Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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House projects

Library of house renovation image black and white stock png files ▻▻▻  Clipart Art 2019

My big landscaping plans of redoing everything, front and back, are now on hold because all of the landscapers I’ve contacted are overwhelmed with work. So many houses lost massive amounts of shrubs, bushes, trees, and plants due to our February freeze, and the earliest I could get work done would be June, which is wicked hot here in Texas. Plus I only have the landscape plan for the front of the house, not the back yet, and I need it all to get accurate bids for time, plants, and total costs.

The Plant Lady designing my plans is up to her eyeballs in her landscape business. What she sent thus far has beautiful plants that I never heard of but will be soft, low, and colorful. So it’s worth waiting for what she sees for the back. Right now I’m thinking about doing the landscaping in late September instead of trying to squish it into Now, which is just not looking very feasible anyway. This would let me get bids and then get on my contractor’s schedule for ripping out old plants and fixing things up with the new with time for them get rooted before the cold weather sets in. I’d rather wait and do it right.

Today the electrician was here to fix two problems. The outlet at the end of the penninsula in the kitchen hasn’t worked and now we know why: it is wired so that the light over the kitchen sink has to be on for the outlet to work. Quirky but given how little I actually use that outlet, it’s a lot easier to just go with it than to have to undo and run new wires. The other project was outside on the porch where the ceiling fan didn’t work. A handyman took down the old one but there’s no power to the drop for the fan, which is why the old one didn’t work. The attic space above it is only inches high, which is going to make this tricky. He’s coming back on Saturday with a buddy and has a plan for trying to find and poke through wires to a place where they will work. I’d really like to put the fan up so it’s worth it.

Friday another company is coming to clean out the air ducts in the house. Who even know that was a thing that could or needed to be done? They charge based on the number of air openings for vents, registers, and intake. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how this will work and how to keep the cats out of the way, but I think getting rid of extra dust and crud will help my allergies as well as keeping the house cleaner, which is always a good thing.

Next week the sprinkler people are coming to adjust two sprinkler heads that are going off like fountains. Everyone who sees them calls me to let me know about it – duh, thank you. I reset the sprinkler control box using Youtube instructions and am feeling pretty accomplished. Hopefully this will keep the yard from being over watered and bog-like.

I bought a new TV for the living room after having someone ask how long the colors had been muddy. Uh, they look fine, don’t they? No, they didn’t. It was more like tinted black and white images. The Geek Squad delivered and set up the new TV and hauled away the old one AND my old printer, since I just replaced that, too. Who knew that the TV shows were in actual color? The eyes got used to what was there but now I’m seeing things in living color. Big improvement even if it wasn’t something I expected to be buying.

This is all expensive and it makes me tired just thinking about everything.


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Going for Option 3

My weight loss journey is stalled and I’m annoyed. But then I’m annoyed at myself for BEING annoyed, which is not very productive or helpful. It’s only really a plateau if you’re trying hard to lose and just are stuck in the same place or small range for more than 2 weeks. Well, how about 6 months? I’ve basically been within the same 4 pounds since January, going down to 243 and back up to 247, then down, then up, then down, then up. Of course, I’m not exactly trying very hard to lose but I’m still annoyed when I don’t.

So I see a few options:

  1. Give up completely and eat whatever I want. This not really an option because I refuse to allow myself to be that fat and out of control again.
  2. Buckle down and eat a lower calorie target, weigh and measure, move more, and eliminate all the things I’m enjoying as “treats.” I know, this is extreme. I can have things I enjoy in small numbers. Who really needs 3 donuts just because they are there? I did all of this when I started, going great guns and losing a lot fast. But it never keeps up at that rate and I knew it wouldn’t. I just really don’t want to do this.
  3. Relax and decide to keep doing what I’m doing as early maintenance. Without working overly hard at it, I seem to have found a weight range that I can stick to without too much trouble, where my body feels pretty comfortable (except the knee), and that I can sustain while giving myself permission to have a Jersey Mike sub (always #2, the Mike’s Way) or a Dairy Queen kid’s cone just because I want to, without going crazy.
  4. Beat myself up for failing to lose.

I’m just torn. Because I feel as though I am failing if I’m not actively working to lose weight. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. I’m really bad at maintenance, or at least my history with it is. I’m great at losing huge amounts, then gaining it all back again. And I so do not want that to happen. I cannot let it happen again. That is a definition of failure more profound than failing to lose more.

I’m great at beating myself up for eating something “bad” even though I know in theory that no food is bad. There are just some foods that are better for me to stay away from, generally food with lots of carbs. But beating myself up just makes me depressed and sad, reaching for food for comfort. The whole “go to the gym and get those endorphins going” thing isn’t ingrained to replace it.

But since giving up is Not An Option and working hard to really lose doesn’t seem to be one either, I am choosing to commit to maintaining in the little range where I am now. Saying it is one thing. Doing it is something else, and it’s really all up in my head. I know how to do this – I’ve been doing this for months. I just need to give myself permission to choose Option 3.

