Monday, July 30, 2007

Thinking about next weekend

Had an open house yesterday, the first with the new listing. Nobody came. The real estate agent is puzzled at that but I'm not. His company doesn't advertise well enough. Only people driving by would even know about the open house. The next open house isn't for another two weeks and he's planning something different for it. He'll try to get together with several agents having open houses in the same area and do some sort of joint advertising. Well, some advertising is better than almost none, I guess!

Oh, I wish I could keep this house. It's just so perfect for me except for being more costly than I can afford! Do you think I should look for a second job? After two years of working two full time jobs, I swore I would never do that again. But it's a thought now. Well, if I could FIND another job. I've gone from getting every job for which I've interviewed to getting an interview--but not the job. I interview even better than before, with experience and practice. But I truly do think age and appearance are counting against me now, for the past few years.

I received a notice from the hospital that my colonoscopy is set for next Monday. I naively thought I'd be able to sort of pick an appointment time, but no, they are assigned. Actually, now that I know the icky details, early Monday morning is a GREAT time to have it! I didn't realize there was some nasty prep work before having this test done. Yesterday I went to the drug store to get their special deal, a 99 cent Sunday newspaper and also picked up the laxatives to take the day before. I've been lucky and never had to take any thing like that--and am not looking forward to this at all.

Then, I had to find a friend to drop me off and come and get me when the test is done. They won't just let you take a bus or a cab to and from the hospital, but require that an adult come to pick you up. Normally, I would have enlisted my son to do that. I guess I took his ready services for airport pickup, lawn duty, grocery carrying in---very much for granted! But I asked SLA when she called me last night, so now I have someone to do this favor for me.

The strange thing is that son and his girlfriend probably will be staying at the house that (next) weekend! There's a big music event going on up here all weekend and her family buys a bunch of tickets for it. She had offered me one but now with the impending test and preparation, I'd probably better not go to the music event. At least not on Sunday! But since I haven't heard from son since I left his place early, maybe they have changed their minds? But I doubt it since they already had the tickets for it. I think I'll be seeing them next weekend and that will be good!

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Some new wrinkles

Yesterday was spent straightening out people's travel reports and reimbursements. You'd really think they would know how to do them after doing about two, but no. Despite the fact that most of the people have been doing them for years: wrong receipts were stapled to wrong reports, in other travel reports the amounts didn't add up, missing receipts--you name it!

And everyone but me was invited to a meeting all morning (but that was actually good, because I had all this work to get done and people give me their paperwork very last minute). I didn't even know about the meeting until a co-worker came (5 or 10 minutes before the meeting) and wanted to know where the writing board and paper were and the erasable pens. Former Temp was sick, which is why they came to me. But of course I'll be doing all of that again soon. So because they were all in the meeting, I couldn't go and ask each person about the discrepancies until afternoon. The timesheets and the travel reimbursements were due by noon but BZ was in a different meeting and didn't get to them until about 4:00, which was very lucky for me.

I was on the phone to our accounting department a lot too, over various issues. I really don't know how all this is going to work out once I'm sitting in front at the receptionist's desk. The two jobs are vastly different and don't mesh together well all all. I am feeling very bad for Former Temp. I think they are getting rid of her for two major reasons: she helped me, and the budget. As I've mentioned before, BZ is on a new austerity budget but it wasn't like we were paying Former Temp that much!

There are some new wrinkles to SLA's situation with the new guy, ones I didn't know. But still, her family vasted overreacted and caused her severe harm--not help--to get her fired from her good job that she loved. I'm coming to the conclusion (after two long phone conversations with SLA that took up a good part of my night, last night) that her guy may be trying to cause her trouble with her family. If true, that's a bad sign. Abusers do that to separate you "from the herd" and from any support. I really need to sit down with her--away from him--and find out the real story of how the whole firing thing actually happened. She omitted some very pertainent information in her first story to me that makes her family's reaction more logical. Their reaction still was not helpful to her, but it makes more sense with a certain key piece of information that just sort of slipped out in a later conversation.

In addition, he has had "harsh words" with just about every person in her family and even with the boyfriend of Houseguest, her best friend from childhood. Granted, he's angry for her that they got her fired (so he says) but still, wouldn't you say that's a bad sign, too? I'm not getting a good feeling from him and their relationship any more. Although he's certainly cute and a charmer in the two times I've seen him.

Last night SLA also told me that "this whole thing with her family is becoming just too much for him to take." I was less than sympathetic about that, give me a break, it's too much for HIM to take? How about her, it's her family. And he wasted no time (between her two phone calls to me) to get her all riled up with tales of seeing a police car sitting outside of the window while she was gone in a make-up lunch meeting with her two kids. Now he's gotten her angry with them again. He seems to have a talent and a mission to get all of her family and friends turned against her and keep her furious with them.

I think he's full of BS, if not actually dangerous, but have to be careful not to alienate her. Already she feels the world (family, friends) are all against them. He's planning to move in and "take care of her" since she suddenly has no job. I think he may have helped her get fired, but need to hear the REAL story without tipping SLA off that I'm also "gunning for him" just like all the rest of her family! It was flattering that she now considers me her only support left--but if she would have told me the real story in the beginning, I frankly would have sided with her family (but still offered support) against him. I have no proof that he's full of it, either, so will have to trend cautiously. What would you do?

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh what a day!

Oh what a day! Yesterday, I mean. Today was sort of unusual too, with two doctor appointment trips (to two different places) plus re-listing my house for sale. Two people that I know quite well lost their jobs yesterday. No, I wasn't one of them, although it's always a possibility for sure.

