earth if you came into the back yard without permission.  She was 13 years old and had been with us, after being rescued from the pound, for 10 years.  She could shake and sit on command and most of the time would take the treat from your fingers without a nip.  She loved to dig and boss the other dogs around. She is survived by Jasper, a shepherd mix roadside find, dumped as a puppy, now 5 and Sadie, a blind blond cocker spaniel, with ears that drag the ground and her water bowl, who is 8.

Daisy joined our family to be a buddy for Trudy ‘the Trude’, a beagle with many, many issues, who passed last year at age 13 after being with us for 10 years. Trudy was a rescue dog from the pound that was scheduled to be put down because of her anger management issues. She was a biter. We took a big chance on her and worked hard through most of her many issues over the years.  A smarter dog I’ve never encountered.  She could push open latched gates, open drawers, ring bells on door handles to let you know she needed to go out, sit, beg, roll over, lie down and various other actions on command, (sometimes all in a row without asking if she wanted something, which was pretty comical) and had mastered the treat on the nose trick. She was big with attitude and her face was very expressive. She never learned to trust in some areas, being pretty sure no matter what that every meal was her last.  And she snored, badly.

Daisy, Trudy and Jasper were the ‘big’ dogs at the height of the five dog household. There were also two ‘small’ dogs.  Zelda was a thick bodied white Chihuahua mix that was part of our family for 18 years, and was 19 when she passed. We were answering a newspaper ad for free puppies for a Chihuahua /cocker spaniel mix, when it turned out the mother of the puppies had been abandoned and the rescuer was just trying to find good homes for all of them.  Mommy Zelda, then named Popcorn, took a shine to us, and she was ours from minute one.  She was a piece of work, feisty, noisy and lovable.  No one had ever told her she was a small dog, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to bring it up. She knew when she’d done something wrong and had perfected the ‘woe is me’ look.   Last but certainly not least was Abby, a Chihuahua/terrier mix obtained through a rescue group to be Zelda’s playmate.  She was a thin legged brown haired joy (hair didn’t grown on her legs due to fire ant bites and her tail had been broken into a permanent ‘J’), that skipped so often with her hind legs (either one) people would think she was three legged.  Even into her advanced years (she lived to be 18), she raced around so fast she was a light brown blur as she whizzed by you with a toy in her mouth.  Sometimes she would drag her legs behind her all over the house, pulling herself along with her front legs, then jump up and race away to run circles around Zelda.  On walks, they shared a leash.  Chihuahua bobsled style.

The misfits we’ve loved and lost are in our pet cemetery and now Daisy has joined them.  Jasper is searching for her with Sadie trailing behind.  I know in time they will be ok and stop looking for her.  But we will miss her, just as we miss the rest of our furry family.

I’d Rather Be A Redneck Than…….Whatever You Are Thursday, Oct 17 2013 

I’ve been labeled!  And we all know that labeling people isn’t nice.  So why do people do it?  If one listens to TV commercials, it’s to separate the zombies from the rest of the living beings.  If one attended the wedding I attended last week, it’s about New Yorkers and Rednecks.

My beloved spouse and I recently traveled with friends to an event out of state…that event being a destination wedding. (Lord, help us)  We, along with a small group of friends, stood for the groom’s family.   We had a wonderful time, in general.  Only one thing marred it.  Being labeled and the trappings of such labeling.

The ‘other’ side of this equation, a.k.a the bride’s side, was mostly from New York (not the city).  Prior to meeting any of this ‘other’ group, I had no preconceived notion, or predetermined issue with how they might think or act based on anything and certainly not on where they might reside.  They were just people going to a wedding, just like us.  They weren’t lucky enough to be from Texas, live in Texas or even get to visit Texas, but that was entirely their problem.  It’s a wedding, so let’s all be happy, right?

It was readily apparent from minute one (that’s a New York Minute) that the New Yorkers, before meeting us or speaking to us, thought that we were a bunch of hillbilly rednecks that did not warrant even the slightest instant of civil politeness.  They were flat out rude.  Repeatedly.

