Laying it all out there

I’ve made a point of being pretty open here. Not just because it helps me, but because others have told me it’s helped them- they see what it’s like, or can relate and appreciate knowing they aren’t the only ones feeling stuff.   It’s not always easy, because writing this stuff out makes me deal with it, look it straight in the eyes and really see it. I’m the sort who compartmentalizes. It might be the sort of day where The Sad is enormous, but something really important needs doing (like, say, a final exam) and I can’t use a foggy excuse like The Sad to get out of it. I’m not special…and it is not reasonable to ask the instructor to postpone just for me, just because I’m surrounded by existential fog.

Here’s a thing (ok, laying it out here…)…I miss having A Person. Sometimes, I’m at church and there’s a couple in front of me, who’ve been married forever and he has his arm around her, or they’re holding hands or something…so comfortable in their relationship and kind of being each other’s second skin. It hurts tremendously to realize there isn’t anyone with whom I will share the moments of…getting the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree for $3…or roofing the carport before the hurricane hit…renovating a couple of houses…shooting at clay pigeons…RAISING 4 CHILDREN…..30 years of growing up. No one to share that with hurts.

Oh sure, I hear all the time (and read, etc) “Christ is your Heavenly Husband” and I get that! There is a lot of comfort in it and that knowledge sees me through some real angst. But, He isn’t HERE, tasting the soup and telling me it’s delicious (or needs more garlic). He’s not out in the shop, happily making sawdust and noise or taking up the entire dining table cleaning his guns.  At this point much of the time I can set all that aside and deal with the here-and-now, but sometimes…sometimes I can’t. I just can’t.  Sometimes those memories and all leak through the tough and resilient (that’s what someone called me but they don’t see me at times like these) facade and I feel like I’ve cracked apart.

There is this method of pottery repair called Kintsugi, that’s used in Japan, where the broken pieces are put back together with a lacquer mixed with gold powder. The result is something beautiful, that incorporates the repair instead of disguising it.  Maybe this is what can happen to a person who’s gone through grief. Is it possible to use the experience to grow into something more useful, different and possibly better, than what was there before? I don’t know. Maybe. As with any serious growth it hurts…a lot…but holding onto the assurance (this is based on experience…past growth hurt a lot too, but always turned into something useful and good…also always brought me closer to God and that’s a good thing) that a real purpose is in there makes it possible to deal with the deep ache of loss.

Image result for kintsugi

Now, I don’t see being glued back together with gold, but definitely the pieces have been picked up and are getting fit together…though a giant hunk was ground into powder and is irretrievable…but I am confident somehow I’ll be useful. I don’t know how, but the door was opened for school and that is going VERY well, so something will come out of it, that is part of The Plan God Has For Me. I don’t know if it’s actual employment using the skills I’m being taught, or if it’s something else…I’m trying to be open to whatever.

But in the meantime, and probably (according to the experiences of others who’ve been through similar stuff) for the rest of this earthly life, I’ll have The Sads now and then…and I’m ok with that. But it still hurts, I still have trouble with seeing people long married. At this moment, however, I need to compartmentalize. I have a final exam in a couple of hours and it would be wise to be able to see through the fog and review some notes.



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Tis the season

I reckon it’s time to start baking. If I think about it, a trip to the Dollar Store will happen today, for the mini-loaf pans (5/$1). Many years ago I started making little pound cakes and soaking them in a bourbon syrup. Letting them fester marinate for a while meant they were potent and tasty. Likely I’ll have to buy bourbon for once…Himself always had some but I think it’s all gone now.

I’ll make marshmallows, too. #2’s girlfriend expressed a curiousity  cueriousity  dangummit..interest in them. They’re easy to make but no one seems to know that, so are super impressed with them. A few marshmallows, a bit of hot chocolate mix, and a couple of biscotti make a lovely friends-gift. And you can bang it all out at once for about $20.

