Saturday, December 11, 2010

Babysitting a King Charles Cavalier Puppy

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of babysitting a friend’s King Charles Cavalier puppy. Lilli’s absolutely adorable, and I was SO excited to have her here. Her mom dropped her off on Thursday evening and would be picking her up sometime on Sunday. I’d initially planned to do some writing and to start decorating the house for Christmas, thinking my husband would be there to help with Lilli. But he ending up going out of town on business until Saturday evening, so I was on my own.

Let me start by saying that no writing took place, and I didn’t do any Christmas decorating, either. Somehow, I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a puppy around. She got into everything. And she put it all into her mouth. I must have pulled at least five forbidden items from her mouth, including a paperclip and part of a golf shoe cleat. I don’t even know how a golf shoe cleat came to be in the house.

By the end of the day, after Lilli had been here only six hours, I was wiped out and decided to go to sleep early. Her mom had told me that Lilli slept with her and that she loves to cuddle. Well, Lilli ended up sleeping on my pillow, wrapped around the top of my head. I kept moving her, but she kept coming back. I ended up getting less than three hours of sleep that first night. And I had a stiff neck from the way I had to stay crunched up, so that she wouldn’t be pushed into the headboard.

On Friday and Saturday, it was impossible to do anything, because she wanted to be picked up, or she wanted me to throw toys to her. If I was moving from room to room, she was literally under my feet. Thank God for our dog, Maddie, who played with Lilli much of the time. The only time I got her to rest was when I watched television for an hour. She was content to lie on the sofa next to me and sleep. Otherwise, she was in constant motion.

And she was funny as hell! She barked at her reflection in the fireplace glass. In our little office, she spotted some Beanie Babies on the floor, and she barked and charged at them, until she finally figured out that they weren’t alive. I laughed a LOT last weekend! She challenged my Amazon parrot to a fight by barking incessantly every time she saw him. I had to watch them, because he climbed down his cage and was hanging off the stand, trying to reach her. Like I said, I couldn’t take my eyes off her for even a minute.

And probably because she was in a new environment, she had accidents. I mean she really had accidents. By Saturday evening, she’d peed in five different rooms and had also pooped five times in four rooms. And I was taking her outside at least every two hours! But then, a few hours after my husband came home from his business trip, Lilli outdid herself.

I was folding towels in the bedroom, and I had Lilli sitting on the bed, so that I could keep an eye on her. As I looked up from my laundry task, I saw Lilli squat. Realizing that she was about to pee, I said, “Lilli, NO!” Well, that scared her, so she started squirming to get away from me, peeing as she moved. I ended up having to wash the sheets, mattress pad, a down blanket, a fleece blanket and a pillow. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

We were finally able to go to bed at 3:00 a.m. All my husband said was, “I thought she was housebroken.” Hopefully, it’ll be years before he finds out that Lilli also chewed the molding on the bottom of an antique desk. (I colored it with one of those furniture fixing pens.)

I love Lilli, and her mom’s a good friend, but I think I’m going to hold off on babysitting her until she’s at least a year old. For one thing, we’re getting new carpeting soon – need I say more? And I’d rather wait ‘til Lilli gets past that high-maintenance puppy stage, so I can really enjoy her.

Photo by Dedi Sharabi
Title: Bojan
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dedish/4177023692/in/photostream/
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Communicating with Dementia Patients

I wrote this article for Type-A Parent (http://typeaparent.com/) and thought it was important enough to repeat on my blog. As the population ages, dementia is becoming a huge problem. And the woman in the article has found a way to communicate with dementia patients, even after they stop speaking.

Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.parade.com/health/2010/11/21-unlocking-the-silent-prison.html

It’s frustrating for grandchildren of any age to witness a beloved grandmother going downhill because of dementia. Unfortunately, lots of young people don’t visit their grandmothers because they’re uncomfortable with the disease. They often don’t know whether to attempt a conversation, or what to say when they do. It’s especially difficult for the young, because they usually haven’t had much exposure to dementia.

Well, Michelle S. Bourgeois, a speech-pathology professor at Ohio State, has come up with a method of making those conversations go a little more smoothly. According to an article in the November 21, 2010, issue of Parade Magazine, Bourgeois discovered that Alzheimer’s disease first strikes the part of the brain that controls learning and memory processes. But, because reading is a skill that becomes automatic, after doing it all our lives, patients are often still able to understand simple printed explanations.

For example, while volunteering for hospice, I had a patient who would ask about every five minutes when her daughter would return home. Bourgeois suggests using flash cards with simple messages printed on them. So I could have printed “Your daughter will be home at 6:00” in large letters. And in many cases, patients understand the message and stop asking so often. If they do repeat the question, simply tell them that the answer is on the card.

Reading can help even in cases of anger and anxiety in people with dementia. Bourgeois tells of a situation where the patient refused to shower. So her aide made a card that read, “Showers make me feel fresh and clean” and gave it to the patient when it was time to shower. It actually worked. Bourgeois said, “Even when dementia is so advanced that people cannot speak, they can read if the words are large enough.” She goes on to say that spoken words aren’t stored in memory, so they’re ineffective.

In another situation, Bourgeois tells of a patient who told her daughter, “You’re not my Susan.” So the daughter gave her mother two photos, with notes written under them. One said, “This is my daughter Susan at age three.” And the other note said, “This is my daughter Susan now.” When the patient looked at the two photos and notes, she replied, “As beautiful as ever.”

I am really excited about this and will definitely try it with my next dementia patient. I’ll also share the Parade article with my patients’ caregivers and the hospice organization for which I volunteer. (In the meantime, if any caregivers out there try this with a dementia patient, I’d love to know if it was successful.)
But I’m writing about it here, because it would be tragic for grandchildren to stop visiting grandmothers afflicted with dementia. Bourgeois says that people tend to treat these patients as if they’re not the persons they were, “But they’re still here.”

http://typeaparent.com/spending-time-with-grandmothers-who-have-dementia.html

Photo by: Charlmers Butterfield©
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sba2
Title: Elderly Woman
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas is Shrinking at Our House

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where did this year go?! Everybody always says that as we get older, time passes ever more quickly. But I didn’t expect it to be like this! I need more time to “do” Christmas the way I usually do it – 4½ trees (two 6-foot, a 7-foot, a 12-foot and a 4-footer that stands on a table in the vestibule); garland everywhere; snowman, Santa, nutcracker and Baccarat collections; holiday dishes and glasses, etc., etc. But why? What in hell was I thinking?!

I had become a slave to the season, making my house into a shrine to the retail gods. Don’t get me wrong – people say I haven’t crossed the line between festive and gaudy. But the amount of time I’ve invested in the decorating and the money spent on some of those ornaments . . . well, it’s just insane. But I’m through with that! We already gave away two trees, and I’ve decided to give away lots of house decorations and tree ornaments.

I also gave away several nutcrackers, and now I’m going to dramatically thin out the snowman and Santa collections. Oh, and I forgot about the Snow Babies. When I started buying all this stuff 100 years ago, I told myself it was an investment, that I’d sell them one day and make a small fortune. Uh-huh. Now eBay’s driven down the price of just about everything, and I can’t even get what I paid for those collectibles, in some cases, over 30 years ago. Since there’s not much use in trying to sell them, I’ll be giving them to family members. I hope they’ll take good care of all my little gems.

Will I miss it? I don’t think so. My nieces and nephews liked it when they were younger, and I enjoyed seeing their eyes widen as they took it all in. But, except for three 8-year-olds, they’re grown and past being impressed by Christmas glitz. And my son, who used to love it, says that he’s become indifferent to all the trappings of Christmas. (Over-kill on my part?) But this year I think he’ll like that his mom will be much more relaxed and easygoing. And that will be a gift to everybody here!

Photo by Sandy Laurence©
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The End of an Unhappy Life

A man with whom I used to work died recently. I read the obituary in the newspaper, and I felt nothing. Now that’s very much unlike me, since I cry at funerals when I don’t even know the deceased. But I’m not grieving for the person who died, the person I never knew. No, I’m crying for my friend or co-worker who lost a loved one, because I’m feeling his or her pain. But not in this case.

I briefly worked in John’s department, although, thankfully, not for him. The people who did work for him had to constantly tiptoe around his feelings of insecurity or risk an attack. They either kissed his ass to stay on his good side, or he saw them as threats to his authority and set out to get them. He was a classic bully, always targeting those who were vulnerable.

While I was there, he had three “whipping boys.” One was a defenseless little old guy who got so flustered over the constant public tirades that his face glowed red, until we thought he was on the verge of a stroke. Another was technically competent, but socially inept, and John would treat him like his best buddy one minute and then viciously abuse him verbally an hour later.

His third victim was actually a kindly older woman. She was fiercely loyal to John, until the day when a couple of executives from another company came in to meet with him. Apparently, a minor problem came to light, and John walked over to the woman’s desk and started shouting at her in front of the guests until she began to cry. He walked away from her with a self-satisfied expression, just short of a grin, on his face, like he was on a power trip.

I saw many of John’s ugly displays and had absolutely no respect for the man. But there was more. He had two sons, and when the youngest was in college, John and his wife decided they didn’t like his then girlfriend, who later became his wife. Nobody knew the exact details, but John and his wife cut off all communication with their son. And John seemed proud of the fact that they weren’t going to accept the woman into their family. Eventually, we heard that they were no longer speaking with their older son either. And the last I heard, they had grandchildren they’d never met.

