Tuesday, December 23, 2008
11 people who wanted me to ring up a shopping cart full of crap (even though they had no prescriptions to pick up..)
10 insurance issues (requiring long hold times)
9 clarifications from providers (including who the heck wrote this?)
8 waiters whose prescriptions couldn't be processed (see #2)
7 people looking for shoehorns, OTC drugs they didn't know the name of, hairspray, or bathrooms
6 backordered medications (metoprolol succinate 50 mg, ethedent, sodium fluoride ring a bell?)
5 calls for help (both printers not working!!!!!)
4 doctors not in system (who then had to be added completely)
3 refill requests for prescriptions with no refills left
2 broken printers (requiring 4 calls for support and one technician who talked to herself incessantly and had to be ordered to stop so I could download prescriptions from the interactive voice response)
aaaaaaand ONE sick technician who called out & had to be replaced (with the tech who volunteered to work a 12-hour day-THANKS, MY FRIEND!!!!!)
Falalala freaking la!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Three inches and some with a crust of ice- it was treacherous out there today. So glad I bought 100 lb of rock salt yesterday!
Bren had a half day at work and made the mistake of calling me. One easy guilt trip later, I got him to haul all six bags of yard waste (including the nasty, thorny marsh rose) off to the dump. Of course, he had to shovel out the driveway in order to do this. Hey, I did the walk and my car. The fourth trip, we brought all my trash & recycling as well-never got to do it this weekend as I ended up working. Then, post office- sent all my packages & weigh-ables-he fell asleep in the car. Then I shovelled off the roof. The pitch is too low for snow to slide off, but quite sufficient enough for me to slide off. It gave Bren the heebie-jeebies! Good thing I had chili-he was starving after all that work.
As he was leaving, we did the rest of the drive and the front walk.
THEN I vacuumed the house, washed the floors, finished the laundry, wrapped more gifts, cleared off the tables of miscellaneous junk and discovered that the cats broke a glass candlestick in their last, spectacular catfight. And they seemed to have christened every room with a hairball. Also re-potted a sansevaria that decided to grow sideways and lifted itself completely out of its pot- split it in two. Not a lick of dirt on the roots, go figure. Also potted a Moses-In-The-Cradle that had rooted in a jar. And while all this was taking place, the soup I had simmering on the stove bubbled and filled the house with a wonderful odor that piques the interest of the kitties. Tomato base, filled with sweet potato, Maine potato, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, kidney beans and brown rice. YUM and hot!
Now I work 5 days straight- 54 hours straight. YUK.
Hopefully, it won't be so slippery on my way in tomorrow. I'm worried about Friday- I may just have to stay in Manchester-IF I can find a room! The hotels are full of people displaced from the ice storm who still have no power...
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The days are darker and darker, so my pyro mode is in full tilt when I am home, which isn't very often. When I am, I am usually in bed. I managed a few days at home when I just stayed on the couch and alternated between clicker and laptop.
Even with limited time, I have still managed to clean up the house (mostly), do some engraving (got me some nice Celtic knotwork frames for the art I bought with my earnings), get my window candles set up with timers so they go on automatically, get the tree up (the boys hauled up the boxes for me) and drive to a bunch more medical appointments.
I have caught a few movies; notably "The Seeker" which is a movie version of Susan Coopers series "The Dark Is Rising". Not so good. I also finally saw "Clerks" after all these years. I moved a bunch of comedies up the list because I have been in such a black and foul mood.
I dreamed about my nephew's significant other. We were at a function and all these politicians kept coming up to talk to me, completely ignoring her. I would painstakingly stop the conversation, introduce her and the conversation would continue, with her adding congenial, intelligent commentary. This happened three times or so, then I extricated her and we left for another function. I was so aggravated that she was being ignored, treated impolitely, and forced into invisibility; the message of the dream was clear. Her opinion is important, and she should be paid attention to and listened to. She is generally fairly quiet, but her observations are always dead on. They were up with the kids last weekend, so I told her my dream. Right after I did , the streetlight we were standing under went out (cue Twilight Zone music).
The kids were pretty funny. The two-year old ripped the heads of all the Barbie dolls and placed the torsos in the tree like naked plastic ornaments. The town had a big celebration in the center of town, culminating in a sing-along and Santa turning on all the town's Christmas lights. The girls were right up front belting out songs while his nibs cowered when he saw the 6-foot Elmo. A good time was had by all.
I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done. I have a few donations to make, since some of the family doesn't like exchanging gifts anymore. I have already given a few. I have already got a few very unexpected gifts in the mail- a wonderful book "Postcards from Heaven" from Dorry (whose son is in the dedications) and a video about Ireland from Ros, who is campaigning for me to go there again this spring.
Kitties 2 and 3 had their annual checkups, vaccinations and microchipping. Dev lost two pounds, and is facing some extractions, so I am hoping it's just competition from the others at the food dish and sore teeth. Sorcha was so distraught, I had to lie down with her for a few hours to calm her. The clicker fell, and she bolted upstairs in panic..
I am not looking forward to Christmas. Things will never be the same after this one, so I just can't seem to embrace the season. I am sad, and angry, and always so very tired.
The dark is winning.
