Sunday, June 07, 2009
This makes the 3rd consecutive day I have not done anything more vigorous than weeding and raking in my own back yard. It's killing me.
Before you lecture me about how I shouldn't be weeding and raking, I promise you, it's much easier than brushing my teeth right now. I tried drawing, but I can't keep my hand elevated more than 30 seconds without it turning numb and thobbing.
In the past several days I've been receiving many surprising phone calls. BOTH my brothers called. And yes, that is HIGHLY unusual. I speak to my siblings about once every year... or two. I was expecting to converse with one of them, since I will be traveling into his state on business next week, so I sent him an email and asked him if we could get together. He phoned and graciously offered his guest room. It will be good to see him again.
Among the other surprise calls from long-lost and far away friends came one from my old pal Paul Bunyan*. The same Paul Bunyan I met last summer (see prior blogs). His call was rather scandalous. He propositioned me.
He told me he missed me (we don't really know each other well) and suggested we fly somewhere for a romantic rendezvous. Yes, seriously.
Frankly, I travel enough already, and if I can't get CEUs for it, it's not in my budget. He must have plenty of extra cash (not to mention libido).
Well, dusk is falling; I'm off to walk doggie using only my left hand. After that, it's another round on the elliptical and another strawberry binge. Thank goodness it's only strawberries and not Haagen Dazs.
*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
And details omitted. Same reason.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Can you believe the year is HALF OVER?
A few of you know that I've been very, very busy lately, and haven't been spending much time online. Despite the sorry state of the U.S. economy, my own business has enjoyed exponential growth in the past 18 months. While that's all well and good, like most good fortune, it comes at a price. Today, I'll tell you about the downside: injury.
Most people can easily appreciate the most common injuries suffered by people in the landscape industry- back strain and sunburn. No problem, I was used to all that. Being no stranger to hard physical labor, I wasn't afraid of back strain; and being blessed with plenty of highly active melanocytes (not to mention sunscreen), I wasn't worried about sunburn either. I've been working outdoors for years.
I was, however, very worried about how long it was taking me to complete a certain landscape project I've been working on since early April. It was a huge job, for a well connected client, in a wealthy neighborhood, on a generous lot, where she and her spouse lived in their beautiful home. I'd drawn the landscape plan for her last fall, and she'd scheduled the project to begin this spring.
The difficulties and setbacks began almost immediately. If I listed them all, I'd spend another week writing about it; so I'll fast forward to where we are right now. After two months on site, I am literally only HOURS away from completing this massive job. I can finally see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. And the harder I worked to meet my (self-imposed) deadline of THIS WEEKEND, the worse my injuries.
Now, let me just say these injuries have nothing to do with accidents or mishaps. They are the DIRECT result of overwork- something I'd never even imagine could happen to a workhorse like me.
I'm not talking about back strain. Nor am I talking about shoulder strain, abdominal strain, arm strain, or leg strain. I'm talking about- are you ready for this?- hand and finger strain.
My client lives in one of those newer communities, where every utility and optional convenience is supplied by pipes and lines buried underground. The landscape I'm installing must coexist with all of this, requiring that most of the work be done by hand, with manual tools. I already mentioned that my client was well off and had a big yard. See where we're going with this?
As the job draws to a close, and I run figures through my head, I estimate that over the past two months, I've moved in excess of TWO TONS of earth, by hand.
The constant muscle tension of the tight grip on heavy tools, and the repetitive motion and sharp impact of blow after blow digging, chopping, scooping and sawing, have done damage to my hands.
For the past several weeks, I've suffered with pain, numbness, tingling, and swelling in both hands, but especially in my dominant hand. Last time it was this bad was Memorial Day weekend, when MERCIFULLY, I had three days of rest followed by a short work week. This time, it's worse.
