Author: leilani

Cartwheelies in My Mind

Cartwheelies in My Mind

I achieved the impossible today. Drumroll, please:

I finally recovered all my old WordPress posts, going all the way back to 2007. It took switching hosting companies again (something I had to do regardless) and a few other details, but any way you call it, I’m glad to finally have all my crap back. It’s still crap, but it’s my crap, dammit.

Speaking of my crap, I handed off my latest novel to my first-line editor. I plan to use at least a few of ’em, whoever I can con into… er, that is, wheedle… oh who am I kidding? I was right the first time, ha! This book is sort of a romance, but I don’t do romance. I’m shitty at romance even in reality, so I’m atrocious at writing it. I fully expect my editor to kick it back to me with a swift kick to the keister, telling me I need to rewrite probably 85 to 90% of it. But thank God, when she does, she’ll also point out what’s wrong, which will hopefully jump start my brain on the project.

In the meantime, I’m writing more familiar territory, a non-fiction work based on a fistful of interviews with stone readers. No, not stoned readers, which is a whole ‘nother kind of smoking gun. I’m talking people who do crystal readings for other people. It’s an interesting concept, and the book in progress has generated a fair amount of buzz, which is a novelty for me. There’s no established status quo for the process, as with tarot or even tea leaves. I’ve talked to a handful of readers (there aren’t many willing to share), each relating different take on the phenomenon. I’m touching on them all in the book, but focusing primarily on one particular style. I chose the one I did because like tarot readings, it’s something the average person can learn.

I can’t teach the average person to pick up a rock, hold it to their forehead, and tell someone’s fortune. I won’t judge the person who mentioned doing that, but I’d call that method the most “out-there” of the bunch. It’s right up there with the gypsy who stares into a crystal ball to read the future. And yes, there really are people who say they can do so. The technical term for it is scrying.

I bet you never knew there was a technical term for using a crystal ball before, didja, huh? I sure didn’t. I do now.

Had to give a nod to new mommy April the Giraffe. Given they’re now an endangered species, like pretty much every other animal man can use for target practice, I say, “Good job!” I normally don’t go in for all the hoopla, and didn’t sit glued to the screen over the critter’s birth, but I applaud it nonetheless.

Work has been its own challenge. Some aspects have been awesome, some disappointing. You know. Like it was a job or something. Go figure. Worked today. You want irony? We got holiday pay for Good Friday, but NOT for Easter Sunday. It’s another layer of weirdness in working for a company where the headquarters are in the UK. Wonder if we’ll get a holiday for Boxing Day?

For the record, my previous employer didn’t pay holiday pay for Easter or Good Friday. We just worked the hours and did our best to hang in there. Since things at the current job were so dead today, I got kicked out early (with pay) by a couple of hours. I was glad for it, because it wasn’t one of my better days in terms of health. I was hurting and exhausted. Very little sleep happened last night. And it’s late enough tonight I’ve got to sign off and call it a night.

Ciao. For now.

 

Cheap Cheep and the Flying Dutchman

Cheap Cheep and the Flying Dutchman

I get irked as hell when WordPress defies my ability to publish a page. I had a post all typed out, including photos, and yet it denied me the PUBLISH button, which was grayed out. It happens every time I paste in text, regardless of how innocuous. It’s infuriating as shit.

Aaaanyway….

If you’re reading me and you’re not reading my pal Dangerspouse, you’re missing out in a huge way. He’s funny, outrageously irreverent, about as politically incorrect as it gets short of supporting Trump and the Nazi Party, and did I mention funny?

In addition to his day gig as a big stah of radio, Danger is a real, honest-to-goodness chef. Like, he graduated from chef school or something. (Read his blog for the specifics, because I’m too lazy to look up all his culinary credentials. Just be aware that he’s seriously, horrendously politically incorrect, and his wife eggs him on in no uncertain terms.) So today, his post covered radio stuff and cooking. Go figure, huh?

The point being, he mentioned the creation of kakiage, which was created with a solitary chicken breast, a few veggies, and some batter. I can truly say I’ve never made or even heard of kakiage before, but making a meal with a single chicken breast and some veggies? Oh honey, I’ve stretched that chicken breast so far its rubber band broke, then I tied it together and stretched it some more. I’ve come home to a fridge so empty it echoed. I get it. And as Danger pointed out, when faced with a nigh-empty fridge, it doesn’t mean you can’t be inventive.

