Friday, November 09, 2018

In an Instant

Thank you so much for all of your condolences.  That was, of course, one of the hardest posts I've written here.  I'm so glad I have you all to share these things with, even if I'm not around near as much as I used to be.

The last week, evenings have been spent trying to make sure all of her various accounts (water, phone, insurance, etc.) have been notified and her accounts closed.  Some companies have been very accommodating; others, not so much.  Dear ATandT:  Seriously?  I have to bring in her most recent bill AND a death certificate IN PERSON to an ATandT store in order to cancel her phone service?  What. the. hell.

I've been emailing back and forth with her lawyer regarding getting her estate settled.  She didn't have a lot of "real property"; she rented a townhouse and had a 10-year-old car, so I imagine the estate part will be fairly straightforward.  Her financial advisor wanted to meet with me while I was in Texas, but our schedules just didn't align, so we agreed that we'd speak by phone once I was back home.  I knew that she was very careful with money and had invested for her retirement. She told me once that she was planning on making me beneficiary of her investment accounts.  I told her I appreciated the thought very much, but why didn't she just leave it to charity?

She didn't.  She left it to me.  I had no idea how much money she had; she'd been retired for 15 years and was drawing off those investment accounts, which is how it works, after all.  When her financial guy told me she had indeed made me beneficiary, I just hoped that there would be enough left in the accounts to cover her outstanding bills and pay the lawyer and funeral home bills.

The financial guy called me Wednesday night.  She left more than enough money to pay off her outstanding bills.  She left ... a lot of money.  Not "buy a private island in the Bahamas" money, not "buy a private island, well, ANYWHERE" money, but enough so that my life has changed.  Just like that.

I always assumed that I would have to work as long as I was able to do so, because I certainly had never made enough to set anything aside over the years.  I was looking forward to getting my house paid off next year, because that would be one less bill to pay, and would give me a little more breathing room when the furnace needed to be fixed or the roof repaired.  I was hoping to move someplace warmer .... someday.  But no matter where I moved, I'd have to keep working. That's just the way it was.

And now, just like that, retirement is a reality.  If I want to move someplace warmer tomorrow, I can.  If I want to take a nice trip, I can go right ahead.  The financial guy flat-out asked me, "Do you have a bucket list?  Pick a couple things and go right ahead."


I still can't believe this is real.  I can't believe she's gone, and I can't believe the money.  And I will tell you right now, I would give that money back in a heartbeat if it would bring her back.

I could turn down the money, but it wouldn't bring her back.

And with one half-hour phone call, my life has changed.  In an instant.  Oh, Arline.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Passed Away

 From left:  Arline, my mom, and two of my sisters.  1963.

Longtime readers here will remember my sister Arline, known here on the blog as "Texas".

Last Sunday, Arline passed away.

She had had jaw surgery for a bone infection a couple of months ago, and had been losing weight ever since.  By the time a friend convinced her to go to a doctor two weeks ago (who sent her home, advising her to "drink more fluids" (she weighed 70 lbs. by then)) and then to the ER a few days later, CT scans revealed metastasized cancer and she was becoming non-responsive.   She was transferred to inpatient hospice care last Saturday.  I spoke with the hospice nurse Saturday night, who advised me that Arline had less than a week to live.  On Sunday morning, I booked a flight which would leave on Monday morning.

I didn't make it in time.  Her friends were there holding her hands when she died, but I was not.

 Arline and my mom.

I flew down anyway, both because I just wanted to be there, and also because as executor of her estate, I know that I would have responsibilities that needed to be attended to.

 Arline digging up daylilies.

Arline was 75, and was a beautiful, gentle yet strong-as-steel person.  She was a role model for me; from her, I learned that you don't have to have a husband or children in order to live a full, complete life.  I learned that having a fulfilling career is important to women as well as men.  I also learned how to think for myself and face the consequences of my own decisions.  I learned that just because everyone around you is spouting a certain opinion, it doesn't mean that you have to agree.  I learned that there can be strength in gentleness and listening.  I will miss her very much. I hope she knows I thought the world of her.  I hope I expressed that often enough.

Rest in peace, Arline.  I will miss you very much.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Room with a view

At my old job, I worked in the basement.  My desk looked out onto the reception area for our unit, which was full of people ... waiting.  For their appointments to start.  Also babies.  Crying.  And children.  Who were sometimes picking their noses and ... oh, you get the picture.

Here is what I look out onto at my new job:

Sorry, that's not the greatest picture - there were reflections in the window.  But look!  Look how far I can see!  All the way to the hills!


And the difference doesn't stop with the view.  I KNEW, within a week of starting that last job, that it was NUTS.  I keep telling myself, "don't let yourself think that this type of crushing, impossible workload is normal, because it's NOT.  Don't ever get normalized to this, because it's INSANE."

