Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plans Go Awry, But You've Got to Have Friends

I know when I posted in August I planned to get back here at that time.  Well, you know.  Life happens.  Work didn't really slow down the way I thought it would and there was this & that, and before I knew it, it was November 8 & I was having back surgery.  Yes, I decided to do the surgery, and I'm glad I did, but the recovery has been long and is still ongoing.  I'm planning another post later about the surgery & recovery in general, and things I've learned along the way.  I will go ahead and tell you know that I have some of the best family and friends in the world.

I also have some of the best coworkers.  One of the things that did not go as planned was the week and a half leading up to my surgery.  I work in Raleigh but Sanford, where I live, is an hour away and a much smaller town, so there are a lot of things that I buy or take care of in Raleigh rather than Sanford.  For example, I buy cat food at PetSmart because I can get the brand we use in 14 lb. bags.  I can get the same cat food in Sanford at the grocery store, but only in 3 lb. bags and at a much steeper price per lb. We have 3 cats, so that's a lot of money saved.  They real point is, I had sort of planned to do all of that running around and getting stuff we would need over the 2 months I was out of work in that week before surgery.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  I did manage to squeeze in the absolutely necessary errands (like cat food) but some others just didn't get done.

I previously mentioned that I am on the redistricting team for my division.  If you live in NC and follow the news at all, you know that there was a problem with the software that translates the maps into bill format was discovered in October. Suddenly, starting a little less than 2 weeks before my surgery, I was working 16 hour days for about 10 days straight.  First we had to manually determine how big the problem was, and then after the software had been reprogrammed we had to manually check to be sure that it was now pulling in the correct information. It was boring monotonous work, and there were only 7 of us that could do it.  Imagine looking at a page of nothing but 13 digit numbers and then at a map on a computer screen full of 15 digit numbers and finding the one with the same last 13 digits, clicking on the number on the computer and then highlighting the number on the page to show that you had clicked it on the screen.  Now, imagine doing this for 16 hours per day for 10 days and doing nothing else during your work day.  Sounds fun right? It also leads to this.....

Not only did other coworkers, who didn't have the necessary map software on their computers, bring us food on the weekends and evenings so we wouldn't have to live solely on pizza delivery, some of them stayed extra hours and read numbers to us when our eyes were getting so blurry we could no longer see.  Additionally, the other 6 coworkers who were doing this with me, let me leave at 2am Friday night/Sat morning before my surgery on Tuesday & not come back, even though I know they were there on Saturday and probably Sunday as well in preparation for the General Assembly coming  back on Monday to adopt curative legislation.  Even though it put more work on them, they understood that I could not go into surgery without a couple of days to get some rest, my blood pressure back to a normal level, and a few things done to feel like my house was ready for me to be laid up for a while.

Some great news since I last posted, my son who had deployed to Iraq actually made it back stateside before Thanksgiving due to the pull out of forces from Iraq, so even though we haven't been able to see him yet, we are thrilled that he is back safe.

So there have been other matters to attend to in the past few months than worrying about posting here, but I don't plan to give up yet.  I'm working on my goals for 2012 and will do a post about those sometime in the next few days.  They probably won't be as ambitious as they were last year, but I do better if I have some actual measurable goals so I can track my progress.

Hopefully, this time when I say I'll be back here again soon it will actually happen!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I had a CT scan Friday morning on my back.  I've been having some issues for the past couple of years and last fall was diagnosed with Isthmic Spondylolisthesis which has been causing a great deal of sciatic nerve pain in my left leg.  I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand, I couldn't walk, I couldn't lay down, I couldn't do anything in any one position for any length of time without pain. After physical therapy, shots and pills and everything else the pain had gotten unbearable and my doctor recommended surgery.  Due to the crazy work schedule I had determined to live with the pain until this fall when it would be easier for me to take the 6-8 weeks off work that he estimates I'll need.

So that was the plan.  Except that in May I took a steroid pack for my sister's wedding, so that I could actually stand up for 20 minutes straight during her wedding.  While on the steroid pills, the pain is almost gone, but usually the very first day after I finish the steroids, the pain returns.  This time it didn't, at least not right away, and since then although I'm still in pain, it's not nearly as severe as it was.  This level of pain I could live with, although I would prefer not to, as it still damned inconvenient to not be able to find a comfortable position no matter what I'm doing.  But my doctor is now not so gung ho on the surgery, although he admits that it probably will return to the previous level of pain at some point.

Thus the CT scan today.  It serves a two-fold purpose.  One, to see if something has shifted and it's just not pinching the nerve as much now or what.  Two, to give him a better view in general in preparation for possible surgery.  I don't really want to have major surgery, and I certainly don't want unnecessary surgery, but I don't want to put the surgery off now and 6 months from now be back in the amount of pain I was 3 months ago.  So I don't know at this point.  I go back to the doctor in another week to see the results of the CT scan and I guess we'll see what he says then.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back on Track

Well, North Carolina has been redistricted.  The lines for the NC House and Senate districts and the NC delegation to the US Congress have been drawn.  Literally, and figuratively, but I won't get into that.  What it means for me is that another crazy time has come and gone and my hours will be normal again.  For a few weeks at least, they're coming back September 12th for a session on constitutional amendments.