The reality is that I have maintained a loss of 65 lbs for 9 months. For someone who doesn’t maintain well, this is huge. I haven’t been at this weight for over 7 years. There’s damage in my body that I can’t change from carrying massive amounts of excess weight for most of my life. But although I am still morbidly obese, my blood pressure is normal. My A1C, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are normal. My BMI dropped 11.2 points. I’ve made significant changes that will make my life healthier and easier. I need to give myself permission to celebrate those changes and to recognize that the only person judging me right now is myself. It’s time to get over it.


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Easter Again but Different

Christ Church South, taken during Lent

Last year Easter came but church wasn’t possible; everyone was shut down in full Covid mode. There was no Palm Sunday procession, no Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services. No Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday night. No sunrise service or joyful celebration on Easter Sunday morning. It was just a day.

It was, of course, still Easter. God doesn’t need us to have the familiar structure, liturgy, calendar of our traditions for us to remember, which is what Easter is all about. Christ doesn’t die again every year on Good Friday, that happened once for all millennia ago. The resurrection doesn’t repeat every year; it happened once for all time. All we’re doing is pausing to remember, to honor, to pay attention. But we’re used to doing that within our churches – unless your focus is on the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs and jelly beans.

But today we were back doing the “normal” things with a freshness because, after a year without them, they felt new. I was in my new worship church for my first Easter with the familiar liturgy but contemporary music. There was a flowering of the cross, not a new tradition but not something I’ve ever seen or done. A wonderful sermon. Sunlight coming through the glass cross built into the wall. Celebrating with friends who came with me, and new friends in the new congregation. Wearing masks, all of us, and sitting distanced, but with full and happy hearts.

My soul feels settled. I was home.


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StoryWorth: Why Did You Become a Librarian?

I spent my professional life working as a university librarian – and I’m still not completely sure why I chose the field in the first place. Sometimes I think it chose me.

I got my first library job when I was 15 and lived in New Jersey. I worked at the Westfield Public Library as a page, shelving adult fiction books and pulling requested magazines and newspapers from the basement when library patrons asked for them. Later I added on putting book jackets in plastic protective covers back in Technical Services, a department I didn’t even know existed before.

When we moved to Kentucky, I got another library job at the Erlanger Public Library when I was in high school. It had a small collection housed in an old house, and I worked at the circulation desk, shelved books, and filed catalog cards, doing a little bit of everything. I may have even answered some reference questions. But I had no plans to make this a career, it was just a job. I will say, though, that one highlight was checking books out to members of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.

In college I planned to go into teaching. I wasn’t very excited about it but it seemed like a logical choice and a good job for women at the time. I was smart and did well in school but didn’t have big ambitions for law or medicine or anything special. After my semester in Spain my junior year, I wanted to be a translator and thought about graduate school in Spanish with that as a goal. But my GRE scores in Spanish were terrible – because it was a test of literature and my focus has been language – and I knew I couldn’t get a teaching assistant job to help me pay for grad school.

I knew after student teaching in my senior year that I really did not want to be a teacher. Oh, I could do it, but I didn’t want to. One of my college friends mentioned that she was going to library school after graduation, something that had never entered my mind as a possibility, and I looked into a bit because I really didn’t know what else I might do; I was looking for ideas. I discovered that The University of Texas at Austin had a library school program that included a focus on Latin American librarianship – very specialized but in keeping with my Spanish major. And as a state resident, tuition was affordable, only $4/credit hour at the time (UT had oil wells). There were other Texas library schools but that program sold me on UT. I talked with my parents about it and they agreed to pay for my housing while I studied for my masters with me paying for food, tuition, and spending money.

When I actually started the program in the fall of 1976, I discovered that one of the Spanish professors from Vanderbilt that I had most disliked was now in charge of the Latin American Librarianship program at UT. Unbeknownst to me as an undergrad, he taught not only Spanish at Vanderbilt but also library science courses at Peabody College across the street. At UT he was able to combine his interests in one position. Since I loathed him, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in that program after all.

I was already enrolled as a grad student, and the first semester everyone took basically the same courses to give fundamentals in cataloging, reference, management, computing science, etc., so there were no decisions to make about the Latin American focus. Of all my courses, I discovered that I really liked cataloging while most of my classmates found it to be full of obscure rules that made no sense. For me, it was finding structure and order out of bibliographic chaos, like a puzzle but with book description and subject analysis.

UT Austin had students major in both a type of library and type of library work, which I don’t think was all that common. They thought I should go into school libraries because I had a teaching certificate, which did not interest me at all. I decided to focus on academic (university) library technical services and chose my courses accordingly. I took three cataloging courses along with reference classes in Social Science and Humanities, collections, management, statistics, among others.

