Musing on books

And it is Wednesday all ready. The week is half over and I’m glad.

First, an update: Granny B seems to be responding well to medication. The internal bleeding has stopped, and from what my aunt reports she is more aware and clear-headed than she has been in years. She still is very frail, but it seems she seems to be out of immediate danger. This is, of course a good thing.

From the time I first learned to read thanks to the diligent efforts of my first grade teacher (Thank you so very much, Mrs. Kokendorfer), I have been influenced in many ways by many, many books. I couldn’t begin to list them all, but I think one of the books that has had the most influence on my adult life has been The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven  Covey. I don’t begin to claim that I practice all of what Covey teaches, but I practice as much of it as I can. To me the two  most important lessons of that book are the importance of having a personal mission statement and the guidelines for deciding what is is important vs what is urgent.

I mention The 7 Habits, because I’m in the process of reading a book that I believe will have an equally important influence on my life, Getting Things Done by David Allen. GTD helps you develop a system for managing all the projects you have in your life, and how to be more focused and productive. I’m still reading the book but I’ve already started implementing the system Allen teaches, and despite my cynical nature, I have been amazed at how much it has helped. I feel more in control of my time, and of my life. I can heartily recommend it to anyone that feels they do not have enough time to get everything they have or want to get done.

Oh, and thanks to Bri I’m also reading the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher. I love the concept, it’s like Harry Potter for grown ups. I just picked up the third one earlier this evening, and I think instead of blogging more I’ll go dive into it.

Cormac
Vexa Minus
Labora Plurius

Thinking about Granny B

I do not normally talk much about my extended family, and that is mainly because we are all so spread out around th country that I don’t see them very often. Hell, I only see my Mom and Sister once or twice a year. When it comes to cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives, I haven’t seen most of them for years, decades in some cases. This is not a bad thing, it’s just the way our family is. I’ve got one set of cousins on my Mom’s side somewhere in Texas and New Mexico. I don’t think I’ve seen them in over 25 years. On my Dad’s side of the family I’ve not seen any of my cousins since his funeral, and that was 14 years ago. Last I heard one cousin was in Georgia, one was in Arkansas, one was in South Dakota and one was in Wisconsin? Michigan? Somewhere in the frozen north.

I’m thinking about my cousins tonight, because I’m fairly sure I’ll be seeing the one’s on my Mom’s side of the family fairly soon. You see, my Grandmother, Granny B (Her full name is Mable Butterfield), is ……Gods, I don’t want to say she is dying. She has been in a nursing home for about the last twelve years, and her dementia (I guess that’s a nicer word than senility) has been such that she’s thought she’s in the mid 1950’s for the last six or seven years. Sunday night she was admitted to a hospital. Mom told me the name of the condition, some kind of hernia that is causing internal bleeding. The doctor’s seem to think that she will respond to medication. If she doesn’t respond to medication, they, the doctors, are not advocating surgical treatment. They feel that due to her age (she’s 94) and general condition that she would not survive surgery. So, if she doesn’t respond to medication ….well if she doesn’t she won’t last much longer.

So, I think I’ll be very shortly going back to Nebraska for a funeral. The one thing that my cousins and I have in common, our grandmother, will draw us all back home to say good bye. Even if she stabilizes and comes out of this immediate situation, she will, in all likelihood, not survive the summer.

Granny B in many ways is a remarkable woman. She has lived all of her life in Holt County Nebraska, which if you look at a map you will see could easily be labeled as “the middle of nowhere”. She is a remarkably independent woman; when her own husband died in 1961, this woman that had never worked outside the family farm (and let me tell you being a farm wife in Nebraska is HARD work) refused any and all charity. She got a job at a bakery in O’Neil, the only large town (with a population of 1800 people) in the county, and for the next twenty years, until she retired , she was at work making donuts, fritters, and other bakery items.

After she retired from the bakery she kept a part time job for another twenty years in a combination hobby shop/hardware store/bait and tackle store. The kind of store that you can only find in very small rural communities. Until her eye site got so bad, and frankly, until the dementia took her away, she was a very crafty person. She knitted, tatted, sewed. She was always making something. When I was a kid, for years, every decoration on our Christmas tree, was something that Granny B had made. My sister and I still have some of those ornaments.

Granny B scrimped, and saved, and because of that she was able to travel a good bit of the country. She and her friend Hazel Lorenz would go on Senior Bus Tours: to the Black Hills, to the Wisconsin Dells, Los Vegas even. Hell, she even flew to Hawaii several times to visit family members that had retired there after leaving the Air Force.

Her health started seriously declining about 15 years ago, and twelve years ago she finally had to admit that she needed to be in a nursing home. She flatly refused to move in with any of her three daughters. Her dementia came on fast, and it has been probably the hardest on her. She is/was such a strong woman, and facing the fact that she couldn’t trust her own mind any more really scared her in her dwindling moments of clarity. She still recognizes my Mom and her Sisters, but she thinks they are all teenagers. For the last five years or so when I’ve called her she thinks I’m my uncle Leroy. In the last couple of years she has become more and more frail. Not sick, exactly, just old, and frail.

In a way we’ve all known this time was coming. We all knew that sooner or later we’d have to go back to O’Neil one last time. Still, it’s hard to believe. She always joked that she would outlive us all, and I half believed it. Now, on one hand I’m a fully grown adult. I should be able to handle the fact that she will soon be passing to what I truly believe will be a better place without a lot of difficulty. God knows she’s earned her rest. On the other hand, I’m still her grandson. I’m one of many grandchildren that loves that old woman dearly and has been loved by her all of our lives.

