Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nancy's social life

Well, in the mode of making new friends: Nancy went to a gathering where she knew absolutely NOBODY. Okay, she kinda/sorta knew the hostess. And she had met this hostess, K, on Friday night (yes, only 2 days previous). But... always willing and wanting to make new friends, so what the hell.

K was a lot of fun. Met her Friday night thru I, a crazy friend that Nancy made a few weeks before this, when I was a temp where Nancy works. I is a bit younger than Nancy, but we had a lot in common. And when I invited Nancy to go out with K on Friday night, the answer was YES. And then the 3 of us split a bottle of wine, and had some dinner, too. Then K went home to bathe her dogs. Okay, I don't have dogs, so I guess I really don't understand the devotion there... Still, K seemed like a fun person, too. She reminded I about her open house (for her and the home that she moved into, in November), and she also invited me. And Nancy had nothing to lose, and maybe new "friends" to gain, with this party. So, yes, Nancy went and knew NO ONE except K (my "old" friend of a day plus). And she had a good time, since she was NOT shy and and loved to talk with folks and draw them out.

In fact, in my past, I have gotten myself in trouble by chatting up folks. Case that comes to mind: "chatting" with a deaf guy at a party, who was totally uncomfortable, since no one was making any attempt to "talk" with him. Once I determined that he was deaf, I found paper and we conversed by writing. Nice guy - but no chemistry there, and I sorta remember an awkward goodbye. Way, way many years ago. Before I was married for the first time - and I was 20 for that marriage. But people DO like it, when you start asking about their lives, their experiences.

Anyway... what else happened this weekend?

As mentioned, I went out with I and K on Friday night. Fun night. And - wonder of wonders - we had some heavy rains that evening. In fact, I drove thru some blinding rain (no big surprise here in Houston) and it made me extra cautious. Lately, I have been re-visiting my youth, and I am trying to put the clamps on myself! But it is NOT easy, sometimes.

But the best news: I have a "new" (to me) car! It is an '06 Toyota Rav4. Has only 28,000 on it (it was a lease car that was returned at the end of the lease), and I LOVE the looks of it! Cool color (Toyota calls is Nautical Blue - hey, sailor!), is the Limited (pricier) model with a sunroof and some other bells and whistles. So now I have a good baby SUV to drive up north this summer (and back to TX after I retire) with some good cargo-carrying room. I paid cash for it, and I am SO happy with it. Since my Honda Accord was a '97, I only hope to get several good years with the newest addition to my family.

Oh - and I will be spending Memorial Weekend (and other days) with my sis. We will have some "girl time" together while she cares for the grandsons in a northern St. Paul suburb. It was kinda last-minute-y, so a little costlier, but it will be fun. I will probably look for a townhome to lease in that same suburb. Do not want to commit to buying anything, but want to see what is out there.

I mailed a sympathy card and a nice note, to an old boyfriend. He and I dated over 20 years ago. He has a lot of trouble with authority, so that hasn't worked so well for him (employment-wise) over the years. His mother is, plain and simple, a B____. Lots of others share this judgement. Anyway, his mother tapped him to be the full-time caregiver for his dad, who just died of Alzheimer's. I hesitated to write to him (did not want to have him think I was contacting him for anything other than offering my condolences). But then I remembered the nice note he had sent me, following my first heart surgery (yes, I was married by then). So I thought... what the heck, and I wrote from my heart.

Anyway, that encompasses Miss Nancy's weekend. Boring, and a little stupid. Gotta let my hair down sometime. Not proud of all that was done, but second childhood is a time of adjustments. It sure was, the first time around.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Of juries and painters and other things...

So... ah, nothing of great importance to relate.

Painter has been out and started on pressure-washing the exterior. He also did the front walk - looks BRAND NEW - and started on the back patio. He wants to seal the concrete on the patio so that it will STAY lookin' good, at least for a while. Although I have been on the back burner when his personal conflicts arise, he has been so good to me in doing extra things, for NO extra money. L has been a great painter, and more importantly, a very good friend. He works in the maintenance dept of a very large cancer center here, and there is to be a 10% reduction in the work force soon. He said that if that does happen, he will just go into business full-time for himself.

I will again try to make some progress in the Great House Pick Up / Throw Out Campaign. Will be taking next week off and am determined to have this house ready for the realtor (and thus, the contract!) if everyone shows up and everything gets accomplished in that week. So y'all pray for me - I need prayers that tell me to "Focus, girl, focus!" The end of the tunnel has a light that is calling me, and I want to get OUT of the tunnel!

Also, I am tentatively scheduled for jury duty next week. This county is much smaller than Harris County (where the city of Houston is), so less crime means that you can call the night before your scheduled jury duty and see if you will need to even show up. Greg got a "by" on his first (and only) jury summons here. Not me. I not only had to show up - I got selected for a criminal case. Not nice to hear the evidence, either - grandfather charged in the molestation of his own granddaughter.

