Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weird as hell

A very strange interlude. Has this happened to anyone else?

The latest visit with the neuro was strange from beginning to end and after. First off, he didn't go through the usual test of my eyes, strength, balance, etc.

Then he asked about work. I told him I drive 1 1/2 hours each way to work, that I dislike my workday and that I am tired.

Then he told me "I don't want you driving three hours a day." We then discussed the need to husband my resources and spend less time devoted to getting back and forth to work and more time seeing to my health. He said I should go to human resources and talk to them.

Well my boss told me right off that HR wouldn't do anything without a note from him. I admit I was so messed up by the whole concept of such a change, that it hadn't occurred to me that they would even talk to me at all. I had my husband call the doctor's office.

The office told us that the doctor does not give "notes." He would only sign papers from work.

I contacted HR, who told me they do not provide papers without a note from the doctor. Instant stalemate.

W. T. F? Why on earth would the doctor even tell me to get the ball rolling on all that silliness? The doctor's office then said that the record (whatever that could be) of our visit (what visit? nothing happened.) would be sent to my Primary Care Physician marked as Priority.

That was last week. Where on earth does that leave me?

I can tell you that I went to my boss and told her that I am mystified by all this. I had to assure her that I do not intend to quit working, and that I frankly am looking for a new neuro.

I intend to get a copy of the record of our "visit" and find out exactly what that guy was thinking. Or at least what he put down on paper.

Oh, yes. He also prescribed Valium to talk in small doses all day. My co-commuters immediately raised objections to that. So I am not taking Valium, because I have to share the driving.

It binds me up anyway.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eight Months of Worry

Have taken their toll on me. I am now resolved to retire and apply on disability in the Summer.

Still, concerns of financial problems cropping up have me wishy washy about the whole thing. We have not cleared away the bills as I had hoped two years ago. The banks have seen to that, and they are getting worse as times go on.

On the bright side I have had a couple of reassurances from Higher Up that things will turn out well, or at least for the best:

The Two Dreams
Seemed like a place in Elmira, but we didn't own it. My mother was part of the dream, as if we were both staying there by ourselves.

Outside in the street a large rig, like a semi was almost clogging the street and parked itself. I remember seeing how huge it was as I stood near it. Then, people came out of it, like a large family. I think they were in the back, but that wasn't really important to the dream.
My mom or I invited them into the small place upstairs. We all crowded into the living room, everyone sitting in different spots. The children were becoming restless and it broke my heart, so I offered them something to eat. My mother looked at me and asked what we thought we were going to feed them. I didn't have an answer, so I went into the kitchen to check.
The place was pretty bereft of cooking utensils, and the fridge had very little. Somehow, I figured I could put together something from the freezer and some buns. But the freezer was all frosted over and the shelves were broken. I asked my mother about it, and she sort of shrugged. We began digging into the rime, which came away easily.
First I found a packet of a little meat, not very fancy, like hunter's venison. I thawed it and threw it into the oven. While I was scrounging for more, some of the children came to me and whined for food. Their mother or mothers pulled them away into the living room.
This again tore my heart, and I shouted after them, trying to console them. "We will manage! No one will go hungry."
In the meantime, the little steak seemed to be enough for four or five people, so we carved it and sent it out. Immediately we found another packet, but probably the last one, in the frost.
When I thawed that one, it was too large for the little pan we found, so we had to spread it out on a cookie sheet.
There would certainly be enough, and we would not need to scrounge for more. I could smell bread, so I guess my mom was baking, too.
At that point, I realized that we were in a "loaves and fishes" situation, and everything was much brighter.
No one would go hungry.
Right after that, I found myself in a thrown-together church, meeting in a gymnasium. The church where I was baptised was for the longest while just like that.
We were praying when the person behind me grabbed my arm. When I looked, a lady (apparently someone from my childhood) looked startled and pointed out that she wasn't touching me.
At that moment I was lifted up to the ceiling, with everyone watching. I was estatic, as was the entire congregation. We all praised God, and I floated back down again. No one was frightened by the happening, and we finished out service. Incidentally, I mentioned that the ceiling was acoustic tile, and that they should be replaced. That was just a strange aside.
Afterwards a senior woman came to me, and jokingly told me, "Now maybe you can bless our restroom, because it's a disaster!"
I thought that was a sensible thing to try, so I went upstairs in the back of the gym, and there was indeed a restroom. It was very old, with a huge tub, the sort for just soaking things, like a washer-room tub, for clothes. It was filled to the brim with water, almost overflowing.
Everyone around me was going about their business, the way that athletes do after or before a game. All the women ignored me, because they were busy.
I stared at the brimming tub, and was struck by the notion that there indeed was plenty of water for the blessing.
What it all means is anyones guess, but I woke in a cheery mood.
Now if the Banks were only run by believers in God, we'd be all set. Alas, it is obvious that this is not so. One can only imagine how this is affecting those less fortunate.
And I actually saw a car dealer bragging that they were Pioneers in Sub-Prime Lending!
The evil of it just gives me the willies.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just off