And sure enough, I started the new job, and everything is ... nice.  And normal. Busy workload, but certainly manageable.  And everybody is friendly and polite and every time someone has a birthday we take an afternoon break for CAKE! 

I really wasn't jazzed to have to learn a new job less than 18 months after learning the LAST one, tbh, but I knew I had to get out of there.  So I jumped ship.  And the water's fine!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Take this job, and ...

Yes, it's true.  After giving it the ol' college try for over a year at a job where I was miserable every day, I'm movin' on!

I've accepted a job with the county in which I live, and am about to embark on a career as a civil servant. Who'd a thunk it?  

And in OTHER career news, I found out today that the boss at my OLD old job passed away a few days ago.  Lots of conflicting thoughts about THAT.

So!   Finishing out my time at the current job, doing paperwork for the upcoming job, and on the homefront all is well.  Meet the current fosters:

I've also discovered the joys of backyard campfires:

And in general, life just keeps chugging along.  :)  How are all of YOU doing?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Fair!

Yep, I took a day of PTO today, thus royally pissing off the woman who has to cover for me (sorry not sorry), and headed for my favorite spot in the whole world, the fair!

I was inordinately excited to discover that the parking lot had been paved:


Sometimes the skies looked threatening, but the day was mostly rain-free:

My favorite booth at the fair - it sells all kinds of funky stuff.:

Well, you can't really call it a fair until you've eaten something-on-a-stick.  Meet the chocolate-dipped frozen twinkie, washed down with a blue lemonade:

Not for all the money in the world, buddy - there were people in the top of that thing who paid money to be there (shudder):

I don't know what kind of affliction they're selling, but I'm pretty sure I don't want any:

If they had been selling these things in the Center of Progress building (home of all things as-seen-on-TV), I would have bought one for myself, because this cow sure was enjoying herself.:

And there you have it!   The Great New York State Fair! 

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Avast, ye mateys!

Pony's doing super.    He's doing a lot of sleeping (they sent him home with opioid painkillers, which came with unintentionally hilarious paperwork (Pony, if you think you have an addiction problem, here's the number you call, okay?)), but also eating and drinking and tormenting Sodapop, so things are looking up. 

Amazingly, they do not sell cat pirate eyepatches on Etsy, land of all strange hand-crafted things, so I've been left to my own devices.  (Decorative accessories are for photos ONLY; I do not expect him to actually WEAR one, haha)

And now it's time for a Pirate Pony theme song, I think. So far the best I've been able to come up with is this, sung to the tune of "Popeye the Sailor Man",

"I'm Pony the Pirate Cat,
and I know that I'm all that,
I thrill all the kitties
with my pirate ditties,
I'm Pony the Pirate Cat!"

Needs work, right?  Suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Back in early April, I noticed that Ponyboy had an odd little bulge in the corner of his right eye.  (Ponyboy has always had eye problems.)  I took him to the vet, who thought it might be a reaction to some kind of irritation and gave me some steroidal eyedrops to try.  When the bulge continued to grow,  I took him back to the vet, who did a needle aspiration that didn't really reveal much of anything.  But the bulge kept growing bigger, until within the span of a couple of weeks, it was covering about half of his eye.

The vet suggested surgical removal of the mass and biopsy.  Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma, a locally aggressive cancer of the third eyelid that can usually be completely cured if removed promptly.

Yesterday, Pony and I traveled to the Cornell Companion Animal Hospital (a place we are familiar with, haha) for a consultation.  And all I can say is, how lucky is it that we are within an hour's drive of animal ophthalmologists?

Suggestion?  Remove the eye as soon as possible.

This morning, I took Ponyboy back to Cornell.  First up: Radiology, which confirmed the cancer had not yet spread. (I will admit to crying when I got THAT good news.)   Next up:  Surgery, which was done early this afternoon. Ponyboy is now Ponyboy the Pirate Cat, as he is one-eyed, and he will remain at Cornell tonight and come back home tomorrow.

Good lord, I do love this sweet cat. 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Today's walk

Spring flowers are all over the woods this time of year.

According to James Fitter, this is a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Little Rumor on Sunday afternoon:

Sunday night - kittens are happening!:

Monday morning - Meet the Rumorettes:


Mama and kittens are all doing well. Yay!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Spring has sprung

Here is proof that Spring is here no matter what the weather:

I have an extremely pregnant foster cat:

The dolphin plant is blooming:

The car is parked in the driveway instead of the garage:

The bleeding hearts are up:

The flamingos have returned:

The skunk cabbage is up:

The eagles are nesting!

 Hey, heron, get outta the way, I'm TRYING to take a picture of the turtle:

The turtles are back!  A friend informed me last night that yesterday was Turtle Day, which I sadly missed, so I made sure to get out today to get my fill of turtles:

What's the surest sign of Spring in your neck of the woods?