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We all know that I am not a language peever, but I reserve the right to hate the word meme anyhow.

So anyway, this week's game is to grab the book nearest you and read the first sentence on page 45: it is supposed to explain your love life. I did it yesterday and the nearest book was 400 Czech Verbs and the first sentence was some damned thing about the accusative case or something and I forgot. But today I was reminded again and the nearest book was the Czech dictionary (don't get me wrong, I've totally been slacking on studying Czech all year, it's altogether unusual for these books to be anywhere near me). On page 45 there are actual sentences, in a sidebar about distinguishing "breast" from "chest." The first sentence is

The pain spread across the chest.

Being that we are in fact fifteen days from the 6th anniversary of the nice fellow's death, it's actually kind of apposite.

Though I tend to feel it in my head (my physical head, not my abstract mind), not my chest.


How to rescue this post from the abjectly emotional? natter on about my living family.

I think I have convinced Hana and Frank to go to Chemnitz with me. Hana has quit her jobs in preparation for following Frank to the UK whenever his paperwork gets approved, so she's available. At any moment Fank may have to duck out and go to the UK for a last-minute job posting, but I don't mind the uncertainty. He's the reason I have developed a habit of flying to Prague, but he is not the only thing in Prague. I'm flying Norwegian Air from Oakland on the 20th of August, which is a strange day for me but it's good to be busy on it.

Emma has gotten a job with Happy Hollow Zoo as a "temporary" relief zookeeper. It puts a limit on her hours and benefits, but it doesn't preclude her applying for a permanent position, of which there are one or two coming up. She's as happy as she has ever been, her husband Jason said yesterday.

This is after a tragedy: their sweet doofus rescue bulldog got her wires crossed and leaped at Jason's throat, nearly killing him in the process. She had to be killed: and grief for her was almost as strong as the terror around Jason's brush with death.

Two years

Aug. 19th, 2010 02:03 pm
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It's just a regular workday.  I was late getting to work, but not because I was crying or anything.  I just poked around.  I didn't think about it till I heard a siren screaming up Laurel Street at about the same time that it happened.  I hardly ever get real sensory flashbacks when I hear sirens or see firetrucks or ambulances or any kind of rescue worker's uniform anymore, and I didn't today either, I was just reminded and I wanted to talk about it but the preschool yard is a very busy place and you can't exactly say, "Hey, this is the exact day and moment of the second anniversary of my husband's sudden death and that siren . . ."


That's what day it is.

Yesterday one of my babies from last year turned a year old and got his first hair cut (he's almost as cute with the cut hair as he was before).  The day before one of the other babies turned six months old.  A week or so and I open the Teenaged Parents childcare classroom again, so cleaning it up is what I do on my breaks from the other center.  Life goes on.

That was one of Ted's sayings.
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So this year Frank has to start taking the long-acronym licensing exam for US physicians, in order to be licensed in the US and countries which recognize a US license as well as being licensed in the Eurozone and countries which recognize the Eurozone license.  We went through a lot of twists and turns in the spring to find out what he needed to do and what he needed to get other people to do.  I spent half a month's wages on his application.  He did what he had to do.  He got the form to the office at Charles University with plenty of time.  There he had to sign the form in person in the presence of the Czech administrator who then had to stamp it with a particular stamp which the University had designated to the test agency as their one and only official stamp for this purpose and then mail it to the test agency in time for them to process it and give Frank a US test location and test date.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

Charles University told the test agency that they would use the dean's stamp to authenticate the forms when they came in.  But they used the vice-dean's stamp.  My first reaction was that the test agency was the villain here for not recognizing the vice-dean's stamp, but then I thought about it -- the University said the only stamp they would use would be the dean's stamp, and then the University did something else.  In any case, no test for Frank this summer.

The next step is to do the form signing and stamping all over again when he gets back to Prague and to pay the test agency another hundred fifty to take the test somewhere in the Eurozone during the school year -- remember that Frank has to do his part of the form wrangling in the presence of the Charles University administration. Then he  gets to buy train tickets to wherever the test is given -- I believe we noticed that the closest place was somewhere in Germany.  So altogether, it's going to cost nearly another week's wages for me (his school loans do not cover this: for some reason they will only loan him approximately five thousand dollars less than he actually needs to go to school, live, and travel back and forth once a year.  It has to do with him being at a foreign school.  And talk about predatory lending practices!  Sallie Mae keeps sending him these come-ons for variable-rate loans that he would have to start paying off immediately -- necessitating higher loans, naturally).

