Wednesday, April 24, 2024

With Distinction....

Somewhere around February Oldest had a breakdown thinking he was going to fail one class this semester, something about concrete structures?, I don't know.  Anyway, he was a mess.  This of course led him down the rabbit hole of having to spend a ton more money and time finishing up his degree. 

In March, the company he's been working for 90 minutes from the house (one way) made him a job offer to stay on after graduation. They counterered back and forth for a bit and the end number wasn't enough to allow him to move out that way and pay his student loans. So now, on top of the potential failure, he had to find a new job. 

At the start of April, overwhelmed, he took some time off to finish some assignments, work on exams and generally reclaim some mental health time. I asked him if he had seen any of his grades.  He mumbeled something and said it was "fine". He worked on his resume, interviewed with two companies close to home, and waited to hear. The first offer came in solid, benifits that rival my federal ones, and an overall good atmosphere.  Thinking he'd take it, he attended the second interview out of courtesy, expecting them to not match the other company's package. Except they matched it, and came in 18K higher. 

Having tallied his student loan debt, his car payment, and his incredibly healthy (aka expensive) eating habits, the Mom in me screamed TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN but he did not. Instead he countered the first company, who came back within 2K of the second company's offer, and offered 5K per year for the next 6 years, tax free, towards his school loans. Needless to say, his starting pay is more than what 25 years in the Federal government get you.

With a job secured, he kept plugging away, freaking out over surprise last minute papers and oral presentations. 

Last week I asked if his grades were in.  

No. They post after graduation.

Then how will you know if you're graduating?

It's fine. *eye rolls* I'm going to graduate.

Saturday we headed into the big city in the pouring rain, traversing the campus one last time, found our seats, and watched him cross the stage one last time, as he recieved his Masters in Civil Engineering,

With Distinction.

Apparently, the boy who insisted he would catastrophicly fail two months prior, graduated in the top 10% of his class.

With Distinction Indeed.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Fresh Starts...

I was given another old trunk by an old friend of my husband. It wasn't in the roughest shape, but it definitely wasn't useable. I began the stripping down process months ago in the hopes that I would be able to give it to my nephew for his High School graduation in June.  Last week I finished the cedar lining and the polyurethane on the trunk, and today I sealed the tray.  The finishing touch is the trunk lid which will be lined with his gradfather's old flannel shirts, quilted together. They are very close, and someday, when my Dad is gone, it will be nice for him to have them in his legacy trunk along with his scout gear, hockey jerseys, cap, gown, and diploma. While I have gotten rid of the musty smell from the orignial paper lining, and the deep down greasy dirt of the oil cloth exterior, many of the flaws are still visible.  The patent on the lock, which had been cut, goes back to the 1860's, and rather than replace it, I polished the brass highlighting it. The flaws give it character and tell the history of where it's been. 

About four years ago, before they were insanely popular, I bought a Blackstone flat top grill. Being cast iron it was very expensive, but came preseasoned, which was great becasue I literally knew nothing about cast iron. Fast forward four years, my inexperience and laziness has left it a mess, partially seasoned, and beginning to rust. So, in between poly coats on the trunk tray, and after a deep dive of how-to videos on Youtube, I took the grill down to bare meatal and began the painstaking process of reseasoning.  It took about an hour to strip it back, and about two hours to slowly reseason. My neglect took a lot of dirty, hard work to repair. Is it perfect? No. But the surface is slick with no sticky points, and I feel like I can maintain and build on the seasoning over the coming months. 

Last year, in a moment of utter disgust, I decided we needed a better way of keeping the spare rolls of TP in the office bathroom than a half tray on the floor, so I took an old nightstand that my Dad had made and we weren't using, and brought it in. It served it's purpose well for months until one of the maintenence people decided to move it directly under the papertowel dispenser where water dripped on it all day.  The water casued mold, and it deteriorated quickly. A few weeks ago I realized that no one had been moving it when they waxed the floor and it was now anchored to the floor. *insert a loud sigh and eye roll here* With one quick jolt I freed it from it's prison, brought it home, and started the painstaking job of stripping it down.  About an hour into sanding I could hear my dad's voice saying that's never going to come out, but I persisted nonetheless, the whole while cursing myself for bringing it in in the first place.

