I Appear to Be Falling Apart at the Seams


IMG_1312 About half an hour ago, I looked down and saw I had a knot or lump right by the knuckle joint of my left index finger.  It was obviously of a fairly rapid onset, because it’s a pretty obvious lump, very noticeable, and I just noticed it a while ago.   My money is on a ganglion cyst. I’ve been moving boxes and dragging furniture around all week, and overuse is one cause of ganglion cysts.

Last time I moved, I had emergency exploratory surgery and appendectomy on 1 September, was in the hospital for 7 days, and moved on 22-23 September.  Fortunately, Texas Department of Transportation IMG_1305(TXDOT) was paying to relocate me because they condemned the building I was living in to be torn down to build a freeway.  With the moving allowance they gave me, I could afford to have the movers do the packing, fortunately, because I was not allowed to do any heavy lifting until 1 October, and was not allowed to drive a car until the week of the move.

Hopefully, this time, I can make it through the move with nothing more serious than a small cyst and a broken tooth. ( Touch wood. . . .) (The cyst may go down on its own, pop spontaneously, or it can be drained as an in-office procedure — that’s assuming I can ever get in to see somebody at the VA before the end of the year!)  If it keeps recurring, the cyst sac may need to be surgically excised.  I just hope I don’t have to have the root of that stupid tooth dug out by an oral surgeon, although if I do, at least I’ve got on hand a full refill of the pain medication I was taking for my neck and shoulder.  I have a followup appointment with the PA in the VA optometry department early Wednesday morning because I’ve had floaters in my right eye, and I’ll have to have my eyes dilated so he can look at my retinas.  I’ve got to daddysit this Saturday.  That’s all I’ve got on the schedule for this week.  I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to get in to see my dentist.  Needless to say, I’m dreading it.

Can You Have A Garage Sale in a Carport?


Got off on the wrong foot — Set the alarm clock but forgot to turn the alarm on.  I was going to get up at 6 a.m., put out my signs, put the stuff out and be all ready at 8 o’clock — which is the time I had given in the ad that it would start.  At 7:45 a.m., the white one woke me up refunding a hairball.  I’d cleaned up after him, had just put my clothes on, and the doorbell rang.  Is this where the garage sale was going to be?  Frantically started pulling stuff out and setting stuff up.  Got fairly good traffic until the early afternoon, when it petered out to nothing, so I hauled everything back inside.  Saturday, I made sure my alarm was turned on.  Got my signs out, got all set up, and sat there. I ran an extension cord out so I could listen to one of the radios (and show that they worked) — except I sold both of them and had to go get one I wasn’t going to sell.

I had been chewing gum both days, Trident, which does not come in very big IMG_1295pieces, to keep my mouth moistened –  I didn’t want to drink a lot of water as I had no one to “mind the store” while I took a potty break.  So about midmorning, I’m chewing this small piece of gum and all of a sudden, there’s a big piece of something in my mouth.  My lower left molar crown had broken off at the gumline — as in catastrophic failure!  I’ve left a message with my dentist’s receptionist to call me Monday, if I don’t call her first.  I’ve no idea whether anything can be done to fix the tooth, or whether what’s left of it, which is basically the root,  will have to be pulled.   Oh, what fun.

Even with my signs out, traffic was desultory and intermittent.  Long about 3 o’clock, the wind started kicking up, so I closed everything back down.  However, In two days, I did manage to make $133.64.  I sold three lamps, my Kindle keyboard (which I never used after I bought the Kindle Fire), a disk drive, a keyboard, my reciprocating saw, yard lights, gardening tools, two clock/radio/CD players (one of whose CD player didn’t work), two old flip phones, and a bunch of assorted  tchotchkes.  I probably could have made more, but I was more interested in getting rid of stuff than making money on it, actually.  I collected my signs, got a chili cheese dog and tater tots at the Sonic, ate supper (first food I’d had all day, actually) took a bath, and hit the hay.  I was kind of tired after all that physical activity, lugging stuff around, etc.

Today I’ve just been lazing around, catching up on my blog reading and taking it easy.  Typically, when I’ve done a lot of physical exercise, I don’t get sore from it until the second day, so if I’m going to be sore in addition to being stiff, it’ll hit tomorrow morning.

I also need to empty and photograph the furniture I’m selling, and list it on craigslist and in the papers, and clean off the Vista computer. Week after next, I’ll try having another garage sale.


