Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Not my circus, not my monkeys

circusmonkeyLast year at this time I was up to my eyeballs working on closing out a fiscal year, balancing the budget, sending endowment reports to the development office, and groaning that somehow the library also wanted performance appraisals done at the same time. This year that’s not my circus, not my monkeys. It feels good.

I was good at it. That budget was spent down to .01% of the total. But I don’t miss doing it. I do, however, miss some of my colleagues. I don’t know how or if things would be different had I retired and stayed put, but certainly moving 1600 miles away made it impossible to get together for lunch. I hadn’t really thought that I’d be dropped like a hot potato, though. That’s what it feels like.


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Taking a Break from Caregiving

13256291_10209796703980001_3438453961952806348_nFortunately for me, I now live only 2 hours from my brother, rather than half way across the country. Visits no longer require advance planning, plane tickets, and scheduled vacation time away from the office. Instead, it’s just a short hop on a lot of 2-lane roads.

After 7 months of living with my dad, I was ready for a break. I lived alone for my entire professional life and it’s not always easy to have someone around all the time. I prepared food, wrote out menus, did laundry and took care of house things. Then I made our family coffee cake traditionally made for gatherings, loaded up Tessie (who was none too happy about it), and headed out for two days off.

My niece and her two small children were visiting from Colorado and won’t be back until Christmas, so this was a chance to see them. Children change so quickly and the little guy is already starting to pull himself up. His big sister is smart as a whip and I so enjoyed making cookies and playing with her.

But I also really needed the time alone out on the front porch in the quiet of a rainy day, watching deer out in the pasture and grateful for the solitude. It can be lonely, being on your own, but for me, it’s restorative. My brother and I had some good conversations about Dad’s health and future planning. He’s in good shape now but at 88, anything could happen at any time. I’m glad that my brother and I see eye to eye on next steps.

Coming home was difficult. Tessie meowed almost the whole way, which is seriously annoying. Dad’s first comment was, “How many phones do we have? I can only find 3.” Gee, nice to see you, too. I’ve been impatient and stressed, and yesterday ended up with a wicked full-blown cold/sinus problem and feel as though an elephant is sitting on my chest. Okay, maybe just a cat. But still.

I want more space than I can have here, emotional space. It’s clear to me that taking time off for myself, including having Dad spend time away so I can be alone, is imperative to my long-term health and sanity. I don’t regret my decision to move here but sometimes I’m just losing who I am.


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Sudden loss

One of my friends died suddenly yesterday, on the golf course in New Mexico while traveling with a group from our community. Although death is always a reality when you live in a place that has mostly 55+ residents, this one hit extra hard because it was so unexpected, because of where he was at the time, but mostly because he was so beloved by all. He had been a leader in the community and the church, but was also just a fun person who brought a smile to our faces.

We have a lot of memorial services here over the course of a year but most come after a lingering illness or simply from complications of age. This death was different and has made us stop in our tracks. Bob was a member of the choir and last night, instead of rehearsal, we spent time talking out the facts and reactions, and praying together.

It’s too soon to know anything else now. Logistics get complicated when a body needs to be moved across state lines and there are too many unknowns. What we do know is that we lost someone who mattered.


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Does Customer Support really support?

My computer is 3 years old and so is most of the software I use, which these days actually isn’t all that much. But I’m working with images more than usual now that I’m church webmaster and I decided to upgrade my Adobe Photoshop Elements to the current version. Even bought a helpful book and everything. They arrived yesterday.

I sat down to install the product and immediately ran into problems. Adobe made me be a registered user before I could install and register my software, so I did that. But when the installation got to the part where I was to put in the serial number – I couldn’t find one! There were lots of numbers and even one that looked like a serial number, but it wasn’t. What to do?

Being a savvy geekette, I went to the Adobe customer service forums to see if anyone else had the problem. Several different entries but no real resolution. So next step was to open a chat conversation with tech support. It was, to put it mildly, annoying. I sent a picture of the label on the back of the box with all the numbers. I typed the numbers. I explained the problem. He told me he couldn’t get a serial number out of it. Well, duh.