The second job loss I just found out about today, but had suspected it. BZ had called Former Temp into her office late on Tuesday. A late-afternoon summons to the big boss' office is NEVER good. And to top it off there were a couple of clues before that. BZ had a "Big Change" meeting with HR on Tuesday and when the HR people were leaving, they did not even look at Former Temp. She remarked on it when BZ called her to the office. She rushed into my office and asked me what I thought. I quite honestly said I didn't know, hadn't heard anything but told her that the strange behavior of the HR was a bad sign!

I told her a little story of when I went for a job interview (a long time ago) set up by a friend who worked at the potential employer's place. She and I met for lunch after my interview. One of the interviewers, a friend of hers, stopped and sat at our table. But the interviewer didn't even look at me. Even though I'd done well in the interview (friend was in on the interview too, she works for HR up there) I just KNEW I hadn't gotten the job. Friend insisted that I had it in the bag, but I knew better. Body language seldom lies, and nope, I didn't get that job.

The second clue was back a couple of weeks ago when BZ was doing one-on-one interviews with us, asking us all sorts of questions about our jobs, co-workers, policies, etc. In that interview I had asked her if we were keeping Former Temp--fully expecting to hear an enthusiastic "yes" because Favorite Co-worker, her little pet just loves Former Temp. But BZ was very noncommital about it and that surprised me. It worried me a little too.

So Former Temp will be leaving. It's a shame, she was a nice person and the one to clue me in to certain tricks that Favorite Co-worker was pulling on me to get me in trouble. Come to think of it, probably Favorite Co-worker turned on her former little buddy because of that. So although I feel bad for Former Temp, I feel bad for ME, too!

Favorite Co-worker can continue doing things like changing the passwords on me to make me look bad (she is the administrator of our website) and I will have to sit at the front reception desk again. I really didn't care to ship out all those boxes every day and receive shipping in. It's hard on my back and difficult to stay looking nice (which is a requirement when sitting in front) when packing, unpacking and lugging around heavy boxes. I'll miss Former Temp, my nice office and the ability to work without being interrupted constantly by the phone, deliveries and staff people wanting this or that--right now. Such a bummer.

But at least I have a job. My friend SLA was fired from her job on Tuesday. She had called me late in the day. Actually at the same time poor Former Temp was getting let go by BZ, but I didn't know that for sure then. SLA called me later at home and asked me to come over. The story is surreal, SLA was fired over a man, her family got her fired "because they care about her" then called the police to have him arrested and her locked up. And I thought I had a disfunctional family, good grief! The police didn't arrest him, nor lock her up and her family was very disappointed. She hasn't heard from them since then. Yikes!

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Doctor day

Today I won't be at work much, ha ha. First I have an appointment at the clinic lab to get blood drawn and tested for this and that. It's a fasting draw, so no coffee until it's over. When I called to make the appointment I tried to get in as early as possible.

The medical assistant told me, "There are no early appointments available until next week."

After a brief thought, I asked "And what would be available this week?" because I wanted to get the whole thing over and done. I was a bit miffed that they hadn't done it at my regular appointment but had required another, different appointment for the lab work.

"8:20 AM would be available, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday." she said. So I choose the open Wednesday, which is now today.

Out of curiousity I asked her, "How early are the early appointments next week?"

And she told me, "8:00 AM, we open at 7:30 and 8:00 is the earliest we can book an appointment." So it was a difference of 20 minutes, big whoop. I can go without coffee for an extra 20 minutes, not a huge hardship to just get this over.

Then it will be back to work but not for long. At 11:00 I have an appointment to re-list my house. It's with the same real estate agent. Remind me to tell you about how all of THAT went to lead up to this appointment! I should post bits and pieces of my emails to him, because they're funny--in hindsight. I didn't take a lunch on Monday or Tuesday (I usually don't but this time I am counting it) just in case the appointment runs over a half hour.

Then at 1:00 I have a mammography appointment, and then back to work. Sounds like an exciting, fun-filled day, no? How does your impending day look so far?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A tiny act of rebellion

Well, here it is Tuesday already. Yesterday was interesting at work. It was BZ's first day back from a two week vacation. Those two weeks had been bliss at work. Well, as much bliss as one can have when people aren't talking to me, but about me! I have a daily check-in with BZ when she's in the office. Lately she has been having the Former Temp's check-in at the same time. I'd really rather not have a witness to BZ's scolding me about this and that, but she thinks it saves time to "do" us both at a time. The funny thing is that she almost never has anything for or to say to the Former Temp, just to me. So FT really is just a witness, most of the time. I used to be FT's boss--so it was awkward the first couple of times, but now I am resigned to it, as I am to most everything that goes on there at work. I do still dread those daily check-ins, though.

During the check-in I was interrogated about several things that happened last week, explained one and was told, "No, that couldn't be. Go check again when we're done here." So the morning (the check-ins are early, right when BZ gets in, usually) had a typical start and continued from there. Later all day long I was getting phone calls from our Accounting Department asking about this and that bill or contract. So I had a lot of looking up and figuring out to do! The main person from the Accounting Dept had just come back from vacation recently, too. But those calls are all pretty typical for a day at work. Oh, and I did go back and check that again and I was right, of course. For all the good it did me!