This week, my clients are away on vacation, enabling me to start earlier and stay later working on their property, and I've been doing just that. Leaving at daybreak, and working until dusk, desperate to finish the job before the homeowners return Friday evening. I've pushed myself hard, foregoing lunches and breaking only long enough to pick up my workers or take them home. I started each workday before my crew, and returned to the jobsite after they'd quit for the day, despite the fact that my oldest worker is a muscular man two decades my junior, and feeling miffed that someone so closely resembling Hercules could be tired after digging ditches in direct sun for only six hours. Okay, so I'm still patting myself on the back for being a such a physical badass, but never again will I laugh at the term "carpal tunnel syndrome". Thanks to my efforts, my work is now halted, and I'm all but physically useless; my right hand so swollen and damaged I can't hold a coffee cup with it, let alone a shovel.
I sat passively on the edge of the bed this morning, as my spouse pulled my socks on my feet and laced up my boots. I mused that the steady rain falling outside was God's way of reinforcing my time out. He cast me a sideways glance and cautioned me not to think about work, noting that I'd asked him to help me into my work boots, and not my sneakers. His words weren't lost on me. We both knew that, if not for the rain, I'd probably be out on the job site again, swallowing analgesics and forcing myself to complete the project. This way, there's more than just the injury. There are the insurmountable forces of nature.
I know my client will understand. They have been wonderful, patient, and agreeable to every suggestion I have made, bar none; even those that have pushed the budget into the upper stratosphere. I just hate knowing that instead of seeing a take-your-breath-away gorgeous finished product, they'll be seeing a less-than-impressive unfinished mess.
I'll make the most of today by finally studying for the big exam- which I've scheduled for late this afternoon. And have yet to seriously review. Wish me luck.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The TV upstairs is digital. The set downstairs still receives analog. If you turn up the volume on the upstairs TV, and sit downstairs watching the analog TV, you can hear an echo, because the digital signal is about two seconds slower.
Isn't digital supposed to be faster and more efficient?
The old TV downstairs always has good reception, unlike the alien-pixelated-blobs that sometimes replace the images I see on our state-of-the-art digital TV.
Now THAT'S progress.
I hate being robbed of my choice and forced to spend money. I'm a dinosaur who resisted buying a new cell phone for the better part of a decade, stubbornly holding on to my giant Motorola Brickman, bragging endlessly about its power (I could maintain a strong signal driving through a tunnel) and durability (I kept my phone through two presidential administrations, even though I'd dropped it to the pavement countless times, fracturing it and losing pieces here and there). I would have kept my old cell phone longer if they hadn't stopped making the batteries for it.
Well, they won't be making analog signals anymore either. So I'm dragged "into the 21st century".
Next thing you know I'll be on Twitter.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I just had to get that off my chest.
Yeah, I know the show's been over for a week, but beyond all the far-fetched stories, and the refusal to take a polygraph when Jeff Probst asked him to at the finale show (Coach conveniently already HAD polygraph results WITH HIM that night), there was one thing in particular I haven't seen or heard addressed anywhere: his AGE.
Coach claims to be 37.
I ask you, IS THIS MAN 37 YEARS OLD?
Give me a break. He's fifty if he's a day.
When I look at the sunken eyes (even photos from before Survivor, and well after), the deep wrinkles, and the sagging skin, it's pretty clear that this too is another lie. Collagen expires.
A lot of people lie about their age, but knocking off two whole decades is excessive.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
And I don't mean by the finance department of a used car dealership.
I mean the ISA has approved my application, and will allow me to proceed... I have earned a seat to take the exam to become a Municipal Specialist. I'm so flippin' excited!
Unfortunately, this news comes too late for me to sit for the last regularly scheduled test. However, I can pay an extra fee, and take the exam at a computer training center right here in town, which is GREAT because I was looking at traveling to Missouri to get in on the next possible exam.
I want to schedule the exam at the beginning of June. That way, I have a few days to look over the material, and I'll get my results before the big annual meeting in July. I want to be able to brag on myself.