With that same chicken and veggies, I probably would’ve opted for curry over rice. (Hey, he didn’t say his pantry was bare, and mine virtually always contains rice and several other staples.) Or maybe a pot pie. I’ve been known to turn a piece of chicken and some veggies into some kind of soup, depending on what’s in the pantry – noodles, rice, or bread to make croutons. I’ve made chicken quesadillas, or paninis. And use of chicken breast, cheese, and tortilla doesn’t have to produce a typical Mexican quesadilla. You could combine the ingredients and sauces for an Italian twist, dipping in marinara, or an American one with ranch dressing. The pantry and imagination are your only limitations.

When I cook, I do “stage” cooking. Stage one: simple meat/poultry/fish – i.e., ham with mashed potatoes and a veggie. Bland but filling. With the leftover ham, throughout the week, I can make split pea soup, scalloped potatoes, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, and/or a quiche. I break up the ham-fest by alternating with chicken, fish, or beef, but that ham gets worked to death. Chicken goes through a similar trajectory, albeit used sooner since it has a shorter fridge life. Quesadillas, soups, whatever. Fish is generally a one-off because there are rarely if ever leftovers, but I wouldn’t be averse to doing similar if the potential arose.

It’s not so much fancy-schmancy training. It’s being a mom on a budget and kids who are picky eaters. You learn to make everything stretch, with a minimum of repeat meals. Danger’s right – you don’t need to settle for boring.

Ride

The above photo arrived in my work email this week, whereupon the spousal unit identified himself as the “Flying Dutchman”. (I assume everyone reading here is aware my spouse is from The Netherlands, ergo the “Dutchman” part of that.) This golf cart is technically owned by a neighbor, but said neighbor has two and not enough space to store them. Plus he can’t drive both at once, and all attempts to sell the second one have come up empty. Hubby’s health is deteriorating – haven’t gone into all the gory details here, but it’s true – so now he has some wheels to help him tool through the area. This set of wheels is therefore on loan to my better half indefinitely.

My work is on the verge of exploding, so it’s doubtful I’ll be updating this blog any time soon. My time online is limited as it is, but when our “season” kicks in – and it’s starting now – it’ll be a miracle if I have any online time at all. The flip side of that is that my income should go up. International Space Station up. Between overtime and bonus bumps, I hope to bring home a pretty penny over the next few months. One of my colleagues, who’s been working there for a while, said she brought home over $3000 a week last year. That’s a WEEK, not a MONTH.  I doubt I’ll hit those echelons, because she worked some sixteen hour days, but I’m hoping to break into the range of $1000-2000 a week during the rush. Given our current living expenses, that should let us sock back some serious cash.

We know we need to do three things in the short term, most likely in this order. We plan to buy a bigger storage shed, a bigger place, and a new vehicle.

You see, my husband is a pack rat. He’s not quite to the level of the hoarders you see on TV, but only because I’m holding him back. Everything I own – and I do mean everything – fits into a 2’x4′ closet, four small drawers, and a small suitcase.

Hubby has his closet, several drawers, the second bedroom closet, the second bedroom, our shed, a neighbor’s shed, space under the deck, a 7.5′ bookcase, our lone surviving nightstand, his “office space” (translation: literally half the living room) and so on. You get the idea. A bigger storage shed would give me a little reprieve, but I want to get a place big enough I can cordon off a spot to call my own. Yes, I know it’ll be temporary, but I’ll take it.

Alternative Irony

Alternative Irony

It finally dawned on me why so many people voted for Trump.

It’s simple, when you think about it.

Politicians never keep their campaign promises. Never. Think about it. It’s the assumption that they’re lying out of their collective assets.

Therefore…

Nobody once considered the possibility that Trump might actually carry through on what he said he’d do if elected to office. And yet, he did. He did exactly what he said he’d do, and more. He began the systematic and fast-paced dismantling of our nation’s government, twisting the last shreds of democracy into ironclad dictatorship of the 1%. We voted for this beast as a nation, and we got what we as a nation asked for. In what is possibly the most ironic moment in human history, a man’s honesty was our downfall.