Then the Acctg Dept had a question about an area of our convention finances. I only handled the registration portion of that, and a little with the exhibitor booths, but not at all in the area she was asking. BZ was quite busy because everyone wanted to talk to her, so I emailed her a short note explaining what the Acctg Dept needed to know and offering to do a particular thing if it hadn't been done yet. BZ and Favorite Co-worker had been the ones to do that certain financial part of the convention.

Well, it won't surprise you to know that the reply was not at all helpful! BZ emailed me back, "You should know the answer to your question." I could feel the stress rising but in a weird way it was pretty funny too. Why would I ask her if I knew the answer? And more importantly, how could I possibly know the answer to something that she and Favorite Co-worker did, I'm not a mind reader. Later when an Acctg Dept person called me again I gave her that as a verbal reply and then forwarded her my note with BZ's reply. Yes, that will probably come back to bite me! As BZ has been in trouble many times (but not recently) for her treatment of her underlings.

Anyway, despite the fact the nothing is any better since this weekend (still haven't re-listed the house, the real estate agent I spoke with was reluctant and thought I should "hang on" for three years until the housing market gets better!) I feel much better again. I think the tiny act of rebellion helped that!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back to Work Eve

Yes, I'm posting again, already. It seems that when I most should NOT post--is exactly when I want to do it! Same with going to church. First, I was looking forward to it, but as the time drew closer this morning, I started to dread going. For one thing, the songs we sing in the first church (traditional church) sometimes make me cry if I'm at all in a sad mood. So I knew for a fact that at least one of the songs was going to make me cry, so I didn't really want to go. It's embarrassing.

The lesson was on forgiveness. The christian station I listened to in the car was also about forgiveness. I liked that both took a more reasonable approach to it, though. Romans 12:17-19 about just trying to live in peace and not try to take revenge. The radio lesson gave an example of two warring churchgoers who agreed to disagree. They didn't hang out together any more, nor go to the same activities, but didn't speak badly of each other or plot revenge. Much more realistic, and a good thing for me to remember for tomorrow when BZ returns from vacation!

After attending the first church I made a quick stop to buy a Sunday newspaper and went over the bridge to the second church. It was pouring rain, which was bad for the vacationers and tourists but wonderful for the poor, dried out lawns and gardens! They are having family-style services for the summer, so it was much shorter than their normal service. Many people were missing, gone for a visit or on vacation.

Since it wasn't too late (normally I'm done with church well after 1:00) after church I stopped at my Mom's apartment and we went out for lunch. She was not expecting me, thinking I was gone for the weekend. I explained why I had come back so early without getting into the being really depressed part of it. I loaned her the brand new Harry Potter book that the kids had gotten for me. Mom is a fast reader, she'll have it done by tomorrow, if she hasn't finished it already, and it's a thick book. I haven't even opened it yet but will read it when she's done.

Do you have the newest HP book yet? Do you like the series? Hope your weekend ended up very nicely!

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Glad to be home

I'm better today, this morning, even though I woke up to another bout of sciatica. I'm looking forward to attending both of my regular churches today (would have missed them if I had stayed as long as planned). I looked it up and it was June 22 when I last went to visit son and girlfriend which is what, four weeks ago? Son thought it was only three weeks, so that should have told me something! Although it had sounded like he and Girlfriend were looking forward to my visit. But there were just so many little things piled on top of each other besides the ones I already mentioned in my lament from last night:

Son is thinking of breaking up with Girlfriend, and I thought they were a happy couple. This was the biggest and most major bummer.

Girlfriend hates the microwave I brought them last time. It was the one son had used when he moved out previously. It's old but large and powerful and works well.

While son and I were moving around furniture in the living room, I kept moving the cords and other things in the way (as I backed up) but one time forgot to look and backed into the very tall torchiere lamp I had brought them last time. I loved that lamp in my own living room, it made the vaulted ceiling sparkle (there are sparkles in the paint!). The lamp fell over and got broken. I had carried it downstairs, out the door, in the jeep, driven miles with it, then up the stairs to their apartment all without mishap--then weeks later, knock it down while moving furniture around.

Well, there are lots more little things, it just wasn't a good visit, period. So I'll leave it there. I still have half of the weekend left. Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

A self-indulgent post

Yes, I was supposed to be gone all this weekend, not back until late on Sunday night. But things didn't go as nicely as I had planned, plus I was feeling extra-sensitive for some reason this weekend. I normally am overly sensitive but it turned practically into a depression. I usually can keep my head up and keep swimming despite feeling down or blue. But this weekend I just couldn't, and so instead of writing privately in my notebook journal, as I really ought, I'm being self-indulgent and writing here in the blog.

Let's start at the beginning, and no, I won't bore you with the intricate details but more of an outline form:

(1) I loaded up the washer and dryer into the jeep all by myself. They're apartment-sized, not the full-sized, but the washer is still quite heavy and both of them were rather awkward to fit into the jeep. I also loaded up a bunch of other things, like chairs, golf clubs, vacuum cleaner, full boxes, etc.

(2) No, I shouldn't have done that by myself. I've already been suffering from sciatica, which sounds like a funny little granny ailment but isn't at all funny. The first time I had it I fainted and every time since then have wanted to scream with pain--it's that bad. If you don't know what sciatica is, try looking it up in Google. I did, even though I unfortunately knew what it was. It was reassuring to know that I wasn't being melodramatic in my description which is: like a butcher knife stuck into my thigh and twisted back and forth! On Google I found a diary sort of thing by a young girl who described it almost exactly that way, the way I've been describing it. And others like that, too.