This week is Finals Week at school. I have 2- in Leadership and in Office Procedure. Those 2 classes were odd to take together. One is How To be A Boss and the other is How To Be A Not-Boss. Pretty comprehensive stuff there! I’m passing all the classes pretty handily. Only in Algebra, which I’m actually passing well with a solid 84%, but that feels like a failure almost, because…well…it’s not a high 90’s like the other ones. I have to keep telling myself a solid mid-B is nothing to be ashamed of. 35 years ago I didn’t give a rat’s ass about my grades, I don’t know why it matters so mu…oh wait. yes I do. Financial aid (grants) are dependent on keeping a high GPA. Which I am, but still. Plus there’s the whole “By Golly I’m going to do this with flying colors because I have something to prove to the Young Whelps in the class” plus I like it when the instructors call me “scary”.

#2’s birthday is Wednesday. I think he’ll be 27? but figuring that out requires arithmetic and I’m in algebra mode.  Traditionally I fix whatever they want (no matter how Out There) for dinner. Now that he’s a Grown Man that will be my gift to him. If the others want to get him something that is up to them.

Christmas last year was such a non-event. Understandably and I don’t look back with any regret about that. This year I am hoping to do a bit more. I can think about Himself without choking up. It doesn’t grab me with teeth anymore. I do have some trouble looking through old photos, and I keep coming across them in the oddest places, like in the piano bench or a dresser drawer.  I think about mortality a lot more now. It is inevitable, isn’t it. Our bodies are these miraculous creations that are so complicated and function in peculiar ways, and yet they are so temporary and it only takes a small thing to shut them down entirely. I know that on a deeper level now. It isn’t something I shove away and pretend doesn’t exist and even with that I’m not worried or fearful. The temporary nature of corporeal life is just that- temporary. We’re on a proving ground here- and soon (in the grand scheme of things) we will be Elsewhere- I’ll see Terry again, and my Grandparents, Aunt Martha and Uncle Edward (I wonder if she’ll still be shoving tissues up her nose so her hands will be free)…and many others.   The thought of getting to Heaven makes the work of living on Earth worthwhile, even with the physical shortcomings and psychological/emotional hardships…all of it works together to make us who we are and even with that, as God’s children we are loved and cherished. Why else would God sacrifice his own Son for our sake? Would I be willing to sacrifice myself for the sake of the rest of the world? Probably not- I’m a coward like that.

But, in the mean time and because I’m a human being with limited insight, I’ll stick with the month of December and hope to make it through mentally intact. Hopefully marshmallows and biscotti will help me keep it together.

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One step at a time…or something.

ok, the Thanksgiving Hurdle has been hurdled. It’s difficult to do that with a belly full of carbs but there it is, behind me and i didn’t even knock it down going over it. Probably because the expectations were low, and were met (and then some). It all went well, I think. First, dinner and visiting with Himself’s family 3 hours north of here, then a day at home, then 4 hours west to Alabama to see my family (an aunt from Texas was there, as well as Bro. Scott), and yesterday back home, where #2’s girlfriend made an amazing dinner.

I was essentially looking at these several days, with no consideration toward anything after, it took all my concentration to be cheerful…I don’t regret that, but it wasn’t something that came naturally. While in Alabama I spent a good bit of time in The New House, with a tape measure figuring out where furniture will fit and how large the bathroom vanity can be without impeding getting around in the room. Details about all that at A New House for Rootie.  Bro. Scott and I spent some time at the pond, annihilating a stump and some metal shingles with .22’s and a .45. We didn’t have any tannerite and I didn’t feel like going into town (again) so nothing got blown up. Stumps were safe for the day.

Now, I have final exams upcoming, and some catch-up work to do in one class that won’t have a final (THANK YOU Mr. Smith!). I won’t worry any about Christmas until after that. Besides, it’s not very wintery here. The leaves have just reached their color peak, which, even though I’ve lived in The South since I was 9, I still think that should happen early October and we should require heaters and firewood by now. But no. Instead we don’t require air conditioning and that is just about as wintery as it gets.

#4 and I listened to some Christmas music…not really Christmas stuff but more Winter stuff like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and the like, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, etc. That was…well, I guess that’s how people in Palm Springs feel when they listen to stuff like that.  I remember when #3 was in elementary school (in Central Alabama), and there was a “Winter Concert” (because the school was very inclusive and didn’t sing any traditional religious-toned Christmas songs). In this concert they sang a goofy song called “Snow Pants”. Himself and I pondered that, wondering if any of those kids even knew what snow pants were. I knew, I’d gone to Elementary school in Illinois, up nearish Chicago.The school was about a 4 block walk from my house, so of course I wore snow pants in the winter. I remember a kid named Melvin laughing at me for taking them off when I got to school. He loudly announced to the entire hallway that I was TAKING OFF MY PANTS.  I was not embarrassed, I thought he was an idiot because I wasn’t about to wear them all day. However, I was pretty sure none of those Central Alabama kids (particularly since it was an in-town school full of professors children, who likely didn’t hunt nor even approve of pop-guns, so wouldn’t have insulated coveralls for the 4am hunts) knew of snow pants, insulated parkas, or gloves with the string that went through the arms of the coat so they wouldn’t get lost.

