Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Tax Season....

This is a time when one should reflect on the past year & think about what to do better in the next year and what to keep doing well. It is.

Unfortunately, I have to do a bunch of year end stuff, plus stuff that didn't get done when it should have, while getting ready for TAX SEASON. My resolutions right now are limited to drawing up office procedures to make sure this tax season flows with Kathy-precision. I am not a control-freak, but I do have standards.

For instance, rule #1: if a tax return comes in and it is too complicated for you to do, don't hide it in your in-box. Give it to ME. Or at least ask me for help. I don't bite. And if I do, I clearly state up front that there will be an extra charge for that...

Maybe this is rule #1: write notes about what you are doing, what you asked, what you looked up. I'm not a mind-reader and neither is anyone in the IRS if (heaven forbid) we get audited.

No, wait, this is rule #1: don't act like a client is stupid because he or she doesn't understand your terminology. Just explain it better (and don't sigh or role your eyes, even on the phone.) If the clients understood tax laws, regulations, and terminology, they wouldn't need us.

That's definitely rule #1. Now let me go work on rules 4 through 4000. It's beginning to look a lot like tax season....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Ellen

Today is also my sister's birthday. She is my younger sister, the youngest of the three children. Four and half years is a big difference when you are 6 and 10 or even 16 and 20. Now, it means nothing.

Ellen is my best friend, other than my husband. I count on her for her humor, her clarity, her intelligence.

She is the best organized person I know. She is organized in a good way---a comfortable, I know where to find things way, not an alphabetize the family kind of way.

I swear she could herd cats. She has a wonderful way of connecting with people and getting them to work to their potential.

She cares about justice, mercy, and people, which is why she is a great lawyer. Her clients know she is working for them, not just the money.

Ellen is always there for me, and I hope I am there for her when she needs me the most.

I love you, Ellen. Happy Birthday.

Plug for Ellen's law firm

Happy Birthday Baby Roslyn

Baby Roslyn is nine years old today. She is a writer, an artist, a game player, an animal keeper, and an all around wonderful person! She is always up for an adventure. She will go shopping with me (sometimes). In my house of boys, she adds a little bit of girlness when she visits. Not too much, though.

Roslyn is my sister's daughter, born on Ellen's birthday. I guess that is the best birthday present ever, huh?

Happy Birthday Roslyn.

I wanted to upload a video of Joan Baez singing this, but between dial-up and unclear copyright, this is what I settled on:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


It is gray and rainy, though not cold. It's hard to get out in this type of weather.
Yesterday I went to work, but left after only a couple of hours. I met some very old friends at Starbucks. The friends aren't old, but the friendship is. We've been friends since grade school, although I haven't seen Margaret in two years and Vicky in so long I can't remember. It's amazing to feel a connection even after a long time. There is an oddness, too. A realization that people who played such integral roles in the formation of Kathy are the same and yet so different that I can't possibly explain who I am now, or understand who they are. It's OK, though. There are different types of friendships. They are a part of my base.
Today I am doing odds and ends of things. I cleaned the kitchen & picked up the Christmas leavings in the living room. I've blogged, uploaded Christmas pictures, and watched Get Smart. I still need to clean the dining room table, which is serving as my desk right now. I have some accounting to do, and at some point this weekend, I'd like to get out to one or both of my jobs to try and concentrate on year-end things for a few hours.

I need to get birthday gifts for my sister and my niece for their birthday tomorrow. I am making a carrot cake. I may break in my new Kitchen Aid mixer by making some bread to go with the soup she has made for the birthday gathering. That will be tomorrow, since I want it to be fresh.

It's looking like I will have to face the world. After an Excedrin and a small nap...

The Secret is in the Sauce: Win a Keurig Platinum Brewing System and $50 worth of K

The Secret is in the Sauce: Win a Keurig Platinum Brewing System and $50 worth of K

This web site has lots of give-aways, and it also serves as a gateway to lots of interesting blogs. I had no idea there were so many people writing about so many things. Some of my favorites are listed on the side, and the list is getting longer.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

Christmas, as we all knew, was wonderful. Mark is OK with Santa giving him tons of Lindor Truffles. He is glad Santa knows he doesn't care for mint.

We had a great time at my sister's house. My brother bought hula-hoops. It seems he had to buy a dozen. So we tried to hula hoop in the back yard. As my husband said, "I have never been able to hula-hoop in my life, but I think that today is the day I will figure it out." We didn't, except Mark, but there were no back injuries either.

We ate Ellen's do-ahead breakfast, a sausage-cheese casserole she makes every Christmas and other times if we get lucky. She had also made Hello Dollies & chocolate chip cookies. I had one mini BaBa cake (a small cork shaped cake soaked in rum) and took a small nap.

We opened presents, then settled in for game playing, movie watching, book reading. Bob & I ran home to stick the turkey in the oven. It's amazing what you can do if you read the directions and stick a few green apples up the turkey's ... whatever that part of its body was. We ran back later to make the cardiac mashed potatoes (with Smart Balance & lite sour cream because it IS the third time we've had it in two months.) My sister cooked the standing rib roast, my brother roasted veggies, and we all ate very well.

With the babies, the kids, the kids who are officially adults, the adults who still think of themselves as kids, and Dad the patriarch, we had quite a crew. Lots of fun, little or no drama, a good bit of Excedrin, and lots and lots of Christmas.

Today, as Bob "rests" and watches the grandsons, I will go into work to try to get year end/pre-tax season work done. I am meeting a good friend for coffee, so that will make the day easier. So, off I go...

Stay warm and safe.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Weaning Santa

I believe in Santa Claus. Not in the "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" way, although that is nice. In the Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Clause, Year Without a Santa Claus kind of way.

I hesitate to write this post at all, for a few reasons. One is that my inner amateur anthropologist historian wannabee is itching to hi-jack this post and turn it into a discussion of the mythology of Santa and cultural attitudes toward him over the centuries, including my belief that "Christmas spirit" in the form of belief in Santa among children aged 2 to 8 has not diminished and may, in fact, have grown. You will be glad to hear, I'm not going to let that happen this morning. Next week maybe...

Another is that my youngest son Mark doesn't usually read my blog, but who knows. And right now, he either believes in Santa completely, or has consciously decided to maintain the myth. In either case, I sort of screwed it up this year.

In our house, Santa was in charge of stockings and one gift. The one gift was usually big although not always expensive. There was often a big Christmas bear. That made a really nice show on Christmas morning: small pile of gifts turns into big pile with only three additional packages. This tradition came about because Mom told me that when we were little, all of our presents were from Santa. Then one Christmas, we opened a mountain of toys from Santa, turned to Mom & Dad and said, "What did y'all get us?" After that, at least one gift said "Love Mom & Dad." I went the other way with that one.

