Sunday, April 30, 2006

My house, update

Wow!!! Can you believe how quickly my house is just coming up! I stopped by and voila!, I had outside walls and windows too!!! SO VERY COOL!!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Carrying Grandma in a ring

A few years ago I inherited my maternal grandmother's engagement ring. It's a beautiful brilliant cut diamond with two diamond chips on either side, one baguette, one a simple square all set in platinum on a white gold ring. My grandparents made a special trip to the diamond district in NYC in September of 1941 to purchase the ring. It was one of the earlier brilliant cuts, cut by hand and it fluoresces blue, a dark cobalt blue.

I started wearing the ring as soon as I got it ~ why should I wait for some guy to give me permission to wear my grandmother's ring? Of course, I wear it on my right hand and I've had it appraised and while it fit me perfectly when I first got it (which just seemed so right) I had to get it resized a whole size down after my year of not eating.

But back to the power of the ring. I'm not talking about a forged-in-Mount-Doom sort of power, just an odd sort of connection to my grandmother, a woman who has probably had a greater influence on me than any other single person. She died just before I turned 20, but that has not changed the course I followed in the last 15 years. Sometimes I feel I need to play her role in family dynamics and sometimes I realize I just naturally am.

There are other times however, when the ring has a mind, a voice of its own. It's a conservative voice much older than my 35 years or a concern for complete strangers that only a mother of four and an ex-police officer could have. It's a voice of confidence in me that used to come in the form of carefully written notes and long distance phone calls. It's not like internalizing your mother, when you're in the dressing room of a clothing store and you hear a voice ask if you're old enough to wear white. Trust me, I have that too.

This is different. Today it asked for something. I was in a shop run by hospital volunteers that raises money for indigent patient care and there was some jewelry made by a Mexican woman. One of the pieces featured an antique religious medal, like the ones my grandmother used to pin to the coats of her children and even me and my sister. The would include various saints to watch over children and to keep us safe and well. I keep several in a dish with a set of rosary beads that my mother bought for me in Rome and had blessed by the Pope. (John Paul, of course) This necklace features a medal of Mary, a favorite of both my grandmother's and mine. I know it sounds like some crazy excuse ~ my dead grandmother told me to buy it. But, she wanted me to have it ~ she spoke to me through it. Okay, so now I sound certifiable.

Let me put it this way. I had this horrific week at work and my grandmother saw this way, apparently, to show support. A way to remind me that she was there. I walked into this store completely by chance, had never been there before, didn't plan to go there. But there was this antique medal of Mary ~ just like my grandmother Mary ~ just when I needed another hand on my shoulder. I could always count on her to come through for me. There's no such thing as coincidences. And people don't just leave you when they die. Thanks, Grandma, I needed this today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Stealing directly from my friend Monica's blog....

You can check out Monica's blog by clicking on the squirrel button. Sorry for the serious plagiarism, but I just loved this list!!! (besides, cut and paste exist for a reason...)

» 40 Things That You'd Like to Say Out Loud At Work:

1- I can see your point, but I still think you're full of s*%$

2- I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce

3- How about never? Is never good for you?

4- I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public

5- I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way

6- I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter

7- I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message

8- I don't work here. I'm a consultant

9- It sounds like English, but I can't understand a d#@% word you're saying

10- Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again

11- I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid

12- You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers

13- I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't give a d!$@

14- I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth

15- I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you

16- Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view

17- The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist

18- Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental

19- What am I? Flypaper for freaks???

20- I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.

21- It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off

22- Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial

23- And your crybaby whiny-a$$ opinion would be...?

24- Do I look like a people person?

25- This isn't an office. It's H@## with fluorescent lighting

26- I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left

27- Sarcasm is just one more service we offer

28- If I throw a stick, will you leave?

29- Errors have been made. Others will be blamed

30- Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed

31- I'm trying to imagine you with a personality

32- A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door

33- Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?

34- Too many freaks, not enough circuses

35- Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?

36- Chaos, panic, and disorder - my work here is done

37- How do I set a laser printer to stun?

38- I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted a salary

39- Who lit the fuse on your tampon?

