Did I ever tell you about Jim Foster?

Jim was one of my many bosses and my friend. He died this past Wednesday morning from cancer. I say cancer generally because by the time it was over, it felt like the cancer had ridden into most of his body. But it was technically the brain cancer that finally won a battle after Jim won in so many other battles with the beast in other parts of his body.

He never seemed to mind it. Because that was Jim. Jim wasn’t stoic about it or anything really. He was just full of life and always willing to find the laughter, no matter how bad the diagnosis or how shitty he felt. And he did feel shitty. He was originally diagnosed with kidney cancer and I believe it was already at stage 4. He just took that news and took the treatments and kept coming to work. Invited his grandkids over to shave his head and made a party out of it.

Because Jim loved a party. He was functioning alcoholic, claimed the fact as a matter of course and never showed the slightest shame over it. He was by all accounts a rollicking drunk. That lack of shame was a revelation to me. In my family alcoholism was shame personified. It was watching him that showed me that a huge part of the destructiveness of the disease in my family was the shame.

I don’t think anyone ever met Jim and didn’t immediately like him. He was the campfire the rest of us were sitting around, enjoying the glow of his energy and joy. He had a story for every occasion, many of them off color but not offensively so. All of them bubbling with laughter.

When he loved you, you knew it. He had a blazing insult battery that he aimed at those men he was fondest of. He worked with his best friend running the day to day operations of the company. You could not walk into the workspace without getting caught in insult crossfire. But he was equally protective of his best friend, sending emails asking why his BF was taking calls and answering group emails… ie doing the work the rest of us were responsible for. And he tempered his insults for the audience. He knew I was mental mess, and so he always adjusted for me. He made active efforts not to startle me – which is so easy to do and many people do it deliberately just for the comic effect. That small act of consideration is why I know the depth of his kindness. So few people think it’s worth noting except as a joke.

My greatest respect for a co-worker is if they do their job well. Jim was very good at his job. He was good at bringing in business, at building relationships with organizations that would bring us strong loyalty from them. He was fair about distributing the work he drummed up to the reservations team, because when he got us work, it was often large, and the time involved in entering reservations was not inconsiderable. He could easily have focused his attention on the 2 or 3 most experienced and reliable reservationist. But he spread it, but still judiciously handed his biggest and most complicated jobs to his most trusted reservationist. In my opinion, that is wise management. Don’t overwhelm your best with all your work, but pick out the “can’t go wrong” work for them.

Jim lived his life as the spark of energy in every interaction. He cared and it showed. No one met him and didn’t like him. Those kinds of people are so rare, it feels like we need to provide extra protection to them. But the universe decided it had gifted us long enough with his loving insults and his hilarious stories and just ripped him away. And didn’t even do it kindly. I hate that he isn’t here any more. I just hate it.

Seriously, Samsung?

I was just watching a slice of joy on tiktok. It was xchucklesx if you want to know. He dances to ANY music. I was introduced to him by his dance to a bit of Bach, or possibly Rachmaninoff, in any case it was not music that I thought could be danced to. But Chuckles did it so successfully I wanted more.

So, I was looking for a distraction from my besetting anxiety about…. Gestures Broadly… and was perusing Chuckles and his family dancing to Love Train. And it was indeed the bit of joy I needed. And then Samsung decided I didn’t have sufficient battery and just blacked out the screen in the middle of my joy. But I did apparently have sufficient battery for them to remind me that I should be angry with Samsung by putting their logo up.

Look. I get it. This is my fault. They warned me at 15% and 5%, but what I need in these cases is a warning 90 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds….

I got their last warning just as I was getting ready to leave the house. I wanted to be on time for hostess, and finding charging cables wasn’t on my mind. So when I got home I fired up the tiktok, as you do… And then just when I found my slice of joy – boom. No warning because the 5% was apparently my last chance.

If you have let your battery get below 5 percent – you are the sort of person who needs more and urgent warnings closer to the event. Bad design, Samsung. Bad Design.

So, Voting is here.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

I ordered a mail in ballot. Then didn’t mail it in, so now I have to show up. Some days, weeks, months, ok. Some years it’s just hard to survive much less be organized about mailing something.

Actually mailing things has been a life long issue with me. In my 20s my bills were perpetually a bit late merely because I couldn’t seem to stuff an envelope, and put the damn thing in the mail. My credit soared with advent of the internet banking.

Anyway, here in procrastination central, we have finally decided to look at the ballot and do a bit of research. In Ohio, they don’t tell you which party a candidate is with on the ballot. Is that true everywhere? I don’t know. But while I have definitely voted for Republicans locally in the past, I will no longer give any credence to that party. It’s like there’s a giant seeping tumor in the party and they are dancing around pretending it’s not there. So it’s important to know who is who because I’m not spreading the cancer.

Anyway, I went to Ballotpedia to check out the candidates. And some of them don’t even have pictures on Ballotpedia. How half assed do you have to be in order to run for office? I’m suspecting that a quarter ass might be sufficient. They are carrying a camera on their person 24 hours a day, but don’t have a public facing picture to put on Ballotpedia? I might assume Ballotpedia just doesn’t trouble themselves with minor local election candidates, except it’s not all of them. Some have pictures.

It’s just interesting to me. How hyped up we are about the National Election and how completely unimportantly we treat a local commissioner or Engineer. On my ballot there are several offices with only one person running. No clue at all if the people are competent or not. The Coroner and the Engineer are both undisputed. Do they even have the necessary education for the jobs? Do we even have minimum requirements? A quick google check does not provide any enlightenment on the subject. And since no one is challenging them, I guess it’s not going to be questioned if they don’t. They are both incumbents.

I lived in a town a few years ago where the actual city council members went into elections unchallenged. School board was the same.

It’s not an election if there isn’t a choice.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Do they though?

This post is a form of procrastination

I’m being helped with my procrastination.

I need to log into work and actually do my job. Today is the first of the month, which means I should be sending out bills. Tomorrow, Monday, is the only day I’m officially at work next week. I’m taking vacation and having a lovely staycation. But it means that all the tasks in and around the 1st of the month must be done before I go. Which is why I planned to do some of it today.

But here we are. Today. And here I am writing about working instead of actually working.

My anxiety has been in top form for months. Pandemics and Elections have not been conducive to strong mental health. Being short on money is also not helping. I did not lose my job during this nightmare, but I have about 25 percent fewer hours. This has a corresponding effect on my income. For quite awhile now I have been slicing away at the stimulus money that I saved until it is now very low tide in the savings account. Indeed, I’m feeling like a fish caught in a tidal pool at low tide.

My county has a fund from the CARES bill that will help you pay rent. I’m well inside the income requirements, but it seems to be focused on people who are in arrears on their rent and utilities. I am not and mean not to be. Which is why I was considering applying for assistance until I can get my tax refund and replenish my savings. However, I don’t think I will get it as I am current on all bills except medical ones. Trying to avoid getting behind is not as urgent as being behind.

I need to live smaller. I used to make less and survived. But I lived a bit smaller. I need to find that small life again.

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Rope – Ever as It Always Was

I was just wandering around the rabbit holes of Wikipedia. There I discovered that there was a nearly intact boat inside the base of one of the pyramids. I naturally clicked to learn more and as I was perusing the lovely images, this picture showed up!

That right there is not the pile of rope found at your local marina. Although you would NOT be at fault for assuming it was. That is the rope found with the boat in the base of the pyramid. It’s rope from 4500+ years ago.

Rope has not become irrelevant. It has not changed dramatically at all. It’s the same and still necessary. Certainly, today, we have more fiber options, more effective machines to make it, and still this ancient rope would blend right in at the marina. Because we still make rope the same way the ancients did. We twist up fibers. And then we twist up the twists, etc.

There is evidence of cord that Neanderthals used 40,000 years ago! Three ply cord.

It useful. Indeed it’s necessary. The ancient method for making it was so good that we have just kept right on doing it. I find that mind bogglingly beautiful.

Stuff that has happened

Why doesn’t anything work anymore?

Anyone else’s notification bell not working? It hasn’t worked for weeks. I click and it thinks – remaining blank while it thinks. So if you replied to a comment I made, I probably didn’t see it.

Don’t even get me started on this new and unimproved editor.

This new goddamn editor doesn’t actually let me fix anything in a post. Instead of defaulting to inserting text, it’s overwriting it. Like this is 1995. What the hell? I actually had to take the paragraph out of the editor put it into Notepad, fix my text and then paste it back into the worst text editor of all time. I have no idea what I did to cause this because every damn thing about this thing is obscure and stupid.

I saw where I could switch to Classic Editor and clicked with glee. It’s not the classic editor. It’s a subdued pop up version of the old perfectly useful and functional editor. I miss it. I do. I’m old. I’m now grouchy about changes. And lauding the old ways.

Anyway – Let’s move on to brighter things – Cats.

FC took a jump off the balcony on Sunday. He had been going out on the balcony and being a well behaved boy for weeks. But Sunday was an especially beautiful day and I think it was more than he could stand to be inside. So he jumped, I heard the spindly tree shake as he caught it and went running downstairs. He was standing proudly at the bottom of the tree, looked me in the eye with defiance, raised his tail and stalked off into the underbrush for a walkabout. So I let him.

I went out at dinner time with some food, and he immediately came up, so instead of putting it down I decided to see if I could get him to walk into the building of his own volition. He did tentatively follow me in and walk up a half flight but got spooked by someone out on the sidewalk and took off out the door. I followed him with the food and we regrouped at the old feeding spot. He was very wary of being caught and so I decided to let him spend the night out. It was going to be a cold night – mid 40s. I decided he might be more amenable after a cold night.

I woke up at 6am and went down in the dark to find my boy, who immediately greeted me and was all kinds of fine with being picked up to come home. We had a lovely cuddle when we got in and he seems to have settled down – not even begging to go out.

I wish I had a way to let him come and go.

Tomatoes, Squirrels and Birds…Oh My

Tomatoes – now it’s me, the squirrel and some damn bird eating the last of the tomatoes. I don’t think I’m going get any of the last ones. Which is fine, honestly. They are hungrier, but… I never did get a decent sized one.

Oh well. Life goes on. Next year, I’m going to ask the landlord if I can put a couple of pots next to the driveway. Then there will be plenty of sun.

Oh. The Disappointment

The 2020 shitshow has extended to my tomato plants.  My harvest is deeply underwhelming.  I ate my first ones this past week.  In September.  Everyone else is getting tomatoes at the end of July.  I get them in September.  

Also – small.  Very small.  All three plants.  And I don’t think it’s just the fact that I’m in a race with the bastard squirrel to harvest them, so I tend to pick as soon as they show any sign of changing color rather than leaving them on the plant to ripen – which would be ideal.  I’ve only got 3 tomatoes of normal size.  Most are slightly bigger than a cherry when they turn red.  Some are cherry size.  None are beefsteak size.  sad tomato harvest

The plants seemed to thrive, despite being in a less than ideal sun location.  Of the three plants, the volunteer definitely did the best.  And honestly has amazeball tasting tomatoes.  It’s too bad I don’t know what it is.  But I will be saving seed.  But even though the plants grew and seem healthy, I think it’s the lack of sufficient sun that is making the harvest so weak.  

Despite all of that, I am honestly delighted in my misfits.  Eating tomatoes you grow yourself is lovely.  They did not live up to my dreams of their harvest, but I have a long record of dreaming one thing and experiencing another, so – not really surprising.  

FC – the new cat

Ferguson Cat, aka FC, relaxed right into being an indoor cat. I’m so grateful that he isn’t miserable about being locked in. I kept him and my existing cats separated for 2 days and then I opened the door. It was vastly under dramatic. I have no idea why I have not done this with every cat melding.

I mean they didn’t get into any kind screaming hissing face offs. They stared at each other from a distance, eventually met close enough for sniffs. If they were caught off guard, there was a small hiss and retreat, but not anything angry or warlike.

We went to the vet yesterday. He was dewormed, given some vaccines and chipped. I expected him to fight that – but nope. He took all the indignities with a stoic calm.

He has looked over the outside balcony with an eye for jumping but responded immediately when I called him back. I think he knows full well that life is much better inside than outside.

Life, Loneliness and Cats

My life has been dragging along. My depression has creeped into the old corners and I’m just dragging about out of necessity. I would prefer to just curl up in a ball and sink to the bottom. Which is an odd thing. Why would I want to just get worse? That’s the crazy part of the depression. It makes you want to feed it instead of fight it. Even while your logical brain knows it’s not a wise plan to do things that will make you even more miserable than you already are. But I have structure in my life now, so I drag about and go to work and feed cats and take walks and keep going.

One of the biggest miseries in my life is relatively new. Loneliness. I’ve always been a loner, but with plenty of friends. I never felt lonely or extremely rarely until I became homeless. Or more specifically until it became clear to me that one of the mental platforms of my personal identity didn’t actually exist. I thought I was deeply connected to my family. That family meant I was never really alone. But actually – no. When my mother died – the connection died. Because my sisters are married and have families of their own. I never married or had kids – so they did not feel the same connection to me as they had their own lives. That was when loneliness arrived. It’s a terrible feeling and I wish deeply to go back to the place where being alone was just fine and enjoyable. The loneliness is much worse when the depression is mobbing my brain.

But. But. Then there are cats. I do not exaggerate when I say that cats are the reason I have not exited this life. They provide a warm and loving companionship. They give me an obligation to do that makes getting up and moving necessary.

And I now have another cat. Or more precisely FC has moved inside. Yesterday I snatched him up, and won a close struggle and now he is inside. Amazingly, he didn’t hide at all. He just complained in the song of his people for many hours. It turns out, he likes to be pet. He no longer minds being picked up – a thing no one would have predicted after seeing his struggle on the way in.

This is where a picture of FC would go except I can’t find that option anymore because wordpress new and unimproved itself.

And he destroyed the window blind. Yeah. He sits on the window sill, but last night I put the blind down, because I’m not fond of the world seeing into my apartment at night. At first he was fine with that. But at some point while I was asleep he decided he wanted to be on the window sill and even tiny cats will break a shitty window blind. And he did. Very thoroughly. Between him and Tim I will not be getting my deposit back. Tim has ruined the carpet in the bedroom by pulling out the yarns. Apparently that is fun?

Anyway. FC is in. Tim and Bijou are locked in the bedroom and FC has the rest of the apartment. Maybe this afternoon or evening I will bring one of them out to meet FC. I want them to get along – and I’m not sure how long stretch this separation to make the meet and greet easiest. We’ll see.

To Mask or Not to Mask

In what can only be called stupid talking about stupid – there is quite a large bit of babbling happening on the internet about people who won’t mask. I have a theory. And since this is the internet, I’m gonna tell it to you.

I think there is a direct connection between people condemning and screaming about non-mask wearers on social media and people deciding that wearing a mask is somehow optional and/or an infringement on their rights.

In the olden days of my long gone youth – we learned about things from a very serious and trustworthy person named Walter Cronkite. He was a news anchor on the TV. We trusted him. If he got on TV and told us that masks were required to protect us, we would wear masks. Because no one else was telling us there was another option.

Walter Cronkite - Wikipedia

Or more precisely, no one we would listen to was telling us anything else. There were always lunatics on corners screaming about conspiracy theories, but everyone fully understood they were loons and we were not making any decisions based on their ranting.

These days everyone is talking all the time – telling you things. It’s a constant gossip garbage festival. Now I have not met anyone who refuses to wear a mask. But I have seen dozens and dozens of people condemning them on social media. I’ve seen news outlets reporting on what people say on social media. Because that is where we get our news now – they just scrape the bottom of the social media garbage can for the maggots and publish it.

It’s not that I don’t see people without masks or wearing a mask improperly. I do. But here’s my impression of all those people

Ehfuckit: The person who left the mask in the car. Too lazy to go back for it.

ParticipationRibbon: The person who is wearing a mask around their neck.

BeardProtection: The person who is wearing the mask on the chin,

Igottabeathe: The person who is wearing the mask just under the nose.

Imsweatingunderhere: The person who is wearing the mask appropriately.

Most of people have done all of the above at different points. Because we are human. No one is all one thing. Certainly we are not a homogenous group.

It’s not that I don’t believe that there are people who refuse to wear a mask. It’s that I think they got their balls to do that because so many people are screaming about people who refused so they figure they have lots of compadres in their quest to be selfish and are given fuel to do this. We are feeding them by giving prominence to the tiniest group.

Then add in how it easy it is to get in touch with the selfish and ignorant club on the internet and now we have a movement. A movement that I posit would not have existed in 1983. I don’t want to go back to the pre-internet world. I think only if you lived without it, can you appreciate it for all the small and lovely ways it improves life. From banking to spelling to random interesting questions. Back in 1983 we just continued to wonder about something that came up in conversation. We didn’t go to the library and research it. We just never found out.

I don’t want to go back there. But it is true that the internet is not working quite so well on a societal level. sigh.