Monday, December 28, 2015

Retirement rant

I am of the age where retirement news and information is repeatedly thrust at me.  So the topic is often in my thoughts.

Recently, I overheard a woman saying "I'm not unemployed.  I worked for 20 years.  I'm retired."

Working doesn't entitle you to retirement.  Saving enough money entitles you to retirement.

If you've got enough money to retire, great.  If you can't live on your Social Security (which you paid into so it's not an entitlement) and your pensions, then you have to keep working.

Simple as that.

When did retirement become the goal?  People didn't always expect to retire.  In many places, they still don't.  Work is what you do to survive. Or it's what you do to keep active and engaged.

My mother complained about being bored. I suggested she find a part-time job.

She was aghast.  "I'm 70 years old.  I deserve to not work."

Not if being retired is boring.

Not if you can use the money to support your activities, hobbies, charities.

Not if you can't afford it.

Not if you would miss the conversation, interaction, mental stimulation of work.

Retirement is an option, not a requirement.

When did working into your 70's and 80's become so newsworthy?  When Joan Rivers died, a fuss was made over the fact that she still worked.  She loved her job.  Why should she quit?

Betty White is 93 and still working.  Bob Newhart is 86 and still working.  When I started with my current company, one of the developers working there was 78.

People talk about When I retire, I'll do this.  I'll do that.  There is no guarantee that you will be able to do all the things you plan after you stop working.  Your health or finances may prevent it.  If it's important to you, do it now.

I've realized that if I retired I would spend time with the dogs, Bogie and I would visit the hospital, I would read, work on stained glass, putter in the garden, watch movies.

All of which I do now.  Work is my stimulation, the place I get my intellectual challenges.

Maybe it's different because I like my job.  I can understand why people would want to leave a job they hate.

Even so, retirement is something you have to plan for.  It's not something you are entitled to.  It's also not something you are required to do.  Work if you want.  Retire if you can afford it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Big Bang Theory Lego set

I had to have the Big Bang Theory Lego set.  I mean it's nerds.  And Legos.  And seven mini-figures.  And cool items on the shelves.

Here it is set up.  I added the Christmas tree for the holiday.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

From Nexus 5 to Nexus 5X

Definitely a first world problem.  But in case anyone else wants to know how well the upgrade went, here's what happened to me.

I like the Nexus because there isn't the bloatware that other devices have.  Straight up Android.  And one of the first to get any Android upgrades.

Setting up the new phone was slick.  It transferred data from the 5 to the 5X, downloaded and installed all the apps I already had. And set up all of my Google stuff automatically.

Pro - Fingerprint recognition is nice.  I can pick up the phone, unlock it and log in with only a couple of movements.  I scanned 4 fingers, just in case.   This was my main motivation for upgrading.  I didn't want to leave my Nexus 5 unprotected, but I never typed in my password correctly the first time.

Con - SIM cards are different sizes.  I couldn't just transfer the card.  I had to go to T-Mobile for a new card.  For $15.

Apps all installed, but I still needed to look up all my logins.  And Words With Friends brought over my games with people, but not my Solo Play games.

Con - I had to reset all of my Llama profiles and events.

Pro- Remembered my work WiFi setting and password.

Pro - King games ported over fine once I signed up for an account on the Nexus 5.

Con- Hangouts did not.  The history of my texts didn't carry over.  I still have them on the Nexus 5, but I don't know why they couldn't have transferred.

Con- Disney's Frozen Freefall progress did not transfer. I didn't feel like starting over so I deleted it from the 5X.  I had the same issue when I first bought the Nexus 5.  I couldn't port over all of my progress in 3 different Angry Bird variations.  I figured I could start over, but found that starting over was tedious and boring.

Couldn't get Fitbit to connect.  I could have troubleshot the issue, but it still works with my Nexus 5.  I planned to keep the Nexus 5 anyway for an alarm clock and game device.  Not enough resale value and no trade-in with Google.

The charger connection is a USB-C connector.  Which meant my spare micro-USB charger and portable charger didn't work.  Until I bought an awesome little adapter from Amazon.  Worked great. USB-C to Micro USB Adapter 

Very happy with the Nexus 5X.  The fingerprint scanner is a godsend.  The camera quality is great.  The battery life is better.  I find I can read the screen better without having to grab my reading glasses.

Overall, I'm glad I upgraded.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Garden reality

Some cactus I had in the kitchen window had grown in size where they now needed to be transplanted.  So I created a planter on the west side of the yard.

I moved each block and each shovel of dirt myself.  I am tremendously proud of the work I did.

