Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Silenced Howl (and Other Reasons the Past Few Days Have Sucked)

On Saturday, we got a call from my uncle. Evidently, a neighbor had found Grandpa sitting at the bottom of the stairs leading to his door, unable to pull himself to his feet. She got him into the house, and my uncle was called. Grandpa's been having some troubles getting up and down for some time. We also found out he'd driven to the store, which he should definitely no longer be doing. (Long story involving a stupid pharmacist calling a number they were told not to call and insisting he pick up a prescription...) So finally the keys have been taken from his hands, and we think he's figured it out. But taking away car keys doesn't change the fact that Grandpa's days of living alone are just about over.

On Monday, Mom's increasingly flaky boss at the increasingly unprofitable store where she worked one day a week decided to favor quick money over a loyal employee. What was worse was that she point-blank lied to my mother's face about several things in that conversation. (Another long backstory here... suffice it to say that this has been coming for some time.)

This morning, I was woken at 4 AM by trouble in the house. My sister's 12-year-old Malamlute/Husky/maybewolf mix had been diagnosed with probable liver cancer in November, but he's been trucking along decently... until now. He was making distressed noises and couldn't climb to his feet. We wrestled him into the car and drove him to the nearest emergency vet we could remotely trust (the closest one is part of a vet chain that favors wasting money on expensive and unreliable tests... another long story.) Pale gums, fever, enlarged spleen, bleeding into abdomen... At 5 AM, my sister had to make the decision that every pet owner dreads making, silencing one of the most beautiful canine voices I've heard.

There's also a dead mouse hiding in Mom's car, and somewhere in the walls the rat poison is taking effect, to judge by my nose.

There have been good moments, too. After the fall, Grandpa has inexplicably been walking straighter and sleeping easier (something he does much of the time when we visit him.) On Monday, after Mom came home, we met up with my uncle and went down to a lakeside park with beautiful reflections on the rippling water; we saw ducklings and chickadees and turtles and cedar waxwings. And today, I had the pleasure of watching three bald eagles dance over the lake.

All in all, though, I can't say I've ever been happier to know I can escape to work tomorrow morning.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feast Amid Famine

It's no great secret that I'm not a wealthy person. (Some people might say that they may be poor in money but rich in other ways, but I'm not one of those people... mostly because I find those people annoying as heck.) I only have a part-time job, and on it I'm more or less treading water. I've become pretty good at talking myself out of anything that even has the faintest whiff of unnecessary expense.

Once in a while, though, I have my moments of indulgence.

There is the impulsive sale indulgence, where I find something deeply discounted and talk myself into, rather than out of, buying it.

There is the overtime indulgence, wherein, after a particularly long and fruitful stretch of overtime at work (and often with a coupon or two on hand), I'll permit myself a bookstore run or a lunch.

And then, once in a very, very rare while, there is the juice-dripping-down-the-jaws, painfully selfish yet marvelously satisfying indulgence.

During the course of my recent efforts to clean up and unburden myself of unnecessary Stuff, I realized just how much of that Stuff consisted of loose change. Oh, I knew it added up over time, but I never realized just how much. Then I sat down to count it.

My, no wonder my purse felt more like a bowling bag...

I could have taken it down to deposit directly into savings... but that's a bit of a drive, to get to the branch that can actually handle monetary transactions in person.

Then I remembered the CoinStar machine. For a nominal fee, I could get my pile of coins processed and get cash back from the store. I wouldn't get the full amount back, but the change would be gone. Plus, there's a certain feeling of triumph, when the clerk at the grocery store hands over money for once, instead of the other way around - that alone is worth a little fee.

Or, there was a third option. A terrible, evil third option. For no fee at all, I could go to the same CoinStar machine and turn those coins directly into a gift certificate... and that gift certificate could be to Amazon. There's Father's Day and two family birthdays coming up within the next two months - but, really, the only one who could possibly benefit from this course of action would be me. Me and me alone. Lazy, underemployed, undereducated, and financially challenged me. Only a fool, in my shoes, would even remotely consider such blatant gluttony.

If you heard a mad cackling echo ominously across the Internet a short time ago, that would have been me... pressing the "Confirm Order" button.

I may be a broke fool, but right now I'm a danged happy broke fool.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Five Months Down...

The calendar finally rolled over to the sixth month of the year. Though the year isn't technically half over until the end of June, I'm already feeling the pressure to step up efforts and Do Something Useful with 2010. My resolution list still has pathetically few checkmarks of completion on it.

Operation Declutter continues in fits and starts. I still haven't figured out a feasible way into my closet yet (don't ask... let's just say the room wasn't designed with computer desks in mind), but I've tackled other areas of accumulated crud that needed attention. So far, I've amassed one more donation sack, another bin full of recycling, and two more bags for Half Price Books (after another two scrounged up after my last report... the total's somewhere around eight or nine by now, I think, and I ain't done yet.) I'm feeling a little less claustrophobic from the lightening load. Creative juices are starting to trickle, if not properly flow, again.

For some reason, I've been on a reading binge. May saw seven new book reviews posted at Brightdreamer's Book Reviews, and I'm still working on my cross-linking project on the review archive site itself. (I've also decided that the formatting on the ones I've done is sloppy, so I need to go back and fix them, but right now my priority is getting all the cross reference links up and running.) Offline, the I reviews are finished; I hope to have at least three more letters done by the time I post the June update. Once I've finished - or maybe even before then - I hope to find a way to promote the place to see if I can't get a little traffic over there.

As for the rodents... while they're still about, I'm under the delusion that there may not be as many of them around. I'm not in charge of that particular operation, though, so I can't really say.

Well, I guess I better skedaddle. We have a long shift tomorrow at the shipping center, thanks to Memorial Day.