While listening to the Martin and Sinatra, I decided not to do that anymore. Christmas Carols, the sacred type, are what I want. Or maybe that Windham Hill Winter Solstice collection…that’s nice, all instrumental stuff, peaceful and likely to prevent the sitting-down-feeling-sads…or at least won’t cause them.

I also came to a decision, now that all my offspring are adults. I’m not going to do so much of the piles-of-gifts under the tree anymore. They’re all old enough to figure out how to get what they want and don’t need stuff from me. I’m not doing money, either. Ditto the old-enough. I think, this year, I’m going to prepare a super fine feast. They can take home leftovers.  I mean a serious thing, roast beast, yorkshire puddings, gravy,and horseradish. Mashed potatoes (because gravy, amirite?), roasted crucifers of some sort…I’ll work that out via Epicurious menu suggestions. Wine (a nice languedoc or malbec), and some kind of dessert involving custard. Girlfriend wants to produce the Christmas morning breakfast she grew up with- kielbasa and cheap champagne, and that sounds good to me!   The decision came to me on the way home from Alabama yesterday. I couldn’t really figure out what to get everyone for Christmas, and…I don’t really want to make the whole months a big hoo-haa anyway. Though, my last day of school is the 3rd, so I basically have 3 weeks to do with as I please and could make all sorts of things.

Anyway, that’s the plan for the moment, as all plans are, they are subject to change at whim. Which is the nice part about being me…as The Queen around here I can change whims all I like and no one can do anything about it.

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Here it comes again

I’m sitting here in this comfortable chair, wearing a warm bathrobe that I bought last year about this time (because I wanted to. It’s soft pink, cashmere, and ridiculously comfortable) (and it was on sale.) (for half price) and fuzzy red slippers that don’t match the robe visually, but definitely do in warmth and comfort. This time last year I was just coming down off a cruise with a friend, having used it to gird my loins for the upcoming holidays, the first one spent without Himself. Those holidays went smoothly enough. we kept them very low-key. I put out only the decorations I felt like putting out, and chose to feel absolutely no obligation to do anything more than I absolutely felt like doing. I don’t even think I listened to any Christmas music- something in the past went on the afternoon of December 1 (Nov. 30 is #2’s birthday and we didn’t Do Christmas until after that, out of respect for his birthday and that Himself’s birthday was January 6 and tended to get swallowed up) (We made Father’s Day like a birthday instead…it was a Big Deal around here).

This year, I’m still kind of gently poking the idea of Christmas Stuff. It’s like a spot you think might still be sore but aren’t sure, so you prod around delicately, seeing if there’s a flinch or a wince…so far, no. But then it is different now. There’s more people in the house. Last year it was #4 and me. This year, #2 and Girlfriend are here so it’s fuller, and I feel a little more like decorating and making it pretty. To be honest, I hadn’t felt like decorating much for several years, even pre-Himself Is Gone. I don’t know why. This year, I kind of do want to put the garland on the stair rail, with all the beads and lights and stuff. I think putting out the myriad Santa Mugs would be fun. I still don’t, however, particularly want to put up a big live tree. Even as nice as it makes the house smell, a decent Yankee Candle would do the same.

