Thursday, April 29, 2010

Picture = 1,000 words

Yeah, I saw this on a t-shirt website and it just spoke volumes to me.  It is called “The Binge.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Votes are In

The above Get Fuzzy was on yesterday's page in my Get Fuzzy 2010 Page-a-Day Calendar and when I read it, I was inspired. I'll pause here to give you time to re-read it. (dum da da dum da dum dum vegetable garden…dum da da dum dum da dum dum corn!)

It's the line "Read It and Sleep, Baby!" As I read that I thought, what a great name for a blog! The right amount of whimsy with just a smidge of a threat. I love it!

So I took an informal poll of my irregular readers. Should the blog be renamed from "Rose's Ramblings" to "Read It and Sleep!"?

The responses poured ... er.. dribbled in!! For example…

  • Steve R. in Newburgh, Indiana felt that Rose's Ramblings was a more appropriate name and that it "somehow captures going from a Sweet Tea addiction to Movie Reviews, from cat medicine & trolls to the 'poop' parking spot at work. "
  • Heather P. in Chihuahua, Mexico suggested keeping the title as "Rose's Ramblings", but making "Read It and Sleep!" the blog's subtitle.

After reading these and other less perspicacious responses, I tallied the votes and decided that I liked Heather's suggestion, so the results are in! But first, let me point out, Steve, they are GNOMES, not TROLLS. Trolls are ugly mean creatures that hang out under bridges with goats and make you pay or answer trivia questions in order to pass. Whereas, gnomes are gentle loving creatures who like to hang out in nature and read or sleep.

Anywho, once I figure out exactly HOW to do it, the blog will officially be rechristened "Rose's Ramblings – Read It and Sleep!" Enjoy!

When Death is Involved, Somehow My Expectations are Little Higher

My parents and I have gone to our current church for nigh onto 9 years now and we've have been assigned a specific Deacon to whom we should feel comfortable in going in times of need. Now, I feel that a Deacon has a responsibility to the families which are under his care, so to speak. My Dad was a Deacon and he, for example, would visit the people in his families when they were in the hospital, and would go to funerals, whether his people were the bereaved or the deceased. Now, Dad voluntarily had mostly elderly people in his group, so frankly, he and Mom were going to the hospital and/or funerals frequently as you might imagine. I know they also went to the nursing home to visit some of the older ladies who live there. Dad was not perfect and in fact he could be quite a pain in the tookie sometimes, but my observation of his service to his deacon families was that he did a good job, even if sometimes it was as a result of Mom's instigation and nagging.

As I said, the entire time we've gone to this church, we have been assigned to one Deacon. I will call him Bob.. no..I think we might have a Bob.. hmm.. how about Bill.. no.. I'm thinking there's a Bill, too. Snuffles! I'll call him Snuffles. Well, the only contact either I or my parents ever have had with Snuffles or his wife, because I feel they come as a package deal, was the obligatory Christmas card that was sent out each year, and one year, I didn't even get that! Dad was in the hospital about 5 years ago, with heart issues, and Snuffles did come to the hospital, but turns out it was because our Pastor at the time had called him and told Snuffles that he, the Pastor, was out of town and Snuffles needed to go to the hospital and be with Dad and Mom until he, the Pastor, could get there.

So about November of 2008, Dad started getting sick, started chemo, was in the hospital at least four times in the last 8 months of his life. Snuffles never showed up at the hospital, never called, never said even "Boo!" to any of us in church. Dad passed away and Snuffles came to the funeral, but somehow came and went without say anything to either Mom or me. Let me repeat that. The man CAME TO THE FUNERAL BUT NEVER SPOKE TO EITHER OF US! Since the funeral and for the past 9 months, we have not heard from Snuffles once. We did get the obligatory Christmas card – I threw mine directly in the trash.

Now honestly, after almost 9 years, we've learned not to expect much from Snuffles. But, I just feel that despite our incredibly low expectations, when death is involved, you get over whatever it is that prevents you from doing your job and DO YOUR JOB! I mean, I didn't want the man to come over to the house and hold my hand for the entire week – he would have been in the way of my friends and family, the people I WANTED to be there. But a visit, or even a freakin' telephone call to MOM might have been nice. Hell! A sympathy card might have been nice! I got sympathy cards from people who I worked with at my old job, but hadn't seen in almost ten years! These people not only had to recognize the last name in the obits page, but remember me and put 2 and 2 together to see that he was my father, purchase/find a card, a stamp, AND my address. There are people that I work with currently for whom I might not make that effort!

