Workin for the Weekend….and Vacation!

It’s kind of funny what one falls into – career wise, as one gets older. I started out 30 years ago providing direct care to folks over 22 with mental health issues and developmental disabilities. For those that don’t know – that’s kind of like nurses aide work without the blood pressure checks.  I worked in residential when I started out – awake overnight shifts and relief shifts while I was in college. The stories….. and I can attest that the full moon “theory” is a fact – just so you know.  Those full moon weekend shifts were off the hook!

I steadily moved my way onward and forward moving into day programs and working with the elderly; becoming an activities director at a local nursing home part time for a short time.  I moved back to residential programs and became a House Manager for another short period of time.  I can honestly say that those folks are paid nowhere NEAR enough for everything they have to do – and on salary.  I averaged 70 to 80 hours a week but got paid for 40 and was on call one weekend a month.  My longest week was 115 hours.  I passed out from exhaustion at the end of it. OK yeah, I was only 27 years old at the time – but a girls got her limits.  After several months of me unplugging my phone when I was not on call (in order to avoid the late night  ” there’s no milk in the fridge – what should I do?” calls)  and yes, I got those regularly – as well as the sick calls where I ended up having to cover the shift myself – hence the long work weeks – sigh.   I realized this was not my cup of tea. I moved into working in Day Programs at another agency in 1991 and haven’t looked back. I discovered how nice it is to work M-F and not dread the sound of the telephone ringing when I was home. I started in direct support again and moved up to case and program management, then into QA case management and administrative – where I  currently “reside.”  Years of lugging and tugging clients and the occasional aggressive episode left me with a bad hip and shoulder so I don’t do direct support with the clients anymore – can’t.  I prefer that term to the current “consumer” as “client” infers that I provided a service -which I did. “Consumer” infers no reciprocity, and I gained so much from working with my folks – they didn’t just take from me.  Anyway, that’s my meandering career path to now.  What a long strange trip its been.

The last three months of my life at work have literally been taken up by a massive annual project – recontracting with the state for Fiscal 14.  My background is not accounting, business, or finance, as I’m sure you noted when you read the beginning of this post -. so this was a real challenge to me to fly “solo” this year. The process was self taught and I am so thankful for the great mentors I have who were available to answer my questions and “point me in the direction of Albuquerque” when I got stuck. But I have to admit I’m fried and in dire need of this time off.  So today, I’m not dreading the inevitable return to the Monday grind. In fact, I’m planning a little road trip with my youngest daughter for a couple of days.

And, this coming Friday is our 28th wedding anniversary.  June 21, 1985 – which was also a Friday. I will have to do a “Tales from the Northland” post to commemorate the event. So you all  can look forward to my  wedding recollections when we get back from our road trip. (heehee)  So now, I must take us all back to yesteryear…. Glam Rock and Girl Power!


…And Whiskers on Kittens….

IMG_8391 watermarkedIMG_8383 watermarkedIMG_8403 watermarkedThese are a few of my Favorite Things….

I got absolutely drenched getting these shots, but what FUN!  I hope you all like the photographs as much as I liked the process of taking them.

Everest and The Kentucky Derby: Running for The Roses – and Out of Oxygen.

Ok so I’m now a bit cranky. I had a firmly tongue in cheek post ready to rock and roll, and somehow deleted the damn thing. Sigh…. So. Starting Over. As my daughter’s cat lingers in the porch window and hisses at me while I type…. its an auspicious restart?

Its Everest Season. That slim window of time wherein certifiably crazy people attempt to climb to the world’s highest point and perhaps kill themselves in the process. I find it morbidly fascinating. Oh, I neither need nor want to see corpses. I just can’t understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. If you want to die, there’s much easier and less painful ways to do so, friend. “Certainty of Death, Small chance of success? What are we waiting for?” ~ Gimli LOTR.  Of course,  this is coming from me, safely ensconced at my keyboard. Me, who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Me, who has a full blown asthma attack when I laugh too hard. I doubt I could walk  to Base Camp without incident. Speaking of Incidents: apparently there was a doozy of an EPIC ice ax fight between Climbers and Sherpas last week.  YIKES!  And perhaps long, long overdue?  I’ve been rereading my copies of Into Thin Air and Dark Summit and I guess I’m totally #TeamSherpa. Not that I agree with violence – BUT They do most – if not all, of the heavy lifting on the mountain – including schlepping incapacitated climbers to the summit and back (Sandy Hill Pittman, anyone?) for very little international recognition or financial compensation. All guts, no glory – as the climbers end up with the cred. Bound to be frustrating – hence the boilover.  But yeah – alas, you won’t see me up there this year. Unless transporter technology suddenly leapfrogs and I can get there without having to “get there.” I kind of like this breathing thing – which is apparently quite difficult to do 29,035 feet above sea level. And which I just realized is the height at which airplanes fly and now I’m woozy….

