Two degrees

Winter or summer, it doesn’t matter. The office is too hot.

The facilities guy was in a few weeks ago and was setting the temperatures and I said, “sounds perfect,” but I knew that my perfect temperature is a good five degrees cooler than my co-workers prefer. They constantly mention how cold they are. One young co-worker wears a jacket or heavy sweater all day, every day and talks about her cold fingers. The manager has a personal heater in her office so she can be toasty warm at all times.

Winter has finally loosened its grip. The office heater warms the building to 72 degrees (22 degrees Celsius). The sun shining through the windows warms it an additional four degrees to 76 degrees at which point, the air conditioning kicks on.

This was April 16

Unless, of course, I walk by with my sweaty brow and and click the thermostat down two degrees. I think 70 degrees is okay. Still too warm but less likely to cause my hair to stick to the back of my neck. My chilly co-workers have caught on, though, so I must increase my stealth.

In general, though, it’s 75 degrees in the office and that’s just not cool.

I dropped my husband and his friend off at the airport today. They’re flying to Houston to pick up a vehicle my husband is acquiring from the estate of his father. They’ll be home Thursday, I think.

On the way back, I stopped by IKEA and Trader Joe’s mainly because both places are too far to visit without advanced planning. We are in that sweet spot between icy roads and road construction which means we just contend with shockingly deep potholes on the roads and every other vehicle trying to beat you in a race to a lake somewhere.

Did I mention the basement calamity? We had a blocked pipe and a minor flood from the drain near the washer. The guy who flipped this house and sold it to us had the basement carpeted with the carpet literally touching the edge of the drain so now it’s been ripped up and mitigated and the bare cement requires my attention. I need to pick out new flooring and honestly, I just don’t have time to deal with this. I need an assistant but I AM the assistant.

I accepted that new job on last fall with the idea that I’d have more time to myself but I failed to cut ties with my previous job and now I’m working fifty hours a week. I’ve never thought I was a work-a-holic but I’m starting to wonder.

With that, I’m signing off to go eat the heated-up chicken noodle soup I made yesterday and warmed up an hour ago and let sit in the microwave so long that I’m sure it’ll need reheating again.

Ta-ta for now.

Buried alive

Minnesota nearly broke the record for the snowiest winter ever. The snowbanks by my driveway were three feet deep last week. Now, the sun has shone and it’s been above freezing and the melt has begun. The snow is glossy from melting and freezing overnight. It’s still knee high in most places but distressed grass has emerged along the edges of the roads.

Even the natives are restless here, complaining about the weather and longing for spring. I’m scared, though, that we are going to skip directly from winter to summer and summer here is hot, muggy and buggy. Not that I’m complaining. Well, actually, I am not complaining yet, but I will be when it’s hot and muggy and buggy.

I’ve been working fifty hours a week since Halloween when I jumped ship from one job and accepted another job near my house on the theory that I would regain my life if I were working so close to my house. This has backfired because I’m still working two days a week at the old job and so now, I have less free time than ever. In fact, the only reason I’m typing away at this neglected blog is because I sat down to my computer to gather my tax paperwork because I have yet to file our taxes. (And I have now located everything I need to file except for my W-2 from my new job which will have to be printed out at work Monday.)

Tomorrow I work at both jobs.

Sunday is Easter and it belatedly occurred to me that I will need to cook Sunday lunch for the family. Usually, my husband I just go out to eat on Sundays.

In a week, one of my twins is coming home for his thirtieth birthday celebration with his twin brother. He flies in on Friday, celebrates on Saturday and flies home on Sunday. This will be a very busy weekend as well.

Why is my life so busy? Aren’t I supposed to be slowing down?

I wanted to say more but I can’t remember what it was.

So, goodbye. For now.

The alternative

Well, look at that. Time marched on, just as it always does. It’s the thing you can count on. No matter what, you’ll be older tomorrow. Does this make us feel better or worse? I vote . . . . better. What is the alternative?