The stockings started to deteriorate as we got older. It's harder to find nice cheap stuff for older kids. And the kids stay up later. My mom and her sister saw each other twice a year & had a lot to catch up on. This involved vodka. The chance of the right presents getting in the right stockings decreased exponentially once it got past 8:00. By the time the youngest child was ready to give up stockings (I was 17, I think, and the third oldest cousin), the first part of Christmas morning was spent trading stocking stuffers.

This year, in my house, there is no other gift from Santa and the stocking isn't great. We didn't have the money for a lot of stuff and I didn't want to spend it on yo-yos and cars and stuff Mark doesn't really like. That's show Christmas. Instead, the stocking is stuffed with a couple of cool things and lots of candy (Lindor Truffles... times are hard, but the candy doesn't have to be). The cool things would have included a gyroscope and a prism, but I lost the bag of stuff I bought at the State Museum gift shop. It is probably in a closet.

In addition to a cash crunch, I decided to try a new medication for my migraines, which not only didn't help the migraines, seems to have made it harder for me to think, remember, and be nice. I don't know if that is what is responsible for my manic 4 am blogging (which I kind of enjoyed) and my inability to remember who I bought presents for and where I put them, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm not really sure of the point of this rambling blog that I can't blame on medication. Although this Christmas may be a little disappointing Santa-wise, it will be wonderful in other ways. And even though Mark is getting ready to move from child to one of Santa's elves as Gabe & Brendon become old enough to enjoy Santaness, I suspect there will be another year of Santa for Mark. Probably Santa's little curtain call, as I get it together perfectly to make up for screwing up this year. If Santa has to retire, I'd like him to go out on a good year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It is warmer than yesterday. That's nice. Since we know we aren't going to get snow on Christmas, I'd just as soon have a nice warm 65 or 70 degree day.

Last night we went to my brother's house for dinner. My sister and her daughter share a birthday (December 28), but Johnny will be out of town then, and so he cooked last night. He made a lamb stew with apricot and pine nuts, served over jasmine rice. For dessert, we had a choice of "birthday cake" ice cream cake or Reese's peanut butter ice cream cake. I had a little of each.

He invited another couple, friends from the University. One was the daughter of a rather famous science fiction writer. I am such a pathetic author groupie that I went from having an intelligent conversation with an intelligent woman to blathering and drooling something along the lines of "Oh my god, I don't really read that much science fiction, but I've read that! I LOVED that book." I think I recovered and was able to continue the evening as if I were an intelligent adult, but jeez, I can be a dolt.

Today, I am going to work to print organizers so our previous tax clients can gather their important tax documents. (You mean I was supposed to save the property tax receipt? Again? You wanted that LAST year!) I will buy one or two more gifts, depending on the Christmas fairness fairy's determination. (If a 19 year old living at home buys a gift with his money for a 10 year old brother, does that balance the gift from the 10 year old to the 19 year old bought by the parents, or do the parents need to get another gift for the 10 year old?) Ow. I'd rather figure compound interest without a computer.

I have to finish wrapping, cook a little, chill a little, and enjoy the children's choir at St. Michael & All Angel's Church this afternoon, and then.... Merry Christmas to all...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kind hearted lady

From the late 1800s through World War Two, hobos had signs to guide them through towns and country sides. Some let them know the water was bad, others warned of police or unfriendly residents. Some signs told them that the people would help them out. This sign, the cat, told the hobos that a kind-hearted lady lived in the house, and the hobos could expect food and shelter, and maybe a friendly face.

We used to joke that this sign was on our house on Harden Street in Columbia. People would walk past all of the other houses and knock on our door. My mother would give them money or food, depending on her assessment of them. One time a man came to the door and told her he was Jesus and he needed a ride to the bank for money. He explained that His Father would provide and all He needed to do was explain to the bank manager. I'm not sure how she determined where his Earthly parents were, but she gave him $20 and drove him to the Greyhound bus station.

Another time a girl had made a poor decision and ridden from Michigan with some friends. The friendship ended somewhere near our house at about 10 o'clock at night. Goodness knows how she found our house. Mom took her in. She called her parents, who wired her money, and mom put her on a bus to Michigan the next day.

She helped lots of people who came by the house. Some were disappointed to realize she remembered them, too. One man came by saying he needed money to get home to Charleston. She gave it to him. He came by the next week with another story. She cussed him out and called his family in Charleston. Sometimes people would ask for money, but she'd fix a sandwich instead. She wasn't opposed to drinking, but she didn't always feel like supplementing other people's bad habits.

My Mom, Marcia Tinkham Duffy, worked as a journalist and a political activist for better mental health, education, civil rights, women's rights, and a better life for all people. She worked on a large scale in her public actions and on a smaller scale in her private actions.

I believe that morality is action. I believe ethics are personal. I believe we can all be heroes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What I believe

Last week, Dina posted about her beliefs and asked that other bloggers list 10 things they believe and link back. Several others, including Annie have done so already.

I have been thinking about the assignment since before it was assigned. I share many of Dina's belief's and have a similar (in a very general way) religious background to hers.

My parents were (are in my very living father's case) sceptics as far as organized religion. My mother was raised in Massachusetts and attended Methodist and Congregationalist churches. She was an atheist all the time I knew her and I think she perceived a spiritual cynicism from her parents growing up, whether it was fair or not.

My father was raised in a Southern Irish Catholic family. The convergence of these three cultural subsets in unlike any other. I'm not going to say much more right now, but I was only peripherally a part of it. My uncle was a priest in Charleston. I went to St. Peter's in Columbia with two fine priests Fr. Cronin and Fr. Carter (with whom I & all the other girls in the 4th grade were in love in a chaste Catholic girl way).

Dad took us to church, but he would not take communion. I thought it was because he had been married and divorced and had a family in North Charleston he hadn't told us about. I was an imaginative child. I found out that it was because he, too, was an atheist. Or agnostic. Or something.

Our father took us to St. Peter's every Sunday because in South Carolina you go to church. Catholic church is not as good as Baptist church, but it is a church.

A lack of organized religion did not translate to a lack of morals. Both of parents were and are the most solidly moral & ethical people I will ever know. If I wander in a spiritual wasteland it is not because they did not give me a compass. I have a wonderfully sound internal compass that will always lead me to true TRUTH. Mom called it a Bullshit detector, and although I am a very naive person, I have a pretty good BS detector. Go figure?