Then he told me to look at the inner sleeve of the “box” that the disc came in and said the 24-digit serial number was on the sleeve. I took it apart, people, and there was nothing on that sleeve. Nothing. So naturally he told me I needed to report this to Amazon, where I purchased the product. It was Amazon’s fault that the Adobe product they sold didn’t have a serial number on it?  I don’t think so.

But I contacted them anyway. Finding Amazon chat is a little hidden but it’s always been productive and today was no exception. The lovely Christina told me to just send it all back and I would have a replacement tomorrow. Even though I’d dismantled the inner sleeve of the box?  Yes, she said, that’s not a problem.

 

This is why I will buy from Amazon. Because they support their sales and treat me like someone with a problem, not someone who IS a problem.


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Knowing the Ancestors

Keel Sadie & Bill c1949

My great-grandparents, William Jesse Keel and Sarah Annis (Peal) Keel

My dad is 88 and has outlived everyone in his line, older than all of them except Aunt Maglene who died at 98. His memory is spotty and names are hard, but he has strong, clear memories of growing up in his small North Carolina town. I love knowing about the ancestors and being able to prompt questions and appreciate answers because I know who they are and how they fit.

I have an Ancestry app on my phone and can pull up the tree with its details and photo gallery at the drop of a hat. Want to know how much his mother earned in 1940? Who were the neighbors? What did (great grandmother) Mama Jane look like?  Did any of Dad’s grandparents die of cancer? With a few clicks, I can get an answer.

I’ve been researching the family tree since I was 16 and most of the time it just feels like I’m the only one who cares about the results. The exceptions are the drama-queen ancestors that are fun to talk about. But the everyday folks? I know or can piece together their stories. I’m especially glad now that I can share and appreciate those stories with my dad.


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Crafting a Redesign

I just hit my 10-year anniversary with WordPress – yayyy me!  I remember that when this blog first started, they kept a running total on the login page of the number of blogs they powered. Mine was somewhere in the 330,000 level. Then it was one of many places to try. Now it’s pretty much the default, or at least that’s what I see when I peruse the web.

WindowRiverBut 10 years is a long time for a blog, even one that doesn’t get updated all that often anymore. I’ve been distracted by working with the website for my church, which is also done in WordPress. I hate the design, which was a customized template that just.does.not.work.for.me.  The colors and design are dated, blog posts go to some random page that’s not linked anywhere, the page doesn’t scale, and I can’t even figure out how to change the top picture!

So naturally I volunteered to become the church webmaster. I’ve been working with the current design to dump badly dated content and rearrange what’s there as best I can to make it work. As a newcomer to the community, there were things I tried to find on the site when I first got here but couldn’t find. Those are now much more accessible. But it still looks dorky.

I bought another domain to use for practicing and have been running around with my cell phone, taking pictures of the church and the windows for possible placement on a new design. Or, yanno, anywhere I can drop them. Today I’m writing up a proposal for the church board for one-time costs of funding a redesign as well as investigating places to host sermon podcasts and benefits to moving to a different hosting service. My brain is busy.

Happy WordPress-iversary Me!


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Too Busy to Work

I thought I would be spending my retirement working on genealogy and doing house things. Hah. The genealogy, much as I love it and want to do it, has taken a back seat to the more important things like Mah Jongg. It’s very popular here in the Bay and I’m playing today for the third time this week. mahjong-2I’ve never really been a games-playing person but this just appeals to me. The tiles make such a lovely sound when they click together and the images are colorful and pretty. Bams, cracks, dots, dragons, jokers, winds are mixed into different specified combinations in order to make mah jongg. We use official cards from the National Mah Jongg League that show us what hands of tiles are valid each year for scoring. The new 2016 cards just arrived so we’re all equally confused about how to make them work. In any case, this is keeping me busy.

So is having taken on the role of webmaster for my church. Honestly, I need a 12-Step program for this stuff. The site is in WordPress, which I’ve been working with for 8 years, including this blog, and I’m having a grand time updating contents and playing with changes to navigation. The site needs a redesign to make it responsive and generally less green. But it’s doable and uses a different part of my brain that’s been missing the chance to play with familiar toys.

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