I even put in a section of river rock to catch the dirty water when I cleaned out the bird bath. 
river rock filter
However, the dogs had different uses for the garden. 
Hole and pot blockade
This is the very deep hole that Bogie has decided needed to be dug in this new soft dirt. I filled it back in three times before giving up. 
Next to it is the "pot blockade" that keeps this cactus from being dumped into said hole. 

unlevel ground
I spent considerable time ensuring that the ground was level across the front of the rocks.   Not time well-spent, apparently. 

And finally, 
Tomato cage
The tomato cages that keep the dogs from walking all over the newly transplanted cactus.  

Not the garden that I envisioned, but a garden the dogs and the cactus both enjoy. 

Came home from work and saw that the pot blockade didn't exactly save the cactus. 
I put the big piece in the ground.  We'll see if it survives.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scent Overload

I hear more and more people talk about being affected by scents. I've had issues with scents for decades.

My sinuses close up.  My neck clenches.  My nose gets stuffy.  The reaction varies depending on the scent and strength of the scent.

I don't know if it's an American problem or a global problem.

But people seem eager to cover up their supposedly smelly selves with a hodge-podge of scents that waft into the common atmosphere like second-hand smoke.

I like to walk the dogs outside in the fresh air.  Well, okay, fresh air and Phoenix may not go together, but it's reasonably fresh.

I pass a house and am overwhelmed by the Spring breeze dryer fragrance.  Yes, dryers vent to the outside.  It's not just your clothes are that becoming dryer fresh. It's the whole area around your house.

People stand in their bathrooms with the air freshener spewing out its fragrance.  They apply scented moisturized and put scented deodorant on under their laundry scented clothes.  They comb their scented shampooed and conditioned hair and maybe spray on some scented hair spray.  They spritz their mouths with breath freshener.  Top off the whole combination with cologne or perfume.

None of these fragrances match.  They walk out the door a simmering concoction of mixed scents.

I've pulled into work, with no one in sight, gathered up my belongings, walked to the elevator, waited for the elevator, and stepped into a cloud of cologne.  No one has been present for at least five minutes, but the smell is over-powering.

What must it be like to stand right next to this person?

What started this devotion to chemically-produced fragrances?  Are we so convinced that our natural, clean selves smell unpleasantly?  I've not had anyone complain.  Or avoid me.  So I assume that regular bathing is sufficient.

Why are we so convinced that adding a scent makes everything better?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trying to nap

I injured my shoulder last weekend and have been in a lot of pain.  It's a recurring issue so I didn't bother to go to the doctor.  

But the pain has been very wearying.  I came home from work on Thursday, exhausted. 

I fed the dogs so they wouldn’t interrupt me.  Then I laid down to nap on the couch.  

Angel put her wet nose in my face as soon as she was done eating.  I petted her a moment, but she was in a playful mood, doing spins and wanting her butt scratched.  Finally, I told her No and pushed her away. 

She decided to get her attention from Bogie.  They wrestled.  Right next to the couch, bumping it repeatedly.  And Angel was happy, her tail thumping the couch right below me. 

Bogie laid down in front of the couch.  I assumed playtime was done and closed my eyes.  Only to be interrupted once again.  This time by Angel breathing heavily into my face. 

I opened my eyes and she was staring right at me, a big grin on her face. 

Sighing, I pushed her away.  

I moved to the opposite end of the couch, hoping Bogie’s bulk would be a barrier to Angel.  Not so.  

She climbed over him, onto the couch, and sat on my head.  Seriously, on my head. 

I pushed her onto my chest, petted her for a bit, then gave up, and got back up.  

Total elapsed time: ten minutes.  

Total minutes of sleep: zero. 


Friday, October 2, 2015

I found my tribe.

I spent my high school years feeling like an outsider.  Maybe everyone does.  I don't know.  I was too busy acting like I didn't care.

But the people I work with now?  Well they just seem to get me.  There is no pressure to be something you aren't.

It's the first group of people I've ever belonged to that don't judge.  There is a good percentage of people with no kids and no plans to have any.  But one guy has five kids and another has four.  Gay, straight, unattached.  All represented.

It's all good.

Love your dogs like fur children?  They get that.  (Or your cats)

Are you a Tolkien freak, a car geek, a Disney aficionado, a Lego builder?   Cool.  Tell us about it.

Church, no church, different churches.  None of it is an issue.

It's an environment where what you know or can learn, and your willingness to pitch in, counts more than any label society attaches.

There's a lot of good-natured razzing. But if you did a good job, they'll tell you.  You fucked up. They'll tell you that too.  But nicely.  And help you fix the problem.

They make going to work a pleasure.

And I am ever so grateful for that.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mediocrity annoys me

People who do their job just enough to get by irritate the bejeebers out of me.