OK, I've already lost the outline form and have gone into those intricate details-- but I bet you aren't that surprised!

(3) I drove down to see son and his girlfriend, stopping on the way to buy the particular fast food that girlfriend loves which isn't available anywhere near where they live. Nobody was home. But they were expecting me and had left the door unlocked. My little ex-dog was glad to see me!

(4) After 5 hours of waiting and boredom I sort of figured I might not be seeing them until the next day, especially because Friday night was the launching of the new Harry Potter book. I had known that they were going to go there shortly before midnight, but didn't know that they weren't going to be there early in the evening to greet me and help unload the jeep (they live on the second floor). I brought up pretty much everything but the washer and dryer, also took the dog for a short walk.

(5) They did finally come home, apologized for the lack of greeting and brought me the brand new Harry Potter book! We talked for about an hour, then went to bed. I got the very comfortable air bed in the spare bedroom.

(6) I got up shortly after 7:00 a.m. and they didn't get up until well after 12 noon. So guess what? More hours of boredom, another short walk for the dog, getting and reading the paper, etc. They had carried the little lamp into their bedroom, so the light wasn't good enough to start reading the Harry Potter book.

(7) By this time my back was killing me and I was feeling very down. I suggested to them that I just wanted to go back home. They were somewhat upset about this but son's girlfriend had to work so we brought her there and came back home. I insisted that he unload the washer and dryer out of the jeep so I could go home when I wanted to leave. He disappeared upstairs (I think to get the dog) but when he didn't return right away, I took both items out of the jeep myself. He did carry them upstairs, though as I couldn't have done that.

(8) Son moved his computer and table into the living room, with my help. I helped him move the TV and entertainment center over to a wall. Then he sat and played on his computer, put the 4th Harry Potter movie in the DVD for me and ate some of the food I'd brought for girlfriend. He (like his girlfriend, earlier) insisted that he wanted me to stay, yet I wasn't feeling very welcome! I found the home-cooked food that I had brought them last time rotting in their refrigerator, so I dumped it out and then washed my dishes. I didn't do up all the dishes lying around nor clean the apartment like I did the last time I visited them.

(9) I left when the movie was done, son carried down my heavy suitcase. Gee, I sure wouldn't have needed all that stuff for one night! While watching the movie I did eat a small pizza (one of those little frozen ones that you bake) all by myself, which wasn't good, but I was hungry by that time. As I was driving the couple of hours to get back home, I did wonder if I had returned to visit them too soon? Yet they had encouraged me to come down again and we had planned the exact date according to their work schedules.

(10) So now I am home again and glad of it, even though it's a day earlier then planned. The real estate guy had left a message on my answering machine about renewing the listing contract. It made me tired to realize that I will have to explain to him why I want to list with another company (his company barely advertised my house).

So, I'm finally done lamenting over my "lost" weekend and ready to go to bed now. I feel much better after writing all this down even if it was quite the "poor me" self-indulgent post! Thanks for reading (if you managed to get this far...!) But hey, I have the new Harry Potter book.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Cold shower

The last time I was mowing the lawn, I was trying to knock down the tall grass on the strips around the driveway. The lawnmower kept stalling and I kept making it continue until--surprise--it started smoking and died! Guess I pushed it too far. Hope I didn't break it as I certainly don't want to have to buy a new one when I'm trying to sell the house and move to an apartment!

So the next morning (Thursday, yesterday) I was taking my shower and I noticed that the water was getting cooler and cooler despite my turning down the cold tap. After I had dressed and started to do the dishes, even the hot water was cold! But I was running late (well, not really late, but later than usual) so I had to hurry out the door, worried about why the hot water heater wasn't working. I was turning the key in the back door when I saw my lawnmowing attempts and made the connection!

My lawnmower is electric. I've never used a regular, gas-powered one. For years we used a manual push mower, even for our huge yard in the country. Until my son complained and I finally bought this electric mower. We got rid of the push mower when we sold that house, too bad, for if the electric mower is broken, I could have used the push mower. Anyway, the electric lawnmower stalling and dying flipped the electrical circuit off. It's on the same circuit as the hot water heater (a bad choice) so the heater went off, too. So I had to reset the Ground Fault whatever and then go back upstairs to the electrical box to flip the switch. By the time I came home last night I had hot water again, so no cold shower again today!

This morning I need to go out to the storage shed and load the washer and dryer into the jeep. If I can't do it by myself, a co-worker has volunteered to come home with me to help this afternoon. But I want to try it myself first. I'm really looking forward to seeing my son and his girlfriend again! Hope you have a good day and a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

checking him out

Well, here it is Thursday already and my last post was on Monday. Not that things haven't been happening; things are always happening. This is both good and bad. So let's see, what's worth writing about? Or put in another way, maybe not worth writing about but I feel like writing about!

Monday I had breakfast with best friend SLA. She had called me up on Sunday night asking, "Can I bring someone along?" and I said, sure, Houseguest can come along too. I haven't seen her for awhile, since SLA's surprise birthday party, in fact. Those two were childhood best friends and hang around together. But it wasn't Houseguest but a man--a new boyfriend! (OK, I don't really like that term, BF, but it describes the relationship and I dislike the other ways of saying it even more: lover, special friend, etc and etc. bleee-uuug!)

