Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sibling Rivalry

When I first got my cats, they were close as could be. They had each other, and they had me, and all was right with the world. After a while, we moved in with two other cats, both about as unsociable as could be, and my girls still had each other and me, so everything was fine as long as nobody pissed off the other cats. We moved back to my childhood home for a few years, where my girls were kept apart from the two resident cats in order to avoid squabbling, and that mostly worked.

When we moved back to Vermont, though, the dynamic began to change. We had a sociable cat to share the new house with, as well as another cuddly human (my now-ex-husband). I'm not sure if Kira and Maeve decided that there were things in life worth fighting each other for, or if they got used to having someone to look down on (my ex's cat was the baby of the group, and utterly submissive), but after my ex and his cat moved out, my girls were suddenly not friends with each other anymore.

They'd fight over cuddle time with me, they'd fight over prime napping or bird-watching spots, they'd fight over darned near anything, despite the fact that the house is big enough for them each to have several rooms worth of territory that don't overlap with the other's. I played referee every so often, but knew they had to work it out for themselves.

It's been a few years now, and while things aren't back to the way they used to be, they're better. Kira still throws a yowling fit if Maeve claims my lap first, and they don't cuddle or groom each other the way they did when they were little, but they can be next to each other without it ending in hissing.


That said, there's still some tension. This may look cozy, but those paws are engaged in some passive-aggressive behavior. One pushes the other to say, "this space is mine," and the other pushes back to say, "no, it isn't." Sometimes this is as far as it goes, but other times it'll progress to paws on faces, and then one or both will realize it's about to get dangerous, and beat a hasty retreat.

Still, they're both on my lap, and they're not hissing at each other, so I call it a win.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

On Fathers

I feel like I should start a club. Two dear friends have lost their fathers in the three and a half years since I lost mine, and the circumstances were all somewhat similar. All of us had complicated, often difficult relationships with our fathers, but we were there, dutiful children providing care and comfort, at the end. All the fathers had been ill for a time before they passed, though the degree and timing of the illnesses were a bit different. And for all of us, the aftermath of their deaths has hit harder than we expected.


I let Father's Day pass quietly this year. I had planned to go to Maine with my sister, our annual celebration of Dad, to hike and photograph and visit the places where we scattered his ashes, but some expensive car repairs set me back and I couldn't afford to join her. I went to that medieval event instead, which would have been a good distraction had it not been such a wash, and ended up spending all of that Sunday at home. It was both good and bad -- good in that I wasn't bombarded with Father's Day stuff going on in the world, but bad in that I was stuck in my thoughts without outside influence.


There are still moments when I'm halfway through logging into my email to send him a question before I remember that I can't. There are random memory triggers, like the "bug show" Vermont Edition ran the other day (Dad was into entomology), or the profile I heard of a musician who played music Dad would've loved, or some groaner of a pun that would've made him chuckle, and when they sneak up on me it's all I can do to keep from bursting into tears.


Seeing my two friends going through the same thing is both a help and a struggle. There's some comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my grief, but I wish I could tell them that it gets better, that the pain goes away after a while. It doesn't. It changes, bit by bit, but you never stop feeling that loss, and it never stops hurting.

Cherish the people in your life while they're still with you. They may leave sooner than you think.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

One Sash, Two Sash, Green Sash, Blue Sash

Trying to explain environmental responsibility to people who can't see past their wallets is an exercise in frustration. Aside from that, today was a lovely day for installing and removing sash, even if we only accomplished half of what we'd planned. I miss this work.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Angry Birds

There's a pair of House Wrens that live in a little birdhouse on my garage, just a few feet away from my house. They take turns singing in the morning, and chittering at me if they think I'm too close to the nest. Tonight I've managed to infuriate them by letting Maeve sit in the kitchen window, which is about 15 feet from the birdhouse. One of those little wrens has been chirping its little head off at her for a solid half-hour now, apparently not realizing that the cat can't get past the screen.

That is one angry little bird.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Soggy Flop

This weekend was the midsummer celebration for one of the neighboring medieval reenactment communities. Because it wasn't too far away (90-minute drive) and I needed a little income boost, I decided to bring my wares and set up shop.

I should've taken it as a sign when the merchant coordinator was on vacation and unreachable from two weeks before the event to three days before the event. I should then have looked at the weather (soggy) and given it a pass, but I decided to head out there and make a go of it anyway.

Five of the seven registered merchants showed up, and though the event technically lasted from 3pm Friday to 3pm today, Merchants Row was completely empty by the time I finished packing up and headed out around 8 o'clock last night. I made two sales and just barely covered my gate fee, and another long-time merchant did even worse. Turnout was terrible. The weather wasn't as bad as I'd feared, but there was a persistent threat of rain that kept a lot of people from risking the trip.

On the plus side, I got to spend time with some friends I haven't seen in a while, and made a new friend with the cunning use of geekery and tea. I also got a wonderful night's sleep Friday night, which doesn't often happen when I'm camping.

So, all in all, I probably shouldn't have gone, but I'm glad I did, if only for the social aspect. Now it's time to prep for the big show in three weeks, starting by washing the laundry and dishes from this one.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Voicemail Discovery

I don't know who called my cell phone last night or very early this morning to sing me happy birthday (they got my name right, making it less likely to be a wrong number), but I appreciate the thought... even if it's over three months late. Maybe they got me mixed up with my sister, whose birthday is later this week. Hmm.

Topsy-Turvy

How is it that they guy who got fired sounds intelligent, reasonable, and capable, while the guy who recommended firing him sounds confused and inept?

Politics are confusing.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Misunderestimated

Usually I'm pretty good at predicting how much energy I'll have left after a particular task/event, and budgeting my time/workload accordingly. Today, not so much.