I think that I can (and probably will) spend at least ten posts on this topic, but I will try to follow directions and make a list of sorts. This is what I believe:

  1. I believe in God
  2. I believe that while the Divine never changes (probably) that human understanding changes over time. Like children, we understand the Divine at our developmental level, in a way that we are ready for. So if religion changes over time, it isn't God that changes, it is our understanding of God that changes. And if morality changes over time, it isn't morality that changes, it is our understanding that changes. The Divine isn't relative, but we are.
  3. I believe that a person's religious views tell you more about that person than about God.
  4. I believe that no person should be killed for who he or she loves. And no one should say that that is OK in any way, shape or form, by action or inaction.
  5. I believe that rights are like love, they are not diminished if more people have them. If you have rights, I don't have fewer. Don't confuse rights with privileges. And don't think your privileges are your rights.
  6. I believe that all children everywhere should be served by teachers, principals, administrators, school boards, staff members, and legislators who LIKE children, who think they CAN learn, who think they WILL learn, and who believe they will be IMPORTANT members of society.
  7. I believe that everyone can be a hero. I believe that everyone is a hero in some way to some one.
  8. I believe that people will rise to the level of your expectations.
  9. I believe that if I can make myself sick with worry I can make myself well with hope.
  10. I believe there is a new day coming and we will live to see the dawn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A long row to Ho! Ho! Ho!

I am not a scrooge. I love Christmas. I am a virtual theoretical Martha Stewart. I would be happiest living on a remote island off the coast of some cold place with a really good reliable satellite Internet connection telling people how to have a virtual Christmas. I'd have virtual cookies, cinnamon smells, tinsel, shiny things. I'd be very happy.

Instead, I have to prepare for tax season, finish 2008 and all of the payroll, sales tax, bookkeeping & tax work that involves, juggle paychecks and gift buying, clean house, take care of the school... OK I'm going to quit whining.

This morning I'm making an excel spreadsheet of my family Christmas list. I just realized that not only do I need to get gifts, but Mark and Joseph need to get gifts. I know that they (at least Joseph) should get their own gifts. They will. I just want to coordinate the plan.

In the past week or so, on long lunches and quick trips between meetings and when I've had to pick up Mark at school, I've shopped. Some of the gifts are wrapped, and it is to be hoped, labeled. Some are not. I do not know what I have. I don't know what I need to get. I have a Sunday deadline for half the family.

Today, I have to make killer mashed potatoes for the faculty/board family lunch at Carolina School for Inquiry. That's OK. I can do it. I still have cream cheese from when I planned to make four pumpkin cheese cakes and only made one. I hope they aren't moldy. I'd better check.

I have also realized that part of the reason that everyone else I know seems to be wildly wealthier than we are (other than those who make a boatload more money and have no children and therefore ARE wildly wealthier than we are) is that they have credit cards. We don't have any credit cards.

So instead of buying lots of expensive gifts now, I'm going to buy lots of nice but not so expensive gifts now, and then maybe buy something else later when we have more money. Kind of the way we live. Happy April!!!!

Or I could do that radical thing and buy Christmas gifts through out the year and save them. But I've never gotten over the creepy factor of the VERY old Eight is Enough show when the new step-mom found a gift for Tommy (I think) that the dead mom had bought and wrapped before she died. Step-mom gave it to him in a touching bounding (creepy) moment. <<>> I'll have to get over that, or get a credit card.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not Mark's School

Just to make sure this is clear, Mark's school isn't like that. He has recess, art, PE, music, Spanish, etc., etc. It's an inquiry based curriculum and ALL children learn.

Field Trip

Mark & his class are going to Charlotte on a field study today. They leave in about a half an hour --- 7 a.m.

They don't call them field trips any more. Somehow that doesn't give it the educational significance "field study" does. And it's all about education.

Not really. It just has to sound like it is.

Like, they cut out recess because that doesn't sound like education, even though anyone who has ever been near a child knows you can't teach a child who has been cooped up in a seat all day. And they cut out music and art because they can't test it with a number two pencil. And they are going to cut funding for supplemental salaries for Nationally Certified Teachers because they don't want to throw money at the problem.

Then they are going to bureaucratize the laws relating to charter schools so that what should be innovative schools will be just as hide-bound as the traditional public schools rather than freeing the traditional public schools to be innovative and entrepreneurial.

And then they will send their children to segregated, elitist private schools and bemoan the complete failure of public schools and the terrible parents, teachers, and children who are a part of it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life is like a chicken...

People ask me why I read juvenile fiction... well, they don't because they either read it themselves, don't know or are too polite to ask. But if they did ask I'd say because there is some really good stuff out there.

I didn't read much juvenile fiction when I was a juvenile. I took me awhile to discover the joys of Madeline L'Engle and her Time Trilogy and the trillions of other books she wrote. I read the Chronicles of Narnia this spring. I read the Lord of the Rings a couple of years ago (only one time.)

Since I've become a part of Carolina School for Inquiry and discovered the joy of Scholastic book fairs, I've become addicted. This week, I've read three good books. OK, I'm working on the the third.

The first is Deep Down Popular by Phoebe Stone. This one is well written. I like the voice. It is lyrical. I would rate it higher but for one thing. I will say this to Ms. Stone and to ALL Yankee writers: "Y'all" is plural. Always. Unless you are talking to Sybil. I really really really have trouble getting past that. So does your granny. But other than that, it was a sweet book. I'm giving it to Mr. Hodges because he says he doesn't have enough girl books. I don't think it's just a girl book though...

The second book jumped off the shelf into my arms. I am not kidding. It is called Suddenly Supernatural and it was written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. I liked it so much I e-mailed her. I hope she doesn't get a restraining order. I have that effect on authors. Except Annie. As I said to Ms. Kimmel, the book reminded me of middle school (although my mother was a liberal Democrat, not a psychic), but I'm sure I'll be able to repress the memories again.

The third book I am still reading. It is Chicken Boy by Francis O'Roark Dowell. Last night I read: "This business of getting out and doing things, well, once you got going, it was hard to stop yourself. You start out raising chickens, you end up doing your homework half the time and even talking to a few people in your classes. You start feeling like this useful human being." (p.112)

Maybe it was the time, and maybe it was the medication, but when I read that, I thought, that is how I feel about blogging. I feel as if I've stepped out of a cave. I talk to people at the grocery store. I reconnect with old friends. But even more than that, my old creativity and intelligence is stretching. I'm still pretty much using it for "cute," but it's there.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quick Quiz

OK: we have lots of towels. Beach towels that have whales, beach towels that have Disney characters, bath towels that we got when we got married twenty three years ago, bath towels I use when I color my hair (which I don't do of course), etc. etc. We also have two baby blue bath sheets I bought two weeks ago.

The dishwasher leaked. Guess which ones my husband used to clean up the floor?