I do not for a second want to imply there is a thing wrong with being a Redneck.  Some of my best friends are Rednecks.  Hard working, deeply honest, loving Rednecks.  And not one of them would hastily assume that just because one might be from New York, one might be a rude jerk.  It could be proven fast enough, but they’d never assume it.

But here we were, with the label of Redneck pasted on us, sneered our direction, and used in a clearly derogatory manner, merely because we were different from them. Yes, some in our group wore cowboy boots as appropriate footwear (dress boots, polished and all), but not a one of us rode a horse anywhere (or even own one for that matter) and we all made sure we’d combed the hay from our hair and the dirt from under our nails before slicking and gussying ourselves all up for the big hoedown. Shucks and golly gee MeMa, we didn’t even use the cement pond to bathe.

After this experience, I wonder, are all New Yorkers over tanned, uncouth, snotty jerks that drink like fish and smell like cigarettes?  And is this every day behavior or saved for special occasions, say like weddings? I will never have the answer to my questions, as my one experience with them has now come and gone.  But I will say that I now understand why people from the south, and not just Texas, talk about Yankees being rude.  This group did nothing to dis-spell the stereo type. Quite the opposite, they embodied the stereo type.  It may amuse them to know that the metro area Deep in the Heart of Texas, where our contingent resides, is 6 times bigger than where they reside, is home to several world renowned music venues and museums, and has much worse traffic.

So label me if you must, because I’d rather be a Redneck, if that group will have me, than a rude New Yorker.

I am the Sandwich Friday, Oct 4 2013 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich_generation

The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.

Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.

  • Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  • Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  • Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care. [1]

Merriam-Webster officially added the term to its dictionary in July 2006.

