Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the Old

It's too easy to take potshots at 2011. It is a year that, while not my worst, and while considerably good by the standards of the less fortunate, will go down as infinitely less than a stellar one.

The year saw fit to meddle with (in chronological order) my car, my dog, my job, my family. It affected almost everything I hold dear. Almost.

With the exceptions of my immediate family and closest friends, 2011 did its damnedest to slime my life.

Fate seemed to forget something though. I'm a stubborn sumb*tch. I can take a punch. In fact, I can take quite a pummeling. I may fall down. I may even stay down for a while. On the way back up, I may have to crawl a bit. I may stumble. And for a time, I may be less than steady on my feet.

But in the end, I will get up. I always have. I always will.

So, go ahead 2011. Trifle with me if you must, while you can. Your hours are numbered.

And yet, here I stand. Maybe a little unsure of my next step but vertical just the same. While my stance is uncertain, my resolve is not. It is as strong as it has ever been. With it, two words are poised on my lips, poised to greet the year that will soon make its appearance: "Bring it."

Take heed, 2012. Take heed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Winter Project

In one of my most recent posts, I alluded to a landscaping project ...

I had wanted to start this project toward the end of summer. But it seemed like something was always happening to postpone it. I couldn't have imagined that I'd be working on it in DECEMBER! But there I was.

After months on and off of collecting bricks, I was putting them into the ground in an attempt to rein in the quarries of white marble chip that surround three sides of the house and regularly end up all over the yard. I thought it might also add a little shot of color around the house.

I FINALLY started Thanksgiving weekend. And while it's straightforward work, certainly not rocket science, it was a very time-consuming task. And Mother Nature kept challenging me to get it done. Right after I started, we got hit with a string of days with highs in the 40s and winds almost that high. Then, we had a couple days with highs in or near the 60s, so I got my silly self moving at top speed.

It wasn't too hard, considering I was still working with a messed-up left hand. But, it did require some elbow grease, a few adjustments to allow for my injury and LOTS of patience. The biggest challenge was dealing with all the decades of rock I was hitting as I attempted to dig up weed-filled dirt, create a small trench, line it with plastic and then put down each brick.

Finally, last weekend, I got it finished. Well, all but the back yard. I got the sides and front done. Now we just need to add some rock, straighten out the brick bases in the rock and get the trees out.

Even though it's not completely done, I think it looks pretty good. Here's a look.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Birthday!

Here's hoping that everyone had a great holiday yesterday and that today (Dec. 26), the MonkeyGirl had a fabulous birthday.

It's been a very lazy day for me. Other than braving Wal-Mart, a grocery store and Michael's this afternoon, I haven't done a whole lot. (Believe me when I say that was quite enough!) I made it home ahead of some sleet and it's done nothing but rain ever since. Really wishing it would stop as it has saturated my poor bones, including my still-healing hand, making all of them ache.

I did take a vacation day on Tuesday (thank God!) so that means I don't wake to a pre-dawn alarm. Yippee!! While tomorrow won't be as lazy as today, I'm hoping it WILL still be a slow one. We were pretty busy around here from Thursday through yesterday so the quiet, easy pace will certainly be a welcome one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to Monday

It was a busy and productive weekend.

Saturday was sunny and created the deception of warmth. While the temp supposedly reached 45, with the associated wind, the wind chill factor made it feel like 39!
If you’re me, that’s at least 15 degrees below “passable” work outside temps!

Yesterday was infinitely better. While there wasn’t much sun, the wind was mostly quiet until just before sunset and it hit the upper 50s. YAY! Much more conducive to working outside for a solid EIGHT HOURS. I am sore and tired today but I got some nice landscaping nearly done AND I got the yard mowed and a lot of leaves picked up. (I’d share a photo so you could see my latest project, but it’s raining.) We also needed to get some rock down and some trees out but that just didn’t happen. We’ll have to see if Mother Nature gives us another decent day to wrap things up out there.