You think about that while I wait for the coffee to finish dripping.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The gifts that keep on giving

I am listening to Good Morning America while struggling with the combined whims of dial-up, AOL, and the Verizon website to add a line so I can get my loving husband a cell phone for Christmas. He doesn't want one, and has told me that he will turn it off at work, but there have been some unfortunate incidents recently and I'd like to be able to get in touch with him when he is NOT at his office. Among the normal Saturday morning deaths, lay-offs, and celebrity melt downs, Good Morning America is talking about Christmas stuff. Number One: How to spend less than $1000 on Christmas gifts. Number Two: Who to tip and how much.

OK: Number One: I don't spend $1000 on Christmas gifts. I can't. Not and eat. Number two. I don't tip extra at Christmas. I mean, I tip well in normal tipping situations, liking eating out. When I walk into a restaurant, the waiterpeople fight to serve me. I once tried to join over tippers anonymous, but the waiterpeople started crying so I didn't. But that is not what I am talking about.

My friend Lydia said her paper"boy" gave her an envelope in which to put his Christmas "gift." That's not a gift, that's extortion. Since she lives in NJ, I'd pay it, but jeez. If you have to pay it, it isn't a gift and it isn't a tip. It's also subject to social security, medicare and income tax, but I digress...

My mother in law always ends up saying "Let's not go over board with gift giving" and I think, "Who's going over board?" She isn't, not with us. She's very generous all year round in every day ways, so I'm not complaining. What I realized is that she and her circle of friends (her bridge clubs --- plural, her church groups, her friends from college, her friends from high school) all give gifts. They may be bread or cookies or a little basket of something, but it's something and you have to get something in return and you have to think about it and do something and wrap it and remember where you put it and not forget that somebody has decided she is vegetarian and Sue is lactose intolerant and Mary Lou will die if you give her a peanut... wow. I'm glad I don't have friends like that. All I do is buy books at the book fair for every child I know and forget about their parents. The kids are grateful, the parents are more grateful and I get to buy "Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words" even though I don't have any girls.

As far as spending $1000 on Christmas... well, it's not going to happen. But that's OK. Because we always have lots and lots of cool stuff. This year I'm thinking of the socks and underwear theme...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real life... Awards... Running Late

Some time this week... I think it was Wednesday... I received an AWARD from writers and witches, and word...oh my! which is really cool. It is the Marie Antoinette Award, for bloggers who write about real life. I'm not sure what Marie Antoinette had to do with real life, she seemed a little deluded to me, but what the hey? My real life interfered with me getting the reward in a timely. I was at a two day tax workshop, learning how not to go to jail this tax season. I look good in orange, but I don't look good in overalls. Anyway, the award: I think, if I understand it, which I might not...

I ask a question, which y'all answer. Y'all ask me questions, which I answer. Anyone who knows me knows that I WILL answer questions. I might even tell the truth. You might even be able to handle the truth.

Then I am suppose to hand the award on to seven bloggers. I don't know if I can do that, since most of my blogger buddies are sort of private. And the ones who aren't are higher up the food chain than I am, meaning they already got the award, most likely. So if you want the award, let me know and I'll send it to you, ok? Is that tacky?

OK, this is my question:
As you face the new year, are you operating from fear or hope? And what does that mean to you?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rudolf Revisited

Last night, I watched Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer with my 10 year old son Mark. It is sort of a family tradition, but everything takes on new meaning once your baby is ten.

Many years ago (don't ask), my sister, brother, and I would "pull up an iceberg" and watch Rudolf every year. We'd get scared of the Abominable Snowman, get mad at the reindeer for making fun of Rudolf, and cheer when Santa picked up the misfit toys. As a matter of fact, we were so impressed with that part that we'd sleep with all of our toys so that King Moonracer wouldn't steal them.

So last night, I pull up an iceberg... OK a wing chair, and Mark and I watched Rudolf. Since I was a little grumpy, I had trouble getting into to it.

Donder sees Rudolf's nose. I say, "Hey, what the hell's wrong with that kids nose? That ain't my kid." Then I point out that Donder should be more accepting of Rudolf for what he is and go on a tirade about parents who want to live their children's lives. Santa comes in: "What the hell is wrong with that kid's nose?" Mark suggests that Santa is a jackass because he's been dieting.

By this time Mark's face is redder than Rudolf's nose and I am having some fun.

I 'll admit that I like to make people laugh. It's like crack to me. Don't get me started, or some kind person has to lead me away. (Yes Kathy, that was funny. What the hell is wrong with that kid's nose. Now let's go to bed.)

So Mark rolled on the floor while I had a grumpy humorous commentary throughout the show. I have to say, I enjoyed it more than usual. Mark said he can't wait for Polar Express and for some bizarre reason, wished me a tiring, frustrating day.

What a kid. But what's wrong with his nose?

Sunday, November 30, 2008


This has been a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving. Even with two family gatherings, there has been very little drama and a whole lot of warm togetherness. I have had four days away from my jobs. I have crocheted, cleaned, cooked, and read. I have talked to family members, told stories, heard stories, shared recipes, shared dreams. I have had a nice holiday.

But the puritan (I think --- hard to tell when you as much of a mongrel as I am) is not happy. Four days and I only cleaned two rooms. I could easily have finished Brendon's stocking and at least one of the scarves I'm making. I could have baked the bread I thought about. For goodness sake, I could have gotten dressed at least. (I did dress to go to the family gatherings. I even wore make-up.) I really wasted these four days.

One of the other parts of me has told the puritan to take a walk. That part and the rest of me, now that the puritan is grumbling in the rain, are enjoying another cup of coffee and a bowl of apple cinnamon brown sugar oatmeal. (Brown sugar & cinnamon? the Puritan yells from the yard. Way to make a healthy meal unhealthy!) The rest of me smiles and takes another bite. The rest of me is going to enjoy this last day of the holiday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday morning ice and shine

I sit here at the computer this bright icy morning. Even the sun seems to shine with a frozen brightness, giving light but not heat.

I am told we will have a mild winter. I am thinking I was told wrong. For those of us here in South Carolina who don't expect the temperature to hit the 20s until February if at all, there is nothing mild about 21 degrees in November. Before Thanksgiving. What's with this?

I have spent too much time on Facebook this morning... my new addiction, which is eating up the time I used to spend on my old addictions: blogs & solitaire. I am thinking about what I need to do today and what I want to do.

I am planning to make two pumpkin cheesecakes today. One for each of my offices. I still need to copy and put together the board manuals for the Carolina School for Inquiry board. And I'd like to clean my bedroom --- at least a little.

Oh well... wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


When you take off Monday to do everything you haven't had time to do in the past ten years, Tuesday becomes Monday, only worse.

Yesterday, I cleaned the public areas of my house, explored the Goodwill store (three sweaters, two shirts, a vest that doesn't fit, three soup mugs, and a diffuser for $29), went to lunch with Bob and Joseph, made and ate chili, gathered recipes for Thanksgiving stuff and Christmas cookies, and read Good Housekeeping Magazine. I also watched Chuck, which was irritating, except Casey, who is always amusing. And I so knew that bimbo ex-girlfriend was a bad spy. Doesn't she look like Sarah Palin? That can't be good.