Thanksgiving is…well. Interesting. We’re kind of doing it 3 times. Yesterday we all (except for #3, Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin, as they’re in Alabama and had to work) went up north 3 hours to spend the day with Himself’s family. MIL cooked a fine feast, #2’s Girlfriend cooked a cauliflower casserole (after I’d expressed and inability to figure out what to take, and she works on a farm that is currently harvesting cauliflower so we have an abundance of it, due to her bringing home an “ugly”,thus unsaleable tho perfectly edible, one every night.) and there was much sitting around, talking, looking at old photographs (which I could participate in only briefly before having to take a breather, but I am thankful for it, as #1 spent time with his grandmother), visiting OlderBrother’s truck farm and seeing the improvements he’s making, and generally realizing I still have a family with them. That was nice. Kind of emotional after the fact, but touching, and…even though we’d had our difficult moments relationally, still being accepted as part of it all is pretty wonderful. (now my eyes are leaking again)

Tomorrow #4 and I are going to Alabama (#’s 1,2 and Girlfriend have to work) to see my side of the family. Texas Aunt and Bro. Scott will be there, and I Have Plans. I will see #3, Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin. I want to blow up some stuff (if it’s not too dry) and shoot some stuff (not live things, but metal things that give a satisfying *PING* to let you know your aim is true). I’m smoking a turkey today, to take. Bro. Scott and I will get in the kitchen and  bicker discuss the optimal way to prepare the sides. Likely cauliflower will be involved. Mom might be convinced to make a pie.

#4 and I will return Thursday morning. Girlfriend has mentioned a desire to Cook A Dinner, and there is another turkey in the spare fridge, defrosting. #2 said he’d like to smoke it…so I’m not going to do it the same time I smoke the first one, and will instead allow him free rein to do as he pleases with it. He has been smoking all sorts of things, because #3 welded a new bottom to my rusted out gas smoker (way easier than charcoal as you don’t have to monitor it like it’s a 7 year old practicing the piano). Girlfriend has mentioned things along the lines of “mashed potatoes and gravy” and “stuffing” and many other things that all work together for a food coma-inducing feast. I think she said something about pie as well.

Somewhere in here I’m supposed to be studying for final exams next week. The printer isn’t working right or I’d have all the study notes on paper and would carry them around with me to read in spare moments (between blowing stuff up and chasing the Grandpunkin). Oh well, there’s only 2 exams so I’ll just do the best I can later in the week.

So for now, I’ve tabled the Christmas thoughts, and will focus on this week and all the family stuff. I’m not really even sure what I’m going to do for gifts for everyone. Last year I faked it with smiles. Maybe this year I’ll get around to making cookies and marshmallows. Or not. Maybe I’ll just make noises about how the second year is just as hard as the first, but in a different way. Which is totally is. It’s different, no longer raw and bleeding, but stiff, like a new scar that needs to be stretched and worked, but you still have to be careful not to tear it back open. It’s still very tender, too.

It all feels different though. Kind of like…well…this time last year, I felt like I was curled up in a ball and ignoring the world. It felt like that was OK, too. God came along and tucked a blanket around me and gave me permission to sleep in. Now I’m not sleeping in, but sort of shuffling around in my robe and slippers, sniffling from a spiritual headcold and God is handing me a box of tissues and a cup of hot tea, telling me I’ll feel better eventually. I know I will, I do already. But I sure do miss Himself right now.

Anyway, it’s time to get dressed and get the turkey in the smoker. Himself loved a smoked turkey.

How to Smoke a Turkey:

Make sure the turkey is fully thawed out. Pat it down good so it’s all dry on the outside.   (Find someone to help with the next step, especially if it’s a big one)

Stuff the body cavity with your favorite dried herbs. I like a blend of thyme, oregano, and one or two stems of rosemary.

Hold the tail end of the turkey up to your face, and have the friend light the herbs with a match or a candle (using a lighter will make it taste like kerosene) and blow gently on the herbs until they catch fire (that’s why dried herbs are best)

Huff the smoke coming out of the tail end. If you’re brave you can put the tail in your mouth and use it like a smoke conduit or something.

There. You’ve just smoked a turkey.

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there has been an unusually large amount of household failure the past couple of weeks- not personal people failures (as far as that goes, things are peachy), but the general STUFF that makes this Modern Household function in the comfortable way for which this 21st Century woman has become accustomed.

Image result for ma ingalls

Ok, I’m going to list it all out. For shock value, then I’m going to put it all into perspective, because I’m binge-watching Little House On The Prairie.

The first thing that happened was the stove quit working. It started acting a little fractious (it has electronics) then quit working entirely. Well, the oven anyway. It’s electric. The top is gas so with a lighter I was able to use it.  I googled fixing it, made use of a Nearly-Electrical Engineer Who Can Read A Wiring Diagram, then called a repairman. He came, fiddled with it, and said there was something wrong with the household wiring.