To be fair, I still don’t like Clinton and am not sure how much of an improvement that shitstorm would have been. As a Trumpkin pointed out – not without justification – it’s not like the Clintons were exactly paragons in their business and political dealings, either. I voted Clinton with a proverbial gun held to my head – the Trump gun. Had the GOP offered a moderate (yes, despite all evidence to the contrary, there once existed moderate Republicans), I’d have voted Republican without blinking. I still find myself wondering if the Dems manipulated the GOP to get Trump in because he was the only candidate they figured Hillary could beat easily, and they were blindsided by how badly they miscalculated. It’s been pretty well documented that they manipulated the primaries to eliminate Bernie Sanders, voters be damned. Given the previous Clinton associations with The Donald, nothing would surprise me.

I tried talking to both sides of the divide when it was still possible to do something about it by voting. Now we’re stuck with a Cheeto in Chief whose mental capacity rivals a mentally challenged amoeba, and the puppet masters being appointed to run the show. I am not blind to the atrocities happening, but I am not going to waste my time and my breath trying to change anyone’s mind. It doesn’t achieve a thing. I get the concept of protesting, but that ship has sailed. We signed away our right to disagree by electing a man who’s outlawing it as fast as the ink can dry on his signatures. There’s no way those documents were prepared in the XX days since the swearing-at swearing-in. This was the most calculated, ballsy coup I’ve ever seen.

Eh, end of political rant.

The new job is interesting. I still think once I get the hang of it I’ll be able to do it in my sleep. And I’m ridiculously okay with that. Since this is an international company with HQ overseas, I’m hedging my bets against the potential we might have to immigrate.

We have the dynamic duo (grandsons) here with us tonight. The little one with autism has learned to say grandma, and calls me that now at least part of the time.  He knows (and uses) his cousin’s name, and now understands that grandma and mama and papa and cousin each are distinct people with their own distinct names. (The dog, too, but that’s another story.) The dawning context is a huge progression. No more echoes; when he talks now he does so of his own volition, with knowledge and intent. He understands everything now instead of parroting more than half. That’s a massive breakthrough. Our other monster contributes to the progress, I think. The interaction is good for both of them. Our talkaholic needs social interaction because it’s who he is. Our new talker has leapfrogged forward with the help of a cousin who talks to him too – a little one his size and age, who shares his interests and actively seeks him out to play and have conversations. It’s the ultimate win-win.

I’m tired tonight – my body’s still not back in the swing of a working schedule. I’ll get there. And, as hubby and I have discussed, this isn’t forever.

One thing on the near horizon, thanks to the new job and because of it, is a new set o’ wheels. We have our eyes on this:

Terrain

Snazzy, huh? It’s our compromise dream car, if you will. Hubby’s Mr. Mercedes, which for a number of reasons isn’t happening. I don’t want a Mercedes. They cost a lot to own and operate and frankly they don’t do what we need ’em to do. This little wagon/SUV crossover is economical (4 cylinder engine) and still a lot of snazzy extras. I get a fleet discount from work if we decide to buy new, or if we get one that’s a year or two old, it should drop the payment even further. The thought of taking on an auto loan doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m even less thrilled at the thought of being stranded should our anachronism of a standard-transmission rattletrap dump out so I can’t get to work. The heater and AC died this week, and it still jumps out of 5th gear on the freeway. We’ve replaced the clutch twice in as many years. It still gets me from point A to point B for the moment, and I trust it will hold us for a little longer. However, it’s time for us to look at other options as soon as time and budget permit, staying ahead of the curve.

My teeth are a priority though, even ahead of the vehicle. I have a wisdom tooth growing in sideways and it’s pushing another tooth out of its socket, which is about as much fun as it sounds. The tooth that’s being dislodged has  developed a split. (Yup, that’s fun too.) It’s not conducive to doing a good job on the new job, so I’m hoping I can get some dental work started with my second paycheck, third at latest.

Time for me to wrap this puppy up for tonight. Not exactly a thrilling entry, I know, but it took until past midnight to get both boys settled down and if not asleep, at least headed that direction.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The new job is interesting. As expected, it’s more complicated than my initial impression, and will likely be a snap once I actually get the hang of all the systems. Seriously – this job is one that, once I get the basics down, will be something I could almost do in my sleep. I foresee doing knitting or crocheting, maybe making jewelry, while at work.

