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A Stone Girl Blog first

It was fun and interesting for me to read many introductory blogs from my fellow Holidailies participants on (and around) December 1. One thing that struck me was a common theme that seemed to be running through our first-of-the-month blogs. Many of us are bloggers who aren’t blogging. We started our blogs 10 or more years ago, maintained them for a good while, and then let them lapse. There are varied reasons for this for different people. I think the factors that resulted in my blog’s neglect included moving back to California, having kids, and changing blogging platforms. Many old sites that used to host blogs and blogging communities are defunct, and with them went a sense of community that many of us had, visiting each other’s blogs regularly. I’m glad I was able to transport a lot of my content to WordPress, but it’s not the same around here. Having kids affected a whole host of habits I used to have, for what should be obvious reasons. There are just not enough hours in the day and days in the week to work, maintain a house, and take care of two kiddos. If I’m not out of time by the end of the night, I’m out of coherent brain cells. I suppose I should also blame short-attention span social media distractions for taking up my time (because they don’t really engage my brain cells).

Another theme I saw in a blog I read that I feel I share is somewhat related to the desire to remain under the world’s radar. Maybe not completely anonymous, but at least innocuous enough to not draw negative attention from anyone who would do more than start a flame war. Which, by itself, is something I can barely survive anymore. My flameproof suit shows much wear, enough in spots that I get singed and stung more easily than I like. Sure, I’d love to share stories, ideas, and opinions and learn about what other people think and why. Is it worth it to debate back and forth, either in a civil manner or not? Sure. I can withstand a few flames still. Is it worth it to receive menacing messages or personal insults, or anything more severe? Not right now, it’s not. Not during a time when I’m focused on my work and family. Maybe if I decide to dedicate my life to writing, researching, reaching out to people, or actually trying to influence other people. Possibly then. But not when blogging is supposed to be a good outlet, a good funnel for my scattered thoughts, and a good way to keep in touch with others. So, I think I’m happy to stay under the radar, for now. Which doesn’t mean I won’t continue to post opinions and political thoughts and rants about how hypocrisy sucks. I’ll still do that. But you know what else I’m going to do? Something I’ve never done before. I’m going to post a picture of myself. Most people who read this blog would recognize me. It’s not a big deal if a few “strangers” could someday do so also. I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish by trying to stay out of sight for years. I think it’s a fallacy for any of us with any significant online presence to think we can stay anonymous to everyone. And you know, I’m ok with that. For now. I may delete this blog tomorrow. Ha! But I’ll bust out this little pic my hubby took of me earlier this year when we were hiking around Jack London State Park. Which, by the way, is an awesome little spot in itself to walk and hike and take in some nature. But, if you are a fan of the author, it’s a fantastic place to visit. Learn his history. See his home, the ruins of his dream home, and the beautiful home his widow built after he died. The Park just re-opened The House of Happy Walls home, and I’m looking forward to going back to see it again in its new design. Great little State Historic Park in northern California. Relatively easy for little kids to walk around, and they host some fun events throughout the year.

And with that, I bid you goodnight. Here’s looking at you, kids.

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Following my woes and my private and semi-public whines last week, my cavalry came charging to my rescue. My husband picked up extra kid pick-up and drop-off days last week so I could work late. Not my favorite thing to do, but it does help relieve the middle-of-the-night stress when I can check more things off the work list. Some days are filled with so many impromptu calls and emails and meetings, it’s impossible to touch my to-do list until the afternoon. Staying in the office past 5 when the phone and most of the emails stop bombarding me is helpful. This weekend, my Big Sis took me out for half a day to relax and de-stress. And Saturn sent me a tree! How awesome is that? Many reasons why that is appropriate, not least of which because she remembers I used to climb my favorite tree next to our Freshman-year dorm years ago to be alone and think and de-stress.

I cannot claim to be alone in feeling stress during the holidays. But luckily, I also cannot say that I am alone or without support, and for that, I am immensely thankful. We have all helped each other over the years. We do what we can, when we can. This week is going to be a bit chaotic, with meetings scheduled in the evening and far away during the week. I’ll probably be out of town Tuesday night in preparation for some meetings in South Lake Tahoe on Wednesday (that were not on my calendar until late last week). The motto this week is “I can only do what I can do.” It’s not my fault at least two days of my work week before vacation were smashed to bits by new assignments last week. I can’t really plan for these things, I can’t avoid my other projects; I can only do what I can do in the week I have. We’ll see how much that ends up being! Helps to know I’ve got moral and schedule support this week. Hope everyone out there is looking at a more manageable week as we head towards the Christmas holiday. Good luck!

Tis the Season

As my lapse in blogging may have tipped you, the competing demands of the season have caught up with me. Blogging has lagged. Multi-tasking has increased.