Today I am faced with a bunch of notes on my desk, most of which could have been handled by someone else if someone else cared to think about it. I have taken care of some basic things like sales tax, but set aside serious bookwork in favor of cleaning the office in preparation for tax season. Maybe I'm just in a cleaning mood. I may just need to inhale some lemon fresh Lysol cleaner and get on with my life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day off

Last week I realized that if I didn't take some time off between then and tax season, I'd be no good to anyone. So I looked at the calendar and, not counting Thanksgiving & Christmas, because they are work, I could take off: today.

So here I sit at the computer with a comfortable cat in my lap, thinking about what to do and what not to bother with. Today is clean the main floor of the house, go to Goodwill & Habitat stores to see if I can find cute, thoughtful, cheap gifts, cook chili & cornbread, cut my hair.

I have been driving myself crazy with thoughts of things I need to do. I think of them in the shower, driving, while cleaning. These mental to do lists float around and I can't pin them down. I write lists, but then I lose the lists. I have put post-it notes to good use at work, but can't make that work elsewhere.

I bought a sketch pad and some of those new Sharpie pens that don't bleed (black, blue, green, red). I am writing my random to do lists in this book, sort of separated, but not really. My hope is that if I write it down in a safe place (really), I'll be able to move on to actually doing one thing at a time.

I'll let you know how it works for me...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Eastern Standard Time

The good thing about changing to eastern standard time is that my mind thinks I am sleeping an extra hour. This is really nice when I wake up at 5:30 a.m.

The bad thing is that at 2:30, my mind thinks it is 3:30 and I am ready for a nap. Oh well.

It is really fall here now. The dogwood tree outside my window is red. The maple is yellow. Everything else is green, but that's South Carolina for you.

I am still fighting a chest/sinus cold that may or may not be pneumonia/sinus infection, and all I want to do is crawl into bed with cup of tea and a good book. I don't have a good book right now, and a stray thought flittered through my mind yesterday: If you don't have a good book to read, you ought to write one. It flittered out again, but who knows. Maybe it will come back with a more solid idea next time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oprah says I'm OK

I read the newest issue of Oprah this week, all about being beautiful from the inside out. And even though I read it while drinking 20 oz of Magnesium Citrate and pooping every ounce of everything in my body, it turns out I am fairly well balanced and happy. Who'd a thought it?

I really like Oprah magazine. The articles. I ignore the cute little must haves, like the clutches that are "so affordable at $300 a piece you need one in every color." Oprah has really left the red dirt behind her, huh? Oh well, good for her. I skip to Martha Beck.

So anyway...

What I am and what I want to be isn't as far apart as I'd thought. I want to lose weight and be healthier, but I'm not as far off my goal as I'd been making myself think.

I am a neurotic, introverted over-thinker, but I pretty much know how to deal with myself. (My counselor gave me a great way to deal with my neurotic thoughts. I say: oh look, I'm being neurotic. The world doesn't revolve around me. Wah! Wah!--- I added the Wah! Wah! part, but it works for me.)

I still haven't been able to separate my should do list from my to do list, but I'm working on it.

I can take myself out in public without embarrassing myself.

I listen to people, really, and not just to think of what I'm going to say in response.

What revelations!

Hmmm... Oprah and a colonoscopy prep... the new spirit journey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just a note...

As predicted, I survived and feel fine. I lost 10 lbs and am trying to eat lean protein and veggies for awhile to savor the loss.

I am back at work, up to my ears in things no one but me can do, so I'll sign off.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Big Day

Today I have my colonoscopy. In about 6 hours, I will be home eating something. Anything.

Since my appointment is at 1:30, I haven't been able to eat or drink since midnight. I have a terrible headache, and have been using an ice pack. I would kill for green jello.

I have decided that the colonoscopy prep is like childbirth. The first time you decide to do it, you are a little nervous because you've heard bad things, but you know people do it all the time and you get something good from it. During the actual prep/labor, you wonder what in the hell you were thinking and why didn't anyone tell you it was this bad? You cry, promise to eat fiber/use birth control and never ever to do this again.

Then you forget. And the time comes to do it again, and you only remember the good feelings of knowing you don't have cancer/having a baby. You sign up with enthusiasm. You share war stories with others who have done it, but in the jocular way of very old soldiers who spent the war in supply huts & wine bars far from a real battle.

Then it starts for real. And you remember that it really really sucks. You remember that it is banned by the Geneva convention. You promise to eat fiber/use birth control and never ever go near a doctor or a man again.

But then it's over and you have a clean bill of health or a new baby, and you think, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday morning

It is finally fall here, although I think it may warm up again next week. The dogwood leaves are beginning to turn red to match their berries. Everything else is still green.

I am hoping that the next couple of weeks will be fairly uneventful. I need a break. This is the time for cleaning the office and preparing it for TAX SEASON, cleaning the house and preparing for Christmas, cleaning my brain and preparing for the new year.

Right now, I am sitting here, thinking about nothing much. Watching the neighbors walk their dogs. Watching my cat sleep.

Soon, Mark and I will make pumpkin muffins for Muffins for Moms tomorrow at Carolina School for Inquiry. I won't be able to eat them tomorrow since I'll be on a liquid diet to prepare for my colonoscopy, but I'll eat one today. I'll go to work later, both jobs, to make up for the time I'll miss next week.

OK, get moving... have a nice week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

April 15 revisited

On April 15th, we calmly met taxpayers at the door with a smile and an extension form. Most were filed within the next couple of weeks. Over the next few months, we called and reminded the rest that they still needed to file their tax returns.

October 15th is the real deadline. There are no more extensions. You have to file. No kidding. Add payroll tax deposits due on the 15th, sales tax due on the 20th (Monday & I won't be here Thursday or Friday), and regular payrolls that need to be done and you have today.

I will survive, and probably even smile again. But that will be tomorrow.

Back to work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What day is it?

I'm not sure what day it is, but I know that tomorrow is the for-real-extension deadline for filing tax returns. Lots of people have suddenly remembered they want a stimulus check and are bringing in their shoe boxes of receipts and check stubs. Bless their hearts.

Right now it is time for my 2:45 nap, so here I am.

I had my yearly physical, which I have about once every other year or two, and came out with a long list of tests I have to have in the next month. Ok, the next week. Thursday, I get to take a nuclear stress test, which is stressful just to say. Friday, I get a CT scan of my lungs, which are funky looking, but not sick, so please leave me alone already. I just hope I don't have to go see the damn pulmonologist who will charge me $100 to say, "It looks bad, but if it were as bad as it looks, you'd be really sick. You don't look sick."