Example - the grocery store near me had the copper wiring ripped out of 7 of its parking lot lights The electrician that repaired the wires just dropped the discarded lengths of wire on the ground and left them there.

The lights work, but taking the extra step to clean up was not in the electrician's work ethic.

Not only that, but the landscapers left it there as well. These same landscapers have ignored a couple spreading weeds until they are now 6 foot wide. And can't be bothered to clean the debris off the drainage grates.

I don't know if the grocery store is remarkably bad at hiring competent companies, or if I have unrealistic expectations.

I don't think so. I know that the landscapers that tend to my subdivision pick up the trash and notice broken branches or support posts before I can contact them. And the workmen I have had at the house were conscientious about cleaning up.

I worked with a programmer that survived 4 layoffs. Everyone wondered what dirt he had on management. He never got his projects done on time. When he did finish, it had to be sent back repeatedly for bug fixes or to have it done according to the specifications.

It never bothered him that he didn't get his tasks done correctly the first time, or the third time. His attitude was, "Well, I thought I would try it and see what happens." With no consideration for the amount of time it took someone to check, and reject, his work.

It's that last attitude that makes me angry. Your mediocrity or lack of work ethic means that someone else has to do extra work.

And why are you okay with that?

Why did the electrician assume that someone else should clean up after him? Why do the landscapers think it's not their job to clean up storm debris? Why doesn't it bother the programmer when his work is found to be buggy and ineffective?

These are job paths people chose for one reason or another. Shouldn't there be some pride in their work?

I admit it, Despite my best efforts, my work gets rejected sometimes. But I feel badly when it is. And I do my best to fix it quickly and effectively.

I just wish other people felt the same way.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Isn't it ineffective marketing?

I will freely admit that I know nothing about marketing.  But I know what works with me.

So I don't understand who thinks that it is a good marketing technique to advertise their landscaping business by tossing a baggy of rocks onto my driveway with a business card.

Similarly, I think unkind thoughts when someone hangs a flyer on my door. Or worse, on my garage door. It does not predispose me to hiring them.

Do these ever work?

I would never hire someone based on debris they deposited on my property. I ask for recommendations from friends  or search for reviews on-line.

Another marketing ploy that frustrates me is calls from windshield replacement companies. Firstly, I've had my windshield replaced 4 times by 3 companies. Yet at least 8 companies have called claiming to have replaced my windshield.

Secondly, when receiving these calls does anyone ever say, "Well, now that you mention it, there IS a big crack in my windshield.  I'm so glad you called."?

Windshield replacement isn't a splurge purchase.  I know when my windshield needs to be replaced. And when I am ready to replace it, I will call someone.

Stop calling me.

I also don't understand marketing that focuses on people behaving badly.  The Experian Credit Score commercials are my latest pet peeve in that arena.  So having a great credit score allows you to be condescending and demanding?  And this is something people aspire to?

The other "people behaving badly" commercial I hate is for Jack Links.  People are bullying, or laughing at bullying, and this is supposed to inspire me to buy their product?

Confused head shake

I would love to be a fly on the wall at the marketing meetings where these ideas were proposed.

Does no one have the courage to say, "these ideas suck!"?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I work with a bunch of car nuts.  Formula One following car nuts who know the finer points of Ferrari vs Maserati vs Lamborghini.

So it surprised me when they were supportive of my car goal.

My goal is to get 300,000 miles on my car.  My mechanic is shooting for 500,000 miles on it.

I currently have 277,000 miles on my black 1999 Mazda Protege 4-cylinder, 4-door sedan.

It has a dent in the front left fender where I hit a pillar 10 years ago in the parking garage.

It has hail dents on the hood, roof, and trunk from a hail storm in 2010.  It would have cost more than the car was worth to fix them.

There is a slight dent in the right tail light assembly which doesn't meet flush with the trunk lid any longer.  I backed into a post earlier this year.

There are dog drool streaks on the back windows and doors.

But the interior is good.  It's peppy and responsive.  My Great Dane and my Belgian Shepherd fit in the back seat.

And it's paid for.   It's been paid in full for over 12 years.  Twelve years without a car payment.

So I was more than a little perturbed when it started heating up a couple weeks ago.  Yes, the outside temperature was over 110°.  But that doesn't mean the temperature gauge on my car should peg.

I had the thermostat replaced.  Didn't help.

Had the radiator fan and cooling fan replaced.  This is where having an older car became a problem. The cooling fan took an extra day to come in.

Helped, but only a little.

Finally, we replaced the radiator.  It was the original radiator, so I'm not surprised it was faulty.

Ta-da.  I again have a car that doesn't heat up and, as a bonus, the air conditioner works better than it has in a long time.

Cost?  $1000.  Or as I like to categorize it - 3 car payments.