Now I am past the slightly scary exacerbation, with its very temporary double vision. I am working five days a week. Not much time for my life, but there you have it.

My days involve some three hours commute, and 7 1/2 hours working in less than wonderful conditions. My whole way of getting through is to simply repeat " I don't care " constantly to myself.

When I was a teenager, I worked in factories in some pretty nasty conditions. Always, the way I made it through was by telling myself I could put up with anything temporarily.

So I guess the next 5-7 years will be full of my mantra, and the knowledge that it is all temporary. Perhaps with the economy improving, the 401K will improve, and there will be jobs closer to home.

Boy, I am hoping that for everybody.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Not so good.

Lately we have many people out sick, and a few people out on vacation. There is more than enough work to go around, and not enough people.

All compounded by the ridiculous loud drone that makes everyone both on edge and half asleep at the same time. Whoever decided that we need to put workers around the air conditioning compressor ought to be take out and shot. With lousy 7mm handguns, about two hundred of them. For a long, slow, annoying death, like we are suffering.

Then, oh goody! We, and when I say we, I mean those of us who already get up freaking early so we can commute the hour or so to work. Yes, that "we." Anyway, we were asked to come in a half-hour early. So let's rush our asses to work on Friday, when the whole world is on the Southern Tier Expressway (17 to the locals) with their campers and suv's, everyone going to a vacation destination except "we."

So the place is insane when we get there. Still people out sick and others on vacation. And that lovely drone buzzing us along...

There wasn't a thing I could do for more than 10 minutes before I was interrupted by a person looking for my coworkers on vacation. I spent half the day promising myself that I would get to the bathroom soon, real soon. And the other half resigned to the fact that there was no such thing Friday.

When I finally ran to the potty, at about 11, after having arrived at 9:30, all without benefit of a break, I noticed that my sight had suddenly gone double! Everything had an extra edge on it. Like a shiny ghost self just in front or behind it. This gave me a sick feeling when I tried to walk, because it threw me off balance.

Now, my father had a similar experience, minus the horrific work day, because he's retired. He'd had a TIA. I was not a happy camper.

There was no break in the action until I finally gave up and went to lunch. I called Husband RJ and told him I would probably head directly to the emergency room when I got home.

There was no freaking way I would sit in a strange emergency room some 4-6 hours, then have my husband drive out to Binghamton to come for me.

As we got closer to quitting time, I mentioned to the boss that I was having a problem and would see a doctor when I got home, but would likely need to follow up with doctors on Monday. When I described what I was experiencing, she ordered me to go to the Emergency Room.

At that moment I regretted having mentioned it. She enlisted an HR person, and the two of them worked on me to go to the emergency room. "Let us call you an ambulance." No freaking way.