I wonder now if John and his wife ever reconciled with their sons. Maybe his death brought them back in touch with their mother. And maybe not. All I know is that this is the first time I’ve felt absolutely nothing over the death of someone I knew. I actually think he made the world a better place by leaving it. How very sad.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

This Woman Hires and Steals from Illegal Immigrants

Saturday, November 6, 2010
Would you turn in a woman who hires illegal immigrants to clean houses and then steals their last paycheck when they quit? Several years ago, when Poland was in a serious recession, my friend Sophie lost her job in Krakow and came here on a six-month visa to visit a family member. She ended up staying for 8-1/2 years.

Now before you get angry, there are a few things you should know. First, her husband was murdered by the communists for his involvement with Solidarity, the trade union that used strikes to force the communist government to improve working conditions. She had two grown children, who were struggling to get by. Since none of them could find a job, she came here to support herself and to help her kids.

When she arrived, she got an apartment in Hamtramck, Michigan, and, like countless other immigrant women, found a job cleaning houses. Sophie’s first employer had a cleaning service in my area. That’s how I met her in 2006 – she cleaned my house for several months. (Because she couldn’t speak English, I had no idea back then that she was here illegally.)

Wanting to know more about her and what drove her to come here without knowing the language, I asked friends and family members to translate for us. And that’s how we came to be friends, at least to the extent possible with a language barrier. Sophie studied English with various tutors, so we were able to communicate somewhat, as long as she kept her Polish-English dictionary with her.

When her boss sold his cleaning business shortly after I met her, she found another cleaning service, whose clients live in Grosse Pointe, which was much closer to home. And she worked like a dog. There were many weeks when she logged 55-60 hours. Her day started at 6:00 a.m., and sometimes she didn’t get home until after 8:00 at night. She started out getting paid $8 an hour, but made $10 an hour for the past three years.

Until last year, she sent money to her children to help them out. Then the job situation in Michigan deteriorated, and the cleaning service lost several customers, when they became unemployed. Many weeks, Sophie got only 20-25 hours. And as her business suffered, Sophie’s boss became more and more unreasonable and demanding. Sophie, closing in on 60 years old, became weary of the physical toll on her body, as well as the crap her boss pulled. So she quit and returned to Poland last week, now that its economy is finally in better shape.

The problem is that Sophie’s boss refuses to give her the $580 that she earned for the last two weeks of cleaning. And I’ve been told by several people in Hamtramck that the same thing happens to most of the women who go back to Poland. It happens every day. That’s because they have no recourse. Their visas have long ago expired, so they’re illegal aliens with no rights. They can’t even prove that they had a job. That’s because the cleaning service owners put nothing in writing – workers are paid in cash, no employment taxes are withheld, and there’s no pay statement.

Well, I can’t stand to see anyone ripped off like that, so I telephoned the owner of the cleaning service. I told her that if she doesn’t give Sophie her money, I’ll report the theft to the police (I realize they probably can’t do anything about it), and I’ll notify immigration and the IRS about her tax-free business fueled by illegal aliens. After saying that she was justified in stealing Sophie’s money, because she didn’t give adequate notice when she quit, Sophie’s boss hung up on me. And since she didn’t deliver the money to Sophie before she left for Poland, I doubt that she’s concerned in the least. After all, there is no proof that she even has a cleaning service. (She doesn’t know, however, that I have the names, addresses and phone numbers of four of the clients for whom Sophie cleaned house.)

So here’s my dilemma. I know that if I call the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), they may say it’s too small to bother with, since Sophie estimates that only about 20 women are employed by her boss. But if they do pursue it, all those women will lose their incomes, and most would be deported. And the same thing could happen if I call the IRS (I’m betting the service owner doesn’t pay taxes on her income, nor does she supply W2 forms for her employees). Either way, though, Sophie won’t get her money.

If I make those calls, it’ll be because I’m angry and want this woman punished for stealing her employees’ money (I’m sure she’s done it many times before). And I want her stopped from doing it again. But I don’t want to cause any of her workers to lose their incomes and be deported. I’m aware of the current animosity toward illegals, and I’m not saying it’s okay to be here illegally. But these women are here because they can’t make it in their Eastern bloc countries. And I don’t personally know any Americans who are lining up to do hard labor for $8 or $10 an hour.

So do I make those calls, or not? What would you do?
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Friday, October 29, 2010

We Might Be Sharing Our Home With Fleas

Friday, October 29, 2010

The other day, our dog was sitting on the sofa with me, as I watched the news, and she started biting at her belly. I noticed, but didn’t think anything of it . . . until, that is, she did it for the third time. I immediately started looking for fleas through the sparse whitish fur on her stomach, even though I didn’t expect to find anything. After all, she’s been on Frontline since spring.

In the 2-1/2 years that we’ve had Maddie, she’s never had fleas. And that’s saying a lot, considering that she goes into the tall weeds along the back of our lot several times a day to chase her Frisbee. (Hey, I never said I’m any good at throwing a Frisbee.) Before that, we had a Bichon, who never had fleas in 13 years, and my son’s Cockapoo got fleas only once. But we didn’t have Frontline back then.

Well, to my horror, I saw two fleas on our dog that night. I still can't believe that I was actually able to catch one with my fingers. But as I tried to squish it, the little vampire jumped out of my grip and onto the family room carpet. Convinced that it was a female who by then was giving birth to hundreds of babies beneath my feet, I shrieked for my husband. When I told him that Maddie had fleas, he didn’t say anything. I knew instantly, by the look on his face, that he had decided to skip her October Frontline application.

Sometimes I think he’d do almost anything to save a few dollars, and it makes me crazy. He said he didn’t realize that October is probably the worst month for fleas, since they’re looking for a warm-blooded host to take them through the winter. Fortunately for him, the flea bath he gave Maddie actually worked. Yesterday, the groomer found only one dead flea on her.

Life is never boring with this man. But I think when we downsize out of this house, I’m suggesting a duplex or adjoining condo units!

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Confused State of Michigan Employee

Monday, October 25, 2010
I just watched The View and came away incensed, only this time it wasn’t because of the incredibly irritating Elisabeth Hasselbeck. No, it was my home state, Michigan, that made me crazy today. First we have an Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Shervill, who stalked and harassed a university student leader simply because he’s gay. (Incredibly, Shervill has not been fired to date.) And now, mere weeks after the Shervill debacle, another brilliant State employee, Tyra Kahn, has surfaced.

One of the “Hot Topics” on The View was about a woman in Ann Arbor who advertised on her church’s bulletin board for a “Christian roommate.” As a result, Tyra Kahn, an obvious brain trust in Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, actually filed a complaint, citing this woman for discrimination. WTF?!

Apparently, Kahn doesn’t know that the federal housing laws have absolutely nothing to do with selecting a roommate. Wake up woman! A roommate is in your home, in your face! You have the right to choose with whom you live. And because it’s your home, you can put whatever restrictions you want on the prospective roommate.

Would someone please give Ms. Kahn a job she can handle? These days, I’m almost ashamed to say I’m from Michigan. Maybe the State should start requiring intelligence tests and psychological evaluations for all new hires. And, while the HR people are at it, they should examine a lot of the existing employees, as well. We don’t need any more ridiculous crap like this.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We Sold Our Home, and I'm Miserable

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I’m sitting here mourning the home we just sold, even though I pushed my husband to agree to list it. It was definitely the right thing to do, because there’s no way we used it enough to justify the cost. And I’ve never been a two-house person – it’s hard enough for me to keep one under control. It’s what I wanted, but this is turning out to be really painful for me.

The house is in Boyne City, Michigan, a truly charming little town that’s situated on beautiful Lake Charlevoix in northwestern Michigan. The house, which we built just over 10 years ago, has a great view of the lake. And it’s in an idyllic setting, across the street from a park in a newer neighborhood of lovely 1940s-style homes, with big porches and lots of character.

Initially, we planned on living there in retirement. My husband, who hates the cold, envisioned being there in the summer and somewhere in the south during the winter. I love winter, so I would’ve stayed in Boyne all year and visited him for a few weeks in February. But after a couple of years, I realized that I couldn’t live that far away from a major city. I would’ve been starved for all the things I love doing in the Detroit metro area.

Knowing that, I started lobbying to sell the house five or six years ago, when my husband was excitedly proclaiming that we could make a lot of money on it, based on the market at the time. But he loved being up there and wouldn’t even consider selling. I worried because much of the real estate in northern Michigan is owned by people connected to the auto industry, which was teetering on the brink back then. Now, of course, it’s a disaster. House prices have fallen by as much as half in Michigan, and it’ll be years before property values, especially second homes, recover. So we’re taking a substantial loss.

But I expected that. What I didn’t expect is that it would sell so quickly. It’s taken well over a year for some properties to sell in our little development. So I figured we’d still be using the house next spring and maybe even next summer. When the realtor called us with the offer, it hit me like a lightning bolt. I hadn’t realized just how unprepared I was to let go of that delicious retreat. Be careful what you ask for, right?

A good friend of mine sent me this Helen Keller quote:

"When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which had opened up for us...."

She said not to stare at Boyne City too long. And she’s right. That was a lovely chapter in our lives. But maybe now it’s time to relax, with fewer responsibilities and concerns about the house, especially when we weren’t there. And we won’t feel compelled to spend all our free time there, anymore. So it’ll be okay, I say, in an effort to convince myself. I’ll get over this loss, because, after all, it didn’t make sense for me to begin with. But for right now, it’s tougher than I’d ever imagined it could be.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

LifeLinks Jewelry - Focus on Your Values

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I love jewelry. In fact, I make metal jewelry and might get into beading one day. But about a year ago, I discovered something different, and I’m really into it. While in Charlevoix, Michigan, I visited “Elements,” a favorite store that carries beautiful artsy home accents and jewelry. That’s where I met Glenn Wachler, who, with his brother, Link, designed and created LifeLinks.