The term “sandwich generation” was coined by Dorothy A Miller in 1981. [2]

~~~~~~~

My eldest son, mid 30’s and his son, 5, moved out of our home this last weekend.  They have been living with us for almost 2 years.  The joy of having that level of access to my grandson was tempered by being his parent much of the time, versus just being able to be his “Granny”.  My husband and I often had a differing opinions on how things involving our grown child and his child should be treated within our home, adding an additional level of stress to the situation.  But we made it though that phase of the sandwich, and looked forward to having our home and our time delegated back to ‘us’.  We joked about relearning how to have a two person conversation, how to cook a two person meal, about cooking meals we liked vs those the picky 5 yr old would eat, how we’d spent time ..just the two of us…..and so on.   It is a nice dream.  The financial side of the situation is ongoing, but that is another topic.

So, on day two of our ‘freedom’, when my parents called, upset and needing my help, I should not have been surprised.  We didn’t even get a week of ‘just us’ before other responsibilities pressed us back into service.  My parents are aging, not in the best of health, and are quick to call on me, rather than either of my brothers, when they want or need something.  There is a thin line between want and need.  I think they call me because 1) I am female and they are of that generation that believes that caregivers are female, 2) I am the oldest 3) I’ve been down this road before with  my mother in law and 4) I find a way to do what they want if I can.

My husband and I have been ‘the sandwich’ for so many years now, providing care for members of his family and mine, that I do not recall a time when we were not taking care of an aunt/parent/grandparent/sibling and a child at the same time.  It started in our 20’s and we are in our mid 50’s now.  We were the sandwich before there was a sandwich.  We’ve been able to regroup in the small gaps between, but each round it gets harder and harder to reconnect and adjust.   Since we only get one round on this planet, I’d like to assert, we’ve done our time caring for others and we need a break.  But reality is, that is not going to happen.  Buck up, Ms. Sandwich.  This one is a toasty footlong with extra cheese.

News Flash-World Keeps Spinning-Story at 10 Wednesday, Sep 25 2013 

Having now spent over a week answering emails for 1) people who really need help with the new system 2) people who hate change no matter what it is and 3) people who complain because they can, I have decided that the world will continue and nothing will change.  The people that needed help received it.  The people that hate change had change thrust upon them and will adjust or move on.  Keep in mind the last time there was a technology change they hated that system too, and now it is the one they want to flip back to using :).  And the complainers, well, they were killed with kindness and will find another topic to complain about, focus their unhappiness on, and in general continue their unhappy little lives.  Live is too short to worry about them.

During my lifetime, I’ve dealt with different types of issues and problems, one of which was mother in law’s demenita, which I detailed in my postings in this blog and when my brother in law wasted away from lung cancer in front of our eyes.  Currently both my parents have aging issues and there are plenty of real life, personal stresses on me.   That, my friends, is when times are tough and you dig deep, not when online banking rejects your password at 3am.  Seriously, is that the worst thing that has ever happened to you?  Because your reaction seems a bit over the top…..just sayin’.  (In case you don’t get that last part, it was sarcastic.)

So kick back, eat some ice cream, smile.  I’m going too, as soon as I answer all these bleeping emails.

People Hate Change! Get A Grip on Yourselves Saturday, Sep 21 2013 

I am continually surprised at how perfectly fine people think it is ok to rant via email.

When you email a business to complain about something, like a change in product, or something you are not happy about in general, do you not realize that someone at the other end (not management) has to read what you’ve written?  It is someone’s job to respond in a pleasant, professional manner to your completely unprofessional behavior?  Do you think cussing and calling them stupid makes their day?  If you were standing in line at the counter would you act like that or  is it because you are sitting in your living room with your laptop, tablet or phone?  Have some manners people.   I’m not saying you cannot complain, but be constructive.  “IT SUCKS”  doesn’t help anyone solve an issue, if you are indeed even having an issue with who you are complaining about.

The company I work for recently launched a change in its technology platform that impacted its customers.  We had been putting information out there for weeks talking about the upcoming change, letting people know the exact date, because we know that change can be unsettling.  Each customer would need to complete extra security to navigate the site.  And you know what?  Most customers had no problem handling it.  If they hit a slight snag, they called, emailed or actually read the material we had provided and it was solved in a flash.  But some of the low hanging fruit couldn’t handle any part of it and it was obvious they didn’t try.  Those wonderful group of people emailed messages like ‘what idiot made these changes?’ ….’the new site sucks’…”I can’t believe you would block me from access”……”Why didn’t you tell me this was going to happen?” and I am not even listing all the cuss words people did not even pretend to hide with %&$# and so on.  Instead of spending time helping those that needed help, we had to allocate resources to answering emails and calls from people that were just mean, asinine and deliberately abusive.  While we killed them with kindness, what I wanted to say was:   Can you read?  The world doesn’t revolve around you.  You kiss your mother with that mouth?  Is that how your talk to your children?

