Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gratitide - no grudge involved

The Excellent Anna (she who is Boaty) has saved the day really as I wanted to write something about genuine, real, ungrudging gratitude but without walking straight into ooey gooey sentimentality (which I reserve for the privacy of my own home, thanks - my Children have much to fear) and fortunately she came up with the brilliant idea of writing about why I'm grateful for my blog.


- I'm grateful for my blog because it gave me a place to reclaim a story that had been taken away from me.

- I'm grateful for my blog because it allowed me to carve out a small place where I had some control at a time when I felt totally powerless.

- I'm grateful for my blog because writing my story has helped me find it again, and be willing to find a story past it.

- I'm grateful for my blog because it has let make friends I would never have otherwise met, and renew friendships I had lost.

There are many other things as well, but I think that will do for now, particularly as I need to cook the Brussels sprouts and the corn and give the apples a quick stir.

Hope your day is full of reasons to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude. Grudgingly

It is the time of year to be grateful. I suppose. Yesterday I was too busy looking for that darn turtle to come up with something to be grateful for, and to be honest today hasn't been the most inspiring. However, I refuse to buck tradition, so I present, today's gratitude.

My job recently did a bizarre sort of mitosis sort of thing, only with a bit of mutation. So I have twice the job I did before only the new bit isn't the same as the old bit. There are two problems with this. A) The new job is gobbling up my proper job and B) I frankly don't really enjoy the new job. This is mostly because i) it is tedious and ii) unlike my proper job where people are quite likely to be terribly grateful and tell me I'm brilliant (well, now and then) with the new job people are more likely to be fractious and tell me I'm too slow (which is generally Not My Fault but is the Nature of the Job). All of which means I have tended to come home somewhat grouchy, which is a little hard on those I live with. The Children are nice enough to say that no, I'm not really grouchy, well okay yes, I am a little, oh all right quite a lot, but they LIKE me that way. Note to self: need to write better scripts for Children entailing much more flattery and considerably less honesty.

However at a recent meeting it was pointed out to my colleagues and I that we are not simply being asked to do considerably more work for no extra pay no! We are, and this is important, Not Being Laid Off.

Which pretty much puts me in my place because I know that's a hell of a lot more than many people can say. So, with rather more grace than I might have previously mustered, at this time, in this place I am grateful to be fully employed.

Grouchy or not.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Seeing the Turtle

There's a graffiti artist around where I work who does its thing entirely in stencils. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm rather opposed to graffiti in general on the grounds that destruction of another's property is Not Right. I do recognize that there are some amazing artists out there doing remarkable work - and sometimes on derelict buildings which considerably softens my aforementioned stance. However, this person is using stencils, which is cheating just a little (except it's possible these are hand-cut stencils which adds a few points in the positive column). What's more, they're really not terribly artistic stencils in general - this morning's was a unicorn; a few months ago "Thank Heavens for Little Girls" was sprayed over the pavement with a little halo over one of the words.

Some time last year my boss and I were out on the morning coffee hunt and, hunt successful, were heading back to our building when she pointed out a green splodge on the wall.

"I like that one," she said, sipping her overly-hot pinon coffee.

"Really?" I looked at it carefully and back at her. It wasn't the best effort I'd seen. It had taken me a week just to work out what it was. It certainly wasn't her usual sort of thing.

"Oh yes," she said. "I like turtles!"

I looked again. It could be a turtle. Maybe. If you really, really tried. And sort of squinted. The gun turret could be a sort of wonky, skinny head and the treads could be splodgy feet maybe. The body was a bit angular too, seeing as it was a tank. I pointed this out to her and she stopped completely to stare at the green splodge.

"Is not," she declared firmly. We stood there for a minute while she studied the wall seriously. "Oh. Oh, I see now. I don't want it to be a tank! I like turtles. I'm going to see a turtle."

I went to bed last night with the beginnings of a cold and it's no better this morning. I can't be sick this week no matter what since there are seventy-leven projects which all have major fiddling to do on them. The ignition on the Scootah is acting up and won't accept the key no matter how much I cajole. Driving in to work this morning some idiot very nearly almost totally ran into me and I'm going to be very, very late getting home since I had to park miles away from work and will have to walk back and THEN wrestle with rush-hour traffic.

But yesterday Child 2 & Child 3 and I hiked fourteen miles, getting all the way to the peak (well, A peak anyway) and taking 15 minutes off our previous best time. The Children leaped and scrambled and worked their way into impossible crevices in the rock and rather than offer to help extract them I laughed and took pictures. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful hike and when we got back we collapsed for a bit and then watched Dr Who. Child 2 and I bustled over to Child 1's work to keep it company over its break and generally cheer it up (it's been working rather too hard these days). When it came home, totally excited, it told us that it had that very evening made coffee for and chatted with one of its major childhood heroes.

I think I'll remember yesterday instead of grousing about this morning. I think I'll try at least for today to see the turtle, not the tank.

It's the best thing to do on a blue Monday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Lo! There was smoting!

Colloquially that would be, "We done been smitified."

I was happily working away on my computer when there was a "ffffZZZZZPT" noise and the computer turned off. And no, naturally I hadn't just saved any of the four files I was working on. I did, however, remain quite calm and cool and dignified AND I didn't use any of the more descriptive words in my vocabulary. I might have blinked for a minute or two at the now cold, dead screen in the slightly delusional belief that Computers Which Die Can Also Therefore Live. Then I wandered sadly into the hallway because basically without my computer I have no purpose.

Which is where I learned that I was not alone because immediately two other people piped up with, "hey, did your computer just..."

Smiting, you see.

For the righteous sat smugly in front of their working machines while the wicked multitudes sort of swarmed around speaking blasphemy about award winning buildings that couldn't keep the power on. We even had outer darkness in the copy room.