Next week, I get to have a colonoscopy. Since I am the colonoscopy poster child, I'm really excited about this. Two uncles, two great aunts, and numerous first cousins once removed have died or are suffering from colon cancer. Since the act of having a colonoscopy nips the colon cancer in the bud (as it were) by removing polyps that might turn ugly, I'm all for it. Plus, I usually lose about 10 or 20 lbs and feel so liberated with my nice clean colon that I go on a healthy eating/ exercise plan that lasts until tax season. I'm looking forward to that!

Then, there is my mammogram and a follow up to my doctor to round out the fall. Then, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and TAX SEASON.

Boy, time flies.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here we are

Has this fall been this busy? I can't say for sure I've accomplished anything, but I have been working hard. I think my medications are finally settled. I'm feeling better, less tired, less dizzy. Most days my brain works.

I am still facing a collage of to do lists from every part of my life. I need to finish tax returns, make phone calls, sign up for courses at the accounting office; I need to organize the report layout and answer some questions at the church; I need to e-mail all of the new board members and get started on the new board year at the school; I need to do SOMETHING with the middle school charter, even if it's just give it to someone else to do; I need to study for and take the business part of the Enrolled Agent Exam; I need to walk & eat better food; I need to crochet a Christmas stocking for Brendon; I need to read with Mark; I need to help Joseph apply for college; I need to spend time with my family and friends. I need to breath.

For now: payroll tax deposits. And a promise to write more often, even if I don't say anything.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 12: Happy Birthday Bob!!!

In all of the excitement of illness, babies, baby showers that turned into baby welcome parties, hurricanes, earaches, and rampant bouts of hypochondria, I'm afraid my Sweetie's birthday was missed. Since we believe in long birth celebrations --- a full month at least, we will make it up.

Bob and I have a mixed marriage. I was the rebellious child of extremely tolerant, liberal, card-carrying members of the ACLU and the Democratic Party. The only way I could think to piss them off was to date Republicans. It kind of threw them when I actually married one. However, it turns out that my parents are tolerant even of Republican son-in-laws. In fact, my parents loved to argue with him. Dad still does, which is interesting since Dad has freed his inner communist.

After 23 years of marriage, we don't talk politics much, since I like home to be a peaceful place, loud boy noises aside. Bob loves to argue, and wants to argue with me, not just my parents. Once a year (or really once every four years, since we only argue during presidential election years) I give him politics for his birthday. I sit and argue and debate and site sources until the cows come home. We don't change our opinions at all, but it's entertaining. Sort of. And Bob likes it.

So sometime this weekend, I'm going to take him to the Charleston Crab House and argue politics in public with him. Maybe I'll convince him to vote for Obama. Or not.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Bob!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September 10: Welcoming the Baby to Be Named Later

I don't know if I've mentioned that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting a baby. If I did, I probably mentioned that they knew it was a girl. They had three ultrasounds because of some small problems during the pregnancy. Each time, they asked the doctor, is it a boy or a girl? He said a girl. Since Gabe was supposed to be a girl too, but was outed on his second ultrasound, Katy said, "Are you sure?" The doctor was sure. They painted the nursery, got pink stuff, picked a beautiful name: Aliya Jade.

So imagine their surprise when Aliya Jade was born on September 10 and turned out to be a boy. Really.

Boys are great, I have three myself. And a grandson. And now another, which is wonderful. Poor Robert & Katy didn't know what to call him, though. Katy kept saying "They aren't going to let me take my baby unless I name him." I suggested Ali, but that was ignored. Finally, they decided on Brendon Alexander. A fine, strong name.

Welcome to the world, Brendon Alexander! Don't worry about the pink pajamas. It's preppy.

September 8: I told you I was sick

I have mentioned that I am a hypochondriac, right? And knowing this, I try to avoid doctors. I'm pretty sure they spot my hypochondria (and excellent health insurance) immediately and start ordering tests while calculating the down payment on a new vacation home.

Now, I should be going to the doctor regularly. I have a very good doctor who isn't trying to send her kids to college on my hypochondria. She is getting enough from my hypothyroidism & high blood pressure. Since I do have seriously low thyroid levels and seriously high blood pressure, you would think that being a good hypochondriac, I'd go to the doctor and take my pills.


So when my prescription finally ran out during tax season, I didn't make a new appointment. After tax season, I still didn't make the appointment. I was feeling sort of guilty and stupid, which were appropriate feelings.

I woke up Monday morning at 1:30 am with a pain in my ear. It got worse, and I went to the Doctor's Care on Monday, thinking I wouldn't get in to my regular doctor's office anyway. I spent three hours in the waiting room. I had thought I was prepared, since I had a Henry James novel to finish. I finished it. I asked if they'd forgotten me. I read several old magazines. When I got into the examining room, my blood pressure was 180/117, which is high, even if you consider the three hour wait. My ear problem was 40 years of impacted ear wax and a sinus infection.

I made an appointment with my regular doctor who was able to see me on Wednesday. She said, in a very nice voice, "Why don't you take your medicine, do you want to die?" I said not really. I am taking my medicine, eating better, and will exercise after I see my doctor again and make sure I'm not going to stroke out on the road. I have appointments with my regular doctor for a physical and with an Ear, Nose, & Throat doctor to remove 40 years of impacted ear wax. God knows how many houses I am buying.

I am feeling better, but not great. I am pathetically proud of myself for taking my medicine everyday for a week. I am doing what I have to do to see my grandchildren's weddings. Or even my children's weddings.

And I told you I was sick. So there. Please hand me a cold compress.

What a beautiful day

The past couple of weeks have been so ... something... I haven't even read blogs much less written my own. So today, on a beautiful day when the sky hangs low like a damp gray blanket, promising rain and not just those stupid pop-up thunderstorms, I will try to catch up.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, and White Bread

I live in Columbia, which is at least 150 miles from the coast and rarely gets serious damage from hurricanes. Usually we get rain, which we always need, because we've been in a drought for a hundred years. It's hard to tell through the kudzu, but it's true.

However, I live in Columbia, where we have very long historical memories. Selective historical memories, but long none the less. I recently spoke to someone who believes the burning of Columbia continues to adversely affect his personal economy. I think ... never mind what I think.

And so, to combine the two: 19 years ago, Hurricane Hugo leveled Charleston, then barely slowed as it headed inland, causing severe damage all the way to Charlotte NC. If we haven't forgotten a battle that happened 100 years before we were born, we sure aren't going to forget Hugo.

And so, when a hurricane whispers and blinks and looks like it might come near, we all put away our lawn furniture and head to Lowes & the Bi-Lo.