Anyway, when I got home, I called my Neuro.

Weird. The doctor on call very calmly told me he thought it was the MS. He sounded so completely and calmly convinced that I simply accepted it. He thought maybe I would want to check with my eye doctor, but that fizzled out because they never got back to me.

By the time I got up in the morning the whole episode had passed. My face is still slightly numb from it all, but that was it.


Little Pond

Friday, July 31, 2009

Died and went to Hell

...last March.

The constant hum at work is so loud I hear it in my sleep. Turns out it is the airconditioning compressor. It runs loudest and most constantly during these (almost) Dog Days.

We have been informed that we cannot wear music headphones.

I think I have earplugs. I hope.

Going stark raving mad.

Little Pond

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let's get one thing straight.

I am disabled. I walk with a cane.

The trips to the Chemung River are specifically related to the disability. When Ellie and I walk through the street of Elmira, I walk with a cane, and Ellie walks with a choke-chain. We call it "Walking Pretty." She stays at my side and we try to move briskly along, to get off the hot streets in the summer, or to get in from the bitter cold in the winter.

On the banks of the Chemung River, Ellie is free to poke and hunt, and I am able to take pictures. We keep the leash handy for encounters with other human-dog pairs.

Yet I stress that the River is dangerous. Ellie does not swim in the river where it is deep and flowing, and I do not wade. Well, almost never.

Ellie is allowed to swim where the river is fairly still and shallow. The proof of this is her tail: up when she wades, and lower when she wades.

I would never risk my little buddy's safety.


Little Pond

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Night of the Long Knives, revisited.


It started last week, before the public announcement. One of our building supers was "offered" early retirement, and he took it. One day it was "Hi" and the next it was "Bye!"

Yesterday I got word that the lady with whom I had a disagreement (and since reconciled) was let go. No way would I wish it on anyone, especially not her. She and her coworkers were lucky enough to get work with Gannett after their publishing house went under. After only a year or so, it has to be hard for her.

Today the list got significantly longer, including a few people I knew well. I am told this current batch is being "let go," so I don't think they were offered a buyout. We were never promised a buyout this go-around, anyway.

As I remember, those who were on vacation, or out sick, when the white list went into effect, were removed when they returned. Same thing happened when I went on partial layoff years ago. I could still go back and learn my fate.

One can only hope they will allow me some sort of retirement, if they do.

But, by now I feel that whatever happens, happens.

We have bigger fish to fry.

Little Pond

Monday, July 06, 2009

Delicious! Recipe for disaster.

After a quick visit with Violet and her new parents, I stopped by a Chinese takeout to grab a "house special" chow mein. Bought a whole quart, even though I am the only person in the entire family (both sides, likely) who eats the stuff.

Little things began tapping at the back of my head. "Chinese Buffet" on the sign, instead of "Family Depot," however that really translates from the original language. Well, it had literally been more than a year since I last ordered from there.

Very spare place, with only three workers. Used to be busier, with many people. Oh, and no "Buffet" or any sign of it. Well, okay, it's a holiday weekend, after all.

Finally, the most damning clue of all: it was delicious! Usually I would consider it a huge slug of veggies and some little pieces of meat and shrimp. Good for me, but not great tasting. I generally fix it with duck sauce.

This stuff was wonderful: flavorful and welcome; it didn't even need soy sauce. I ate two enormous servings and saved the rest for the next day.

The final clue came last night in my sleep. Weird, off-the-wall dreams, that somewhere, somehow, always feature a bathroom.

I woke up crampy and cranky, and flew into the real bathroom. Twice within twenty minutes.

When things settled down, I took the HuggaMutt for a walk in the Newtown Creek area. Had to duck into some heavy shrubbery to ease my bladder, where I got a nasty surprise.

Time to head home, change my clothes, and do a special load of laundry.

If you live in the Elmira/Southport area, and are sensitive to MSG, here's a tip: Avoid the Chinese Buffet in Southport Plaza.

