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I’m not sure whether to blame my kids for moving so far away, or the Post Office for being inefficient, or the clowns masquerading as Senators who made the Post Office fund their pension fund for 75 years out into the future. If you don’t know about that, look it up, there were plenty of articles on it recently.
So a week ago, I spent half an hour in line at the P.O. to mail packages to my granddaughter and my son in California. Then last night, I spent another 1/2 hour doing the same for my son in Japan. Unfortunately, I was almost through the line before I realized I hadn’t filled out the forms required to mail stuff overseas. So I squatted down and used one of my boxes for a table and started filling a form out.
It is inconvenient, to say the least, to keep squatting down and writing, then having to keep getting up as the line moves. If I had a small box I could stand up and use it for a table, holding it, but the boxes were just a little bit too big to do that. So, I was squatting, getting up, squatting, getting up, it was tedious and in spite of my athletic activities, it was hard to do by about the 10th squat.
I can’t wait till I’m 70, that’ll be tons of fun.
When I was done I decided to go get some booze, the liquore store is just across the street.
So, have I mentioned that I LOVE hiking in the mountains, AND I take care of my 87-year-old mom every Saturday? What that means is, it is usually sunny and nice on Saturdays, and rainy and cloudy on Sundays, the day I get to go hiking.
This weekend was no exception. If I could have gone Saturday, I would have seen spectacular views of the North Cascades; Mount Baker, Shucksan, and north to the Canadian mountains. However, I was free on Sunday, so I went, “hell or high water” as the expression goes. I could say my hiking in poor weather conditions builds character, but I’m 61 and my character is already built, so the universe’ efforts are kind of wasted on me.
On my way down, I did meet 3 young people going up. Now, to get to where I met them, they had to hike for an hour in 6 inches of wet snow and blowing wind with icy rain pouring down.
Guess what they were wearing? Shorts. I kid you not. They did have good boots on, I noticed, so I decided they weren’t completely insane. They were nice and spoke to this solitary old lady who was actually dressed for the weather and asked me if they were almost there.
I couldn’t see any views and was a little bit concerned that if the rain should turn to snow it would cover up the footprints I’d followed up there, and I’d get totally lost if that happened. I bring all my emergency stuff on hikes, but I am convinced that if the worst happened and I had to spend the night on the mountain in icy rain or wet snow that I would die of hypothermia in an hour.
So I do my best to see that does not happen. Besides, I couldn’t see any views, other than the really awesome little alpine trees and the blowing mists coming up over the ridge. I do enjoy seeing the trees through the fog, but there is a limit to how long I want to spend peering at misty tree-shapes through the fog, wondering all the while if this icy rain is going to turn to snow before I get back down, or if the clouds will close in and cause a white-out where I might have trouble seeing the boot-prints in the snow I’m following.
All is well, as usual, and I’m looking forward to my next trek in the rain. I think I need a better jacket though, I did get pretty damp, plus my gloves leaked like a seive.
Well, ok. It is confession time. People (I suspect usually men) sometimes come up with the urge to confess dark sins, or not-so-dark things they love to do, even though they suspect their secret passion is not compatible with their beliefs. Ok, I’m sure the english majors would have a field day with that run-on sentence. Whew!
Anyways, many of us women (but not all – remember women are not clones of each other, we are just people, guys) LOVE our fuzzy, soft teddy bears. Yes, even married women. So forget the idea that these little fuzzballs are substitutes for you-know-what.
I have done considerable research online on this topic. The scuttlebut seems to be leaning toward the mothering “instinct” (again, not all women like teddy bears, I have a friend who can’t stand them – what’s up with that? And not all women have a desire to be mothers. And don’t get me started on the topic of men who assume that all women have “instincts” for female type activities.)
I LOVED teddy bears when I was kid – I had a whole collection. The collection thing was mostly because once a teddy bear came into my possession, I could not bear to throw it out, knowing it would end up soggy in a city dump or mauled by a recalcitrant child.
I finally “cut the umbilical cord” and got up the nerve, just a few years ago (and I’m 60) to pass off most of my collection to the local Goodwill store. I had been toting these fuzzy guys (gals?) around for about 40 years, from apartment to apartment, and I never had the room to display or store them properly. I still feel guilty about handing them off, not knowing their eventual fate. What is up with that?