I am a literary trope, aren't I -- widow with a low-paid service job trying to get a kid through medical school.  All I need is a ragged shawl and an excessively deferent attitude.

On the other hand, I have a working car again, I'm signed up for the early literacy class that will be taught in Spanish,  I have canned tomatoes, made wild plum jam, dried plums, and the construction project is moving forward.  More about that when we finalize the plans.
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I just noticed I've started to read publisher's calls for submissions again.

I think . . . I think I'm moved from the deep purple into mauve (in the nineteenth-century coding of widows' weeds).
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I'd been playing around with an idea about a drummer boy and now suddenly I have I think a full-fledged, entirely new novel in Fantasy Not-Poland Not-Early-Twentieth-Century, involving inheritance, sibling rivalry, a magical wild sow, a foresty marsh, and the aftermath of war. I wasn't even thinking about fantasy when I started. But while I was rationalizing making up a country instead of doing three years of research for what was going to be a novella for my own amusement I was taken with some remembered passages from Landscape and Memory, and the Lithuanian Cow became the Great Sow of the Marsh, and well, the rest is coming together.

The drummer boy is still central, of course. And the collision of semi-modern (trench) warfare and the style of warfare that pertains to black powder technology.

Once again, I am harmed by the absence of the nice fellow, whose thing was military history, and who always had to say something about the broader implications of military technology.

Stupid translating engine story of the day: Google can handle "stony" and it can handle "brook" but it can't handle "stony brook."
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I used to get a lot of Chinese manufactory spam, which mostly rendered in punctuation marks and obscure symbols, with just enough English in there to understand that some very earnest people wanted to get me to order up vast quantities of nylon O rings or sealed bearings.

Today I'm checking my spam filter for a missing piece of mail I expected to get by now and I'm noticing that most of it is cyrillic. The stuff in German is purporting to be from women who have shown me their private webcams before, or promising me better experiences in bed.

Now, the better experiences in bed I could currently go for. I don't sleep more than an hour and a half before I wake up again, and I've just lately started having dreams about losing the nice fellow in various unpleasant ways, most of which devolve to some flaw in myself I discover in the course of the dream.

I didn't have these dreams before.
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This will show my age:
one of my favorite songs ever is Bert Jansch's "Bright New Year," which I thought of all the time with respect to my own mother. Here it is covered by a young man who gets it okay.

Bert Jansch - The Bright New Year

Hello mother dear
Hope you are well and happy today
I do love you and think of you
Each single day
I dream of seeing you happy.

In summertime I thought
I would be able to see you again
I do love you and think of you
Each single day
I dream of seeing you happy.

As the bright new year
Draws closer now
I'm on my way
To bring you my love
And wish you good cheer over there.

Actuallym, I saw my mother all the time. But there is this feeling of concern and worry and maybe even downright fear that mom's falling apart, maybe going crazy with the weight of age and separation -- I lived with it all the time after I left home. She was going crazy and she was falling apart, she was fragile and my father dumped her when she hit middle age -- I like to think it was not because she was getting older but because he couldn't deal with her fragility and because he wanted to live the life he sang about, the free-hearted anarchist, and she was anything but free-hearted.

I didn't really intend to talk about any of that, really. I just wanted to make note of how I've started the new year.

New Year's Eve the dog and I walked in the New Year Parade, with the Women in Black, relatively silently, sandwiched between the bagpipes and the gamelan. Seriously. It's Santa Cruz, that's what we do for the New Year. Then I went to Connie and Israel's house meaning to stay for an hour and come home but what I did was stay till two-ish. Also I cooked. I made cauiliflower and cheese thing, not a great example but edible, roasted roots, chocolate bean flour cake with walnuts and agave syrup instead of sugar and some of the butter replaced by peanut butter, and also sesame candy with agave syrup. I'm not sure that agave syrup is actually lower in glycemic load than other syrups, because I haven't seen a source I trust, but it's rumored to have its fructose molecules all chained up into less-available fibrous strings. I need to talk to my favorite nutritional biochemist. AlsoI swept all the floors and did dishes and laundry.

