Monday, August 22, 2016

Rare

Rare are the days when I come home ready for a beverage that might make me forget the day but today was one of those days.  It's Friday (yay!) and that in itself is cause for celebration, right?  But really, this day sucked.  From start to finish, it was awful.  You know I rarely say that so...I'll leave the details to your imagination.

Years from now, when I'm re-reading my life, I'm going to ask myself 'what in the world was so bad about that day?'.  There will be no answer - which is true today, too.  No answer.  It was chaotically busy with so many little things - all the big things had to wait and the big things can't wait.  So I'm working tomorrow.  Yay me (not)!

I am so far 'behind' in my life's tales - where to start.

Hello again - it's now Monday.  I'm leaving that Friday missive above to remind myself:  the best way to get over a horrendous day like last Friday?  Have a splendid day like today.  Mondays are categorically a no fun day pretty much every work week - but thanks to the time I spent in the office on Saturday, I had my lists ready of 'what's next' and made good, steady progress all day.  Things that were troublesome on Friday cleared up today - some with a little intervention and effort on my part and others just the way things seem less consequential one day than they did in the moment of the horrendous day.

And the major difference between the two days?  ME!  Friday was a series of hard things that got me on a track of frustration and angst and on those rare days when I can't snap myself out of it, it's just easier to give in and just 'have a bad day'.  But today?  Little things that were irritating Friday were just easily resolved and I just kept on going as soon as the little things were done.

I have four more great days planned for this week and with no meetings (so far) on my calendar, it's looking like a great week.  If I keep on the path I was on today, I should be able to get much of my year-end stuff done and actually take a weekend off.  And in September, I'm off four Fridays - using up vacation to comply with having no more than 80 hours of prior year vacation on the books at the end of September.

Somehow, the TV is on The Andy Williams show - and it makes me miss my mom.  She loved Andy.

I went to Thunder Valley yesterday and what's even more miraculous about the difference between my peace of mind Friday vs. today is that I lost hugely.  The slots were just total crap - I drove home in a huge amount of traffic; the freeway connector between Hwy. 99 and I-5 south was closed so the horrible drive was even MORE horrible and told my hubby in a phone call 'I need a hobby that doesn't result in feelings of self-loathing'.  Time to take up needlepoint.  Or tatting.  I have a cousin who does amazing tatting projects and I'd really like to learn.  I just might!

There's been some HUGE drama at work (which may have also contributed to the dis-ease of late last week) and it amazes me how incredibly stupid people can be.  And how watching the drama play out again on Facebook (well, I'm not watching - this person is so far from a 'friend', I have nothing to do with them on Facebook, but I have other friends who ARE so I hear all about it) is just watching someone make an ass of them self over and over.

We had ribs for dinner and I have the most horrendous heart burn ever.  I've taken meds and nothing's helping.  It might be a long night.  I'd better get going on trying to get some sleep.




Sunday, August 07, 2016

Darn It!

I spent yesterday nursing a very painful back issue - whiny, pissy and by the end of the day, convinced I had something horrible.  In so much pain, I just felt nauseous most of the day.  I went to bed with trepidation and not much hope - but managed to rearrange my pillows and slept semi-OK, especially compared to Friday night which was not great sleep all night.

I woke this morning and gave a few minutes thought to heading to Thunder Valley - the Thunderstrike jackpot was > $120,000 and I should have gone - but I decided 'I'll wait and see where it ends up this week'.

And of course, someone won it around noon today - and I think 'damn, that could have been me'.  Oh well.  It will be available the next time I venture up there and I'll have some time to continue to build back up our fun money account.

J. and H. drove to Fairfield today to get a new car for H. - a 2012 Ford Focus - 56K miles, one owner, no accidents.  It's got a slight 'bif' on the front fender but they will come pick up the car and give H. a loaner while they have that fixed in the next week or so.  The car is in excellent condition and H. likes it - and combined with the $1,000 deductible he had to pitch in from his savings, we were only short $652 above insurance - so not bad considering.

I did have a moment earlier this week when I realized that I will be driving the oldest car (mine is a 2009) and even though it's low mileage (just turned to 80K), it still irritates me that I'm driving the oldest car.  We considered using the insurance money to make a down payment on a new car for me but I really don't want two car payments...so we'll wait until we pay off J.'s Camry.  It sticks in my craw a bit but oh well.  It is what it is.