Glenn happened to be at the store explaining the meaning behind the jewelry, and I was intrigued. Each square link represents something to the owner - a value, passion, person, or pet, for example. And the intention is that as you look at the Links you’re wearing, you can’t help but think about your priorities. The bracelet actually helps you focus on what’s important to you.

The sterling LifeLinks cost $36, but they have gone on sale a couple of times this year, and, hopefully, will go on sale again in the future.. A smaller selection of LifeLinks is also available in pewter for $15. While the sterling mesh bracelet is $120, bracelets are also available in a variety of colors in stylish rubber for $12 - $15.

You can design your own bracelet with as many or few pieces as you like. If you go to the LifeLinks website, you’ll see all the Links, spacers, frames and photo frames that are available, as well as some sample designs. Check it out:

http://www.4lifelinks.com/

Initially, I bought the sterling silver mesh bracelet and one sterling LifeLink. I chose “Forgive” because that’s something I want to work on. Then I bought a few more, intending to add Links gradually. But when almost everything went on sale, I took that opportunity to add to my bracelet. Now I have several Links, including “Friends,” “Family,” “Love,” “Gratitude,” “Giving,” “Learn,” “Create” and “Patience.” (See photo.)

These days I’m rarely without my LifeLinks bracelet. Who knows – it just might help me be a better person!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Universe Teaches a Lesson at Costco!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just got back from what was to be a quick trip to Costco for gas. While in the gas line, I decided I’d run into the store and surprise my husband with a shrimp cocktail before dinner. Of course, I found other wonderful things, as usual. There was my third 3-pack of reading glasses (they’re in almost every room, in my purse, in my pottery and jewelry class tool boxes and in the car). Then there was the large hard-cover version of “The Runaway Bunny” for our granddaughter and a couple of audio books for all the time I spend driving.

And then, as I walked toward the check-outs at the front of the store, I passed the aisle that I’ve been avoiding for weeks now, the home of the Shearer potato chips. Now between the two of us, I’m not the chipaholic – my husband is. In fact, Shearer’s are the only chips I like. I crave pasta, chocolate and Diet Coke, not necessarily in that order. But I like a handful of chips once in a while. My husband, on the other hand, loves chips and has a much tougher time resisting them. But because we’re trying to eliminate unhealthy stuff from our diets, we decided the Shearers would no longer be welcome in our home. And I’ve successfully resisted that aisle on my last four Costco trips.

But today, I wanted to simply visit them. So imagine my shock and horror when I went down the Shearer aisle, and they weren’t there. I thought, “This is definitely a message from the Universe.” Devastated, I went to the self check-out and, after paying for everything, I asked an employee if they’d moved the Shearer chips. (Take that, Universe!) Well, she checked the system and told me they weren’t “carrying them right now,” and that she didn’t know when they’d be back. This was sounding more like a divorce than a separation, and I was getting worried.

So, as I walked toward the exit, I stopped at the desk to ask them why they’d stop carrying such a popular product. This time, when the woman checked the system, it showed that they had over 300 bags in stock and 400 on order. A quick call to someone in the stock area resulted in a promise to bring some chips to the floor. I was asked to have a seat, because “It’ll take a few minutes.” And that’s what I did, berating myself nonstop for actually planning to buy the chips, while feeling triumphant at the same time.

Well, I waited and waited. After about 20 minutes had passed, I checked and saw that the chips still weren’t out. So I asked another assistant how much longer it would take. She made a call and was told that they’d been “dropped and stocked.” So I went back there just as a guy was taking them off a pallet. Finally, I had the chips I never intended to buy! And the Universe had thought it was so clever – HA!

Flash forward about 20 minutes to when I got home. I opened one of the bags and took a few chips, as did my husband. We both kind of looked at each other and tried a few more. Then I asked, “Do these taste any different to you?” He agreed that they did. While they never tasted very salty, now they tasted like they needed salt. And the flavor just wasn’t as rich. In fact, after two or three chips, I didn’t want any more. And neither did the chip maniac.

How could this be?! What did the brain trusts at Shearer do? I noticed something on the bag that may or may not have been there before – I don’t remember. (I’m obviously grasping at straws.) It said “0 grams trans fat.” Maybe they eliminated trans fats and replaced them with other, more boring fats. I don’t know. What I do know is that we’re cured. We’re giving these away and won’t be tempted again. How ridiculous of me to think I could win that one! Hey, Universe, could you maybe do the same with my addiction to pasta?
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

I’m Finally Finished With Channel 7 WXYZ TV News!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010
Well, yesterday was the last straw. The idiots at Detroit’s WXYZ TV news went too far. WXYZ was the only station to cut off President Obama’s speech right at noon, so that its crappy news show could start on time. And what was more important than what the President had to say? Bulldozers. Yes, they showed bulldozers knocking down burned houses. And then, we got to hear the opinion of a woman who lives near the fires. The other two local stations, WDIV and WJBK, didn’t start their news shows until the President was wrapping up his speech. But WXYZ is obviously more important than the other stations.

All through the winter snow season, WXYZ’s viewers are treated to hours of watching reporters standing along freeways, either as it snows or as the snow plows get ready for the snow. Then they switch from one freeway camera to another, showing cars driving slowly through the snow. It’s absolutely maddening! They preempt “Good Morning, America”, based on a forecast, even before it snows. WTF?! This is Michigan - it snows here all the time. Get over yourselves, WXYZ! Nobody gives a damn about seeing your reporters standing around with snowflakes on their hats!

And then, while scrolling school closings across the bottom of the screen, they inexplicably put a thick border around a miniature news show, so that viewers can’t see anything on the news without a magnifying glass. And they do that for election coverage, too. Election returns scroll across the bottom of the screen, but the thick border surrounds and shrinks the actual news broadcast. Not that it’s worth seeing much of the time . . .

Another thing that drives me nuts is that everything is “BREAKING NEWS.” An accident on a freeway is suddenly “Breaking News.” And so is a forecasted thunderstorm or a burning building (no, not a skyscraper). I could live happily without ever knowing about half of what they call “Breaking News.”

Yet somehow these fools get awards for news – how is that possible? That, to me, is proof that people are getting dumber by the day. A population that would award WXYZ anything for its television news coverage is stupid enough to spawn, well, the Tea Party, for example. (Sorry - couldn't pass that one up.)

I’ve started watching WDIV or WJBK news, and you know what – they’re better than WXYZ. And I was a WXYZ news viewer for decades. But no more. I’ve had it! Check out WDIV and WJBK, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. BREAKING NEWS – WXYZ TV news sucks!!
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Oakland University Needs Me!

Friday, September 10, 2010
Very early this morning, I applied for three positions at Oakland University. I’ve been told that they get up to 1,000 applications per job posting. That tidbit of information was so discouraging that I almost decided to forget about ever working at O.U. But I keep trying. I just know that if I can get an interview, I’ll have a decent shot at being hired. Do you get the impression that I’d really like to work there? Allow me to explain.

My past work experience included a little of everything. I worked in retail at 16, banking at 18 and as a legal secretary at 19. Then, when I was 22 and had just over a year’s worth of college, I was hired by an auto company. Because I hadn’t yet completed a degree, I was lucky to get the job, even though I probably would have chosen a position in Human Resources or Procurement, rather than Treasury. As it turned out, though, I spent several years working with auto dealers and suppliers, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As time passed, I earned both my undergrad in finance and an MBA from Wayne State University. (I will be forever grateful to the Company for my education.) I worked my way through at least nine different positions in my department and ended up spending my last years with the automaker in finance. I found the jobs in finance to be less enjoyable and fulfilling than those I held in Treasury. So I knew that my second career would not involve quarterly accounting closes!

I want something that will benefit from my experience and my strengths. I figure if the job uses what I have to offer, I’ll feel good about the contribution I make. And Oakland U. might just be the perfect place for me. It has the interpersonal contacts (students and staff) that I enjoy. All three of the jobs in which I’m interested involve writing, which I love. And it’s a dynamic environment in which I could build upon my education and computer skills.

But why would Oakland University want me? Because I’m conscientious and diligent, and I work my butt off. Also, I’m dedicated and take my work seriously. I learn quickly, enjoy solving problems and can work harmoniously with pretty much anyone. And if I got in at O.U., I might just be their happiest employee. Now that would be a real asset.

Come on, O.U., just give me an interview – that’s all I ask!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Close Friends Are My Extended Family

Thursday, September 9, 2010
Last week, I spent a day in Ohio with friends that I call “the two Sues.” Sue #2 drove with me to the summer home of Sue #1, both of whom have been friends of mine for over 30 years. We worked in the same crazy department at an auto company, and we share a ton of memories, good and bad.

We went to a quaint little restaurant, Zinc, in Sandusky (http://www.zincbrasserie.net/ - if you’re ever in Sandusky, you simply must try this place). Our meals were excellent. I had a Cuban Panini, because I saw one on Oprah and have wanted to try it ever since. The Sues had fish tacos (still can’t get my mind around fish on a taco, but maybe I’ll try it one day.) Then we headed back to the house for a fantastic dessert and an opportunity to catch up on events in our kids’ lives (much more exciting than mine, at this point).

And it just happens that I’m seeing friends Thursday, Friday (twice) and Sunday. Plus, my husband and I will be attending a Ramadan feast on Saturday at the home of Indian friends. This is an unusually friend-filled week, and I love it.

For me, close friends are family. I can be completely open with them, without fear of being judged. If I ask for their honest opinions, that’s what I’ll get. And we can disagree on just about anything, without any negative aftertaste. And when I’m with them, I feel emotionally nourished and just plain high on life, a real endorphin hit.