The last major expense was 2 years ago.  So I figure I am well ahead.

Onward to 300,000!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My horror movie idea

I am a big fan of schlocky horror movies.  I was in heaven last month during Sharknado week on SyFy. Robocroc, Sharktopus vs Whalewolf, Sharknado 3, and Lavalantuala thrilled me with the cheesy heroics and special effects.

I had just seen Piranha DD the night before.  As I walked the dogs. I pondered what the land based equivalent of tiny, little piranha would be.


There needs to be a movie called Attack of the Chihuahuas.  Tiny.  Innocuous.  Deadly.  They swarm.  You die.

I mentioned it at work and we spent two days brainstorming the cast and scenes.

Obviously, the carnage can't be too vicious.  Oh, what the Chihuahuas do can be brutal, but the heroes will have to be more circumspect in their own defense.  Cartoon violence only.  After all, they are sweet little Chihuahuas.

Still, they have to die.  So my friend George came up with the tag line - "Yes, a lot of yappy little dogs die in this movie."

The movie must open with a scene of a little Chihuahua in a pink dress walking down the sidewalk, dragging a tattered pooch purse, with a dismembered, manicured hand clutching the handle.

I think Betty White needs to reprise her role in Lake Placid.  As the soft-hearted owner of a registered Chihuahua rescue, she ends up with so many Chihuahuas to feed that she resorts to murdering homeless people to supplement the kibble.

Betty gets hospitalized and a Good Samaritan goes to assist at the rescue.  The horde of Chihuahuas are hungry.  There is no dog food on the site.  The Chihuahuas swarm the Samaritan and start nibbling.

As she tries, and fails, to escape, she leaves the gate open.  The swarm overtakes Los Angeles.

I would watch it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mentors who changed my life - Norman VanDeCamp

I've met people who were so afraid of losing their jobs that they were stingy with their knowledge.

Then there are the people who freely share their knowledge with you hoping to make you a better, smarter person.

There are key people in my past that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not sure any of them know how big a difference they made in my life.

Norman VandeCamp was a junior high school Algebra teacher.  I was a girl in his class at a time when girls "not getting" math was considered normal. Lots of girls took simpler math classes to get the requisite credits for graduation.

But I was smart, I wanted to prove it to people, and I figured that Algebra would be easy for me.

It wasn't.  The whole concept of figuring out 'x' baffled me.  It was a huge blow to my fragile self-esteem.

When I showed a willingness to put in extra effort to learn it, Mr. VandeCamp spent time with me and some of the other kids after school. He kept trying different ways to explain the concept of Algebra to me.

One day, the light bulb came on in my head.

It felt amazing.  Suddenly, I got it.  I could do Algebra.

In fact, I got an B in his class.

Big deal, you say.  Who needs Algebra?

He didn't teach me just Algebra.  He taught me that I wasn't stupid.  He taught me that if I stuck to something long enough, I could get it.

He taught me to believe in myself.

Since that time, every time I've struggled with a problem or a concept and stuck with it, I owe that perseverance to Mr. VandeCamp.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dr. Bogie

I mentioned to a friend that on our last visit to the hospital, Bogie wore a tie with medical symbols printed on it.  I said I was looking for a tie with a stethoscope on it.

He brought me a real stethoscope.

Dr. Bogie, I presume

Friday, July 17, 2015

Typeface Pet Peeve

I noticed some graffiti on the way to work the other day and wondered, Why is it that the graffiti artists don't want people to be able to read what they paint?  Isn't being noticed at least part of the point of doing it? 

This has baffled and irritated me in other circumstances, as well.  

New store, or business of some type.  Why don't I know what kind of business it is?  Because the sign is so artistic that it can't be read.  I might look the business up when I'm on-line, if I could read the name. I'm not curious enough to drive over to it to see what type of business it is.  

Isn't the point of a sign to announce your business to the world?  Maybe it's plebeian and inartistic, but black and white signs in block letters can be read and understood. 

Magazine typeface is another source of irritation.  I wrote People magazine when they published an article with a gorgeous gray storm scene as the background image and used a tan font for the wording. 

I couldn't read one word of it.  Too little contrast. Color and contract are important if you want your message read. 

People's response?  The layout of the article was up to the page designer.  In other words, artistry trumped readability. 

You might shrug this off as the rantings of a woman getting older with diminishing vision.  Not so.  My vision is 20/30. 

I just don't understand why people spend a lot of time and/or a lot of money to put out a message that is indecipherable.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A little at a time

I just finished moving 8 garden carts of dirt from the east side of my yard to the west.  This is a small step in my overall plan to lower the east planter and create a low cactus planter on the west side.