Avoid it like the Plague.

Little Pond

Saturday, July 04, 2009

You probably know

Yesterday, Violet Meadow Johns became the youngest person ever to cause me to have a wetting accident, and the only one to ever cause three.

Three accidents, to be exact.

She arrived at 2:09pm, in a bit of a rush, after her mother suddenly dialated and effaced, fully and all at once.

We were just arriving to console our daughter for having to go through another day of pitocin and slow, annoying, contractions. She'd already begun to deliver.
There was a quick, lovely visit with a teeny, squalling newborn, and we were rushed out to give the mother and baby time to bond and practice nursing.
It was the beginning of many rushes to find facilities. I never made it to the ladies room for any of them, but I did go through lots of protection, and glad of it. And, with a building full of nurses and various supplies, who cares?

Don't know when things will settle down enough in the nerve department, but then again, I don't much care. Busy with other stuff, we are.

Little Pond

Friday, June 19, 2009

The best therapy

I'd have to say my little HuggaMutt is my best therapy.  I can really feel the difference, now that I cannot visit the River so often.

Truthfully, I rarely go to the Chemung without my little buddy.  She's good for my nerves when she's just being a dog.  Her latest thing, now that the water is warm enough, it to wade or swim out to inspect anything within range.  Usually it will be a log, a stick or some detritus, but often, I cannot understand what she thinks she sees:


Monday, June 15, 2009

And finally...

One door closes, but another opens.

The loss of feeling in my outer pelvis left me bereft, until I realized that I was more in tune with what was directly inside that area.

I hope you know what I mean.

There is a strange jumbling of feeling caused by MS. I believe this is called dysaesthesia. Boy, did that ever happen to me. It is the cause of "accidents" at time and the bane of my working life. A twinge, then a loss of control, all further troubled or even triggered by any physical or emotional shock or upset.

But, it's a little gift from heaven during intimacy. If we plan ahead, and protect against incontinence by a quick visit to the little girls' room beforehand, well, we can ring the bell nearly every time.

Not a bad little development in a middle-aged MSer's life, eh?

Little Pond

Friday, June 05, 2009

More about the naughty bits.

I started this whole "naughty bits" thing because I couldn't find a way into mentioning something delicate but important.

During the "first" attack of MS that hit me in, I think, 1995, I lost a lot of feeling in my body before we could staunch it with Solumedrol.

The numbness had moved all the way up my legs and arms. My very core was beginning to numb out. In fact, I knew the Solumedrol was working when I got my monthly period and began to have cramps. The doctor let me out of the hospital a few days later.

That attack left me with very little feeling in my pubic region. That is to say that what were once excruciatingly painful menses became just crampy, despite the monthly clogging of my pelvic varicose veins. That's right, varicose veins. And also cysts. AND endometriosis.

Much of which I have passed on to my unlucky daughters.

Of course, perimenopause, and finally, the real deal, menopause, have alleviated all that. I'm not finished in that department, either.

It was strange that there were actually benefits to the damage done by Multiple Sclerosis.

There's more, though. Later.

I have to go to work now.

Little Pond

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

More on shaving!

I honestly think that shaving is the best way to go. Even still.

In my Junior Year Abroad, I learned that the Spanish (at that time 1973-4) considered shaving disgusting for a woman. Interestingly enough, in medieval times, their Moroccan overlords would shave a harem girl from the neck down, just before she was presented to please her master for the night. That must have been quite a shock for the virgins.

Otherwise, I remember a time we were having a waxing party in the dorm. This involved copious wine, snacks, and waxing one another. Someday I may write a sexual fantasy about it, to pass it on appropriately to the men!

One of the girls got silly, and couldn't bring herself to continue the chore. She had drawn blood, which sometimes happens when a person must wax the same spot twice, and left my muy amiga Rosa with one (ONE!) hairy armpit, just before she was to go to a pool party with her fiance.