We had a huge ice storm the other night. I set my cell phone as an alarm just in case. Good thing- the house was dark and cold when I awoke. I slept poorly, as did the kitties, from all the sleet, wind and creaking of the old house. The drive was slick with ice. The big birch was laying flat in the drive, but it was not broken off, just weighed down with the burden of ice. I almost made a cup of tea but left in a hurry instead. Big mistake. The drive to work was beautiful- a winter wonderland, but the trees were all bent over the road, and many branches lay in the way. There were few other people on the road, so driving like Pole Position wasn't an issue as I dodged all the downed limbs. One one road, a car must have narrowly dodged a limb that fell, just missing his car, and he drove into a field and got bogged down in mud halfway up the hubcaps. Four times I got nearly to the end of a road only to encounter a huge tree blcoking the road, had to turn around and go back. I winged my way based on internal navigation until I got to the highway. I made it to work only 15 minutes late, only to find they had no power. They had an auxiliary generator that enabled us to have a few dim lights and the use of some cash registers. We raised the gate manually, and all I could do was ring people out. No computers, so I could do absolutely nothing in terms of filling. The store phones didn't work, but my phones did, so I had a lot of people calling me asking if we were open, did we sell generators, propane, all kinds of disaster-type stuff we need in states of emergencies. I was a little hungry, and very cold. The powers that be refused to close the store, so for 12 hours, I was a cheerleader for the customers in the dark. I worked on my development plan by hand, I put away the order, I researched all the refrigerated drugs to learn how long an excursion they can handle out of refigeration, and I read some pharmacy journals and did some continuing eds by hand. It was so cold, I finally gave up and put my fleece on top of my woolen turtleneck (I was SO glad I changed at the last minute into the woolen sweater!) under my labcoat. I was so glad to get into my car and blast the heater, I thought my toes would never thaw out. When I finally made it home (still lots of limbs on the side of the road), I was greeted by the cheery candles in the windows and the knowledge that my power was back on. My birch tree is recovered and reaching for the sky again. I turned up the heat, put on fleece jammies, ate an egg and went straight to bed.
Today I still feel cold but I let myself jack the heat up to 65. It was bitter outside when I let the kitties out. They didn't want to go out again. Neither did I- did some minor paperwork things but mostly watched movies- Boondock Saints and Elf.
The dark is rising.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Usually for me it lasts a day or so, but lately I have caught sight of the mist in my peripheral vision often. I tend to retreat when the dubhchas visits me- why bother infecting others and making their world dark? But fate has conspired to put dear and beloved friends into my face fairly frequently, so I recognize the nudge that karma is sending, and I will have dinner and enjoy their support and friendship.
October was so chock full of work, and many medical appointments. One of them was actually for me, and I had my teeth cleaned to the rant of a new hygienist who couldn't emphasize enough my need for periodontal work. No. Not now. I have not got the energy. Cujo had his long-awaited dental work, and had five extractions. I had him micro-chipped while he was out- I have driven past too many dead cats on the road recently, a sight that ruins my day. (My son and my ex both lost cats to cars this past few months.) Cuj recovered nicely with lots of attention & Fancy Feast (he is fourteen after all).
My daughter left for South America. I have been coping with some of her unfinished business- totally unlike her, and I am resentful because my hands are so full right now.
After another bout of acute illness in hospital, my sister had an appointment at a major hospital; we are hoping to get her into a program that offers a solution to her advanced disease. I also took her spouse to an appointment; I was so tired, I fell asleep sitting up in the waiting room.
I managed to vote yesterday by showing up at the poll at 6:45 AM. I was done voting by 7:15 and able to get to the place I was working that day on time (1 hr 45 minute one-way commute). Roughly a 17-hour day for me, I was grateful to sleep late today and needed a nap this afternoon as I was flat-out exhausted. Next week will be worse- I have a long-commute 12-hour day followed by three 12-hour shifts 60 minutes away, followed by a 9-hour shift, one day off and a double medical appointment.
No wonder I am in a foul mood.
At least my kitties love me. They have been fighting over who will sit next to me. Fluctuating kitty dynamics are always a great source of entertainment.
I dreamed about a schizophrenic former patient of mine, of whom I was very fond. It's been about 15 years since I have seen him, and he is likely no longer on this earth (schiz meds cause major metabolic and endocrine dysfunction). Funny I should have him creep up in my sub-conscious; last time I saw him, I had popped in to buy a coffee on my way to work. The manager of the shop was throwing him out as he perused his change for the payment of a cup of joe. I stepped up and said, "Mr. H, it would be my pleasure to treat you to a cup of coffee- how will you like it? Would you like a donut or muffin?" I glared the manager down and bought the man a cup of joe, and let the manager know what I thought of disrespect to the elders and infirm. Outside the shop, Mr. H said, "Do I know you? You look familiar, but I don't recollect your name..." I told him who I was, and that I had worked at the place he use to live, and that he was always unfailingly polite to me, never failed to leap to hold the door open when I was pregnant. I slipped him a fin, and told him it was a real pleasure to see him and have a chance to thank him for his politeness and good manners. And polite as usual, he slipped into my dream last night to remind me that things could be a lot worse. Even with delusions and voices in the head- one can still manage to be unflaggingly cheerful and polite.
