Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stopping to pet the flower

I have a severe case of under-motivation today.

A large part of it is because I was supposed to be taking a vacation day today but then stuff-n-reasons later I’m not, but while I said ‘nah, no big, nothing I can’t do later’ at the time that I un-took the day, I’m secretly more than a wee bit vexed about the whole ‘I might as well save my PTO for actual time OFF because I know what’s going to happen here, y’all are going to be calling/paging/texting me with one stupid thing or another the entire time so, fine, I will simply reschedule it’ thing.

Particularly since the #1 reason I decided not to take it…was then removed as A Thing due to someone else quitting.


The next biggest reason is, I have absolutely nothing in my work-life right now that I am finding particularly interesting. I KNOW. MY LIFE IS SOOOOOOOOO HARD, DEAR GAH, WHATEVER SHALL I DO, ONE WHOLE MONTH WORTH OF DEPLOY CYCLE IN WHICH I DO NOT HAVE SOMETHING FAAAASCINATING TO WORK ON.

I keep telling myself to get over it, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, I’m getting more and more disgruntled about it. Probably because I know we have plenty to do in our overall queue that would be very interesting and/or exciting indeed…and yet…here I am.

Doing documentation. And, oh, let us not forget the thrilling item where I get to…insert a row into a mapping table.

Woo-frickin’-hoo, y’all.

Then there’s the fact that it is Halloween. And I haven’t gotten any of the decorations out, and it feels decidedly not Halloweenish around here right now. And I would have done all that today, but, please see rant re: not on PTO right now, above.

Which is a bit of a pattern, really. Milestones keep happening…birthdays…seasonal changes…anniversaries of various sorts…and I keep saying things like, well, OK, it is what it is here and there were Reasons and stuff…but for {next milestone}? I am SO going to have things more…TOGETHER…than this…

And then it doesn’t work out that way. Because, reasons.

So that’s another reason I’m just kind of meh about the whole concept of working on stuff I should be doing today.

But mostly? I blame Fleur.

Because, this.

Oh, I’m sorry, is my napping and not giving a @^*&@ about anything out of the corner of your eye for your ENTIRE workday BOTHERING you?? Gosh, well, no fears, I won’t go somewhere ELSE to be so relaxed, I’ll just stay RIGHT HERE so you can vicariously bask in the easy-going-ness of my life while you’re answering stupid questions about Things and doing Boring Stuff like a good little mindless minion. YOU’RE WELCOME.

She started regularly curling up in that chair last week, and has apparently decided that she really, really, REALLY likes that chair as a napping place throughout the day.

You know, saving up her energy so that she can run wildly through the house with her sister all night. Because she’s still a kitten, and just like human babies, depriving adult humans of their sleep is the prime directive for her.

So she comes in here, and she jumps up in that chair, and then she looks at me with something approaching interest…and yawns.

And curls up.

And sleeps.

And every so often, she sighs, stands up, stretches luxuriously, turns around, and looks at me again. And then falls back over in a kind of swoon.

Wow. Your life is REALLY boring, human. Really. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Think I’ll go back to sleep now.

It’s extremely distracting. Because she is so darned cute that I desperately want to stop everything else and just pet her (which would also annoy her no end because Schilling is our cuddle-bunny, while Fleur is more of a loner-chick).

And it’s annoying, because she’s parked right in the corner of my eye. I don’t even have to turn my head to see a sleeping cat.

And it makes me sleepy.

Which makes me feel even less motivated to do anything, other than write long rants about my cat being overly relaxed and pissing me off.

To which she sighs, stands up, stretches, winks at me, turns around and flops, smirking, back into Napdom.


That’s it. I’m so going to pet her now. And serves you right, too, Fleur Fatale, you WICKED temptress…!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The more things change…

So, wow. An anonymous tipster reminded me that it was ten years ago today that I wrote the last of a series of long-winded posts on The Motley Fool’s Living Below Your Means board. It was my way of giving back a little bit to a community that had seen me through some of the biggest, hardest changes I have faced so far in my life.

When I first started scouring those boards and articles for help I was still coming to terms with a lot of things; I was just sure I was doing pretty much everything wrong, financially.