Our son, Logan is now deployed to the Middle East.  He left about two weeks ago and has arrived safely in the lands of heat and sand.  Please think good thoughts for him and his unit and that they stay safe.  Apparently, a lot of our troops going to and coming from over there are flown through the Bangor, Maine airport.  There's a great group I recently found out about, called The Maine Troop Greeters, that tries to greet every flight of troops.  They welcome them back to the US or wish them luck on their tour of duty, but they also take pictures of the troops and post them on their website so that loved ones can see their soldier.  They took the picture above of my son talking to his wife just before he left the States. They are an all volunteer group that just does what they can, and I for one greatly appreciate what they do.

Now that work has gotten a little calmer, I've been trying to get back into a normal routine and get my life back on track as far as some of the goals I set for myself for the year, primarily writing and weightloss.  I've signed up for an 8 week class at the community college on writing that I hope will help me get my writing jump started.  I've started eating healthier and writing down what I eat.  I'm making some progress and I'll definitely be talking about both goals in more detail in the future.

I got back to my knitting group earlier this week and it was good to have a girls' night out just hanging out and chatting.  I've finished a couple of knitting projects over the past few months despite my work schedule, so maybe I'll do a post with some of those sometime soon as well.

So that's the quick and dirty update on what's going on here, more to come soon.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do you think he's learned his lesson?

This is how my morning started...

Which ultimately lead to this.....

You may remember Neko from this post. Neko is still a sweet and loving cat, but he is now an outside cat.  Neko decided earlier this year that he no longer liked litter boxes and that he was required to mark his territory by spraying on the furniture.  After several fruitless attempts to "cure" this problem, including a vet visit to rule out medical issues, Neko became an outside cat.  Now the world is his litter box and he can spray the bushes and the deck to his heart's content.

He makes a good outside cat.  We were worried at first that he would run off, but he pretty much stays around the house and comes to get his loving whenever we're outside.  He says goodbye every morning when we leave and greets us each evening when we return.  Which is why we were a little concerned last night when he didn't greet either of us when we got home, and by this morning still had not eaten any of his food from yesterday.

When I found him this morning, he wouldn't come to me, but he didn't run when I approached...until I tried to put a damp cloth on his eye to clean it up.  I decided a trip to the vet was in order and went inside to get the cat carrier.

Neko is not a fan of the cat carrier, but he can usually be cajoled into it without too much trouble.  He was having none of it this morning.  After desperately trying to get him in and hang onto him as he twisted and clawed, I finally decided that it was more important to get him to the vet than for him to ride in the carrier to get there.  So I put both the cat and the carrier in the car.  You see the results above.  He may look like he's having fun, but he's yowling at the top of his lungs.

The vet's verdict....a corneal puncture which lead to part of his iris prolapsing through the tear.  Yes, it looked much worse once he finally opened his eye.  Fortunately, the fixing of that is not nearly as expensive as it sounds.  Neko will be coming home tonight, where he will get to spend a few days in the basement bathroom until we can get him healed up.

Let's hope when he gets back outside, he's learned his lesson about fighting with the neighbor's cat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why do you….?

I went to a meeting of my knitting group last night.  It was the first time I had been able to attend in about 6 months, so it was great to see everyone again and catch up on what's been going on.  We had at least one new person to the group last night, so rather than just going around and saying "My name is Susan", someone came up with the idea of everyone telling why they knit. 

Turns out a lot of us knit so we don't kill people!  In other words, we find it a great stress reliever and source of relaxation.  It's definitely that for me.  When my hours were so crazy, I sometimes went days without knitting a single stitch, and I could tell.  I was antsy to knit something! In reality what I was antsy for was to feel like I could relax for an hour or so.  As someone else expressed last night, I also like the fact that there is a tangible result of my knitting.  Something to show for the time.  I find this particularly true with lace projects.  It gives me a sense of pride to turn a few simple stitches into something that looks much more complicated than it really is.

I thought it was interesting though that the question was WHY do you knit, as opposed to when or how did you learn to knit, which is the more frequent question.  As I was driving home from the meeting, I started thinking, why do we do anything we do?  Or don't do for that matter? 

The answer is obvious when it comes to some things. I work because I need to make money to support myself. But why did I choose to be a lawyer, and why do I choose to work in the unique legal niche that I do? I eat because my body needs fuel to survive. But why do I choose some foods over others and, more importantly, why do I prefer junk and fattening stuff to things that are healthier? These are the types of questions I thought about last night while driving, and although I came up with partial answers for some, the answers to those questions are not my point at the moment.

