Sunday, December 4, 2016

Time for recovery

Our dog, Lambeau has been going steadily lame in his hind quarters.  The veterinarians here couldn't figure out what was wrong with him.  So we eventually drove three hours and took him to the vets at Cornell.  They diagnosed a number of things: two blown out knees requiring ACL surgeries, mild hip dysplasia, and arthritis in the lower spin, hips, and knees.

Thursday he had his first knee surgery.  Everything went well, now we have 8-12 weeks recovery and physical therapy.  The good news is that he's putting weight on that leg and doesn't act like he's in pain.  The bad news is he won't lie still unless I'm sitting in the room with him.  This is going to be a long winter.  :-(

Monday, November 7, 2016

Scylla and Charybdis

Some people feel like both major party choices for President are evil.  They don't want to vote for either, such is the success of thirty years' effort to tarnish Clinton's reputation, and more than ten years of hate media's propaganda machine.

Currently I'm trying to figure out a white outfit to wear to the polls tomorrow in honor and memory of all the suffragettes who fought and died so that women could vote, and maybe one day become President.

Susan B.Anthony's grave is about an hour and a half drive from here.  People have been placing "I voted" stickers on her grave.  I would like to alter my sticker to read:

For Her...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Painting, painting, painting

I've only been painting since Labor Day weekend on this house, but at least I'm finally seing some results.  The previous homeowners painted the kitchen and hall burnt orange, plus they had dark light fixtures. So I had to brighten things a bit.  In addition to painting everything in sight, I also changed out light fixtures.  What an improvement!  Here are a few before and after shots.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Do the toughest job first and get it out of the way.

We've been in our house for just over a year, and we hadn't done any major home improvements because we were overwhelmed at the size of the house, and what to do about all the honey oak in the house that made it so dark and dated.  Should we paint with colors that would go with it, tone it down, re-stain it to a darker color, tear it all out and start with something new, or paint it all white?  Whatever we would decide to do, it would be a lot of work!  There is so much woodwork in this house!  So we delayed, we avoided making a decision, because we couldn't decide what to do, and weren't looking forward to all that work.

M finally forced us to make a decision.  She decided over Labor Day weekend, that we were just going to commit, rent giant ladders and start painting the biggest room, and get it over with.  So we rented two ladders (14' and 12') and did a three day intense marathon paint.  We painted seventeen foot walls in the main room and front entry, tricky angles over the stairs and an art wall, plus a seventeen foot wall of doors and windows.  Even then, we didn't finish painting.  We got all the really high walls done, then I spent most of my free time for the next couple weeks finishing the lower parts and all the white trim.

We decided to paint the walls a light gray to lighten up the room, and began painting most of the woodwork white.  So all the trim around the windows and doors, and the baseboards, went white. We're waiting to hear back from professional wood refinishers about staining the stairs, spindles, and bannisters, because we know that job is beyond our skill set. We're hoping to match the stairs to the cherry floors elsewhere in the house.

Eventually we plan to rip out the rug in this big main room and put down wood floors to match the other floors in the house.

So we're getting there, and next I will begin working on all the other downstairs rooms to update the paint colors and update other features of the house, now that the worst job is out of the way.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Juggling, juggling

School started back on Monday, in both New York and Maryland.  I am teaching two on-line classes in Maryland, one on-line class in New York, and an in-person class in New York.  I have about 140 students, more or less.  It's been interesting answering student questions about two different campuses with different procedures for adding and dropping classes, and different books for the classes.  I imagine grading is going to be hysterical.  Oh, and I am teaching one more class than I did when I worked full-time in Maryland, for less than half of what I now earn being part-time in both places.  That's the part-time adjunct scandal, pay them crap wages instead of higher pay for anyone full-time or full-time with a Ph.D. 

Well, it was my choice to move, and I knew I might have to find a different job and that I might not be able to teach, so I've only myself to blame.  Still, we're managing, in spite of life's latest pitfalls.

It seems we live on clay soil.  We've also been in a drought.  When clay soil doesn't get regular moisture, it contracts, sometimes tremendously.  A week ago we had a scare because our gas line broke when the soil contracted 3 inches and pulled the pipes apart.  We had the Fire Department out around 11:00 p.m., giving all the neighbors a little excitement, but no explosions, so thankful for that.  In addition to our gas line snapping, our concrete deck around our swimming pool has pulled apart and torn the liner.  It cannot be repaired because the concrete slabs have pulled too far apart and moved too much.  The whole thing has to be torn apart, we're talking $10,000 to $17,000 likely to rip out the concrete and fix that.  It might cost around $10,000 to remove the pool entirely because state law says all the concrete and materials must be removed and clean fill put back.  Of course it does.  We're waiting on a couple estimates, oh and did I mention, homeowners' insurance won't cover any of it because they don't cover earth movement, sink holes, or earthquakes.  You need a special policy for that, a policy that our insurance agent never mentioned we might need. 