Ok, I’m going to give you the list of reasons why grown women love teddy bears, culled from my exhaustive internet research and listed in the order of most given reasons to least given reason:
- Because they are cute and cuddly
- Motherly instinct
- Reminds us of childhood
- Looks so sweet and inocent
- “I don’t know”
- Nice to sleep with
- and my personal fav: “Soft like a puppy but doesn’t poop on the floor.”
Ok, well, you can see I’m reaching for an idea to write on today . . .
I suppose I will have to be a bit sarcastic, as that is the way I feel about money (which is inevitably tied to what we have to do to get that money). So, as you may know, I WAS an engineer with good pay, until the economy went in the toilet and in addition, I became old enough that the blood-sucking health “insurance” companies charge my boss $600 a month just to insure me, although I am perfectly healthy, thanks.
So, I work at a low-pay job and am lucky to have it. That said, what do I spend my money on?
Property taxes (I was paying $1275/month for mortgage payments, but my family stepped in and helped me with this. Yes, I’m f’ing lucky on that score; if they hadn’t helped me I don’t know where I would be “living”. Under a bridge maybe.
- Gas for the car.
- Car repairs (my car is 15 years old).
- Dentist. I do have crappy teeth – even though I have been going to the dentist every 6 months for 58 years now. They never were any good; it is only due to modern dentistry and many thousands of dollars that I have teeth.
- Water (It cost’s a freakin’ $75 dollars a month for water here; and it rains all the effing’ time! And no, I don’t water my yard, ever. And I take 5 minute showers, and don’t use my dishwasher.)
- Gas and electricity.
- Cell phone, home phone: I have considered getting rid of my home phone, but the cell reception at my house is very poor, so have kept the house phone.
- Home repairs; like my deck, my water line to my house which broke last summer and the necessary painting. New roof. Stuff like that. No, not a new kitchen or remodeled bathroom or furniture.
- Cat food and kitty litter for 2 cats.
- Books (used)
- On rare occassions I buy clothes on sale or used items at Goodwill.
- Internet access.
Ok, that is enough. I’m not going to say EVERYTHING I do. So there.
So, this is my 3rd day of accounting 102 class, my online classes. We still don’t have our book for the class. I called the college bookstore (its in Shoreline, WA, and I’m not) on December 13th, last year. They said the books would be in on the 15th. Good going jerks, can’t even order books for a class when you know 3 months in advance when the class will start, and what book you are using?
This is starting out to be a remake of last quarter. I don’t even feel motivated to do this anymore and I don’t know if I will quit. I’m 60 years old, I’m working full time at a low paying job, I put myself through college in the 1980 – 90′s working my ass off day and night for 6 years to get a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. Now I can’t get a job doing that, and I’m losing my motivation to put myself through this again.
I want to go for walks in the sunshine. I want to go hiking in the mountains, in the sun, in the rain and in the snow. I want to go sailing in the summer. I want to sit on my couch and read a good book and drink a cup of coffee in the morning. I want to go to the gym 5 times a week, something I can barely work in 3 times a week with this schedule. I want to NOT be stressed all the time.
I’m taking a break from working out at the gym because of all the responsibilities I’ve taken on or had thrust upon me. Lets see, lets make a list, shall we?
86 year old mom; rotting deck removal & replacement; accounting classes due to no more engineering jobs; volunteering at a Habitat House construction; and to top it all off, I have a cold that won’t go away.
I’m dragging myself around, my legs feel like lead and I keep wanting to fall asleep at odd times.
Ok, enough of that. Have you had dreams of what you would really like to be doing? I have. All my life, what I really wanted was to have a little cabin in the mountains; no electricity, no running water, no phones, no neighbors (at least not close enough to see from my windows). Tall evergreens, snow in the winter, rain in the summer, surrounded by snow capped mountains and evergreen trees as far as I can see. That was my dream, and still is.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to do that? It’s impossible is how hard. It takes money, and I don’t have it. Well, not be too down, I love living in the Pacific Northwest and I can run off to the mountains any time I can get away from my responsibilities, which isn’t very often, but at least I can see the mountains from where I live, and they are only an hour away!
Tell me your dreams and how you have or have not accomplished them – and if not, how you plan on doing them.
