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. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The next chapter of their lives


 

My daughter and new son-in-law are in the process of moving across country to live in Texas where he will be a chef at a fancy hotel.  They've packed up their tiny house/bus, dog and horse, and are slowly working their way south.  I hope this is a great start to their married lives together.  Even though I lived where they're going in my twenties, I still worry about them living in the land of tornados, flash floods, and rattle snakes.



Monday, May 23, 2016

Married




My daughter married a most wonderful young man this weekend, in a Bohemian/Hippie/eclectic ceremony, in an underground cave.  The event was very emotional and unique.  I hope they have a very happy life together.