The question that kept bouncing around my head is why do I keep trying to write creatively? I know that I am a good writer in a technical sense, it's more than 50% of my job most of the time. But determining the correct word for the intended legal consequence is very different from finding the perfect word to convey the imagery, feelings and tone you desire in a work of fiction.

I don't know that I can tell you why I keep trying, particularly when so much of the time it seems to end up at the bottom of the "To Do" list. I just know that I have to keep trying, even if it's in stops and starts. And if you're hanging around while I figure this all out, I'm grateful. And I'd be interested to hear….why do you….?

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Do you remember the Tilt-A-Whirl? It was one of my favorite rides as a kid. I loved the anticipation as you leaned heavily on those riding with you, trying to make your car move, and then, suddenly, you were spinning out of control.

My life has been like a Tilt-A-Whirl lately.

I mentioned earlier this year that the General Assembly hit the ground running and let me tell you, they sure kept up the pace. I haven't written much that wasn't work related in the past few months, unless you count a few scribbles here and there when a meeting got really boring and I felt I could tune out for a bit.

I've worked a ton of overtime lately. The first 2 weeks of June, most days I was in the office by 8 - 8:30 and didn't leave until midnight or later. When you add in an hour commute each way and working on weekends as well, it makes for very long, mentally draining, days. Rob hasn't really seen me much, and he's probably pretty tired of eating canned chili for dinner.

There has been a little fun thrown in here and there. My sister, Julie, got married in May and Rob and I spent a week in California for the event. We flew into San Diego the weekend before the wedding and visited his first ship the USS Midway and also saw a friend I hadn't seen since our wedding 11 years ago. On our way North, we also saw Rob's cousin he hadn't seen in almost 20 years and an old friend from the Navy that he hadn't seen in just as long.

We spent a couple of days in the San Francisco area helping Julie & Phil with last minute wedding preparations, and then drove to Healdsburg, CA, in wine country, for the wedding. It was a great trip and a wonderful wedding. Julie & Phil are great together and I've never seen Julie as happy as she is now.

Last weekend Logan and his wife, Michelle, came in from El Paso. Logan is in the Army and will be deploying in July or August so it was good to get a chance to see him before he leaves. Carey & her boyfriend, Nick, my parents, Rob's parent, and my brother and his family were all here over part of the weekend, so it was good to see everyone.

I do wish it hadn't come at the end of crazy time at work, so I could have planned a little more, but Logan didn't have a choice about when he could take his leave. Fortunately, I have understanding coworkers who were able to cover some things for me so I avoided having to work on Saturday, since that was the day they chose to wrap things up temporarily (more on that later).

I'm also very grateful for my mother who came over the Saturday before, the one day I had off in 2 weeks, to help me clean the house. Truth be told, she did most of the cleaning while I dusted and did general picking up and straightening of clutter. Logan and Michelle left Wednesday morning to drive back to El Paso (and got there safely last night) so all is quiet in the Sitze dome again.

No rest for the weary however, since I'm on the redistricting team at work. They have temporarily adjourned the regular session, but they will be back in July to do redistricting and some elections law issues. I spent most of this past week trying to get my desk cleared of all the "regular" session stuff and get my brain wrapped around all the case law related to redistricting, since this is an area of law that is new to me.

There was a round of public hearings Thursday that was 6 hours long, and there will be 2 more rounds in July of equal length. I have to attend each of those. There is also a lot of behind the scenes work to be done, so although I hope to have a little respite from the crazy hours over the next couple of weeks, I know there are more crazy hour days coming.

I may not write here as much as I'd like anytime soon, but I hope to write at least more frequently than I have so far.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

He Was

He was born June 2, 1906, in the tiny community of Erect, in Randolph County, North Carolina. His father was killed in a sawmill accident when he was around 3. His mother moved the family to Alamance County when he was 11 or 12, and he became a 5th grade dropout and one of hundreds of child textile mill workers. His family went through hard times. Many of us have “I remember what I was doing when…” stories, but he remembered being up in a tree pushing out a possum for the family supper when the mill whistle started blowing continuously to signal that WWI was over.

He was always good with money. By the time he was in his late teens he was an entrepreneur, in other words, a loan shark. Not the knee breaking kind, but what my uncle calls a "hip pocket banker". He kept working in the mill, and when he was 21 he married and began providing for a family.

 He was too young for WWI, and too old for WWII, but in between he started to raise 3 boys (with a 4th son born in the 50's). He started the first co-op grocery in his area in the 30’s, and started a general variety store in the little town of Ramseur, in the county of his birth. He dabbled in the restaurant business and in the hosiery business too before opening a 2nd store with his brother in 1949 in the Midway section of Burlington.