So SLA is wanted me to research New Man online, since I do that sort of thing at work. And there wasn't much to be found. That's an improvement, you used to be able to uncover all sorts of things about other people online! Nowadays that sort of information is for sale, or only available by subscription to a special database or something. That's a good thing, but not good for finding out about this particular person. Then she wanted me to do a natal chart for him since I used to be a professional astrologer, but since I re-found my religion, I don't do that sort of thing anymore. So I guess SLA will just have to go by intuition. This situation is a bit more risky in that he's from out-of-town and normally there are friends and family around a new BF so you can get sort of an indication of character and such. Hope it all turns out well. I was no help in the matter!

OK, that was just one topic I wanted to write about today! Either this is going to get far too long or I'll have to break it up into a day or two.

I'm driving down to see son and girlfriend right after work on Friday. This time I'm loading up the washer and dryer into the jeep. They're apartment sized, but still, the washer is fairly heavy to lift up into the back of the vehicle. A guy from work volunteered to help me with it! So on Friday morning I'll try to load them up, and if I can't, he will accompany me from work to help! Pretty cool! My co-workers aren't all bad, just the women. Yeah, I know that sounds really sexist, especially coming from me, another woman, but it's true.

I'm a bit nervous about having to drive all the way down there without a cell phone. If something happened, it would be a long walk to an exit on the freeway! I don't have a personal cell and use my work cell phone only for emergencies but it was taken away for an upgrade--which was very bad timing.

I may bring them some chairs and other things, whatever else will fit into the jeep once I (or we) get the washer and dryer into it. Also, I'm going to make them some rhubarb cake tonight as well as water my garden really really well and do the laundry, pack, and all.

I've been eating cherry tomatoes from my garden for the past couple of days! When I was a kid my Mom would rave about garden tomatoes, but we kids would just humor her. We'd never had a "store" tomato and didn't know the difference. And there is SUCH a difference! So the garden is still limping along, not exactly lush and healthy but surviving. So how's your week been so far?

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Power of Schmooze Award.

I have been tagged by Sumo from the blog Sumo Merriment for The Power of Schmooze Award. Thank you for the wonderful honor of including me among those blogs you designated for the The Power of Schmooze Award.

So, what does this mean?

FORMS: schmoozed or schmoosed also shmoozed, schmooz·ing or schmoos·ing, shmooz·ing, schmooz·es or schmoos·es, shmooz·es

Slang To converse casually, especially in order to make a social connection. A perfect definition of blogging!

It was a nerve-racking and difficult decision but here are my 5 recipients of The Power of Schmooze Award. First, I need to stop and explain, that there are several great blogs that I read which have become private, by invitation only. They are totally deserving of the award, yet in fairness to those who can't read them, I couldn't give it to any of them.

And, there are so many bloggers I read as often as I can who also totally deserve the award. To them I will have to say, sorry, we're only allowed to pick five. (So did that fill up my alotted quota of speaking?!) So without further ado (I always wanted to say that) here are the 5 recipients of The Power of Schmooze Award. drum roll....

  • Lorna in Wonderland:

  • Lorna is always 3E in my book: Elegant, Entertaining and Educational! I learn something every time I go to her blog, and also laugh a lot at her very clever writing and observations.

  • Stuff I Think About by Bikercandy

  • Bikercandy has interesting and lively posts and observations about everything from her family to her work and riding on her motorcycle. Don't you just love her name? (If you don't already read her blog), you will love her intelligent and funny posts too!

    Just Eat Your Cupcake, by Maria
    Maria has thought-provoking, honest posts about the difficulties and the funny-side of relationships and parenthood. So many of the things she writes about are so universal, yet rendered poignant and poetic by her delicate touch.

    Lost Here and Beyond by Walker
    Honest, funny, outrageous, he writes about his out-of-the-ordinary family and friends, with some very interesting fiction thrown in. You just never know what you are going to get when you go there to read Walker's posts!

    Sumo Merriment
    Passionate and intelligent writing about the state of the world. Some great recipes and political comics too. Guaranteed to make you think, and either laugh or cry (sometimes both).

    So that about wraps up the The Power of Schmooze Award recipient list. The award winners now have been specially endowed and empowered (except for those who have already done this, or don't care to do it) to bestow this precious award to 5 bloggers of their choosing.

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    Another political puppet

    I normally don't blog about political things, at least directly. But here is a fascinating news item straight from our daily newspaper. Our newest candidate for mayor has been denied a spot on the ballot. Supporters are holding a rally for him today.

    Mr. Nice, a puppet, denied spot on Duluth ballot
    Duluth News Tribune, Published Monday, July 16, 2007
    There will be a rally for perhaps Duluth’s most unusual mayoral “candidate” to date, a blue puppet named Mr. Nice. “We feel like we’re being marginalized by the mainstream media and political establishment,” said one of Mr. Nice’s assistants, Allen Richardson, who does not necessarily condone what Mr. Nice stands for.

    Because Mr. Nice has been told he can’t be on the ballot — mainly because he’s a piece of art, not a real person — his supporters plan to come out in force Tuesday to rally on his behalf.

    {Here they had a photo of him, but it didn't upload. Go and check him out on his MySpace page}

    Would you vote for a puppet?We were told it would detract from the office,” Mr. Nice said in a statement his press office put out.

    But it’s not just about how he looks. “Mr. Nice’s sensational proposals to legalize gangsterism in order to fund more police to keep our communities safer, and to sell fighter jet parts from the air base to Iran to offset the retiree healthcare crisis, have led to a vast centrist conspiracy which intends to keep the people’s candidate off the ballot,” according to a statement from Nice’s press office.