I spent the day doing little piddly things - finally ran the silverware tray through the dishwasher and cleaned out the silverware drawer.  Also soaked and washed my hairbrushes and combs.  Kept Chloe calm while the neighbors had an outdoor BBQ - she barks like a maniac whilst outside doing her business.

Tomorrow is the annual Welcome Back Breakfast and Tuesday is the first student day of the 2016-17 school year.  A friend at work got all testy last week - 'why are people pre-dating things August? Look at this, they dated it August 4th!' and another co-worker replied 'that was yesterday'. Yikes - August did get here really fast.

I'm entering year-end madness which never trails budget madness by too much.  It's going to be an incredibly busy fall and I'm trying to psych up for it.  Not doing great at that (yet) but trying.

J.'s favorite golf course announced they are closing - they can't afford the water to keep the course playable.  It's so, so sad - he hasn't been playing there long but really loves it and it's sad to see a business failing.  Personally, I think it was more than just the water - they've been offering rounds for $18 and that's a clear sign they are trying to drum up business.  J. said 'I'd buy a membership if it would help them stay open'.  Maybe someone will purchase the course to keep it going - hope so 'cuz it's a really nice course and not to far away - as golf courses go.

Gilmore Girls marathon and J. has been uber patient - it's either Law & Order or GG and the L&O's are starting to be episodes I've seen a gazillion times.  Even I say 'no, not again' to L&O lately and that's a sure sign they are overdoing the reruns of the same episodes.  So GG is a nice change AND it's a fun prep for the new episodes coming up in November!  So excited about the show getting to tell 'the rest of the story' that fans never got when the show ended so abruptly.

Happy Monday to all -

Friday, July 29, 2016

Reno Week

We had a great time in Reno - though at the end of Monday, I told J. 'I just want to go home'.  A brutal round of slot playing that left me broke and bereft...at the casino where we were staying which made it really bad.  J. tried craps and at a $10 table, also had a not so great run.  Trapped in a so-so hotel with the tightest slots on the planet...it was futile.  J. played golf on Tuesday so I tried again - another brutal pounding.  I put so much money in that I moved up a players card level by Tuesday morning - yay! only no.  An advanced level at a place I never intend to play again doesn't get me much.

Make no mistake - I know gambling will result in losing.  The house is almost always ahead - otherwise, there'd be no casinos anywhere.  I never mind losing if the play is fun and results in wins that keep me going - but that wasn't happening at our hotel.

Tuesday evening, we headed out of our hotel/casino and went to Atlantis for dinner - fabulous buffet! We signed up for players cards - J. hit the craps table - very excited to have found a $3 table! - and I hit the slots.  We had a blast!  J. ended up $145 that night and played for a really long time at a really fun table.  I had great luck at slots, too - got braver as the evening went and starting betting 'full bet' no matter what.  Inspired by a young man about H.'s age who cruised up to the Buffalo Gold machine next to me, bet highest bet and proceeded to win $1000 in about 10 minutes.  He also confessed that he was stopping by just to try it again because he'd won $3500 on that same machine about an hour earlier.

My high bet strategy seemed to be the golden ticket at Atlantis 'cuz I played a lot and I played long.
We came home in the red but still had money that we thought we'd lose leftover so to us? that's a really great trip!  We can't wait to go again.  We went back there every night to play and had a blast! Our 'home' casino did get $120 more out of us this morning when we made our final play a try at the Megbucks $10.6M jackpot - which we did not hit.  But we had fun trying.

Wednesday and Thursday, we did as we'd planned - looked at houses.  We're pretty sure we are decided on the Reno area - though the snow part in the winter has me a bit unsure.  Everyone says it's not like snow back East - unlikely to really impact us much with the exception of the need for a 4-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires - but I'm still unsure.  I worry a bit about moving and then something happening to Jim - or something happening to me - and then the other is alone in Reno dealing with snow, etc. on their own.

We looked at some really incredible homes and fell in love with the builder and the various developments in Reno.  So many options - we visited a few places on Wednesday that were North of Reno - not great and pretty disappointed.  But on Thursday, we ventured South and viola!  Tons of really nice areas that felt like 'home' to us - we loved it!  So many options - we looked at an 'active adult' community - no one under 55 can live there but visitors are OK - and loved the floorplans.  The HOA fees are a bit steep but then they have activities non-stop - constantly stuff to do, outings to join in on.  The same builder has a 'family' neighborhood right next to the adult community and we looked there as well - lower HOA but with many of the same amenities - swimming pool, community club house, gym, tennis courts, etc. -

We have a lot to think about and things to crunch numbers on.  The primary reason for considering Nevada is the appealing financial factor of no state taxes - something to consider when you are looking at long-term financial planning on quite a bit of savings that is pre-tax.  I'm going to check often at the Reno school district website for jobs - 'cuz honestly, if I found a job, we'd consider moving ASAP - as crazy and hectic as that would be.  Yes, we'd have to figure out what to do for H. - but if he stays on his current track, he will be finished with his A.S. by this time next year - and even if we'd signed a contract this week (which we didn't), we'd be looking at six to nine months of construction before we could move in anyway.