Thinning the Herd



IMG_1290I carried all the books I’m going to donate and put them in the entry way.  The two men from the Friends of the Library have boxed and loaded up the back end of their SUV.  They’ve gone to unload this batch and bring more boxes back to load up the rest (see left).  I’ve held some back to send to a friend in Austin who has two little girls, and I’m sending more to my cousin who lives in Oregon.  I’ve decided to keep the four smaller bookcases and sell the big ones.  I haven’t even started getting stuff together for tomorrow’s garage sale yet. That will give me the “fancy one” and the one that has a cabinet below to hide my computer behind.  Still haven’t hung out my comforter yet, but I washed the bed skirt.  Haven’t made my signs yet.  I think I am going to sell my Vista machine.  I may sell one of my UPS power strips.  I’ll sell the reciprocating saw and my gardening tools, hose and yard lights.  I’ve got some outdoor chairs and a little outdoor table, too.

IMG_1289Needless to say, I’m already pooped. I don’t think I’m going to have a bit of trouble falling asleep tonight.  I’ll have to get up at Oh, God o’clock to put my signs out at the intersections.  I think I may try to sell that TV Saturday.  I’m going to call my friend D to see if he can come out for a little while either Friday or Saturday, or both, and help me move furniture. I’m not going to price anything.  In the first place, it’s too much trouble, and in the second place, everybody always wants to dicker anyway.  I’ll have the “estate sale” on the weekend following the move, and put “Everything must go!” in the ad. At that point, whatever doesn’t sell is going to charity.  Then I’ll lock the place up and mail that clod his keys  — and good riddance.   I may or may not send the city a notice of abandoned property with his name and address.

It’s later, and all the books I’m donating are gone! They had a bunch of boxes that cans of motor oil are shipped in, which are just the perfect size.  I need to hit the automotive supply places and see about getting some boxes like that- maybe 20 of them will do it.  I’m going to get something to eat, and then get started on my signs.  Then I’ll start rounding things up.  Setting the alarm for 6 o’clock to go get my signs out.

Teetering on the Brink of Thursday


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Well.  Did my taxes just now.  Didn’t owe any.  Didn’t get a refund.  Then again, I didn’t pay any, either.  Guess you could say I came out even.  One thing, though.  I could have made another $3600 working before I’d even owe any tax. I have a feeling that starting in June I’ll be transcribing again for that jive outfit in San Francisco again.

Here directly, I’ve got sheets and towels to put in the washer, and the dirty clothes hamper full enough to make another load.  I need to take my comforter, my pretty red and gold comforter, spray it down good with Febreeze and peg it to the clothes line to air.  Garage sale is tomorrow.  I’ll miss it.  I got my money’s worth out of it, though.

Got boxes of seasonal decorations in the hall closet.  They’re all coming out to get sold. Everything goes.  Lamps, a table, the entertainment console.  I need to glue the drawer bottom on it tonight.  I also need to empty out the big two drawer filing cabinet, the other cabinet, and the book case.  I still haven’t decided if I want to sell my Vista computer.  I need to run an extension cord out so the clock radio can be played and the computer turned on if I decide to sell it.  I’ve got a fanny pack I’m going to use as my cash box, and I’ve got some change.  I need to make my signs tonight, too, and put them out early in the morning before sunup.

The guy from Friends of the Library is supposed to come at 2 pm today.  I hope he has a pickup.  That’s what I need to start on next.  Stacking the books in the carport.  I’ll need to box up the books I’m donating to my high school library and keep them separate.  I need to remember to take those books I plan to donate off my Amazon inventory

The VA called yesterday and left a voice mail.  It appears I have an appointment with the neurosurgeon at the VA hospital in Dallas on June 5th about the pinched nerves in my neck. How I’m supposed to get to Dallas remains to be seen.  I won’t be driving.  That’s for sure.

So, here I go to get dressed in something more presentable than my leopard print caftan, strip my bed and get a load of wash started, then start in on the books. Today’s high is predicted to be 92 F/33.3 C with around 24-26% humidity.  My electric bills are going to be higher than giraffe’s ears. I can already tell.