No, really. I’d write, but at any job where you take customer credit card payments, writing instruments are verbotin. That’s for everyone’s protection. I’ve worked in a similar environment before, so no biggie, ya know? However, since this job is NOT back-to-back calls, it means I’ll be taking books to read and other things to keep me from falling asleep. I kid you not when I say the environment is about 1000 percent less stressful than my previous employer. What’s more, it frankly isn’t much different in pay, either. But our expenses are substantially lower now, so in practice it’ll be more like a big honkin’ raise.

After a year of scraping, that’ll feel like luxury, especially when you add in having health insurance (among other benefits) again.

I DO look forward to getting a new car asap. I hate the prospect of taking on payments, but it’s a necessary evil. I’m talking about almost immediately, by the way. When I’m driving 50 miles one-say, I intend to get something better than our current 11-year-old beater. I’m looking at automatic, air, and cruise control. Our existing buggy only has one out of three. Everything else is negotiable, in terms of vehicle. I don’t care if I go new or simply newER, but it’s gotta be a step up. I’d kind of like another wagon or mini-SUV style, and will be looking in that direction. Who knows? I might even buy a brand-new car, which would be a first for me.

I got my official work schedule today. As it stands, it means we’re going to be out of the yard sale biz for at least a while, so we may start hitting thrift stores and other similar outlets to give my husband something to sell. He already knows – and has decreed he’ll return to his writing project for the hiatus. I have no doubt he’ll do that, too, but we’ll do something to fill his need to sell stuff, because I know him. He’ll start selling things from the house, our own stuff. (Not that I necessarily mind that in some cases!) The neighbors are bringing him goodies to sell for them, and one of my new colleagues may have literally half a house full of things for him to sell – so even without yard sales, I suspect he’ll remain in business for a bit.

He’s also promised to rebuild a deck, which needs to be done while it’s still relatively cool outdoors. Maybe if he’s not so absorbed in his sales, he’ll get the projects done around the house. In one day, he’s already achieved a little of that!

crystal ballOne of my new colleagues was in pain Monday (first day for us), after injuring her back. We’re talking in-tears pain.I volunteered during break to rub her back for her, which she welcomed. She came up to me yesterday and told me in all seriousness that I’m a healer, because after a solid month of pain, her back had been pain-free ever since I rubbed it. Then she commented, “Pffft – I know you know you’re a healer. You know all about that stuff.” And I kind of stood there blinking.

I do believe that we can heal ourselves and others. I also know there are faith healers who are total frauds, so I tend to remain low-key and am uber-conscious of where and with whom I discuss those subjects. I didn’t even touch on my colleague’s comment, nor several she followed with. I sure didn’t volunteer my personal beliefs during the training class, nor outside of class. It’s not what I consider professional conversation. So I have no clue where that came from. I’m glad this lady was feeling better, just kind of dumbfounded at some of the things she said to me about it. It was… interesting.

Without getting too out there about it, this whole thing corresponded to some other experiences over the past week or so. Wild and crazy moments in life, lemme say that.

Otherwise the job is going reasonably well. For virtually the entire class, one system’s been messed up. I think they finally got it straightened out, though for me it required a trouble ticket and I probably won’t get the whole enchilada until later today. Mind you, this was after at least a couple of hours’ worth of phone calls. Gotta love technology.

And the Answer Is…

And the Answer Is…

How many of my readers grew up with game shows? Show of hands…? Yup, me too. My mother’s holy grail every night, after dinner, was Jeopardy. I think she was secretly in love with Alex Trebek. But Wheel of Fortune came in a close second, with all of us making wild guesses from those intermittent letters that didn’t always make sense at first.

Real life answers with random clues can be a little trickier. My younger daughter has run the gamut of wildly random medical symptoms, all of which defied logic – much less a diagnosis. We finally got a little more definitive clue during her last stay in the hospital. A blood test, the right blood test, as it turned out, showed that her cortisol levels were virtually nonexistent. Which means her adrenal gland has shut down. Which isn’t pretty, and which explains the erratic and potentially deadly array of symptoms she’s endured for the past few years.

GameFor anyone unfamiliar, the adrenal gland is in essence your body’s scheduling system, the one that manages how frequently and regularly you breathe and your heart beats; your blood pressure, your kidneys, etc. It literally governs EVERY body function. So she’s had times where her heartbeat was 170 beats per minute, and times it dropped to 30 beats a minute or less. She’s had acute pancreatitis, which she was lucky enough to survive. She’s got brain lesions that mimicked MS, the inability to sleep for literally a week straight, and a list of other, seemingly unrelated symptoms as long as your arm. Except the cortisol connection was an instant affiliation, because ALL of them tie into to a busted adrenal network.