As you might be able to tell, this has bothered me for the past 9 months. I really try not to dwell on it because I know all about forgiveness and everything, and it' s my responsibility to work on being able to forgive Snuffles. But it's not just about me. It's about Mom, too. Of course my mother is so nice and good that things like this don't bother her. But it's not just her. What about the other people to whom Snuffles is assigned? We have no reason to think that Snuffles is the perfect deacon to everyone on his list except for us.. although I suppose that's possible… hmm.. naw. So if this is his usual modus operandi, what if it's with someone who might be hurt enough to leave the church because of it? Or leave "THE CHURCH" because of it!?

I felt compelled to talk to someone about it. First and foremost, I wanted to be assigned a different deacon – you know, give someone else a chance to disappoint me. But also, if they felt something needed to be said to Snuffles, so as to give him an opportunity to change his ways, so be it. A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with the wife of our "head" deacon. She's a nice lady and I felt she would be someone I could talk to, and she could translate my concerns to her hubs. We had a very nice lunch. There were tears – like I'm capable of talking serious talk without them – and I felt that Mom and I would end up with new deacon(s) and that something would be said to Snuffles… and Mrs. Snuffles, because again, it's a package deal.

The next Sunday, Holly and I are walking through the hallway of the church – she's got to go wee, and I have to find someone so as to pass along a message. I see Snuffles and Mrs. Snuffles coming down the hall toward me. Well, not toward me, per se, but walking towards the end of the hall in which I was. I warned Holly and before I can blink, Snuffles walks right past me. Now there was nothing in the way he walked past me that seemed like it was a "you're a bitch and I'm snubbing you" type of thing. It was just the way he's always walked right past me without speaking for the past 9 years. Mrs. Snuffles, however, sees me and comes right over to tell me that she'd talked to Mrs. "head" deacon, and she just didn't know! I mean, she and Snuffles pray for us every day! They love us! But well, if I would feel more comfortable with a new deacon they understand, but I'm to always know that if I ever need anything from them, all I have to do is call and ask!

Yeah. Well.. I suppose they can keep loving us and praying for us, but I want a new deacon.

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Snuffles was a part of the team of men that Bob (see, I knew we had a Bob) put together to help me move last November. So he does have that in his favor. However, I have a hard time weighing this against the rest of the past 9 years, especially the last 9 months, of lack of support.

This Week on Snarkfest

I'm really not an evil person, but occasionally the snark in me gets out and has a little fun.
Tuesday: Abby's Going Away Lunch
There has been this person at our office, let's call her Abigail, who recently put in her 2-week notice.  Approximately four days into her 2-week notice, Abby decided that she didn't really need the reference and just never came back.  This action was indicative of Abby's tenure at the firm, so no one, other than her boss who I could spend an ENTIRE blog on, was surprised.
Nonetheless, we decided that with or without her, we wanted to go out to lunch, so some of us went out to Los Bravos for her going away lunch.  One person asked if we were going to call Abby and see if she could join us.  We didn't really see the need to go that far.  A delicious lunch was had by all and, at least as far as I was concerned, we had a better time without Abby than we would have had with her.  Especially since people who are leaving for newer jobs always gush sickeningly over how much better this new place'll be than the rat-trap they're escaping, never adding 2 and 2 and remembering that the people they're dining with still work there.  Very disturbing.
Wednesday: Abby's Birthday
So yesterday afternoon, one of the snarks here, who was not able to join us for lunch, pointed out that today, Wednesday, is Abby's birthday.  We ought to bring in snacks.  This struck us as a very funny thing to do, so yes, we currently have cookies and donuts in the kitchen for Abby's birthday. 
While in the kitchen this morning, munching on cookies, another soul who was not able to join us yesterday, came through and asked about the munchies... is it someone's birthday?  Yes, we said, Abby's!  Hilarity ensued!  Then that same precious soul asked if we were going to bring in things on Friday... as it was Abby's last day. 
We all thought this was a grand idea, so...
Friday: Munchie's for Abby's Last Day
This has the makings of being a great week.  Abby, a person who really didn't go out of her way to be overly friendly and who was gone from the office as much as she was here during her tenure, has brought the staff (or a good portion of it) quite a few smiles this week.  And she wasn't even here.
This just proves the old adage, (paraphrased here because I can't remember exactly how it goes):  All who pass through this door bring joy to others - some when they enter, and the rest when they leave.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

“This Thing is So Sturdy, You Could Do Gymnastics From It” – Tom

My brother-in-law Tom is a handy guy. We constantly maintain a list of “Honey Do’s” for him for whenever he comes down to visit. We weren’t sure at the time why Holly married him, but he quickly showed his usefulness, especially after Dad got sick.