SCE&G e-mailed emergency preparedness kit lists. (It was really a nice thing, especially considering they have no competition and don't need to advertise. I guess they want to remind us of how dependent we are on electricity.)

One of the items on the list is a non-electric can opener. This is a good suggestion. My parents didn't have one during an ice storm years ago. I had seven, so I shared. The list also points out that cordless phones won't work without electricity, so you might want to pick up one of those old plug in jobs at K-mart. Get some batteries and a battery powered radio while you are there.

Then off we go to Lowes for batteries, propane grills, flashlights, batteries, and plywood.

We move on to Bi-Lo, where we can buy batteries, white bread and milk. Why do people buy milk when they think the power will go out? And why is it always white bread? I went to the store before a threatened snow storm once and there was no white bread. Plenty of wheat, rye, pumpernickel, but no white bread. I don't buy white bread, so it was ok, but I still wonder...

OK, so at the Bi-Lo, I buy bottled water, batteries, canned tuna, vienna sausages (which will sit on the shelf uneaten for many years), and batteries. Ice for the cooler and we're off. Oh yeah, get some beer and diet Coke. And limes.

The thing to remember is that if there is a storm that affects Columbia, the problems (other than a few tornadoes) will come after the storm while SCE&G tries to restore power. The water will be fine, the Hardee's will be open, the roads will be clear.

Of course, Hannah is not coming this way. We will get rain tonight and tomorrow morning. It might be windy. But it won't be a big deal.

But just in case, I'm getting my white bread and batteries. See ya.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Joseph

19 years ago, at about this time... a little earlier, I woke up with funny pressure in my rib cage. I had been to the Ob-gyn the day before and everything was a go to induce labor in a couple of days. The head was down, he was just comfortable, the doctor said.

This was my second child, and I learned a couple of things from the first time. 1) Wash your hair. So I got in the shower, thinking how different this felt this time. Not painful, but pretty regular. I am pretty sure I shaved my legs, too. You never know when you'll get to do those things again, with a three year old and and infant.

At about 7 am, I woke up my husband. I told him the contractions were close together, but didn't feel right. They were too high. He jumped up, got dressed, got Robert dressed. I called to doctor's office. They sent me to the hospital.

A quick inspection showed that some time in the night, the baby had decided he was not longer comfortable and had flipped. One leg was dangling, the other was curled up on his chest. They decided to do an emergency C-section.

At about 11:45, I felt real serious contractions. All of a sudden, I remembered how this crap felt. I said, "OH no, I changed my mind." Within a few minutes, I was on the operating table, and very quickly, the baby Joseph made his way into the world. They wrapped him up in a blanket. The pediatrician, a great children's doctor who doesn't do as well with adults, stuck the baby in my still groggy face. I was strapped with my arms out, like a mother on a cross. The doctor said, kiss your baby. I made a kissy thing out of the side of my mouth.

Joseph was the biggest, healthiest baby in the hospital. Although my Ob-gyn would not allow rooming in since I had had a C-section, the nurses disagreed. Every time Joseph or I woke up, they'd bring him in. If I walked down the hall, they'd roll him out to me.

Soon he had the fullest head of blond curls you could ever see. I decided not to cut his hair for a year. That didn't happen, but that's another story and not for today.

He was happy and sweet. He loved his big brother. His big brother loved him, in his own three year old way. One day, I walked into their room and found Robert standing beside the crib full of stuffed animals. I said, don't do that, honey, Joseph won't be able to sleep in there. A little blond curly head popped out of the pile of toys, smiling.

Joseph is now 19. A tall, handsome, intelligent, funny, kind, thoughtful young man. Still deciding what he wants to do in life, but heck, I'm 48 and don't know yet. He is a son to be proud of.

Happy birthday, Joseph.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Embracing my inner three year old

I know that I am 48 years old with a house, a husband, three sons, a daughter-in-law, a grandson, a granddaughter who is trying to make her debut a month early, friends, family, three jobs that pay, two or more jobs that don't pay, and eight cats. I know that I am very lucky. However....

I don't feel well. My head hurts and my head and chest are cloggy and I hurt when I sit up and hurt more when I lie down and all I want to do is go to bed. But no. Yesterday, I took the day off (HA!) but ended up babysitting because the babysitter didn't feel well and if you are almost 19 and don't feel well you can ask your mother NO MATTER HOW CRAPPY SHE FEELS to pick up the slack. And I worked on a charter and a couple of grants. And I had to talk to an auditor, who was a nice enough guy but for Pete's sake. I'm sick.

I almost had to come into work, which might have been a good thing, since at least at work people don't usually whine at me. But that situation worked out, although not permanently, and that's an issue I'll have to deal with another day. When my head doesn't feel like it's going to implode.

And all I want to do is sleep this weekend, but NO! Joseph turns 19 and seems to think that should be acknowledged in some way. Katy is still having contractions, so baby Ali may make her entrance this weekend and disturb my nap. Another Virgo. As if the world doesn't have enough. I need to work on my jobs that don't pay and one or two of the ones that do pay. I need to sort my laundry in case it ever gets cold again. I need to clean up mounds of cat poop.

OK, well that's enough of that. Time for baby Kathy to take a nap, have a little quiet time, remember that the world does not revolve around her. And take some medicine. I'm thinking Rum & Diet Coke with Lime.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby on Board

Last night, Bob and I slept (sort of) in a bed with a year old baby. Gabe, our adorable grandson, has the family trait of hogging the bed. His father used to sleep with his feet pressed against something --- the base of his crib, my back, his Dad's back. Robert's son does a wonderful imitation of a starfish --- spread out with legs and arms claiming the ripe center of the bed. Bob and I huddled on our respective edges. Gabe slept peacefully. We managed to sleep (sort of).

Grandchildren are a great blessing and a great joy. Not the least of which is being able to send them home to their loving Mommy and Daddy when the time comes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weather Report

It is still August, which means we can expect more heat and humidity for the next month at least. But the last couple of days have been cooler. 80 degrees and breezy, thanks to tropical storm Fay. We don't get any damage up here, far away from the real storm. We get rain to drop into the bucket of the perpetual drought and a soft wind that feels foreign in a stagnant August. Please notice that for once, I am not complaining about the weather.

This morning is dawning with electrically violet skies. I'm sure the sailors are not feeling good about that. I am not a sailor. I will enjoy the rain and wind from the comfort of my house.

Maybe I will clean my room. Maybe I will work on Gabe's baby blanket --- the one I'd like to finish before his sister is born. Maybe I will curl up on the couch and read a rainy day book. Maybe I will write one.

80 degrees and breezy. The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Gabe

Today is my grandson's first birthday. It is difficult to describe the joy he has brought. Happy Birthday, sweetie pie.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was the anniversary of my parents' wedding. If Mom were alive, it would have been their 49th anniversary. Since I just turned 48, Mom would have said, "It's our 48th anniversary," a joke which failed to embarrass me soon after I was able to understand it.