40- Oh, I get humor...but different...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Basically, I'm just *feeling* the Dixie Chicks

"Not Ready To Make Nice"

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

Forgiveness for your own sake

Have you ever had someone do something so horrible that it could have very well ruined your life if there hadn't been people around you to step in and grab hold of you before it was too late? I'm talking about someone actually make a concerted effort to destroy you for nothing more that their own amusement or personal gratification. Someone literally robbing you of two years of your life. Knowing that you health was fragile and pushing you out of remission, to struggle between life and death for months.

So at some point, I'm supposed to forgive this person. Not because they deserve it or have done ANYTHING to make amends or even admitted they crossed a line. I'm supposed to forgive so I can let of all the anger and pain that I carry with me every day. I suppose I should want to let it go. That it is a kind of black hole of ugliness that swallows up my energy and my soul. But is it always wrong to hold onto these lessons as a reminder of what is really out that? To remind yourself that your expectations of what people are capable of are sometimes wholely naive? I wasn't sure evil existed in the forms that I've seen and yet, there it was!

I have a yoga teacher who tells us to focus inward to a small space in our hearts, that one spot that can never be touched by the outside world, can never be harmed, that is the home of all innocence and unconditional love. It is a place from which light emanates and that if we concentrate hard enough on it, the light can fill the darker spaces of our mind and soul. I always feel better when I leave his class. Not a big surprise, I suppose. It's in those times that I believe I am a big enough person to forgive for the sake of forgiveness, for the sake of inner peace.

But then the peace passes and I'm left with my culturally ingrained grudge. It's not that I need to blame someone. The whole point of a relapse is that it happens without provocation, without warning. Perhaps there's a part of me that feels like I haven't really dealt with the whole horrible experience, that I packed my bags (sold my house, loaded a moving van, made a dozen trips to Good Will) and ran away. My sister says it doesn't count as running away if you're running to something, like say, your big sister's guest room and a better job with better pay?

Does doing the right thing absolve you of some of this soul searching? I hope so. Everyone knows that you can either be right or you can be happy. I choose both.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My house.... is a very very very fine house.....

WEEEEEE So there is actually some house to show!!! I can't even begin to describe how cool this is!! I bought my house back in March and it's being built ~ expected closing on July 24th. I went by expecting to see just a foundation, but I have most of the frame up! So, now I'm going to have to keep whoever is actually reading this blog ~ anyone, Bueller? Bueller? ~ updated. Guess I'll post my weekly Saturday visit to my house picture here.

Met some of my neighbors, but that's a whole nother blog entry....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A bit late on the Fib bandwagon...

a little homage to my two year old nephew ....

what is this
animal here?
Not an ostrich, I said laughing.

Storm Evacuees Found to Suffer Health Setbacks

Once again the New York Times has set me off.... [As usual, click the title of the entry to get to the NYT article]

Okay, so first of all, DUH?!?! Was there anyone (outside of the Bush administration) who thought things were rosy for the Katrina evacuees? Or even better, that perhaps they're doing even better now??? Oh right, when God closes a door, he opens a window. But when you start climbing in and out of windows, people mistake you for a burglar and that's just no good. Besides, what if it's a fifteenth floor window? What is God really saying? Give it up, buddy. Just jump!

But like anyone in public health and especially anyone who has worked in public health preparedness, I was disturbed by the all the people who, months after the disaster, are still without medical necessities. I drives me insane how so few people can latch onto that concept that there are actually people out there that need medication on a daily basis. I guess I've been in that position so long that it seems entirely reasonable to me. But most people just don't get it. There are people, LOTS of people, who actually need drugs, medical equipment, medical care, on an ongoing basis, not just once in a while. Why don't we expect that?

Which brings me back to preparedness. Of course nebulizers were going to be lost. Why would you have held onto something that required electricity when you hadn't seen electricity in weeks? And prescriptions and treatment, why did anyone think the medical establishment would remain consistent? Doctors are funny that way -- they actually consider themselves to be people and do crazy things like have families and in disasters or catastrophes (like when their homes are destroyed) they make their decisions based on the best interests of their families, not necessarily their patients. How wacky is that? If only we could set up some system of indentured servitude like Northern Exposure. Then, we could have our physicians where we wanted them. Of course I'm joking, for the most part. But where is the stockpile of medical equipment to replace what was lost in the storm and evacuation? Surely some medical corporation or conglomerate is in need of a good sized tax deduction and some positive publicity? And what about that medical corps of volunteers? Remember? We vaccinated them against smallpox and everything!! What, was this not enough of an emergency for them?

