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Wow, just wow

I chanted tonight, and I was happy to get a lot of nice feedback.  The woman who was leading it when I came in is someone who'd called me in the interim, to ask me how it had gone for me.  So it was nice to meet her face-to-face.  She asked me to read one of the daily readings they have.  Before I did so, I said I'd have to inflict a funny story on them.  I then told them the Jolly Roger story, and they got it.
Yup, they get my sense of humor.
I want to tell you how it felt to stand up in front of 20-25 strangers who didn't feel strange to me at all.  Many I'd met in smaller groups over the past ten days.   So when I stood in front of everybody, as I spoke I looked around the room.
I saw so many smiling faces.
Yup, smiling faces.  I can't remember any time, at the church he/we have belonged to, when I saw so many smiling faces.  As I scanned them, briefly, I saw:  Jerry, Fran, Yat, Becca, Gail, Christina, Jane, and so many more I didn't register them as individuals.  I just saw friendly, for cryin' out loud, and it's wonderful.
Later, we broke up into smaller groups, and some people headed upstairs for some sort of meeting.  Those of us who stayed downstairs talked about how we "met The Gohonzon", as it's called.  That means, how we were introduced to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.  It was lovely to hear other's stories.  Some were faith or practice-oriented, others, like mine, were about the people.  I really enjoy being with and chanting with these people.

I heard a lot of feedback, some of which said, "She chanted for an hour and a half on Toso".  Toso is the Sunday form of chanting, and I gather it's exceptional to do as much as I did.   Hey, folks, I'm a worker, a laborer, if you want someone to call it in, I'm not her.  I have encountered discomfort way worse than chanting for an hour and a half, believe me.  You want someone to pull cable under a deck in the summer, with one arm in a splint, I'm your girl, man, woman.   Or I was twenty years ago, and in my heart I still am.

Jane said, "They're really excited about you [or something to that effect].

I'm kinda gooey, yet grounded tonight.

Aug. 15th, 2016

I called Betty to ask about the results of her latest PETscan.
Not good.  The doctor was hugging her and crying, it was so bad.  She was fighting off tears as she told me.
She asked him, "I'm due to go to the dentist.  How soon should I go after chemo?"

He said, "You don't need to worry about the dentist."

They are going to try one more treatment after that, a different type and it's very expensive.  I've little hope that it will do anything more than delay the inevitable.

Meanwhile, yet another doctor is captivated by the elegance of her colostomy bag covers.   So there is this: she may pass, having made others' lives better.

Which is totally consistent with who Betty is.

It wouldn't be possible without Liquid Fence, a product I use to keep the deer and rabbits from eating my plants.
I have a lot of music on my computer, and I've been using a small, battery-powered auxiliary speaker to listen to it.  It doesn't have much oomph, and we have a stand-alone speaker which runs on AC, through which Ray has played the music which is on his phone.  My computer didn't come with Bluetooth, which I could use to connect it to the larger speaker.  For seventeen bucks, Ray got an adapter which I can use.  Hot diggety-dog.  It's tiny, hardly noticable, and given that I have three USB ports on my computer, it's not at all inconvenient.  This afternoon, I played one of my favorite albums through it.  Mary Fahl has an incredible voice, alto in range, but so powerful and full, it's a shame to try to listen to her on anything cheesy.  Well, no more cheese.  I sat at the patio table and played with polymer clay, attempting to make Baby Dory earrings.  My sculpting skills were really rusty, but the music was great, and I'll get better at the sculpting.

Why Baby Dory earrings?  She's so adorable, and I thought I'd try my hand at making some earrings with her image.  If it goes well, I'll make a pair for Emily, and one for Nancy, my customer who made the peanut butter and jelly earrings she gave me a while back.  What I did today sucked, but I'll try again tomorrow, and the next day...
Really, given the state of insanity in the world lately, it was therapeutic to just sit at the patio table and, play with clay. Mush colors together, try to make something, give up and mush it all together again.  Pretty primordial stuff, and wonderful when you feel like the whole country you live in is losing its shit in a major way.

I had insomnia last night in the wee smalls.  Really badly.  Not too surprising, given how the past week has gone, and particularly Friday.  When I finally got to sleep again, I slept amost to ten AM.  I took my morning meds, and went off in search for polymer clay to play with.

Due, however, to the insomnia, I felt off kilter much of the day, so when Ray asked me if I wanted to go to Shakespeare in Delaware Park, at first I said no.  After thinking a bit, I said, oh well, okay, because I need sometimes to kick myself in the pants and do something different.  I really, really wanted to make some progress with the earrings, but I figured they'd wait, and the play wouldn't.   Also, it had been flirting with raining all afternoon, and I thought, hey, let's go, and if it gets cancelled on account of rain, won't it be a wonderful thing?  We're too damn close to a drought here, folks.