Lots to plan for and dream of - and while I said to J. yesterday 'this is starting to make me feel depressed', it is pretty exciting - maybe big changes ahead sooner than we thought.  'Cuz we could move with me still working - and that sounds appealing.  So we'll see.

Last night, we returned to Atlantis and both used our players cards for possible comps.  We scored two $20.99 buffet dinners for $3.45!  Total!  Wonderful food and a bargain, too!!

We arrived home to a tidy house - H. did a good job and he cleaned the kitchen, which he was very proud of.  (I didn't ask why he felt the need to clean the kitchen - was too excited that he did it on his own).  Great to see him and I think he was pretty lonely all week - no school this week and we left my car here but pretty much suggested we'd prefer he stay home as much as possible.

J.'s old Camry is officially totaled and we got a rather huge deposit into our checking account today. H. and J. are going to be shopping for a used car this weekend - 'cuz H. has to have a way to get to/from school.  I only have one day this month when I need to drive to the County Office for a meeting so we can technically manage with only two cars - and we may do that for a bit.  With a little planning, I'm sure we can manage -

We're looking for something cheap and reliable.  Fingers crossed.  Nothing fancy; basic transportation and we hope to spend no more than 2/3 of what we were paid out for the Camry.

We ordered pizza for dinner 'cuz we have no idea what's here and no energy to cook anything.  Spoiled by nice breakfast and dinner buffets daily - we skipped lunch and would have some nuts to get us through to dinner - but we're home now and there's no one to cook but us.  So pizza!  Woot woot!

I am toying with possibly going to work for a bit either tomorrow or Sunday - but I'm also toying with going to Thunder Valley 'cuz the Thuderstrike Jackpot is growing and that amount would be a nice start on our 'saving for house upgrades' fund that we are officially opening NOW!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Chloe's on Vacation Too!

J. started gathering up the supplies for Chloe's puppy spa week - food, treats, insulin, syringes and lastly, a blanket.  Upon seeing the blanket, she went nuts - all excitedly whiny - I think she knew she was headed to puppy paradise with lots of fun and dogs to play with.

I think J. will return home reporting that she was reluctant to be handed off to the kennel owner ('cuz she usually is) but we get pictures and updates throughout her stay and she has a blast.  She'll be home in a week filthy and exhausted - good signs of a happy time.

I feel slightly unwell today - sore throat, headache, etc. - but oh well.  I'm heading to the shower and then I need to get to the bank to get funds for our trip.  Also getting some funds for H. - making him a daily list of 'tasks' and he will earn money for 'house sitting' for us.  I'm mainly doing that to ensure he's got some funds to use to go out to get food - 'cuz I fear without us here cooking, he will just live on chocolate milk and that's not enough calories for a guy who's struggling (still) to put on (and keep on) some weight.

I might try to wedge in a nap in early afternoon 'cuz we will be out really late and have about an hour and half drive each way.  I suspect we will wish we'd just spent the night somewhere but oh well.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vacation! Coming Soon to a Location Near You -

Holy Cow what a week....I arrived home after working all day (my vacation was to start today but didn't) and J. said 'Hilary was supposed to announce her VP selection but with the Munich thing....' and I said 'what Munich thing?'.  Another mass shooting in a mall.  The mind can't process it, really...another one.  Over and over.  What is wrong with us?

There was a major snafu at work yesterday that was discovered around the time I was going to pack up and tidy my desk in preparation for being off.  Detective work, tracking down my boss and having him call me (he's on vacation this week into next), letting him know what happened and how/why.  He wasn't pleased - to say the least - but I just assured him that I was going to contact the causal company and hopefully work out an agreeable solution.

Then I hung up the phone and freaked out (just for a couple seconds) 'cuz the issue was HUGE and happened on my watch.