New Year's Day I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, a lot of floor cleaning and some throwing things away and wiping down surfaces and moving papers around. And then the in-laws came over and we went to Bean Hollow Beach for the traditional Minus Tide Viewing, with the dog of course, and with the intention of going to the famous Duarte's artichoke restaurant of Pescadero, but it was closed, so the inlaws took us to a Greek restaurant in town and I had Horta Vrasta, which is dandelion geens boiled and served up with lemon and feta. And also a dish of "gigantes," which are butter beans in a kind of thick mild starchy sauce, better than that sounds. Everything was pretty good except the avgolemono, which was too lemony and at the same time bland. I put my name on a list to be notified when they have music (and dancing) night again. And I promised to tell Helen, my sister-in-law, when they tell me. She's Greek and is wistful about dancing.

I forgot to put my card in at Bookshop for their New Years' Day drawing. Oh well.

Yesterday I took the dog to the field and she romped around sedately and I had successful conversations with human beings. Then I went and visited my brother which was pleasant though I think the dynamics in his family are not and I fear for their equanimity over time. I forgot to take the telescope and contact the guy in El Cerrito who wants to buy it. I think my original plan of only dealing with locals is the only way to go. I can't deal with all this far away stuff.

Today I pruned half my apple tree and sprayed it and the plum tree and the apricot tree and the pomegranate tree with dorman oil spray. I still need to do the rest of the pruning and get the prunings into the greencycle can. But this is the first time in years I have gotten the first dormant spray done before late February. I just paid attention to the weather for once and I noticed that there was going to be no rain for a few days and I went for it. I also cooked some more --m some eggs and some rice and lentils for the week -- and swept some more -- I sweep and sweep and vaccuum almost every day and I still have barely made a dent in the mountains of dust that have accumulated while I was wrapped up in a little mourning ball -- not that I've ever been a great housekeeper. Also I dyed some white underwear orange, because orange was the color of dye I had for historical reasons, and orange is not as bad as white, at least I think it's not, we'll see.

I meant to get out to Lighthouse Field with my clipboard, but when I thought it might be either the field or the pruning, I thought the pruning was more immediate.

Also, over this same period I have written 7000 words of a probably 10K word story. One of my endless "fellow with little to no self-esteem and his crush" stories, but this one features the song "Spanish Merchant's Daughter:"

Father was a Spanish Merchant and before he went to sea
made me promise to say "No Sir" to all you say to me
--No sir, No Sir, No Sir, No Sir

I know your father was against me. Should he not return from sea
And they say you have no mother, would you then say no to me?
--No sir, No Sir, No Sir, No Sir

Yes I know I have no mother, should father not return from sea
Then you see I have a brother who would take good care of me
--No sir, No Sir, No Sir, No Sir

If we were walking in the garden, plucking roses wet with dew
Would we be in any way offended if I walk and talk with you
--No sir, No Sir, No Sir, No Sir

I know the world is very cruel if you have no one to care
But I always will say no sir until from father I do hear
--No sir, No Sir, No Sir, No Sir

As we tarry in the garden and we linger side by side
would you tell me I must leave you and refuse to be my bride
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir,
No sir, no sir, no sir, no no!

Tomorrow, back to work.

Grief Song

Dec. 28th, 2009 11:35 am
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actually made up October 4-5, 2009, and sung to a tune somewhat reminiscent of "The Lark in the Morning," but more subdued, and with a bit of chorus thing tagged to the end of the verse.

Used rather effectively as a lullaby, actually.

The waves play hard on the cliffs of the sea
they grind them fine and drop them on the strand
the land stands firm just as long as it can
but the sand grains drain far away from me
how much I love my darling but he's gone, gone, gone
how much I love my darling and he's gone

The roots of the tree rot away one day
and it falls across my path in the wood
there is no thing, neither bad nor good
that will stand, that will stand in entropy's way
how much I love my darling but he's gone, gone, gone
how much I love my darling and he's gone

The galaxies drift, falling farther and far
my sun won't hold its chilling heart
when every atom has been drafted apart
it all grows cold from my heart to the stars
how much I love my darling but he's gone, gone, gone
how much I love my darling and he's gone

They burned him finer than the sand of the sea
I stood there and cast the ash to the ground
the wind took hold and blew it around
leaving nothing but dust to cling to me
how much I love my darling but he's gone, gone, gone
how much I love my darling and he's gone
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Last night I went to bed early and in my own bed -- for the first time in almost a year. The cat and dog were more than delighted. The dog was so excited she tried to hump ythe bed. The cat just purred all night and now he is upstairs yowling at me, trying to get me to go back to bed.

Light at the end of the tunnel, I guess.

The storage shed is leaving in about an hour.