I bought my refrigerator when I bought my house: 1995. I can't really complain. It was time for it to die.
But did it have to die on a weekend?
The fridge was LOUD, the way an old, worn out fridge IS; but it's been loud for a few years. It still worked.
It stayed cool enough, even though our ice cream was never quite as hard as it should have been; my broccoli and chicken breasts were always solid, and my husband's pizzas never suffered. But the ice cream, on the other hand, turned out to be the early warning sign.
I noticed on a Friday, when I picked up a tub of Haagen Dazs, and it yielded noticeably under the light pressure of my fingers. It was alarmingly soft. Oh well, I thought... maybe it's because there's so much stuff packed in the freezer right now (true that- it was stuffed to capacity). I reached in to get the ice bin, pounded some cubes loose on the counter, and thought nothing more of it.
The next day, I repeated the freezer scenario. The ice cream more closely resembled Cool Whip, and I figured I'd just throw it away that night. My husband would never miss it, I thought. I pulled the ice bin out of the freezer to take some cubes, but this time, the ice was dripping. Ruh-Roh. Now it clicked why I always had to chip off ice cubes from an ice boulder... they weren't thawing outright, but they were melting just enough to freeze together. I felt around. The freezer was DEFINITELY not freezing. The boxes of my Weight Watchers meals felt soft and moist, my chicken breasts had turned from white to pink. The freezer had become a refrigerator.
I broke the news to my husband that evening. The next morning, he pulled the appliance away from the wall, out into the middle of the floor, and gallantly began taking it apart. What a guy.
Apparently convinced that cleaning the cruddy air filter, and removing a chunk of ice he found on the freezer coils deep within the guts of the old machine would be enough, he set out to prove his theory. Hours later, defrosted and refiltered, he admitted defeat and we headed to Lowes.
Perhaps because it was a Sunday, there was only ONE associate in all of appliances. We waited patiently, while visions of decomposing sugarplums danced in our heads, for about half an hour. Finally, the lone sales associate turned his attention to us.
While I've looked at refrigerators before, and actually had a pretty clear idea of exactly what I wanted, NOBODY had it in stock, meaning we had to buy an 'emergency fridge' (Remember that old Chinese proverb- Dig the well before you thirst? Good advice.), something we could take home THAT DAY.
I said to the salesman "We need a fridge."
He said "Did your fridge break down?"
I said yes. We pointed out the tiny fridge we'd selected, based on what would be big enough to hold our food and small enough to move easily. I lamented again to my husband about them not having the fridge I wanted in stock, and he sweetly reassured me that we'd get it soon, at which point the salesman interjected that he could special order our fridge. I quickly replied that we'd be buying it online and taking advantage of the lower "web-price", so the salesman quips "Oh, you want INSTANT GRATIFICATION."
Now, THAT ticked me off. What the hell kind of comment is that to make to a couple who have just TOLD you that their fridge broke down?
I turned to him and glared "No, I want INSTANT REFRIGERATION. Gratification has NOTHING to do with this. It is not gratifying to HAVE to buy a new refrigerator unexpectedly, and it is not gratifying to throw away hundreds of dollars worth of food." Knowing my husband, he was probably a little embarrassed, but no matter- the salesman ran off to make sure our little fridge was in stock. He returned a few minutes later, with a handcart and the fridge, and I went to pull my truck around the front of the store, still annoyed at the salesman. He kept quiet when he witnessed my feats of strength loading the fridge, while my husband watched from the sidewalk. Anger makes me stronger.
Long story short: we have a cold fridge and a frozen freezer once again, but barely enough room for the bare essentials. My husband okayed the purchase of the preferred fridge, which of course will be bigger than the two of us really need, but that's not what's most important. What's MOST important is the MOMENTUM. I'm thinking the new fridge will usher in a construction crew, that will finally result in the new kitchen I've been wanting for the past 8 years.
Wish me luck.
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