Don’t get me wrong – family can be fantastic, too, and I love holidays and get-togethers. But sometimes the baggage outweighs the joy, if you know what I mean. And that just doesn’t happen with close friends. After all, we chose each other!

So here’s to my good friends, my extended family - you help me get over all the bumps in the dirt roads of life!
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freaky Story Time at the Nursing Home

Thursday, August 26, 2010
A friend of mine visits her mother at a nursing home every day. While she’s on a brief vacation, I’m checking in on her mom for her, and yesterday was my first visit. Because of my volunteer work, I’ve been on countless nursing home visits, so I feel like I’ve pretty much seen it all, as nursing home visits go. This was just one of the more charming - and alarming - ones.

When I took my friend’s mom, Virginia, into the dining room for a chat, another very sweet woman joined us. (And before long, a gentleman pulled up a chair, too, but he didn’t say much.) Virginia turned out to be a woman of few words. She experiences some confusion and doesn’t always find the right words to express herself. The other woman, though, speaks very well and seemed to have much to say.

She told me that she’s a widow who had no children, and her only brother lives in California. She said she rarely gets visitors and talked about how much she misses her husband. Then she shared that she’d been married twice, the first time when she was very young. Up to this point, I thought this dear lady was in the nursing home for physical reasons only, because she seemed very sharp mentally.

Then she began telling me this long story about how she left her first husband in Virginia, because his mother and sister didn’t want him marrying a “damned Yankee”. And when he offered to drive her back to Michigan, she said she refused his offer and walked back home, singing the whole way. (She said she loves to sing.) That’s when I started to question her lucidity.

But then she told me she’d walked around the world, starting in China and on into Russia, where the Czar had her on the throne next to him and asked her to sing for him. And I knew that this elegant woman definitely had dementia. I did enjoy her beautiful and animated story that went on for about 20 minutes and which would make a lovely children’s book. (Hmmm, now there’s a thought.)

The alarming part of my visit was when the story-telling woman told me that she was 95 years told (as it turns out, she’s 85). I responded that she looked 20 years younger than that and that her skin was beautiful, which it is. She then told me that I looked young and that I have no wrinkles. I assured her that I do have some, and that’s when Virginia chimed in. She said, “Your wrinkles will be gone when you’re 63. And so will you.” Well, that was a first. I kept smiling and asked, “What do you mean, Virgnia?” She said, “You’re gonna die when you’re 63.”

Now I have to admit that I got a little chill when she said that. And I reminded myself that she’d uttered some gibberish earlier, so she probably didn’t realize what she was saying. Or did she? I can’t wait ‘til my friend comes home from her trip, so that I can ask her if her mom is a psychic! In the meantime, I’m going there again today, and you can bet that I’ll be listening to her every word. And who knows - maybe I’ll even make better use of the years I have left!
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Dinner Out With the Women of the ‘Hood

Just over a week ago, one of my neighbors sent an email to several of the women in our subdivision about getting together to see “Eat, Pray, Love” and having dinner afterward. I knew I would be seeing it with a group of my friends last Friday, but I decided that I’d go again, because I loved the book and figured I’d miss stuff the first time through the movie. Plus, the company would be good, and I’d get to meet one of our new neighbors.

Unfortunately, I’ve had a miserable cold and am still coughing too much to spend any amount of time in a theater. So I told them I’d meet them for dinner after the show. One of them took my cell phone number and said she'd call me when they got out of the theater to let me know where they were going for dinner. (She said it would probably be at one of two restaurants in the same shopping complex as the theater.)

So I sat in the theater parking lot from 9:10 (the show gets out at 9:20) until almost 9:45. I didn't see any of them walking out, but there are 30 theaters there, so I could easily have missed them. I finally called the husband of the woman who was supposed to call me and asked for her cell number. No answer. So I called the husband of the other woman I know and got her cell number. When I reached her, she said she was driving her friend home, because they decided not to go to dinner. And she didn't know where the others were going.

So I drove to the parking lot of one of the restaurants and was going to go in and look for the one neighbor that I’d recognize. Just then the first woman called me to say that most of the others had to work in the morning, so they all decided to go home, rather than stop for dinner.

There I sat in the lonely parking lot. I had put on my makeup at 7:00 p.m. just for this outing, and had labored over deciding what to wear, trying on different shoes and pieces of jewelry. Then I rushed out the door, forgetting my cell phone, and had to go back home for it, since it was the only way I’d know where to meet them. And it was all for nothing. Plus, by that time (10:00), I was starving.

After I laughed my ass off at all the fuss over nothing, I made the best of it. I called my husband and asked what he’d like from PF Chang’s, and we had great carry-outs! (So glad they’re open ‘til 11:00 on week nights!) It ended up being a fine evening, after all.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Nut Job I Met on a Garden Walk

Friday, August 20, 2010

A couple of years ago, I went with a friend on a garden walk in and around Romeo, Michigan. Even though I’m a Master Gardener, I don’t usually go on garden walks, because it’s too damned hot for me to be outside. (Most of my gardening is growing orchids under lights in my basement, because I hate the heat.) But it wasn’t very hot that day, there weren’t many gardens on the list and the company was good.

Everything was fine until we came to the last house. We were greeted by a sweet old couple and their dog. They chatted and were very friendly, while pointing out various interesting plants in their front yard. When we got to the back of the house, I was perplexed by the small animal live traps littering the yard. So I asked the man what he was trying to catch, imagining it was rats, or something equally disgusting. Well, I couldn’t believe my ears when he said the traps were for squirrels. I figured he was relocating them, but I couldn’t imagine why. After all, I feed three kinds of squirrels in my yard and love having them.

He explained that the huge trees in the yard were walnut trees and that the squirrels were stealing his walnuts. So I asked where he takes the squirrels, and he said, “To the kitchen.” Then a feeling of horror washed over me, as he went on to explain that he cooks the squirrels and feeds them to his dog. He smiled and said something about the dog being really healthy.

I was sickened. This was a suburban neighborhood, not a freaking farm in the wilderness. Aren’t squirrels protected from nut jobs like him?! And the two of them looked so sweet and innocent – who’d have figured they were serial killers? Haven’t gone on a garden walk since! : )

Note: According to the DNR, if you have a crop and an animal is destroying it, the animal can be considered a “nuisance” and be destroyed. Even in the city. I think that’s insane.

Photo by turtlemom4bacon
Title: Project 366 2008 - March 13, 2008 - My first squirrel photo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/turtlemom_nancy/2331816654/
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Have to Curb My "Creative Parking"

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Recently, I went to a local lab for some blood work. Parking is in a structure, and empty spots close to the entrance are usually in short supply. And if you allow just enough time to get to the appointment, like I do, you need a spot close to the door. So, if I don’t see a parking spot as I drive up the ramp, I end up parking in an area that’s not designated as such.

No, it’s nowhere near a handicapped spot – I’d never park there! It’s just an out-of-the-way mini lane that happens to be conveniently empty almost every time I’m there. So I make sure I have my purse and magazines, or whatever else I think I’ll need, in my hands, and I pull in very quickly. Then, if no other cars or people are right there, I get out in a hurry and walk briskly to the door. If there are cars or people going past me, I stay very still until they’re gone, and then I leave my car. Well, that’s what I did the other day. It’s like a little game that I enjoy winning.

When I leave the lab, I stand at the entrance to the garage, as if I’m waiting for someone. And then, when the cars and people clear out, I scurry like a rat to my car, get in, start the engine and pull out as quickly as I can. If a guard passes before I can get out of my spot, I’ll sit there with my flashers on, as if I’m picking someone up. Have I got this down, or what?

Well, this time, I was hot and dying of thirst. So as I drove down the ramp, I grabbed the Diet Coke that had been in my purse while I walked the length of the hospital to the garage and unscrewed the cap. And – you guessed it - because of the jostling it took on my walk, it exploded as I unscrewed it. Before I could get the cap back on, the spray was everywhere. It was on the radio knobs, heat controls, dashboard, steering wheel, console, clock, windshield, ceiling and carpeting. And it was all over my pants. I couldn’t run the errands I’d planned for on the way home, and I was miserably uncomfortable in those pants.

It hit me immediately that the Universe was telling me it had had enough of my parking lot etiquette breaches. Okay, I got the message!
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Do Your Homework When Boarding Pet Birds

Recently, I saw an article in the newspaper about a pet store in Royal Oak, Michigan, that’s been around since the ‘50s. It’s still run by the family of the man who opened it over 50 years ago. And they board birds. That caught my eye, because I’ve boarded my birds only once, and it cost me $25 per day per bird. That certainly adds a lot to the cost of a vacation. So I decided to see what this place charged for boarding, and it was only $8 per bird per day.

Well, before I leave my birds anywhere, I have to feel comfortable with the place and the people who run it. So I stopped in to see the boarding area and ask some questions. The first person I spoke with told me that nobody ever gets to see the boarding area, which was the upper floor of the building, a split-level former house. I asked to see the owner and ended up talking with one of the original owner’s family members. That’s when I decided my birds would never be left there.

He told me that at any given time, they could board between 100 – 150 birds and that I’d need reservations for the holidays, because they usually get over 200 hundred birds then. I knew immediately why they wouldn’t allow anybody to see the boarding area. It had to look like a chicken coop, with cages stacked floor to ceiling, and it couldn’t possibly be clean enough for me.

This place was not huge – it appeared to be maybe a four-bedroom split-level house, with the downstairs broken into two sales areas for birds and fish. So that left the upper level bedrooms and bath(s). How in hell do you stuff that many birds into probably no more than 1,800 square feet and still maintain sanitary conditions? And even though they don’t require any vaccinations or testing for fatal avian diseases, the guy told me none of the boarded birds ever got sick from being there. How is that possible?