As technology has advanced I think society has lost touch with how to be polite and respectful.  I am willing to bet that most of the people that emailed in and acted like jerks, would not it if they were they ones being treated they way.  But then again, that type of person does care about others anyway.  When a 73 year old emails in WTF?  you know the world has changed and not for the better.

Relax, Get to It! Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I had time to ponder all the things in my life I have to be thankful for, I realized that I need to relax a bit and let myself enjoy all the good things in my life and not stress out about the big and little things that normally stress me out.  And that is so much easier said than done.  Perhaps writing it down will help.  Perhaps not.  Either way, I am writing it down.

I am a worrier.  Always have been, always will be.  I work hard to get what I want. I want things to be right and for everyone to do their part.  When everyone doesn’t do their part, or mayhap the part I think they should do, I tend to tighten up.  If things really go off course and ‘whatever’ is not completed or accomplished, then tighten up is not a strong enough term to describe me.  So it should be no surprise to anyone that knows me at all that stress and worry is a daily part of my life and its impact can spill over onto others around me.

That being said, I can also ‘let things go’ that I cannot control, after putting out a mammoth effort to control it. This is not the same as giving up. If I give it my best and cannot change the outcome, or if other humans are involved and I cannot control the outcome, I can let things go and stop inserting myself into whatever the situation may be.  It is not easy.  And sometimes my tummy will be upset over it.  But I can still relax out of it.  And watch from a distance.  Just in case.

I come by this over worry naturally.  My mother has a syndrome with a name too long to mention that is about being overcautious and worrying that is derived from being a child forced into responsibility too early.  And, while she did not mean to impart this issue to me, years of carefully worded concerns, cautions, warnings and rules, along with sudden air intake and other signs of worry left a deep imprint on me that for years I did not know was there.  My first child status also plays a part I’m sure, as well as being female, as both my younger brothers were not as imprinted as I.  My husband and sons were the ones to point out that my standard goodbye salutation to everyone is always ‘be careful’.  I’d been saying that for years without even knowing it.

But I am getting off point, if I ever had a point, which is relaxing a bit and being thankful.  Because I am thankful for many things in my life.  Some are small and may seem insignificant, but are not.  Some are large and seem significant, but aren’t.  Regardless of the size or the significance, I am lucky to have things for which I am thankful. I have a home, a comfortable life, an old husband (meaning we’ve been together a long time), and things I like to do, I mainly get to do.  I live in a country that allows me the freedoms many females do not get in other countries, and I am thankful for that.  I try not to take it for granted. I have people in my life I love.

As 2012 slides toward the end of existence, relaxation and thankfulness are my goals.  I’ll save the stress for the Fiscal Cliff.

Shadow Chase Sunday, Oct 28 2012 

Taking off from Denver one afternoon last week, the sky was blue and the sun was shinning.   The plane’s shadow mirrored our moves, skimming over the ground for miles as we climbed, keeping pace with us as we winged our way to Seattle.

I watched the shadow ripple over items on the ground.  It slid over grass, dirt, roads, parking lots, shopping malls, and trees; touching living and inanimate things. It climbed buildings, raced cars, mimicked other planes and covered people; contacting moving and stationary objects.  It passed over a man loading gear into the back of his car. It passed over two of a string of bike riders.  It passed over large tree canopies and was larger than small groupings of newly planted trees.  It raced up the side of a mountain and sped into the valley on the other side.  The shadow created a brief moment of shade where there had been none before and left brightness in its wake.

The higher we went, the harder the shadow tried to stay condensed into the shape of a plane.  Its efforts were not successful as its sharp, recognizable plane edges blurred into an elongated blob and its dark distinctive gray lightened, almost pixelated, as we traveled along.

The cityscape quickly gave way to countryside and the shadow paid no attention, remaining focused on its own agenda.  It skimmed along, touching what it pleased. It raked over the land, watched by me, but apparently invisible to others.  The shadow was not influenced and as it faded away, it left no trace of its existence.  Although it served as a connection between all the things it encompassed after it was created on that sunny Monday afternoon, its touch was benign, leaving no harm in its wake.

Doing Nothing & Lovin’ It Monday, Oct 8 2012 

When was the last time you spent a day doing nothing?  It has been a long time for me and that’s what I did today.  NothingNadaZeroZilch.  Thank you Federal Holiday, spouse out of town  traveling, and the rest of the gang out of the house day!  Even the cats and dogs kept a low profile.  LOL.  In this day and time when everything is connected and we seem to be on call for work, family and friends 24/7, I actually had a day that was out of touch, disconnected and lazy.