 He was probably a rich man for the times, but you would have never known it. He lost everything he had in the bank when the depression hit, and he decided from that point forward his money was safer in property and business. He worked hard and every dime he earned that didn’t go to support his family was used to buy property or fed back into the business. He raised his sons to be hard workers, but he had fun with them too. He was the father that took the neighborhood boys fishing or camping. He was the father that could always show a kid how to turn a scrap of wood into something fun. My father still tells stories about the various adventures they had as kids.

 He was a man who loved dogs, especially boxers. He had several in his lifetime, and it seemed like to me they were all named “Duke”. He believed dogs were just like humans and should eat like humans too. If the dog looked hungry then give him the apple pie in there in the kitchen.

He was 62 years old when I was born. To my young eyes he was already old, but it seemed like he was immortal. He was the one that taught me to fish. He taught me to work in the store, first sweeping, then pricing and eventually running the cash register. He taught me not to be squeamish about picking worms out of manure or putting them on the hook. He taught me to like potted meat and Vienna sausages. He was the one that always put me to work, but paid me for my labor, even if it was just enough to buy a piece of gum. He taught me that nothing in life is free, but you can have everything if you work hard enough.

He was the ultimate bargain shopper and never paid full price for anything if he could help it. He would haggle with anyone and didn’t get bent out of shape if people did it to him in his own store. I think he would be proud that I’ve taught my kids the joy of finding a bargain. The original store in Ramseur closed, but he opened another one in Ramseur in the 60's which had to close a few years back when the highway that ran in front of it was widened. But the store in Burlington is still open today. The store has never advertised, and even though the area around it continues to change drastically, the customers are loyal because they remember his willingness to help them when they needed it, and his ability to get things no one else could. It’s a neighborhood of people on fixed incomes and to this day there’s a file box of index cards behind the counter that contains the details of the “credit” accounts.

 He was a living atlas of all the back roads and little towns in North Carolina. He traveled them all before the days of highways and interstates. I learned as I grew that he knew something about and someone in every community within 100 miles. Every time I moved to another town he would come up with someone he knew there & ask me if I knew them.

He was good with his hands and could make anything. Even after he “retired” from the store and the business when he was in his 80’s he got up every day at the crack of dawn and went out to his “shop” where he built the most amazing bird feeders out of scraps. When he didn’t feel like working he’d sit in his shop around the wood stove and entertain his friends. He was always excited to see anyone and always willing to chat.

He was a fisherman, but he wouldn’t eat fish. He fed many hungry families fish dinners through the years. He never gave charity, but he would give anyone a chance.

He was an ice cream lover (a gene that got passed on to my father and me as well). I can’t remember a single time I entered his house without him telling me within the first 5 minutes that there was ice cream in the freezer if I wanted some. And there were always at least 3 flavors.  He would sit down with the grocery store ads each week and determine who had the best special that week on ice cream and that's where he would go to stock up for the week. 

 He was raised in a different time, but he was always willing to learn to change with the new ones, so long as it didn’t require him to give up his dignity or to treat someone with disrespect. He believed in friendship and family until the end.

 He was the most amazing man I’ve ever met. He taught me more than I could ever say. He made me feel special, even though there were 10 others just like me; he made us all feel special. To me, he was the man that would never die. No matter how old I got he was still there, still going, and still making us laugh. I thank God I got to know him for 35 years. 

But on March 17, 2003 my Daddy called to tell me he was gone. He was 96 years old. He was my grandfather. He was my PaPaw.

 “I am standing at the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon, and someone at my sides says, “she is gone”.

Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when someone says. “She is gone,” there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices have taken up the loud shout. “Here she comes” And that is dying.*

 As my father said…Fishing gear in hand, PaPaw set his sails to the morning breeze, while on the other shore they took up the glad shout, “Here he comes, fishing pole and all.”

In Memory of Manley Calvin Hayes

*Source of original unclear, but what is posted here is not intended to be complete or accurate to the original.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Would You Be Unbroken?

I enjoy reading non-fiction books from time to time, and when I do, they are usually either World War II or Civil War related. Often I find myself wondering what I would have done had I lived during one of those times.

Recently, I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The book is the story of an Olympic runner who became a Japanese POW during WWII. I enjoyed the book, and I encourage you to read it. The general story is one that thousands of men lived through, but following one man's specific experience somehow makes it seem more real. But what it did more than anything is make me wonder how young men and women, and even myself, would have dealt with a similar situation today.

I don't know. I like to think that I'm a strong person, at least mentally, but it seems to me that not only was that a different place and time, but the people had different mentalities as well. They did what they had to do and there was less whining and griping about it. There wasn't the pervasive sense of entitlement that seems to exist today, especially in the younger generation. I know that I'm stereotyping, and there are definitely exceptions, but so many people seem to act like life always has to be fair and it's just not.