When we last spoke I was lamenting the busy season at my job. I still have that job, but only half a day or two each week because I saw a “Now Hiring” sign one Sunday in October, wondered what it would be like to work only a half a mile from my house, applied online using my phone that very night, had a “one-way interview” request the next day, submitted said interview Tuesday, (a self-taped series of answers to their questions), and scheduled an interview on Friday. A week or so later I had a job offer.

So, now I drive a half a mile to work every morning, come home for an hour at lunch time and then drive the half a mile back to work. I am home every night and work every third Saturday from 8 AM until noon. (And that week, I get an entire Wednesday off.)

Is it a fairly boring job? Um, that’s one way to look at it. But perhaps at this stage of life boring is not that bad. I like my co-workers which is good since there’s ample time for chatting. (I know. What is the job? Feel free to guess in the comments.)

I’ll continue working the other job through the holidays, then we’ll see. It’s a lot to work two jobs, even if one is very part-time.

Recently I’ve noticed that my automobile engine occasionally struggles to start. Not everyday, not even every other day, but occasionally enough that I worried maybe my battery was slowly dying. So I took the vehicle to an oil-change place (that also replaces batteries) on Sunday to check.

The guy tested my battery and said it was fine but said I needed a mechanic because the alternator was probably going bad. He explained engine things to me and so on Monday morning, I called the local mechanic to see if he could replace the alternator, if that, indeed, was the problem. My appointment was today.

Last night, after work, I entered my freezing cold car and pushed the button and nothing happened, other than a warning message telling me my remote something or another was not near enough. Oh no. I dug my key fob from my purse and held it next to the push button as if that would help and weirdly, it did.

The car started, so then based on my very sketchy understanding of the alternator, I decided it best to drive for awhile to get the battery recharged. I got on the freeway and my husband called (he’s out of town) and a car flashed it lights at me from behind (twice) and about that time that I realized I was driving without headlights because the battery-testing guy had me turn them off during the Sunday test.

I fumbled in the dark, managed to get them on and had the most distracted conversation with my husband ever as he asked me about my day.

Did I mention my headache? I had a headache all day yesterday and feared that I was finally catching whatever virus my co-worker has been struggling with since last week. Prior to that, my boss had COVID and the week before that, my son was sick (for a whole week) and the week before THAT, my husband was ill for an entire week. And yet, I have remained standing.

So, I gave my headache a hot bath and put it to bed by 9 PM and woke up early to take my car to the shop. (AND THE CAR STARTED. Also, I woke up to an unexpected 2-3 inches of snow.) My co-worker graciously agreed to pick me up from the mechanic’s on the way to work. We got to work and then she decided to go home because she is sicker today than yesterday. I still had yesterdays’ headache but ibuprofen and Diet Coke hushed it, so I declare myself healthy! and virus-free!

It’s my half-day today, so my son picked me up from work and I’m home, puttering around. I haven’t had time to putter in so long and there’s so much puttering to be done.

Oh, one last thing before I go.

Last Saturday, I was working a four-hour shift and halfway through, I counted the money in my drawer to make sure it was all correct and it was not. No siree. It was short by $67.50.

How could that be? I am meticulous about that sort of thing. I counted and recounted. I used my adding machine to add things up. I circled around and around, counting and counting and coming up short, over and over.

Dread circled me like a vulture. Dark clouds hovered over me like . . . um, dark clouds. I was quietly distraught. What happens when you are $67.50 short? How did this happen? Did I throw rolls of coins to members without realizing it?

My co-worker assured me that “they” expect this sort of thing and that a report would be made and all would be well. But protocol required her to count my money, too. (And she said once she was $300 short and that made me feel a little better.)

So after closing time, she counted and when she got to my coin drawer she said, “Melodee.”

Then she told me that my rolls of dimes were off because I had counted them as fifty cents each rather than five dollars each.

Come on. COME ON!

I was deeply embarrassed that I had counted wrong for two hours yet so overwhelmed with relief.

The dread vultures flew away.

The dark clouds lifted.

The angels sang.

And all the people rejoiced.