Here's to tomorrow!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The day of the wedding happened to coincide with the end of an era for me- the ownership of my old '95 Volvo 940 wagon. I bought the Volvo in the tumultuous days of my separation. I drove a real lot in my old job, and I needed a car with excellent safety ratings, great gas mileage and good repair rating. We had two VW vans during the end of my marriage; the newer one fishtailed in snow, had not so great gas mileage, and VW's need constant tinkering. Both titles were in the ex's name, and the insurance was for both cars, so to pay for the van and keep it on the road, I would also have to pay for his van as well, and I made a LOT less money than he did. In hindsight, these details would have probably gotten settled in the divorce, but so many stupid manipulative head games were going on that I asked my lawyer "what if I just get my own car?" He said to go for it. (And it ended up being included in our mutual assets, which penalized me greatly in the financial settlement a year later.)
I did some homework on the net, but my boss had just bought a Volvo and she had the longest commute of anyone I knew, and was a brutally savvy budget watcher. Kate and I went out one evening, and the first car we looked at was this wagon. I never wanted a wagon- I associated it with suburbia and soccer moms. But we tried other cars on other lots, and kept going back to this one. This Volvo worked in many ways, and I ended up becoming the proud owner of a 940 wagon with 65,000 miles.
A friend of mine in Gaelic language classes had sent me to a mechanic friend to get it checked out; he said it was in good shape, and a good deal. This mechanic became a trusted friend as well as the reason the car stayed on the road so long. As parts wore out, my friend replaced them, usually once, maybe twice a year. When I dropped out of the workplace to return to school, the odometer was over 100,000 miles. I talked with him and asked if it was realistic to expect to be able to keep the car running while I was out of the workplace. He listened to my dreams and promised to do his very best to keep it going if I would promise to buy a new car as soon as I graduated.
I had had the car paid off in 4 years instead of 5, and drove it all over New England for my job. It was very handy to have a wagon. I put presentation materials in the trunk, and kept supplies for the many facets of my work. I moved my kids in and out of college dorms and apartments. I stuffed it full of friends and drove all over. I hauled donations from donor to recipient. And my school friends borrowed it to move mattresses, furniture and books all over.
In the 8th year of ownership, I put the first dent in the car, smacking a pole in a parking garage. I was so pissed off- and the garage attendant gleefully told me he keeps a running record of how many people hit the same pole every week in the dark, dingy garage. Other than one dent, the body is in pretty good shape for a 13-year old car. I kept up on the dings with touch-up paint, and no real rust to speak of, unlike many Volvos I see on the road.
Just before graduation, when I was already working after rotations ended, I saw an ad for an incredible deal on a Toyota Corolla, so I went for it. Unlike many in my class, I didn't go for a really nice car, but instead purchased the most basic model I could, so basic you have to roll the windows down by hand. I got an incredible deal for it. I use the Corolla for all my commuting (and put 26,000 miles on it the first year!).
Instead of trading in the Volvo, I kept it on the road, and Kate drove it for the year she was home. It gave her the ability to be mobile and she did a lot of helping out with my family. She also took it to NYC a few times to visit. Now she is moving to South America for a year. There is no reason to keep the Volvo on the road anymore. It has just shy of 260,000 miles on it. It did not pass inspection; it needs a new emergency brake. It's time to move on.
The day of the wedding, as I mused on days that change your life, and I knew this was the end of an era for me. Bren and I cleaned out all Kate's stuff from the Volvo (like me, she leaves lots of crap in the car) and I drove it to my friend's lot and left it there. He called me with his opinion. My friend says he'd need to remove the console and seats to get at the front e-brake, so it would be about $500 to fix. For a car with this mileage, I can't expect to get much money for it, so it's not worth repairing unless I plan to keep it and use it some more. The last car he sold like mine sat on his lot 3 months and got less than the owner had wanted- and it had 160,000 miles less than mine! So if it sells, fine- if it doesn't sell in a few weeks, I'll donate it.
The Volvo was the first car I ever chose for myself. Although it wasn't exactly what I wanted, it turned out that it was exactly what I needed. Yeah, it broke down sometimes, but it was always fixable, and it always bounced back. I had many close calls but I never had an accident. I drove all over New England, Canada, and New York with it. It kept me warm driving in so many freezing New England winters, kept me safe in so many bad storms, and the moonroof gave me sunshine, cool breezes and beautiful views. It had character. Bren laughed at me saying I was emotionally attached to it, but I was. It was comfortable, reliable, and lived far past expectations. I had one last good ride with the roof open on a beautiful & sunny fall day, and I said goodbye and thank you. I left it on the lot in the dark and in the rain, and I hopped into my son's car and drove away. No one will ever love it like I did. It will probably become parts. Whatever spirit or life a car has will be relegated to the good times I had in that old car.
And if I google Bren's address, the satellite picture shows his house- with the old blue Volvo parked right outside the front door. How cool is that?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One.
Michael Phelps is Number One..
What can anyone possibly add to the last eight days?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
- Vaccum the whole house and wash the floors. Check.
- Haul four weeks worth of trash, recycling and kitty litter to the transfer station. Check.
- Laundry and sheets- especially since Sorcha kindly left a dead, headless mouse in my sheets while I was away. Um- good kitty? Check. Also ironed.
- Visit the parents- coincided this with trash/recycling day and watered their garden. Check.