The birds never get out of their cages, and if your bird doesn’t get seed, you’d have to bring in your own food, because they feed at least some seed to all the birds. Seed is like the McDonald’s of bird food, being high in fat that’s meant to sustain outdoor birds that burn calories by flying most of the time.

The bottom line is I wouldn’t leave my dog at a kennel if I couldn’t see the facility, and I wouldn’t leave a child at a daycare if I couldn’t walk in unannounced and inspect the place. So why should I leave my parrots at a place like that? Obviously, there are a lot of na├»ve bird owners in the Detroit area. Fortunately for my parrots, I’m not one of them.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

A RWNJ is trying to take Michigan’s 9th Congressional District

Friday, August 13, 2010
Watch out, Michigan! There’s a right wing nut job trying to unseat Gary Peters in the 9th Congressional District in November. His name is Rocky Raczkowski. At least, that’s his name now – it used to be Andrew Edward Raczkowski. But it appears he wants to look like a prize fight contender, so I guess he thought Rocky would be more appropriate.

This is a guy who’s so right wing that he got Bat Shit Crazy Phyllis Schlafly to speak at a recent fundraiser. Remember her – the woman who chastised other women in the ‘70s for wanting jobs, while she worked as an attorney? Phyllis Schlafly has been the object of my utter disgust ever since. Having her speak at his fundraiser tells me all I need to know about good old Rocky. Makes him sound more like Bullwinkle.

But wait, there’s more. Rocky ‘s a Birther! According to the Rochester Citizen, this is what he said about the President’s citizenship at a forum in June:

“You have a president that seems to be, um … well … I don’t know if he even has been born in the United States, but … until I see a birth certificate.” Here’s a link to the story:

http://bit.ly/drqeqd

Well, his English just qualified him for the TeaKlan, even though he appears to have all his teeth. Have you been born in the United States, Rocky? And what about your wife – has she been born here, too? (What kind of name is Amalia Kaddo, anyway, Rocky? Is she here legally?)

The forum was sponsored by a Tea Party group. Now there’s a surprise – another arrogant scammer leading the gullible TeaSheep around by their noses. We don’t need him representing our interests.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Putting Off Seeing Someone You Care About?

Thursday, July 29, 2010
I just returned from a funeral home, where I went to view a beloved uncle’s body and grieve with his family. A few days ago, he had a massive heart attack and never knew what hit him. He was only 73. Now nothing will ever be the same for his wife, adult children or grandchildren. And I cheated myself out of a post-divorce relationship with him and his wife.

Over 17 years ago, Rudy met another woman and left my aunt, who was devastated. She was also enraged, so much so that most of her siblings were hesitant to even mention my uncle. At least, that’s what I heard from my father. So I certainly wasn’t going to look him up, even though I really missed him.

Rudy was my dad’s younger sister’s husband. And to outsiders, they appeared to be a happy couple. I used to babysit for their two toddlers when I was 16, and I loved my aunt and uncle and their kids. I remember how Rudy was the life of the party. He was always in a good mood, always had a smile on his face. One of my fondest memories was how Rudy would come home from a party and get a pepperoni stick out of the refrigerator. (He was born in eastern Europe, and he loved sausages.) Then we’d talk, laugh and eat pepperoni slices ‘til my tongue burned.

Over the past several years, I’ve wanted to invite him and his wife to dinner at our house. But I didn’t have his phone number or address and couldn’t find it on line. I meant to call my cousin, his daughter, and ask for his number, but I never did that, either. And now it’s too late. This is the second time in about the past four years where I’ve intended to contact someone, but waited, only to have them die unexpectedly first.

So I’m writing this to nudge you into calling the people with whom you want to reconnect, before it’s too late. One thing’s for sure – I won’t let this happen again.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Do All Rental Car Companies Add 45% in Fees and Taxes?

Sunday, July 25, 2010
I don’t travel as much as I used to, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve had to rent a car. So, when my husband got home from a business trip and was complaining about his rental car bill, he got my attention. I was floored by all the fees, some of which are probably imposed by local governments. All I know is that it’s ridiculous.

He rented a mid-size Volkswagen for a week, quoted at $187.93. But then, he had to pay the following fees:

Transportation Facility Charge - $1.60/day $ 9.60
Customer Facility Charge - $3.75/day 22.50
Concession Recovery Fee – 11.11% 22.17
Vehicle License Fee - $.33/day 1.98
Sales Tax – 11.5% 28.08
FFTXRSU .43

Total (including $187.93) $272.69

What in hell is a “Concession Recovery Fee”? And they’re charging a daily fee for licensing? Hell, why not hit customers with a fee for the lavatories, and how about depreciation on the lobby furniture? Most of those crazy fees should be lumped into one category called “WTF?” or “Bend Over”.

The fees and taxes amount to 45% of the quoted rate! (Maybe some of them are because the car was rented at the airport. If that’s the case, it might be worth it to use a remote location, if it provides free shuttle service to the airport.) It’s insane to me! Why don’t they just restate the rates, instead of calling them “Fees” to make them sound legitimate? For an unsuspecting consumer, a 45% surprise in the bill is huge.

And insurance is another issue – with all rental companies. Make sure to buy the rental company’s insurance, which is a HUGE rip-off, if your auto insurance policy doesn’t cover rental vehicle usage. Or, if you have an American Express card, check their rental car insurance. I’m told it provides complete coverage for a fraction of the cost of insurance purchased at the rental car counter.

If you get into an accident and don’t have insurance for rentals, you’ll be on the hook for actual repair cost, loss of income while the vehicle’s out of service and reduced value as a result of the damage. And you know that everything will be marked up to the max.

In fact, I’ve seen segments on news and talk shows that advise taking detailed photos of your rental car before you drive it, to show any existing scratches, dents, etc. Otherwise, they might try to charge you for repairs of those scratches and dents, or even new ones that occur after you turn the vehicle in.

And all this time, I thought financial institutions were the biggest whores . . .
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Friday, July 23, 2010

My Inspiration to Become a Hospice Volunteer

Friday, July 23, 2010
It seems like a lifetime ago when a neighbor I barely knew became ill with lung cancer. Although she lived next door, she was very quiet, and I didn’t know her, other than to wave occasionally as she walked to the bus stop.

One day, before I even knew that Paula was sick, a social worker knocked on my door. She told me that she was from hospice, that Paula was dying and that she needed me to bring her meals a couple days a week. Being a single mom with a demanding job, an even more demanding child and the added burden of college classes at night, I was more than a little surprised at the social worker’s request. But I did it and, over the next few months, became quite close to Paula.

On the last day that I saw her, I went into the house as usual, but the door to the dining room, where her hospital bed had replaced the table and chairs, was closed. Strange sounds were emanating from that room. I knocked, and an unfamiliar voice told me to come in. A woman I didn’t recognize was in a chair at the foot of the bed, and she was knitting. She was a hospice volunteer and was sitting with Paula while she was “actively dying”, a term that I’d never heard before.

I was so frightened by the flailing of her arms and the loud moans that I wanted to run out of the house. But the hospice volunteer kindly told me to take Paula’s hands in mine and talk to her. It took a few minutes for me to get the courage to reach for her hands, but I did, and I told her who I was and that I’d come to be with her. She calmed down immediately and became peaceful. It was a very emotional moment for me, and I believe it was the catalyst that led me to eventually become a hospice volunteer.

Ten years later, I happened to see an article in a local newspaper about a training class for Beaumont Hospital’s hospice program. My first thought was that I wasn’t sure I could sit with dying patients the way the volunteer had stayed with Paula that night. But remembering how it felt to be with her through the last days of her life, I decided to look into it. That was in 1999, and I’ve been with Beaumont Hospice ever since.

My hospice experience has enriched my life beyond measure. The patients and their caregivers have taught me so much about people, families and life in general. And I’ll never forget them or their stories. One woman had been a nurse in World War II. She treated wounded soldiers on a train that transported them from Normandy to hospitals. She was there on D-Day and told me countless stories about the injuries she witnessed. She also talked about how the nurses were allowed only one helmet full of water for their daily grooming needs. They’d start by brushing their teeth, then cleaning their bodies and then washing their underwear! I can’t even imagine making do with that. Another patient was an artist who showed me how to make a silver Byzantine chain, even though she was legally blind. I’ve been making jewelry ever since.

Being a hospice volunteer is definitely not for everyone. But if you think you’d be interested in helping patients have a peaceful end-of-life experience, consider becoming a volunteer. And if you’re in the Detroit metro area, Beaumont Hospice usually has a volunteer training session scheduled. Call Dennis Cole at 248-743-9405 for more information.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Walmart Left Its Mark On Our Neighborhood

Wednesday, July 21, 2010





Four years ago, Walmart announced that it was closing its store in Auburn Hills, MI, and opening a new one in Rochester Hills . . . right down the street from our subdivision. The residents tried to stop it, but the City wanted something (land, I believe) and had to let Walmart build in order to get it.

My husband, who’d been to the Auburn Hills Walmart, took photos of the property. He wanted to show the trash all over the parking lot, the numerous tree stumps (landscape trees had died and were cut down, leaving the stumps), busted up pavement with markers standing in the holes to prevent cars from driving over them and rust-covered light poles. He took the photos to a city council meeting at which residents aired their concerns. City council members assured the citizens that the Rochester Hills store premises would never look like the Auburn Hills property.

Flash forward to three weeks ago. On June 30, my husband took photos of the new store’s parking lot. And after being open for about two years, if that, there are already dead trees, stumps and trash littered everywhere, including an on adjacent walking trail. Plus, it looks like they’re cultivating weeds in some of the beds in front of the store.