Mount Everest (topgold)

Mount Everest (topgold) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woozy or not I am, however, attending a Kentucky Derby Party this afternoon. Complete with frock, fascinator, and mint julep in hand. Much more up my alley, as it were.  No fatal missteps into a crevasse or off a ledge at 27,000 feet.  Fatal conversational missteps may occur  if I over-imbibe on those mint juleps though. (wink wink – woozy indeed) But breathing should not be a problem unless the pollen count suddenly skyrockets on me.  I further confess I know nothing about “slop”, “exotics” “exacta wheels” or what “boxing” things does.  Here’s how Derby Day works for me:  I pick a horse. It has to have a nice name and be a pretty horse.  I scream and yell for it from the starting gate to the finish line.  I haven’t picked a winner since Seattle Slew and Secretariat – who ran the fastest Kentucky Derby EVER in 1973 – under two minutes!   So, if there’s an “S” name in the bunch this year that’s what I’m going with. Hahaha! Pictures will be posted on Facebook and Twitter later.

English: Kentucky Derby, unknown date Permissi...

Courtesy: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a Name? And, A Drive By Vomit

I woke this morning to the sound of giggles and murmuring in my living room.  Mayhem (the youngest) has been sleeping on the couch because of a spider-fright in her room. Chaos (the oldest) had to get up early to register online for next semester’s college courses.  So of course Chaos had to make sure that Mayhem was awake – because in her world if she ain’t sleepin, ain’t nobody sleepin. They didn’t bother me (today 😉 ) and so I snuggled back into my cocoon of warmth for a few extra ZZZZ’s. When I finally emerged into the living room – Chaos was registering for her classes and Mayhem was doing her usual morning zombie shuffle. At some point, Chaos decided to help herself to some post-Easter Jelly Beans.

Didja ever start eating something that you thought you knew what it was; but it turned out to be something different? Well…  (Gagging, goat-like noise) “Mom? Black jelly beans, what flavor are they?” Me:  “Liquorice.” Chaos: “What’s anise, then?”   Me: “It tastes like liquorice…. Its a plant.” She had been expecting grape flavor -mistaking black for purple in the dim light. Well, since things usually taste pretty crappy when you were expecting one taste and get another  – much merriment ensued when the word “anise” was phonetically compared to the word for the body orifice that produces said crap.  Which I was unaware of, quite apparently –  since I continued to blather on about the anise plant.  The girls were still chortling over “anus” and thought I was commenting about anuses….how you can boil and reduce them to make the liquorice flavor. Yes, I have lost my mind – but not quite on that grand a scale – yet….Mayhem  was holding her sides. To paraphrase JRR Tolkein: Its a dangerous business – getting out of bed in the morning.

Fast Forward to this afternoon:  The Tale of the Drive-by Puking.  To set the stage: the usual state of affairs is that Chaos brings Mayhem home after work, since the younger one is a member and the older one works there.  They arrived home at abut 6:20 pm today – par for the course.  Chaos had to relate what happened on the way home –  literally just up the street. They had turned down our street and were approaching the neighbor’s house.  Both girls noticed a girl sitting on the curb. The car in front of them slowed, stopped and picked the girl up.  Mayhem: “Whats going on?” Chaos: “Getting a ride, or getting kidnapped.”  Door of car opens, girl leans out – Kidnapping Escape Attempt? Nope.  She proceeds to hurl on the street.  The driver waves Chaos around and gives her a wide-eyed  “IDKWTF is going on” look as they pass the car.  Said car then proceeds to speed off down the street in some haste – leaving the lovely deposit behind…..

I am not surprised. In this town literally anything is possible.  But I think I have had enough strange hilarity for one day.

Ridin’ the Storm Out

As my friend Kelly would say:  Here’s the song reference:

REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ The Storm Out – Live
I decided to keep a weather blog of sorts and keep a record of my musings during this historic event.  In Western MA we aren’t supposed to get hit with the worst of it, but we are expecting power outages due to high winds, and I’m thinking some flooding in this area as the Westfield River serves as drainage for the southern east face of the Berkshires. And of course Westfield holds the United States record for the most rainfall in a 24 hour period, 13 inches,  & most rainfall in a storm Hurricane Diane 19.75 inches  – and please,  note below that Westfield is on this list no less than 3 times…..  GAH!

Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Massachusetts
Highest known recorded totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref
Rank mm Inches
1 501.7 19.75 Diane 1955 Westfield [4]
2 324.4 12.77 New England Hurricane of 1938 Gardner [2]
3 317.5 12.50 Carrie 1972 Tashmoo [19]
4 312.4 12.3 1933 Outer Banks hurricane Provincetown [4]
5 251.0 9.88 Eloise 1975 Westfield [19]
6 236.7 9.32 Connie 1955 Plainfield [19]
7 231.1 9.10 Irene 2011 Savoy [20]
8 213.36 8.40 Lee 2011 Worthington [55]
9 179.3 7.06 Bob 1991 Westfield [19]
10 175.5 6.91 Donna 1960 Great Barrington [19]

Anyway, woke up this morning to misty drizzle and a brisk northeast breeze, gusting up to maybe 20 mph.  Work for me and classes for both the girls were cancelled last night, so I had planned on a bit of a sleep in. The Viking had other plans for me though  – calling about 9am to see if I could run up to  Blandford and pick up Sophie’s seizure medication. She won’t run out till the weekend -but who knows if we will be able to get up there by then. So Jill and I were off on a quick adventure, stopping at Dunkin for “coffee and” and also topping off the gas tank on the Saturn before the prices skyrocket again. Great to see that the utility companies and the Emergency Response personnel were (and are) already out in force.

As I left the house, I noticed that UPS had made a delivery.  It was from my dear friend Barney in California- who sent me one of his handcrafted cutting  boards made of black walnut maple and cherry wood. It literally made my day – and I called him to thank him and chat after Jill and I got back from our errands. An expatriated New Englander, Barney is extremely concerned about how things are going, so I told him I would keep him posted.  Then, I thought I would do this weather blog  thing too.  This will help me I’m sure when my future grandchildren ask me what I was doing during Frankenstorm -the “Nor’easter-cane” of 2012.

The Viking came home for lunch at noontime, the wind is really picking up and my Dad’s windchimes are making music in very accelerated time. Jill and I decided to put together clothes and necessary equipment and get the animals stuff ready in case we do eventually need to leave.  I’m not overly concerned with that part of it right now per se; but better to be prepared to get gone than not.  Last year’s fiasco served as a lesson to everyone.

Mother Nature certainly seems to have it in for the Northeast lately. The tornado last year (which began in Westfield btw…) Hurricane Irene, the October “Snowpocalypse” at this exact time last year (that’s the weirdest thing, isn’t it?),  the minor earthquakes of last summer and again just last week up in Maine. I think she needs to get back on her HRT – and soon. Anyway, at the moment the wind is steady and the trees are swirling moderately; no real rain to speak of -just scattered here and there.   Going to sign off for now.  Will update with part 2 later (by phone if the power goes out) . Batten Down the Hatches! Full Speed Ahead, and Get the Whiners Below Deck!

For those of you not directly affected by this storm, but are interested in following whats going on here,  I recommend checking out  They’re our local station and fairly accurate when it comes to weather stuff.

Locked and Loaded – Bring It On, Be-yotch!

Just this past week I was talking with The Viking about this time last year, when we were 18 inches deep in a freak October snowstorm – and how weird would it be if something similar was to happen this year…..  I guess I must be careful what I talk about, because (like you didn’t already know)  a Monster of a Storm is headed right up the coast. I can’t say I wished for it, because I didn’t – but I’m not surprised.  The experts have already said that our weather is gonna get “interesting” – what with global warming and all that…  so here we go  AGAIN.  Just an aside  “May you live in interesting times.” is a Chinese curse.,.. which appears to be working….. unfortunately.  Jussayin.

I have few worries though. We’re hardy New Englanders after all, and we can handle anything menopausal Mother Nature throws us.  I reblogged my friend Kelly’s post earlier about prepared-ness – she had quite a few suggestions that I hadn’t thought of. Good on ya, Kelly! – as my antipodal friends would say. I spent the majority of today cleaning up, down cellar – and doing laundry – a neverending task, right?

We have sterno, an abundance of batteries, the freezer is packed – which is a good thing as everything will keep everything else cold, the wool blankets I buy every year at The Sandwich Fair are stacked in the living room, we have LED lanterns, a case of juice boxes, a case of water, non perishables in abundance, plenty of food for the ferrets and the puppies, cash on hand, gas tank is full, grill propane tanks full, etc. etc. We  don’t have gutters to clean, or a sump pump for the cellar – but our house is up on a little hillock and our neighbors yards flood way before we are affected in the least.  We’d have to get at least 8 to 10 inches of rain to even begin to worry.  That said, I made sure to get the cellar in order, and the clothing in storage (we have only one closet in the house) is wayy up off  the cellar floor – just in case Mother Nature’s got it in for New England.  I also find it interesting that the given name for this storm is the same as the Viking’s biological mother’s.  The woman is, to be blunt – not a fan of mine,  and I’m certainly not one of hers – and I am hoping that the storm doesn’t take on her, shall we say,  “issues”… ahem….   Regardless We’re ready for ya, Sandy – Bring it On!  Rock Us Like a Hurricane!