- Buy a lawnmower. Check. Sears Craftsman electric- I am nervous around motors and sharp spinning blades. I borrowed my neighbor's little B&D electric last year and it was just right for me. I looked for the same, but Home Depot just had some no-name, so I went with Sears- I know they fix and back their products. While I was out, I also hit JLPlum's, Christmas Tree Shop and a few other stores. Woo-hoo!
- Buy a lopper to trim out the forsythia bushes in front, the spirea next to the steps and the lilacs on the upper level. Check.
- Mow the "lawn". This is not actually grass, but a succession of weeds. The upper level was knee-high; the lower level not so bad because Ted had come over and mowed it once for me. Before I could do this, I had to weed- as in bend over and yank out by hand thousands of knee-high, tough-stalked weeds. I don't know what they are but they are not grass, they are pervasive, and they grow like crazy. I also had to...
- Trim out the forsythia bushes in front, the spirea next to the steps and the lilacs on the upper level.
- Trim out the dead lilacs; the last of the big hedge work we started in June. There were a lot of dead lilacs on the upper level. See?
That's a lot of stumps. Glad I had the lopper for the the smaller branches, but I used the shark saw on the bigger stumps. Still need to rake but first the lawn...
I also pulled an incredible amount of weeds:
There is still a considerable amount of gardening to do; I need to weed my stone garden out, & dig up a marsh rose in it that's trying to rule the world (I cut it back, but it needs to be eliminated.)
Lora came over and offered me a Rose of Sharon bush that will do quite well in place of the marsh rose (which is too thorny and send out huge long creepers that tear me up when I'm gardening). I am pretty excited, so I will do the perennial garden next. Because I knew I'd be digging and planting, "I was at Home Depot and could not resist these:
Fleabane, phlox and something else purple. All the deadly things in my garden have died off (gardening irony?), so I have some empty spaces. Also, between Ted's mow job and the avid helpers, my butterfly bush got yanked up. I'll need a few more fillers, and I usually get my plants at a nursery, but these will do fine for now and the price was right. So "I am off again on my travels, then when I return, I will finish the yard, if the creek don't rise and the Good Lord's willin'.
The kitties will be pissed- they love the jungle. Can you even see Sorcha hiding in the perennial bed weeds? Only if I move them...
Of course, Cujo prefers to just loll around in the catmint:
So the "lawn" looks at least more controlled. I need another extension cord so I can reach the very end, but the jungle has been tamed.
Hey, look! The Alzheimers fundraisers forgot to take down their sign from the race last week!
Is that more irony?
OK, I am all stinky and sweaty, so it's time to take a shower and get packed, and get ready for a cookout. I am so psyched, but I will have to leave it early to drive up to the place I am working tomorrow (more that 2 hours away from where I will be:( !)
But my jungle is starting to be tamed. Look at these rust-colored daylilies!
And the mallows! I found a scion growing in the center of the lower lawn, so I transplanted it to the corner and I hope it takes. This one is the mommy...
Even though I am far from done, I made a very good start, especially since I have to do it in spurts. My energy is not consistent, and I wheeze when I work too hard. But I am glad I got so much done, and I look out and feel satisfied. I think the day is fast approaching when I" will need to hire someone to come and do the yardwork for me, but for now, it's ok.
Monday, July 28, 2008
This one is a list of books. My star-rated favourites are in red, ones I have read in bold, un-read plain and plan-to-reads in italic.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen-I have read most of her works. The social strata and rules are complex and foreign but a love story is a love story and the bad guys get comeuppance. What's not to like?
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - I have read nearly everything JRRT has written. I find his worlds intricate, complex and thorough, as well as just damn entertaining.
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte. Broody hero who plays mind games, but she still loves the guy.
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling-see previous posts. Again- great world, great characters, rollicking storylines.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. Didn't really like it.
6 The Bible - I’ve read most of it. The summer I was thirteen, I decided to read it, unguided. I have gone back and read parts of it again. I think a study group might be nice to do someday.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. I didn't like Heathcliffe and Cathy was a wimp. Her sister was the better author.
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell. I read and re-read this in my teens and found it chilling.
9 His Dark Materials-on my to-read list
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens. Not my favourite Dickens book.
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott. Every little girl born in the US in this century has read this. And cried over Beth. I liked Little Men better, though, and Rose in Bloom better still.
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy. Still better than the movie.
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller. Read this in my twenties, but it didn't make a huge impression on me.
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - I’ve read many of his works , including the sonnets; my mom had a complete works volume in tiny print. Can't claim to have read all, though.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier. I liked this one when in my teens.
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien. See above.
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks. Never heard of it.
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger. Amusing, but not on my list of greats.
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger. Nope.
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell. Very good book. You can get lost in the drama. Scarlett was a total uneducated bitch, though- what a waste.
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald. It was interesting.
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens. On the list- one of the few Dickens books I haven't gotten to.
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy. On the list- one of these days when I have time.
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - laughed my fanny off over this series. Gotta love sci-fi!
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh. Nope.
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Nope
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck. Yup. Sad.
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll. Yup. He had to have been on acid.
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame. Weird. And I usually like fantasy, but these talking rodents didn't do it for me. Brits can be very weird.
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy. Nope
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens. Good one, but Dora was a wuss.
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis. Loved them.
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis Hello? this is on twice?
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. Just heard of it.
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - liked it and enjoyed the movie too.