In the end the rain fell upon the just and the unjust alike though because after about an hour four small electric carts and one large truck pulled up downstairs and the nine assorted physical plant workers strode around looking dubious and finally called us up to let us know we were being evacuated. Which, when you're dealing with a hundred or so academic types is far easier said than done as you have to keep chasing them back out again when they wander up for just one more book or that really, really vital pile of papers they might suddenly need. The students, however, were done, dusted and gone in two minutes flat.

Tomorrow if the electrics deity hasn't relented I'm going to spend my morning calling the building to repentance.

Heck, I need something to do without my computer.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Child 2 is a high tensile sort of Child - always has been. As an infant it had to be swaddled incredibly tightly just to get it to calm down and sleep or its wiry little arms would work free and literally wind it back up just by their gyrating action. It has a hair-trigger to this day and great amusement can be had by innocently walking up behind it and saying hello. Granted you have to do it from a safe distance as sometimes Child 2's hair trigger expresses itself as an instinctive sort of judo-flipping kind of thing (no, really, it has laid out several close friends at school entirely accidentally simply because they startled it).

Child 2 also makes very entertaining meeping noises when you tickle it (Child 2 right this moment is bellowing I DO NOT MEEP. It meeps). It's siblings are banned from tickling (it's a universal sibling-wide ban for the sake of Peace in Our Times), but natch I'm the Parent and I have rights and privileges [note: I'm not a monster. I totally only tickle Child 2 when I'm bored as is right and proper]. Child 2 is kind enough to make an effort not to judo-flip or otherwise maim and injure its parent, leading to a certain amount of creativity in its Anti-Tickle efforts.

Which is why this weekend when I surprised it one evening it flipped on its back, showed all of its claws and roared in the Voice of Jehovah:


Worked though. I totally didn't tickle it.

Well, not until I stopped laughing anyway.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Paper Trail

For various (and sundry) reasons I've been busily going through old files the last couple of weeks. This includes an entire set with enticing labels like: "Army, orders," "Army, Pay," "Army, Awards," and - apparently when I was more than sick of the job - "Army Forms, STUPID." There's another set for the Air Force as well although I don't seem to have made editorial comments on those. Mixed in there was a DD Form 214 (DD for Department of Defense - all the army and air force stuff is DD something-er-other) which is Kirk's CERTIFICATE OF RELEASE OR DISCHARGE FROM ACTIVE DUTY.

Kirk spent about nine or ten years in the active military - four years plus some spare change in the army and five years in the air force. As a lowly Lt (and later Capt) in the air force he used to get funny looks from other officers when he wore his ribbons [for non-military types awards usually come with three pieces (at least those that have a medal attached): a large medal, a small medal for wearing with the dress mess uniform, and a little ribbon swatch wrapped around a piece of brass that is then slid onto a rack that can be pinned to the shirt or jacket]. He quickly stopped bothering with most of them and only wore the few he felt were worthwhile.

Along with a lot of other varied information the DD 214 includes section 13: Decorations, Medals, Badges, Citations and Campaign Ribbons Awarded or Authorized. Kirk's spills into section 18: Remarks. In his time in service he was awarded:

Air Force Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with 1 device, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award with 1 device, Air Force Training Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with 1 Device, NATO, AFEM, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Meritorious Service Medal.

He thought many of these were funny - like the Hey! You Didn't Get Kicked Out Yet! Awards and what he referred to as the Thanks For Playing Medal (Army Good Conduct). He was genuinely proud of his Air Force Achievement Medal and his Joint Service Commendation Medals. He had mixed feelings about the Army Achievement Medal and the Kosovo Campaign Medal.

We still have most of the certificates that came with the important ones. They come in blue padded plastic folders with a gold-sealed certificate on one side and a blurry, badly printed letter on the other. They aren't terribly detailed, the important ones, just talking about valuable service and sort of general comments about really good work.

I only know bits and pieces of the stories behind them - the parts Kirk felt he could tell me or the funny things that happened around them.

Everything else is just this simple list.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I went to bed early last night, leaving the Children to watch the results coming in (mandatory school work - they HAD to watch television). I had just reached that almost-but-not-quite asleep moment, that magical moment when you're drifting off but you don't know it yet, that moment where if something should happen to startle you awake you're pretty much resigned to another half hour before you manage to achieve that state again. It was that moment, the moment when the election was so close as to be nearly almost totally already called for sure (it's a technical political phrase) that there were three huge flashes outside accompanied by incredibly loud, startling bangs.

So I lay in bed, jerked completely awake, and smiling.

Because there were fireworks in my neighborhood.

Fireworks over an election.

Fireworks because people were happy - happy about politics.

I think that's worth losing a little sleep over.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Did you vote yet? Did you? [yes, those from other parts of the world you can ignore this one, I'm being 'Merka-centric for the moment] 'Cause you know if you don't vote you don't get to whinge about the government AT ALL for the next four years. [well, less on some things, but let's focus]

Just think! At the end of the day today a miracle will happen. An honest to goodness, realio trulio miracle.


Election campaign ads, irritating flyers thrust through doors, pollsters on the phone during dinner, door-to-door types with clipboards and brochures all will be OVER.

At least until the next time.

So do get out and vote.

Now, if you don't mind I'm going to go sit in a nice calm darkened room and stuff my fingers in my ears until the results are announced.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


On today's hike:

Child 1: Hmmm... the trail forks here.

Me: Yes, but see that one goes that way and this one goes this way. [slight pause for thought] That is the Way of the Trail.

Child 1: [with deep respect] You are wise in the Way of the Trail!

Child 2: [disgusted as we snort] You are just so weird.