Now, I am one to go immediately to The Worst Possible Scenario, and had visions of the house burning down. So I bought batteries for the smoke detectors, and checked my insurance policy. I needed to bake something, so called a friend to use her stove. She recommended an electrician, who came out almost immediately, and figured out it was the breaker, and replaced it. Oven now works, though the timer on it doesn’t. I’ll take what I can get and worry about the timer later because…

The hot water heater quit working. I called Dad, who said things like “thermostat and elements” and something about a particular type of socket thing for removing the element. I was going to Home Depot anyway, so picked up replacements and called the electrician. I forgot the socket thing. The electrician came back out and replaced the thermostats and said they were working, but later I discovered there still was no hot water. The elements needed replacing too. I drained the tank, and #2 Son and Girlfriend did all manner of attempts to replace it, and discovered that no, the tank wasn’t drained. instead it was refilling itself as fast as the water was coming out. And they couldn’t get the elements out either. Upon trying to turn off the water valve going into the tank, it was discovered that it was corroded open, and the knob on top broke off and now the whole valve assembly needs to be replaced. And it’s copper pipes so a plumber who can weld copper pipes needs to do it. And this was a Saturday night.

Also, the microwave oven quit working. By this time I was thinking things like “conspiracy” and “poltergeist” and “the house is jealous of the new house” and “ok the wiring really is bad and I simply cannot afford to have the whole house rewired I just can’t” #2 (Nearly-An-Electrical Engineer) expressed excitement at the failure of the microwave and requested to disassemble it and use the parts to build a Tesla Death Ray with the maser. I considered it, and thought perhaps he could aim it at the house. Because I don’t think there’s anything in the insurance policy about Death Rays. However, I am not interested in being complicit in the construction of something called a Death Ray so suggested he find the parts elsewhere.

In the process of working on the water heater, there was water spillage, and towel usage. this necessitated washing machine usage. The washer started making a squealing noise during the spin cycle. I’m choosing to assume it’s a belt thing, but since it is a FancyPants washer and not a bucket with a washboard, it’s probably also a soon-to-be catastrophic failure, because that’s the way things seem to be going around here. At least it’s not something electrical.  However…no. Not however. No more about that. Done.

The cat has a cold and is hoarse (I know it’s a cold and not something more sinister, because she’s had it before and that’s what the vet said. Also she’s a Precious Precious Princess™©® and has allergies. The dog’s tail is bald (also allergies). #4 did about 87 loads of laundry yesterday and it’s all piled around the office (which includes proximity to the chair in which I am now sitting). At least if I try to get out of the chair and fall over from Appliance Despair I’ll have a soft landing.

Now for the perspective part…

Like I said, I’m binge-watching Little House On The Prairie. I don’t have to cook in a fireplace. (I could, though. The fireplace is clean and functional and I know where I could borrow some cast iron with feet. Also I totally know how.)  I have large pots in which I can heat water for hygiene needs. I am not an oil field roughneck so my hygiene needs are minimal. The others in the household can shower at #1’s place (I’m not going to do that but I do have friends I could ask if needs must). Ma Ingalls didn’t have a shower, or even a bathtub. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing her perform any sort of personal task like that. I never even saw her use the outhouse. She is a magical unicorn with no digestion, and my role model.

I have a very comfortable bed and a completely functional heat pump, plus I live in a place where heat needs are minimal. I have lovely warm sweaters, and a stove on which I can heat water for tea. Also the coffee make works. If it dies I’ll just go to the local agricultural supply place and get one of those campfire percolators and make coffee on the (functional!) stove, which, if it quits again, I can use it in the fireplace.

The cars work (yes, plurality of cars. I’m overrun with 21st Century conveniences). Everyone is in good health. I was able to negotiate some insurance though the recent election will likely see that change. I have proven myself capable of dealing with enormous change on very short notice so I’ll handle that when the time comes.

Last night, I was sitting at the table with #2’s Girlfriend. She’s a self sufficient sort who fixes stuff, and was deeply frustrated with the water heater. She kept apologizing for not fixing it and I kept telling her not to worry, what happened would have happened to anyone etc. It is all just inconvenient.