The day was a slow moving back and forth from project to project, just me and my thoughts, consequences and regreats.

The trunk sat negected for years before someone insisted it be appreciated.
The Blackstone laid shoved aside and uncared for months.
The nightstand was cast aside, it's value disrespected, until someone had had enough.

Kind of like me.

For years I negected myself, putting everyone else first, hiding myself away in the corner. I did not always treat myself well, ignoring small things until they became big things, finding myself in places I didn't belong, for far too long.

Until one day I had had enough. I jolted myself free from the neglect that held me in place for so long, stripping myself down to figurative bare metal, and resasoning myself at my core. No more dark corners, wrong places, or negect. And while some of the scars can never be erased, I am learning to be appreciated, cared for, and to find beauty in the scars my choices have left behind.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Dullards? Dullster? It's All Quite Mundane, Really.

 Facebook's algorithms have suggested that I might like the social groups Dull Women and Dull Men of Face Book.  Apparently you can be a member of both, regardless of gender, and it monopolizes half of my feed. While I have not committed to either of these groups, I do enjoy many of the non-introductory stories posted.  Some of which are neither dull or mundane, but just rather ordinary. They are stories from all over the world, which is kind of cool, to see how others spend their everyday. And of course, they all end with an age, a shoe size (???), and occasionally, a banana for scale.

I could get offended, but I know that I am more than just a FB algorithm, and that I am more than just the sum of my posted adventures on the book of faces.

Oh, who am I kidding?

This morning I posted two indentical bottles of Paul Mitchell's "The Conditioner" side by side, one that actually conatined the correct product, and the other containing shampoo, with the caption YOU HAD ONE JOB PAUL MITCHELL. 

Alas, my wanderlust has all but come to a scheeching halt, spending every remaing day with the old girl, who can barely walk most days and today is struggling with her basic bodily functions.  The Hubs is on his way home from work, searching the grocery stores for rotisserie chicken, in a last ditch attempt to get things moving for her. He even went so far as to invest in a red light laser therapy unit as a last ditch attempt to give her some relief. If her behavior was consistant, we'd be more seriously discussing options, but it's not. She'll decline for days and then suddenly act puppy like, forver keeping us guessing and in an eternal loop of unconditional love and guilt over the ineveitable. 

I have worked 6 days a week for the last six weeks.  Assuming today would be no different, I had nothing planned for my day off and awaited the phone call which thankfully did not come. I spent the day working on another 100 year old trunk for my nephew's high school graduation, doing laundry, running lunch to Youngest who woke up late and left with no lunch or snacks for his double shift today. 

But, prehaps the highlight of the day was when I dismantled our Dyson vacuum and ran it through the dishwasher, rendering most of the pieces as clean as the day it was bought, and I found replacement filters for it for only $12. They are due to arrive on Saturday, along with the replacement blubs for my patio lights (we currently have four out), and the prismatic film for my sun roof in the car.  Becasue while I do love the idea of a sunroof, the summer sun beating through it all day, every day, is just too much. I could just close the visor but then what's the point of even having it? It's quite a conundrum. 

Upon further reflection there may be something to the algorithm. 

But Dull?

I prefer dangerously unexciting.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

 Someone asked me this once.   

I thought it was the weirdest question.

I  mean who would want to eat an elephant?

I have still yet to fix my spell checking issues with my keyboard.  Something about the tablet having capabilities, but not the keyboard? I dunno. Just work with me here, mkay?

As it stands we are 13 months into the dog's Cushing's diagnosis. Typical life expectancy is 12-24 months once diagnosed, and we suspect she's  had it for about three years or so. She's slowed down considerably.  Her 3-4 walks of 2+ miles a day now consist of maybe a quarer of a mile each. She struggles to get up and down.  Her tail, when considerably excited, wags at haft mast. She'll muster up an occasionsal "look at me I'm terrifing" jump at a neighborhood dog here and there but then it takes her twice as long to meander home. Too make matters worse, I did my annual check in of my finances and tallied what this whole thing has cost over the last year.

$12K in vet bills.

$300 monthly in medications and supplements.

$600 monthly in food.