The main motivation for lowering the east planter is to prevent the Great Dane from peeking over the wall and antagonizing the neighbor's dog.  Having somewhere to plant cactus is a bonus.

In years' past, this herculean task would have completely overwhelmed me.  Just the idea of the work involved would have prevented me from starting the project.

If it couldn't be finished in sequential days, I wouldn't do it.

But I've started taking a one step at a time philosophy.  I don't have to build a west planter today.  I have to move two garden blocks.  And maybe two tomorrow.

Sometimes two became 4, but eventually I moved the 22 very heavy blocks I needed.

Now I am working on moving the dirt.  I did 8 cartsful today and 4 yesterday.  The west planter is actually a west/south  'L' and the west leg is done.  The south leg remains.

When that is filled with dirt, I can move the "small" cactus from the kitchen.  I have 5 plants that have outgrown the kitchen window.  They really shouldn't be moved until September so I have plenty of time to move the next 20 carts of dirt.

That leaves too many blocks remaining in the 4th layer of the east planter.  So I plan to extend the west planter until all the blocks are moved.  And then move more dirt.  Eventually.

After that, I intend to take the 3rd layer of blocks on the east planter and place them forward of the planter to create a double tier planter.  One layer of blocks in the front.  Two layers of block in the back.

When I am finished, I will have a low planter along the west wall of the yard and a tiered planter on the east wall of the yard.  I have no idea what I will plant in the east planter.  Right now it holds some bedraggled orange jubilee that the hummingbirds like.

I don't have to decide now.  I can chose what to plant when the planter is done.

This year.  Next year.  Maybe even the year after.

There is no rush.
The original east planter.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Maybe Bogie finally got the idea?

Bogie is pretty well trained.  98% of the time.

The exception is whenever he sees a running cat.  I've learned from painful experience that I am better off letting go of the leash.  After all, he comes right back to me.

Until he didn't.

We were out walking pre-dawn when he saw a cat.  The cat ran over the wall of the last house on the street.  Bogie hightailed it around the wall to catch the cat behind the grocery store.  I raced to catch up with him.  He was near the end of the parking area, but was tearing back to me. 

Then he swerved and took the driveway to the front of the grocery store.  As I turned the corner, I saw him clear at the other end of the parking lot disappearing from sight. 

He eventually came back to me.  Sans collar and leash.  But I was freaked out.  What if he had taken off down the street?  What if he had gotten lost?

Someone suggested a shock collar.  I ordered one with 100 levels of vibrate and 100 levels of shock. I set the collar on vibrate 65.

The collar had a remote, but it slept after only 2 minutes.  For two weeks, I put the collar on him and carried the remote in my free hand, checking the remote frequently, waking it up periodically so it would be ready if the situation arose. 

And for two weeks, we saw no cats. 

Finally one morning, he saw a cat and took off.  I pressed the remote.  He didn't seem to react.  And he didn't stop. He chased the cat until it disappeared over a wall. 

I think the collar worked,  Before coming back to me, Bogie stood and stared at me.  Like he was saying, why did you do that? 

Yesterday, we were out walking.  Something piqued his prey drive and Bogie took off.  I pinwheeled, trying to get my footing, and let go of the leash. 

"No!" I yelled. "Dammit, No!'

And he stopped.  In mid-stride.  Just stopped.  

He stopped so fast that the leash spiraled around his legs.  He was only about 8 feet away, but he came back to my side.

Maybe that one session with the shock collar was enough to make him realize that I didn't like it when he ran off.  

Maybe the light bulb finally went off in his head. 

I hope so. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bogie styling in a Bogie tie

If I haven't mentioned it, I do Pet Therapy with my Great Dane, Bogie.  For Christmas last year, I thought it would be festive if he wore a tie.  It was a big hit.

The next time we visited sans tie.  And the staff wondered where his tie was.  So now he has a tie collection.

Yes, a dog with a tie collection.

I thought it would be funny if he had a custom tie with himself on it.  The guys at work thought it was hilarious.  Not everyone at the hospital saw the whimsy.

But those that did were tickled.

I've considered putting this picture on a tie and taking a picture of him wearing that.

But I'm afraid that might create a wormhole in time and space.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Names do hurt, even years later - Baby Huey

Growing up, I was a short, thin child, and no more naive than any other 10-year-old. 

My father took to calling me Baby Huey, 

Baby Huey was a gigantic, naive, and bumbling duckling cartoon character.  

I took this to mean that my father thought I was fat and stupid.

I don't know if that was his intention.  I challenged him on it when I was an adult and he denied ever saying it.

He couldn't remember calling me a name that scarred my self-esteem for years.


He also didn't remember telling me I would never be able to drive a car with a manual transmission "because you won't be able to shift in the corners".  I challenged him on this one when I started driving a semi-truck with 13 gears. "I never said that," he claimed.