Perspectives really change. When something the world considered The Worst Thing Ever (that is, the death of a spouse on whom you relied for nearly everything) happened, I’ve become rather blase’ about hot water heaters and stoves and microwave ovens. I feel sorry for the dog’s naked tail, but she isn’t gnawing on it or anything, it’s just kind of ugly. And I don’t think dogs are particularly vain like that anyway. I was thinking if it came down to it, I would quit school (though I would suck it up until the end of the semester in 3 weeks)) and go ahead and move to Alabama. I’d find someone who could take #4 in for 6 months, until he graduates, and offer them room and board for him. Then I’d put this house on the market as a “fixer-upper” and start over. I have that option. Not everyone does, but I do and for that (as well as many other things) I am ridiculously fortunate.  but, because of the discombobulation and frustration and overpowering grief that came with Himself’s death, all this business with the stove and water heater and everything else is just inconvenience. And minor inconvenience at that.  If Himself were here, he’d know exactly what to do about each thing that went wrong. He’d have the tools handy, and the know-how to use them. He’d have known to check the breaker as soon as the stove acted wonky. He’d have known exactly what to do with the water heater and valve and everything. BUT, he isn’t and now I know what to do NEXT time stuff starts acting up. That makes me feel pretty good. I also know breakers aren’t $100 each (I had no idea) and new water heaters aren’t $1000 (at least not the kind I would/could/possibly need. Of course I checked.)

Image result for straw on a camel's back

With each thing that has gone wrong, I had 2 options. I could flip out and act as though it were another straw on the proverbial camel’s back, or I could laugh and think “you won’t break me. I won’t let you” and be thankful I’m not in a Conastoga wagon in the deepest wilds of Minnesota, trying to make a tasty meal out of cornmeal and a piece of beef jerky. Laughing is easier.


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Excel, ya bitch

So yeah. It’s a super powerful program and mighty handy in many, many ways. I get that. It’s also picky as all gitout and if you don’t put something in EXACTLY right, it won’t work. I get that too. Problem is, I’m very much a “close enough” type person. If the recipe calls for a cup of milk and I have 3/4 cup, I’ll fill the extra 1/4 with water and call it “close enough”. If the pattern calls for 4 yards of fabric, and I have 3-3/4, I’ll squeeze it in there and call it “close enough”. In my opinion, recipes and patterns and directions for most anything are general suggestions and not absolute commands.

I never would have made it in the Military. One of us would have given in and it wouldn’t have been me.

So, now I’m dealing with a thing that requires absolute commands and the comma better be just right and NO EXTRA SPACES AND FOR GOSH SAKES DO NOT FORGET THAT CLOSE PARENTHESIS! and I’m kind of having a hard time with it.

Oh sure, the first unit, half of the entire semester, was spent learning how to make a spreadsheet pretty. I don’t know if they were trying to ease us into something before they hit us over the head with a giant anvil dropped from a cliff, or what. I’da preferred they started with the hard stuff, THEN taught us how to change the font and background. At least that way I wouldn’t get overconfident and all. I would have knuckled under and sucked it up (and other cliche’s about dealing with a thing) and then had a lovely respite while putting in backgrounds and underlining Total columns.

But they never asked me. No one ever does (pout). (this is me, not spooling up into a loud and loquacious whine about being taken for granted and how I am expected to be prepared for any situation at all times and why doesn’t anyone ever take care of ME for a change, etc)

But I digress.

Excel…I mean…this program we are using to apparently LEARN Excel, is so incredibly tooky (that’s Southern and it’s kind of a blend of fussy, particular, picky, and stubborn) and it won’t accept anything other than EXACTLY what the programmer put in there to accept, NO EXCEPTIONS. And, most of the formuli can be entered in myriad ways (so, if they aren’t going to accept the myriad ways of entering, then why is it programmed to be able to USE myriad ways? Hm? Answer me that.) then WHY does the learning program only accept ONE way of entering it, and one has to go through the litany of ways before happening upon the Proper One, and because one is tired and frustrated, one NEVER remembers WHICH ONE IT WAS. By the time it tells me I put in the right one, the right one IS NO LONGER DISPLAYED so I can’t even screenshot it as a reference.