I have never shirked my jury summons, when one arrives. Until 10 years ago, we resided in Harris County and both had to show up for those "cattle calls" where you fill up a large Jury Assembly Room (yes, a large, movie-theatre sized room where you plop down and wait to see if your number is called). I think I actually served on at least two juries during that time (and was the Foreman or Foreperson on one). True story: I had a red suit that I was wearing that day, and a gay guy on that same jury PUSHED me to be chosen as the Fore-whatever. It was the suit that did it, I know it! I also served a 3-month term on a grand jury. The way that system works in Texas, is that a district attorney or assistant district attorney can present evidence to a grand jury, to see if that evidence warrants the pursuit of charges against that person. So, in a way, it is the way that law enforcement makes the citizens carry part of the burden in the criminal justice system.

As rookies in the grand jury process, we slowly made our way through that first day. Now understand, Harris County is a BIG urban area and has countless crimes committed daily. So in the 3-month term that I sat on a grand jury, there were a total of FIVE grand juries "sitting", simultaneously. For example - one group might meet on a Monday and Wednesday, another on Monday and Thursday, another on Tuesday and Thursday, and so on. So on each day of the week, there were always 2 juries working.

Once we "warmed up" to the process, we went through about 70 cases a day. I am not exaggerating, folks - 70. Really, in most cases it was cut and dried: the ADA (asst. district att'y) would basically trot out the evidence and we would return (usually) the "true bill" - evidence was enough for charges to be brought, or "no true bill". Very, very rarely did we NOT agree and vote "true bill". I remember one time when we did NOT vote that way - and from then on, we were not the Chosen Ones. At least that is the conclusion that we came to. On two occasions, we had an entire day devoted to Sex Crimes against Children. Oh - these were so tough to go through, and believe me, we did NOT listen to 70 cases on those days. And let me tell y'all this: these crimes were committed by people who KNEW these children - no stranger-rape or anything like that. Step-parents, grandparents, mommy's boyfriend, father of the child's friend, and so on.

I think the fact that I served on a grand jury, gets me right up there on the Chosen list when jury members are selected during the voir dire. You know: where they ask you questions such as has any family member been in an auto accident, or has any family member had to sue for damages, etc. I think I could stand up and scream, "Hang the bastard!" in a traffic court case, and I would still be selected. I'm just sayin', is all.

I gave my notice at work - did I already mention that? - for my retirement. My last day to have to show up here, is June 25th, and I will get paychecks until close to the end of November. So if the house does not sell right away, I can still make the mortgage payments and so on, without eating up all my retirement income. Whew!

So, like I said, not much happenin'. My bladder says it needs to visit the loo, so I'll close (QUICKLY!). 'Bye.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

And it happens to me...

So, this weekend was supposed to be a good one for me. I took the week off (vacation) to concentrate on tasks that needed to get done. My friends from the Hill Country, D & T, drove into town Wed. night to help me pack up some things to put into storage, plus offer the use of their Expedition to haul stuff to the storage unit and to Goodwill and a resale shop, too. We visited on Thursday for a bit, went to work on packing stuff, and the hubby, T, attacked my desktop computer. He didn't like the various things that had self-loaded and was determined to clean it up.

Well, the upshot of all of that was that, in the middle of all of this, the motherboard crapped out. Fried, fizzled, what-have-you. Now, I had intended to move to a notebook (or laptop) after I moved to MN. Instead, this forced the issue. But it took valuable time away from the packing- and boxing-up that D & I were going to do.

And now I am the proud-but-impoverished (well not really) owner of a new notebook. It's an HP dv6-1030us model. Doesn't mean a damned thing to me, but hey, I can still connect with the rest of the world! I can use the internet again - woo-woo!

My girlfriend, D, is SO good at kicking ass - and she pushed me and pushed me and we really DID get quite a bit accomplished, for packing and clearing. One room upstairs is entirely cleaned out!

Good news and bad, about the folks who have been or are scheduled to work on this house. The painter finally phoned. His father took ill, and while he was at his dad's, his dad's brother died. Unfortunately, the painter left his cell phone at his workplace, in his haste to get to his dad. He was back here on Wed to do some additional touch-up. And nice guy that he is, he offered to take my fertilizer (really, it's a weed-and-feed) and spread it around my lawn. Rain was forecast, so the timing was good.

A guy was scheduled to come to my house today and give me an estimate on having the carpet stretched in a few rooms, plus doing carpet repair in the room that was just cleared out. But... a few minutes after 8 am, the carpet company phoned, apologized, and said that this fellow's child was sick. So would I mind re-scheduling for next weekend? I'm sure that this was just an unfortunate thing that happened, so we'll see if he can make it next Saturday.