Wait, don't tell me. Our resources are stretched too thin to fight a war on two fronts ~ until we get out of Iraq we can't go into Louisiana? At the very least, Dick Cheney should be sending his $1.9 million tax REFUND to these folks. That would buy quite a bit of mental health treatment and insulin or even health insurance premiums if the government doesn't get it's act together and pony up some Medicaid benefits for these poor souls.

What? I sound like some bleeding heart liberal or even a socialist. Nah. I just tend to hold the government responsible for the predicament these people are in the first place. You can point your fingers at the Feds, the State, the locals, whoever. You do have ten fingers, after all. And there is more than enough blame to go around!!

So, yes, undisputed fact. We knew, EVERYONE knew, for like 100 years, that the levees could not handle a hurricane. Don't talk to me about dodging the hurricane, etc, etc. Water flows. That's not unexpected. We can even predict when and how high rivers will crest. (Aren't we smart?) So, no, the flooding was not a surprise, it was just a matter of time.

But the poor people, they had no transportation, no money for hotels, no place to go. They couldn't evacuate. Bull. Shit. I think Willie Brown, past Mayor of accident prone San Francisco, put it best when he was a guest on Bill Maher's show. He said that being Mayor is like being principal of an elementary school. When the fire alarm goes off, it's your responsibility to make sure everyone gets out. There were city buses, school buses and even Amtrak trains that could have been used to move people out of the city. There was no reason anyone needed their own transportation -- public transportation just gets retasked. And as far as hotels or family members to stay with, that didn't need to be an issue either. It's called a mutual aid agreement. Cities further inland open Red Cross shelters to take in evacuees. This is all standard protocol for the East Coast states where hurricanes regularly cause mandatory evacuations of coastal areas. Preparedness. It's not that difficult a concept. (Or at least it shouldn't be.... I suppose it doesn't really have a lot to do with horse shows, though?)

Monday, April 17, 2006

She's not really suggesting that hybrid cars don't come standard with moral superiority???

So, I read this article this morning in the online NYT. As the owner/driver of a hybrid vehicle, I was rightfully outraged.

Alright, so I did agree with her on some points. The whole hybrid SUV that gets marginally better mileage than say, a Lincoln Town Car, shouldn't be getting the kind of tax and other breaks that the truly efficient Insight, Prius or Civic get. But consider the kind of tax breaks the Hummer gets. It's size and weight qualify it as farm equipment, so if it's purchased for business use ~ say running a publicist or hair colorist from client to client in traffic clogged LA or Manhattan, ~ the purchaser can still avail him or herself of the same tax break (up to $100K) that a farmer (and I would really love to meet the farmer ~ of a product other than poppies or cocoa ~ who can afford a Hummer)that was meant to help American farmers utilize the advanced farm equipment that made their farms more efficient. I'm sure you've seen the Hummers with the tilling and harvesting features, no?

But back to me and my moral superiority... Feel free to demonize Lexus, but don't drag the rest of us down with the rich and status starved. I bought my Civic Hybrid after my 13 year old Honda Accord died on the side of the road. One of my closest friends from college, whose has a doctorate from Johns Hopkins, Department of Geology and Environmental Engineering, had a Prius already and loved it. (She was actually very excited when they passed an emissions standard in her county. She planned to stick around the service area while they attempted to run the emissions test on her car. She wanted to see how long it would take them to figure out that hybrids don't idle.) I'm a Honda person (my Civic is my third Honda) so I went with the Honda hybrid and I love it!! I've had it nearly two years now and I have very few complaints.