Per usual, the approaching holidays have generated the annual “hot potato” game at work, where clients and others try to pass off documents and deadlines to someone else before leaving town. I feel like I’m going to have some burning tuberous blobs sitting in my lap before the end of next week. I’m trying to manage expectations right now, because I’m scheduled to be out of the office the whole week of Christmas. I may pick one project to sneak onto my laptop during any quiet downtime with family, but that’s it. I can’t focus on everything at once.

I bought some presents for loved ones a month ago and thought I was going to finish Christmas shopping early this year. No. Not happening. I made a feeble attempt to start our Christmas card until Mike rescued me and made one up himself and ordered them. We may get them in time to address envelopes this weekend. We managed to get to a tree farm this past weekend and get a tree, which is sitting unadorned in the living room. It will stay that way until we can drag our decorations out the garage, hopefully this weekend.

And I’ve seen the comments and memes along the lines of “you are not obligated to do anything during the holidays that stress you out.” Well, that’s fine and good, but I want to do these things. I like doing these things. I love seeing the kiddos doing these things – hiking around a tree farm, decorating, making homemade gifts, spending an extra 10 minutes looking at Christmas lights while driving home in the evening. Those things don’t stress me out (too much). And work is quite capable of stressing me out at any time during the year, so I’m not going to give up my Christmas cheer just because deadlines coincide with holiday tasks. But yes, blogging has taken a hit. Cooking dinner from scratch is taking a hit. I’m trying not to worry about the little things. I want blogging and reading blogs to continue to be enjoyable, so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. It’s nice to know you all are out there, and I’ll continue to hop around and read as much as I can. I agree that people shouldn’t do things that stress them out just for the sake of doing them. But you can also try to do things on your own time and in your own way, expecting that people will understand your best intentions. So, a Christmas card may be mailed after Christmas. OK, my floor may not be spotless when family comes to visit. Most people are too busy to notice anyway. And if it gets to be too much, sure, I’ll stick my head in my shell and let myself breathe deeply a lot before venturing back out into Holiday Land. Until then, I’ll keep drafting blogs in bits and pieces and feeding my kids spaghetti for two days in a row. Which, of course, is a Christmas gift in itself to my kids! Ho ho ho.

 

In the US, December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Pearl Harbor Day was established to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The attack catapulted the United States into World War II, with President Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, calling December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” As the years pass, fewer people are alive who remember the day from personal memory. Pearl Harbor Day is not just a vague day of remembrance for me. My father was a World War II veteran, having served in the US Navy near the end of the war. He was not in the service when the war started, nor in 1941. Like many other young men of his day, he volunteered when he was old enough to do so. Why he picked the Navy, I don’t entirely remember. He got seasick and he couldn’t swim. He had to communicate in semaphore, which he laughingly told me he could never master during his brief stint in the Boy Scouts. When the war was over, he left the service, tried out a couple of colleges, and then worked for others until he struck out on his own as a business owner in San Francisco. Where would my father have ended up if he hadn’t been in the service? Not sure. I think he had already dropped out of high school. I don’t think he could have afforded even the little bit of college he attended if it hadn’t been for the G.I. Bill. He was a child of the Great Depression and a bit of a rebel kid, from his telling of it years later. He never considered himself to be a member of any sort of “Greatest Generation.” As I mentioned before, Dad said he felt that every generation rises up to the challenges of its day. Some though, you would have to acknowledge, have had far graver challenges than others.

When I was living on Maui, my sister and her family would come to visit. During one visit, we all spent a few days on Oahu. My sister, Mike, and I went to Pearl Harbor, and we went out by boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was an incredibly moving experience for me. I’d have to look back at my old blog entry (if I still have it) for more details, but I remember feeling less sad than I thought I would but also completely in awe of the magnitude of the events of that day. And still very sad for the Navy service members who lost their lives aboard the USS Arizona. And throughout Pearl Harbor. Hearing and reading about it don’t generate the feelings that come when you stand above the wreckage of a sunken ship somewhat frozen in time. Or see the wall of names of those who died. I’m grateful I had the experience to visit the memorials and exhibits in person. As more and more years past, fewer and fewer visitors will have had stories of World War II told to them in person by someone with firsthand knowledge. As it is, those of us with “Greatest Generation” parents and grandparents probably didn’t hear a lot of stories to begin with. It seems to be a shared trait of many WWII veterans to have rarely shared stories of their service. When my father halted his cancer treatments over 10 years ago, I realized I had no idea where he had traveled during his Navy career. I went out, bought a large paper world map, grabbed some pens, and put the map in front of my dad. I told him, “Now you show me where you went, where you stopped, how did you end up with those carvings you said you got in Africa?” I’m glad I had the chance to do that too. There’s a big chunk of collective history we are losing year after year.
And with that, I’ll post a few pictures from my trip to the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s been over 10 years since I was there, so I don’t know how much its operations have changed. I think it was shut down for a while. I hope there are still opportunities for others to visit it.
On a lighter note, December 7 also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. And this year would have been their 50th, if my father was still alive. There’s a whole other set of stories about their meeting, and marriage, and wedding day. Mom loves to tell people a few particulars about the day. Maybe I’ll share that on a separate blog. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