I still drive a stick shift.  And I still occasionally think about his comment when I'm driving around a corner.

What's my point?    

Off-hand remarks can scar.  Maybe I was an overly sensitive child.  Or maybe I was just a child wanting validation from her father.

I was devastated for years by remarks that my father didn't even remember making.  It still bothers me that I don't know what his motivation was.  

Did he think he was being funny?

Did he truly think I was stupid or incapable? 

Or was he just drunk?  And does that excuse it?  

 And why, 50 years later, does it still, sometimes, bother me?

Wikipedia link to Baby Huey

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Bizzaro mirror look at what could have been

I left work a bit early yesterday to go to the garage and have my oil changed and my taillight replaced.  

I got to the waiting room and there was another woman sitting there.  Doesn't happen often, but occasionally there will be someone else waiting.  She noticed my (very old) Coach purse and that was the only opening she needed.  She talked almost non-stop for 30 minutes.  I would say I contributed 5% to the conversation. 

It was kind of surreal.  Like looking into a bizarro mirror.  She was about my height and weight and around my age.  Longish hair, as is mine.  Her name was Susan.  She also lives alone with two dogs. But she must be very lonely.  

I heard all about her Louis Vuitton purse and how it got damaged.  About her Gucci glasses and how hard it is to get new lenses in designer frames.  I learned that she had knee surgery, and burn treatment, and has cataracts.  

One dog is a Jack Russell, but I didn't learn what the other dog is.  Nor did she explain about the burns.  But I did hear all about how slipping on a soapy floor damaged her knee.  And how the man at the bank who she was on the phone with called 911 for her and stayed on the line until the ambulance arrived.

There was a long explanation of how and when she keeps her front gate locked.  This was precipitated by me asking how the paramedics got into the house when she fell.  

After about 30 minutes, she was called into the back and that ended our "conversation". 

One of the owners of the garage came out into the waiting room later and apologized for sticking me with her.  Not that they have any control over her.  He said as bad as she is, she isn't as bad as the woman who comes in wrapped in copper foil to protect her from the government. 

If I ever get to the point where someone has to apologize for me, please tell me.  Or shoot me. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My sister's cat can sleep anywhere

A cat followed my sister's Shih Tzu home from a walk about a year ago, so my sister adopted him.  Willy is part Maine Coon and can sleep anywhere.  Book shelves, tables, chair arms,

Mixing bowls,
He drinks from the fishbowl on the left.  And the fish doesn't mind. 

Or all but falling from a chair seat:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mentors who changed my life - Rudy Emmel

I've met people who were so afraid of losing their jobs that they were stingy with their knowledge.

Then there are the people who freely share their knowledge with you hoping to make you a better, smarter person.

There are key people in my past that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not sure any of them know how big a difference they made in my life.

Rudy Emmel was a driver's education instructor back when schools taught driving. The class was divided into sections for the written driver's test, for simulator, and for actual driving. Mr. Emmel did not teach any of the sections for my class time.

I was acing simulator and the book work. I was not acing the driving.

The driving instructor I got was a gruff coach who shall remain nameless. He seemed irritated that my parents had never once taken me driving. Or that I was a girl.  Or both.

There were 3 of us girls in the driving section. I don't recall how either of them did. I only know that I was not learning as quickly and easily as he wanted.  It didn't help that he yelled at me whenever I made a mistake.

The final straw was when I was trying to do what he told me to.  Okay, maybe I was pissed off, but I was trying really hard to do what he asked. He stomped on his brake, stopping the car abruptly, and told me that I was done. He would not take me out driving again.

One of the girls in the back seat traded places with me and drove us back to the school.

I was going to flunk driver's ed. I would not be able to get my license at 16. I would have to wait until I was 18.

I was humiliated.

I was at a loss for what to do when I showed up for my next driving section. That's when Mr. Emmel took me aside and said he would teach me how to drive.

He took me out by myself and devoted the entire class time for the remainder of the semester to teaching me how to drive well enough to pass.

He was patient, and persistent, and explained things in a way that I understood. And he never raised his voice.

He even succeeded in teaching me to parallel park.

I don't know if he realized how important it was that he didn't treat me like I was stupid.

Driving was a step toward adulthood. Driving was freedom. Driving was the ability to get a job.

One of my many careers was driving a semi-truck.

I couldn't have done any of the things I've done without Rudy Emmel's compassion and patience.

Thank you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

THESE are the good old days - books

There seems to be a lot of nostalgia for the 50's and 60's, even the 70's.  Television shows, music all portray those days as if they were some golden age of civilization.  Like life was so much better back then, 

Well, I've been there.  Done that.