I'd spend it all again of course, but hope I don't have to, since I didn't have it to spend in the first place. The shear amont of debt is overwhelming and while there's a plan in place it will take some time to execute it.

Youngest has returned from Arizona.  He went to visit some friends and to check out ASU. He'd toyed with going there to get a sense of the climate and people, but with no assiatance for gap year students, and FAFSA not recognizing him as an independent adult until he's 24, at 50K a year it's just too far out of reach. We've done some research into schools in Puerto Rico, and while extremely affordable, the aspect of becoming bilingual is daunting for him. He's left one of his jobs in order to persue his certified personal training career. Building clientele is tough. Doing it while suffering from debilitating seasonal depression is tougher. It's overwhelming. He will get to where he wants to be if he sticks with it, but it's a lot.

Oldest graduates with his Master's degree in 5 weeks. We've tallied his debt as well. The number is staggering. The plan has always been to live at home while he fast tracked his way through paying it off. He has been working with a company three days a week who has given him a job offer to stay on after graduation, but they are a 90 minute commute from here, one way, and the drive is mentally killing him. He can move closer, but that changes his financial plan considerably, and as we all know, once school debt takes hold, it's brutal to get out from under it. He's updating his resume tonight and will start looking again for more local opportunities. The task is daunting, depressing, but necessary.

The husband has 862 days left until he can retire. He loathes going to work every day. The atmosphere is terrible. He's wishing the days away. One day at a time.

How I wished I could return to y'all with happier, more pleasant affairs. Yet I have all these elephants in the room with me. Which brings me back to the original question, if someone wanted to, how would one eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

If you Give A Girl....

 If you give a girl a brand new trainee the week of Christmas, she'll probably think her boss was crazy. When she tells you to give her the tools to do it correctly, her bosses will object.  She will definitely give them hell, and get her way, and becasue of that her trainee will stay for the full three weeks of training. And by the end of the month, he will be ready and she can take some time off.

If you give a girl some time off, she will proabbly find things to do, since she only had two days off the entire month of December. And since, during the month of December, Oldest totaled his car (he's fine, but the air bags went off and that deemed it totaled), and has now incurred a car payment, he's discovered he may have to live with you forever. Embracing his new fated doom, he will decide to move his room into the basement where her craft and the husband's sports card room is. 

So, since the girl has time off, she will move all of her stuff out of the space, and build out some walls and closet space. There will be drywall, and dry wall mudding, and dust, and primer, and trim work, and paint. Lots of paint. And Oldest will love it all. The husband will love his new card room upstairs. The dog, who always refused to go downstairs, will love that she can see him now while he puts together a card order to go out. And the girl will love that everyone is happy, even though all her craft stuff is still yet to be organized.

If you give the girl enough time off to build out a room, she will proabbly work on laundry while she's in the basement, and she will discover why the laundry overflow keeps randomly overflowing into the newly finished laundy/bathroom. With another day off, she'll rig something ridiculous to keep it from getting everywhere, since there's no easy way to stop it from happening. When her husband sees the trash bag, funnel and hose combination that leaves not a trace of water on the floor, he will proclaim that that is the most redneck invention he's ever seen.

He will also proclaim her a genius.

By the fifth day off, the girl will realize why it's important to wear a mask while sanding drywall and trim boards as her sinuses flare up into the worst head cold imaginable. She will of course, suck it up and go to work on the 6th and 7th day, hauling mail in the snow, sleet, and frozen tundra, thus making her sicker, which is why, she will get two more days off. 

On that day off she will realize that if she takes enough cold medicne she can conquer the world. Or at least more laundry, and a small closet space for Youngest. And by the last day off she will attempt to get spell check installed on her new tablet.

And, if she's sucessful, she'll most likely want a cookie.

Edited to add: After several attempts and a deep dive on Google, spell check is not going to happen. You'll just have to disregard my fat fingers. Also, I totally ate two cookies anyway.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Week 48...

 I think it's fair to say that the lofty goals I had of blogging every week this year prooved to ambitious.  I had a good run, but it's best that I accept the failure and move forward for those of you who are still reading.

