Last Day Off for 2008

Steph is teaching two piano lessons as I type this, so Susie and I are at the Franklinton library while she does.  We were at Pat and Tanya’s white elephant gift exchange Yuletide party last night, and didn’t get home until past midnight.  I had the foresight to ask for Tuesday off beforehand, so I slept until 10:30 this morning.

The white elephant gift exchange was a howl.  The mechanics of such a party are a little too elaborate to explain here, except to say that all the guests get a turn at throwing a die and whatever number comes up determines what is to be done with the gift you took (at random) from under the Christmas tree.  (Each guest brings two gifts to this party.)  I ended up with a 12-pack of golf balls and a trade paperback book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro-Wrestling.  The book was fun to browse through–I thought its entire contents would be, "If you can read this, you’re not a fan of pro-wrestling."  The golf balls I have no use for (any takers?).  My other gift was an outdoor plastic American flag made of red, white, and blue Lite-Brite pegs, which I "accidentally" left behind at the end of the night.

One of Susie’s godmothers bought her an iTunes card, and she christened it this afternoon after we had cleaned up the house but before Susie and I left to come here.  I loaded iTunes to my hard drive awhile ago, but I haven’t bought a card to buy tunes and videos for it.  The loading process took forever, as it was converting the literally hundreds of albums that were (are) stored on my Windows MediaPlayer, as well as the thousands of RealPlayer sound files I’ve stored–most of which are radio shows.

Getting Up at 5:30 Has Become Instinct

Even though I didn’t get out of bed until 9:30 and 10:45 yesterday and today (respectively), it seems that waking up at 5:30 has become hard-wired into my body clock.  I noticed it especially this morning.  My cell phone doubles as my alarm clock, and most weekday mornings I wake up around 5:20-5:25 and shut it off, because Steph screams bloody murder about how it wakes her up and doesn’t really get me moving that efficiently.

This morning, I woke up and the digital clock said 5:28, and I got out of bed, desperate to shut off the cell phone alarm before it went off.  I had apparently forgotten to charge the cell phone last night–it was downstairs.  But I worried for nothing.  I was halfway out of bed to look through the house for the phone–fearing that the alarm would be going off at any second–and then I remembered it was Sunday morning, and didn’t have to be up.  So I went back and was asleep by 25 ’til.  (Or, as Archie Bunker would say, "Geez, I was outta bed and halfway to the terlet ‘fore I realized I didn’t have to get up!")

None of us seriously planned to go to church this morning, so there was no bustling about in the morning.  (In my teen and young adult days, I was more conscientious about weekly church attendance, at Unitarian churches (!), than many Catholics.  During my 18 months in Boston, I was glad to see that King’s Chapel, at Tremont and School Streets, had Wednesday services at noon.  Helped when I slept in on Sunday mornings.)

Once I finally got up and had breakfast, Susie and I took Emery the dog for a long-overdue walk.  We also mailed some letters and hand-delivered some thank-you cards.  (One of the letters I mailed was one I wrote so I could christen the pack of blank note cards Steph and Susie got me for Christmas.)

Tomorrow will be my office’s first day on the 10th floor.  When I turn around in my new pod, I will have a whopping westward view, with such lovely points of interest as the BWC parking garage and the AEP (American Electric Power, or America’s Environmental Polluter) Building.  If I look a little northward, I can see Nationwide Arena’s roof.  The operations support guy began moving boxes Friday afternoon.  I moved a few myself on the two carts I have claimed for myself.  (I put my name on one of them, the other one says "NELLIE R." in black Magic Marker, so it’s now officially the Nellie R. in my frame of reference.)

The new area smelled like dead fish the last few times I’ve been up there, so I’m hoping they’ve had the air conditioners and the blowers working 24/7 all weekend.  I always dread coming into the office after three-day weekends, when they’ve had the AC down lower, but my first day in a new setting will be unsettling enough (that’s an Asperger’s thing) without having to work in an area that smells like the inside of a Dumpster.

According to The Weather Channel’s icon at the bottom of my monitor, it’s 41 degrees today.  If you go to my Twitter entries (, my moniker there is linotypist), you’ll see that yesterday I was "casually" mentioning that the temperature neared 70 most of the day.  I wore my new hoodie (a green one, a gift from Steph and Susie) and a black Carhartt jacket when Susie and I were walking the dog.  Yesterday, I went to the library in a short-sleeved shirt.

Christmas Day, Sans Snow

We went to a wonderful 5 p.m. service at First UU last night.  The theme this year was Las Posadas, a Mexican caroling tradition where Joseph and Mary go from door to door to ask for hospitality, only to be turned away by the various innkeepers.  At the last house, the answer is si and there is a big fiesta that goes on for hours.

When I left work and arrived at church, I was pressed into service as one of the innkeepers, the proprietor of the Comfort Inn.  My role was to turn away the desperate couple, because I was afraid of offending the other guests since Mary and Joseph looked homeless and Middle Eastern.