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne. This kind of crap makes me want to vomit.
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery. Loved everything she wrote.
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood - Atwood is a genius.
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan. Not yet.
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel. Not yet
52 Dune - Frank Herbert - read most of the Dune books but they just won't stop- now his son writes them. Enough already!
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons. Never heard of it.
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.Never heard of it.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon.Never heard of it.
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens. A favourite- "tis a far far better thing I do..."
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon. Very interesting- I loved his perspective.
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Not yet.
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck. Sad.
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov - Gripping.
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt. Never heard of it.
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac - Nope.
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy. Had to read in college. Blocked it out.
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick-Herman Melville. Not yet, but a friend's husband write his dissertation on Melville.
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens. Yup.
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker. Yup. One summer I read a lot of horror. HG Lovecraft was my favourite. I swore I could hear scratching in the walls...
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - Yup.
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson. Never heard of it.
75 Ulysses - James Joyce - If I had a nickel for every time I picked this one up and tried to get through it… I did read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and was equally confused.
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath - Chilling. Loved it.
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome. Never heard of it.
78 Germinal - Emile Zola. Nope.
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray. Nope.
80 Possession - AS Byatt. Never heard of it.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. Loved it.
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker. Great story.
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - nope.
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert. nope.
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry. Never heard of it.
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White. Eh. Talking bugs and pigs.
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom. I don't think so.
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan Doyle. yup.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection. Never heard of it.
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad. No but I adore "Light in the Forest".
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Wrote a paper on it in French class.
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks. Never heard of it.
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams. Yup.
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole. Never heard of it.
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas.nope.
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare. Yup. "What a piece of work is m an, how noble in reason..."
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl. Yup
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo. It was a tough read, but I did it.
So- I read 56 of 100. However- two were counted twice- once as a series, once as a book. A big sprinkling of children's books- 13 (although the HP series is listed as one) entries.
I collect children's books, and I surely don't consider Pooh to be a must-read.
I do not fear to say I never heard of a book on the list. What standards were used to compile it? Are they books every educated person should have read? Books that most Americans most likely would have read? Am I a moron because I haven't gotten around to Salman Rushdie? I've read a number of other Nobel prizewinners, some of whom most Americans wouldn't recognize.
Maybe I need to make my own top 100 list.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
When their elder daughter had her shower, I wanted to give her something personal I thought she would enjoy. One of my own favourite wedding gifts was a set of bowls- bright, colorful and practical, so I thought of the giver every time I pulled them out. Her registry included cookie sheets, so I went with those. Then I had an idea. I saw a big baking bowl, so I bought that too, and went to the grocery store and bought a small bag of flour, and all the ingredients to make snickerdoodles, one of her favourites. (They loved rolling the balls of dough into cinnamon sugar...) I included the recipe on a card. She opened it, immediately got it and loved it. At her wedding, the favours were a cookie cutter with the snickerdoodle recipe attached.
So I needed to replicate the magic for daughter number two. Registry in hand, I wandered around the store, and all the good kitchen gadgets that were on the list were either fulfilled or not in stock. I went with a water filter that she would use every day, and hopefully think of me once in a while. I was blanking on the personal part when all of a sudden I had the idea.
Her parents went to a wedding and I had the girls for an overnight-she was eight or nine. A sudden thunderstorm moved in and she panicked- she was terrified of thunder. There was only one cure for thunder- Rice Crispy squares. We got her distracted stirring melting marshmallow, and the next thing you know, the storm was gone, the stars were out, and we were all snacking on slightly burnt bars. She had braved it out, she was ok, and we had a rousing game of Pictionary before they trouped upstairs to bunk out in sleeping bags with the resident ghost.
So today, she opened her card and read it and called out "I know who this is from..." There was a bowl from her dish set containing a bag of marshmallows, accompanied by a box of Rice Crispies. She proceeded to tell everyone there the story...
"Didn't we burn them?" asked her sister.
She got a lot of lovely things, and a lot of gifts that were equally as personal. We all had a nice time watching her enjoy her gifts and acknowledging every person there.
People were milling about and chatting as the party wound up. The sky got darker and it began to pour, and then there was a big clap of thunder. She slipped into the chair next to me and put her arm across my shoulder, and we both laughed.
Rice Crispy Squares
One 10 oz bag of marshmallows (or 4 cups mini-marshmallows)
Six cups of Rice Crispies
3 Tbs butter or margarine
In a large saucepan, melt the butter on low heat. Add in the marshmallows slowly, stirring until they are completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal until thoroughly coated. Spread into a greased (Pam, butter or margarine- your choice) baking dish 13x9x2.
Cut into squares and then let cool.
Eat and sit back and enjoy the thunderstorm.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Last week I did 4 straight 12-hour days and a weekend (9 hours a day) then had 2 days off to clean and do my errands. This week I did 3 12's and a weekend.
I woke up this morning to my son calling me- he was driving by and saw the car so he came in. I was really groggy and hard to rouse, and this was 10 am. However, I don't get their company very often, so I try and make an effort when the kids stop by. I had a cup of tea and chatted with him about school a few minutes before he headed back to work. The kitties were all over both of us, desperate for attention.