So let's see.... I've been swamped with the new route. Yes, it's holiday, and yes, more money comes with more work, I knew all of that.  What I didn't know is that the guy that fills in for my days off would be shipped over to Martha's Vineyard for the majority of the holiday season, leaving me to work nearly all of my days off.  Or that the project I started with the auxiliary route (while I was on the smaller route) would contiue on two months later, or that another carrier would despreately need help streamlining his route for the last month.  I also didn't realize the only memeber of management that knows how to properly pay me for all of this extra work is out on medical until mid December.  To date I'm owed aproximately 14 hours of over time. It is supposed to be fixed this paycheck but I don't have high hopes. It is the federal government after all. The hardest part if I'm being truthful, is entirely mental. I'm working much longer days and just not seeing any forward movement finacialy. Quite simply, as fast as it's coming in, it's going out.  I know there will be a tipping point when I can make some progress, but that hasn't happened as of yet, and it has left me feeling very frustrated and wondering if I made the right choice.  Which I know I did, I just don't feel it right now.

My trusty laptop's power cord stopped working, rendering me with yet another very expensive boat anchor to add to the pile. And while I could easily buy a new power cord, the mere fact that it was running so slow I felt like I was back on dail up, makes me think it's not even worth it.  Thankfully, I bought a new tablet for black Friday, to give as a gift to myself after Christmas the day before the cord crapped out. Oldest is home and has help sync the necessary things to it, but finding all my passwords and reloading all my personal websites has been kind of ridiculous. Things like even finding blogger so I could type up a post are now a half hour project. Lord knows if I'll even be able to access your stories or comments. But, I will say that this new tablet is a dream to run my crafty programs on, cutting down aggrivation and time considerably. So I'm still on track for all my Christmas crafts, regardless of the fact that I have no energy to do them.

Holiday shopping is nearly done.  The bathroom downstairs is done, and worth every penny.  As soon as I figure out how to upload pictures I'll share it with you all. 

And as soon as I figure out how to get spell check on this thing, I'll be able to craft a better post, hopefully with a bit more frequency.

Until then. :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Week 43, Maybe?


This not having a reliable computer thing is throwing me off my game.

Let's see....

I turned 49. Hubs and I went to breakfast, then to the outlet mall to start the Christmas shopping. Later we went to my parents for a family dinner. It was nice, small, and yummy. And while it is just a number, all subsequent birthdays will be celebrated as 49 and a bit.

I had one last day on my old mail route. I picked up many envelopes and treats along the way.  And while I knew this was the right move for me, it is truly bittersweet. Although I have seen many of them in Walmart, as promised. The new carrier is great and ironically grew up on the route I went to. It will just take some getting used to for everyone.

I started the new route the next day in torrential downpours. It's been 4 days now and it's almost exactly the way I want it to be set up. A few small tweaks next month and it will be all set for Holiday. I am struggling with balancing the house stuff since I'm working a longer day, but it will all work out in the end. The Libra in me is off balance right now and I just have to keep reminding myself that that's okay. I'm sure once the paycheck starts, I will feel better. Nothing worse than working harder and not seeing progress. This time of year is always tough for me regardless. First, it's my birthday, then Oldest's in two weeks, then we roll right into Thanksgiving and before we can blink, Christmas. 

But before I get too ahead of myself, I should go switch over the laundry.

Because while I may need everything else to slow down just a bit, the laundry never does.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Week 40?

Why do you want to do this to yourself?

Because if I can do this, I can do anything.

Oldest, despite his ADHD, once focused, is unstoppable.  

He toyed with working out and going to the gym like many teens in high school. Some things stuck with him, others did not. The food part was always a struggle for him, as it is for most of us.

About a year ago he started to train with a guy he met at the gym, who was, and is, considered one of the best natural body builders in the state. The training was short lived as that level of trainer is too expensive for a broke college kid. Through that connection though, he reconnected with an old friend who had also done some competitions, and the journey started. 

The workout started about a year ago. Regimented and extremely structured.

The food part started 6 months ago.  Every calorie counted.  Marcos, micros, fat grams.  Everything is weighed and portioned.  There would be no ice cream dates, no favorite restaurants, no pizza. 