This past weekend, Holly and Tom came down to visit and, unfortunately for Tom, do a bunch of things around the ol’place. Tom fixed the downspout on the front porch that had fallen off during a wind storm a couple of weeks ago; he fixed and re-hung the bird feeder; he replaced light bulbs in the bathroom; he (sort of) fixed the grandfather clock in my bedroom – I say sort of because it’ll only run for 10 minutes… he’s going to mail me the instruction book; he shored up the front flower beds so the mulch doesn’t overflow onto the sidewalk. He’s just a handy dude. Now Holly, Mom and I weren’t just sitting on the veranda sipping mint juleps, though, we were mowing and weed-eating the lawn, shoveling tree crumbs, hauling top soil and planting grass seed. We ALL earned that dinner at the Feed Mill on Saturday night!

However, turns out that there is someone (something ?) that is handier than Tom. I’ll call him Rocky. Yesterday afternoon, mom calls me at work to tell me that Winifred had been acting really odd – sitting up on the top tier of her kitty tower staring out the window. So mom got up to investigate and saw Rocky, a big ol’raccoon, working his way into the birdfeeder. Let me interject here that this birdfeeder is one that Tom got us at Lowe’s last summer/fall, and it’s supposed to be non-bird-proof. That is, when a squirrel, or other non-bird, gets on it, the critter’s weight is supposed to make this metal thing drop and prevent it from getting any of the munchies. We’ve had issues with this birdfeeder – I don’t know if it is non-bird related, but it’s spent more time in our laundry room than it has spent hanging this past winter. So Winifred and the birds were pleased to see it back up this weekend. Tom was their hero.

But Rocky set his masked gaze on those munchies. Well, mom tried her best. She nabbed a broom and ran Rocky off yesterday afternoon. (Although she later said that she shouldn’t have bothered and just nabbed the camera for a picture!) But then she had a meeting to go to. So I came home. I watered the grass seed, checking and the bird feeder was hanging quite securely in Winifred’s window. Sunset came and my farm begged for my attention, so that was the last I thought about the bird feeder.

Until this morning... As I awoke and stumbled past the window to my bathroom to attempt to wash the funk out of my eyes in a half-hearted attempt to humanize myself, all seemed normal. I saw young Mr. Gizmo lolling orgasmicly in the sunshine on Winifred’s tower, but something was out of whack. I peered closer to the window, trying to see without letting too much of that eyeball-searing sunlight into my eyes. The bird feeder was down. I had to laugh. In my mind’s eye, I envision a future with Tom continuing to come down and working, Elmer Fudd-like, to raccoon-proof the bird-feeder. Or even better, like in one of my favorite Married with Children episodes “Wabbit Season” from 1990, when Al is ordered by the doctor to take up a relaxing hobby, so he plants a vegetable garden (singing to the theme from Bonanza as follows… “dum da da dum da da dum dum .. Vegetable Garden! Dum da da dum da da dum dum dum Corn!!”), but a bunny wabbit, er.. rabbit starts eating Al’s veggies, it becomes a war of wills: Bundy vs. Bunny, and the episode ends with Al blowing the garden, and himself, up with dynamite, and the bunny hopping around the wreckage.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bird (Poop) House in Your Soul

So a few months ago, I was asked if I wanted to park in what I lovingly refer to as the "Big Boy Parking Lot."  I waffled.  Until then, I'd parked across the street in the basement of the parking garage. 


I considered the pros and cons.  Parking garage pros included the fact that my car was never hot or very cold and there was never a concern about snow or ice.  The only parking garage con was that I had to walk all the way across the street (yes, less than a city block) to get to the car and I'm lazy.


Then I considered the pros and cons of the Big Boy Lot.  Cons included that Baby would be hot in the summer and cold in the winter AND that if it snowed or iced during the day, I would have to trot my buns out there and clean my car off before I could go home.  The only real pro was that my car would be closer than it was in the parking garage.


My decision was clear.  I moved into the Big Boy Lot.  Now, this was last fall sometime.  I quickly discovered that the spot I was in had had many previous inhabitants, but most, if not all, left because this was known as the "Bird Poop Spot."  True, I washed my car four times in the month of November – more than the previous eight years of my ownership, if the truth be told.  True, I'm saving for a new car, and am going to have to consider getting a shade that looks good with bird poop on it… not sure what color that would be, but hopefully the salesman will have a suggestion there.


Then along came Spring.  The tree I park under leafed out (see the pic) and I discovered another lovely pro that I never knew about.  This pic was taken about noon – and you can see Baby is in almost full shade.  By the time I get off work at 5:15, Baby is cool and shady!  Now, when it's 99 degrees this summer (God forbid), the car may be warmish, but I have decided that I can deal with bird poop.  I love the Bird Poop Spot!