I slept late.  Not an all day thing, just late.  Was up about 9:15.  Might had slept longer but the lawn service didn’t have the day off.  Fed the pets.  I read a book.  Remember those?  Paper thingy with a binding, cover from and back….not electronic downloads or audio recordings.  Even got a little paper cut.  I think I was out of practice.   Reviewed some genealogy stuff.  The 1940 census is indexed ya know.  Watched Ben Affleck give an interview on TV.  He turned 40 this year.  Still looks hot!  Very relaxing to look at. 🙂

Is it really so important that we stay connected every minute?  Or clean the house on a holiday?  I think not.  But then I’m not having deep thoughts today.

Gas Station Etiquette-Get Some! Friday, Oct 5 2012 

One of my least favorite things to do these days is to gas up my car.  I compute about 50 miles one way to work each day, so I am forced to stop by a gas station more frequently than some others might.  And recently, I have encountered a trend that is unpleasant and actually downright rude.  It seems that the public is determined that there is no reason to be courteous of others or consideration of the time spent waiting at gas stations!

Let me describe just a few of the examples, all starting with: Pull into a busy gas station and find a pump that lines up with my gas tank:

1)      One car in front of me at the pump. Brief moment of good feeling. A female in the car.  Is she done?  Getting right to pump?  Can’t tell, so I wait.  It is obvious she is texting on her phone.  I glance at my car clock.  One minute passes. Other cars are moving in their lines. Driver of the car in front of me glances in her rearview mirror, so she knows someone is waiting behind her. Two minutes pass.    The driver of the car in front of me decides she has completed her text conversation and gets out of the car to start pumping her gas, in no rush.  She wanders over to the attendant to pay before pumping and slanders back.  From the time I pulled up until she started pumping her gas, 5 minutes have elapsed.

2)      One car in front of me at the pump.  Young man is pumping gas.  Glances at my car when I pull up.  Finishes his transaction and gets in his car.  Picks up his phone and starts texting.  I glance at my watch.  One minute passes.  He is alternating between texting and reading his phone.  Two minutes pass. He starts his car, clears button on his dashboard, and puts on his seatbelt.  Answers another text.  Puts his foot on the brake (brake lights light up), places his car into gear (back up lights flash). Three minutes pass. Reads another text.  Then pulls away from the pump.

3)      One car in front of me at the pump.  Nozzle already inserted and pumping.  Young man leaning on side of car texting.  Auto fill clicks off.  I hear it from inside my close car and look up. Young man continues to text.  I glance at my clock.  Young man makes no move toward nozzle and continues to text.  I put my car into gear and move forward a bit. Young man continues to text.  One minute passes.  Young man finally reaches for nozzle, removes it while still reading phone screen.  Tries to place it into its holder on pump, and completes an ‘air pass’ because he is still reading his screen.  Second try is successful.  Waits for receipt and texts.  Receipt prints, and flaps in breeze, while he texts.  Two minutes pass.  He reaches for his receipt still reading his phone and texting.  He gets in his car. Puts on his seat belt. Puts his foot on the brake (brake lights light up), places his car into gear (back up lights flash). Reads another text.  Then pulls away from the pump.

4)      Four pump station, two on one side, and two on the other.  Pull into station and a pick-up with a trailer is blocking both pumps on one side of the station.  The driver is standing on the passenger side of the truck handling another person cash from his wallet.  The other person runs into the store.  The driver glances at me and starts checking his tires and hitch.  One the other side, a pick-up is placing the nozzle into his tank to begin filling.  He sets it to auto fill on gets back into his truck.  The last pump has a SUV pumping gas.  I pull around and line up behind the SUV.  The driver of the SUV finishes her transaction and pulls away; I pull in and start my transaction.  Other cars pull in and line up between me and the truck with the trailer.    I fill my tank and complete my transaction.  The truck with the trailer is still blocking both pumps on the other side with the driver sitting in the driver seat.  His passenger walks out, comes around to the driver side window, hands him a cold drink and his change.  Then walks to the passenger side and gets in the truck.  They both open their drinks, put on their seat belts and take a drink before putting the truck into gear and starting to move.  The line behind them is now three cars long.  The pickup on my side has auto clicked off while I was filling up and the driver is sitting in his truck on his phone.  I get in my car and pull away.  The line behind me is two cars long.

This is not a full listing of all the instances I personally have encountered recently, but it is enough to paint the picture.  I do not mean to insist that a minute or two of time is even that big of a deal.  However, I do question if we, as a society have become so distracted by our phones or so discourteous, that we cannot function or consider that others are waiting as we perform our routine daily functions.

In each one of the instances I listed above the guilty knew someone was waiting.  And their behavior did not alter.  They made no effort to show any type of courtesy.

I use my phone.  I text.  I get emails, posts and tweets. I am not opposed to instant communication.  I just don’t delay others while doing it.

Now should we talk about people that talk on their phones in line at the store?

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