I had no choice but to get better at it…but I was sure worried that I simply wasn’t capable of it.

I’m having trouble with the concept of it being ten years since I wrote those. It doesn’t feel like ten years. Or like it’s been fifteen since I decided to change course so dramatically.

But at the same time, it does in a way. Sometimes looking back feels like remembering a movie about somebody else’s life or something. Did I really do that? Did I really feel that? Really? Because…I just wouldn’t now. So it’s hard to fathom that I did, back then.

It’s almost surreal to go back and read those things again. Remembering those days – both the ones I was writing about, and the ones I was writing during.

A lot has changed. A lot is the same. There has been water, and it has gone under the bridge, and over it on occasion, and once or twice it has swept the thing clean away.

I’ve had to learn some new tricks; I’m still learning new tricks, actually. And the definition of what I want most continues to be a remarkably changeable thing.

But other things haven’t changed at all.

I still stubbornly believe that every single one of us has within ourselves the capacity to have, do and be anything that we want; that our biggest blockers don’t come from Outside Forces, but rather from our own lack of belief in our own power.

Further, I know for a fact that doing that I did back then – stop, think it through, plan, and then do what I’d dreamed up – was the best thing I ever did, for myself, for the family, for the ever-expanding network of people who rely on me to more or less have my stuff together on a day to day basis.

And that it still is. That whenever I remember to stop, and to step back from the situation and survey it from as much distance as I can manage at the time, and to do my best to trace through all the various paths and possibilities, pick out what I expect to be my best shot at getting out of the mess quickly and with the least damage done…I come out way ahead versus the times when I’m too busy running around with my hair on fire screaming that the sky is falling to notice that the door was standing wide open that whole time.

And that if I don’t also take that same pause on a regular basis, even when I think everything is going just swimmingly and there’s no reason to do so, I have a way of wandering way off my desired course; or of not realizing that it’s not actually going where I want it to go.

It can be a darned hard thing to do, taking that step back from a situation to consider it without actively reacting to it right immediately then; just walking away from it for a bit so that you can look at it without the wild swirling of emotion, the smoke of panic and choking gas of disappointment clouding your judgment. Your instinct says to just keep throwing energy at it. Just keep digging. Keep running. Keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing…if you stop, you’ll lose ground…!

But, lose ground to what? or on what? Where are you digging to, and is it even where you really want to go?!

How many of us are caught flatfooted by that question! We’re on the treadmill, running with all our might – but what do we hope to accomplish, what will be the signal that we have won this endless footrace? What is it you want to have? To do? To be? When you get to the end, when you break the ribbon…what does the trophy say on it?

“Congratulations, you ran really hard for a really long time and, uh, we all…admire that, we guess…”?

How much better it would be to know what all the huff and bother is for, huh? To be able to say “I really don’t want to do this right now, but, it is how I am going to get this glorious, shining thing, so, suddenly I’m not as bothered by this have-to thing I’m doing…”

I think the only difference in my feelings on the whole subject is an addendum, which would be…for gosh sakes…make sure “enjoy the journey” is on the list as well! Life is far too short and uncertain to have all your goals, all your “and then, I will be gloriously happy!” events in the distant future, and nothing but hard work and drudgery in the now.

Now is where life actually is; this, this right here, right now, this…is your life. Not in {20, 30, 50} years, when you’ve {retired, saved a million bucks, acquired a mansion and the servants to maintain it, etc}.

It’s here. It’s the meetings you have at work. It’s the commute. The bagel. The people you encounter as you go about your day. It’s the feeling of your favorite shirt when you put it on. Sunsets. Sunrises. Making your home a welcoming, comfortable place for yourself.

It’s in your laughter, your tears, your exhaustion, your exhilaration, you, ALL of you, you RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

Love yourself now, too. Be kind to yourself now. Don’t steal all the good things from yourself now, in the name of having something “better” much-much later. Honor yourself however you can, while you do yourself the even greater honor of believing that you can also have the bigger, shinier things.

I still totally believe you can.

And I’m still totally ready to clap at your parade when you do.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Cool read – The Revolution Of Every Day

On my ever-growing list of Stuff I Meant To Blog About But Put It Off Because I Was Tired is to tell you guys about Cari Luna’s new book, The Revolution of Every Day.