Rosa was furious, and enlisted the rest of us to take turns and pull the hairs with a tweezer. One tough broad, and the sweetest soul on the face of the planet, was Rosa. (I've often equated her with the Blessed Mother, who also must have been, to quote Fr. Andrew Greeley, "tough as nails.")

There was no convincing her to shave. All the girls thought that was disgusting. We never shaved in Spain.

One final note: I gave up waxing after I found that I still got shaving bumps. The hairs came back too weak to break the surface, and lay directly underneath, until they burst out.


Little Pond

Saturday, May 23, 2009

So where did the electrolysis leave us?

We now have many little holes along the bikini line. Rather like tiny navels, they fill with lint, so I can't wear black panties. And it behooves me to scrub with a scrub brush once in a while.

Now I shave. Not exactly a fanatic about it, I still feel that I need to shave the naughty bits. I used to shave in the summer, anyway, whenever I needed to wear "feminine protection." Just struck me as more efficient for keeping clean. Eventually, it seemed worthwhile to completely shave the Venusian Triangle.

As with all shaving, this presented problems. Bikini lines are constantly rubbed by underwear, at least mine are. Scottish ancestory has endowed me with wavy hair, anywhere I care to grow it.

Shaving bumps are de rigeur for shavers in my family. My poor Daddy used to be constantly picking them out with a needle in my childhood, very occasionally enlisting my help when I was old enough.

After a long learning curve accompanied by my very own needle for digging recalcitrant hairs, I finally hit on the solution in a back issue of Playboy. A very bad shave for those areas would have to do. I ultimately began to simply clip them into a Yassir-Arafat-looking sort of shave and completely depilitate the absolute nethermost parts.

Keeps me busy year-round now, what with the need for incontinence protection. I even filch Husband RJ's Vidal Sasoon Mustache and Beard clippers.

Rather appropriate tool for the job, don't you think?

Little Pond

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Naughty Bits

Never mind that the bits don't feel much these days, they are still naughty. Why else would I hesitate to write about them?

I remember in Spain, back some thirty years ago, one could get legs waxed all the way up to the bikini line for about 10 buck ( in pesetas, of course). The victim simply stood on a table and the waxer slopped the stuff on in four dollops per leg and (after setting up two more victims) came back to rip it off the same way.

I declined, as did my more hirsute American friend. Too close to home, she'd say.

Fast forward to the 1980's. The GP gave me a hormone to ease the symptoms of what they now call Peri-Menopause, or whatever the latest term is. I began to grow hair where the Good Lord had previously spared me. Luckily for me, a group of friends were exploring/training in electrolysis, and needed a guinea pig. For free, no less!

The works, babeee! It was a few years before my first exacerbation and hurt like the dickens, but in those dinkie little bikinis we wore then, well, I looked like a Barbie doll. My GP even gave me a prescription for pain pills, although one of the co-conspirators was a doctorate in psychology who successfully used hypnosis and other mental tricks.

Those people were so anti-hair that they shaved their entire bodies, too. The leader of the band was a militant naturist, and the rest of us followed in varying degrees. My first encounters with nudists were in the 60's and 70's with communes and a few family friends. My own folks were never horribly body-conscious, so I was really open minded.

Now for the kicker. Hey, you knew there had to be one, right?

The last time I went for electrolysis, I was doing the stray facial hairs that accumulate after age 50. The now-totally licensed and very experienced electrologist was reluctant to work on me because of the MS. She was right.

The stray facial hairs were weird enough, with me twitching all the time at each shock, or rather, each pulsation. I was happy to undergo the torture to avoide shaving, so I directed her to a stray hair on the "happy line" that points to those important "bits." She gave it a quick zap.

My whole body convulsed, bringing my knees involuntarily almost up to where she was working. She never worked on me again. I believed she was completely unnerved.

So now I shave everything.

More later.