“The smaller the head, the bigger the dream.”
“It is such stuff and nonsense that dreams are made of.”—Clifton Fadiman
“Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.”
Author: Tupac Shakur
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
Author: Henry David Thoreau
Sayanara, the hamster soldiers on.
Ok, so I confess. I am a liberal, progressive type politically. I am opposed to all wars, so I’m a peacenik too. I have been withdrawing into myself for the last 10 years now, I guess. It all started with Bush/ Cheney and now Obama is not what those of us who voted for him had hoped for, and is not doing what this country and the world needs him to do. I feel like one of those little things that grows at the edge of the ocean, in the tidal pools, and looks sort of like flowers, and if you poke them they pull into themselves and look like squishy tubes stuck to the rocks.
I lost my career as an engineer because there just isn’t any construction going on, and what
little there is, is done on the cheap. That means they just plop the minimum amount of HVAC packaged equipment into a building and don’t bother with having an engineer make sure it all works. Who cares anyway? The builder isn’t the one who is going to be using the building. It becomes someone elses problem as soon as it’s built.
That pretty much describes what is wrong with this country. Everyone is busy blaming someone else, and corruption aside, many people get away with doing sloppy, illegal and dishonest work because they can hide “in the crowd” so to speak.
“When my cats aren’t happy, I’m not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they’re just sitting there thinking up ways to get even.” Percy Bysshe Shelley quotes (English Romantic Poet whose passionate search for personal love and social justice was gradually channeled from overt actions into poems that rank with the greatest in the English language. 1792-1822)
So, I have been wracking my brain for two years, since I was laid off my lucrative engineering gig, trying to figure out what to do. If you are 20 something, you at least are young and people will hire you because you are young. When you get to 60, all they see is their health insurance payments will quadruple or more just because you are 60 and not 59, and you aren’t as cute as you were when you were in your 20′s or 30′s. Except for me, of course, ha, ha.
So, I’m studying accounting, with the theory that I’m good with numbers, and it is something I can do sitting down, which may be necessary when I’m 75, and I hope to god there will still be some companies doing business for the next 25 years so I can have places to work.
Ok, now the problem is to keep my sanity. I cannot listen to the news anymore, such as it is. Don’t get me started on the fact that hardly any real news gets reported anymore. So, I spend my “spare time” doing repair projects around the house, reading Perry Mason novels, a few sci-fi’s, some end-of-the-world survival scenario novels, which can be fun not because they are end of the world stories, but because someone in the book is smart and resourceful enough to survive and maybe even thrive through the mess. That can leave the reader with a feeling that maybe there is hope.
One of the things I miss these days is humor. When I was younger, I read two newspapers a day and the first page I turned to was the comics page. After I got through laughing I would turn to the editorial page and following that, I’d go through the news. The comics aren’t funny anymore. I guess the papers don’t want to pay for comics because most of the comics in today’s papers were written during the 1950′s to the 1970′s and are just being re-printed. The rest are sanitized crap that just isn’t funny. They are bland, with a capital B.
Heres some biting edge humor:
“I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.”
“If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.”
“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”
The Hamster trudges on. I think I’ll take up painting again.
Ok, so yesterday I was sick. Which for me means that I do pretty much everything I do when I’m not sick, but slower and less efficiently. As I got older and my kids are grown and on their own, I have really tried to just stop and rest when I get sick, but for 60 years I have been working my ass off just to try to keep up with all you superhuman type A persons out there and it seems that I am not doing such a good job at it.
I managed to work my ass off while raising two kids and putting myself through engineering school, but I got sick now and then too. The result was that everyone else seemed to get better grades than me (its really hard to get a 4.0 GPA if you get sick at least twice a year). You try to study and learn a difficult subject while dragging your sorry ass around with a virus that makes you feel like you have strep or the flu (but you went to the doctor and he/she said you didn’t, he said just to get some rest; ha, ha, that was a good one).
Anyway, I have been trying to take it easy now that my life is a little less swamped with stuff I have to do and my current job does not include overtime. But life gets in the way and our really sucky American economy smacked me really hard in the face. So, let me inform you on what we 60-somethings do these days.