My parents had a strong and strange marriage. They were an institution, to me and to many of their friends. They would argue, bicker, and pick at each other. They would hug and kiss in the kitchen when they made supper. They traveled together and separately. They supported each other and gave each other room. Most evenings, they sat in their places, reading and watching television, occasionally commenting, discussing, or arguing. It was strange to watch, but it worked for them.

As Bob and I get ready to celebrate our 23rd anniversary tomorrow, I recognize that marriages are strange, especially from the outside. Not the dysfunctional, violent, disjointed, cruel marriages that aren't really marriages. The partnering of two people who have realized that not only can they stand to be with each other, they can't stand to be without each other.

Whether they are married in a church, in a courthouse, or in their minds, it is their marriage. Happy anniversary to everyone who is lucky enough to have this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's with that?

It is about 78 degrees and raining. Not a thunderstorm, but a solid gray downpour. What's with that? It's August. It's supposed to be hot and muggy with chance of pop-up thunderstorms. The weathermen will have to go to work and record a new forecast.

I'm not complaining. Well, yes I am. I love rain. I love solid gray downpours. I love 78 degrees. But my head has revolted at the change in weather --- barometric pressure, temperature, normalcy. I don't know what. I can't think. I can't eat (always looking on the bright side.) I can't go to bed because I have too much to do.

Yeah, that is not complaining. That is whining. I think I'll stop.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Sunday in August

The weather forecast is the same: humid, hot, chance of pop up thunderstorms. It's actually cooler than it has been. In the 90s, I think.

I am making butter pecan ice cream for my mother in law's birthday party. It's the super-rich kind with a custard base. I've had to combine two recipes to make this work. I hope it does work. One recipe was too large for my ice cream maker. It looked to complicated too.

Butter pecan is my mother in law's favorite ice cream. I know she will like this, probably better than anything else we might have given her. She won't say how fattening it is (although someone will). She will eat some and share the rest and it will be nice.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Channeling Martha

The stupid Hostess got loose in my brain and announced that she was having a party to honor Gabriel's first birthday. This seems simple enough. The family alone makes up over 50 people. Add a few friends who are a part of Gabe's life and our lives and we have a nice crowd of friendly people. Ask my brother, sister, and father to help with food and beverages. Katy gets the decorations and the cake. E-mail or call people, since we aren't being too formal. How hard is that?

OK, all I have to do is clean the house. A house that includes 8 cats, most of whom can't find the cat boxes even though there are three of them in the house. A house with stuff in rooms that aren't supposed to hold stuff. In August, when the backyard will be full of humidity and mosquitoes. What was I thinking?

Oh well. It will happen. And we will have a good time. And Bob will make me promise never to do it again. And the Hermit will swear on a stack of Martha Stewart Living magazines that this won't happen again. But it will.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Since eight is my lucky number, this should be a good day for me. Maybe the roots of something good are happening. Or maybe I should enjoy the goodness of my life in general.

It's been an uneventful day.

I had a nice conversation with my counselor about world views, collaboration, and communicating with people who see a different world than I do.

I delivered payroll to an unappreciative client and am trying to remind myself that it is her problem not mine.

I bought a bunch of essential oils and made a recipe that is supposed to repel cockroaches. Since I know a nuclear blast won't kill them, I'm just trying to repel them now. I'll let you now how that works for me.

The recipe called for 4 drops of thyme oil, 8 drops of lemongrass, 4 drops of lavender, and 4 drops of peppermint. I hope it repels the roaches. My sons are complaining of the smell, but I sort of like it. I wonder what that says.

I am reading Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, and thinking about how people acting to protect someone they love often harm them. And I'm thinking about how to avoid that.

Things to avoid: harming people I love, cockroaches, and irritable clients.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mars in a full house

Mars (the cat) is recovering nicely from her surgery. She slept the first night and hid in a cupboard for the second day. Last night she got outside, which is not what I would have liked, but is what Mars likes.

She seems very content. It's almost as if she knows that she won't be burdened with more litters of demanding kittens. She was a good mother, but you could tell she was getting tired of it. Now she can be free and easy. The solitary cat she seems to want to be. And that isn't easy in a house with 8 cats and four people.

After the next payday, I'll get the next one taken care of.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One down...

Lydia asked if I had 8 cats or if the extra four would have made eight. The answer is: I have 8 cats.

Koala is my blind 16 year old (I think) blue calico. Someone we knew was feeding her, but their cats didn't like her, so she needed a new home. Robert wanted a cat for his birthday. Since his birthday is in January, the animal shelter didn't have a lot. I don't think the guy understood I didn't want a kitten, but it worked out. Koala is a dear.

Before I could get her spayed, she had a litter. Her son Colby is with us still. Her daughters Maggie and Alyss live with my brother. Colby is yellow and white and does a fine imitation of a bear rug.

Joseph brought home Mars, who is getting spayed today. She is doing well, I hear from the vet's office. She has had too many litters. We have Taz, a black long-haired male.

And we have the four kittens, currently called Moosetracks (calico), Turtletracks (tortoiseshell), Charley (black and white), and Thierry (gray and white.) I don't want to keep them, but I've had bad luck giving away cats, except to relatives and close friends. They are full up right now.

So, I am going to have the kittens spayed or neutered, then find homes. At least then, I won't feel guilty about giving them away to make more and more cats. Even though they are beautiful and sweet, there are enough of them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Sunday morning in August

It is August in South Carolina. The month in which television weathermen tape their weather report and go on vacation. "Highs in the high 90s or low 100s. Folks, it's going to be hot out there. Drink plenty of water and bring your umbrella because there may be some pop-up thunderstorms with hail the size of Volkswagens. There is a chance of high winds. Have a nice day."

Sometimes, just for variety, there is a hurricane somewhere. People in SC care about hurricanes. Even if it is in the Yucatan peninsula, South Carolinians will buy bottled water, extra batteries, and white bread. You never know when those babies will change course. It's not just SC, of course. People in from Florida to Texas and up to North Carolina feel the same way.

This morning, it is sunny but hazy, which means nothing. Last night there was a magnificent storm. I think it was centered on my house. Lightning and thunder blasted at the same time. The bedroom was lit up with flashes. It was like the footage of the bombing of Baghdad. Very scary, especially with two large pine trees right outside of my bedroom window.

But there is little or no damage here. I'll send the boys out to pick up pine cones and limbs, but I don't think we'll need the chain saw. My son and daughter-in-law didn't call to tell us a tree fell on their house. I haven't heard from other family or friends, so I believe everyone is safe and sound.

At least until tonight. Got to go buy batteries...