Ramping Up Slowly



Called the moving company and got the movers scheduled.  I’ve put an ad in the papers for a garage sale on Friday and Saturday, because I haven’t done thing one about packing or anything.  Hopefully, knowing that I’ll have to get stuff gathered together and out on the carport will light a fire under me.  It’ll be just me with stuff out in the carport, trying to sell off as much as I can.  I’ll have a lot of seasonal decorations and stuff, maybe try to sell the one TV.   I’ll probably have at least one more garage sale before I move.  Maybe have a third one, depending on how much I’ve still got to sell.  I’ve got to daddysit tomorrow, and on the way home, I’ll need to stop by the bank and get some change.  I think I may sell my Vista computer, but then again, I may not.  Haven’t decided. I am selling my old Kindle Keyboard, though.

I’ll get the keys May 16, which is a Friday, and go over to start putting down shelf paper, deciding where to put stuff. Maybe start putting up curtains. Then I’ll start moving my kitchen over. Small open boxes of dishes, pots and pans, food, refrigerator contents that will fit in the little red wagon.  I’ll pack the dishes using clothes rather than paper. I’ll need to get one of those cheap Styrofoam ice chests for the frozen food.   I’ll use this little TV stand on casters I have to get stuff out to the car, and have the wagon over at the new place to bring it inside. Hopefully with most of Friday and both weekend days, I’ll be able to get all that stuff over and put up.  That will be one major headache out of the way.  I’ll be able to measure that window in the bedroom and see how big a piece of particle board I’ll need for it.  While I’m at the home store, I’ll need to get the floor protector thingies, too.

I left a phone message and sent an email to our local Friends of the Library about wanting to donate a bunch of books.  I also called the library at the high school I graduated from to see if they will take some.

I found a place that will shred documents for 25 cents a pound, minimum $15 (60 lbs).  I don’t think I have 60 lbs worth, but I’ve got a bunch.  Way more than this little pantywaist shredder I’ve got can handle.

Our earworm for the day is courtesy of Annie Lennox:


Six Degrees and the Zahi Hawass Show



There’s this concept called six degrees of separation, not to be confused with the game (called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon) that arises from the idea that the world is now so interconnected that we can be linked to anyone or anything in six steps or less.

Well, the Discovery Channel is big on Ancient Egypt, particularly Ramses II, Tut and the Amarna bunch (Akhenaten, Nefertiti, etc.). I’m sure that the Discovery Channel and Siemens are or have been in bed with Zahi Hawass because Discovery Channel gets access to film all kinds of stuff, and the CT scanner and DNA lab that Siemens set up for the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are always being filmed, with the Siemens logo always in the shot. I know because I’m interested in Ancient Egypt (and have been since a child) and I watch all their programs. Zahi Hawass also features prominently in these programs since he has been the head honcho of the Department of Antiquities  — which is why I often refer to them as “The Zahi Hawass Show.”  The latest of these somewhat breathless and melodramatic offerings (complete with “reenactors” of whichever royal personages happen to be pertinent).  They’re always narrated by earnest, utterly serious types, and the narration tends to be a bit overheated.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s their latest offering, entitled “Nefertiti Revealed.

So, what connects the first paragraph above to the second?  As I’m watching “Nefertiti Revealed,” it occurred to me –there is just one degree of separation between the famous bust and me.  I saw it (as well as a joint exhibit of Amarnan artifacts on loan from the Museum at Cairo) in the Aegyptishes Museum when I lived in Berlin.  I can also connect myself to any episode of “The Zahi Hawass Show” in two steps — my BFF used to work at the Carnagie Museum in Pittsburgh, on their Egyptian exhibit, oddly enough, and met Hawass at a reception related to its opening.  A bit of a rush to see artifacts on TV that you’ve seen for real.

In a Holding Pattern


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Should have called the manager of the new apartments Monday to see when I can get the keys.  Should have  called the movers and scheduled them accordingly. Should have called a document shredding service to find out what they charge — I have a short ton of stuff that needs shredding. Should have done my taxes this week.  Should have started culling and packing.  Instead, I’ve done squat all week except read and sleep.  And have weird dreams . . . about an alcoholic poet (played in the movie by Tommy Lee Jones) who grew up in the rural Bible belt, who has drunk himself into locked-in helplessness  and the narrow-minded, hide-bound family he’d tried all his life to get away from were now in complete control of him, “gate keeping” and cashing in on his fame.  . . .In the living room of the house of the lady who used to keep us after school when we lived in the house before the one the folks live in now, only not exactly, taking somebody to the kitchen window to show them our house across the street, only outside everything is completely changed.  Streets laid out differently, different buildings, and I don’t recognize anything.  Going outside, out on the street and I have no clue where I am.  Anxiety dreams turned up to 11.