Two months ago, the calorie restrictions started. The crankiness set in.  Hangry had a whole different meaning in this house. Down to about two percent body fat, he was hard to look at.  Hubs shot videos of his poses every day and sent them to his coach, every inch of his body scrutinized. I worried honestly. He thought I wasn't being supportive. I couldn't understand why he would do this to himself on purpose. And when it was all done, then he had to start the meticulous process of getting his metabolism back to his original "factory settings". It. Was. Crazy.

Because if I do this, I can do anything.

This past weekend I opted to take my holiday, forgo the much-needed double time I'd earn at work, and headed down for the competition. I may not like the journey he's been on, but I sure as hell was not going to be accused of being unsupportive, nor would I miss his debut on stage. Turns out, aside from the unnatural spray tans, it was far less weird and awkward than I thought it would be. 

He placed, 3rd and 5th in Classic Physique.

Anything indeed.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Week 39...

Dear Postal Customer,

I realize to some of you, I'm just the one that brings the bills, junk mail, and grocery flyer.  The one you'd wish would skip your house most days, except of course, when I have a package full of goodies for you. Feel free to scroll right past this post, I don't mind. 

But for the others, the ones who know me. Those I've chatted with by the box, that I've gotten ahead of your problems, before you even knew they existed, the ones that wave as I roll on by, this is for you. 

Six years ago, I made the incredibly tough decision to switch routes for health reasons, and I was not disappointed. Over the last six years, I've watched you get married and divorced, celebrate births, first days of school, move off to college, and return home.  I've watched you move out and on to new things and move your parents back home. I have watched you grieve and heal. I have celebrated every new furry friend and felt every loss as they crossed the rainbow bridge. The excited butt wiggles are the best part of the job and the hardest part to accept when they aren't greeting me at the door.

In truth, I never aspired to be killing it out there in my big white truck with flashing lights, like most of us I had other dreams, but rather fell into a twenty-year career that's helped me survive real life. Now with 2/3rds of my working years behind me, I've taken a lot of time to look at what I want the next 30 years to look like and to best do that, I need to take the opportunities as they arise. No, we didn't hit the lottery, and I can't retire early, but an opportunity to switch territory has presented itself and (after months of overthinking) I've decided to take it. Quite simply, it will allow me the ability to better take care of my family and retire when I hope to do so. 

I am not going very far, you will likely see me zipping around town as per usual. It just won't be me bring your medications or cards from your great niece. I won't be the one rerouting Aunt Edna's Christmas Card that never gets correctly addressed, or fixing what FedEx and Amazon misdeliver. I won't be your frontline for problems regarding the giant clusterf*ck that is the new and improved current postal forwarding system. I won't be the one alerting you to check on your neighbors, or making sure your son lets his little brother in the house after school no matter how annoyed he is with him. I can't help you find your lost dogs, well, maybe I can still do that, it depends on how far they wander. And while I cannot guarantee it, I have done certain things to ensure you're left in the best hands, and I will be only a few feet away from them in the office for any questions or issues that will arise. 

 I will miss you all more than you know. And I hope when you see me buzzing by, you wave like always, or even stop to chat. Because while it's no longer going to be me, I would love it to think that, over the last six years, in just those ten seconds a every day, I made a difference to you too.



Monday, September 18, 2023

Week 38...

I'm blaming my absence on technical difficulties, along with my not paying the internet bill on time, and not promptly responding to emails. While I can pull emails up on my phone, the new way in which they appear is causing me to miss many of them and delete the others. I have actually been trying to get my computer functioning since 9am this morning.  It's now quarter to one. And truth be told, with life's distractions, I'm not even sure when or if this will post, but here goes.

The last three-ish weeks have been wet, dreary, and rain soaked. No one better be talking about a water ban this year, because we've had more than our fill.  Thankfully we are not in the hardest hit areas, nor did we get a direct hit from Hurricane Lee, but still, we've had more than our share.  As I sit typing away, we are expected to get another two inches throughout the day, much to my and the dog's dismay. 

The rain's made it a good day to sit on the phone for over an hour on hold with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.  It seems, that within his little trip to Jersey last month Youngest zipped through several lanes of the NJ turnpike in the cash only lanes. Unfortunately, there's no online option for "I'm too stupid to read the ginormous sign" and he was hit with not one, but FOUR penalty charges for his carelessness. An hour later I was able to get a nice person on the line who waved the charges and enabled him to pay just the fees. Needless to say, he's getting an ezpass for future travels and I'm getting myself a cookie for my hard work and patience.