And, for the record my complaints are all rather frivolous ~ since the Civic Hybrid only has a CD player and no cassette, hooking my iPod into the car stereo was at first a little hinky with the early FM tuner technology and in colder climates the windshield wiper fluid lines freeze and do not defrost when you start running the car. The engine just doesn't get warm enough to melt them. This is easily solved by getting the wiper fluid that doesn't freeze or simply moving to a climate where nothing freezes. The battery also lives between the backseat and trunk, so forget about folding down the seats to create more trunk space. But, let's be honest, who buys a Civic for trunk space? When I moved halfway across the country a few months ago (and contrary to this article, I did get over 40 mpg on the highways!) people kept asking me if I was bringing this or that ~ usually a piece of furniture or some other large object ~ my response was always the same. What part of "moving in a Civic" do you not understand??

Yes, I am a scientist and an economist to boot. I realize that I will never actually recoup the extra money I spent for the hybrid engine, but the lessened cost to society as a whole entirely covers my extra expenses. Besides, how cool is it to only have to pump gas once a month?? And you never realize how ridiculously loud cars are until you spend time in a hybrid. One of my old neighbors didn't seem to have any acquaintances who possessed a muffler and it drove me nuts!! She probably considered me the crazy environmentalist nut in the Birkenstocks next door. But truth be told? After living in a bottle bill state for 4 years, I refused to recycle, just because I could.

Granted, you spend the first year or so driving a hybrid completely mesmerized by the charging and assisting bars and actually being able to see the gas mileage that you're getting right at that very moment! Unfortunately, it only goes up to 120 mpg, so even coasting down the largest hill you can't get the huge thrill of driving 400 mpg or something (Hope you're reading this Honda engineers....)

As for the moral superiority thing ~ that's strictly from West Wing, but I can't help but get a little obnoxious when I pass those big ass gas guzzling SUVs on the highway!! Especially, when my car is getting some ridiculously high mileage! Yeah, I feel morally superior, who would have thunk they could have packaged that in a car??

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

DNA testing for Genealogy

There's an article in today's New York Times ~ my favorite paper for those of you keeping track. It's all about the new use of DNA testing to identify a person's ethnic background. Dare I admit I'm intrigued?

I mentioned a while back when my grandmother died that her father was a bit of a mystery. I never knew him. His wife was 94 when she died and I was maybe 9. I've heard hundreds of stories about him and his use of scare tactics (mostly involving waving a broom) to coral cows (they're very easily startled) and I've seen what remains of his farm ~ the stone foundation of what must have been a tiny house and a little bit of a broken down barn. I don't know how he met my great grandmother. I don't know what kind of father he was to my grandmother or my great aunt Hazel or my great uncle George (who I honestly don't remember at all.) I know they were poor, that my grandmother married up into a family with a house in the village proper. She used to say "No one ever starves on a farm." But I always got the idea, even as a child, that her sentiment was meant to be ironic. There was a reason she went to work after eighth grade. I'd like to think, just like every other decision she made, that it was her choice. But like I said, I really know nothing about her father. If anyone is shrouded in myth, he is the one.

I do know the stories. My sister and I apparently got all our musical talent from him. He was a one man band ~ you know, with the harmonica and drum foot pedal and either key board or guitar. No one else in the family could play an instrument or sing even. I remember being told in complete seriousness that he had been dragged down from the mountain in ropes ~ a wild man brought into civilization against his will. But when I'd mention it again, I'd be told that it was just one of his stories. One thing I was told that no one denies is that he was a dowsey, a water witch. He used a Y shaped stick to find water for people to dig their wells. When I was I child, I'd play in the back yard with a stick to see if I had inherited his gift. I'm not sure what I expected to find ~ some undiscovered spring in the Boston suburbs?

But back to the original topic. One of the stronger myths, along with the water witch, was that he was part Mohegan, Iroquois. My grandfather collected Indian artifacts, which could be completely unrelated or not. He could have gotten his peace pipe from his father-in-law, I have no idea. But, if my DNA can tell me whether my great grand father actually was an Indian ~ can actually tell me if at least one of the stories is true. Isn't it worth it?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Do you ever get the feeling that you're just talking to yourself?

I constantly do.

I was just wondering if anyone else did....

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You Have A Type A- Personality

You are one of the most balanced people around
Motivated and focused, you are good at getting what you want
You rule at success, but success doesn't rule you.

When it's playtime, you really know how to kick back
Whether it's hanging out with friends or doing something you love!
You live life to the fullest - encorporating the best of both worlds