Little Pond

Friday, May 15, 2009

If I were a guy,

I would totally have a mustache. This may not be the first time I've written about this, but I had an interesting dream.

It was like a commercial for shave cream, except it was for the underarms. In it, the shave cream gave a perfect shave, leaving the skin as if there were no hair follicles.

Every woman's dream, right? And I do know about waxing, and did it for years. The reason I shave now is that the act of scraping the skin leaves it more youthful over a very long period of time.

Evidently, I'm not going anywhere soon; may as well go there looking good.

Had a small kidney stone incident this week, apparently. "Apparently," because I never went to the doctor or ER. Wednesday, it was my turn to drive and it began to manifest during my shower. With ten minutes to go, I simply grunted with the pain and got in the car.

Very painful drive over the next twenty minutes. I hit the lavatory at the first coworker's stop, and already the worst was over. I spent a miserable day looking like death (or so I was repeatedly told) and scaring the bejesis out of my coworkers.

But, hey... I figured there were hospitals in Binghamton, if need be.

Short story: long, hard day, better night, and getting better each day.

More about shaving in a later post: "the naughty bits!"


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Truckers call it the Double Nickel

Got a surprise present last night.

This weekend we will celebrate at Garcias Mexican Restaurant, where I will, no doubt, opt for the chimichanga, guacamole salad and a glass of Dos Equis Special Lager.

It's good to get old.

Little Pond

Monday, April 27, 2009


Can one week of peace and quiet make up for my shattered life? We hope to find out. On break until May 4.

Little Pond

Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting out of shape

No, not the HuggaMutt, but GrammaDog. Two days of intensive hiking, and five days of commuting and working in the pits of Binghamton. It's Monday, and I am about to do it all over again. Getting flabby and my legs are getting MS-y.

Watching the want ads in the paper, Craig's List, Monster, Career Builder, and Twin Tiers Help Wanted. Pretty sparse, so I'm lucky to have a job. Unfortunately, the bills are already piling up.

It's going to be a tough year.

Little Pond

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Not great.

The commuting is killing me, and I am not even driving much. I am tired all the time, 24/7 now. The fatigue allowed me to let my guard down, and I cannot do that there.

Went to my supervisor with a problem that had been vexing me for over an hour, and I mentioned good humoredly that I had "got to the point where I didn't care about it anymore." No raised voices or tears or even peevish crabbing. Even with some rest it still seems innocuous, but ya gotta watch yer back, right?

The supervisor took it to her boss and we had ourselves a little intervention. During which I was told that if I have a problem with anything, I had better "keep it to yourself" because an account representative could have been listening. As if I had announced the thing to the room, or even anyone else, but the boss.

Guess that strange look she always wears when she talks to me was some sort of a warning. I had figured she was shy or something, but keep in mind that I have many more years with the company than she has (many, many!), so I should have been wary of her.

I am now, alright. What a shame I had forgotten to beware of younger supervisors. Well, at least I have a weekend to rest up and get on the game and very much on guard, permanently.

Visited the river. Once with the HuggaMutt.

Little Pond

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tired all the time.

But so are my fellow carpoolers. We are adjusting to the (essentially) 10 hour days.

I get up on Saturday, grocery shop, and off to bed.

But I did take the Huggamutt for a walk on Saturday and Sunday.

Little Pond

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Miss visiting with you all.

I now carpool. That is, I am riding until I buy a car that will stand up to the punishment. The weeks I drive, I will be tired, tired, tired, but it will be one week out of three.

Car shopping today or tomorrow; I have an offer on the Geo!

Looks like Fridays will be a horror show for a few weeks. Yesterday, I worked almost ten hours. Because I took a furlough day, it was all straight pay.

Hope to get Ellie this weekend.

Little Pond

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Morning after the first day

The drive is worse than I thought; the Geo Tracker is not good at high speeds. Every truck simply shoves me aside with its wind, even if it's just a large SUV. I am now a white-knuckle driver, dreading slippery conditions.