And while some of you may say, it's not your job to sit on hold or handle anything for him, or he'll never learn if you don't stop doing those things, let me first say that you're right. But here's the thing. Since April of 2020, Youngest has planned eight suicide attempts. I do not know how many he has actually tried, but thus far, he's thankfully been unsuccessful. There have been many things I've stopped helping with, condoning, or facilitating in those three years. Much of his struggle has been his and his alone. And in January, when he came face to face with himself and hated everything he'd become, he knew it was time for a change. The first few months were excessively difficult. And then one day, it wasn't.  He started taking care of himself. Organizing his life. Changing direction.

He turned around and headed right back to where he was headed pre-covid, back to personal health and fitness.  He enrolled in a very expensive, but nationally accredited online course to become a personal trainer. He struggled for months with the curriculum.  He learns better in a classroom, with conversation and discussion.  Independant learning is tough for him. And this subject matter, antimony, physiology, kinesiology, is hard for anyone. Nevertheless, he kept going. I spent countless hours on the phone with the company, mainly for payment issues on their end, and for testing dates.  I did that for him because I could, and often I could resolve it for him faster that way. His first deadline to test for his certification was coming at the end of September, so we scheduled it for last week, knowing full well that 40% of students fail their first go around. Fully aware we didn't have the technical setup to take it online at home, I urged him to take it in person. Agreeing, he headed over to the local college 45 minutes away for his proctored exam, and I waited to hear.

He passed.

And in that moment, I was reminded of all the things he's been up against his whole life that no one ever thought he'd get through and did. His whole life has been a series of hills to climb, which he has done with us both cheering from the sidelines and leaning on us when he got too tired. And when he fell down that mountain it was equally as heartbreaking, and downright devastating for us all. And since picking himself up off the rocky gravel of the valley below, he's climbed small hills, steady inclines. But this was his first real summit to climb since, and he succeeded. 

Now he's setting sights on new mountains, both big and small, with a renewed sense of empowerment and worthiness, with a knowingness of wanting to be here, present in his life.

So yeah, it's not my job to spend hours on hold. But if it levels out the ground so he can stand firmly and reset his mindset, I will gladly do it. 

Now if I can only figure out what I did with the internet bill.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Week 35...

 Things that made me happy edition.

The malls I spent my time in as a kid look nothing like they did back them.  Brick and mortar stores and malls are vanishing faster than squeaky toys in a dog park, and in one case, one of them has been leveled to the ground.  In its place they are building an open-air shopping experience, which if we were in a warmer area would be great, but when the weather turns cold and dismal, it lacks a lot of appeal for me. Monday the Hubs and I went to check out what's been done so far since the leveling and I have to say, I'm kind of impressed.  No, I won't enjoy schlepping my things through snow and rain (I get enough of that at work), but the layout and mix of retail stores is quite good.  The restaurants range from low to high end, and the whole plaza is easily walkable unlike some of the other openair establishments done over the last few years. 


When I was little it was a huge treat for us to go to a local dairy farm a few towns over and get ice cream.  It was the best around, and with their expansion to our town 30 years ago, it has long become my kids favorite place to meet up with friends and wander downtown, sundaes in hand year round.  On Tuesday, after 60 years of being in business, they went on the auction block. The high bidder paid 1.7M, a bit over market value, but he just couldn't see it go to condo developers. Turns out, the winner is the owner of another long-established dairy farm in the area, where my kids went many times with their grandparents to indulged in chocolate milk and sweet treats in the summer. It's crazy how something so simple can make me so happy.  And if they take over the existing lease downtown as well, we just may take advantage of their delivery service for weekly glass bottles of chocolate milk.  It. Is. that. Good. 


The correct hose & attachment arrived for the toilet yesterday, free of charge.


The heat and rain has subsided at least for a while. The windows in the house can be open all day. The nights are getting crisper.  

Fall is coming.

With Distinction....

Somewhere around February Oldest had a breakdown thinking he was going to fail one class this semester, something about concrete structures?...