THESE are the good old days.

Books are a good example.  I love books.  I read a lot.  I can't eat unless I have something to read.  I have a book case full of books I haven't yet read.

And a Kindle full of books that I haven't yet read.  I am an equal opportunity reader.

In the "good old days", the books you had to choose from were constrained by what the local library and the bookstore decided to carry.  For the bookstore that generally meant the best sellers, whether classics or new releases.

Want a book you've heard about on TV or the radio?  You had to order it.  Or go to a bigger bookstore. Or cultivate book-loving friends that would share with you.

Want to know whether people liked the book or would recommend it?  Good luck.  There might be a review of a best seller in the newspaper.  If you liked the same things the reviewer liked, this could be helpful.

Sometimes a librarian could or would recommend a new author.  Or your friends, a neighbor, a bookstore employee, a teacher.  Naturally, their recommendations are colored by their own preferences.

The library was the hub for recreational reading and homework.  Need to write a paper on Mesopotamia?

  • Head to the library.  
  • Peruse the card catalog.
  • Hope the books you need aren't checked out or in use.  
  • Flip through each book chapter by chapter, page by page, and hope that you can actually find the section you need in the book.  
  • Pray that there is a functional index.

Using an encyclopedia?  Don't forget to check the supplemental volumes in case there is additional information.

Then there was book publishing.  If you had a great idea for a book, you needed a publisher.  Which generally required having an agent.  Who was too busy with established clients to bother with your idea.

And the publisher would decide how many copies to print, how to market it, when to remainder it and when to take it off the market.

Did you want to self-publish?  That required a printing of a specific number of books and about $5000 just to get started.

Now you can find all kinds of books, in physical or virtual, on all sorts of topics, in all sorts of genres, many of them self-published.  And there is so much information (good and bad) on the internet that researching Mesopotamia is easy.

I still read a lot of physical books.  The cozy mysteries that I am so fond of are actually cheaper in print than via Kindle.

For book lovers, THESE are the good old days!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Doggy Day Care adventures

I haven't been anywhere overnight since 2003.  And that was to go back to Iowa for my father's funeral.

Don't get me wrong.  I've done a fair bit of traveling before that.  I've been to each of the 48 contiguous states, Mexico, and England.

But since I've settled in Arizona, I've done very little traveling.



Mostly I feared that being left alone in the house for too long would traumatize my dogs.  And, until recently, there was no chance I could afford both a vacation and a boarding facility.

People have offered to check on them.  But I thought a short visit would actually be more disruptive than being in an new place entirely.

And of the people I would trust with my dogs, not one would be able to exercise the big boy.  Bogie is 120 pounds of alert predator.  I would feel awful if someone got hurt trying to walk him.

Last week I checked out a pet resort that came highly recommended on Yelp.  (Doesn't that seem fitting?)

I took them in for a trial day of doggy day care.  When we got there and I walked them back to the kennels, Bogie got nose to nose with a spaniel in a cage, snarling and barking.  To be fair, the spaniel started it.

But I left there convinced I would be getting a call to come back and get them.  Or when I picked them up, they would tell me to never bring them back.

I felt like the worst dog mom ever.  The parent of an ill-mannered child.

No call came.  When I got there and paid the fee, the receptionist said the dogs had been fine.  When I went back to get them, the young woman asked me, "Who are you here for?"  "Bogie and Angel."

Her face lit up.  "He loves me!, she said.  He had been a good boy, she assured me.

The dogs stood calmly in the kennel, waiting for me.  Exhausted and happy, they fell asleep as soon as we got home.

This may really work out.

So where shall I go?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

She's a clever girl

Angel and Bogie followed me upstairs when I got home. Angel was carrying Bogie's Kong ball. Which has never happened. I had assumed it wasn't permitted.

She carried the ball across the bedroom carpet and dropped, no pitched, the ball onto the bathroom tile. Then stood there looking back at me. 

Bogie heard the bounce and went flying past her to retrieve the ball as it bounced all over the bathroom. Then he set it down so he could follow me.

Angel picked it back up, walked over to the stairs and dropped it. And stared at the bedroom. Bogie heard the bouncing and tore down the stairs to get it.

If she continues to play fetch with him that will save me a lot of effort.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I can't keep trees in my back yard

I've lived in this house for 17 years.  In that time I have had  7 different trees in the back yard.  Five have died for various reasons.  One is on its last leg.

Currently I have a Chinaberry tree that is struggling to stay alive.  Every Spring a different limb is dead.  But it still sprouts leaves so I don't want to cut it down.

I also have a flourishing Palo Verde tree.  That one makes me nervous.  It seems to have no problems.