So we went.  I met a friend of Ray's, who came with us, and she's pretty much an okay person.  Which is saying a lot, as I'm terribly hard on his friends because they usually aren't anything like me.  Like, annoyingly not like me.

And....we got rained out.  They got as far as the end of Act I, and a voice said, "Actors, remove from stage."  It was too dangerous to continue, with the stage getting successively slippery.  Me?  I'd already said, "I'm not comfortable."  Which I wasn't.  I hadn't  brought any extra clothing with me, except a fine wool shawl that didn't cut it.  I was too cool for comfort, and then with the rain, oooh yeah,   But wow, folks, we got rain, not enough, but it's something.

A ridiculous amount of stress

That's what I had yesterday morning, before I went into work.

Firstly, I woke up to the news about Dallas.  Sitting on the john, frankly, I listened in horror as Ray described what happened,  I covered my mouth with my hands and stared at him.  I have trouble processing each new one of these disasters.

I grieve for my country, again.

In other news, we've been trying to do a refi on our mortgage for months now.  Included in the deal was paying off the credit card I've had, which I used particularly to buy supplies for the kitchen remodel.
At the eleventh hour of the process, we found out that the card's bank in question was being particularly anal about giving the refi bank a pay off figure.  They would only do so with me authorizing the communication and literally being on the phone in a three-way call with them.

Okay, I could deal with that.
Oh, by the way, they'd called Wednesday to inform us that there was suspected fraud on the account.

The call went to the old home phone line, which rolls into Ray's backup phone, but evidently went unnoticed.  Until yesterday.
So the refi bank rep called the credit card bank and did a three-way call with me.  A customer service person explained the procedure for giving a pay off figure, then shunted me over to a fraud specialist.
No problem, really.
Except that the refi bank rep stayed on the line - still no problem - and she didn't understand that her role was only to listen - if she needed to.
Because as each potential fraud transaction was described to me, she repeated the news to Ray, who was in her office.  She completely talked over the woman from the credit card company, because she didn't understand that she could be heard, and comparitively LOUDLY.  When that part of things was over, it still was awful because she put the receiver down on her desk, and due to the acoustics of the room, I had tremendous difficulty hearing the fraud specialist.  Evidently, Joan doesn't know how to use the MUTE button on her phone, for fuck's sake.
To me, it was like being twentyish again and in a bar, trying to handle two conversations at once.  Except that I'm almost sixty, and I needed to wrap this up and get to work, dammit.
Ultimately, I got through that process and back to the customer service people who gave us all the information we needed to move forward with the refi.

Do you wanna know what the fraud was?
Three transactions, from three countries, all occurring since we started the refi process.

Roughly, 300 bucks in a transaction initiated in Dubai, where I've never been.
900 bucks in one from Berlin.  As in Germany, where I've never been.
Another 250 in a transaction from Nicaragua.  Ditto.
There's got to be some process, whereby the numbers of accounts which are due to be paid off, get illegally phished from some database and fed to miscreants who use them to their advantage.  I have a set of affadavits coming to me from that bank, which I'm instructed to sign and return.  I will incur no expense in this process, but it sucks for the bank.

I'm tired.  This is draining, this whole process.

Hey, first world problems, right?  And I can, hopefully, sleep in today.

My name is Eleanor, and I fix things

Tuesday morning, our overhead garage door malfunctioned.  It started to open, hiccupped, then the two parts of the trolley parted company and the only way to open it was manually.  Yesterday, I tried to troubleshoot it.  This wasn't easy, as it was Frickin' Hot out in the garage, plus to get a good look at things I needed to go up a ladder.
I came to the hesitant conclusion that we needed a new trolley.  This was complicated by the age of the opener - it's 11 years old - but I was making headway looking for something online, when I realized I didn't know exactly how to reengage the trolley.  The diagrams in the manual suggested you needed to pull the red cord, and the lever it's attached to, back at about a 45 degree angle to vertical, when in actuality,  it has to be pulled more like 90 degrees from vertical to snap in again.  So, once I figured that out, I was back to square one: what made it jam in the first place?
I ran it up again, and this time my attention was drawn to the place, about three feet from the ground, on one side of the door, where the rollers on the door go up through the side track.  Recently, I pulled out a garbage can we used to have loose mulch in.  It's been stored in that corner for a year or more, and on the floor beneath it was a nut.   This is not Big News - I consider myself The Queen of Fasteners - but its presence so close to where the door was jamming suggested something.  I looked at the track, and sure enough, there was a bolt at that point, holding two sections of track together, that was minus its nut.  The bolt had then started working its way back out of the track, and its head was causing the jam.  A screwdriver, a few minutes' more time, and the whole thing was back in operation again.  I'm so glad I didn't do the typical thing, and grab the phone to call a repair company.  I R smart.  :-)

I then went out to water my tomatoes, and as I did so, I looked back at the spot in the yard where I transplanted two baby mulberry trees this past spring.  Right after I transplanted them, we had the first of many bizarre spikes in heat, and I was pretty sure I'd lost them.  This despite watering them like crazy, and even (see the picture below) wrapping them in this weird landscape fabric I bought in the spring to use as a row cover and protect plants.  They looked like a little ghost out there.