There are many brave young men and women in our military today. My son is one of them. He's currently stationed in TX, but he will probably be deployed sometime in the next year. Recently, his unit went on a training exercise where they had to camp out for a few days. There was an unexpected snow storm and it was much colder than it usually gets in TX. The way the wives (including my son's) freaked out about their husbands out in the cold you would have thought the Army had taken them to Siberia in January in shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. No, they probably had not taken all the appropriate gear for the weather with them, but they were still on base, it wasn't like they couldn't get it. But even if they couldn't, they were only out there for a few days. Training is supposed to try to prepare them for the real thing, and sometimes you can't predict what's going to happen in the real thing. The Army certainly wasn't going to intentionally put them in harms way for a training exercise, but the training shouldn't be called off or ended early because the weather didn't cooperate. In war, shit happens, and these young men and women are going to war.

I guess my point is, somehow, I can't see the wives and mothers of the soldiers that were in Bastogne whining and complaining on the Army's Facebook page that their husbands and sons were freezing poor babies. I'm sure they were worried, and I'm sure they were praying hard, that they would survive and return home, but they weren't writing letters telling the Army they should just send the men home because it was too cold for them to be fighting a war.

As for the men whose stories are told in Unbroken, I certainly would never fault them if they complained about the conditions in which they were kept, but somehow I imagine them more focused on how to deal with those conditions and survive rather than sitting around whining about it.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Forget the warm up, just run!

I love my job. I really do. That doesn't mean I don't complain about it sometimes, but overall, I'm happy doing what I do.

I'm a staff attorney for the North Carolina General Assembly. I'm on the non-partisan, central staff, which means I work for all 170 members; both the House and Senate, and both Republican and Democrat (and this biennium one independent as well). My areas of expertise are criminal law, motor vehicle law, juvenile delinquency law, and alcoholic beverage control, although I do a little bit of everything else as well. The simple description of what I do is that I put into writing what the members of the legislature want the laws to do, and I do research to provide information on issues so that they can decide what they want to do.

Because of the non-partisan nature of my job, I will not talk much about my work here. Even when everyone else is weighing in with opinions on an issue, if there's even the slightest political tone to it, you won't read any commentary from me. It's not that I don't have personal opinions, although after 15 years in my job I can always see both sides of an issue, but I don't express them publicly because my job depends on being able to work effectively and in an unbiased way with people with all different sorts of opinions. I do not express my opinions at work either. I may tell a member if something will or will not work from a practical standpoint, but I will never tell them whether it is a good idea or not. Additionally, I am bound by legislative confidentiality from discussing anything that is not discussed in a public meeting or setting. Despite the non-partisan designation, unlike other state employees, I am considered an appointee, and therefore can be fired at any time for no reason whatsoever, so long as it is not discriminatory (i.e. I'm female, black, etc.).

So why am I talking about my job now? Two reasons really. One, I wanted to give those few of you who are not related to me a little bit of information on what I do, just to put things in context a bit. Two, the "long session" of this biennium began on January 26th and I'm swamped already.

Political opinions and affiliations aside, this is an historic session for North Carolina, because for the first time in 140 years, the Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate. The House was under Republican leadership from 1995 to 1998, but at that time, the Senate was still under Democratic leadership. This is a whole different ballgame. It's actually a nice change of pace to not be sure how everything is going to be done this time around, but at the same time, it puts you a little outside your comfort zone to be figuring out how things are going to be done on the fly.

The NCGA runs on a biennium, with the "long session" in odd numbered years, and the "short session" in even. Usually, in a long session year, there is a "warm-up" period of a couple of weeks before they really get up and running full tilt. Leadership has to be elected, committees determined and appointed, etc. This session however, the Republican leadership was really on the ball and worked a lot of that out before session started, so all they had to do was go through the formalities of making it all official the first couple of days. That in and of itself is not a problem. Except for the few newer employees for whom this is their first session, most of us know to expect some craziness as things get going, whether it happens in the 3rd week or the first.

What's stressing me out this year, is that on top of all the things I usually do, I've been placed on the redistricting team. Of course you know that every 10 years there is a US Census done. As a result of that census, every state must then redraw their district lines for US Congress, state Senate and state House. This is a meticulous process full of all sorts of legal and political ramifications. I am certainly not the only staff member that will be dealing with this issue, there are 7 of us, but unfortunately, 2 of us just found out a month ago that we were going to be working on the issue, so we are scrambling to catch up to the other 5 who have been preparing for months. There is a whole host of federal and state law, and case law that applies to this issue, but sometimes only to certain types of plans or certain counties. Additionally, there is a specialized software program that I am having to become familiar with and it is created on a format that is nothing like anything I've ever used, so it is not at all intuitive for me.

I have been attempting to leave the office each day at a decent hour (5:30-6:30), since it is so early in session and I know the longer hours are definitely coming. However, I realized today that the longer hours are going to have to start sooner rather than later. In 9.5 hours of work today, I was in my office probably a total of 3.5 hours, including eating lunch at my desk. The remaining 6.5 hours were spent in meetings and consultations with members and other staff getting instructions and input for all the things that I need time in my office to actually accomplish. The unfortunate reality is that I spend large chunks of my day in meetings or dealing with immediate needs and it is often 4 or 5 in the afternoon before I have time to work on things for the next day's meeting or on bill drafts. But I still love my job, and the variety and even the hair-pulling craziness are what keep it interesting and exciting for me.