But wait, just like those late night infomercials, there's more!  We first noticed our dog, Lambeau, was having trouble jumping up in the back of our SUV shortly after we moved here last year.  He seemed to be having weakness in his hips.  German Shepherds are known to have hip dysplasia, but he seemed kind of young for that.  We've been keeping an eye on him and taking him to the vet regularly.  Now the hip weakness has gotten so bad that he struggles to get up from lying down, he struggles to go up or down stairs, when he runs, his back left foot swings behind his right one.  We've had tests run.  His bloodwork says he's in perfect health.  He's not in any pain.  Drugs haven't helped (just in case there was some inflammation somewhere).  We had him genetically tested for Degenerative Myelopathy, because his symptoms fit perfectly with that disease and German Shepherds are prone to it.  His tests came back that he is a carrier for that disease.  It's basically Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS) for dogs.  Our vet is now recommending we take him a couple hours away to a neurologist for more tests (MRI and spinal tap).  We're currently trying one last ditch effort with a drug cocktail to see if we can get his symptoms to improve before going to the neurologist.  Life has many twists and turns.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Will I burn in Hell?

I just saw this video of a young man addressing the inaccuracies in the Bible and thought he did a great job.  I am a firm believer in the idea that there is a higher being, a god, a creator, that created the universe and everything in it, but I'm not a firm believer in organized religion, the Bible, or things that are man made and purport to be from God. 

Will I burn in hell for these beliefs?  I'll find out in the end, but I don't think any being that was intelligent enough to create this universe would want inaccuracies or stuff made up about his/her/its creations.  I think any offense taken would be by the mere mortals trying to figure out the mind of God. 

Athiest Response to the Bible

Monday, July 25, 2016

On getting older

I am rapidly approaching my mid-50s.  I never thought I'd live this long, so that's a nice surprise!  I am seeing the changes in my appearance, weight gain, angel hairs, loss of muscle tone in the face and all over.  I am not depressed by any of this.  Oh sure, I miss my firm skinny body, but that's been gone for awhile now and I've gotten used to it.  Losing my pretty face for a plumper, saggier version has been a little harder to watch happen, but I'm not sad about that either.  It's a natural progression.  I had my moment of youth, and I have no interest in trying to desperately hang on to what once was. 

Some might think I'm well-adjusted to aging.  Nope, I don't think so, I'm just stoic about things that I don't have much power to alter.  Fighting it seems like such a waste of what time I've got left.  If my parents and grandparents are any measure of my possible longevity, I have about 30 years left.  That's a whole 'nother lifetime spread out before me!  It's not as long as I've lived, but it's still a pretty good chunk left.  I know anything could happen and I might not get any of those years, or all of them, so with that in mind, I'm trying to plan for this future. 

I am getting weaker as I age, and my three times a week weight-lifting and aerobic workouts are helping me maintain some muscle strength, but muscle deterioration is inevitable.  Now, I'm not some hunched-over, decrepit old woman, but I can't lift and move furniture like I once could and I get exhausted from physical labor much quicker than I used to.  This is my body saying 'you're not a Spring chicken anymore,' and I continue to work, lift, pull, push, and say, 'too bad, this work has to get done.'  So as a result, I'm in much better shape than my mother was at this age.  This is the best that I can do right now, given my busy schedule.  Maybe when I retire I can become a body builder or long-distance runner again, maybe not. 

The thing is, I really believe "use it or lose it" is true.  I can see others my age who aren't as flexible or as strong as me.  I don't want to be stuck in a body that doesn't work for me, so I need to keep this one working as well as possible for as long as possible.  There will be time for sitting around later.  Right now, I need to continue to live, continue to move, grow, and push myself.  That's the physical side of it.

The other side of aging is, 'okay, what have I accomplished in this life?'  Is there anything I still want to do, and better do before I'm no longer physically able to do that?  Is there anything I still want to accomplish?  Anywhere I want to go?  So I find myself thinking along the lines that, I need to finish my genealogy for my kids.  I need to preserve some of the stories of my family.  I need to make sure my mother's handmade blankets are passed down.  And as I work on my genealogy, and I wonder about my ancestors, what they thought and felt during their lives, I think I should write something so my descendants will know who I was, what made me happy, what injustices bothered me, or why I made the choices I did.  I feel the need to leave something behind. 

I have thousands of poems from a lifetime of writing.  Only a few are just above ordinary, but there is that.  I have short stories, a screenplay, and a nearly finished novel.  I have newspaper columns I used to write and years worth of daily life stories on this blog, that I need to transfer into another form, off the computer for safe keeping.  So I think if I preserve some of these things, my descendants will know I was a writer.  I liked building and salvaging things.  I was a lifelong tinkerer, always trying to improve my own little corner of the world.  Did I discover a cure for cancer, climb Everest, or go to the moon?  No, mine has been an ordinary life, but an enjoyable one.  I still think there's an opportunity for me to do something more, but like many people, I don't know quite what that more is.  So I keep living.  I keep doing what is important to me and makes me happy, and maybe before my time is up, I'll have a little bit more interesting life story for my descendants to inherit.