Sixty miles up, as many again back: my work day is now ten hours. I will recalculate my actually wages for the 57.5 hour week and look locally for something similar or better, on that basis alone.

The work itself is child's play, with only mastering Adobe InDesign on the to-do list. That will surely come in a week or two.

I was left to my own devices for two hours on my very first day. I fell back on what I already know and worked out resulting printing problems accordingly. Soon everyone else will be on a schedule closer to mine, so I must suck up the peace and quiet while I may.

The whole place is in transition, and everything will change again shortly. Gannett wants to sell the building on Vestal Parkway and move everything closer to the new plant in Johnson City. Except for the inevitable upheaval, the move should make little difference otherwise.

Minus the grueling commutes and its problems, the people are lovely, the work easy. Unfortunately, the ladies room is just as distant as it was in Elmira. For now.

Little Pond

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Poor design alert (update!)

Blue Denim Bakeables.

Husband RJ bought one of these potatoes for a recipe that I never completed. Today I wanted a potato for steak and onions.

On the label it showed that cooking instructions were on its reverse, so I scraped and peeled and scratched long enough to realize that the label was not a "peel off" sort.

I finally broke into it and read the reverse.

The results?

Specially prepared to deliver oven-baked taste straight from the microwave, Masser's BAKEables are fast, healthy, and delicious!

  • DO NOT remove or poke holes in wrap.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Curiouser and courioser: my email to the company, sent directly from their website, came back UNDELIVERABLE.


Little Pond

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poor design alert

For those of us with no strength in our hands, sewing is quite a challenge. I have to use pliers to help me sew on a button.

And I use the Buttoneer to tack down upholstery. Buttoneers are great, but they get a little tricky for any of us who have trouble working with tiny objects. In my case, this is due to the lack of real feeling in my fingertips. But it is still nice to reach for the tool and make a quick repair.

And so, I was irritated to see that I was out of the attachers for the Buttoneer, and kept a mental note to find more. Usually this would entail going to Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics. The past few visits, they were out of the refills.

And so, I was delighted to find that Singer also has something similar. I purchased a kit and soon set out to repair the kitty chair. The kitty chair is a stationary lounger that Ellie and they use for naps and viewing out the window. It sometimes gets rather ratty looking after a few years of scratching and constant use.

And so, I sat on the floor with my Singer "BM," lets call it. I followed the illustrations, slipped an attacher into the slide, and stuck it into the fabric.

The attacher slipped through and didn't attach. This was puzzling, since I've been working with the Buttoneer for years with no problem.

And so I reread the directions and tried again. By now, it was getting difficult to insert the attacher. See, with the Buttoneer, if the first one doesn't work, it is simple to slide the second one in line down to the slide. There are two to a set, and it's easy to try again.

Not so with the BM. One must snip off each by scissor, those teeny, tiny little attachers that one easily drops and loses on the floor.

I did finally sink one, and only one, attacher properly, and littered the rug with all the rejects. At this point, the very, very delicate needle end is bent and must be bent back with a pair of pliers.

Rinse and repeat. A few more attachers later, I still had only one in place doing its job.

Okay, the think works, but it is very poorly designed. I'm not nuts about the tiny attachers of the Buttoneers, but the Singer's are a nightmare.

I am so glad that I could not find a refill when I bought the darned thing. I won't even waste the gas it would cost to return it to Target.

Little Pond

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cost cutting

Today I am "out of office" on unpaid furlough day. I will visit the river with Ellie, and pretend to dry clean in the meanwhiles.

In an effort to cut costs, I am now wearing old suits, broken up with jeans, blouses, etc. They never get much wearing because they are labeled DRY CLEAN ONLY.

I get around that by throwing the worn item in with a clean dryer load. In a normal morning, I can do this two or three times, allowing several trips through the dryer for the same piece.