Backup to last Tuesday at the conference 'cuz I've had stomach issues since then.  Eating causes pain pretty much 'everywhere' in my gut - stomach, intestines, etc. - I'm eating as mildly as I can and hoping that the delicious but somewhat spicy sloppy joes we had on Tuesday night are the culprit...but I ate only white rice for dinner last night - and was miserable all night, pretty much.

So needless to say, yesterday's events didn't help much.

On a hugely, incredibly positive note:  what a great team of people I work with these days.  Once I spoke to the company and we agreed to a plan of action, my entire department jumped into action and we spent the day playing 'computer box Jenga' in one of our workrooms.  Returning units back to their boxes - and we're talking > 1,000 units to rebox....no small task.  Progress was made and I was so impressed with the group - full of good humor, fun and so hard working - I was impressed by all of them and we had a pretty fun day working our butts off.

And the company is bending over backwards to fix the issue - within 15 minutes of my initial conversation, I had a phone call from a higher up promising me they were going to make it right.  It was an error on their end that started the snowball that's been building up for a couple weeks and he promised he will fix it - and he's driving to Tracy on Monday morning to be there for my team and help in any way he can.

J. and I have a fun weekend planned - we're going to Napa tomorrow afternoon/evening to see Ingrid Michaelson at Robert Mondavi Winery.  J. has a full day of getting H. a rental car and then taking the dogarini to the puppy spa for the week.  We leave for Reno/Tahoe on Monday morning and I can't wait.

Why does H.need a rental car?  Because H. had ANOTHER accident and wrecked J.'s old Camry.  We are still awaiting the final determination re: is it totaled or repairable.  I was so angry, I couldn't speak to H. for a couple days....just irritated that he's careless and he's damaged property (ours and others) four times in the past 8 months.

On a great note, H. aced his math class - he's top of the class with a 98% - thus proving that when he puts his mind to it, he can do it.  He's psyched and excited about the Fall semester and we think he's less than 10 classes away from his A.S. - which is awesome.

It's (finally) after 8PM - I've been fighting sleep since 4 - so I'm heading up to bed - not great sleep the past week and last night was almost zero sleep so I'm ready for a good rest and sleeping in a bit in the morning.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Conference Update

Wow, what a week!  The conference was really amazing and while it was hard to be away from home; hard to live out of a suitcase; hard to sleep in a strange bed - it was all worth it and I'm really glad I went.

One of the main speakers shared his story towards the end of the conference - after years of a nagging cough that was never clearly diagnosed, a doctor finally did a lung scope and took samples which revealed lung cancer.  This amazingly fit (tournament tennis player), never smoked a day in his life man was told he had Stage 2 lung cancer.  Surgery was scheduled - but during the procedure, the surgeon felt something didn't look quite right in the tissue so he send tissue to be rushed through pathology.  Twenty minutes later the results came back and the status was changed to Stage 4.  The surgeon stopped the procedure and closed him back up.

The surgery was in 2014 and at the time, he wasn't sure he'd be making it to the summer workshops scheduled for 2015 - and 2016 wasn't even something he ever thought about.  But he did make it on the 2015 'tour' and also made it this summer.  On Tuesday, he finds out if the drug trial he's in is keeping the cancer from growing - if it isn't, he will be kicked out of the trial and there aren't many other options if that's the case.

He choked up - as did all of us - when he shared that he wasn't sure how much longer he would be sharing the journey we are all on - trying to work through how to ensure students learn.  He is a masterful presenter - such wit and wisdom - and to hear him acknowledge that he isn't sure he will be doing this much longer was hard to hear.

I still feel in awe of his ability to do the work he loves in the face of his condition and the uncertainty of his future.  He and his lovely wife presented all day, every day of the conference and other than a sometimes cough, we would have never known if he hadn't shared.

To have lived a life doing what you love and to be able to keep doing it even with treatments and scans and appointments galore is really amazing -

I returned home Friday and was so wiped out, I spent yesterday in my pajamas and took one of the deepest sleep naps in history.  Today, I've managed to get dressed and run a couple errands and cooking chicken strips for dinner...but it's just after 7PM and I'm fighting off sleep.

Tomorrow is back to work for four days - I'm scheduled off Friday and all of the following week - and we leave for Reno on Monday.

OH - exciting news - I saw an Eventbrite notice that Ingrid Michaelson is coming to the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa on the 23rd - and I purchased two tickets the minute I heard about the concert - so we'll be spending a nice evening in Napa next Saturday.  We normally spend the night when we go to Napa but we're just going to head home.  The concert ends by 9:30 so we should be able to make it home by midnight.  I had so wanted to see her on her new tour but her schedule only had her at the Fillmore in San Francisco - and there's no way we are doing a standing room only venue...so I was so thrilled to see the winery concert posting and that it was reserved seating.