The Plot Thickens

As children growing up, my sisters and I spent more time in cemeteries than your “normal” children would have spent. My mother got bit by the genealogy bug about the time she was pregnant with me – I refuse to accept the blame for this, though. As a result, most vacations in my life have included one or more of the following: cemeteries, county courthouses, libraries, meeting total strangers to whom we might be related, and visiting property formerly owned by ancestors.

Just this weekend, my sister Holly and I were recollecting the vacation where we drove somewhere (I think Virginia, she thought Tennessee) in the old orange pickup truck and us three girls sat in the back of the pickup under the camper top, in the pouring rain, while mom and dad went into the courthouse and spent HOURS doing whatever it is they did in there. I remember it as being especially harrowing since A) I was under the direct supervision of my two sisters (the same two who laughed when I, a precious toddler of about 3-4-ish, touched a bumble bee which happened to be sitting on my head and it stung me, and I cried – humpf); and #2) we were parked right beside the swing sets and because of the rain, I couldn’t get out of the camper and go have fun… I’m sure I was bored in the truck with the twins because all they did was read and I seem to recall being 8-ish and probably hadn’t fallen in love with reading all that much yet. Sigh..

This wonderful bit of enjoying the memories occurred because Holly tagged along when mom and I, along with our aunt and uncle, met the guy in charge of such things at the cemetery a half mile down the road from where we live to see about getting some cemetery plots of our very own! It’s a lovely, peaceful cemetery at the top of a hill – when I feel inspired to do a little exercise, I’ll trot down to the cemetery, listening to my iPod, chat with the residents, and then trot home.

We got ourselves very nice spots on the top of the hill. Marilee said that if we chop down a certain tree, she can see her house! Oh, and I have discovered someone new to chat with on my walks. His name is Algae – yes, we’ve been assured that is his real name – and he’ll be my neighbor when the time comes. If you look at the picture, Algae’s tombstone is the one in the bottom left. I will be getting the plot directly to the right (as you look in the picture), then Mom (the woman on the left) and Dad’s ashes, then Aunt Marilee, and then Uncle Doug gets on the other end. Doug and I discussed his wanting be closer to me, as I’m his favorite niece, but I really wanted to be beside Algae, so Doug had to pretend to be ok with not being beside me.

Anyway, I’m thinking that next time I go to Lowe’s, I’ll get me one of those concrete benches and a beach umbrella. Then, when I trot down to the cemetery, I can take a book and read to Algae. He’s buried there all by himself, we were told that he died a bachelor, so he isn’t waiting for a wife or kids to join him. I figure he’d like the company. Of course, the book I’m currently reading is on the iPod, but that just means I’d have to put one of the earbuds onto Algae’s stone. I’d think the sound would resonate through the stone and amplify so Algae can hear it, right?

So, Algae, welcome to the family! ... and... I'm sorry. See ya later, much later.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I’ve Misplaced My Ugly Betty, Has Anyone Seen Her?

A couple three of years ago, it was during the first season of the TV show Ugly Betty, around New Years, some channel ran an all day marathon of the entire season todate… possibly ABC Family, as it would have been a cable channel owned by ABC and that’s the only one that comes to mind. Anyway, I had read in the TV Guide that Ugly Betty was such a good show, and took this opportunity to give it a test run and get hooked. However, something else happened while I watched that marathon….

It may have been the post-Christmas blahs, the winter blues, the seven-year (sort of) itch or some other cliché, but I was not happy in my professional life. Looking back, I cannot recall the specifics and I truly doubt there was anything horrible going on, but I know that each day it was a struggle to force myself to come in to the office and each day I spent eight hours, with an hour in the middle for lunch, waiting for 5:15 to come along so I could go home. It wasn’t pretty.

But as I watched this Ugly Betty marathon and fell in love with the show, I saw this unfashionable frump of a woman, working in the fashion world with people who looked down on her and treated her as though she didn’t belong there, go to work each day with a smile on her (braced) face and never let them get her down. She looked at each day as a new challenge and did not view even the smallest task as being beneath her. She appreciated her job and the opportunities it provided to help her get closer to her ultimate goals.

I don’t know that it was a conscious thing, but somehow, during the marathon, I realized that Ugly Betty should be my guide. After all, unlike Betty, I work in my chosen field, for people that appreciate me and treat me well, and although they do seem to come and go, I have generally always gotten along with my co-workers (and if I just can’t stand them, the good Lord smiles on me and helps them find a different position, either inside or outside of the firm.) There was very little about my job that I could complain about and if Betty could find fulfillment and challenges in her job, so could Rose! After the marathon (and the long holiday weekend), I returned to work a new woman.