The flowering cherry was the first to die.  The symptoms were that of Texas Root Rot.  So the replacement tree was moved 15 feet further east.

That one, an Acacia, didn't do badly.  Until it was uprooted by a microburst.

Planted with it was a second Acacia.  Oddly, they seemed to be different types even though they were bought at the same time and at the same nursery.

That Acacia got struck by lightning and never really recovered, succumbing finally to some sort of beetle infestation.

The lightening-struck Acacia was replaced by a fast-growing Ash.  That was a badly pruned specimen and resulted in a second, free Ash planted near the first.  They lasted less than two years, seemed to be flourishing.  Then both died simultaneously within weeks of the Spring growing cycle.

So I decided to go metal.  I bought a six foot tall spinner to decorate my back yard.  It doesn't give off much shade, but at least it's pretty.

And it's cool to watch.

Maybe I need more metal art? 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why put up with bad behavior?

I've started watching the new series, Backstrom, and it made me wonder why television writers think people will put up with bad behavior just to get results.

Sherlock Holmes is brilliant, but let's be honest, he's kind of a dick.  Yet John Watson, Lestrade, even John's wife, Mary, put up with Sherlock's ill-manners because he gets the job done.

I stopped watching The Big Bang Theory two seasons ago because I grew tired of Sheldon's antics.  And the way the gang pandered to them.  Ditto House.  His brilliant medical diagnoses did not excuse his anti-social behavior

Surely people would not be that tolerant in real life.

Then I thought of my youngest brother.  Steve is intelligent, charismatic, and has done in-depth studies on religious history and can converse on the topic for hours.  He is also so drug-addled that he is barely capable of taking care of himself.

So his friends take care of him.  And they are happy to do so.

He lost his license and can't drive.  And refuses to take the bus.  But there is always someone willing to take him wherever he needs or wants to go.

He was completely incapable of arranging a trip for Mom's funeral.  His caregivers and friends made all the arrangements, made them again when he missed his flight, and even packed his suitcase for him.

They are there to pick up the pieces after he's gone off the deep end - yet again.

Honestly, I don't understand it.

But I now realize that the television writers are reflecting real life, not creating fiction.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Don't let a Great Dane get bored.

This is what I came home to a couple days ago.  Bogie had gotten bored and figured out how to open the cupboard where I keep the garbage.  I watched the video and he spent about an hour playing in the garbage.

I didn't bother to scold him.  It was my fault for not putting closures on the door.  I bought them.  Just didn't attach them.

And besides, he was so pleased with himself.

This is just the kitchen and family room.  I found garbage in the backyard and upstairs as well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Standing up straight has stirred up old insecurities.

I've been having painful shoulder problems.  Enough so that it is affecting my exercise routine.  So I finally went to the doctor.  Who sent me to a physical therapist.  

Who told me that I need to stand up straight.  

Learning to stand up straight after 40+ years of slouching is a painful proposition.  And it got me wondering why I started to slouch in the first place. 

Oh, yeah.  Breasts.  

I was the first to develop breasts in my 6th grade class.  That kind of attention was horrifying to a shy wallflower.  

So I started to slouch to hide them. 

And have continued to slouch.  I wanted to be respected for my intellect. In my mind that meant denying I have breasts.  

At my age, I don't particularly care what people think about my looks.  

Or thought I didn't care.  Until I looked at myself in the mirror as I was checking my posture.  

Breasts, boobs, whatever you want to call them.  Sticking out farther than I am comfortable with. 

A lot of the old insecurities came rushing back.  Fear that I would be cat-called again.  Dread that I wouldn't be looked in the eye.  That I would be considered a dumb bimbo.  

Which is stupid.  Because the people I work with, my friends, all know I am smart. 

I realized that the behavior of unknown "others" isn't my problem.  My fear and reaction is my problem.  And I can control that. 

And I need to stand up straight. 

So I am going to be a grown-up and stand up straight.  

Because I am not a 12-year-old wallflower any more.  

I'm a grown-up. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Joan Margaret Tully Smith - May 30, 1934 - January 10, 2015

My mother showed me that women could work outside the home, should be able to take care of themselves, do household repairs, upholstery, and lawn work. That reading a book was a good use of time. That changing careers at mid-life was possible. And that moving across the country wasn't scary.

She spent 30+ years as a psychiatrist nurse after spending nearly 20 years as a newspaper transcriptionist.  She kept busy with bowling, golfing, and poker with the girls.  She was an avid reader, a dog lover, an enthusiast of jigsaw puzzles.

She loved to travel and visited England, Greece, and Canada, vacationed in Mazatlán every May, and traveled frequently to Las Vegas.

She did things her own way.  She drank, smoked, and gambled and apologized for none of it.

She will be missed.