    This is why he plans to hold a rally led by “chubby white Lutherans” at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday at the fountain in Duluth’s Civic Center. Free “Mr. Nice For Mayor” T-shirts will be provided and protest signs will be available.

    “The polls are showing this election is going to be decided by the arts community,” Richardson said, which is why he thinks a living piece of artwork has a lot of potential at the polls.

    City Clerk Jeff Cox's response to Mr. Nice was terse and to the point. “He described what he wanted to do,” Cox said. “Like I told him, I feel I need to be considerate that some candidates and those in the public might feel that it is not a respectful reflection on the candidate filing process,” he said. Cox declined to go into further detail on the controversy.

    If Tuesday’s protestors don’t shame the city into allowing Mr. Nice on the ballot, he’ll take more extreme measures, Richardson warned. “If he has to run a stealth campaign, then by jiminy, that’s what he’s going to do,” Richardson said.

    For more information on Mr. Nice, go to

    Would you vote for a puppet mayor: would you vote for Mr. Nice if you lived here? He's really one of our best candidates, although I don't agree with his sensational proposals. The other candidates have proposals almost as strange: for example, putting a swamp as a tourist attraction on our bayfront. Our tourist tag-line could be, "Come and be bitten by a Minnesota mosquito!" We already joke about them being our state bird.

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    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Friday the 13th

    Yeah, I know that today is actually Sunday the 15th, but I forgot to say something during the Friday post. July 13th is my ex's birthday. My son's father was born on a Friday the 13th. Guess that should have told me something right there! But he always said that Friday the 13th was a lucky day for him: so we were married on a Friday the 13th, during my lunch hour! Pretty weird, huh?

    Well, we thought it was sort of cool. My co-workers (at that time) did too. I called my best friend at work and told her that I was going to be a little late back from lunch-I was getting married! She got all excited and told everyone else. So when I finally returned from my lunch hour/wedding, they had a huge celebration with food and drink and even decorations for me at work! They must have worked fast on it, since I wasn't gone THAT long! I think...

    This last Friday ended with the doctor appointment. Except it didn't end there: I have to go back for blood work, back for a mammogram and a colonoscopy. Happy happy joy joy. The good news is that my blood pressure is fine and everything else seemed OK; which is good to know.

    Today was another Open House, so Saturday was spent Extreme Cleaning--when I wasn't with my Mom. I also weeded and hoed the garden and got more compliments on it from passerbys. The neighbor 80-year-old lady talked with me for quite a while. In fact I was a bit worried that I wasn't going to get done with the weeding/hoeing by the time I had to leave to get my Mom. Then the neighbor left for about 5 minutes, returned and started telling me some of the same stories. She's very sweet but it was lucky for me and and Mom that she was quicker the second time she stopped to talk!

    Today I went to the first church and then the second one. Church #2 had a BBQ after, so that mercifully took up some of the time that I had to be away from my house (for the Open House). After that I drove around a bit, somewhat out of sorts but at least not hungry, and then went grocery shopping and went home.

    I haven't heard a thing about the Open House. Wonder if anyone came? The real estate agent is a great guy but his company doesn't advertise well at all. Unless they just happened to be driving by, most people wouldn't even know about the Open House. My contract with them expires in two days. After that, I'm going with a larger real estate company that splashes its offerings across the newspapers. It's a shame but I do need to sell my house.

    Hope your weekend has been a very fun one!

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    Friday, July 13, 2007

    The bright side

    Fun, fun, I'm going to the doctor today. I worked a bit extra here and there this week to make up the time in advance at work. It's for the regular check-up thing, but they also run blood tests and stuff, so it will take most of the afternoon.

    The former temp was gone Tues afternoon, Wed afternoon and all of yesterday. Yes, she had good reasons to be gone, but it certainly happens a lot! I wouldn't care, but I have to step up and do parts of her job while she's out. For one thing, she's the receptionist, so I have to deal with visitors and deliveries while she's gone. She also mails out packages and such, so I also have to take care of that. Guess I should just be glad that I don't have to do all of that, all of the time, like before we hired her. Oh, and while I'm looking on the bright side here--it's Friday!

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    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Blown away

    It certainly was windy on Tuesday. We had winds clocked at 50 and 60 mph, gale force winds. They did a lot of damage. The saddest thing for me was to see a photo in the online local newspaper of traffic going around a large tree in the middle of a main road downtown.

    That was one of my favorite trees. I used to walk by it all the time when I lived in East End and walked downtown to work. First I had thought it was a chestnut tree, and picked up some of the fallen "nuts" to bring to work. But a co-worker from the Buckeye State told me that it was a buckeye tree and that buckeyes are lucky to carry in your pocket, but poisonous to eat. Both chestnuts and buckeyes must be very rare around here, because I've never seen another tree like it.

    I tried planting some of its seeds and even once got a sprout but the little plant died off and I never got a baby tree from it. My son was six years old when I "met" that tree and now he's twenty-six. So I had known and loved that tree for a long time, and am grieving about it now. Oh, and in the paper it's identified as a "horse chestnut" tree. Is that the same as a Buckeye?

    Anyway, I also found out a major disadvantage of raised bed gardens--they were all pretty well blown flat in the strong wind! My neighbors, who have a large, regular garden had no problem. Of course their garden was not only ground-level but also sheltered from the wind by a raspberry hedge on one side and their large garage on the other side. My poor little garden was just out there defenceless in the wind. I did water it (hard to do with the wind) to help anchor soil and plants and keep them from being blown away. The plants took quite a beating, especially the staked-up tomatoes, but I think everything is still alive, sort of.

