Saturday, October 27, 2007

Was this a good idea..

A few weeks ago the woman who was cleaning my house quit. She got a job in a nursing home. She had four kids and it is second shift with benefits. It is a good thing and I was very happy for her and I like her a lot. I decided that since I had plenty of vacation time till the end of the year that I would just clean the house myself and that would be refreshing. I could take half days every other Friday.

But then I saw an add in the local paper. A woman was advertising some openings and I called her. Thanksgiving is coming up and I have to do some travel for business and perhaps it would keep me saner if I got someone to help.

So then she came over. She has OCD which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
She used to work in the medical industry but then decided that she should use her gift that God
has given her and cleaning just made sense.

I am wondering what I have gotten myself into. She wanted to know where all my cleaning supplies were, and materials. I showed her everything that was in my closets and cabinets so that she would know where everything went. She says she has to put things away and nothing can be on countertops (when I suggested that she just leave the cleaning supplies on the counter etc.) The beds all have to be made. Everything has got to be perfect. When she saw the cupboard where I keep rags and brushes and vacuum filters she asked if I would mind if she reorganized that. Well, sure. I do myself sometimes. And, my cupboards and pantry do look pretty disheveled at this moment in time. I usually ignore those kinds of projects till the weather turns bad.

As we walked around the house and talked she picked up paper scraps and bits off the floor. She has given me a list of special cleaning supplies and tools that she will need. I am a vinnegar and water, bleach and ammonia sort of person depending on the job. I use an old fashioned rag mop to do the floor. I like things simple and basic and without the filler (all those chemicals whose names cannot be pronounced). So now I have a list of supplies that I have to get before she starts next week. I am not sure I will be able to handle this. I really am not interested in perfection.

Today I am reorganizing my pantry and the place I keep all my cleaning supplies. I would hate to send her into a tailspin on her first visit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sisters' Cow Fever

I have a younger sister whom I mostly refer to as my "little sister". Its a private joke. We're only about a year and a half difference in age and for a long time I thought we were twins, because she was always the same size as me. She eventually overtook me in size when we got older. I am five foot four inches and she's probably close to 5'11" (she always said she was 5'8" growing up and I believed her! Pah!). Anyway, when we were little, adults would ask me that question, "Are you girls twins?", in grocery stores and other places, and I always said yes, and then my "little" sister would correct me. It wasn't till I started grade school, ahead of her, that I realized that I was different and also, possibly had an advantage. We were raised Catholics and my little sister and I went to a Catholic school. I was indoctrinated at a very young age on the cult of Jesus, and he was great for suffering. As it happened, my sister suffered a lot. This was when she was five and we were new in the neighborhood. She used to get picked on by some of the neighbor kids, well one in particular. I remember her coming home crying from some incident where the girl who was supposed to be her best friend, had pushed her into the bushes or pulled her hair. I remember ( and she remembers this too) telling her that Jesus loved her (when I was seven!) and that i would protect her. I also remember hugging her and all that, and trying to stop her crying. There is a lot to be said about birth order and behavior. My dad, who is almost 80, and having some problems with memory loss and old age in general, tells us now how his older brother always took care of him, and still is: taking him to the doctor, making sure he has all his prescriptions, keeping us kids informed. This is a good thing about family. I feel like my older sister is similar and frankly, sometimes she acts more like my mother than my own mother!

When we were in our early twenties, my little sister was visiting me at college, and I had a friend whose parents were farmers. My friend took us over to his parents place, so we could see the woods and go for a walk. We had to cut through this pasture to get to the woods and so we had to walk through this field that had a couple of cows resident. The cows tried to stampede us, well sort of. My sister has brought this up a number of times recently. I asked her why this had such an impact and she said because cows aren't supposed to behave this way. They are supposed to be gentle and quiet and sweet, but I think she has been watching too many movies. I guess this must have been one of those traumatic, life changing experiences for her.

Now I have had some experiences with cows. This wasn't the first field I had been chased out of by a bovine. From my view, they appear rather slow and thoughtful (er stupid is probably closer to the truth), but it is possible for them to sometimes get anxious or feel threatened. Fortunately though, it has been my experience that thoughts do not come very quickly to a cow, and they usually chew on it for quite a few minutes, which gives you sometime to realize their intentions. On this particular occasion, we were in this pasture, headed to the woods: my sister, myself and my friend. My friend was distracted by the gate and had turned around. All of a sudden these two cows lunged toward us. Well they did not move that fast, but it totally startled my sister and I. The thing that got me, was not the cows coming at us, but our response to them. For my sister, I think the adrenaline kicked in and she went into survival mode. I tried to get in front of her and I swear to God, she, on the other hand, was pushing me out of the way and knocked me face first on the ground, (I'm exaggerating because i never actually fell) so she could have a clear shot at a run in the other direction. Fortunately, my friend noticed the whole thing, before the two of us trampled each other in our panic to do something. He shouted a couple of WHOA WHOA and waved his hands. This was enough to make the cows stop in their tracks and run the other direction.