It certainly appears that Walmart doesn’t give a damn about what its property looks like to the surrounding community. If it wants to build in your neighborhood, this is what you can expect.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Love Our Dog, But . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We have the most wonderful dog. She’s got a sweet temperament, never has accidents in the house, gets along with other animals and people, including little kids, and is very well trained. I love her dearly. The only problem is that, after watching our previous two dogs get old and be euthanized, I vowed I’d never have another dog. Not only is it heartbreaking to lose them – they’re also a ton of work and responsibility. And I’m the one who always gets stuck with both.

She came to us two years ago, when I met a woman who was looking for a home for her dog. I casually asked her what kind of dog it was, and she went on to describe the EXACT dog that my husband wanted. Maddie is a golden doodle (retriever and poodle), and she’s the light color he wanted and the smaller size (30 pounds), being part miniature poodle, instead of the standard size.

Anyway, I resisted, but we picked her up after my husband swore that none of the responsibility for Maddie would be mine. He’d take care of everything – vet and grooming appointments, feeding, yard clean-up, etc. Yeah, right. Little did we know then that he’d begin working full time again (he was retired) and that his work would include occasional travel.

Plus, Maddie’s a very high-energy dog, and my husband’s the type whose ass is rooted to his recliner. So I’m the official Frisbee thrower several times a day, and everything else (except poop scooping, which is where I draw the line) has fallen on me.

Well, last week, my beloved was working out of town. On a hot and muggy day, I was throwing the Frisbee to Maddie (and throwing poorly, I might add), and it went into the woods that run along the back of our yard. Maddie ran in after it and ended up in some poison ivy I didn’t know was there. My husband really suffers from poison ivy, much worse than most people. So I knew I’d have to give Maddie a bath to prevent her from infecting him.

I was already sweating from the heat when I had to lift her into the laundry tub and struggle to keep her from jumping out. I got most of her shampooed, but she wouldn’t let me wash her head or face or rinse her off. (This is why we take her to a dog groomer!) So I grabbed the wet, squirming brat of a dog and carried her, dripping, up the stairs and dumped her into our tub. I knelt on the tile floor and finished the job, while she resisted me the entire time.

Then, when I took her out of the tub, she squirmed away before I could dry her. There was water all over the place. By the time I cleaned up both rooms, the whole episode cost me over an hour of time I didn’t have. And that was after having thrown that damned Frisbee four times that day in miserable heat and humidity.

And here’s the kicker – the next day, I couldn’t find the poison ivy I was sure I’d seen the day before. So it might well have been all for nothing. I feel like an idiot, but I’m still going to blame my husband. After all, he wanted the dog!

Photo: Maddie 2009
From: S.Laurence ©

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

My To-Do List

Sunday, June 13, 2010
I’m a list-maker. I not only need lists – I love them. You see, I vacillate between being organized and in complete disarray. So lists are essential. Hell, my lists have lists. My Franklin Planner is always in my car while I run errands, so that I can get that little endorphin rush as I check off each item. It’s my version of crack cocaine.

So imagine how pleased I was after taking at least an hour late one night (actually at 3:00 a.m.) to come up with everything I needed to do the next day. I made an amazing list of errands to run, phone calls to make and various tasks to complete. It was a work of art.

I had to go to the post office, the produce market, my pottery class to pick up a finished piece, the bank, the Apple store, the mall to return something, and on and on. I was determined to do everything on that list that day, which never happens. I usually end up moving items to the next day in my planner and making a new list to carry in my purse. But not this time – it was all getting done that day.

My first stop was the post office to mail some bills and birthday cards. Not surprisingly, the bills and cards slid to the floor of the car when I turned into the post office lot. So I had to pull into a parking space and gather all the envelopes. But within seconds, they were all in the mail, and I was ready to tackle the next items on the list.

The only problem was I couldn’t find the list. It must have fallen between the seats, and once that happens, I have to get out of the car and look under the seats. So I did that, but the list wasn’t there. I knew I’d taken it into the car, because I’d looked at it a few minutes earlier.

I soon figured out that my amazing list had been mixed in with the envelopes I’d mailed and was now in the bowels of that big blue box, never to be seen again. It was the best list I’d ever made, and it was gone. As my son used to say, “Sucks to be you, Mom.” Yep, it does.
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Thursday, June 3 - An Unbelievably Insane Day

It’s been almost an hour since I got home from my nightmare day, and my head’s still throbbing. I had three must-do things for today: have a TB test read, take my three birds in for wing and nail trims and pick up my niece’s birthday gift. And at some point, I knew I had to meet my husband to change cars, so that he could get my wheels balanced at the tire store for a second time (a crazy story that I won’t even go into).

The day started badly when the lawn crew showed up a day later, and about three hours earlier, than usual. Apparently, all the rain we’ve had put them behind schedule. Because of the horribly loud mower, followed 10 minutes later by the hateful sound of their weed whackers, I ended up getting only four hours of sleep . . . again.

I did stuff around the house ‘til 2:30 and then started scurrying to get the birds’ travel cages ready and load them into the car. The plan was to get the birds in and out quickly and then get my TB test checked, which had to be done by 4:00.

Because of construction and rush-hour traffic, I didn’t get to the pet store until 3:20. (So much for having the TB test read.) The owner was helping a new customer, explaining how the store’s discount card works, and there was another customer ahead of me, so I ended up waiting until 4:00. By that time, my hair was damp with sweat from the temperature in the store, and I was worn out dying to get out of there.

While the birds were being trimmed (at least another 20 – 25 minutes), I walked around the store in a state of near heat exhaustion, checking out the parrots and looking around. Some interesting cage-top playscapes that were placed on a ledge overlooking the parrot “day care” area caught my eye.

They were brightly-colored acrylic, with little toys hanging from them. I was curious about the price, which was on the lower front side of one, but I didn’t have my glasses on, and the light was poor. So I tilted it ever so slightly to help me see the numbers and was horrified to find that the top wasn’t glued down to the base!

The unattached pieces toppled from the ledge to the tops of the cages below, and several broken pieces were scattered over the floor. It was at that moment that I realized I was buying that damned playscape, for which I had no need. The store owner, who was in a back room with his assistant and my birds, didn’t know what had happened. So, of course, I told him.

He found all the pieces and put the thing back together as much as he could, while I apologized profusely. He was not happy, and I was really upset that I had to spend $66 because of carelessness. It was my fault, but I’m disappointed that he didn’t sell it to me at his cost, since he would’ve been whole on the deal, and he had at least two more available to sell. I’d been doing business with him since he bought the place years ago, and it would’ve made good business sense to charge me only cost. But he made me pay full retail, and I won’t be going there again, for anything.

When I left the pet store, I called my husband and told him to meet me at the tire store. As I drove, I mentally berated myself for wasting time that morning and making it impossible to get everything done. And I drove right past the tire store exit. No big deal, you say? Well, having to go back in the direction of rush-hour traffic kept my husband waiting an extra 20 minutes. Another screw-up.

Finally, I was on my way home from the tire store, when, after dealing with unbearable traffic yet again, I saw a huge snapping turtle in the street. It was in the middle of my lane on a street that runs along a large wetlands area. It was just sitting there looking around. I suspected that it might have had a close encounter with a car, because one leg was tucked inside its shell, and the turtle just didn’t look right.

Naturally, I stopped my car, backed it up near the turtle and put on my emergency flashers. I had to move that turtle. But how? One dumb ass drove by and hollered out the window “Kill it” and “Run it over.” I wanted to run him over. I tried to nudge the turtle back toward the curb with my shoe, but he wouldn’t move. I had to pick him up. Remembering that a friend of mine almost lost her thumb to gangrene when a turtle scratched her, I got a bag from my husband’s Jeep. I used it to protect my fingers from the turtle’s nails while I grabbed the back of its shell.

Well, the turtle was so upset at being picked up that it started wriggling like crazy, and I ended up losing my grip. I dropped the poor thing, and it landed on its shell. Thankfully, I was leaning toward the ground and not standing upright when I dropped it. It was able to right itself, and it peed right there on the spot. Thinking it was going to die, tears welled up in my eyes.

Then that ungrateful beast opened his jaws and was inching toward me - he was going to bite me! (Notice how, when it became threatening, it became a “he”?) I ended up getting him to the curb, and then I left, worrying all evening that he was probably dying. I can’t stand it when an animal suffers, even if it is an ingrate.

I wanted to tell my husband what had happened, but my iPhone was gone. I’d left it in my car, which was probably on a hoist while some mechanic was playing with my phone. And I couldn’t even let my husband know to look for it before he left the tire store. I was frantic. Luckily, I got home in time to call him before he left, and he confirmed that my phone was still in the car. What a relief – I didn’t have to call the police to put the store in lock-down until my phone was recovered.

It was at that point that I realized I hadn’t picked up my niece’s birthday gift and that now I’d have to do that and get my TB test read tomorrow. So I’m in for another loony day, because I’ll be leaving town for the weekend and have a ton of things to do before I go. I’m afraid to think of what else might go wrong.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Mini-Med "Graduation"

Monday, May 17, 2010
Last Tuesday night was graduation from Mini-Med. I must explain. Mini-Med is an annual program offered to the community by the University of Michigan’s Medical School in Ann Arbor. It consists of six weekly classes taught by med school profs, often renowned specialists in their fields, who volunteer their time. And it’s incredible!

A friend and I enrolled in Mini-Med six or seven years ago. My son, who shares my fascination with medical subjects, started attending four years ago. And my husband joined us in 2008. (I think he goes mostly because he likes stopping at P.F. Chang’s in Northville for a late dinner on our way home!)