The second picture shows what I saw yesterday:  new leaves amidst all the dead ones on one of those little trees.  I am so thrilled, especially because I'd given up watering them, and they've been struggling on their own, in this godforsaken weather.  Poor babies, well one still looks dead, but the other, yay!  I am particularly grateful for trees, because, despite the rough weather we're having, our yard looks relatively green, and it's primarily because of all the trees I've planted over the years.  Our neighbors' yards look terrible, unless they've been using sprinkler systems or above-ground sprinklers.  Yes, we've been watering, but not that much.    

Off the beaten path

Ray and I chose the movie Brazil as our first date movie, back a bazillion years ago.  That should tell you a lot about us.
Today we saw Swiss Army Man, which has the same tone, in a way, although the setting and actors are very different.
We loved it.  Found it much more sweet and tender than you'd expect, given the reviews we'd seen.  A fitting, absurdist end to a holiday weekend where a lot of people seem to lose their minds in the interest of conforming.
So wonderful.
I just finished Paul Kalanithi's book, When Breath Becomes Air.  Extraordinary, very illuminating about death, dying, and living knowing one will die sooner that might be ordinarily expected.  Moving and yet not maudlin.  Remarkable.
Also, there's a coincidence: his daughter was born on the Fourth of July, 2014.


Oh wow. Oh fucking wow.

My brother has not been to our house in about two years, by my reckoning.  Maybe more.  I invited him to dinner tonight, and I insisted on cooking it rather than have him treat us to dinner out.  I made one of the most mediocre meals I have ever made.  Seriously, if I had my way, the two side dishes would go right in the garbage.  Be that as it may, though, the real problem is we have next to nothing in common.  Weird, because when we talk on the phone, we seem to find more to say to each other.  In person, not so much.  I quickly found today, that he really wanted to talk politics.  I don't, just flat-out don't.  This is a guy who, in keeping with the prayer that alcoholics and other addicts pray, says he doesn't want to focus on things he can't change.  Really?  Can you change Donald Trump?  Because, I bet not.

I've excused myself from the table ostensibly to wash dishes.  He got here around five, when he was asked to be here, and it's eight-fifteen, and I ran out of interest in anything more to talk about with him two hours ago.   Eeeek!  Ray offered to let me stay out with Charlie while he finished the dishes, and I said "No, it's okay."  All I can think of right now is a very early Saturday Night Live episode - actually, I believe there were a few of them, featuring Michael O'Donoghue doing an impersonation of a guy who's had steel needles pushed into his eyes.  Yeah, that guy screaming and holding his hands over his eyes?  That's me inside, right now.

Oh Good Lord, I can't drink alcohol when he's around and yet I want to really badly.

Okay, well, that was two hours ago.  Charlie left shortly after I wrote that.  In the meantime, Ray and I watched another episode of Moonlighting, just to salvage something of the evening.  Oh, and I said to Ray just after Charlie left, "Last one down the cellar stairs for a bottle of wine is a rotten egg."  Then I said, "Well, let's wait until he's at least out of the driveway."  Ray was already heading down.

I'm continuing reading Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air, and as tough as it is to read, it's a cakewalk compared with much of the rest of this day.

I wish I could talk with/write to Charlie to explain how uncomfortable I feel with him.  How great the difference is between how we are in person, and how we are in other venues.  He's only eight years older than I, but you'd think it was more like twenty.  He never married, never had a kid, lives in the same apartment he's been in for oh, thirty years if not more.

I wanted to tell Charlie about Thursday, and the amazing relationship I have with some of my customers, but Ray and I both said, he wouldn't understand.  Or would he?  Just because he hated his job, every day until he retired five years ago.  Just because he still lives for other people's approval.  He has a friend from way-back in his job history, whose approval I think he wants but can never get.  It's very much like his relationship with our mother, come to think of it, and yet I resent spending the time to think this out.  Selfish, I know, but jeez.
I emailed my boss today, about yesterday.  This is her response:

WOW Eleanor, this made my day as well.  Thank you for all that you do for your customers every day.  These examples and your caring is why we are here!!  Thank you for sharing J

Is it any wonder we do so well in the market, when this is the norm for how management treats underlings like me?

It ain't just slinging boxes of crackers, if you know what I mean!


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