On a separate note. I have not done well the past couple of weeks on my goals. Obviously I have not been writing here 3 times a week. I have made an effort to keep writing at least in my journal, but it has admittedly not been for 30 minutes every day. I'm still working on it. I haven't posted here more because I'm really having a hard time thinking of what to talk about. I don't want to turn this into a listing of the minutia of my day, and as mentioned above I can't really talk about the details anyway. But I also haven't worked hard enough at coming up with ideas or fleshing out the few ideas I do have, so I'm going to try to be better about that. If you're reading this and have any ideas about what I should write about, please fell free to tell me in a comment!

I did well for a couple of weeks on the eating healthy portion of my weight loss goals, and I haven't done horribly the past couple of weeks, although not as well as I did the first two. I haven't started exercising at all though. I'm not a morning person, I like to get out of the bed, shower, dress & head out the door, and by the time I get home at night and fix dinner, etc., even if I left work at a decent hour it's already 7:30 or 8:00 and I don't feel like it. But I've got to figure out a time to start fitting it in, even if I do it in 10 minutes at a time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crazy Cat people

Rob says when you have more cats than people in the house, you're crazy cat people. With 3 cats, and only 2 humans now that the kids have left home, I guess we qualify. Truth is, we'd have more cats if Rob would let me bring home more. We've tried to be dog people too, and we actually both really like dogs, we just don't want the extra effort required to take care of them. With a cat you can leave it food, water & a clean litter box and take off for a weekend. A dog either has to go with you or be kenneled.

Each of our cats has their own personality, and as I looked around the living room today while all three of them snoozed the afternoon away, I imagined what they would have to say about themselves, each other, and us…..

I wish the mama person would sit still. She keeps shifting on the couch, and every time she does, she moves her feet, which I'm sleeping on. She is kind enough to stop her reading and pet me occasionally, but never for long enough, she just won't leave her hand there so I can lick it. I like to lick. The daddy person's head is fun to lick whenever he'll let me, but he doesn't seem to like it much, I wonder why? At least that nasty male orange cat isn't trying to get in my space. Neko, what kind of name is that?, and he thinks he's such a badass since he still has his front claws. Hah! I'm the queen of this castle buster, and don't you forget it. Good, the mama person has stopped moving again, I can go back to sleep.

Aaaahhh, this is a nice comfy pillow. The people were so nice to leave it laying flat on the couch for me, especially since the daddy person has that ugly silver thing in his lap where I'M supposed to be. I can see that big old fat Gicho over there next to the mama person. Suck up. She thinks she's the cat's meow, but she's not all that, laying around on the floor all the time with her belly up and her legs spread. It's not too bad here. I've only been here about 10 months, but the people here have taken care of me since my last person had to go away, and they appreciate my purring, as long as I keep my claws out of the furniture. Even if that scaredy cat Sable won't let me in the closet where the litter boxes are, I don't care, the people gave me my own litter box and it even cleans itself! *yawn* I can barely keep my eyes open.

This is the kind of day I like. The people are here, so I can get some attention when I want it. I really like to follow the mama person into that room with the big white bowl full of water. If I bat at her enough while she's sitting on it, she'll usually pet me. And when she's done I like to watch the water swirl and swirl around. Sometimes I like to play in it too, but I don't always want to get my paws wet. I'm glad the people didn't invite any other people to our house today. Other people scare me, and I have to go hide in my people's bedroom until they leave. I can see Gicho and that cocky Neko over there on the couch near the mama person, but I like to keep my distance unless I'm in the mood for petting. So tired…..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days

The weather here has been less than stellar the past couple of days.

I was home Monday because at 6:30am it was already snowing here in Sanford, and they were saying it was going to start in Raleigh around lunchtime, so I figured if I went to work and then left early I would be driving from bad to worse. I have a rear-wheel drive car, which is not the best for bad weather driving. It ended up not being all that bad, and in hindsight I could have gotten to work and home fine if I'd just left work a little early. Everything did freeze over Monday night, so yesterday I did go in late & leave early, and I really only did that because Rob didn't have to go to work, so I was able to take his car, which has all-wheel drive. I drove my car this morning, but went in a little later just to be safe, but by the time I came home tonight the roads were pretty dry, so hopefully there won't be any ice in the morning.

Having an unexpected day at home is nice when it happens. When you can't go out, it just feels good to cozy up in the house in your sweats and do some reading and knitting. I got most of a hat knitted for Rob on Monday, and would have finished it, except I got half way through and realized it was going to be too small, so I had to rip it all out and start over. I made beef stew for dinner with sourdough bread and all in all it was a nice day just hanging out with Rob.