Nov. 29th, 2009 03:50 pm
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So I have one of those newfangled bagless vaccuum cleaners. I thought the point of advances in cleaning technology was to make the house cleaner while exposing the cleaner to less direct contact with filth, but it doesn't seem to be the case with this contraption. I'm tapping out the dust from the paper filter after every use as directed, leaving piles of fine mauve dust all over everything within a fifteen-foot radius, including myself. Clearly I am doing this wrong.

And after every sixth use, I'm supposed to take it apart and wash it. Done: and also, I have to wash the area where I washed it (my bathroom in this case) and take a bath.

On the other hand, I don't have to buy bags, and that's a plus.

I have vaccuumed my old futon. I am debating calling that enough rather than trying to figure out how to find and rent a steam cleaner. I want to put a waterproof cover on it anyway.

And then I need three strong bodies to help me get it up the stairs.

Did I ever tell you how steep my bedroom stairs are? Because they are. Steep. And I have been up and down them many, many times this last four days, hauling boxes and baskets of stuff up and down. I have much, much more to do, but I have cleared the floor of the back room enough to lay the mattress down and work on it, and the library floor is swept for the first time in months and clear enough to drag the mattress through on its way upstairs, and their is light at the end of the tunnel for the living room and the room-to-be-eventually-rented.

The dog and cat think this is all hilariously unnerving. My hands are wrecked, of course, but only to the extent that they wake me up with pain, not to the extent of not being able to hold things in them.

I primed the closet floor yesterday, and bought a beautiful shade of cool indigo for it, and now I am about to go put that blue paint there.

I was supposed to buy wall paint but I hit a dilemma and I must consult with Zack first. Shall I buy the nice whiteywhite -- a bit whiter than I wanted, really -- that there's only two gallons of, of should I buy the slightly less nice offwhite that's a bit darker than I imagined that there's a five gallon tub of?

I was also supposed to lightly sand the old wood on the weird angley windows in preparation for painting them but when I went to do it they just kept getting more diseased looking and splintery and again I must consult with Zack.
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What I'm mostly doing now is taking crap upstairs and throwing crap out. I like to think I'm not a clothes horse, and I try not to buy crap, but stuff accumulates when you're passive.

I am fortunate to have the attic area to put things into. Since my closet isn't finished yet, I have put three laundry baskets!!! of hangable clothes right inside the attic door, along with a box of hangers. I am also moving some just plain stuff into the attic -- things I don't want to go through, things I know I want to keep but I don't want to access all the time, and four boxes of children's books that will go in a particular shelf that has not been built yet.

I have put my folding clothes into the drawers in the bed that used to be Ted's and into some of the drawers in the wall that used to hold my clothes. I do not understand why, after a year of throwing things away and not buying things, I still apparently have more than I started with. I have subsumed some of Ted's clothes, but not that much!

For example. My underwear, swimclothes, pajamas and socks used to go into two drawers that are smaller together than the one big drawer I have subdivided with plastic boxes. I swear I could close those two drawers. I have culled a bunch more socks, also ironic because for the last year I have been desperately search for socks everyday, and now I find I have too many. Well, I stole all the socks that Emma thinks are too juvenile, so that's explainable. But as for underwear -- I haven't bought any in a long time, and I have been throwing pieces out because they were two worn out and discolored even for me.

Anyway, you can see the (very very dusty) floor in the former kid's room, but I haven't been able to sleep there in a week because I was using the bed for a staging area. The upstairs masttress needs cleaning before I can sleep on it -- not to mention all hundred pounds of it need to be dragged upstairs -- so I've been sleeping (badly) on the couch. It's okay for a nap, but a full night's sleep is not possible since the dog insists on sleeping with me even when it's obviously not possible. I'll have the downstairs bed cleared off for tonight, I think, and sleep a bit better.

I've been sweeping the floors that I expose, and sweeping my room upstairs when I track dirt up there, but everything's still very dusty. And there was a rat skeleton, which I think Truffle found somewhere, so naturally I'm coughing from my stupid reaction to the epithelial tissue. No welts were my hand landed on it though, which is a mercy. (Come to think of it, I never got welts on my hands from the pet rats back in the day -- only my shoulders and arms)

Now I have to go find a steam cleaner to rent, some paint for the walls and for the floor of the closet, replace the wrong hinges I bought, and let's see, dog and cat food too.

I hate the way my throat feels, though.
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XKCD says it best again. It's all the comfort you get, really.

You just are, and then you aren't: the best you can do is to give whatever you're made of to whoever else comes up with you and after you.