I had seven things to do today: laundry, dishes, shower, mow the lawn, do a boatload of sewing for an event next weekend, do a little woodworking for my camp for said event, and attend the inaugural meeting of a new (yarn) spinning group. The sewing and woodworking didn't get done because the spinning group took considerably more energy than I had.

Now five out of seven might seem like a success, but that list of seven was the bare minimum that I needed to do today to stay on track to get everything finished in time. The spinning group wasn't something I could miss because they specifically made sure I'd be able to attend when they scheduled it, the dishes and laundry included things I need for work tomorrow morning, the lawn (with associated sweating) had to be done before the shower and the shower had to be done before the spinning group, so the sewing and woodworking were scheduled for afterward.

I got home from the spinning group, sat down on the couch, and felt my brain crawl into the darkest corner of my skull and flatly refuse to participate in any further activity until it had had a nice long rest. I managed to fold the last load of laundry and do some dishes after staring at the ceiling for a while, but getting out to the shop or up to the studio wasn't happening.

Such is life with chronic illness. You make plans, your body doesn't play along, and you fall behind. This setback is going to leave me a little frantic for the rest of the week, but I'll manage one way or another, even if it's by accepting that I'll have far less product available for customers this coming weekend than I'd planned, meaning it won't be as profitable a show as it could be. I'll make do, and try not to let the frustration eat my brain.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ya Ha Deedle Deedle Bubba Bubba Deedle Deedle Dum

Some days you work on projects and have everything you need for them all laid out, and everything goes to plan. These are sometimes known as success stories, but more often as miracles and flukes.

Then you have projects where you realize halfway through that you're drippping with sweat, taking half an hour to do something by hand that could be done in a few seconds with the right equipment, and you find yourself singing parodies of If I Were A Rich Man that have lines like, "if I had a chop saw..."

I'd have all the shop tools in the world, if I were a wealthy man.

Clang

I learned the other day that two propane cans knocking against each other sound a lot like a buoy bell. I then had to remind myself that I was, in fact, carrying two cans of propane in my Jeep, and that said Jeep was not an aquatic vehicle. For a moment, though, I could almost smell saltwater.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Employee Benefits

My job may not offer healthcare or retirement savings, but yesterday the Boss Lady hired in a massage therapist who gave each of us a half-hour-long chair massage. She clearly knows how to keep employees happy.

The therapist, a vibrant and enthusiastic woman named Snow (yes, really) took to me instantly. It might've been because I'd had bodywork before and wasn't afraid of taking off my shirt and letting her poke her elbow under my scapula (gods, that felt good). It might've been because when she asked me to describe my job I did so in terms of body mechanics and ergonomics. It might've been because I could speak the language of self-awareness and new-age mindfulness as well as she could. Regardless, half an hour after meeting me, she was bubbling over with excitement at having met me. It's nice to have that sort of effect on somebody.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Jamboree

You know you're in the town that time forgot when you see signs for an upcoming Jamboree at the Moose lodge. You know it's Bellows Falls when there's a teenager walking past that sign, baby bump showing, toddler in tow, cigarette in hand.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spot

8am: I arrive at work and notice a spider on the threshold between the shipping room and the stock room.

9am: I have named the spider Spot. Spot is about an inch long, with distinctive stripes (probably a grass spider).

11am: I decide that Spot is my new assistant, and begin quietly narrating everything I do so she can learn.

1pm: I give Spot a pen so she can take notes on shipping procedures.

2pm: I attempt to give Spot a clipboard, ostensibly to help with note-taking, but more so I can relocate her to a place where she won't be as likely to be stepped on. Spot attacks the clipboard, pouncing on and biting it.

3pm: In light of this startling workplace violence, I fire Spot, and recommend that she attend anger management classes.

4:30pm: I leave work, and see Spot still hanging around the stock room. She's going to be one of those former employees.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Evangelists

I was visited this morning by a polite, grey-haired gentleman intent on spreading the Word and attracting new parishioners. Unlike the last Jehova's Witness who visited me, who couldn't do anything but quote the pamphlet she wanted to hand me, this fellow was able to have a conversation about the Bible as a literary/historic work, and attempt to defend the book he held in his hand as the true word of God. He realized fairly quickly that he wasn't going to be able to welcome me into the congregation, but we spent a pleasant twenty minutes discussing words vs. concepts, the linguistic and social contexts of the scriptures, and where society is headed.

On one hand, I sort of feel sorry for people who devote their free time to proselytizing. This guy has been cussed at, screamed at, and threatened with bodily harm at gunpoint at various points in his travels because he wanted to have a conversation about faith. He wasn't pushy, he gave me multiple opportunities to kick him off my porch, and while he did his best to nudge me in the direction of the Bible, he did it respectfully. He didn't deserve to be threatened or yelled at, but he acted as though he expected me to treat him that way.

On the other hand, evangelists choose their paths, just like the rest of us. They make the choice to serve their God in this way, and suffer the slings and arrows, as it were, of that task. They knock on doors in the hope that they can bring the faith that gives them such comfort into the lives of others, knowing that those others may be secure in other faiths, or have no faith at all, or not be open to the idea of having a stranger with a book try to mess with their souls. They know what the possibilities are when they knock on each door, and they knock anyway.

I rather like talking with people about faith, and I wish I'd had more time to ask this man about his, because I think it would have been interesting, but I had plans with my sister (who arrived just as the man started talking with me), and had to keep it short. I'm always curious to hear other people's approaches to faith and scriptures and historical context, as well as their reasons why, of all the world's religions, they chose whichever one they did. I think it helps me understand humanity a little better -- something that's part of my own spiritual path.

I'm almost looking forward to the next random knock on my door. Just so long as it doesn't come in the middle of a row of complicated knitting.