A lady called about the china Tuesday.  Brought the heavy boxes inside (broke a fingernail off below the quick in the process and it bled).  She looked at them, took a picture of them with her cell phone to show her husband.  Said she’d call later.  Never did.

First time I’ve turned the ‘puter on since Monday.  Way behind on my blog reading.  I need to get my rear in gear.  At least get my taxes done and filed this weekend, pay bills.  Need to have some garage sales, run some ads in the paper.  Clear off some of the furniture I’m selling and take pictures for the ads.  Sort my books out.  Call the Friends of the Library.  Next week.


Strange and Stranger


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A recent topic of discussion over at the author John Scalzi’s blog was author’s royalties.  I would like nothing better than to support my favorite authors by buying either new dead tree editions or ebook editions of their work, which is how you put money in their pockets.  In the best of all possible worlds, I’d be living in my dream house which would have, among many other things, a large library with floor to ceiling bookshelves, and I would buy new hardback copies of all my favorite authors’ works hot off the presses. Alas, the last time I checked, this is not anything remotely like the BOAPW, and there are months when the elastic on my budget is strained to the snapping point.

I left a comment on Scalzi’s blog post to the effect that when you are on a fixed income that’s only about 4 inches above the poverty level, as I basically am (and the Federal Government has put a cap on how much money you are allowed to make working part time to try to supplement your income, so you’re pretty much stuck there), your entertainment budget is severely restricted.  When the price for new books ranges from $17 to $26 for hardbacks, $15 to $20 for trade paperbacks, around $8 to $10 for mass market paperbacks, and from $8 to $15 for ebooks, there are months when buying even one ebook or new paperback book would shoot my budget in the foot.  On the other hand, I can get as many as four used paperbacks from Amazon for $16 bucks, on which the author makes zip. When all is said and done, most of my expenses, like rent, phone, cable, and utilities are fixed amounts and the bottom line is, I can buy more books and less food, or more food and fewer books.

Several days after I left that comment on Scalzi’s blog, I received a comment on this blog asking for an email address so they could contact me.  I started not to provide it because, you know, spam.  But then, I decided I would answer with an email address I don’t use all that much.  Imagine my surprise when the person emailed back that I shouldn’t have to choose between books and food, and had sent me an Amazon gift certificate for a modest amount to apply to my book budget.  I was surprised and touched by the unexpected generosity of a complete stranger. Now and again, life sees that you get some sugar to put in the lemonade you’ve made with the lemons life has handed you.

As it happened, last year there had been a bit of a dust-up between the US Government versus several book publishing houses and Apple’s iTunes.  The Department of Justice had slapped them with an antitrust suit alleging they had colluded to inflate the price of ebooks.  Amazon settled out of court and as a result, I received a credit to my Amazon account to the tune of a nice little sum.  Between the gift certificate and the settlement, I was able to get several books that had been in my “save for later” list for a while now as well as preorder two that were coming out April 1 (including C. J. Cherryh’s latest Foreigner book!).  I just finished one of them, “The Manual of Detection” by Jedediah Berry. It was a strange book that I would describe as surreal, Kafka-esque detective fiction meets The Twilight Zone.  Still, I gulped it down and enjoyed every bite.

4-2006 by the refrigeratorAnother bright spot in this vale of tears is that whenever I go over to sit with my dad so my mom can go out, she usually slips me $35 or $40 when I leave (about what it would cost to hire someone from a home health agency to sit with him) because, let’s face it, my mom is a class act.  Ordinarily, I set aside the lion’s share of this windfall for contingencies (something breaks and/or needs to be replaced, or I need something I don’t already have, or the car needs gas, etc.) and use the rest to supplement my entertainment budget, i.e., buy books and maybe rent or buy a film.