Here I am, giving these soon-to-be teenage parents the boot (you can barely see Joseph on the left.  The stage manager is holding the microphone up to me.)

We had Christmas Eve dinner with Pat and Tanya and family, with gifts, chicken soup, pizza, and a two-litre of Coke Zero for me.  Tanya made buche de Noel, which I was too full to eat.  (We brought home some in a Tupperware, but I’m still full from breakfast, so I’ll sample her wares later on.)

Tanya made a not-so-subtle plug for midwifery, her craft and vocation.  Susie and friend played another Holy Family, who got the bum’s rush at the Inn and Out.  The innkeeper said they lacked the medical facilities and doctors necessary to deliver a child.  "You don’t need medical supplies to deliver a baby!" Tanya protested in vain.  (See below)

As for Christmas, Steph, Susie, and I were all ecstatic with our gifts.  Steph dropped less-than-subtle hints that she wanted a cast-iron skillet, so she got a gift that was both wanted and practical.  She christened it with sausage for breakfast:

My most welcome gift this year was a new watch.  I own two digital watches, both of which run and keep time perfectly, but they have scratched crystals.  Steph and Susie bought me a new one.  I had to read the directions quite thoroughly to set it properly, but here I am once I figured it out:

Steph is hardly Imelda Marcos, but she did want some new footwear.  I accommodated her with a pair of red Converse sneakers.  She hasn’t worn them yet, but she has posed with them:

As much as I love snow, I’m not upset about the lack of it this year.  Susie and I will go out and deliver her friends’ gifts later on, and after falling on Tuesday night, I’m grateful that today is dry.  (When I got to work yesterday morning and logged into my Email account, there was a message from one of the supervisors to be careful; it was very slippery out and people were falling.  It was posted 20 minutes after I took my spill.)



A Seasonal Milestone

As I was coming out of work this afternoon at 4, I made my first step onto the faux marble that makes up the sidewalk in front of the William Green Building.  My right foot slipped out from under me and I came crashing down.  Most of my weight came down on my left knee and shin.  Nothing really hurt but my pride, but it still hurts a bit.  I haven’t rolled up the pant leg to see if there’s a bruise or not.

So winter is officially here… I have fallen for the first time.  That marble provides no traction whatsoever, and it was misting when I came out of the building.  It looked like it was too warm for there to be any ice on the walk, but I was wrong.

I also landed (though not as hard) on my left index finger.  If it had been broken or sprained, this blog would be much more of a chore to produce, since I use only my two index fingers when I type.  I’m truly thankful I didn’t land on my right thigh, because that probably would have damaged my cell phone–that’s where it resides when I’m on the move.

A Balmy +2 Degrees Fahrenheit

I’m the one who’s balmy, leaving the warmth and darkness of my bed to venture out to work in such ungodly cold.  But since retirement is about 25.5 years in my future (a conservative estimate, that), I dressed and went to work.  In the less than 10 minutes I waited at the bus stop, I thought I was going to freeze.  Even with mittens, my fingers were frozen to near immobility.

There was actual work to do today.  Six reports were in the tank, waiting for my transcription skills, and I did over four of them.  One of the psychiatrist’s two reports is half completed, but I decided to give my ears a rest and concentrated on non-transcribing-related work for the rest of the afternoon–batching up documents that are headed to scanning, completing steps on ex parte orders, etc.

Now that I’m home, I haven’t made any real trips out of the house, except to run trash out to the barrel in the alley.  That’s a short enough errand that I don’t even bother putting on my coat and mittens, and I manage to zip out to the alley, drop in the outgoing trash, and sprint back in.

There hasn’t been any word from the sleep clinic (other than a nice thank-you card) about my C-PAP.  I’m not sure if the doctor has yet to read my results and calibrate it, or where the machine is in red tape hell, but for the moment I’m sleeping without it.  I am sleeping better with the Seroquel and the restless-leg medication, but it’s still far from optimal.

Fiery Reflections in 14-Degree Weather

That’s 14 degrees Fahrenheit, by the way, -10 degrees Celsius.  I don’t even know what the wind chill factor is.  An icon from The Weather Channel is flashing the temperature in amber, which represents a severe weather alert. I’ve ventured out for a few short errands–to buy ribbons and cat litter and to get a jug of milk, but I’ve stayed inside–which included playing hooky from church.  (Steph and Susie were planning to anyway, but I wanted to go.  I just felt out of sorts and so I stayed home.  It wasn’t because of the cold–I like cold weather.)

The bonfire was wonderful.  It took place in Carroll, a little dot on the map just off U.S. 33 south of Columbus but before Lancaster.  There were maybe about 20 people in attendance total, not including the kids.  There was a small potluck beforehand, and then around 8 p.m., we all ventured to the sight of where the wood and other flammable (inflammable?) debris was piled.  The whoosh! and the initial blaze was quite impressive.  Tanya and Steph led everyone in the singing of "Chant for the Seasons," written by Mark Belletini, our very own senior minister.  It would have been an even more impressive bonfire had the sky been clearer, especially when you follow the sparks up into the air, but it impressed and enthralled the adults.  Our host even found an old wooden chair to feed to the fire and add to the heat and the light.