B. is getting settled at Ft. Campbell and enjoyed a weekend in Nashville for some down time.  He is pretty sure his unit is shipping out to Afghanistan by the end of this year and we are already planning a trip to Nashville to spend time with him in October.  Hoping we will also be able to go to the base and visit the museum(s) there - just to see where he's based.  I've never been to Kentucky so it would be fun to visit both the base AND Nashville - two new states to my list of those I've visited.

H. has one more week of school and his final is a week from tomorrow.  According to him, he's got a 90% so far - he's done very well on the quizzes and is earning high participation marks because he's been helping other students understand.  Guess it's not always a bad thing to be re-taking a class for the umpteenth time.  He and J. have a very full fall semester schedule sketched out....and we are really proud of H. for sticking with it.

I'm going to load the dishwasher and tidy up the kitchen and then head to bed.  The minute I say I'm going to go do those things, my sweetest of the sweet husband is going to say 'I'll take care of it'. But I want to try to do what I can - exhaustion or no.  There's still plenty to do around here that I absolutely do count on him to do - but I do what I can.  And dishes?  I can do.  :-)

Thanks to my cousin for her delicious chicken strip recipe - made them again tonight and they are a huge hit around here.  We plan to use leftovers in a salad tomorrow - we planned meals this week.

A list of meals and lists of work stuff litter my desk and it's time to get some sleep.  Super duper hectic four days ahead in preparation for being off - which I absolutely can't wait for.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hobbies

J. has spent time lately pursuing one of his favorite hobbies - hitting a small ball into round holes on grass.  It's time consuming and can be expensive but he enjoys it.  He had the chance to play a couple rounds with B. this visit and they had a lot of fun.  I've tried the game and might be somewhat interested but...no, probably not.  Maybe later.

My cousin asked in our morning Facebook chat yesterday 'so what are your plans for today' and I said 'I don't want to tell you'.  But we always have full disclosure and I honestly don't keep anything from her - next to J., she's my closest friend (who happens to be a relative) - so I confessed.  I was up early and headed back to Thunder Valley - fully intending to give it a final 'go' on the jackpot - and the casino 'random' jackpot that can hit any time and was over $100K.  Rare are the times when I have all three factors in play:  some gambling money remaining to gamble with, plus time to be up there combined with the jackpot being over $100K.  So I trekked up.  A nice, easy morning drive with little traffic.

I played the same machine from 9:30AM until 3PM - with two bathroom breaks.  The first bathroom break was initiated by me lighting my service light and a nice guy in a suit came over.  I asked 'is there someone who could watch my machine for me while I run to the restroom' (note:  run is an understatement) and he said 'I will'.  (Additional note:  56 year old bladders don't work well or quickly when you've held it way, way too long).  I did what I could do and felt better and trekked back.  The smallest bill I had was a $10 - and I didn't want to take the time to stop and wait in line at a machine to break it - so I folded it up and handed it to him as I returned and he said 'Thank you, ma'am but I'm the boss - no need to tip me.  Please tip one of my amazing staff today instead'. Classy.

The waitress who brought me the Blue Moon I ordered at 12:30PM got a really nice tip and she was thrilled.  I told her the story about why she was getting a generous tip - and she said 'that was really nice of him'.  And my generous tip had her checking back pretty frequently....which was good and bad 'cuz I was afraid to drink too much.

The beer went right through me (of course).  Thankfully, a nice lady was playing next to me - hitting bonus round after bonus round - and she watched my machine for a 2nd time -

It was a fun day and the best part was I didn't lose.  I actually did win quite a bit - but I was playing for a goal and put it back....but I left the casino with $60 more than I brought to lose and to me, that's a win.  It's 'fun money' for a reason.  I did have a lot of fun.  And I brought home the gift of the day which is a cast iron griddle.  Goes well with the emergency camping set I got during my visit Th & Fri.

It's approaching 7 and the house is so quiet.  I'm tempted to just call in as 'out today' - J. is heading to Monterey for his hobby with his brother and I'd love to piddle.  But I'm leaving for a conference tomorrow for the rest of the week and I've got plenty to do to get me and my team ready for a week of 'no bosses anywhere'.  Every admin in the district plus 30 teachers are trekking to San Jose - it will be crazy and fun.

OK - I've got to get going - piddling will have to wait until I return home around 4.  :-)