I am taking accounting classes online while working full time at a not very well paid job. I don’t see ever being able to get another engineering job (in HVAC and plumbing design) as it has been 2 years since I have been able to get work even doing a little design and CAD. So the accounting class takes up at least 5 evenings a week for 2 hours, plus 3 – 4 hours on the weekend.
In addition, I am the only female in my family, and so it has fallen to me to take care of mom. Since she has money, that means she lives in a retirement home and I have her EVERY freakin’ weekend for one entire day. She is 86 and not happy about it. So I deal with her depression and take her around on various little outings, like out to get ice cream and visits to the park. This cuts into my time, as I cannot go hiking for a 2 day backpack, and any studying has to fit into the mom outings. Since she walks really slow now, any outing takes a lot of time.
Then my boss where I work now volunteered to do a Habitat for Humanity house, and as that is something I have wanted to do for years (but never had the time), I decided to volunteer also. BUT, since I am taking the accounting class and take care of mom, I don’t have much time, so I’m doing the construction work every other weekend.
Add to that, my deck was literally rotting out from under me, so as I have documented on this blog I have been working on that as much as I can, which is slow going.
So anyway, if some asshole doesn’t destroy the power grid or this country sink into anarchy, which it kinda looks like it could, in 4 years I will have a 2-year accounting degree and if there are any companies still in business at that time, I might be able to get an accounting type job.
So much for pollyanna optimism, ha, ha.
Remember: “Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. ”
The hamster report
Just thought I would mention that I am not doing my long distance bicycling during the fall and winter. Yes, I am sort of a fair weather biker. However, I do bike in the rain a lot in the spring and summer, but the rain is warmer then!
This morning I was driving to work and it was FOGGY. That sort of weather makes me nervous on a bike. I did come across two bikers – this at 7:20 am! I couldn’t see them until I was fairly close – don’t ask me to estimate the distance, I’m not good at that. Ok, well, maybe about a block away. This was in the county and there aren’t any “blocks”, just long 2-lane streets with occasional side streets.
Well, I could see the bikers but then I pay attention to such things when driving – bikers, squirrels running across the road, dogs, deer, etc. A serious percentage of drivers are distracted and have no idea what is going on around them. If you doubt this, just PAY ATTENTION when you are driving and notice how many drivers wander all over their lane and into the next lane, make turns to the right ACROSS the outside lane, and pull into and out of streets apparently unaware that there are other cars on the road.
So, anyway, I’m working on myself at the gym, which I do all year round. Four times a week, one hour each visit, is about what I seem able to maintain. I really like working out, I like the way it feels; I hate flabby muscles and not having enough strength to do the things I want to do. Beside, it makes it much easier getting in shape for biking and/or hiking.
Also, as I get older, I find the time (about 5 minutes) that I spend stretching is critical. I have developed aches and pains that I am sure would be causing serious mobility problems and mega pain if I did not stretch regularly.
Here’s a good article on older athletes, check it out:
Did I ever get into how much I dislike change? Every time a computer program gets “upgraded” it takes time to learn what the hell they did to it. It never works better, just different. This sucks time from your life that could have been spent doing something constructive, or even taking a nap, which is more constructive than re-learning something you already knew how to do.
Another change is your income level. Has it gone up? For most of us, it has gone down. Ergo, change sucks. Do you know how to live on this new income level? Unless you were a poor student putting yourself through college at some point in your life (usually when you were young, but for some of us, repeated at later ages), you may not know how to live on nothing. That sucks big time, especially if you still have kids dependant on you.
Did you come down with some health issue later in life that required you to change totally the way you eat? Like, maybe making you pay close attention to EVERYTHING you eat? This sucks big time also. Though not so much if you were already changing the way you eat and don’t mind eating healthier. Still, it was much nicer to just eat what you felt like without having to think about it. I personally do not like taking an hour to buy groceries because I have to stand there and try to read the stupid ingredientls list on EVERYTHING I buy. I should bring a magnifying glass.
How about if your career that you spent thousands of dollars going to college to learn no longer has any jobs for you? That sucks big time also. Want to change careers when you are 60? Good luck with that. I’m working on that. I hope I can get someone to hire me when I graduate at 65. In any case, maybe I can stave off alzhiemers because I’m learning new stuff until I’m really old. Old, not odd. Damn this spell check thing.
change sucks for the hamster, she soldiers on