In the midnineties, New York’s Lower East Side contained a city within its shadows: a community of squatters who staked their claims on abandoned tenements and lived and worked within their own parameters, accountable to no one but each other. With gritty prose and vivid descriptions, Cari Luna’s debut novel, The Revolution of Every Day, imagines the lives of five squatters from that time. But almost more threatening than the city lawyers and the private developers trying to evict them are the rifts within their community. Amelia, taken in by Gerrit as a teen runaway seven years earlier, is now pregnant by his best friend, Steve. Anne, married to Steve, is questioning her commitment to the squatter lifestyle. Cat, a fading legend of the downtown scene and unwitting leader of one of the squats, succumbs to heroin. The misunderstandings and assumptions, the secrets and the dissolution of the hope that originally bound these five threaten to destroy their homes as surely as the city’s battering rams. The Revolution of Every Day shows readers a life that few people, including the New Yorkers who passed the squats every day, know about or understand.

I’d been looking forward to this one ever since I heard that it was to be published. I’ve enjoyed Cari’s writing since the long-ago days when her blog was called Dogs Steal Yarn, before her two children were even one Thumper. It feels very…warm, and real. She manages to avoid That Thing where the written word loses the human connection to the person issuing it; she keeps the inflection, the emotion, the weight.

I was not disappointed. Her characters fascinated me, and gave me a window into lives that are so unlike my own; passions I will likely never have, logic that feels alien to me, ideals that are at once completely counter to my own, and yet I feel sympathetic toward them.

It made me think. It stayed with me, and had me mulling over Things for quite a while after I’d finished the last page.

I like that in a book, and frankly not many give me that anymore. Thumbs way up, Cari – well done.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The List

The Denizens like to leave me lists of things they believe I should immediately rush out and buy for them.

Apparently not long ago, Boo Bug was listing “strawberries” as a needed item, and Eldest was going “tea! tea! tea! tea! tea!” until finally Boo wrote it in, with of course, the obligatorily snotty “happy?” after it.

To which Eldest replied…

Oh, and on the strawberries? We’re going to need to have a chat, because it wasn’t that long ago that I brought these home.

Yeahhhhhh, that was an all-day event to get those all processed and into the freezer. And then those kids went through them in about half of nothing FLAT, because, SMOOTHIES.

Meanwhile, the pureed peaches, nectarines and so forth (from the stuff in the boxes behind the boxes of strawberries)…is…well. Not exactly “untouched.” But there’s still SOME of it left!

…and I’m not quite emotionally prepared for dealing with another enormous amount of strawberries, is the thing…

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids On Sale in October

For the month of October, Tattler is running a 10% off sale for their reusable canning lids. Great opportunity to try them out if you’ve wanted to but shied away from the price: 2 dozen each of the wide and narrow mouth lids and gaskets are on sale for $35.16, down from the normal price of $43.95. And shipping is free, woo hoo.

If you haven’t wanted to try them because you’re saying to yourself, “I obviously did not read that correctly, because, reusable canning lids?!” – no, you read that right: Tattler makes reusable canning lids. I’ve been using them for, gosh, going on three years now for most of my canning…at this point, they’ve definitely paid for themselves.

Quick product review, what I like about them is:

  • I never find myself out of lids when I’ve got 300 pounds of rapidly-decaying tomatoes on my kitchen counter…and allllll the local stores have stopped carrying them in favor of Christmas ornaments
    • This has actually happened to me more times than I like to think about
    • Yeah, I can mail order…but that doesn’t help the tomatoes already rotting on my countertop…sigh
  • I’m protected from the occasional price-gouging that goes on in Such Times, when there is only one place that still has canning supplies, and they know it, so suddenly that little box of 12 throwaway lids is $6 or some crazy thing
  • After you’ve opened a home-canned jar of something, the same lid and gasket (<= the key selling point here!) make resealing that jar and sticking it in the fridge a bit less…leak-prone…thing to do than reusing the same one-use lid for the same purpose
    • At least it is around here, because the Denizens are infamous for rummaging through the fridge like starved boars on a forage, knocking things over and not righting them again
    • …don’t ask me how many times I’ve found a formerly-almost-full quart jar of some sauce or other lying on its side in a vast puddle of its own innards, quietly dripping all down the back/sides of the thing and making everything in there stick to the shelves as if Gorilla Glue had been applied to their bottoms…
  • I no longer have to suffer that twinge of guilt one suffers these days when one casually tosses something onto a landfill-bound pile
    • Which means that I no longer suffer the hot flash of anger that I’m made to feel guilty about something like that
      • Which further means I am spared the worry that perhaps I need counseling, because show me WHO is saying that you SHOULD feel guilty about this…methinks you are perhaps just a TOUCH defensive/paranoid on this count, my dear…
        • This increasingly-indented-cycle-of-psychosis actually goes on for quite a while, so, let’s just stop here, shall we? yes, do let’s… 
  • They are Zombpocalypse Compliant. Extremely important right there: We will still be able to can produce, even if WalMart is overrun by zombies.  
    • …sorry, couldn’t resist…

What sometimes irritates me about them:

  • They have a learning curve! You do things a bit differently when you use these, and at first? The seal-failure rate is dreadful – it gets better with practice, but y’all should know going in that you may have a session or two of redo ALL the jars before you get the hang of it
  • They have a higher seal failure rate than the ‘traditional’ throw-away versions – very careful handling / making sure you wipe the lips of the jar with vinegar etc. will get this to reasonable rates, but inattention to detail will be punished more severely with these reusable lids than their throwaway counterparts
  • They take up more storage space – the plastic lids are bigger / heavier-duty than the one-use ones
  • The gaskets loooooooove to get separated from the lids
    • This may be a Den of Chaos thing more than anything else – The Randomizer lives here and takes great delight in moving things to inappropriate spots on me
  • I hesitate to give away a jar of something to someone who doesn’t can or who might not return them to me, since they aren’t exactly cheap – kind of like the difference between giving out something in a take-n-toss container versus your good Tupperware, you know?
  • Oh yeah, almost forgot: The gaskets also make awesome cat toys, which means that if you have cats, they will be constantly pulling a Mission:Impossible on you to get at them (she said, picking one up off the floor under her desk, a-HEM…)
    • Samantha Schilling and Fleur Fatale are insisting this is in the wrong section and should be in the ‘pros’ one
    • But, as they lack typing skills, ha ha, I win

Thursday, October 03, 2013

How superstitions are born

I woke up this morning feeling as though Andre the Giant’s evil twin had spent the night stomping on my throat. My head was pounding, my back was screaming, my hip was on fire, my sinuses were trying to lay claim to parts of my head normally reserved for my brains…and I thought to myself, Gah damn it, EVERY TIME I go into the office, I get SICK!

Now, I happen to know that my going into the office yesterday has nothing to do with this cold/flu thing having finally swept my feet out from under me such that I landed on my arse with a resounding thud today.

The truth is, I’ve been fighting this off for over a week. I was doing really well until we had our deploy Friday night. I proceeded to stay up waaaaaaay too late, and then had to get up after only about three hours of shut-eye, and then had to stay up until after midnight that night, followed by having to get up altogether too early again on Sunday and then, of course, it was Monday and back-to-work-we-go.

So, the reason I’m taking it on the chin is undoubtedly because, abuse, that’s why.

And if I were to be completely honest, I was feeling pretty blech all day yesterday, too.

I just managed to convince myself that it wasn’t because I was sick, OH GOSH NO, it’s just These People™ are super-crazy-extra-jeebus-n-da-wee-widdle-fishes ANNOYING (<= which was another not so subtle hint that a smackdown was a-comin’: Little Things don’t ordinarily bother me as much as they were bothering me yesterday. I was two seconds from biting somebody’s head off, pretty much all day, usually over nothing.)

But all of that logical stuff is beside the point: EVERY TIME I go into the office, I get sick. THEREFORE, going to the office = getting sick.

This is how deep-rooted superstitions are born, people. Black cats crossing your path…walking under ladders…and going into the office to work.

Nothing good ever comes of any of those.