However, since I’ve known for sure I was going to move, all my daddy-sitting money since the end of February has been going toward the move.  I’m going to need shelf lining paper, a dust mop (only the bedrooms have carpet; the rest is laminate flooring), a bunch of those little guides you put on the bottom of furniture legs to prevent them from marring a wooden floor, a non-skid mat for the 10-2006 dining roomtub/shower, a sheet of pegboard and some hooks, one or two sheets of masonite and/or rigid foam insulation to light- proof my bedroom window, a couple of 2 x 4′s to build a riser for the carved wooden screen (see above) that’s going behind the headboard of my bed to hide where I’ve covered up the window, etc.  I’ve already used part of my “petty cash” to buy two throw rugs, and two sets of drapes, all on sale, and yesterday at Walmart I got a comforter set and matching drapes, as well as a double rod to hang them on ($2.47 — for two 84 inch long curtain rods + fittings!) and a curtain for the kitchen window.  All these items were “drastically reduced” or “closeout” items, so I made out like a bandit. I’m only taking one set of curtain rods and drapes (see left), and the living room curtain rod with me when I move.  The rest I’m either selling or leaving.  I feel pretty much honor bound to leave some kind of cover over the windows, like that’s going to deter somebody from breaking in and stealing the appliances.  But then, after I mail the keys back to the landlord, that’s not my problem anymore — and good riddance!.

At The Threshold


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imagesI can tell I’m under a great deal of stress.  So many irons in the fire.  I’ve been reading a lot, something I tend to do before a big change I know is coming.  It’s my version of that moment in free-fall when the cat is twisting around to get its feet into position to land, or when you’ve pushed in the clutch in order to change gears.  It’s just this thing I do to occupy my attention while my brain is in the process of shifting gears.

I’ve designated April 1-May 10 as the period to (a) decide what goes and what I’m getting rid of, (b) pack what goes, and sell or otherwise get rid of everything else.  That’s the gear I’m changing into right now.   Before I do something, I tend to do a lot of thinking about exactly what needs to happen, what tools and materials I need to make it happen, and what I need to do to make it happen. (This can be frustrating to people who don’t know how I work because I don’t look like I’m actually doing anything.  People don’t have that little spinning hourglass or circle chasing its tail GIFl on their foreheads that indicates thinking is happening!)

I think I know what furniture I’ll be keeping but, since I have the plans and dimensions of the new space, at some point here soon, I’ll be drawing rooms to scale on graph paper — preferable four squares to the inch –  and measuring furniture to see if what I want to keep is actually going to fit in the new place.  This will also come in handy when the move is actually taking place since I already know where furniture needs to go and that it will fit.

Another think I need to work out is what to do with the cats while the movers are putting stuff in the truck.   I can shut them up in the larger bathroom until the truck is packed, then let them out and leave them here while I follow the truck over to the new place.  Alternately, if I can get my office cleared out before the movers come, I can shut them up in there with their poop box, food and water. Then once the truck is unloaded, come back and get them all in carriers, which is no easy task, especially with the white one — I have to stand the carrier up with the door on top, chase him until I tire him out, then corner him, throw a towel over him, dump towel and all into the carrier and shut the door quickly.  The grey one is just generally skittish and is not going to be easy to catch either. (If I can confine them in my office, that would simplify catching them.)  Then I’ll have to load them and their accoutrements into the car and take them to the new place.

I think I can take the two big bookcases and two of the smaller ones.  I need to clear all the books out of these four bookcases, go through my books, separating them into keepers and nonkeepers, and put the keepers in these four bookcases.  As for the nonkeepers, I think I’m going to try calling my former high school and elementary school libraries and ask if they would take donations as I have some books (history, biography, poetry, literature etc.) they might can use.  If not, then the Friends of the Library will get the lot.

I’ve got to find out where I can get a bunch of documents shredded.  I have literally boxes’ worth I need to shred.

I will be able to have access to the new digs on the 16th of May, which is a Friday.  I can spend the weekend laying shelf paper, hanging curtains, etc., as well as move my kitchen stuff in my car — dishes, pots and pans, and the food in my pantry and refrigerator. Then hopefully, the movers will come on the 19th.  They’ll be able to move me in one day.

When I looked through the pictures I took of the unit they showed us (same floor plan, just flipped), I noticed there are no drawers in either of the bathrooms, and only the one cabinet under each sink.  How can you have a bathroom without any drawers? Obviously, at some point I’m going to have to get a couple of those “over the toilet” shelving units or something.  I hope I get $$$ for my birthday . . .

But before I do any of this, I need to do my income tax.


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