It's been a flashback day, and I do mean flashbacks. I no longer wonder what it's like for trauma victims. My own sorrow is nothing like as bad as it gets, but there it is. Somebody was talking about the sudden death of the nephew of one of out mutual coworkers, and I was hearing Ted's last words and seeing the events play out. It wasn't as vivid as people describe it, but it was unshakeable, though I could continue with the conversation and take care of babies. Then later it was a book we were reading to the threes and fours (I spend an hour and a half or two hours in preschool most days), about mothers and fathers and what they do for their children. Somewhere between the daddy teaching the child to read the orah and the daddy teaching the child to use an abacus I lost it. And lastly -- every folkdance night this happens at least once, though Ted would never have gone folkdancing with me (he would go to the Greek festival and eat leukomathes and watch me dance, though): there's some couple my age or generally older, content, dancing together, having those little conversations you can only have with a bonded life mate, and it hits me like a hammer. The guy who's in early dementia (I think) gets me most often because he's gushing about how lovely and sweet his life is now with grandchildren and his dear mother-in-law and yearly trips with his wife to his home country -- it's not just or rational but it pisses me off that we don't get that. It was hitting me harder tonight, I think because of the earlier episodes, but it didn't detract from the night. I don't know why, but I can be practically falling on the floor from it one second and the next be drawn back in to the scene around me. I should be grateful for that. I am.


On a less-whiny note, I'm actually improving at folk dancing. I'm sitting out fewer of them, tripping over myself less, and catching on earlier in the dance. Some of this is the careful application of coffee (which I generally avoid because I'm excessively sensitive to caffeine), and some of it is practice, and some of it is understanding what's going on when I can't seem to move right (ending up on the wrong foot almost consistently is an indication of a thing or two going on besides random error).

One of the things that's going on is that I seem to process large-motor instructions slowly, whether their spoken or demonstrated. So by the time my foot understands that it is the left foot and the left foot is supposed to be up in the air, it's time for the right foot to be there. When begin to learn the dance, I overcompensate and rush into things. This is less of a problem when the dances aren't being taught -- late in the evening, or on live music nights -- as I am not trrying to learn the steps actually, I'm just trying to go in the right direction and not bump into anybody. I have a fear of wrecking somebody else's dance experience with my klutziness. When I'm pretty sure I can't do that, I dance much better.

The problem with the coffee is that if I judge the dose wrong it's one o'clock in the morning and I'm still thinking of reasons I shouldn't go to bed now.

For example, shouldn't I recolor all the fences in the Sims game with my chosen fourteen stucco colors? Tonight? I've got a head start . . .

Oh, and we're doing Urban Watch on Sunday. I don't know why we're testing the Soquel Creek storm drains right now, after the rainy season has started, but I'm happy for the opportunity.

and also

Sep. 6th, 2009 11:44 pm
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Among other things, I have also transformed three boxes on miscellaneous stuff into a box of recycled paper, a box of books for Logos, a pile of books to read, more books on the children's book shelf, some actual garbage, and a new trove of miscellaneous postage stamps (some of which I used to mail out a manuscript).

And this too:

A quarter to midnight, I'm getting ready for bed, and I get a call. I'm too surprised to even be scared. But all potential fears are laid to rest as I hear the peremptory voice of a woman rapidly complaining in Czech. She's not really. She's actually being very polite and thoughtful: it's just the intonation of Czech that makes it sound like that. She switched to English, and now between me and Frank we have personally spoken to people in four countries about the whereabouts of his suit roll, which made a delightful sidetrip to Venice as he went on to Prague. Frank spoke to the folks in Munich, where his plane landed: and I have spoken to people in Venice, Phoenix, and Prague.

The luggage is doing well. It's in Prague again. The only problem is that they can't deliver it: they think the address of the friend's apartment where Frank is staying is incorrect. I think they are mistaken, or at least that it is not incorrect in the way that they think it is, but I didn't think it wise or even possible to explain that the address isn't on the postal maps because the apartment is illegal . . . it's just like a granny unit, like that, only in a converted apartment house garage.

and I wrote 700 words of a new story, too, uncharacteristically one where I don't know what's going to happen except that I hope that I get these two characters together . . . it starts out really gloomy, because our guy is basically saying the same things to himself that I say to myself when I'm not busy enough.

Now I go read, perhaps to sleep.
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Edit: I have applied for five jobs, including the one I actually want but dropped the ball on a few months ago: it's open again.