Seems to work. Obviously, this is no good for a dirty item, just a one-time-worn item. Dirty items get a Dryel or "Dry Cleaners' Secret" treatment first, followed by a thorough airing.

Don't try this with a load of new clothes, or their dye will ruin your dry-clean-only item. Furthermore, a load of new towels could conceivably leave a lot of lint.

We don't have much trouble with "new" anything around here, these days. And with the long commute and its associated gas costs, we are not likely to buy much soon.

At least I have a wardrobe for the position in Johnson City. Four old suits equal (with a couple weeks dieting; hooray for Lent!) a lot of different mix and match opportunities.

Little Pond

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gannett update

The position offered to me is a lateral move. No surprise there; they are cutting costs and won't want to give me the extra pay for the advertising one.

Now I am looking at a 45-50 min commute each way. I drive a 95 Geo Tracker that is literally held together with duct tape. Literally. The body, anyway.

A new car will cost a monthly payment. The trip will use about 5 gals of gas each way. And we are still on the furlough system.

It's a pay cut.

Little Pond

Monday, February 09, 2009

Surviving the winter (now that it's sunny)

(If you've got sunshine, here are your marching orders: Get Out!!! See our comment thread.)

That's what it's all about right now. I am forcing myself to eat lots of fruit and veggies, or drink them, if I can't.

That means no fresh fruit for me except melons. The acidity is too hard on my stomach, which is already addicted to Prilosec. As for vegetables, they are mostly cooked or in my V8 drink at work. The occasional warm spinach salad works for me, too:

Baby leaf spinach
Green onions
Olives (I prefer black)
Bacon sprinkles (hot turky bacon preferred)

The above should be washed and dried, but not heated. The heated part is the dressing.

Honey mustard dressing mixed with
Sprinkle cheese (Crumbled feta, parmesan, bleue,
votre preference)

I don't like it sweet, so I cut it with olive oil, or a little dijon-style
mustard. This mixture goes into the micro for 30 secs., then poured over
the salad.

Don't forget the cracked pepper, but skip the salt. Too much in
cheese as it is.

My favorite winter salad. Forget the low calorie with this; it's comfort food.

And lately, I've begun to reintroduce dried fruit, such as dates and raisins. Eaten only in very sparing amounts, again due to the wimpy stomach situation.

And all of this is forced, because I really just want lots of comfort foods in the winter, including a dish of pistachio ice cream once in a while. When I'm miserably chilled, I substitute pistachio pudding instead.

Needless to say, the middle-age spread is my constant companion, despite tons of walking with the HuggaMutt, and incessant worrying over tight clothes.

Damn that Punxsutawney Phil.

Little Pond

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We are back, with an update (Jan 15)

...and we are coughing up a storm. Welcome to Elmira in Upstate New York, where chest colds are our signature product.

The Presario is back and it's been cleaned. We actually lost the hard drive to the broken Windows. Or was it the other way around?

I've just come from 13 days straight working, followed by 5 days off, then back to normal. At this point it is clear that they are eliminating jobs right and left. The paper features classifieds only five days per week, and some more publications are being eliminated.

After working a few weekends I can see why they eliminated that job. What a crashing bore! I even got sick of taking breaks. We still need the two of us, but I am not so sure we need both of us on full time. Since they offered part time to other axed coworkers, it is possible that may be what awaits.

I would sorely miss the vacation and holiday pay, but if that is what it takes, then so be it. After all, I am not relying on the health benefits. Other fringe benefits are also disappearing, one by one. I feel sorry for anyone who was using Gannett to go to school, because that is done.

Another possible worry: one week's unpaid furlough is making the rounds of the rumor mill.

Heigh-ho. Anxiety is becoming the norm around here.

Update: we are being furloughed, one day at a time, five days over ten weeks. Salaried personnel lose a week straight. One girl is planning on consoling herself in Florida during her furlough.

Little Pond