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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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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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.


Life in the Slow Lane

12108756_10208073611423764_1885628941810349569_n (1)Four months ago today I arrived in Texas after a 1,658 mile drive from Connecticut. My sister-in-law flew up to share the drive and Tessie was good as gold on the trip. We stayed in pet-friendly hotels but didn’t make reservations except for the first day, since that gave us more flexibility depending on road and traffic conditions.

Our route took us through the Poconos and down through Scranton, PA and continuing down through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, just a short drive from my former home in Charlottesville. We skimmed through Tennessee and cut across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana into Texas, completing the drive in 3.5 days. My furniture arrived within 24 hours, much to my shock and delight.

The past months have been nesting time. Figuring out where things go and what things we don’t need. My pre-move cleanout made the move cheaper than estimated and also meant fewer items to find homes for in my new house. We ended up taking quite a lot of kitchen things and books to Goodwill, including my dad’s 40-year-old stereo system that took up way too many shelves in the bookcases. I replaced it with a new Bose system with CD-player. We’re loving our Amazon Echo in the kitchen and listen to NPR and music over meals.

Dad and I joined the local community church and I’m singing in the choir, which is like breathing for me.  I’ve also been taking Mah Jongg lessons and am starting to play regularly. It’s a strange game but an important social activity here so I’m meeting lots of people.  And the parties! I’ve been to more parties in the last 3 months than in the past 10 years!

It’s been a big adjustment to go from living solo (plus Tessie) to sharing a house, meals, errands, etc. with my dad. We’re figuring things out as we go and the space is large enough that we’re not falling over each other, especially now that we have a second TV in the den. He watches Fox News in one room and I watch anything else in the other!

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Thanksgiving 2015



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Four weeks to go

Four weeks from yesterday is my last day at Yale and in five weeks, I will be on my way to Texas. It’s real now, after months of knowing and thinking and starting to do things only to realize/recognize/remember that many steps can’t be taken until the time grew closer. Well, now it’s closer.

As of Sept. 1, I no longer am in charge of anything except time cards at work. There’s a big spreadsheet of “Stuff Anne Did” with names next to each task. My position hasn’t even been posted yet, much less filled, so colleagues will be picking up additional responsibilities for a while. We’ve done lots of shadowing, training, and documenting – and now it’s their turn to actually do the work while I’m around to help answer questions, offer advice, and document further as needed. My office is starting to look empty.

Most of my furniture, and indeed, my stuff, isn’t going with me. I’m moving into my dad’s house which is already fully furnished. But I don’t want to give up everything because, well, this is MY stuff and I selected it and lived with it for years and I like it. So there’s been a long stretch here of sorting through clothes, weeding books, letting go of kitchen pots and doodads. Almost every weekend has had a trip to Goodwill with something.

There’s a table in the main entrance of my building that we call the “give away table.” People put out things they no longer want or need and others can just pick up and take. Since I live in a building with many people on fixed incomes, this can provide a way to add some pretty and/or useful new things, and I’ve taken advantage of the convenience to share my stuff with my neighbors.

Most of the “stuff” has been pared down but there’s still furniture. The bookcases are gone but there’s more. I maybe could have sold the couch, table and chairs, and dresser to students hitting town for the semester but couldn’t stand the idea of living in such bare-ness for weeks. So I’m going to donate everything to Habitat for Humanity and am hoping they can pick up two days before the movers come. That will keep things normal as long as possible which will be good for both me and Tessie.

Although moving is my idea, it’s stressful. I’m giving up my life, my career, my profession, my home, my normal. My IBS is flaring up and it’s still so hot that I’m having problems with edema in my feet – plus i have Achilles tendonitis in one foot, which slows me down. Tessie is picking up on my stress and having some of her own. She knows something is up and it’s unsettling. Little does she know that a 1600 mile road trip is in her future.

Today’s tasks include closing the safe deposit box at the bank, buying a Garmin, ordering new glasses (eye exam was Thursday), weeding out plastic containers and bowls in the kitchen, and mailing a box of stuff to myself at the new house. Tomorrow I’m making a trip to the office to pick up book boxes and some personal stuff. Monday I want to just be a vegetable for a day.

I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m ready, I’m scared, and I’m tired.


Life – the Next Stage

I am retiring in October and moving from New England to Texas to live with and care for my dad.  Yikes. It’s real now that I’ve announced it, and time for concrete plans instead of someday thoughts.  What I know for sure is that I will be settled there before we celebrate Thanksgiving, which will have extra meaning.

My Mom and DadMy dad is 87 years old and in good shape, but he needs someone there to help with small things that are small if you’re there but big if you’re 1600 miles away and can’t help. Medications. Cooking. Writing checks. Just being there for companionship and to share history and grandchildren and rainy days and escaping from baking heat. He’s deteriorated a lot since my mom died last summer and I want him to have the help he needs so we can enjoy the next years. Almost all the family will be within a few hours’ drive so I’ll get to see them regularly for the first time in forever.

My apartment is full of things I don’t need to bring with me. My dad’s house is comfortably sized and fully furnished so who needs the extra pots or bookshelves or bedroom set I’m not in love with anyway?  Much weeding and deciding to do over the next months, but I have time to make good choices of what to let go and what to keep.

After moving and getting settled, I plan to delve back into genealogy research for myself and for others. I have good credentials, experience, and will have the time to do on-site research and document retrieval for others. I’m excited to be able to be able to spend time in courthouses and documents centers during regular working hours after all these years of working around a full-time schedule.

The past few years have been stress-full and there’s so much to do before the moving stage is behind me. But what’s ahead?  looks pretty damned good.