I have applied to four jobs in 32 hours. A preschool job, an afterschool job, an online student success representative job, and a writing job. Email applications are easy to crank out when you get over the weird presentations that crazy hiring managers indulge in.

Emma's wedding is the day after tomorrow!

And now to clean the refrigerator. . . for a side dish in a well-stocked potluck for over a hundred people, how many pounds of cucumber salad do I make?

And here's my observations on my anti-depression experiments.

So I ave a personality that flirts with depression -- or rather, a physicality that flirst with depression, because excessive sadness is rarely the issue for me. Even now, my sadness has not been excessive for the circumstances. I can feel joy: I was even able to feel joy in the worst part (which was May and June, I think). Sometime in the spring I went into some pretty heavy stuff though. I struggle with spaciness and flakiness at the best of times. It's worse when I forget that I'm struggling with it, and best when I'm busy and engaged in something. Anyway, it got bad ewnough that I was worried about the possibility of incipient dementia -- I was sweeping the kitchen floor for three days and it still wasn't swept, for example. And we won't go into details about my car registration.

The doctor said that I wasn't spacy like a demented person, I was spacy like a depressed person. Okay. He suggested Lexapro. That was an experience. I wasn't as surprised as I might be because I have extreme and anomalous reactions to just about reverything that has any kind of stimulative property -- coffee, tea, whatever. You start with half a dose, and then a week later you go into a full dose (10 mg). My nervous system went whacko. My muscles were so tense that it hurt to walk. If I was sitting my legs were jumping. I could stop them, but them my fingers would be tapping. I could stop that, but then my teeth would be chattering. I could stop that, and then my thumbs would be twirling. And so on. So I quit. But I noticed that I was, actually, now depressed in the strictest definition -- low and dull and slow. So I tried half a dose for a week and a half. It was the same, only less. I thought I might be able to bear it, but it was too awful.

The doctor suggested Zoloft but warned it might make me sleepy. I thought no, I don't need to be sleepy. That's something else I struggle with. By this time my friend Mary was here and we were trucking around town together a lot and I figured whatever I did could wait.

Also I had started foilk dancing on Friday nights. This is a challenge for me because I have severe problems with right and left and it's a big challenge to physically focus -- I get exhausted, mentally, long before I'm too tired physically to dane. But I thought it was doing me some good. However, I noticed after a bit that while I was dancing much better at the beginning of the night, I was running out of focus earlier and earlier. But the first night I had been able to go all night . . . the first night was while I was still on the Lexapro. So I thought -- stimulant. That's what I need, a stimulant. And I figured there was a stimulant I could control better than others: coffee. I had already noticed that I tolerate caffeine much better when I "need" it: when I have to drive at night or something, I am less likely to have the two-day's worth of ick after I drink the coffee.

So last Friday I made a half a cup of half-strength coffee around noon, and I did beautifully. It was live music night -- the place was full of Bulgarians and Turks and Armenians, all energetic and fast and bright -- it was the first time I was able to dance enough to actually get sore legs.

And the next day everybody remarked on how good I looked, how well I seemed to be doing . . .

I think I have a prescription. I have other friends who I can ask to demand things from me when Mary goes home. And the combination of a bit of stimulant and an activity which is both physically and mentally demanding to ramp up my nervous system seems to work quite well.
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And no fathers around here anywhere. Yeah, well, I'm maudlin a lot of the time.

On the other hand, We're picking up Frank tonight, not tomorrow night.

By the time we get him home it will be early tomorrow morning: for him it will be tomorrow mid-day.


Okay, I'm confused again.

I thought this drug was supposed to make me less spaced out.
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I read somewhere that Franz Kafka thought he was writing comedies and was dismayed that people didn't laugh when they read his books, and that Jaroslav Hasek thoughthe was writing tragedies and was dismayed when people did laugh.

I don't know if it's true.

But this thing I've been writing is supposed to be a romantic comedy, andit just gets less and less funny. And as for the romance: well, our guy's just having the pieces picked up by our other guy.

I'm about five hundred words shy of the length I thought I would stop it at, and I've found myself in a whole that would take ten times that to get out of. If I want it to end the way I want it to, in an upbeat crescendo. I may have to tear the last chapter down and redo it.

But this chapter has produced one of my favorite lines so far: "Some people have a skeleton or two in their closets, Skip, but you've got a whole ossuary."

He does, too. But I may decide to throw out the last horrible revelation as being too dark for the tone of the rest of the book. I don't know.