These days are mixed blessings though. The downside of Monday is that I wasn't prepared to be away from work, and now I have just as much work to do, but less time to do it. The class I was supposed to teach Monday morning had to be rescheduled, and several other things I had planned to do Monday and Tuesday now have to be crammed into the rest of the week. I left on time tonight since they were still calling for some refreezing, but I'm probably going to have to work a little later tomorrow and Friday, and most likely I'll go into the office one day this weekend.

On a different note. I've got several blog posts in the works, on varying subjects that have popped into my head, but nothing quite ready yet. Hopefully soon!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


You know who I mean. Those oblivious idiots who believe the world revolves around them and don't care that anything they do might affect someone else. You see them most often out in retail establishments, standing in the middle of the aisle with their cart angled across the aisle blocking the entire aisle, coming to a dead stop in the middle of the doorway into or out of the store, rearranging their entire pocket book at the register, etc.

They often travel in packs of obliviots and raise obliviot kids to boot. We were in Target last weekend and just as I started to walk down one of the main, 10 foot wide, aisles a group of about 3-4 adults and 3-4 kids came out of one of the side aisles and spread themselves completely across the wide aisle, all of them stopping and circling and looking around. What they were looking for I have no idea, as half of them were looking at the ceiling, but what they were not looking for was whether there was anyone else around them that might like to, oh, you know, walk down the aisle?

And if you say something, even something polite, they usually have the gall to suggest, either in words or mannerisms, that you are the one being rude. I was in the grocery store a week before Christmas with my daughter and mother-in-law. As we were attempting to leave the store, two women in front of us decided they had to stop dead in the doorway to adjust their hats and scarves before going outside. Meanwhile, there were people accumulating behind us and others trying to get into the store, all being blocked by these two people who must have had some seriously complicated hats and scarves. Finally, I politely, but firmly, said "Excuse us please". I probably said it a little loudly as well, because well they're obliviots, if I didn't say it loud enough they wouldn't have realized I was talking to them now would they? It still took a minute to register that I was in fact talking to them, and then the evil looks and muttering started as they oh so slowly made their way out the door, glaring back at me at least twice in the process. 

I really try to be patient when I'm in public, really I do, and for the most part I usually succeed. Sure I look for the shortest checkout line, but once I've chosen one I stick with it & don't line hop. I wait patiently for my turn so long as progress is being made, even slow progress. I may grind my teeth at people who don't think things like 15 items or less apply to them, but unless their 15 is really 50 I keep my mouth shut. But there are times my patience is tried and the mouth just won't stay shut. I've never gone off on anyone…yet, but I've been known to make a comment or two, either directly to the person or to whomever might be with me at the time.

It does no good though. There will always be obliviots in this world, I just hope you're not one of them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Year in Knitting 2010

Milkweed Shawl

Multnomah Shawl

Traveling Woman Shawl

My first try at double knitting, a scarf for Carey.

Tibetan Clouds Stole - One of my top favorite knits of all time so far!

And the masterpiece of the year, which took me 8 months to knit…….

Ingrid's Bridal Knot Christening Shawl - made for my newest niece. It's over 4,000 yards of lace weight yarn and is about 60 inches in diameter, in other words, it's huge!

There's an 11 Shawls in 2011 group this year too, so guess I'll have to join!



One last post recapping 2010. This time I'm showing off some of my knitting projects from the year. Not all of them by any means, but a few of my favorites. I joined a 10 Shawls in 2010 group this year on Ravelry, so these are a few of the shawls I made.

2011 Reading List

Books I've read in 2011 (174 Total)

I tend to find an author I like and then read everything they've written that I can get through the library, so you will frequently see strings of books by the same author.

January 2011 (23)
A Day of Small Things by Vicki Lane
One Grave Less by Beverly Connor
Room for Murder by Tim Myers
The Woods by Harlan Coben
One Shot by Lee Child
Buttons and Bones by Monica Ferris
Innkeeping with Murder by Tim Myers
Reservations for Murder by Tim Myers
Murder Checks Inn by Tim Myers
Booked for Murder by Tim Myers
Convenient Disposal by Steven Havill
Snuffed Out by Tim Myers
Death Waxed Over by Tim Myers
A Flicker of Doubt by Tim Myers
Dead Men Don't Lye by Tim Myers
A Mold for Murder by Tim Myers
Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
Trial by Fire by J.A. Jance
Scavengers by Steven F. Havill
A Discount for Death by Steven F. Havill
Statute of Limitations by Steven F. Havill
Final Payment by Steven F. Havill
The Fourth Time is Murder by Steven F. Havill

February 2011 (14)
Red, Green, or Murder by Steven F. Havill
Out of Season by Steven F. Havill
Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs
No Second Chance by Harlan Coben
Tell No One by Harlan Coben
Just One Look by Harlan Coben
Caught by Harlan Coben
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
The Innocent by Harlan Coben
An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr
Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr

March 2011 (31)
A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
The McKettrick Legend by Linda Lael Miller
The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
Hand of Evil by J.A. Jance
Web of Evil by J.A. Jance
Cruel Intent by J.A. Jance
Fire and Ice by J.A. Jance
Queen of the Night by J.A. Jance
Desert Heat by J.A. Jance
Tombstone Courage by J.A. Jance
Shoot Don't Shoot by J.A. Jance
Dead to Rights by J.A. Jance
Hour of the Hunter by J.A. Jance
Skeleton Canyon by J.A. Jance
Rattlesnake Crossing by J.A. Jance
Outlaw Mountain by J.A. Jance
Devil's Claw by J.A. Jance
Paradise Lost by J.A. Jance
Partner in Crime by J.A. Jance
Exit Wounds by J.A. Jance
Dead Wrong by J.A. Jance
Damage Control by J.A. Jance
Until Proven Guilty by J.A. Jance
Injustice for All by J.A. Jance
Trial by Fury by J.A. Jance
Taking the Fifth by J.A. Jance
Improbable Cause by J.A. Jance
A More Perfect Union by J.A. Jance
Dismissed With Prejudice by J.A. Jance
Minor in Possession by J.A. Jance
Payment in Kind by J.A. Jance
Failure to Appear by J.A. Jance

April 2011 (21)
Lying in Wait by J.A. Jance
Name Withheld by J.A. Jance
Orchard Valley Brides by Debbie Macomber
Breach of Duty by J.A. Jance
Double Prey by Steven F. Havill
Fatal Error by J.A. Jance
Without Due Process by J.A. Jance
Birds of Prey by J.A. Jance
Long Time Gone by J.A. Jance
Justice Denied by J.A. Jance
Knitting Diaries by Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, Christina Skye
Driftwood Cottage by Sherryl Woods
Almost Home by Mariah Stewart
Angel's Rest by Emily March
Hummingbird Lake by Emily March
Moonlight Cove by Sherryl Woods
The Search by Nora Roberts
A Light at Winter's End by Julia London
More than Words: Stories of Strength by Carla Neggers, Susan Mallery, Karen Harper
Coming Home by Mariah Stewart
Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

May 2011 (12)
Sleeping with Patty Hearst by Mary Lambeth Moore
Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery
The President's Daughter by Mariah Stewart
Heartache Falls by Emily March
Home Again by Mariah Stewart
Miss Liz's Passion/Home on the Ranch by Sherryl Woods/Allison Leigh
Lip Service by Susan Mallery
Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery
The Nosy Neighbor by Fern Michaels
Almost Home by Debbie Macomber, Cathy Lamb, Judy Duarte, Mary Carter
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
Creed's Honor by Linda Lael Miller

June 2011(9) 
The Wedding Shawl by Sally Goldenbaum
The Scoop by Fern Michaels
Exclusive by Fern Michaels
The Bone Yard by Jefferson Bass
Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods
Ape House by Sara Gruen
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Unraveled by Maggie Sefton
 Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock

July 2011 (10)
The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller
The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr
Three Junes by Julia Glass
Irish Hearts by Nora Roberts
Rocky Mountain Man by Jillian Hart
Down by the River by Robyn Carr
The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs
Lakeside Cottage by Susan Wiggs

August 2011 (15)
Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
Only Mine by Susan Mallery
A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde
Just Over the Mountain by Robyn Carr
In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault
One Summer by Joann Ross
Chin Up, Honey by Curtiss Ann Matlock
1105 Yakima Street by Debbie Macomber
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
The Homecoming by Joann Ross
Testimony by Anita Shreve
'Tis the Season by Carole Mortimer, Alison Roberts and Natalie Anderson

September 2011 (12)
Room by Emma Donoghue
No Regrets by Joann Ross
Far Harbor by Joan Ross
Shoedog by George Pelecanos
Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards
The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Out of the Rain by Debbie Macomber
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

October 2011 (6)
Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance
Escape by Barbara Delinsky
I Totally Meant to Do That by Jane Borden
Pirate King by Laurie R. King
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A Lawman's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

November 2011 (11)
1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
Holiday in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
Bring Me Home For Christmas by Robyn Carr
Touched By Angels by Debbie Macomber
Three Day Town by Margaret Maron
Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels
The Charm School by Susan Wiggs
Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart
Only Yours by Susan Mallery
Only His by Susan Mallery

December (10)
Tea and Destiny/Light the Stars by Sherryl Woods/Raeanne Thayne
Serendipity by Fern Michaels
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
The Four Seasons by Mary Alice Monroe
Learning to Love by Debbie Macomber
Holly Lane by Toni Blake
I'll Be Home for Christmas by Linda Lael Miller/Catherine Mulvaney/Julie Leto/Roxane St. Clair
Making Spirits Bright by Fern Michaels
Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr