Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Need More Compasses

I haven't known which direction I'm going for about two years now.

When I lived in Florida, I knew pretty much without thinking which way was North and which way was East. Even the fact that I-4 said it went east and west didn't obscure the fact (known to every Orlandoan) that it goes North and South in the middle of the state -- yes, it starts in Daytona on the East coast and eventually ends up in Tampa on the West coast, but it wants to go to Disney, too, and detours for a long while. Anyway, I knew what I meant, as did most of my friends, highway signs notwithstanding.

Anyway, I knew the directions. I knew that when I lived in Ocoee, my bedroom window faced West, and when I lived in Orlando it faced East. The house in Eustis faced South. I knew which way to look when I heard thunder -- storms nearly always came from the West and North. The Orlando International Airport was south of Orlando, and the Altamonte Mall was on the North side. See? I knew were I was. Even when I moved and lived in a different house, I knew which way was which.

I miss that.

The townhome we now own is an end unit and has its few windows on three sides. It faces east, the patio is on the west, and the single side window downstairs is on the north side. We live in Seneca, which is west of Clemson, which is south of Greenville and North of Atlanta.

I have to check maps to know this. I never feel like I am properly oriented. My internal compass insists that all of South Carolina is upside down and facing the wrong way. Seriously, in my mind, when I sit with my back to that downstairs window (which I do often because that's how the living room is oriented) I am sitting with my back to the South. That puts the West on my left hand, which moves Seneca further east. Two years now I've looked in the cardinal directions and recited the proper name for them, but at any given moment if I'm asked what direction I'm facing, I can't remember. I con sult maps constantly if I dare go anywhere. I memorize landmarks. I drive around and get lost, then try to find my way home again, usually a fool proof method of learning my way around.

I still don't know where anything is.

It doesn't help that most of South Carolina -- or, at least, the Upstate -- is arranged, not in the traditional more-or-less grid pattern familiar to Floridians, but as a series of adjacent and occasionally overlapping triangles. I don't know how many times we've gone to a particular location from a particular location on one road, and returned on another road. It's confusing. At first I accused The Husband of trying to deliberately keep me at home so that I wouldn't use expensive gas and possibly find expensive things to do.

Now I realize it's a state wide conspiracy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inivisble Monsters should be Pink and Blue

The view out of my living room window is particularly lovely this year. I just rearranged the living room so I could take advantage of it. I can sit here and see all the roses, the wisteria, the azalea and rhododendron, the fuschia, the colombine, the bridal veil, and many of the herbs that survived the winter. I can see both the seed-bird feeder (which has regular visitors now) and the hummingbird feeder (as yet unvisited, but it's still a bit cool for them). The butterfly bushes are a little less visible and not yet blooming, but I should be able to see them when they finally make with the flowers.

I can also see the cheap, ugly, weathered-grey fence that marks the property line, the power pole that juts up in the midst of it, the recently killed-by-poison honeysuckle, and the back corner of the ugly little convenience store that is far too close to where I now live. Compromises, always.

Still no definitive word on a job at Clemson. Graduation is next week. The Husband's cap and gown hang on the back of the door (he didn't walk the first time, but this time he is). Mom-in-law will be here, so there are some attempts at housecleaning (which will get more frenzied as the actual date gets closer).

I feel the future moving around like the invisible monster in the old Jonny Quest show. It's looming around making noises, but I can't see it clearly at all. I wish I could throw paint at it so it would show up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Endless Geeker

The Husband was touring our Netflix account yesterday when he happened upon this. He started to stream it, then decided I needed to know about it. So, in geeky happiness, we curled up on the mini-couch and started streaming to my laptop.

I am enthused.

Ok, let me rephrase that. I (and The Husband) are giggly, happy, geeky crazed for this lovely little indie movie about something near and dear to our hearts -- gaming, and the people who game. He and I often bemoan the loss of our old gaming group and how difficult it is to find/form a new one here in the land of the too-cool college student. Our single semi-successful attempt was low on fun, as it is very hard to meld two old-timers into a group of young gamers, especially without the GM on your side (we were, in effect, the Joanna character, only with much less success).

I recognized people I know (and still love) in these film characters. I've lived those situations. I swear the costumes were lifted from the closets of dedicated Rennies, SCAdians, and con-goers. And the endless battle between cooperating to tell a story and players vs. game master is so familiar it isn't even funny, but then it is made funny here. Even better, the fact that this is a (very good, very well done) home made film just makes the whole thing perfect. If it had been a high budget, major production, it would not have worked. This, on the other hand, is filled right to the final second after the credits have rolled with all the things the geek-at-heart love so much.

Yes, we have the DVDs on order.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Celebrating the Post-It

Anyone who knows me can attest -- I love me some office supplies. One of my very favorite office supplies is Post-it notes in all their various incarnations. And the wonderful Post-it is 30 years old now.

I have one very classy Post-it dispenser (that will one day grace a desk again) which holds both the standard Note and two colors of the Flags. I love me some flags. I have high lighters with built in flags that are indispensable when studying a book or editing a manuscript on-page (editing on the computer has its place, but for a first time, really heavy edit, paper, pen, and Post-its rule). I have huge Post-it pads and the little sticky tabs for labeling folders. I can't go through the local Staples without giving the Post-it display a once over for anything new and exciting.

I don't remember exactly when I discovered the wonder of the Post-it, but I suspect I knew about them by 1984. I don't recall having them in high school, but they were part of my college equipment. I discovered, too, that my cat, Precious, would stop laying on my books (spread across the bed, of course) and sit on a Post-it stuck to the floor. She also loved Post-its.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book update

I'm still trying to plow my way through the Arthur Conan Doyle biography. I'm not even 100 pages in and he's just reached his early 20s and his career as a physician. Honestly, I'm kinda bored. The biographer has that typical stodgy biographer voice, reciting fact after fact and pointing out where this or that influenced the Sherlock Holmes stories. Since the title of the book is "The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes", I figured there would be a lot of linkage to Doyle's personal history, but I'd really hoped the book would start with the Holmes stories and work out from there to reveal Doyle. That would have been different and potentially interesting.

But, no. Stodgy, droning biographer drones stodgily on. I'm giving it about 50 more pages to see if things pick up (since we've already covered all the Doyle ancestors and have gotten to the point just before his penning of the Holmes stories). Then I'll decide if I want to keep spending time in this droning book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There's Always...

...something new for me to bitch about.

I've moved into Allergies - Stage 2, which appears to be what originally triggered our suspicions that Something Is Wrong With Sherri. This morning, while not severely congested and with little actual sinus action, I am having that ol' tightness in my chest and trouble breathing.


I'm on the point of completely closing up the house and turning on the A/C, despite the fact it is in the 50s outside and looks like it might rain again. Yesterday's rain washed a LOT of pollen out of the air -- I saw those yellow rings around the puddles outside. But there's always a new pollen blooming out there. I don't yet know the growth cycles of the various flora to which I am allergic so I can't guess which one it is this time, but I'm betting it's one of the few that also grows in Florida, since the breathing thing started there.

The runny nose, congestion, and general ick is kinda S.C. specific -- well, outside of a cold. Allergies are a little like having a cold without the pretty colors in your snot. I'm pretty sure that, were I to run into an opportunistic virus, I'd have some sinus-eating disease by now.

Anyway, the decongestant is swallowed and I'm preparing to clean the kitchen sink so I can do the dreaded, hated, and totally disgusting sinus irrigation thing. Self inflicted near-drowning for health. Why is it all the things one should do for one's health are painful, icky, or unpleasant in some way? Whose idea was this? Those people probably gets off on enemas. I don't want to meet any of them.

*sigh* I also need to get a new filter for the vacuum and a better filter for the A/C system. You know, M. Night Shyamalam could have made The Happening by skipping the weird, behavior changing plant spoors into super potent pollen and having everyone die of sneezing and congestion. Would have freaked people right out because it's SO REAL.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

That's one of my favorite Moody Blues songs. I'm so dazed that it seems impossible that it actually is Tuesday afternoon already. My head, it is thoroughly mucked with.

Still in the throes of Allergies, although it is raining today and I'm holding out hope that will stick more pollen to the ground so I don't have to breathe it. I'm taking a Walgreen's generic with the bizarre name of "Wal-zyr-D". Seems to be working. It's still tricky to do any thinking or to try to concentrate on any particular task.

The Husband and I are mourning our late, lovely cat, LaGuz. I remember when I realized something about death. I was no more than 3 or 4 years old and my pet Parakeet, Robin, died. I've lost many pets and I'm familiar with it, but it never loses the sharpness. If I let myself live in fear of that pain, I'll never feel brave enough to love anyone or anything.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Summary in Bullet Points

Good Things
  • Joezer coming to visit
  • The Husband made gooey brownies
  • Watched 4 episodes of Farscape -- I've never seen the show
  • Perfect weather
  • Walk around the Botanical Gardens

Bad Things
  • Car got smashed by a hit and run driver
  • LaGuz, our old lady cat, is very bad off and we have decided to let her go died Monday morning
  • Sick with allergies, constant headache, coughing, and runny nose
  • Missed a friend's birthday party because of said allergies

I'm most upset about our cat. Of course I am upset about her. There's no challenge quite equal to that of losing someone or something you love to death, except perhaps dying one's self. LaGuz is refusing food and water, even her favorite things. She can barely walk. It's time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This World, It Is Odd

The officer from the Highway Patrol handling our case just stopped by. The guy who hit our car hurt his leg pretty badly (we couldn't figure out how he could have gotten away without a scratch) and he panicked, drove to the hospital, and got himself patched up.

Here's the kicker. When he got home, he called and turned himself in. He admitted that he probably fell asleep on his way home from work and was going too fast. We have his insurance information.

Do you believe that? The hospital did not report is as a vehicle-related injury, so he COULD have gotten away with it. But he was decent and honest about it.

Sometimes I think this world isn't so bad. He lives around the corner from us. I kinda want to send him a get well card or something.

It Goes On

The Husband was taking LaGuz to the vet this morning. She's still limping and he's worried (as am I). On the way there, not five minutes from the house, a large Harley overshot the curve, crossed the center line, creamed the side of my car, and kept on going.

He left behind a piece of his running boards, which is why we are sure it was a Harley. He trailed bits of my car yards along the road. Highway Patrol suspects he was either messed up on chemicals or driving on a suspended license, because otherwise -- what the hell? -- he would have stopped. They are looking for him, but I'm not holding my breath.

So, the entire driver's side of my car has been pretty nicely messed up. Side mirror is gone. Wheel covers are a loss. Front bumper has a hole. All four panels are crumpled. The car is drivable, but it ain't a happy thing.

LaGuz did not make it to the vet (short hours on Sat.)

Also -- $200 deductable on my insurance.

*sigh* Ok, that's all the drama I need for the week. It can stop now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another Not-So-Stellar Week

Allergies are completely kicking my ass. I think I pulled a muscle in my chest sneezing. I've even run a fever, although there is no sign of infection. I feel like the Atlantic is trying to fill my head.

LaGuz, our Kitty of Perpetual Worry, is limping badly on her rear right leg. We don't know why. She's eating (as much as she ever eats), drinking water, and when she wants to go somewhere, she just gets up and goes, although it is so painful to watch her that we carry her around until we figure out what she wanted (Potty? Water? Food? A different place to lay?) We are both concerned that she's coming to the end of her life and we just aren't paying attention, but she still wants to eat treats, she still shows occasional interest in playing, she still wants to be pet and snuggled, and she enjoys looking out the window -- totally normal cat stuff. So...on we go. I have this dread of going to look for her one morning and finding a little feline corpse.

Still no word on the job, so we've done nothing to the house as yet. We talk about it and think about it, but until we know if we are staying or going, we can't act. The Husband is churning through his last few weeks of school, hovering in that limbo land -- knowing the school has him scheduled to teach two classes next fall but not having a contract, wondering how we will survive over the summer, attending department meetings like a member of the faculty without actually being a member -- it's crazy making because it could all go up in a puff of dreams in a second with the magic words "We can't offer you a contract" are said.

And what if the other two positions he's applied for don't come around either? He hasn't found a lot of other potential positions. They would all mean moving somewhere else, too.

I'm waiting for the NiQuil to kick in so I can breathe. As soon as I can breathe, I intend to pass out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not Just Pollen

Pollen is back up after last week's cleansing rain. I'm not sneezing -- I have drugs -- but I have a runny nose and that sloshy feeling in my head.

But it's still beautiful here.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Good News

The Husband successfully defended his thesis, so he graduates. Now he has one class (the hated Art Class, which just goes to show an inexplicable teacher who believes himself capable of teaching talent can completely shut a willing student out of the learning process) to complete and he is all graduated and stuff.

Right now he's in the slightly chillier north interviewing for another job he's not sure he really wants in a place we aren't sure we really want to live. He's still hoping the University will come up with the money to hire him there. Yes, it would mean another year of living in this too-small townhome, but since by next Monday we should own that, we can make changes here we couldn't in a rental (like TOWEL BARS! and COLOR ON THE WALLS!), that's not so terrible a prospect as it otherwise might have been.

But, we must accept the If bunnies that collapse into Fact as they come.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Message

I've heard this message for years, but never managed to make it my own. I think this may have planted the idea -- at long last -- in my head. I know words have power. I think it words and they create my reality. It's time to take control of my reality.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson

I tend to avoid books that get a lot of attention, but reading the blurb at the library made me pick this one up. It was on short term loan so I bought my own copy to finish it.

This is a compulsive read. The style might be bumpy for those used to the 1st person/ narrow focus 3rd person point of view common to most modern mysteries. We have a big cast of characters and we get peeks of various lengths into the minds of several, but mostly we stick with the two protagonists. Lizbath Salander is by far the most enigmatic and therefore the most interesting, but Mikael Blomvkvist is the one with whom we spend much of our time. I'm sure there are some rough spots in the translation, too, but they didn't get in my way.

Characters are a big hunk of this book, and they make the plot move along. Set in Sweden, it took me a bit of time to get used to the names and other differences. I didn't labor over that, though -- once I got into the swing of the narrative, I was involved in watching the pieces come together. One thing I noted was the amount of computer tech info used, which is pretty up-to-date now, but I imagine will be dated and "old" in a few years. Still, it's well done and, again, does not get in the way. It's accurate enough not to trigger any "ain't no way" reactions from me, which is all I need.

What I liked best was what I like in any good mystery -- several threads, lots of possibilities without any obvious red herrings, and a surprise in the "whodunit". Information is fed out regularly through the narrative and the use of "now he knew" to get you to turn the next page, while obvious, worked and only felt a little contrived. Most of the threads were knotted off at the end, except for some that dangle for the sequels and aren't essential to the mystery (but are great for character development).

This book also contains some very horrific scenes of violence, in particular about violence against women (and a few violent actions against animals), but the book isn't ABOUT that. The book also contains a bit in the way of revenge fantasies. If you trigger on such descriptions, you might want to avoid the book, or at least have someone who has read it tell you were those sections are so you can skip them or get a synopsis. They do not make up a big portion of the book, and they either are part of the mystery or give insight into the characters. I'm looking forward to plowing into the next books in this trilogy and I hope they are equal to the first book.

Yeah, The Universe Has My Chain

News -- town house not being auctioned. Foreclosure forestalled. Closing date confirmed.

Also, the cat boxes (cleaned last night) suddenly contain MAJOR STINK. gah!

Is The Universe Jerking Me Around?

Latest thing...I'm waiting with some anxiety to find out what happens with the house. I was fine until Saturday.

You see, Saturday a strange man showed up at our door (in a repeat of the event that started this whole mess) wanting to look at the townhouse because it was going to auction on Monday. He and his partner wanted to buy it, but (he assured us) they could certainly look at any offer we wanted to make...

Being as we have a contract and a closing date, you might guess we were, shall we say, nonplussed? No, nonplussed isn't right. We were pissed and panicked. The paperwork to delay the foreclosure was supposed to have been filed last week! What the hell? Who was selling it out from under us? When were we supposed to find out? What's going on?

After some initial panicking with attendant running around in circles, the man told us that he printed out his list of local foreclosures over a week ago. His information could be out of date. We made some calls and checked the county website that lists auction properties -- this one isn't on the list. But we just are NOT sure. The agent says that the foreclosure paperwork went in on time and all should be well, but he can't be certain until Monday.

The auction is today. Monday. Wee. So, sometime tomorrow an If Bunny will stop hopping and we will know if we own this place or if we should start packing up.

Despite that, we took down the greenhouse, converted the pieces into a set of window awnings, and cleaned up the patio so it is pleasant to sit there. The fountain tinkles and burbles outside the window. The breeze blows cool. The azalea and rhododendron bloom. Later today I will clean and fill the bird feeders and hang them up, and clean out the pots of the plants that didn't survive winter. Life has to go on, right?

And we are still waiting to find out where The Husband will get a job. Might be here. Might be elsewhere. If Bunnies still hop -- the Easter Bunny ain't got nothin' on 'em.