My sister and I have a lot of shared experiences. We don't talk about any of this too often, and it is surprising to hear, sometimes, her perception and memory of various incident that we experienced together. For her this incident was some kind of traumatic experience, for me it was just something new I learned about my sister, and now that I think of it, the way we responded probably had more to do with the roles we had within our family.
For a long time, one of my measures of human worth based on behavior, is whether I would want to be stranded on a desert island with a person. Since this incident, I had decided that my sister was not a good candidate. I've changed my mind about that. Actually, both my sisters have been there for me recently, providing me with much needed emotional support, and just a little bit of good advice to get me through some very tough times. I have decided that I am very lucky, and very glad that they are here helping me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

They need a dog

Say hello to Pufkin. This is the one family member's picture that my niece Megan has sitting in a frame on her desk at work.

My sister's family lost their dog Tucker to old age about 6 months ago. He was part of the family for many years, and well loved by all. Recently, my niece bought this little hamster and named it Pufkin.
At night, Megan will block the top of the stairs with pillows and put Pufkin in a hamster ball, so it can roam unrestricted around the second floor. The other night, at bedtime, Pufkin, in the hamster ball, was in my sister's bedroom. "Mike, will you get that hamster out of here?" And her husband did. It followed behind him as he led it, in its hamster ball, out to the hallway.
This family needs a real pet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In memorium

This is my friend Doreen, standing with my husband. The story behind the picture is this: she needed a car for awhile. I drive used cars. My current vehicle of choice are station wagons, and for some silly reasons, we had two. She borrowed one for about a month and then when she gave it back, she gave us a gift certificate to a restaurant. So then, when John and I used the certificate, we invited Doreen out to dinner with us, our treat. It was fun.

Doreen died this weekend. She was recovering from treatments for MDS, a precurser to Leukemia. She had a blood cord transplant three years ago, and just never got better. Before she contracted this disease, she was so lively and so much fun. There were many things I wanted to do with her, and things we had planned. I will miss her alot.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Beep Baseball

When I first met John, my husband, who is blind, he was very active and athletic. He was looking for things to do, so he joined a Beep Baseball team through the AT&T Pioneers association. I got involved in the sport with John, as his driver and his friend, and I ended up being a spotter for the team.
Everyone on the team was blind, or had partial vision and wore a blindfold, except the pitcher. The pitcher could see, and had to use syncopation in his voice and throw a ball that was even and true. He would say “Ready, Set, Swing”. We played softball, but I have to say the team was a rowdy bunch of brave souls, not some girly girl outfit. (I come from a very sportscentric town so hardball vs. softball is a discussion.)

What the spotter does depends on the strategy that the team puts together; and ours was a pie shape where the baseball field was fractioned from one to five as if you had triangular wedges. My job was to call out which area the ball landed in. So I would shout a number one through five if the batter hit the ball and it went somewhere. I would name the area that it fell. And then the person in that area would scramble to get the ball, and there were rules as to whether you could run back or forward, to avoid other players.
Generally, the best teams were the ones who had team members who could hit the ball. There were always discussions whether a player who had vision at some point in his life, and knew the batter posture, was better at hitting than say someone like Stevie Wonder, who I don’t think ever had any vision. Well clearly he wasn’t an athlete. Anyway, there is definitely a difference, but no decision as to which makes a better batter and more contact with the ball.

So, about the game; we had two spotters in the field, one on the left and the other on the right side of the field. I shared the spotter position with another fellow who had a son on the team, so the other spotter was maybe in his sixties.. One time he got hit by his son, wouldn’t you know, who was young and reckless, and did not follow the rules or the plan. For Christ sake, all these guys out in the field have to handle the ball in less than seven seconds and none of them can see. I say seven seconds because that is how fast a runner can run to the base. We used to time it. The fact that everybody listens to the rules and pays attention is very important. Actually, that is why John eventually quit. This same individual wasn’t listening and went the wrong way and hit John dead on with at least 180 lbs of force and John was concerned about his face and his smile and good things like that. Ok.
Well sometime I’ll tell you about the tournaments or the day they played in the wind. The players could not find the bases. The bases are tall soft bags that emit a tone, based on the umpires decision, because the umpire flicks a switch for first or third when the batter makes contact. The batter has to run toward the noise. Sometime I'll tell you about the time we got drunk with a couple of the team members, and I gave them a lift to the train station. Two drunk blind guys trying to find their way through the train station was hilarious. I was a little worried about them when I dropped them off, but they made it.
The whole thing, my hanging out with a blind guy, and hanging out with many blind guys, was an adventure for sure. My husband is amazing. By the way, guess which one is my husband? Guess which ones in this picture can see? There are four.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Over the wall (more about hunting)

I work in an office with mostly men and they are all software engineer types. These two guys sitting next to me were working on something programming and it wasn't going well and the one guy says, "Have you ever been squirrel hunting and your frustrated and you just hang it all and start shooting into the nest? Well thats how I feel right now."

Boy, that's what I would have said if I were having a bad day.