(The moral of this story is that sometimes we worry about things that were never wrong in the first place. I spent two hours fretting about my drawer totals which were one hundred percent correct the whole time. Will I ever stop worrying about things that are either 1) fine and dandy or 2) not in my control? Probably not but I’d like to think that I will at some point in my old age.)

Bye until next time!

Hello darkness, my old friend

We had the first frost of the fall last night. My husband insisted it would happen though my weather app denied it, so I tossed a fleece blanket over my flower pots on the back deck in a show of pessimism or optimism, I’m not sure which. And sure enough, I woke up to a frosting of frost on the roof of the garage (which is just on the other side of my deck).

So, welcome to fall in Minnesota. The weather had already changed—it’s an abrupt seasonal shift here–and it’s been breezy and cooler and quite a delight, actually. The leaves are beginning to change and drop. The days are shorter already.

Not today.

I’ve been spending my time working a lot—it’s Christmas in the retail world already, so we’re already putting in 40+ hours a week. The last six weeks of the year I’ll be working six days a week. (Today is my day off and I woke up thinking about how sad I am that I have to go back to work tomorrow. Then I’ll only have one day off in a stretch of nine days.)

When I have a moment to think, I think about my kids and try to untangle their various problems in my mind. It’s such a helpful exercise to worry about adult children who are experiencing life. I want them to be carefree and have happy, easy lives, but then I remember that life is difficult. And I can’t do anything about it.

That doesn’t mean I can stop fretting, even when I order myself to stop fretting. Instead I turn inward and blame myself and try to follow the tangles back to when the kids were little and I was shaping their little hearts and minds and obviously screwing up, even though I meant to be perfect.

I meant to do everything exactly right so that everything would turn out perfect!

It’s my fault! Everything that goes wrong is clearly my fault. This is what they call Logic, kids.

So my angst drove me to my computer where I could tap out these words and hopefully leave with a lighter heart. It’s so easy to dwell on the darkness, to invite in the gloom. I can feel it creeping into my insides.

I know a few things. I know I did my best. I know that pain is on the path we all travel. I know that everything will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. (I just looked up that quote and John Lennon said it which reminds me of the time I looked up an author who’d written a book titled, “How Not to Look Old” only to find out that she died when she was 58. Who cares if you look young if you’re dead?)

Well, anyway, there you go. Afternoon musings from someone who is not dead and who needs to embrace the moment and also, kill the mouse that has taken up residence in the garage.

I blame the mucus

I was reviewing a situation and thought I’d just check my Gmail account for proof of something that happened in 2001. I searched my account and found nothing before 2004. I was immediately horrified and frantic, wondering what happened to my older emails.

This was at the Mall of America

I spent a solid half hour, maybe more, trying to figure out the problem.

Well, here’s the problem. Gmail wasn’t launched until April 1, 2004. I started my account on April 24, 2004. So, there were no missing emails.

I can barely remember life before Gmail, so it was a shock to realize that I had no Gmail proof of a situation from 2002.

I spent some time updating a blog post from 2009 that weirdly enough, gets traffic to this day. I don’t really understand that, but I did think it was time to spiff it up a little since it’s still getting visitors. Otherwise, today has been a quiet Sunday, anchored by laundry and coughing. I skipped church so I could cough at home instead of the back row of the sanctuary.

It’s frustrating how often I’ve been sick this year. I had a stretch of two months, give or take a week, without illness, then last Tuesday I was taking a break at work when I realized my throat felt weird. “Am I getting sick?” I thought.

Yes. The answer was yes.

My day off for the week was Wednesday and I literally slept twelve hours Tuesday night, waking up at noon. I walked a paltry 1,400 steps the entire day. Then Thursday I went back to work, still sick but we are so understaffed and busy right now that I just didn’t have the luxury of staying home.

I worked yesterday, too, and have just today off before going back for a five day stretch. We are entering the busiest time of year and it’s been like shoveling in a snowstorm. In a way, it’s fun, like it’s fun to not drown, the adrenaline of survival surging through your body.


