Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sitcoms don't have anything on this.
Before I finish this, I may think of a better title, but it is about situations, and there's some humor, though not with as much belly shaking, and tears on your chin, as with daughter, Bev's "Little Red Hen" at "Scratchin' The Surface."

Having two days off began almost gently, as I poured more coffee, and made an errand list. I would mail a package of pretty little items for her granddaughter, in care of Barb at "A Chelsea Morning".The post office already had a line of eight or ten restless people, none of whom smiled much as they waited, and more arrived and lined up after me. Finally, it was my turn, but I couldn't hear the clerk try to talk with me, because suddenly a woman rushed right in, and before the next waiting person could hurry to the counter, she pounced in front of him.

Another thing I planned doing after leaving the post office, was making sure I bought corned beef, and all you cook with it. Just because my family's grown doesn't mean I can't have all of it I want to. That's the reason God called me a "Mc". I'm suppose to, and it almost got me in trouble while I was in the Post Office, but I wisely didn't say anything to the woman who crashed the long waiting line.

She was so worked up she was yelling, complaining about a letter not getting somewhere on time, and it was obvious she wanted a chunk out of the poor postal clerk's behind. I could feel the line's anger and impatience with her, and wondered if this was what caused crowds to do crazy things that could hurt or kill people. After the clerk told the woman I don't know how many times that he couldn't do anything about her letter, she stormed out, and that's when the crowd had plenty to say about her. Suffice it all to end this postal situation by simply saying I can't repeat any of their comments here.

After my package was on its way to Barb's, the next stop was the grocery store. People there seemed hurried, and sometimes not very polite, but perhaps I was still dealing with the post office fallout.

At the corned beef bin, another shopper and I dug through many packages of it. The biggest day of the year for this feast demands that we find a good cut of the meat. Part of the display bin was kind of empty, so I tossed my rejects there, and pretty soon the other customer joined right in. I checked to see if anyone was watching, then really slammed a couple of them. From the way she also threw them, I kind of wondered if something started her day off badly too.

I did more shopping for things around the house, but by the time I got home, didn't want to cook, or do laundry, or much of anything else. Had hoped to trim and rake some flower beds, but another snowfall cancelled that.

Tomorrow I might do more, but the rest of this called to me to take it easy. In the back of my mind, I knew I was thinking of big changes that are planned where I work. Even after I crawled into bed, until sleep took over, I kept thinking about it, but at least no one was angry and yelling, like at the post office, nor throwing corned beef around.

Sometimes even family may think I make decisions without more completely checking related details. But the more I get to know me, the more I realize I deal with things by letting them ferment, not in the way I make daily decisions, but more like my Granny used to heat her old metal irons. She would set the two of them on the back of the stove, and while she used one, the other was heating. That's kind of how my thought process works. This morning as I got out of bed I knew what I needed to do.

So far, it involves two other nursing homes where I've worked before. So I do have some things to compare to. If I stay where I'm working now, I will have to learn three more larger groups of patients and their needs. Nursing staff won't be assigned to particular units, but will work wherever management puts them. Even if this big change had not come about, I was considering working closer to home, and the higher gas gets, the more I think about it. That long drive home after shifts that keep you there even longer sometimes is a challenge, especially when the snow blows sideways.

Considering that staying where I am is almost like beginning a new job, I think I have figured it out, and this came about loud and clear, as I sat in the lobby of one of the other places, filling out a new application. Across from me I noticed an almost quiet little lady who is a resident there. A younger person was busy playing card games with her. I noticed the cards had large numbers on them. It was easy to see she was quite serious about getting the game rght.

Then I realized a year or two before I was taking care of her. She liked a certain kind of candy, little pieces wrapped in papers which her family made sure she always had. After supper she would hurry to her room where she listened to "talking books". While others showed little intrest in much of anything, she kept using her mind, and seeing her so intent about a card game was probably, except for throwing the corned beef, the most interesting thing I experienced all day.

You'd think I would have figured this out many years ago: I can take care of people like her anywhere I go. I think family will also tell you,(maybe even give examples) that I usually do things on a big scale, and they'd be right. After I finished filling out that application, I knew my next step would be another nursing home, one that's even closer. Whoever calls first from them gets me. The applications go into many details, as they should. I completed that one, and decided that's enough for this day.

I still needed carrots, celery and new potatoes to go with the corned beef, so back to the grocery store. Once there, might as well check its day old breads and breakfast rolls off in a corner of the bakery area. Two other customers were already there, so I somehow ended up with them between me and an escape route, which I quickly realized I would need. Both of them talked without either really listening, and it was all about physical ailments. Each one's diaster story outdid the other's. I had to get out of there, but when I tried getting my buggy where I could, the lady poked her arm almost right under my face to show me some miraculous surgery she'd survived. Let me tell you, taking care of the little people at the nursing home is comforting compared to listening to sickly entranced strangers. I was so surprised at how they went on and on, I just threw some of those not iced donuts, and some croissants in my cart, and as soon as I got the chance, without being too rude, hurried out. As I left, the lady was still listing her medical experiences.

Pulling into my driveway I noticed the young boy neighbor who so impressed me last summer. Another one about his age was with him. They'd been throwing something on the hard pavement, to crack it, or maybe just to hear the noise. Sometimes kids just need more to keep them busy. I was so hungry, and wanted to start the corned beef cooking, but the boys were full of things they just had to express, and they sure sounded more interesting than the two hypochondriacs trying to drown out each other.

One of the boys showed me how he could break up old combination locks. By striking them real hard, the tiny pieces would tumble out. A kid's got to have something to feel accomplishment about.

But then the other one showed me how he could make my car light shine, or not, by touching my door lock that should be working, but still isn't. I didn't really yell at the little guy, but I did speak loud enough to convince him to not mess with my already broken lock.

When I got inside the house I was so determined to call some time my own. The herd mentality at the post office, and those two socially needy people at the store had just about used up my benevolent attitude.

Tomorrow I'll be back at work, and maybe soon, orienting other nursing units somewhere. I am pretty certain work for me to do is around. I do need to help it settle down some, and when it does, perhaps I should work on my social life.

  posted at 10:47 PM  

Sunday, March 16, 2008
The Seasons Turn, And We With Them.
It was said about a Catholic priest, who I believe died while giving Last Rites to 911 victims, that he had a saying he loved to tell people: "If you really want to make God laugh", he said, "tell Him what you'll be doing tomorrow". Some of us seem to do better if there's more sameness and predictability around. All of it isn't bad, but in the past week this is what I've learned or noticed.

I was making usual rounds at work, giving medicines and doing other things for patients, when one little lady who has lived there quite a while kept moving her wheel chair out of her room, until she and it were almost in the hall. She brushed the back of her hand across her face, and started to speak, and I could tell she had been crying. Management had sent out letters to residents' families, informing them that their moms and dads would be relocated to rooms on other nursing units, because major renovations and turning semiprivate rooms into private ones will soon be done there.

The lady who was crying so was having a hard time understanding why they are doing this, and I was having difficulty choosing my words carefully, while trying to think of something I could say or do to help the little woman not feel so upset and sad. Changes are hard for people like her, whose lives have become a day after day sameness.

On my way home from work that night, I thought about her need for things staying the same so she doesn't have to deal with new and uncertain situations, not having to worry if she won't have a window to look out of, and I thought about being so upset myself when so little about using my new Dell computer programming was comfortable to me. I considered all the changes I've chosen to take on in the last two years, and decided I would rearrange some, and not even blink about what my choices cost me.

Now one family member has a new monitor, and another has other parts of the Dell, and I am more than happy with what a computer person put together for me, and I don't even have to worry over it not having a warranty. If it stops working, my son and that nice computer man will fix it for me.

So much is in the how we see things. One son who has to be a little worn from long years of an apprenticeship and schooling, was laid off from work, but he's not fretting. Sees it as a chance to catch up on things, and do some extra jobs, and maybe some golfing.

Another son may travel out of state for his work, but he's not worried about being at only one job site, and besides, he says it's a great chance to see more of our country.

And most of you heard the good news that daughter, Barb, at "A Chelsea Morning" is finally approaching using her ability to make so many things. She is creating a web site business. Her kitchen table where she's made so many family memories, will soon see a labor of love I am sure Barb will do very well with.

My other daughter, Bev, at "Scratchin' The Surface", well she's almost in home repair Heaven, swinging that perpetual paint brush of hers.

My son, who never took a formal class for it, but is very good at building computers, has spent so much time, making them for me, trying to get me interested in using them, and in this latest episode about the new Dell, even though he's very busy, he took time and provided back up safety for my pictures, and other stuff I wouldn't want ruined, and put in better virus protection. He asked if I was selling the Dell, and if so, what would be my price. I reminded him of all he's done for me, not just in making the computers, but again and again, helping, especially when I was moving. I told him yes, I do have a price, and my price is zero, not anything at all, Some things just are not measured in dollars.

Today we spent a lot of time together while he set this computer up, and then he and a special lady he knows and I, just about overdosed on giant hamburgers at Gunther Toody's. It was quite a hoot looking at all the 50's relics that decorate the place, even a real automobile is on display.

Tonight, after checking out so many things on this computer, and loving that it's all familiar to me, I decided to make myself clean up the kitchen, even though I'd rather play with this outer space stuff I'm learning how to use.

I am at the kitchen sink, and no water is turned on, but I begin to hear something with a steady beat, and it isn't raining. I take a few steps toward where it's sounding louder, and realize what I don't want to believe. There's another slow but steady leak in my sun room, right along a ceiling seam. I put a big container under it, and walk away, but the sound still irritates, so I grab a towel and lay it in what I've put under it to silence it. As I walk away from it, I am even able to laugh a bit. Come Spring I will have a new roof put on.

Last week my biggest problem was the car door lock not working, and I'm getting good at how to get in the car and secure the doors, and it's going to take a whole lot more than that, or a pesty leaking roof to upset me. I am having so much happiness pushing familiar computer buttons again that I can't be upset about almost anything.

  posted at 1:29 AM  

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
More Sail Adjusting
A few days ago I wrote that since we can't direct the wind, we might need to "adjust the sails", and I think it's time to do it again. I had been quite upset that my car door wouldn't unlock when I needed to get home from work after midnight in an awful snow storm. Walking up to my front door after that felt so safe and good, until I discovered that the door to the house wouldn't open either. Once inside I let those problems melt away like the ice outside. Tomorrow I would get the car door lock repaired. After all, it was just a problem that could be fixed. No need to dwell on it more.

Yesterday I got the car to the mechanic, and a few hours later drove it home. But the first time I needed to lock or unlock it, couldn't get it to work. Drove back to the repair shop, and learned, after already spending $85.61, more parts alone would cost about $200.00, and the mechanic's labor is even more.

This is where the sail trimming comes in. The locks on the other three doors on the car work fine, and I can lock the problem child one each time with my hand. To get back in the car all I have to do is open the door behind it, and lean forward enough to open the broken one enough so I can walk around the car, and get in. There's just no point in upsetting myself about this any more.

But what's a sail trimming, if you don 't do it well. I have decided to apply it to several things. I got a phone call from a son who took my other computer to a repair place. Even if it couldn't be repaired, I wanted to know what made it not work, and learned that numerous viruses got in it. As a nurse, that ugly word causes much concern, but when it was my computer some awful people infected with money hungry "germs", I just plain got worse than a little angry. All my old post writing machine needs is a new hard drive, and I've been going crazy trying to learn the new computer's Vista program.

If I am anything, being good at adapting to problems tops the list. I still have the boxes the new computer came in, and some day I may even deal with it again. But I'm a little stretched out from that costly car door lock that still doesn't work, and won't, unless I spend a few hundred dollars more. Clint Eastwood isn't the only person on earth who needs to know his limitations.

A few days ago, to encourage, and cheer me up, daughter, Bev, at "Scratchin' the Surface" sent a little note that sets where I'll see it often. In it she lists many things we sometimes must deal with, and troublesome and costly broken car door locks, and computer programs I was driving myself crazy about, are not important enough to waste any more brain power on. They don't even make the top ten list. Unpacked boxes, and windows still needing curtains won't ruin the sails on my little boat either.

I read somewhere that cancer patients are encouraged to write out grateful lists, to dwell on the positive, that a negative attitude interferes with their healing. The next post you'll read from Flight Song will not be about things all of us may sometimes have to deal with. When the apostles worried that their boat might sink, Jesus reminded them who controls the storms. Mine isn't even a gale.

  posted at 10:46 AM  

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Adjusting The Sails
"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails". That's just one of many sayings I live by, but lately feel that I'm not doing it very well. Yesterday I was eager to know that granddaughter, Krissy, and her new born baby girl were both alright after surgery to deliver her.

Finally Barb's email with fresh made pictures arrived. One especially stood out, Krissy holding her child while intently looking at her. Words could not express her birth any better. Moms never forget those first time moments.

Like many others wanting to know about the baby, I had waited and waited. Coffee helped, but I was still wrung out from a trying work shift, which by itself would have been enough to make me eager for some days off, but when I finally walked out to my car to go home, I couldn't get the door of it to open. The lock was frozen. This had happened once a long time ago, so I was prepared, and pulled a cigarette lighter out of my nurses bag, and heated the key before using it, and calmly drove myself home. But when I got here, I couldn't get the car door to lock. And imagine my surprise when I tried unlocking the door to the house. but couldn't get it open. A little stretch beneath it still needs repairing, and I suppose ice had formed there. It took a few swift kicks, hoping I didn't break anything down there, but I finally got it loose, and just in case something screwy like that happens again, there's now a set of tools someone gave me for Christmas in arm's reach in the car.

I was upset that I almost stayed locked out of both the car and the house. By then I wasn't adjusting my sails very well, and even let it carry over some into the next day. Worrying about how I would keep the car locked now until I can get it repaired overshadowed a wonderful day.

I wasn't proud of myself for kicking the door so hard, or some choice words I muttered, but before I went to sleep last night I made my mind up in advance; Today I would behave much better.

I'm sure you understand that some days we may not be filled with enough pep and vinegar, and today was one of them, not a good day for doing serious anything. After I did a few must do tasks in the house, I opened my unlocked car door, and drove straight to a great mechanic I know. He'll fix the car on Friday, so until then I'll just have to depend on my Lord to keep me safe.

I had got in the car and started driving. Two blocks from the house I had to slow more. A dozen or more Canadian geese were hogging the road, and refused to get out of it. Since I had to stop for them anyway, I just basked in their beauty that is always so regal. It was a good reminder to sometime just slow down.

Next stop was a favorite thrift store. I am such an optimist, I keep hoping to find drapes that will fit my huge patio doors. Again though, I didn't, but since I wasn't in a hurry, I took moments to notice what other customers were doing, what kinds of treasures they were choosing.

A young looking Mom with two little girls, maybe 4 or 6 years old had several stuffed toys in their cart. I couldn't help wondering which one of them would claim the big teddy bear.

A young man held onto a pair of lamps that would decorate a bedroom very well. Several people were looking through rows of books, and I joined them. It is always easy to find some I want to take home.

The problem is limiting them to only a few, but when I spotted one, the search was over. Written in the seventies by Richard D Bach, and photographs by Russell Munson, until you read it while traveling miles above the clouds in a plane, you might not get the full impact of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story". It is dedicated "to the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all". Losing myself in a book like that adjusted my sails better than I could. The car will be fixed soon, and difficult work shifts don't happen often. On the way home all I could think of was turning the computer on, and looking closely again at Nana Barb's Avery Lynn.

  posted at 11:41 PM  

Saturday, March 01, 2008
Life Lessons
I intended to post next about less serious things, and I do have some in mind. But the uniform I wore to work last night hangs limply on the bathtub rail, and my bed's not yet made, and a few dishes in the kitchen sink wait there, but I don't care. This is my day off, and I'm here before this Dell, working on a third cup of coffee.

The start of another month closer to Spring is encouraging, but I'm not thinking of planting flower beds. I am reconsidering recent things, especially the day and a half I spent with that loony CPR instructor. I want to understand why he singled me out of every other person in the class.

I remember trying hard to please grade school teachers, which wasn't a really bad thing. Doing that heralded me toward a lifetime love affair with learning. But somewhere along that journey of becoming, without realizing it, I became a people pleaser, all the while just grateful that someone approved of me. When you couple that with the development of a true Southern lady, it almost guarantees that I'd still be dealing with trying to undo this today.

I am now on a mission to eradicate this self defeating trait. I am not kidding myself that this will be easy. Habits we've done most of our lives are such a part of us. I see this in so many elderly female patients.

It's almost automatic the way they say "Oh, excuse me", or "I'm so sorry", when they haven't done anything that requires apologies. While the CPR trainer was overly crude and mean spirited, just plain ugly, I do take responsibility for making it so easy for him to rip at me. When wolves attack a pack of other animals, they don't pick on its leader. They go for the easiest prey trailing at the back, the wounded, the sick.

It will take a lot of practice to change reactions I've done most of my life, but I couldn't be more serious about it. This morning when I had just poured my first cup of coffee two women dressed ever so nicely walked to my front door. I just stood there in my scroungy pj's, knowing I hadn't yet combed my hair, and let them place a paper flier about their religion in my hand. After they walked away I threw it in the garbage. There really was no point in being ugly about it. But for a fleeting moment I had felt inferior to total strangers.

Lately I've also realized that I let other people overly influence me, so I am also seriousl working on that. All these years I've been the person in line in the market place more likely to let you cut in, and I'm really good at holding doors for people, sometimes even men.

I remember years ago being at some parent/teacher event where we needed to sign up for something. I already had my half dozen children then, and was pretty good at hanging on to them in crowds, but I kept stepping back and letting other moms go first. and ended up being the last person there. It is kind of nice to surprise someone when they're waiting to check out only a few items. But I'm talking about almost always demurring to others. The situation with the women who came to my door this morning just points up how almost automatic this can become.

But I am changing this. Yesterday on my way to work, before I pulled into the parking lot, I gave myself a pep talk some might think silly. But it worked. I walked into the nursing home with my shoulders up and straight, and a genuine smile for the patients, knowing how fortunate they are that I was taking care of them last night. I even made time to feed a weary man some ice cream.

Feeling better about myself projected a much better attitude to them, and to my hard working nurses aides. Even the paper work I so often dread took less time.

This stoic computer I've sometimes been ignoring, or almost treating like an enemy doesn't know it yet, but we will become good friends. "Mr. or Miss. Dell" As soon as I go shopping for some new things to cheer myself up with, I'm going to charm you off this desk, with all these new and beautiful things I'm learning about you, day by day.

  posted at 11:11 AM  

About Me
Name: Judith

Location: Colorado

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