    And of course more important things than gardens and trees were messed up. Large trees fell on people's houses, sheds and garages. Some of my co-workers still have their electrical power out a couple of days later, and they're worried about the food in their freezers. Also about taking showers and washing their hair. Last night we had a thunderstorm and torrential rain, which did not help the tree and building cleanup and power restoration.

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    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Two truths and a lie--at church

    When I went out to get my daily newspaper this morning, I was admiring my front flower/herb garden. It's a small raised bed and everytime I'm out working on it, I get lots of compliments from passerbys, like, "That's a beautiful little garden!" which totally gratify my heart. Of course when those people are walking right by me, they probably feel they have to say something. But I choose to think they really are admiring my little garden. I think it's pretty, too, if I may be permitted to brag! Even the sage is blooming, although I did lose my treasured rosemary plant. I had been bringing it in every winter and planting it again in the spring. Early this spring it was not doing well indoors but the temperature was too cold to put it outside yet. The herbs always do much better outside, when the weather has warmed up. I was saying to it "Hang on there, little plant. Spring is almost here!" But the poor thing didn't make it, nor my hot pepper plant which was about four years old. My cold house isn't a great environment for plants, indoors.

    And the lawn needs mowing again. I noticed that my neighbors are paying some high school boys to mow their lawn (and their lawn isn't nearly as large as mine). Wish I could afford to do that, but it's quite expensive. The neighbors pay around $40 per time and my lawn would be even more than that. Oh well. It's good exercise at least and a heat stroke at most. The problem is figuring out how to get it mowed after work. I have another open house coming up and need the lawn all mowed and edged before then. Not to mention the garden weeded and house all cleaned up. Hard to get that stuff done when I am gone all day at work and not home much in the evening, either.

    Last night I met with SLA right after work as she desperately wanted to talk with me. She's going on a date with a man she met at her work and wanted to run his "specs" by me to see what I thought. After we talked for about two hours, she went on her date and I went to the "woman's night out" at church.

    I was about ten minutes late and they had already started as it was awkward coming in with my covered dish past everyone already there, lined up for food. Most the women already had their food by the time my dish got put out and I was afraid my Rhubarb Cake would go untouched. I'm always anxious about stuff like that, feel domestically challenged compared to most women. Also, there was no room to sit by the people I knew. First I thought, "Well good, I can meet new people!" and everyone was friendly and all but I still much rather would have sat with the couple of women I already know. It would have been lots more fun.

    The night out was sort of odd to me in that we didn't pray or do anything churchy. Perhaps the others wanted to get away from all of that and just hang out with each other but I would have welcomed it. We played a pictionary type of game which I was not good at, too slow to guess, someone always beat me. But I did seem to be quite decent at drawing stuff so people could guess it right away. Then we played that old icebreaker, "Two truths and a lie" in which we had to write down two truths and a lie on a small card and the others in our team would try to guess which was the lie. I'm being too critical of a mere game, but I found that a rather odd game to play at church! Maybe it was just me, I always think about things too much.

    And my cake got used up, pretty much. But not in the way I would have liked. They had a game in which blindfolded people had to put makeup on another woman, then they switched and the blindfolded one had to feed the other one. Guess what they used to feed the victims? Yes, my rhubarb cake. It made quite the mess and looked very gross. Two of the woman who were force-fed my cake did say that it was good. Oh well. The cake was the perfect consistency for that game and there was still about a fourth of it left before it got stuffed into people's mouths.

    Anyway, here are my two truths and a lie:
    1. I have driven to Central America.
    2. I have worked for the police department.
    3. I grew up on a strawberry farm.

    Guess which is the lie? Wanna play--and list YOUR two truths and a lie, and see how well your blogger friends know you!?

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    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    I didn't do it

    Yesterday I was weeding and hoeing my garden. The neighbor cats (there were at least two who visited my cat box--I mean, my garden!) seem to be leaving it alone after the excellent suggestion of putting coffee grounds around the perimeter of the garden. Like I have a shortage of coffee grounds, ha ha. I was putting them into the compost pile but now they go directly into the garden. And no new cat diggings and smelly little piles, yay! Thanks for the great, and effective suggestions.

    Here's a neighborhood who takes their pet ordinance a bit too seriously:

    Family’s cat beheaded, then another one goes missing
    Minneapolis Star Tribune Published Sunday, July 08, 2007
    Shortly after moving into their home in the town of Carver, Minn., last year, Tammy and Barry Erickson were given a friendly warning: Their new neighborhood wasn’t very cat-friendly.
    The couple found out just how unfriendly last week when one of their five cats, Soon-Yi, was killed and its severed head tossed into the family’s front yard, where it was found by Tammy Erickson while she was watering her plants on June 28. The next day another pet cat, Louis, went missing and hasn’t been seen since. “We think the same person did the same thing to him,” Tammy Erickson said Friday, wiping tears from her cheeks as she looked at pictures of her dead and missing cats.

    The decapitation is being investigated by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, which reports no similar cases in and around the town. “It’s a terrible thing to do to a pet,” Chief Deputy Bob VanDerBroeke said Friday. “We’ve been canvassing the neighborhood but have not come up with anything yet. We’re taking it quite seriously.” The incident has become the talk of the town of about 1,850 residents. An e-mail was circulated to City Hall workers telling them about the situation.

    Though the Ericksons say a resident warned them about the neighborhood’s bias against cats after the family moved in last September, they said that none of the neighbors have complained to them about the cats. The Ericksons said the decapitation, while shocking, was not a complete surprise in retrospect, considering some of the incidents that happened since the family moved into the home last September. Weeks after the neighbor’s warning, someone stuffed a copy of the city’s pet ordinance in their mailbox. The sections on cats were highlighted, but city officials say the family was not in violation.

    “I didn’t think anything of it,” Tammy Erickson said Friday. “There are other cats in the neighborhood.” Tammy Erickson said her children are taking the death and the disappearance very hard, especially Chloe Hetland, her 13-year-old daughter, who she said went into shock when she found out about Soon-Yi’s death. “She was the baby of the family,” the teen said of her pet. “I remember I was crying and in such deep pain.” Carver is just southwest of the western Minneapolis suburbs.

    OK, this is a terrible thing to do to a beloved pet, or any animal. Not my idea of how to keep cats out of my garden. But are these people stupid, or what? Wouldn't YOU keep your cat safe inside your house after that very first warning? And I can't figure out what exactly the pet ordinance for that city would be, if the family wasn't in violation. Most leash laws mean exactly that--people are prohibited from letting their pets run loose in the neighborhood.

    Anyway, no cats in my garden and I saw them both today, too, so nothing bad has happened to them. But the real news is that after the weeding and the hoeing I decided to thin out the radish rows. I had barely started doing this when I noticed that some of the radishes felt, rather, well--fat. I pulled up a chubby one and it was ready to eat already! So I thinned the radish rows by feeling around and pulling up the ones that were ready to eat, ten radishes in all. Then I took them in and washed up two of them and ate them. The first fruits of my garden, even if radishes aren't actually a fruit. It seemed like a miracle and I was positively glowing about it all the rest of the weekend. You'd think I'd never grown anything before, rather than having been raised on a farm as a child. It's a wonderful, spectacular miracle! And an edible one, best of all. And it has been two years since I had a garden. The one before this was at my little studio house in the country. Do you have a garden this year?

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    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    The Big Bang

    I love the 4th of July! Mostly because I enjoy fireworks and big crowds (sometimes, not all the time, but holidays are special). And there were so many fireworks shot off yesterday. In fact, I still hear some going off outside right now, a night later. Maybe these are the leftovers from the 4th of July stash. It all kind of goes along with liking big crashes of thunder and cannonfire.

    Yes, cannonfire. When I was going to school and dating my husband to be, his frat had an old cannon at all the football games. Dates and girlfriend's job was to stuff the cannon with tightly packed, wound up toilet paper. Whenever our team made a score, one of the frat boys would light the fuse of the cannon and set it off. We didn't have a great football team then, but the cannonfire was also used to mark the half and the end of the game. The explosion was great and I'd get as close as I possibly could, to even feel the air reverberating. That's probably why I have a bit of loss of hearing nowadays! That and the loud concert music. But what fun, I really loved playing with the cannon. We'd sit on it, but not right after it went off because the barrel was hot for awhile.

    We also set off fireworks, with contests to see who could hold on to a lit one as long as possible. One of my roommates ended up with a burned hand doing that. So seeing all those kids and younger people out setting off fireworks brought back fond memories. I love the smell of fireworks too, and the air was full of it.

    Both cities each set off a wonderful show. My Mom and I parked so we could see both displays. After I had dropped her back to her place and driven home, the neighborhood fireworks were still going off. I have a great neighborhood for fireworks, the people really get into it. I wouldn't have had to leave home to see some really nice displays! My only worry was that many of the fireworks went right over my roof. I was just a bit afraid of the roof catching on fire. But it didn't. At least last night.

    I do hope they won't keep firing them off quite so late/early tonight, though. An older woman needs her sleep, you know. And I have to get up for work at 5 a.m. Hope YOUR celebration was spectacular and fun!

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    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Violence here, too: not a happy 4th for all

    Well, happy 4th of July Holiday to you! But it isn't a happy 4th for everyone. Here are some clippings from our local news:

    Soldier murdered one week after returning from Iraq
    Staff Sgt. Adam Sheda made it home a little over a week ago after an 18-month tour of duty with the Army National Guard in Iraq. His family could breathe a sigh of relief that a military death notification team never appeared at their door bearing bad news from the Middle East.

    It was a team of local law officers who notified Sheda’s family that he lost his life about 3:40 a.m. Saturday when he was shot to death during a dispute.

    He said witnesses said two to three shots were fired. Police believe two shots were fired. Sgt. Bob Shene, who leads the Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit and who served 14 years as an officer in the Coast Guard hinted that alcohol fueled both men’s actions in Saturday’s incident, but he wouldn’t elaborate.

    Staff Sgt. Adam Sheda had a account:
    Be sure to look at his photos.

    And the violence has continued. Here is the newspaper article of what I heard unfolding on the police radio last night:

    Jul 04, 2007 - Police continue their search this morning for the person or people involved in a Tuesday evening drive-by shooting. Police say one woman suffered non life–threatening injuries. A neighboring child told the police: "I saw bullet cases everywhere." "It makes me feel weird because I might get stabbed or shot." Some witnesses indicated that a vehicle had driven by an address up here and fired some shots at some people on the deck and towards the residence." This wasn't the only report of shootings in that area on Tuesday. "There have been some ongoing disputes over the day, during the day, that might be related to this final incident here tonight." Police will continue their investigation today.

    Violence and war are not just "over there" in Iraq and other countries, they're here, too.

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