Sometimes I think I’m a little depressed here in Minnesota. Is it Minnesota? Or is it me? Have I accomplished everything I will ever accomplish in my life? Is this it? Am I on a downhill slide? Have I become truly invisible and irrelevant? Now, don’t Grandma Moses me. I know, I know. It’s never too late but I am just feeling the blues.

Nothing to look forward to . . . no future goals to accomplish . . . no daydreaming of bigger things to come. I am not going to become anything other than what I am right now. I guess?

I mean, this is where I practice contentment, right? Where I take joy in the small things and express gratitude for the raindrops and the zinnias and the cat curled in my lap . . . but I can’t help but wonder (in silence, God forbid I talk about this out loud like a crazy person) . . . is this it? Am I done? Are the next thirty years just a rehashing of the Good Old Days as those around me roll their eyes?

The biggest question is . . . should I really have let my stylist put in low-lights? I like myself better blonde but maybe it’s time to just accept that the sun will never naturally highlight my hair again. And why is it so incredibly difficult to find a great stylist when you move?

Also, I tried to find a good profile picture and spent way too much time looking at older photographs of myself and why doesn’t anyone ever take flattering photos of me? Or am I just ugly? And if I am, why do I even care? My insides are not ugly. (Or are they?) Have I ever actually liked my hair?

And have I failed? Did I fall short of my potential? Was a horrible mother? Did I let my husband down? And why, oh why, do I have such a weird resume’ and career? Am I going backwards?

What is going on, exactly?

And then I think, oh yeah.

I always feel depressed when I’m sick. Maybe I should just table this soul-search until mucus stops clogging my respiratory system.

On the downhill slide

Welcome to summer in Minnesota where it might be a hundred humid degrees or maybe just a breezy sixty-five. Or we might have thunderstorms that dump seven inches of rain at a time. It’s fun. I am keenly aware that the days are getting shorter and in a blink we’ll be back in the deep freeze, so I am trying to appreciate the green leaves and frantic pace at which nature grows and reproduces here. (I’m looking at you, weeds and mosquitoes.)

My daughter considered moving here for a year and so I looked around and imagined my office in the mudroom and a bedroom in this small space but plans changed. I’m still going to move my office though it will cost me privacy because then this room can be a bedroom for guests–and as it turns out, kids who don’t want to move to Minnesota will still want to visit more than you expect.


I ended up being sick for a solid six weeks and then my sore throat vanished. I am grateful to feel better but now my right hip is wonky. It’s always something, am I right?

At work we are overwhelmed with merchandise for the upcoming seasons. We are gearing up for the busy shopping season but I do wonder how things will be in light of inflation. (Here in Minnesota we are paying $4.55 a gallon for gas–when I moved here two years ago, I paid $1.67, no kidding.) I still like my job even though it sometimes involves climbing fifteen foot ladders and having shoplifters yell at me.

My husband’s going to Texas this week to relax and visit family. His dad is ninety-two years old so we remind ourselves that each visit might be the last.

Life is a vapor.

I need immunity

I took my cat, Pup, to the vet today to have Pup’s wonky eye examined. The vet determined that it is most likely a viral infection and so now I have to drip eye-drops into the cat’s eye four times a day. That will be fun in a sort of scratch your skin off sort of way.

I woke up with a sore throat and a cough which is remarkable only because I just recovered from an ear and sinus infection (and horribly sore throat) last week after a ten-day course of antibiotics. WHY AM I SICK AGAIN?

This is not Pup. This is Fox and he is obsessed with straws.

Let’s go back in time. (To my birthday in January when I had a cold? No. To the end of March when I had a cold? No.) Let’s go back in time to April 22 when I flew to San Diego on a jet plane.

I flew to San Diego on April 22 to meet my daughter and attend my son’s senior recital at San Diego State University. I used miles to get a cheap(er) flight on Alaska Airlines and thus, I had a layover in Seattle. I didn’t mind the thought of two hours in an airport because I like airports. I like to read and watch people and I enjoy forced idleness.