I was still pretty tired, so I resolved to just rest, and do nothing for one day. Watched a Netflix movie and decided to take a nap when the thunderstorms moved in. I crawled into bed around 3:30 and didn't wake til 8:30 pm. I've been yawning since 10 pm again, so I am hitting the pillows again.
Sometimes ya just need to sleep.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
This one is from my friend drgnfille, aka nikachica.
1. My username is _____ because ____.
BheanAnfa...because it's been my nick on the net since I first logged in. I remember being so nervous chatting that I didn't use much English at first...
2. My name is _____ because ______.
So post-war American that I have hated it all my life.
3. My journal is titled ____ because ____.
Cruinne-BheanAnfa just means BheanAnfa's World. Welcome to it. It confuses the hell out of me, so I don't expect you to understand it.
4. My friends page is called ____ because ____.
Door Number Three because it's her third site and the good stuff is always behind Door Number #3...
5. My default userpic is ____ because ____.
My graduation. One of the happiest days in my life. I still can't believe I did it. :)
Friday, July 04, 2008
When I was very little, the fireworks for the city of Boston were shot off from a barge off Carson Beach. All the aunties and cousins would converge on my house and we'd pack up thermoses of lemonade, blankets and citronella candles. Uncles Bob and Tom were always good for producing sparklers (illegal in Massachusetts), which we would wave in the dark to make circles of light. The big boys from the corner would lob cherry bombs and get yelled at by the moms. We'd chase each other about the sand until the show began, then we'd sit on our towels and "Ooooh!" in unison.
Later, the show was moved to the Charles River, and as a teen, I'd head over with groups of friends to the Hatch Shell to hear the Boston Pops concert and watch the synchronized firework show. First would be a few opening acts. Then when darkness fell, conductor Arther Fiedler would put together a grand show of Broadway tunes, popular songs and classical works by Copland and Sousa. The climax came when he would start "The 1812 Overture" by Tchaikovsky- we'd be on our feet the minute we heard the first strains. The final movement was when the fireworks started and we'd roar so loud you could hear us on the Pike. Then he would lead us in medley, one patriotic song after another. Thousands of us singing and dancing to "You're a Grand Old Flag", "God Bless America", "This Land is Your Land" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy", all to the accompaniment of spectacular fireworks.
The best year ever was the Bicentennial- 1976. We determined to be there for this monumental occasion, and we were at the Hatch Shell by 8am staking out our space with blankets and beach towels. Rich and Johnny were five years old, and we dragged them along. We played games and threw frisbees and sang all day in the hot sun. More and more people arrived to begin staking out their spaces so close to us we could barely move. At nearly sunset, we made one last run to the Port-a-Potties and the lines were tremendous. Someone took pity on us because of the kids and let us go ahead. As we stepped out of the potty area and headed back to the footpath, a row of security blocked out way and a limo pulled up. Out stepped Arthur Fiedler right before us and he waved at us as he went by.
We slowly made our way through a tremendous crush of people, heading back to our blankets where the menfolk held out places. Soon there were so many people we could not avoid stepping on blankets and excusing ourselves as we passed. The throng became so thick that about 100 feet before we got back, we couldn't walk any further. We called and waved to our friends, but we couldn't get through the crush. This big burly guy saw our dilemma, lifted Rich up and passed him along to the next guy; Johnny, Jan and I followed suit. Perhaps it was a primitive kind of crowd-surfing, but it was pretty surreal and yet really reassuring to be passed gently, safely and with great good humour back into the waiting arms of our boyfriends.
Settled back on our now-dwindled personal space, we were just in time for the music to begin.
We sang along and enjoyed the music with about 800,000 of our fellow humans.
And then the piece de resistance- the first strains of the 1812 Overture. The springtime motif, the Russian anthemn, the Marsellaise rose and clashed and fell and soared. The final motif, the martial battle theme rose, and the National Guard shot off the cannons over the water as the fireworks exploded, and every church bell near the Charles pealed in unison. There is no memory that recalls the Fourth of July so quickly to mind as the acrid smell of the cannons, the matching reverberating boom of your heart in your chest, and the sound of church bells echoing the orchestra's tempo. Boston owns this one unlikely theme to struggle and hope, because the Maestro put together all the elements that make it so gloriously unique; church bellringer groups, soldiers, firework companies... eat yer heart out, NYC!
I may have gone to the Charles on the Fourth a time or two after that, but nothing could ever equal the magic of that night. I always tried to get my kids to go with me when they were younger, but they had no interest in facing the huge crowds and having to stake a seat so early in the day. The fireworks in Worcester were basically a yawn after what I was used to. We went a few times in Arlington, which weren't too bad for a small town, and the locals were pretty entertaining. The last time, I went in 2000 with cousins from England, who really enjoyed seeing how Americans celebrate. The town I am in now does fireworks I watch from the end of my driveway- two years ago a young black man, an honor student, was beaten to death by two local thugs at the fireworks display. Doesn't make me eager to participate.
So the last few years I have worked, but I do get home in time to watch the show on TV. As the years have passed since Fiedler died, Keith Lockhart has risen to the occasion with gusto. My one complaint is that the fireworks are synched to canned music now instead of the live performance. The musical choices are a bit weird at times. This year's lineup was a bit better, but Pavarotti? It's also gotten a bit heavy on the country- not the usual type of music you hear in urbane Beantown. Apparently, since it's aired nationally, they want to please a wider American musical taste. The best fireworks this year were synched to "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys (ok maybe I'm prejudiced about their awesome music, but they WERE the coolest firework FX during that song).
Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. Go here:
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I have done a bit of traveling for work lately, usually staying away for 2 days at a time. Since I work long shifts, I don't get to really see the towns and cities where I work. Today I saw a road in daylight that I have traveled numerous times, but always in the dark. The first time I stayed over, I brought just what I needed. This time I brought my laptop (checked my email but never did blog) and a bathing suit, intending to use the hotel pool(didn't happen). Instead of swimming and getting some exercise, I found out that the Harry Potter OOTP movie was on HBO and I hurried back to my hotel to watch it. Kind of stupid, but I looked forward to it all day. Then I had a nice, leisurely bath.
Eating is hard when I am away. "Continental breakfast" translates to "no eating for you." I usually just get a coffee (gotta have Dunkin Donuts) and eat lunch or something. My sis yells at me because she knows I am just as content to eat crackers and cheese for a meal. I can expense breakfast and dinner, but seldom do- I grab some cheese or yogurt and call it dinner. This trip I ate at two chain restaurants. It was ok. Nothing great but I haven't time or energy for hunting down great restaurants. At least I got some protein and veggies.
I miss my kitties when I am away, like any self-respecting crazy cat lady. I got Bren to come visit them first trip, Buck came second time, Kate will visit the next trip. If I am gone 3 days, they need to be fed and watered by day #2- it's just too hot to leave much food out. When I come home, they shoot out the door as if from a cannon, then race in to chow. I usually bring home some fancier grub than they get daily, just to keep them looking forward to me. Bribery, but it works.
We had a huge thunderstorm roll in just as I was leaving. I had the challenge of driving home in it, but the sun came out halfway home.
It's nice to be home.
The border is lilac trees, set out about 40 years ago by the family who lived here. I have the boys cut back the stray saplings every fall, but we didn't get to it last year and there was so much storm damage over the winter. Multiple limbs were dead and hanging and it really did look atrocious. I have daylilies- some original and some donated by a neighbor- under the lilacs.
In the corner is my quince bush, which you couldn't get to. (My former house had a whole border of quince, which I loved and missed horribly when I moved- then, in spring, up popped one lonely old quince under the lilacs. I considered it an omen at the time.)
I woke around 11 am on Saturday and the crew had been hard at work since 10:30- and I never heard them. One neighbor brought his truck to haul the debris to the dump. The other brought tools- saws, clippers, secateurs, ladders. They had already cut down a number of the older, split lilacs and were busy as bees. I brought out water, took a quick cup of tea, and joined them. I ordered mulch from a local supplier to be delivered late afternoon. It was a hot, clear day, well into the eighties. We had ash, mulberry, hawthorne, catalpa and maple saplings invading the lilacs. One neighbor focused on pulling the weeds from the daylilies and the rest of us hacked away at the branches. By one pm, three truckloads of limbs and brush had been carted off to the brush dump.
The guy came with the mulch and just dumped it in the driveway, so my neighbor came back out again. I started laying it out around all the daylilies and lilacs. I had put in a border of pavers, but she showed me how to make a clean line with a pickaxe so the mulch rested just inside. I ended up putting yet another load of brush on the lawn that will get carted off to the dump someday soon. It took a few more hours to lay down the mulch and it just wore me out completely. My friend borrowed a weed-whacker and set to on what should be a lawn but is a semi-dead collection of various weeds. I begged her to stop because I could do no more and finally she did around 7 pm.
It was really incredible of my neighbors to do this for me. I felt guilty for being so tired and unable to be energetic and do a lot. But, as my neighbor said, it was in their power to do it and they did. It was that simple.
I took a few pictures early in the day, and a few at the end. This is what my hedge looks like after the "decimation" as the neighbor's daughter called it.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
So anyhow, my morning routine is get up, use the bathroom, come downstairs. Usually the kitties escort me to the cabinet where the cans of wet food are kept, chatting and bickering all the way. They somehow feel that every night I undergo selective amnesia and forget where their chow is kept.
This morning I got up, hit the bathroom, and was escorted downstairs by the two older cats. They led me into the parlour and sat in front of the air conditioner expectantly.
THAT's how hot it is.
Bren decided to buy whiskey at the duty-free, when he voiced this, a little old lady came over and offered him a sample. He had three shots before we boarded. They found poitin- which is legal now, apparently- and bought some for Buck. We were shopping maniacs until they called out flight.
The flight home was uneventful. I know I dozed off for at least an hour. I watched a movie and part of a second. When I woke up, we were over the ocean, the sun was out- and there was ICE beneath us. I had to take some pictures.
When we landed, we were through customs really fast. Bren had a beer while we waited for our ride. A local TV station wanted to interview us about baggage, but we all declined. Kate met us with my car, but declined to ride home with us. All three of us voted not to have me drive, so Bren drove home, then Dan drove him home and went back to Boston. My kitties were very happy to have me home. And I was glad to be back.