Meanwhile, things are progressing inside, too, though much more slowly. The mother has been doing the “deep” cleaning of everything in addition to unboxing kitchen stuff. It’s beginning to resemble a house again! Don’t think I can ask for too much more for Christmas than that. (Except maybe a decent-paying, centrally-located, full-time job. Maybe even one that I could be passionate and truly feel good about. Or else just win MegaMillions tomorrow night. That would work, too … )

Friday, December 9, 2011

Albert, Androids and Apple

It's been an interesting few days. First, after early-morning rumblings to the contrary, we learned that Albert Pujols was leaving the Cardinals.

It sucks, but it is what it is. The Cardinals will be fine. Really.

Then, I started getting emails about stuff I downloaded from Apple iTunes. Wait. WHAT?! (I hadn't purchased anything since September!) Some asshat decided it would be fun to hack and raid my account. They got my store credit (somewhere around $12) and another $70 or so from PayPal. PayPal was awesome. They were on it and reaching out to Apple post-haste. Apple? Not so much. Apparently, you can't talk to anyone to fix your woes with them.

I was relieved to find out that my iTunes account was shutdown temporarily. But, what if I need/want to use it? I'm in the resolution process now but told it could take "several days." We'll see how that goes.

And then, there's the Android. Yep, I am the proud owner of a tablet. (Not an iPad.) I bought an IdeaPad. Thanks to a new addition as of this very afternoon (a compatible portable keyboard which WILL fit in the bag with it) I am LOVING this thing. I think it's going to do just what I need it to. Just as soon as I can figure out how to copy and paste ...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Month of Mourning

It's hard to turn down a "command" performance. So, OK, Karen Anne, I'm speaking!

And the first thing I want to say is thank you again. As I told a group of my "realtime" nearest and dearest yesterday, the last few months have not been exactly stellar ones for me. It started on July 21, in the hours before my birthday, and just went to hell from there.

I'm grateful for the glimmers of good fortune and goodwill that have managed to shine through despite it all, especially the kindness of those on the blog. Some of those glimmers have kept me pretty busy. That's a good thing as they have allowed me to replace, at least temporarily, almost all of my lost income. While one of those opportunities will likely go away soon, I'm hoping to quickly replace it with another. Wish me luck. In the meantime, I still have another ongoing opportunity that has allowed me to revisit my journalism career. (Between you and me, I rather like it!)

A special shout-out to the MonkeyGirl is in order, and to Mr. Monkeygirl, too. See, she "kidnapped" me a few weekends ago for a scrapbooking event. Got me away from the house and away from what seems to be a constant cycle of work (I'm not complaining, really!) for about 36 hours. It was a fabulous respite and a nice prelude to our annual scrapbooking pilgrimage which is now less than six weeks away! (And while MG had been traveling quite a bit in the weeks leading up to our recent adventure, I'm grateful to Mr. MG for sparing his best girl during her brief time back home.)

You might notice, too, that some new advertisements have popped up. I'm equally grateful for those. (More on that in a separate post.)

So, it hasn't been all bad. Not by a longshot. Just incredibly hard. Things have been further complicated by an injury to my left hand (1 broken finger, 1 bruised finger and some joint and ligament damage in my hand). Sometimes I just get really sick of the struggle. Can't ANYTHING be easy? Ever? And then come reminders of just how bad I don't have it. This year, that reminder has come in the forms of about nearly 50 people, the people our charity program at work will be helping after "adopting" them for the holidays.

These are people whose entire lives, in most cases, have been a string of tragedy, hardship and pain. Mine hasn't been all rosy but it's surely been a cakewalk by comparison. I'm grateful then to not only have been thusly spared but to be given the chance to have an impact on their lives, albeit a very brief and small one.

I allowed myself to wallow a bit last month and provided myself with a bit of a pity party. No more. (Well, outside the occasional overwhelming sense of loss of Ozzie. I miss him terribly!)

I've been thinking a lot lately (drives and train rides tend to give you that opportunity) about what's next. Where do I go from here? I wish I knew just what that answer was. It's a huge uncertainty. I like to think though that also means there are myriad possibilities. Surely something good has to come from that. Right?

New Year's Eve will be particularly meaningful this year as I can't wait to kick this year to the curb and get to the blank canvas that is 2012.