When I disembarked from the plane, I noted that the airport seemed very busy. I located the gate for my outgoing flight and again, wondered at the crowds. There were people lining up at customer service desks and so I quickly searched the Internet and learned that President Biden had been in Seattle and due to some kind of security issue, his flight from Sea-Tac was delayed for two hours earlier in the afternoon and consequently, hundreds of flights were delayed–and cancelled. Thousands of people milled about, like a Disneyland queue without the magic.

Soon, the airport walkways were crowded with people and every seat was full. People were sprawled on the floors and we were all in each other’s personal spaces, unable to avoid hearing every conversation and breathing everybody’s air.

Fortunately, my flight was only delayed and not canceled (as was my daughter’s flight from Portland to San Diego) and we met up at the baggage claim in San Diego at 10:45 PM. By the time we rented a car and arrived at our friend’s home, it was 12:15 AM.

The senior recital was the next day. My son did an amazing job.

The next day, Sunday, I woke up with scratchy throat which I initially blamed on dehydration. But I was ill.

My daughter and I meandered up the the freeway, then the coastline, to Anaheim where we checked into our hotel and returned the rental car to the nearby airport. We took a taxi back to Downtown Disney, then wandered around before going back to our hotel.

Monday we conquered California Adventure, walking 25,000 steps and absorbing all the theme park goodness. We walked back to our hotel so I could nap and then returned to the park until it closed.

Tuesday was devoted to Disneyland. We walked 28,000 steps and had the best time, despite my having a cold and a sore throat. I kind of ignored it.

Wednesday, we Uber-ed to the airport and flew to Portland. My ears became totally blocked and my throat was so sore I could barely swallow. I advised my mom and sister of my illness because I had planned to visit them but they said to come anyway, so Thursday, we drove to the beach to see my mom and sister.

I felt so sick. Such a terribly sore throat and a really bad headache. That night, I began to wonder if I had COVID (again), so we left early the next afternoon and I got tested at a pharmacy but it was negative.

I flew home Sunday, still as sick as can be and Tuesday, managed to see a doctor who diagnosed me with a sinus infection and ear infection (my first ever). I just finished the course of antibiotics on Saturday and now . . . sick again.

In other news, the grass has finally turned green here in Minnesota and the leaves are beginning to grow. It was a very long and cold winter. Last week, we had crazy weather and I had to hide in a classroom at work with all the customers when the tornado sirens blared. That same night found me in my basement when the sirens went off again.

Rivers are flooded and the lake levels are high because we’ve had so much rain.

Now, I’m off to my own eye appointment and then to work.

The end.

Golden dresses and broken skulls (just another day at work)

Yesterday at work, a woman asked me if we had any variegated floss suitable for crocheting butterfly magnets. I showed her what we had, but she wanted only two colors involved, not several. Then she told me how she once took a whole year to crochet a golden Barbie-doll dress, using metallic thread and beads. I said I hoped someone appreciated all that work and she said, “No, I have no daughters or grand-daughters! And I hate dolls!”

My boss walked by about that time, then stood aside a ways, waiting for me to finish with the customer so he could talk to me. But the customer wasn’t finished. No! She opened her smart-phone and scrolled until she finally found a photo of the doll in its golden dress.

Then before I knew it, she was showing me a photo of a someone’s bloody skull stapled together, explaining that her husband fell on black ice at work on his first week at the job. (He is 75 years old, she told me.) Then she smiled, displaying her way-too-white teeth and finally, I was able to scoot away. I do like to think that I provided excellent customer service to that lady, though.

People are funny, aren’t they?

Earlier in the day, I heard a chattering child coming near, so I turned in time to see her walking alongside the cart being pushed by her mother. A baby sat in the cart’s seat. A small boy was holding onto the cart near the wheels, being dragged along along on his stomach. Oh, those days, I remember them well. You’re just trying to browse in a store but you literally have to drag your kids along with you.


Twenty-four years ago today, an Amish woman forced me into her assistant’s boxy van for a ride on snowy country roads. I was clad in my purple plaid flannel nightgown with a coat hastily thrown over it.. At one point, a sheriff pulled the van over, inquiring why it was doddering along the county highway at low speed. The details were lost to me in the midst of a contraction, for the van ride had its desired effect. My labor kick-started into gear. Who needs pitocin anyway?