Each year’s syllabus focuses on a new topic. The subject for my first year was cancer. Every week, we had two doctors who lectured on various cancers, the latest research and their experiences. After each lecture, the doctors took questions from the audience, and people could go up and speak with them individually at the end of the evening. To say that it was interesting is a huge understatement. Subjects since then have included, the brain, the biology of aging, the metabolic syndrome, the G.I. tract and this year’s metabolism, endocrinology and diabetes. It’s an amazing program that’s well worth the $75 fee. We learned a lot and now have the names of some great doctors, should we ever need them.

But back to graduation. On Tuesday, we celebrated with cupcakes and a gift, which this year was a cool key chain with “U of M Mini-Med 2010” engraved on it. If you think you might want to check it out next spring (sign up early, because the class fills up fast), here’s the Mini-Med website:

http://www.med.umich.edu/medschool/minimed/

And all these years I assumed that Mini-Med was exclusive to the University of Michigan. But I was surprised to see that U of M’s site has a link to the National Institutes of Health’s list of American universities with Mini-Med programs. Here’s that link:

http://science.education.nih.gov/home2.nsf/DC+Area+Programs/+Mini-Med+School/33AE0968ECE91CDD85256FFC006B245D

If you’re a medical information junkie, this class is for you!
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Goodbye, Cavalier Telephone

Sunday, May 16, 2010
In the beginning, which I’m told was 2003, we were happy with the rates for Cavalier’s phone service. Over the years, however, they kept climbing, and we now pay $65 for our home phone (no international calls) and $52 for phone service in a second home (only local calls). It’s embarrassing, because we should’ve stopped this a long time ago.

On at least two occasions, my husband called Cavalier to say that we would be switching phone companies if our rates weren’t lowered. Each time, the Cavalier representative’s response was a version of “too bad”. The last call was made in late 2009, and we intended to switch carriers immediately. But life got in the way, and we didn’t follow through. Finally, almost two weeks ago, I called AT&T and switched our service . . . or so I thought.

On Wednesday, the AT&T rep called to say that Cavalier wouldn’t release our phone number. She said that Cavalier “freezes” its customers’ phone numbers, in order to protect customers from unauthorized switching of phone carriers. Right. I’m sure it has nothing to do with discouraging people from seeking better rates elsewhere. Anyway, I was told I’d have to call Cavalier to get our numbers released.

When I called, the guy I spoke with initially told me they freezed our phone number for our own good. Then he told me that neither my husband nor I had called Cavalier about rates since 2007. Apparently, when Cavalier reps tell customers they can’t do anything about the crazy rates, they don’t always note it for the record. And then because my husband’s name was the only one on the account, the rep said he couldn’t discuss anything with me.

When my husband was available, I called Cavalier again. This time I got a woman who said that because our account was older, there was no freeze on either number. Isn’t it strange that the previous gentleman was unaware of that fact? And AT&T wasn’t told, either. Nothing like being cooperative, huh? Now it’s going to take several more days for Cavalier to release the number. WTF?! We’re SO finished with Cavalier.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Babies Are Using Sign Language!

Monday, May 3, 2010
Our 17-month-old granddaughter and her mom visited just after Easter. It had been almost five months since we last saw them, because they live in Georgia. Anyway, at such a young age, five months is a long time, and we marveled at our little darling’s progress. She’d started walking just after their last visit. She dances whenever she hears music. She says a few words, including the toddler’s favorite “NO!” And she’s got teeth!

But the most intriguing thing was that she signs. She actually learned some sign language and uses it to communicate her needs. I find it charming and amazing. I’d read about how babies are being taught sign language, so that they can communicate before they acquire spoken language. But I’d never seen one use it. It’s a fabulous idea, since I remember how frustrated my son would get when he tried repeatedly to tell me something in his version of baby talk that I just couldn’t decipher. Sign language cuts down on that frustration. But it can be hard on grandparents!

When our daughter went out for the evening and left the baby with us, she played for a while before starting to look tired. I held her and tried to give her a bottle. But she sat up and ran her hand across her chest, which she learned as the sign for “please”. As she did it, she looked at me and said, “Momma? Pease”. She was asking for her mom and adding “please”, hoping that I’d somehow make her mom appear. When her mom didn’t show up, she repeated herself a few times and started to curl her lower lip. It killed me, because I couldn’t produce her mom, and she didn’t understand why. I walked around with her, rubbing her back, until she fell asleep on my shoulder. Sign language is great for babies, but now I’m the one who’s frustrated, having to tell her that I can’t give her what she's asking for.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Class That’s Cheaper Than Therapy

Saturday, May 1, 2010
I missed my jewelry class the other night. Aside from the fact that I didn’t get to finish any of the bracelets or chains I’d been working on, not being there was really a drag. That’s because the class is not only fun and interesting – it’s therapeutic. We have a great eclectic group of students, and we kind of feed off each other, talking and laughing all evening.

The instructor is a brilliant jeweler whose stunning pieces are truly works of art and whose patience has nurtured hundreds of students. The few guys in attendance are a lot of fun. There’s the retired insurance exec who makes flawless rings, bracelets and pendants that could pass for David Yurman pieces – they’re that gorgeous. (And this guy never forgets a joke!) Another talented artist makes his living as a mortician, and his beautiful jewelry sells like crazy on the internet. Then there’s the attorney who makes fantastic pieces and whose specialty seems to be adorable sterling baby spoons. And we have a very talented autoworker who makes impressive gifts and commissioned pieces.

But the women students far outnumber the men. We represent a hodgepodge of backgrounds – teachers, nurses, a doctor, automotive, saleswomen, stay-at-home moms and a number of other lifestyles. Almost all of them have one thing in common – they’re artists who create amazing objects of beauty. And probably the most skilled is Mary, to whom I felt an instant connection.

Mary knows so much about metalsmithing that she teaches it at art centers, schools and other establishments. She sells her creations at several area art fairs and a few galleries and has even sold a few of my pieces. Because she’s so knowledgeable, she ends up spending a good portion of her class time teaching the rest of us how to do stuff. Just being around her as she works makes me want to produce more!

But perhaps the best thing about the group is the wicked sense of humor that seems to permeate the room. The bantering goes on all evening, and sometimes we laugh ‘til our guts ache. Because of the camaraderie, we help each other with projects and personal issues alike. We care about each other. And the energy in the studio is amazing! That’s why I can arrive feeling frazzled and worn out and leave renewed, like I could take on the world.

Yes, when I miss my jewelry class, I get really bummed out. It’s way cheaper than therapy, and those people fuel my soul!
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beware, Robo Callers - Paybacks Are Hell!

Thursday, April 29, 2010
I should start out by saying that marketing robo calls drive me nuts. Nobody has the right to tie up my phone line with a recorded sales pitch for something I don’t want to buy. A few weeks ago, we got one of those maddening calls, this time for furnace duct cleaning. My husband waited ‘til the recording stopped and left a message that we were on the Do Not Call list and to not call us again. Unfortunately, yesterday we got another call from the same company, Quality Control of Royal Oak, Michigan. This time, my husband left our number, and today Quality Control called back to schedule an appointment.

My husband asked the woman who called for the name and location of the company and the owner’s name. He then told her that we’re on the Do Not Call list and that he’d left a message to that effect after their last robo call. Then he asked her why she’s working for someone who’s breaking the law with his repeated phone calls. She got angry and said, “I need a job, Asshole!” and hung up. While sympathetic to her plight, we’re not willing to put up with Quality Control owner Ron Chandler’s harassment.

First, I found the FCC website for reporting illegal calls:

http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/donotcall/

You can fill out an electronic form here:

http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

You can file an email complaint at this address: fccinfo@fcc.gov

Or you can do it by phone or fax at these numbers:

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice
or
1-866-418-0232 fax


Interestingly, I also Googled Quality Control to find customer reviews at this site:

http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Quality.Control.248-495-9400/review/list

Needless to say, most of them were awful.

So, if you’re being bombarded with robo calls, do something about it! Go to the website above and file a complaint. The only way to stop these jerks is to get them fined. When it’s no longer profitable to harass people, they’ll stop. I just filed a complaint with the FCC. Enough, already!
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Once Worked for Anna From "V"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Have you seen the new sci fi TV drama “V”, about an alien invasion? Although that’s not my usual TV fare, I got hooked on it the first night. Well, there was something about Anna, the leader of the Vs, which stands for “Visitors”, that seemed so familiar. Then it hit me – I once worked for her clone.

Like Anna, this woman came across as friendly, sincere and upbeat. Everyone thought she was great . . . until they got to know her. She was ruthless. Make a mistake, and you were crucified. Turn your back, and her talons came out, ready to rip you apart. In the first few days of working for her, I watched in horror as she brutally tore into one of my analysts for making an error. And it was someone with whom she’d been overly friendly only a few weeks earlier.

Another of her endearing traits was that lies slid off her tongue like honey. She once smiled and told me how hard she’d fought for the raise that I’d just gotten, when I knew for a fact that she’d fought against it. If I hadn’t known the truth, I’d never have suspected, because she lied so effortlessly. It’s as if she had no conscience.

She also expected everyone to do “face time” like she did, staying hours after other areas left for the day. In fact, a subordinate who’d been working lots of overtime (unpaid, of course) asked if she could leave at 5:00 one day, because it was her only child’s first birthday, and there was to be a small party. Our little “Anna” looked the employee in the eye and told her there was work to do, adding “Your daughter will have another birthday next year.”