In theory there’s a short list of what causes the adrenal gland to go into hibernation, primarily a tumor or Addison’s disease. My daughter is among the lucky(?) few for whom neither of those applied. HIV can cause it – also ruled out. At this point it’s been narrowed down to something autoimmune, hardly a big surprise considering how much autoimmune crap runs in my family. You’d have a hard time throwing a rock at our family reunion and hitting somebody who didn’t have some weird autoimmune disease going on. Now we get to watch the doctors throw darts at finding out what’s caused her adrenal failure. Ten bucks says whatever it is, we all have some variation of it.

On other fronts – which for a number of reasons I didn’t want to post to the world at large on Facebook – I have a new job, starting Monday. If it weren’t for the commute I swear I could probably retire there. It’s an energy company based in the UK, including alternative energy.  That’s already a win in my book. The pay isn’t spectacular, but it’s more than enough for us to live on, including enough to cover the costs of a new vehicle soon (which is a must-do.) It was a interesting onboarding process. I submitted my application around 9-ish in the morning a couple of weeks ago. By 10:30 that morning, I’d completed a phone interview and was scheduled for onsite testing and another interview the following day.

MercedesThe testing was a breeze – it was one of those tests nobody finishes and you simply do as many of the questions as you can within a limited time. I aced it – didn’t finish (like I said, nobody finishes) but my HR contact said I blew most people out of the water. I sat for a solid half hour waiting to be interviewed, which involved countless apologies and ultimately resulted in a different manager interviewing me. And then a second tier manager. And finally the center manager, whose only concern was, “WTF are you doing here? You’re so overqualified for this job it’s insane. Why should I hire you if you’re going to be snapped up for twice as much money in the tech world in two weeks?”

I pointed out calmly – and truthfully – that I’m 1) female, 2) old, and 3) disabled. Despite the fact that it’s illegal, discrimination is rampant, particularly in the tech industry. I also clarified that while I’m certainly in it to make money, we’ve downsized so we can survive on less. I left out the part about embracing the substantially lower stress involved in doing this job, though I did ask a couple of clarifying questions. The answers left me stunned, thinking, Really? That’s all you need me to do? Seriously? For God’s sake, sign me up NOW!

I did explain something not a lot of people realize: that the tech industry is on the cusp of some huge changes, dictated by one little bitty bug – the IP4 to IPV6 transition. It’s looming, unavoidable, and going to cost a shit-ton of money to implement.

The Internet connects to all computers by an IP address, a series of numbers and dots,, and it’s running out of numbers. In some parts of the world, I believe the end has already been reached. We’re talking worldwide in a matter of a year, maybe two, if that. Contrary to popular understanding, no you can’t just add more numbers and dots to fix it. It requires a complete overhaul of how the Internet works. It’s going to involve every level of the Internet, websites, and computers, phones – anything and everything capable of going online. For tech companies it involves a complete rebuild of their infrastructure, and that ain’t cheap. That money’s going to have to come from somewhere, and I’d bet anything it’ll come from the pockets of tech employees.

It’s public record that for all the money passing through its coffers, GoDaddy.com has yet to show a profit on the books, and they’re among the biggest players. They went public ahead of this changeover, and it doesn’t take rocket science to put two and two together.

There are other cost realities I didn’t and won’t address because they involve proprietary details, but trust me when I say I escaped just in time. There’s already been one bust of the dot-com bubble. I foresee another on the horizon, and this one could get ugly.

When I walked into this new company’s local building, it conveyed an incredibly positive vibe. In addition to three(!) sequential interviews and the test, I sat in for half an hour or so with one of the reps doing the job I’m being hired to do. I smiled to keep from laughing. Seriously – in comparison to what I used to do, this job is a walk in the park. I assume there’s more to it than I saw. Even so, I don’t foresee the kind of monster stress I dealt with at my last job.

The HR person, the one who called to formally offer me the job, told me that the first manager who interviewed me wrote in all caps that I was to be put on HIS TEAM. It was nice to get the vote of confidence. Now I just have to live up to it!

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