And the problem, really, (for me) is that I am now a couple of chapters behind and that GRIPES MY GUT. I’ve been youtubing (I love how that’s a verb now) tutorials and I found an excellent series done by this young Indian guy and because it has subtitles, I can stop it and do the step…but still. This is really…outside my comfort zone.

Which, I know,I know, it’s good to step outside one’s comfort zone because that’s how we learn and grow. But, this muddy pit outside my flower-lined bread-baking comfort zone is a messy place and feels gross on my toes. And it’s tracking on my psychological floor. If I could get someone to sit down right here, and say “ok, put this is here, and this is why you want to do that” I think I’d have an easier time of it. But, what the tutorial program does is say “Do this complicated thing using nested =If, =And, =Or, with these 4 parameters, and YOU’D BETTER DO IT THE RIGHT WAY OR THE WHOLE PAGE WILL TURN ORANGE AND TAKE OUT AN AD IN THE LOCAL PAPER TELLING EVERYONE IN TOWN WHAT A LOSER YOU ARE” all that with an unpleasant sound. And people wonder why I sit in the back of the room.

no dowager countess downtown abbey forbid

I’ve been wrestling with it since 8(it’s now 10:30) with only a break for a piece of toast, and am making NO progress at all. I’ve gone back through each lesson carefully until I could do them without any reference to the book, and then the end-of-chapter quiz, I get 1/3 the way through and this dour voice…I can see her head in one hand and the other hand waving around as she says a disgusted “NO NO…NOT LIKE THAT.” because the tasks on the quiz are markedly different from the ones in the tutorials.

I know. I’m going on and on about it. This afternoon will be a pleasant break from it. I’m taking #4, a friend, and another friend to The Place With The Therapeutic Hamburgers, and then on to an old church in South Carolina to have #4’s Senior Pictures taken. The other 3 boys weren’t interested in such foolishness, but #4 loves him foolishness and also has a delightful flair for the dramatic. Mom got him a Suit…not just ANY suit, but a fine, fine handsewn kilt, Prince Charlie coat and vest, and all the swag to go with. Pictures forthcoming, I guarantee it.

Kind of like this, only blonde, and 17, and not 6’3″. And with glasses. And probably a smirk. Definitely with a smirk.

But until then, Excel and I are going to have a Come to Jesus moment. I’ma go all Highlander if it doosn’t fall in line.

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Yes, but…

When I get to feeling Picked On, you know, in that “life sucks” or “why me?” sort of way, it’s helpful to start listing things. And you know this morning I was feeling mighty, mighty picked on. (that’s polite Southern Lady for “pissy”). Here’s why, and the Yes, But that goes with:

My stove isn’t working. It’s a very fancy electronic thing and the electronics have failed somehow. I can use the cooktop because it’s gas. Only, this morning when I came to fix breakfast, not only was it STILL not working in spite of someone saying they’d get that much working, I couldn’t find the lighter I was using. FINE THEN, I thought, YOU GET COLD LEFTOVER GRITS, AND YOU GET NOTHING. and all that spooled into all sorts of reasons why I was feeling picked on and nobody loves me and I’m so taken advantage of even though I try.

Yes, but…I have a roof over my head and a comfortable bed and the stove being out is a minor hiccup in the grand scheme of things. nothing more serious than a pebble in my shoe. Also, I called a repairman.

Yes but…I’ll bet he’s going to charge as much as it would cost to get a new stove altogether.

Yes, but you don’t know that for sure.

Also, the windows have been open for a solid month now with no need for either heat or a/c.

Yes, but I’m not used to not having a stove and I’m…

so incredibly privileged I don’t even know it. Refrigeration and fresh food, clean safe drinking water, coffee every morning, a way to go wherever, hamburgers….

I’m not ready to apologize for the temper tantrum of this morning even though it wasn’t exactly graceful. Sometimes one needs to have a tantrum just to everyone else will remember to take you seriously.

And I didn’t break anything (that was particularly important). And there was a bowl of leftover cheese grits in the fridge, that could be microwaved and turned into a semblance of a hot breakfast. So I don’t really know why I was whining so loudly.

I can’t even blame it on PMS anymore.

*shrug*. I’m going to sit here and wait on the stove repairman, who said he’d be here after 2, which in Repairmanese means “sometime after 2 and possibly before next week”.

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