Monday, June 09, 2008
This was out last day to sightsee; we had to be at the airport by 10 am next day. We were very close to the Burren when we stopped for the night. Within minutes, we were in the otherworldly landscape of limestone deposits that form the desolate and eerie land of the Burren. We stopped at the ancient Neolithic tomb site known as the Poulnabrone Dolmen (a dolmen is a burial site marked by huge stones). It was dry and sunny but very windy out on the hills where the dolmen is situated. I have older photos of Dan posing beside it and inside the entrance, but now it is roped off and you cannot go very close to it (I understand why after seeing the damage at Newgrange). We got some good pictures and walked all about. We stopped down the road at Caher Connell stone fort; there is a nice visitor center there now with a cafe and gift shop. We bought some art at the shop, and made a pit stop but Bren wanted to push on to the cliffs, he felt he had seen enough stone ring forts for the nonce.
On to Cliffs of Moher, on the coastline of County Clare. It is so different from the first time we saw them. There is now a huge parking lot, then you cross the road, and enter the park. If you are just touring the cliffs, there is no fee, but of you want to see the exhibits, there is a charge. The old gravel road that once we hiked up is now a series of limestone steps, graduated to make it easier on the legs, but still quite a climb. The sides of the steps and trails are secured with thick limestone slabs to give added security against wind and erosion. The cliffs are dangerous; the first time we went, a German couple had been blown off the cliff and fell to their death. Everyone is always angling for a better camera angle and ignoring the danger. My own boys proved no exception. Dan was particularly keen to get some good pics because it was windy and rainy, slick and slippery when I took him there in 2003. The Cliffs are gorgeous; a habitat for seabirds and a place of desolate beauty. Dan had his binoculars so we could see the birds flitting in and out of their tiny holes. Dan wished we could have taken a boat tour that goes along the cliffs; it definitely went on the list of "must do next time"! The boys went beyond the park boundary on to private land (as did 99% of the other tourists) to take more pictures at better angles. I was too nervous to try.
After the Cliffs, we had pretty much fulfilled all the goals we had set ourselves, so we just headed down the coast, angling our way toward Shannon. I estimated Ennis would be a realistic place to end the day, so we just meandered on down the coast. We passed through Liscannor, with its awesome golf course and stopped at Lehinch, one of Dan's favourite towns.
Lehinch was always a very touristy town, but now it's even more so. It is a haven for surfers, and since the tide was right, we saw a lot of people heading down to the beach and hitting the waves. We had lunch at a little cafe with a surprisingly diverse menu and very bright and colorful decor. We walked about town and did some shopping; I got a Celtic painting on papyrus at the Bord Failte that was very unusual and a few other gifts. I stopped at the knitwear shop and managed to get the girls sweaters. While I was negotiating sizes, the boys visited an art gallery that they very much enjoyed, but felt I should stay out of. Heading down the coast, Dan suggested we do the Loop Head route that meanders down the coast; from this we could loop back east and head to Ennis. Great idea. Off we headed, through Miltown Malbay, Quilty, Kilmurry, Doonbeg to Kilkee. At Kilkee, we got out and discovered an excellent cliff walk that was extremely photogenic. Apparently, this walk extends for miles; I imagine this must be a very nice place to live. It started to rain and gust, so we headed back to the car and drove out. After a number of miles, it was pretty obvious that this was a very isolated road we were traversing, with few towns ahead of us. That's when I noticed I had only 1/8 tank of gas.
Normally, I am willing to chance things. With so little gas, roads marked in Km when I am used to miles, no cell phone (WHO do you call anyway?) and a deserted country road, my anxiety began to mount. After about 20 minutes, I decided I must head back to the town for gas. Back we went, and entered the town. We drove around and around (it's now about 7:30 pm- things do NOT stay open late in Ireland like they do in the US) and could not find a gas station. We pulled up and asked a local; there was none in Kilkee, he said, the closest is Doonbeg, and the road behind us (that would have taken us back toward Ennis) was closed for repair and a detour was on. I drove like a maniac back to Doonbeg and we quickly found a station and got gas. Now it was too late to jaunt out to Loop Head (another next time), so Dan navigated me back to Miltown Malbay to pick up a road that led straight to Ennis. Reaching Ennis at about 9 pm, we looked for lodging without success; no vacancy signs everywhere. I recalled a hotel out on the N18, so we headed out of the city and I found the hotel quickly. At this point it was raining pretty steadily, I was exhausted from the stress of driving and I felt that out aborted trip to Loop Head was a terrible way to end a vacation. Actually, there are worse ways to end a great vacation.
We checked in, had a lovely dinner and just as we were considering ordering our dessert, a HUGE cockroach ran out from the table next to us. The wait staff appeared unsure how to deal with this situation: we warned them not to step on it (it releases billions of eggs) and Bren put a glass on top of it. Another diner begged us to let it go in the garden; I encouraged the waiter to kill it and he poured boiling water on it. Dan insisted on speaking with the manager; he was polite but emphatic that the staff needed to take measures to eradicate the pests and should close the kitchen in the meantime. The manager felt that just one bug was a problem taken care of. I went to the desk and cancelled our breakfast. I might have left had I not been so exhausted; at least our room was far from the kitchen. You would think they would have cancelled the cost of our dinner, or given a discount on our stay. NOPE. West County Hotel, part of the Best Western chain and run by the Lynch family group. I emailed them hotel and made a complaint; I have yet to receive an apology or acknowledgment of any kind.
Guess who went beyond the point? Everybody but me.
People routinely get blown off these cliffs, & it was windy!