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I had my first root canal starting two weeks ago. I say “starting,” because this lovely procedure requires three appointments. The first one to try and get to the roots and clean them out. The second one to, once again, try and get to all the root branches and clean out the twisty little *#(#!*.  My third appointment is scheduled for Friday to go in and replace the temporary filling with a permanent one. It was my first root canal. I’m hoping it will be my last. I’ve had many many dental procedures in my life. Extraction of adult teeth. Extraction of wisdom teeth. Braces. Cavities. I’ve endured all of them quietly without complaint. I usually sit still in the chair.  Last week’s endurance appointment was the last straw. I squirmed. I grunted. I may have growled. It’s really hard to lie in the chair seeing tools flying, listening to my dentist talk to his assistant about twisting roots, listening to the drill, feeling the drill, and not wonder how sideways the procedure was going without my knowing. The longer it took and the more tools that went flying above my nose tried my patience to its final end. The dental assistant could tell, I think, I was DONE. I politely paid my portion of the bill, bid everyone a good week, and told the front desk staff I didn’t want to see them again for a long long time after this week.

I lamented my experience to one of my co-workers this week. She put me in my place (kindly) by sharing her experience of multiple root canals, followed by a tooth abscess. My experience cannot compare to hers. I sympathized. I appreciated her support. Today, she sent me an email. A routine appointment for her to (I think) replace a filling unexpectedly resulted in, guess what?, a root canal. ACK!  How is that possible? Am I contagious? It’s like getting called for jury duty. The strangest things seem to be contagious in a small office. I warned a couple of other co-workers to stay away from me. The root canal syndrome is spreading. I’m contagious.  I’m not even finished with mine yet. Maybe Friday’s appointment to fill the tooth will cap off the cavern of pain and stop the root canal germs from flying through the air and infecting everyone else. I’m so sorry, world!

I had to leave work a little early today because my stomach was recoiling against its very existence. I’m not sure what cause this unhappiness. I had soup and bread for lunch, which I thought was rather innocuous. But no. My stomach was highly offended by something. Dinner was ok. I took it rather easy and ate leftovers, as did Mike and the kids. I was about to head to bed because I’m exhausted and feel like I’m going to just tip over. Then, I thought to myself, “Ginger ale! I’ll have a sip of ginger ale for my stomach.” I went to the pantry shelf in Mike’s office and grabbed a small can of ginger ale. As I grabbed it, my eye caught a glimpse of that orange and red bag that the kids and I purchased on a whim this weekend. I tried to walk away. But it pulled me back. I tried not to think of it. But not thinking of it just made me think of something else in the fridge that I was suddenly inspired to pair it with. What a crazy idea! I told Mike. He told me, no. I ignored him. Long story short, I just ate some Fritos with Laughing Cow cheese. And ginger ale. It was heavenly. (I love cheese.) I am now going to run to bed before the pain in my stomach knocks me over harder than my exhaustion.

Did I mention somewhere that I like food? To my own detriment, it would appear. Ow. But yum. Buy, owwwww.

Holidailies #4

 

A Pandora Introduction

I was working a little late in the office tonight, so I turned on my Pandora station for some background music. I have several stations on Pandora (yes, I still use Pandora). Some are seeded by only one song or artist. A few are seeded by a mix of specific songs and favorite artists. Tonight’s selection was my station. The one I named “Stone Girl’s Tunes.” I created this station in February 2007. I listen to it all the time. Pandora reports that, through the years, I’ve “thumbed up” 602 songs and “thumbed down” 905 songs while listening to my station. Tonight, for the first time in a long while, I looked at the list of songs and artists I chose to seed my station. Like my blog introduction, I feel my Stone Girl station is still a fairly good representation of me. I’ve discovered some new now-favorite musical artists in the last few years. I’ve outgrown a few from my old list. But it’s a good list and a good station. And it is, perhaps, another good way to introduce myself to others and perhaps to learn more about you. What songs, which musical artists, seed the music station in your life?

My list, from 2007.

Artists:

  • Imogen Heap
  • Kosheen
  • Lijie
  • Art of Noise
  • Fool’s Garden
  • Maktub
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Paul Simon
  • Tears for Fears
  • Maura O’Connell
  • Cause & Effect
  • Rob Zombie
  • David Lanz
  • Delerium
  • Sting
  • Third Day
  • Hungry Lucy
  • Scorpions

Songs:

  • Santa Cruz by Fatboy Slim
  • Home by the Sea by Genesis
  • (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
  •  Haunted by Poe
  • No Mermaid by Sinead Lohan
  • Fear by Sarah McLachlan

 

Holidailies #3