I found it surprising that the children lost interest so quickly and went to play some Harry Potter game inside and in the woods surrounding the property.  Kids are usually fascinated by fire–how often do you read in the paper or see on the TV news that a house fire has started because of a kid playing with matches?

When Steph was working at Gladden Community House, the brother of one of Susie’s friends had an unfortunate fascination with fire.  He was playing with matches and burned down his family’s house.  They all escaped with the clothes on their backs and little else.  This didn’t cure him; I would have thought he’d never go near a book of matches again as long as he lived.  His mother was taking him to St. Vincent’s for counseling, but I would think that giving him a tour of the Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati–which specializes in treating burns–would have cured him.  (I don’t know when a kid crosses the line between being interested in fire and outright pyromania.)

Both Steph and I are wondering if being around the fire for so long last night is why we’re feeling so crummy.  As far as I know, we inhaled nothing but wood smoke–I didn’t see anything else in that bonfire last night.  I know the starter was their Christmas tree from last year.  Venturing out into the cold today makes my head feel almost like brain freeze from too much ice cream at once.

I just hope nobody is getting sick.  That’d be a hell of a way to celebrate Christmas.

The Worst is Over

The three of us met for dinner at Mark Pi’s Feast of the Dragon, a Chinese buffet, and had dinner.  This was on W. Broad St., in Consumer Square.  We then hiked across the (nearly deserted) parking lot to Target, split up, and did holiday shopping.  I’m almost tempted to post what I bought Steph and Susie here on the blog, just to see whether or not they read it, but I’ll refrain.

Thursday night we enriched Kroger’s coffers and filled our own larder with plenty of groceries… literally enough to get us through the rest of the year.  Once we put everything away, both Steph and I collapsed for the night.

Just because I no longer work at a coin laundry doesn’t mean I get relief from going to one.  Your intrepid blogger spent the morning up to mid-afternoon doing 2.5 weeks’ worth of laundry.  The funny thing is that when we’re finished hanging up all the clean stuff and putting it away, it looks like we have more clothes than Warner Brothers.

Steph, Susie, and I are going to a bonfire with Pat, Tanya, and their kids tonight.  I haven’t been to a bonfire in quite a few years.  The last one I went to was at Procter Farm, which is an Episcopal retreat center midway between here and Cincinnati.  It was quite enjoyable.  (That’s the ultimate in trust: A Unitarian freely being in the presence of Christians with access to kindling wood and fire.)

Steph and Susie were making holiday gifts when I got home.  We all put away the laundry, and then it’ll be time to get ready for the party and bonfire.

Contemplating My Last Meal

Tonight it’s back to the sleep lab, this time to calibrate the C-PAP.  I’m at the Franklinton library right now, since Steph is teaching three piano lessons in a row, the first one starting at 4:30, before my arrival.  Susie and I ventured out into the dusk as the temperatures fell and everything began to get wet and slippery.  (The Weather Channel E-mailed me a severe weather alert for tonight, and I nearly slipped when I stepped outside work this afternoon.  The sidewalk is that glossy faux marble that allows very little traction when wet and none when there’s ice.)

I have to be at the sleep lab at 8:30 tonight, and Steph’s last lesson wraps up at 7.  So, Susie and I are here, and soon after I wrap this up I’m phoning in take-out from Crazy Chicken, a new restaurant on E. Rich Street which left its flyer and menu on our fence last weekend.  (That does not always mean that they deliver to our area, though.)  I can’t have any caffeine, so I plan to take the two-litre to work tomorrow, but I’ll at least get some food in my stomach before I have to report to be wired up and sleep before an audience.

This week at work has been tiresome.  There are fewer doctors’ appointments, since this is December and the end of the year.  The added frustration is that our office is moving from the fifth to the 10th floor of the William Green Building next week, since the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation wants to gobble up even more of the 30 floors of office space in the building.  One section has already gone up, and I visited it yesterday to bum boxes for the move.  I cannot understand how they’re managing to get any work done amidst the paint fumes, the sounds of power tools, the blowers, and all the other interruptions as the work crews set up the new work area.  (I saw where I will be working.  They haven’t even begun to work on it yet.  There’s just a jumble of pod partitions, power tool cords, sawhorses, dropcloths, and stray tools and furniture dumped in that area right now.)

I’ll be taking War of the Worlds: New Millenium with me to the hospital.  I’m at p. 183 and we have yet to see the Martians face to face, although they have landed and wreaked havoc throughout the U.S. and much of the world.  Douglas Niles, the author, is quite fond of reeling off the names of different kinds of military hardware, but he expects his readers to right away know what these machines are and what they’re capable of doing.  That’s why I could never get into the Tom Clancy novels–you needed a degree in engineering and military science to follow the action.