Now, three years later, the Ugly Betty series finale is set to air later this week and I’m in my mental slump again. In the past four years, Betty’s life has had highs and lows, but as always, she’s met every challenge and has persevered. There have been some situations that she should have avoided though, like the bumble bee Halloween costume… that was just painful. What was my point?

Oh, my slump. Back in late January, or early February, I snapped. I think I wrote about it, but can’t be sure. I broke down in our office manager’s office, she called in my boss, and suddenly it was “Operation: Relieve Rose of Some of This Pressure!” I had high hopes for this operation, but the pessimist in me – and I only let her loose on occasions, but unfortunately she snuck out about that time – said that nothing substantial was going to change. We made a list of the things that I felt were overwhelming. A big player on the scene was my subrogation duties, but although it was a lot of work, it was mentally stimulating and I got to do more than just do dictation and file time tickets.

Well, the pessimist (Bitch!) was mostly right, but she was wrong in one big way, there was one thing that changed – the one thing that I really didn’t want to change, all of my subro duties were distributed amongst several other people and I was no longer involved.

In the beginning, I didn’t mind the loss of the mental workouts. Frankly, I was burnt out and I had a vacation to look forward to, so I coasted through the days until it was time to head out to the beach. And of course, post-vacation it took a day or two to get back in the groove. But I’ve recovered from my burned-out-ness, the butter knife of vacation having scraped off most of the burnt crusty bits, my toast is back to normal and ready for some butter! (I know, weak finish to the metaphor, but, see, I need mental stimulation) There are the occasional projects where I’m creating this spreadsheet in Excel that just sends jiggles of excitement up my spine at the thought. But in general, the projects I’m working on take little to no brain power… my sisters who made far lower SAT scores than I made, might find them a challenge; but, me, being the genius of the fambly, my thoughts tend to wander and then I’m distracted, and there isn’t even a chicken to blame it on!

Now my daddy (Hi, dad!) once told me (in regard to my whining about being given a project where I stood at a copier all day, every day, for an entire week – boy! do my dogs bark at that memory!) that they could pay me to do “paralegal” work or they could pay me to stand at a copier to be “makin’ copies!” all day, but either way, I should just imagine that I was doing the job for the Lord and do as good a job as I possibly could. He also pointed out that if they were foolish enough to pay me, at my salary, to do copy work, then it was their loss. It was also their stupidity to let me go 9 years later, but that’s another blog.

My point here is that I know that I owe my employers my best in exchange for my 8 hours wages and all the free tuna I can smuggle out in my bra. But the last six weeks have been hard. Again, I’ve gotten to the point of having to force myself out of bed and go to work because if I call in today, tomorrow might be worse and I can’t call in too many days in a row. After all, I only have so many PTO days in a year and I just took a 5-day vacation!

In addition to the lack of mental stimulation, part of my malaise may be due to the whole Sophie being sick thing. But she’s better now. Part of it is also due to the fact that I don’t have any playmates sitting near me. My peep in subro with whom I could commiserate is still in subro and too busy to play with me. Carrie, Boss #2 was moved over to the other side of the building to work in a different area and although I still do her work, she mostly does research and write memos, so my only involvement is reading and editing for her. I miss her. I know I could wander over to see her, but she’s busy, and hell!, if the bathroom weren’t on the other side of the building I wouldn’t go over there at all! The two girls I sit with are nice, but frankly I feel sort of guilty because they are two of the people who got part of my subro responsibilities and I know they are just as busy as I was and didn’t need the added duties – they don’t talk to me much anymore, but that may be more in response to my moodiness than any peeved-ness toward me.

The thing is, during this economy, and with my general low self-esteem (really!.. I’m a complex mess of a confident, outgoing-introvert with self-esteem issues. Freud would have a heyday!)… oops, lost my train of thought there… oh, yeah, it’s not like I’m going to go grab the nearest paper and start sending out the resumes, but it’s hard for me not to remember that approximately ten years ago, at a time when I felt similar malaise about a job/workplace, the next thing I know they’re doing away with my position and I’m looking for another job. I know the Lord will find me a job, and it’s not like I’m living on my own anymore, living rent-free with the momster and all, but I don’t like change and my life has seen way too much change in the past year, so Betty, get your butt back over here and resume inspiring me! I may have to get Season 1 on DVD, since that was when the show was at its most Betty-ness. Help me, Betty. You’re my only hope.