So I always suspected she wasn’t human. She’d never married and had no kids, pets or even a house plant. Nothing alive was given space in her house. She was kind of secretive about her past, and now maybe I know why. I’ll bet she’s an alien reptile, like Anna. I’ll bet she had kids once, ‘til she became enraged and ate them.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let's Bring Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Recently, I checked out a shop, @Home Furniture, in downtown Rochester, MI, to look at doll beds for my niece. I ended up spending about an hour talking to the store owners about their inventory of furniture, accessories, toys and other items, all made in the U.S. They told me about their workshop behind the store, where they make much of the furniture they carry. The doll furniture is made by them and a laid off auto worker and is absolutely beautiful.

The conversation turned to their frustration over the lack of jobs and loss of industry in the U.S. and what they’re doing to fight back. When they opened their shop, they visited other stores on Main Street, and their first comment was always “Show me what you have that’s made in the U.S.” In most cases, there was little or no domestic inventory. So they explained that they would be referring their customers, who value products made in the U.S., to the stores in town that carry non-imported items. And they absolutely refuse to buy the imported stuff themselves. As a result, several stores have increased their inventories of domestic products.

They also talked about how most large companies have moved their production to China or India. For example, much of the furniture on the market now is made in China. And before upholstered pieces can be shipped here, they’re sprayed with insecticides to kill any bugs that might be in the upholstery. So I wonder if 20 years from now, we’ll be seeing an increase in cancers, potentially from chemicals on imported sofas and chairs.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for high-quality furniture, hand-made hardwood toys, like trains and doll furniture, or decorative accessories for your home, you owe it to yourself to check this place out. @Home Furniture is located at 434 S. Main Street in Rochester, MI, and everything they carry is made here. The phone number is 248-608-8483.

Although I’m aware that most items we buy come from China, I’m definitely going to start paying more attention to things made here. And I, too, will say: “Show me what you have that’s made in the U.S.” If more people did this, maybe we could eventually bring some manufacturing back home.
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No Lesson Learned, But No Harm Done

My last post was about how we’re having windows replaced. And the expected fumes caused me to plan on leaving town with my birds and dog for a few days, while my husband stayed here to work. But because I have a bad case of bronchitis and didn’t want to bother taking the rolling zoo on a 3-1/2 hour drive, I wanted the window installation to be postponed ‘til next week.

I was sure my husband would argue that everything had to proceed as planned, mostly because he hates asking anyone to accommodate his wife. It’s as if he thinks it’s unmanly to cave in to a woman’s needs. (Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh here.) Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how he handled the situation, even though he ended up not asking the installers to reschedule.

He seemed sympathetic and said he’d talk to the window company about our options. I was touched by his concern. But after he spoke with them, he told me that it’s a two-day job and that he’d asked them to do the windows farthest away from the bird cages first. That way, I could stay home an extra day and rest up for the trip tomorrow. He’s always been a creative problem solver.

So he didn’t get to learn the intended lesson on being human this time. And, in fact, there are no fumes from the stain on the windows already installed, and the required caulk will be only on the outside. So I don’t actually have to get the birds out of the house at all. That was another pleasant surprise, especially since I don’t feel that much better than yesterday and would prefer to skip that drive, along with packing and unpacking the car. Plus, I didn’t want to have to miss my pottery and jewelry classes.

He got off easy on this one. But there’ll be another “teaching” opportunity before long. He still needs to learn to put my needs at least even with his.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Lesson in Being Human

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am about to give my husband a lesson in being human. At the risk of sounding like a bitch, I must tell you that he doesn’t think or behave like anyone I would marry today. Don’t get me wrong – I love him, and he loves me. But he was raised by a she-devil who was best known in her final years for being hateful and vindictive. And I won’t even go into her behavior while still raising her five children, all of whom warned me about her. Unfortunately, they all built walls around their emotions in response to Mommy Dearest.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to go away for a few days with my parrots, parakeet and dog, while several new windows are installed in our house. They’re newly-stained, and the fumes could either make the animals ill or, in the case of the birds, even kill them. Ordinarily, I’d take a bunch of paperwork and drive to northern Michigan for an R & R and visits to my two brothers and their families. No problem.

Unfortunately, this time, I am sick. Really sick. I picked up what started out Saturday as the nastiest cold I’ve had in years and has now, according to the doctor, become bronchitis. My chest hurts so badly from coughing that it feels like it’s going to explode. I’m feverish, although the fever isn’t high. My throat is killing me, and it’s difficult to swallow. And I have absolutely no energy. But mainly, when I’m feeling my worst throughout the night and into the early morning, like now, when the coughing woke me up, my heart sometimes races, and it seems difficult to breathe. I rarely get this sick, and it’s more than a little disconcerting.

Do I want to go someplace where a 24-hour drugstore, if it exists, is probably at least an hour away? Where I don’t know of a good doctor? And where I feel like if I become sicker, I’ll die alone, and my body won’t be found for days? No, of course not – the dog needs to be let out, and the birds need to be fed. But when I tell my husband that I’d like him to reschedule tomorrow’s installation, he’s going to squeal like a stuck pig.

To him, I’m strong and independent and have no needs that I myself can’t meet. So he has a history of not even considering what’s best for me, always confident that I’ll get through whatever obstacle course he sets up. And the last thing he ever wants to do is have to ask another man to accommodate my needs. He’ll protest that they have a work schedule and can’t change it. He’ll tell me I’ll be fine and to stop being such a worrier. He’d rather do anything than ask the window company to come back next week, while I recover from this scourge (admittedly probably self-inflicted, due to my lack of sleep).

In these situations, I’ve begun using a close friend’s husband as my guide. This man is the kindest, most considerate and most generous guy I know. So when I get pissed off about my husband’s sometimes selfish ways, I ask myself, “What would Allan do?” And in this case, he wouldn’t even think about continuing with the installation, if it required sending his sick wife away. It’s just not in his DNA.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much my beloved protests and how guilty he tries to make me feel. This time, though, I’m not buying it. I’ll let you know how this goes down.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Melancholy Thoughts on Good Friday

Monday, April 12, 2010
On Good Friday, I stayed with my aunt (my dad’s oldest sister), who has Alzheimer’s, while my cousin went to church. My cousin, Shirley, has lived with and taken care of her mother for over eight years now and cherishes every second of their time together, even though her beloved mother no longer recognizes her or anyone else.

As I waited for Shirley to get home from church, I thought about the rest of my dad’s family. His four brothers and four sisters were all kind and decent people who enjoyed each other’s company. They were funny as hell and liked a good party, so I have lots of warm memories of holidays and reunions. But now only one brother and three sisters are left, and two of them have serious health issues.

The one to whom I am closest is my only remaining uncle (and his wife and kids), and I don’t know how I’ll handle it when he dies. That’s because I always wished that he had been my father. He is so many things that my dad was not. I love this man dearly and hope he has many more healthy years.

Thinking about my dad’s family makes me sad. It also makes me realize that I haven’t seen my aunt and uncle for a few months. So, given how quickly time slips past me, I’m going to visit them this week. Now I feel better!
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

I Love (and Hate) Our Security System

Saturday, April 3, 2010
I am an extreme night owl, one who has to force herself to go to bed at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., because I have so much more energy at night than during the day. (Must have been a bat in a previous life!) Last night, I was getting stuff done and didn’t go to bed ‘til 5:20. I was hoping nobody would call this morning until at least 11:00, even though our dog, Maddie, probably wouldn’t have let me sleep that long.

Well, just before 10:00, the house alarm went off. I can’t tell you what that does to me, especially when I’m alone. (My husband will be home this afternoon.) Mind you, having my husband home isn’t much help, since he just tells me “It’s nothing” when the alarm goes off and falls back asleep. My hero. He actually tells me that if I’m convinced someone’s in the house, I should go and check it out myself. And I do.

Thankfully, it was light outside, which makes false alarm episodes, of which there aren’t many, more bearable somehow. Maybe I figure that facing down an intruder without makeup in daylight is enough to make him retreat! Anyway, probably because I was startled out of a sound sleep, I didn’t feel very brave.

I ran to the alarm panel on the bedroom wall to see where the breach had been. Of course, I had to run back to the night stand to get my glasses. The panel lights indicated the problem spot was the front staircase. So I told Wonder Dog to wake up and come with me, since I had to leave the imagined safety of our bedroom to check the house. (This is a big house, and I set up a few crazy things in the bedroom area to protect myself on the few occasions when my husband’s away.) Anyway, that lazy dog had to be ordered off our bed. Some watch dog.

The alarm company called and asked if everything was okay and stayed on the phone while I checked the house. Once outside the bedroom, I could see that nothing seemed disturbed, and the front door was locked. I checked the other doors and all the rooms on the first floor and then dragged a reluctant Maddie down to the basement with me. If anybody was down there, she’d have followed the scent right to him.

So far, so good . . . until, that is, I said something to the alarm company person and found that the phone line was dead. After a few seconds of near panic, I realized that it’s probably the alarm system that’s been screwing with the phone lines the past few months. Damn – yet another repair person to bother me at an inconvenient time.

But now I had a new reason to panic. The alarm company would surely have called the police when the phone went dead. I used my cell phone to call the alarm folks, who offered to call off the sheriff (we don’t have our own police department). All I could think about was deputies seeing the house in its current state. (The dishes were done, but the kitchen was a cluttered mess, including bird food the parrots had flung onto the floor. And that, combined with my naked face, would’ve been humiliating. ) Now I was really traumatized! Fortunately, the alarm company reached the cops before they sent someone out.

Thankfully, it was, indeed, a false alarm. But now I’ve changed the agenda for today. I’m tidying up this place. I mean, you never know, right? I’ll be really tired, having gotten only three hours of sleep Thursday night and less than five last night. But at least I know my heart’s okay – I didn’t have “the big one” this morning!
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