I told the people who were reading it as I wrote it that they know what happens in the last chapter, and I didn't really have to write it, now, did I? But I was being disingenuous. They really don't.

And now I'm a little less sure I do, either.

On another front, when I told the latest painter I couldn't afford $6900 and I was probably going to do it myself (read: "hire my friend the window washer") he started backing and filling and saying not to give up. But he also says he has a lot of work right now and can't do it right away. I don't know what the deal is. I wasn't bargaining.

But I'm really going to ask Paul.

And the termite people never called again.

But the tree people are coming to look at the almond trees on Monday.

Insert usual whinge about missing the nice fellow and how hard it is to do anything without him.

And it's really cold, even for "normal summer pattern weather."
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Wrote: half the last chapter of the romantic comedy, and a chapter of the thing about the guy who is at one with the water system and enmeshed in a political struggle he doesn't understand and doesn't want to care about until people start threatening him.

It's close to a stopping place, but if I stopped it where it feels like it ought to end, it would be 40K or less, which makes it not a novel. Where the story goes after that isn't to my liking as a thing to write: I mean, I envision forty-fifty years of a life by turns tedious to describe because it's all about the bureaucratic plodding, and briefly, explosively dangerous, with those episodes not so much resolving as retreating as an ebb tide, the danger promising to return in its own time. You could write that, I suppose, as a picaresque, or an adventure series, and there've been more unlikely heroes for adventure stories than a water engineer with unlikely powers of perception and communication with watery things. No, it's not a fantasy, and his powers are not supernatural. He's been genetically tweaked so he can do his job better, is all. The bacteria and algae that have been tweaked to act as controls and movers for the water system don't have personalities. No sprites anywhere. Just biology and engineering and hydrology.

It occurs to me that it might work as a fixup with the similarly short one about the guy who has been set up to think he's a nutcase, so the bad guys can pin the assassination of our guy's mentor on him. Except it happens about fifty years earlier, now that I think about it. Unless I rework it completely.

I have called several termite outfits and finally got one that returned my call and is willing to come look at my house. The painter I was talking to before the house revealed all its horrors is now too busy. Another painter thinks he may not be able to get to it very soon, but he's coming out. I have called several tree services but not one has answered me.

The tree thing is getting urgent. I can hear my almond trees scraping against Hanelore's garage.

I have another job interview on Tuesday. I volunteered last week twice at the school where the Watershed Council is doing projects. I helped Emma move a bit. I worked the polls on Tuesday. I went with Zac to buy lumber.

I fixed my horrible leaking rear hose faucet. Practically falling in love with the woman who works in plumbing at the hardware store while I was at it. She was so competent and calm. It's too late for me to be her when I grow up, I'll have to make do with what I've got.

I got mc to two of the appointments he needs to get to for his SSI evaluation, which is all the appointments they've set up so far.

I deadheaded the front roses.

I got the checkbook for the life insurance account so now I can pay all my big bills and get my car tuned up.

I'm going to be out of money in a couple of months, but I won't have to do any of these things to my house again. And I'll be working soon.

So, and the nice fellow's birthday came and went and I survived it. One more first-without-him I don't have to look forward to.

I have discovered that if Truffle doesn't get a decent walk three days in a row, she will pine: she'll stop eating, she'll get constipated, and she'll start to look Addison's-y.

So I am working on getting up earlier so she'll get her good walk even after I start working again.

Oh, also, I figured out how to make a thing in Milkshape, but not how to view it in a form that will allow me to see how the texturing is working out. Nor do I know how to export the thing into SimPe, or how to scale it so it's actually the size it needs to be for the Sims. The project I'm working on in Milkshape is interchangeable pieces to make false fronts for Southwestern-style buildings, which also seem to be exactly what's needed to make the false fronts on the narrow old buildings I saw in Amsterdam and Prague.
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I'm sure someone has flirted with me in the last ten years but I'm damned if I can remember when or under what circumstances.

But it happened this morning. It's so odd, and so unusuaal, that I am a little unsettled -- not in a "whoa, I'm a smexy broad after all" sort of way, but in a "what was he really thinking?" way. And I'm trying to piece together who and what this man was from the details I saw as Truff;le dragged me along.

Saturday mornings Truffle and I take the car to Emma at seven in the morning so she can go to Monterey and scrape otter crap off the rocks of the exhibit there. Then we walk back. After next Saturday we'll have to do tjhis differently because she won't nbe living in walking distance anymore.