I begged to go home, desperate to climb back into the hot birthing tub set up in my bedroom. (Not that the baby came right away after that ride, but the midwives were assured that he was indeed, on the way.)

I labored for a solid forty-three hours, most of it slow and steady. My Amish midwife was six months pregnant herself, a petite woman with strong hands and a quiet manner. Her assistant, the “English” (non-Amish) midwife with a long braid down her back, brought along her own three month old baby and one of her teenagers to help watch the baby. My baby was in no hurry but finally, he appeared at almost eleven that night, twenty-four years ago.

Strange how a birthday really belongs to two people–the one who gave birth and the one who was born. So today, on our shared day, I cobbled together a little celebration. I bought balloons and my husband bought birthday cards. I wrapped a gift and trekked into town to buy the requested ice cream cake. I stopped by Red Lobster to ask how long the wait would be at 6 PM since they don’t take reservations. And then the manager made a reservation for me, telling me, “Shhh, don’t tell.” (Last year we had to wait over an hour.) I blew up balloons and now we wait for the birthday boy to return from work so we can have celebratory cheddar biscuits and seafood.

Not long ago, I was thinking that my daughter has only known me as a woman older than thirty-eight. By the time she verbal enough to sass me, I was already forty-one years old. As I realized during the wild years, it’s all fun and games to have a baby when you are thirty-eight, but having a fifteen year old when you are fifty-three years old is a calamity. (If you have a certain type of fifteen year old.)

(My son was not that type of fifteen year old. He was a delight his whole life–and still is–and I mean that wholeheartedly.)

Anyway, what I was thinking a few weeks back is that I will quite likely not know my younger children as fifty-seven year olds. (I am fifty-seven now. I am stunned by this turn of events. Am I old?)

When my youngest son is fifty-seven, I will be ninety.

When my daughter is fifty-seven, I will be ninety-five.

I hope I’m alive to see what kind of fifty-seven year olds they will be. How will their lives have turned out? Will I be a grandmother?

Will they do the math and realize that when I was fifty-seven, they thought I was both old and immortal? I never gave a second thought to my parents’ mortality until my dad had the gall to die when he was only forty-seven.

I was twenty-four then.

And so it goes. Turn around and find yourself back where you began.

The old has gone . . . the new is here

I slept in this morning and then drove to St. Cloud on streets that were mostly dry and clear. The temperature when I got into my car hovered around minus twenty degrees (Fahrenheit, that’s about minus 29 degrees Celsius). I was on a quest to buy ground beef from Costco so we could have hamburgers for lunch but Costco failed me for there was no ground beef at all.

Instead, I bought stuff for sandwiches and even went the extra mile and (oven)-fried bacon for them.

The rest of my day has been devoted a little decluttering (“do I need this book? how about these shoes?”) and organizing and laundry. My daughter flew home to Portland yesterday by way of Salt Lake City and then Seattle. She was originally scheduled to go on Thursday, January 30, but the flight was canceled due to weather (?) and COVID (?) and who knows what else.

Nailed it!

While here, she slept in my office as usual but it’s such a narrow room that the queen-size air mattress filled the entire floor and I hadn’t had enough time to really spiff up the room before she came (it’s my office and tends to collect flotsam and jetsam as the tides of life come and go). Anyway, it was kind of a disaster with her enormous suitcase barely fitting into the room with the air mattress.

Normally, she uses a twin size mattress but the one we had would gradually lose air so I purchased a new one that, alas, had no built-in inflator. We discovered that the first night she was here, so queen-size mattress in a twin–size room it was.

Anyway, she’s gone and it was time to reclaim my space. I took the opportunity to eliminate a few books and shoes and then cleared some surfaces. Why does that always take so long?

That’s about all for now. I am going to go do nothing for the rest of the day.

Well, nothing along with some more laundry. (I bet I have talked about laundry more than any single topic on this blog. Ha ha.)

Happy New Year!