We thought it would rain yesterday - it looked threatening most of the day - and it finally did rain towards evening. Nothing heavy - sort of a good soaker rain. But today, the clouds just opened up. Water was running like a small creek in the depressions that were designed into our landscapes, between my neighbors' houses (on both sides of me) and my yard. D & T were heading back to their home, and it was raining fairly well when they packed up and left. But I talked to them, and they were just taking it slow. And had finally been able to put their wiper blades on intermittent! I have driven in Houston using the highest speed on the blades, and it has STILL not been enough. For a period of time this afternoon, the water was lapping at the curb-high levels on my street, as it was raining too fast for the ground to absorb it all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Disappearing painter?

I have NO business at all, taking even a few moments to post this.

I am very worried about L G, the very good, very reliable guy who is painting the inside of my house (almost done) and will also be doing the exterior painting. He seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

My only hope is that he is SO engrossed in a family crisis, that he cannot find time to return any phone messages.

I have left him several messages on the cell # that he uses for business purposes, and none have been returned. This morning I finally found a home # that Greg had for L and his wife P. Phoned that one and also left a message.

Little background: L's mother-in-law lives with him and his wife P. M-I-L has cancer and it recently was diagnosed as moving into her bones. L and P drove the M-I-L back to Lousiana to visit with family and friends - quite possibly a last visit. L was supposed to be here last Wednesday to resume the little bit of interior painting that was NOT finished - basically, a second coat on the (new) back door. Then he would be ready to move to the exterior. I spoke with him on Monday (I think) and he reiterated that he'd be here on Wednesday. And then nothing... just silence.

I only hope that he and P are okay. I just want to hear something from either of them. I hope that this crisis is with his M-I-L only.

That's all, folks. I am taking this week off work to get this house picked up, prior to putting it on the market (I hope) at the end of this week. Wish me luck - if I don't hear from L soon, I am really going to need it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Mom's wrist: Got a phone call from my sister yesterday. She related that my mother, age 81, had fallen and possibly broken her wrist - or the bone(s) just above the actual wrist. Mom is a regular walker, which we should be happy about, because her balance and stamina are pretty good, considering her age. Well, she was taking a little trek (few blocks from her apt.) and was only about a block from coming home when OOPS! down she went. A woman who was driving in that area saw her fall, and offered assistance, but good ol' Mom insisted that she could get home okay.

Whereupon, she phoned my sis and asked for a ride to the closest emergency room. The long and the short of it is, they splinted her wrist and are having her return this morning to see an orthopedic surgeon, to see if any surgery is required.

The good news is that this break is on her left wrist (she is right-handed), so while it will be an inconvenience, it will not require that someone cook for her, etc.

Funeral services: I have decided to go to the funeral of the co-worker who was murdered last Friday. Several of the staff are going, Port-wide. In fact, so many will attend that an e-mail went out to the entire Port, reminding all that phone coverage must be maintained in each dept. I just feel so strongly about the family and that they need to see how Lucinda's co-workers valued her. This will be a Catholic service, so I am guessing a full mass will ensue. I think the last time I was at a Catholic mass was for my brother-in-law's funeral in March of '02, just before Easter that year. The church was jam-packed for his services, as was the funeral home the night before, during visitation and the rosary. I expect that this funeral will be similarly heavily-attended. My brother-in-law was in his early 50's; Lucinda was only age 34. Death touches us, our families, our acquaintances, when we least expect it - and age is NOT a factor, as we know. We all expect to live into old age and then possibly go by heart attack, stroke or whatever. But the Big Guy upstairs has His own plan...

After the services, finishing this on Friday. As expected, the church was pretty well-filled. I'm guessing that about 25% were from the Port. I just felt like I had to go. I drove two other co-workers. I had expected this to be more difficult for me, since the last funeral that I attended, was for Greg. Maybe the circumstances, and the fact that she was not a really close friend/co-worker, helped some. However, I did NOT parade past the open casket. I was NOT ready for that, having encountered death up-close-and-personal less than a year ago. So maybe there was an effect on me...

There were many police attending the service. I heard from a co-worker that either her dad or step-dad had been a Houston cop. Plus a handful of Metro (Transit) cops were there, too. Her three kids looked stunned, unemotional. I can't imagine what they are going through. I seem to be having trouble commenting on this whole scene, so perhaps I had best just let it go. Tough, tough, thing to even see from the sidelines.

Mom: sis brought her back to the doc, as instructed. The plan now is to try to do a closed reduction (no surgical opening) - basically, they will attempt to re-set the radius and ulna (probably with at least local anesthesia) without cutting her open. From what my sis described, in the process of falling and then getting herself back up again, my mother sort of round up the tiny bones in her wrist. This reduction is planned for this coming Tuesday.

Since I am finishing this up on Sunday morning, y'all will have to excuse me while I go and have a tiny portion of coffee (I'm really not supposed to have caffeine) plus the leftover half of a pecan-caramel roll waiting for me. I may post again later today.