Once I realized that no one cared what grades I made, only what subjects I’d taken, and that I could live with getting B’s instead of killing myself for a rare A, coursework didn’t take that much time. I found it easy. So I had time for other things, including Italian. I’d learned how to learn languages at Vanderbilt and had some time on my hands in the summer, so I signed up for introductory Italian. When I ran into a conflict with a required class, I started doing independent study in Italian with my teacher and his office mate, seeing Guido for conversation and grammar and Silvia for composition and reading comprehension. At their suggestion, I took a placement test and graduated with 11 hours of Italian as well as my 36 hours of library science. Facility with languages – I knew some Portuguese as well as being fluent in Spanish – proved to be valuable in my library work.

While in school I worked part-time in the library school library, preparing a collection of materials for binding and creating cataloging information for each title. This was good practice. I added a second part-time job in the Genealogy Division of the Texas State Library during my second semester the week that “Roots” was aired on TV. Everyone suddenly wanted to walk into a library to dig up their family tree and my genealogy background meant I didn’t need a lot of training; I’d used the same library for my own research. It was great work experience, and I learned a lot about genealogy research that I was able to apply to my own work.

When you do the next thing in a string of next things, sometimes you end up in a place you hadn’t expected but fits like a glove. I don’t remember ever actively being excited about becoming a librarian. It was just what happened next. But it suited me to a T. My first professional job was at the University of Houston M.D. Anderson Library, doing some cataloging and supervising CETA trainees file catalog cards. I learned what I liked and didn’t like and wasn’t really sure that I’d learned anything useful in library school.

It was in my next job at the University of Virginia that I understood that my library school education gave me the solid basis in theory that allowed me to see patterns and adapt to new methods of accomplishing tasks. I knew what we were trying to do and could see different ways to get there. You don’t see that in your first job; it’s not until the second that patterns take shape.

I was a good librarian. I was a cataloger, then worked as a Technical Services manager supervising cataloging, acquisitions, serials, and systems. At the end of my career, I was responsible for acquisitions, serials, and binding. Although I started working in academic libraries, I moved early on into law school libraries where I found my niche. We had less staff and smaller collections, but each of us had a wider range of job responsibilities than in a general library, and work was never boring. I fell into something that was a perfect fit.


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Checking in and Catching up

I forgot to get on the scale this morning. That sounds so small a thing to have thrown me off but it did. Almost every day since I started Noom in January 2020, I start the day by peeing and then getting on the scale. It’s gotten to just be habit, as a way to get information, instead of a judgment. But today I just forgot. I slept badly because of neck and arm pain and too many things parading through my head, and was awake before 4am. Instead of getting on the scale, I went right to the living room and started guzzling water while updating the scheduled church newsletter with something I remembered while in bed trying to sleep. And then it was 6am. After drinking 50 oz of liquid, there’s no way I’d get on the scale. But it threw me off.

It’s been a while since I checked in with my body. My right side is kind of a mess from top to bottom: neuropathy in the foot, torn MCL at the knee, sciatica, neck and arm pain. The left side has a weak hip and more sciatica, but that’s not much. Two days ago I went to the hospital for a steriod injection in my right SI joint and a right knee genicular nerve burn (neurotomy). The meds to help me relax and not remember what happens didn’t work as advertized; there was no relaxing and lots of remembering. The burn itself was a new kind of pressure/pain but if it makes the knee happier, it will be worth it.

Now that I have been fully vaccinated and am 3 weeks past my second shot, I’m starting to get out more. I ate out in a restaurant with a friend last Friday, the first time I’ve done that in a year. I got antsy from being around so many people after a year of limiting exposure, but the food was great and it was a window of normal after a very long time of isolation. This weekend I’m off to my brother’s house for a weekend, my first trip there in 9 months. As he said, it’s time to unbuckle the seatbelts and start to move around the cabin. I’m taking baby steps and we’ll see how it goes.

In other news, I bought an air fryer and have been having fun trying to figure out how to use it. Mostly so far this has been cooking frozen foods such as prepared chicken and salmon, egg rolls, or reheating leftovers. Tonight I’m trying a new air fryer recipe of marinated chicken thighs (remember, I found a whole bunch of those when I cleaned out the freezer). We’ll see. But so far I think it will be a good tool and will help me do my small-scale one-person cooking without heating up the whole oven every time.

I’m also planning additional work on the house. Two years ago it was replacing half the windows and my renovation. Last year it was replacing the other half of the windows. This year I’m hoping to replace all or most of my landscaping, swapping out a very dated set of “solid green wall hedge” style with something shorter, cleaner, and more spaced out. I’m excited about making some changes and having time to enjoy them, as well as adding value to the home. I hired someone to draw out a plan and come up with plant options that will work with me making final decisions. So many plants were killed in the long freeze in February that nurseries are having problems filling orders, so that may be a factor. But at least I have a plan.

And on the inside of the house, it’s time to get my air ducts cleaned out and the carpets cleaned. I have no idea when the ducts were cleaned last but know it’s been at least 10 years, and the cats throw up a lot trying to get rid of hairballs, so both cleanings are past due. This home ownership game is expensive.