Anyway, so Truffle and I are walking home and we're passing Zachary's which is a steak-and-breakfast place from the old days. By nine o'clock in the morning you can't pass on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant because there's so many hipsters and yuppies standing around there. But it's not at the "good" end of Pacific Avenue. It's perilously close to the bars and the tattoo and piercing parlors and the head shops. So you get some street louts hanging around there too.

This morning there are two people lounging in front of Zachary's door. One is a young hispanic man in a hoodie, who has slumped down with his hood over his face -- 7:00 is too early for him! The other is a middle-aged blond-and-tanned-and-obviously-exercises kind of guy in white jeans and a white tee shirt, stirring a paper cup of coffee.

I tend to make brief, brief eye contact with people I cross on the sidewalk. I don't like extended eye contact ever, but I feel like it matters to acknowledge people on the street even when I don't want to engage them in conversation, and over the years I have tuned this so I mostly successfully do just that: acknowledge people in a respectful and respectable way, without engaging them unless I want to.

In a town with a lot of people in it that don't get a lot of respect, I feel this is really important. A moment of shared dignity, that's all.

However, instead of the usual brief nod or maybe "good morning," I got waggled eyebrows. That was a bit unsettling, but maybe he's practicing to be one of those old guys that do that. Then, as I passed, he stood a bit taller and said "looking fine," which is of course a definitive flirtatious greeting.

But seriously. I've gained twenty pounds since the nice fellow died (more or less: I have to go by my clothes as the third scale I bought in a year varies by twenty pounds depending on how I stand on it -- I got a sptring scale this time because the digital ones died so fast, but it's worse than not having a scale at all because if I didn't have one I might think I could buy one): I'm wearing clothes that are way too big for me since I can't wear the ones I bought last summer (and there's nothing in between, I promise you. The size I ought to be right now is a myth. The clothes are all either as bifg as the next size up or as small as the next size down. I won't fit into anything until I lose these twenty pounds again, or more): I'm a month late for a haircut and seriously shaggy and I barely brushed my hair because I was in a rush: and I haven't had my bath, which means stubble on my face, yes, stubble. And I've caught my expression in the mirror, and lately it never stops looking sad, even when I'm happy about something (which I am, often, the world is full of beautiful things). Like a damned Pieta or something.

So, while I may look like a pleasant little old lady, I am not fine in the usual flirtatious sense of the word. But it wasn't a serious flirtation anyway.

So I started wondering about him. All the way back, I tried to recall the details of his appearance and analyze them. Since that block is often inhabited by street people, that thought did occur to me. But his white clothes were immaculate (I think), and his skin didn't have the coarseness that comes from living rough (not everybody on the street has it, even at his age, which is about mine). So who wears all white in Santa Cruz?

Capoeristas: "village" drummers: sometimes, for some reason, yacht bums. All of those were possible. Silly me, though, I didn't think of it until I got home: both the men lounging on the street in front of Zachary's work there. Of course. Some chefs like to wear all white to work. (I guess it advertises the cleanliness of their operation)

So I guess I got flirted with by weekend Zachary's breakfast chef.

I kind of laughed and said good morning as my dog pulled me along, because my discomfort is my problem, and not his doing: he was just being friendly. But it is a measure of who I am that I spent the rest of the walk reconstructing his story and deconstructing the moment.
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Took the dog and the temporary dog to Meder Street Park yesterday morning. We walked for almost an hour but it didn't make me act like a human being (instead of, for example, a shelf fungus) later. The point is, however, that I've been playing hide and seek with a tick ever since. I keep getting it and losing it. There's no excuse for this. The first time I was startled and dropped it on the floor and then I couldn't find it again. The second time I brushed against it in bed -- barely registered that it was the tick -- and again I couldn't find it. Now I keep imagining sinister little arthropod feet creeping around on my flesh and worrying that it will dig in someplace I can't reach and no nice fellow to look for it for me.

On another front, we've had water restrictions for a little over a week and I've already forgotten my watering days once and nearly forgot to water today (which is one of my days: Saturday is the other one).

Back on the topic of dog and temporary dog, the temporary dog happily went home with the brothers in law yesterday and today Truffle went into a tailspin. She wouldn't eat breakfast so I had to tempt her with peanut butter to get her medicine into her. Then she moped and acted like she was going to get sick, which she might well do, since she has no stress hormones but what I give her. She's better now that she's had a walk and a day to get over it, but it was really dramatic. I feel like telling the brother-in-law just to give me the dog.
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I still keep saying "we" when I'm talking about the house and my life.

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