I really don’t care who, or what you pray to, but I ask that you pray for Granny B. She’s a great woman, a great person, and a great Grandmother.

Cormac

Sunday Evening musings.

It is rather late on Sunday night, and I feel good. It will be later still before I go to bed, but that is ok because I am not working tomorrow. Well, not working at my paid job anyway, I’ve got some SCA projects to work on , and some projects around the house to work on, but the important point is I don’t have to go to my paid job. That, by definition, is a good thing.

You see, I don’t have a “career”, I have a job. I’m good at it, and I take pride in doing it well, but it most emphatically is not what defines me. It is not what I draw my sense of accomplishment from. My job is just what allows me to keep my bills paid (mostly on time, thank you very much), and what allows me to do the things that I think do define me. My job is what allows me to have the money to take part in the things that i do take a real sense of accomplishment from. Oh, and the day I win the lottery I’ll very happily join the ranks of the unemployed. I guarantee you, my readers, that you will never see me being interviewed and saying, “Even though I just one 100 million dollars, I’m not going to quit my job”. I will, however, give a two week notice, cause, well, that’s the professional thing to do.

So, instead of going to my job tomorrow, I’m going to work on some projects for the Barony. First I’m going to go over to the baronial storage unit and begin the process of photographing all the baronial property. My goal is to eventually get it all photographed and then to get the pictures uploaded to a directory on the baronial website. My thinking is that in the future an autocrat or feastocrat planning for an event could access the directory and see what property is available, and know what they have to work with. What they can take to site, or what they would need to find from “non baronial sources”. I’m not going to get it all done tomorrow, but I’ll make a start.

I’m also going to spend some time just on the just started project of thoroughly cleaning the house.  My roommate and I are not what you would call “good” housekeepers. Hell, at best we would be called “very bad” housekeepers. Don’t get me wrong, we are not …..”organic” slobs. There are no funky, slimy organisms growing in our house, but there are some dust-bunnies the size schnauzers that need to be dealt with. This project is made even more complicated by the fact that, like most SCA folks, we are both world class pack rats. So, this cleaning is going to involve a LOT of simply throwing things away. As with the baronial property project, the house cleaning project is not one I’m going to finish quickly, but as long as I make steady progress, I’ll be happy.  I think my goal for tomorrow is to go through my closet and clear out any clothes (modern clothes, not garb) that I haven’t worn in the last year.

Sorry it wasn’t a very exciting or thought provoking post this evening, but these are the things on my mind this evening.

C.

Vexa minus
Labora plurius

One Day At A Time

Some days rising above the challenges life throws at you is easier than it is on other days. For instance, one of the changes I am trying to make in my life is to stop eating so many meals at restaurants. I’m also trying to stop getting snacks, etc. from the vending machines at work. There are several reasons for this; the desire to lose some weight, to live healthier, and most importantly, to save money.
Over the last week, it has been remarkably easy to avoid all of these things as I was  in a temporary negative cash flow situation. In other words, I was broke. I didn’t have the money to spend on luxuries like restaurants, or snacks, etc. Today, however, was payday. After paying immediate bills, and after making sure I have money set aside for the trip to Crown List this weekend, and to make sure I have money for gas for the next two weeks, after doing all that I managed to drive by my favorite Chinese Buffet and successfully resisted the urge to stop and eat. I made, in other words, the better choice. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I’m rather proud of that.
In fact I was so proud of that rather simple accomplishment, that when I got home I decided to overcome some other temptations. As I’ve mentioned before in this Corner, I tend to get addicted to online games. I played Warcraft for over a year. Since November I’ve been heavily invested in a game called Eve Online. WHen I get involved in these games I spend way, way to much time playing them. In fact I tend to ignore my real life, my real friends, in order to spend time in an artificial world. Now, three weeks ago both of my computers suffered some temporary problems that made it impossible to play. That was painful, but until I got them repaired, I literally couldn’t play. My time away from the game was not a choice.
I did, of course, get my machines repaired, but during the forced down time I had caught up on my reading, I spent some time making jewelry, which I hadn’t done for months, and generally found I was enjoying myself. Unfortunately, over the last two days I’ve been thinking a  lot about either firing up Eve again, or , even worse,  buying another  copy of W.O.W, and starting to play that again. I would have had to buy a new copy of W.O.W. because when I quit playing I knew I’d be tempted to start again so I not only removed the game from my computer, I actually broke the discs in half, so I couldn’t reinstall them. I knew it would be a mistake, but I was sorely tempted. WHen I had to quit playing Eve temporarily I didn’t actually remove the game from my system, nor did I close down my accounts (had two of them, pathetic, I know). Despite severe temptations to play again since getting the machine’s fixed, I have been able to avoid doing so, but it’s become more difficult to do so every day.
So, when I got home today, feeling so good after avoiding the urge to pig out the Panda Chinese Buffet, I decided to do something about the temptations of the online games. First, I removed Eve from my system and closed both accounts. Instead of then leaving the house and heading for the nearest Best Buy to buy copies of W.O.W. I logged into my instant messaging programs and spent some time talking with a good friend (thanks Charlie) and working on some paperwork I had to have ready for this weekend. Soon enough the urge to go buy the game went away. Well, it went away at least for today.
However, you can only fight temptation one day at a time and today I’ve won the fight. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

C.

Family Musings.

So, it’s Tuesday. My how time flies.

I had a wonderful weekend with my Mom and Sister. I talk to both frequently, but due to the fact that they are both in central Alabama, and I’m not, I don’t get to actually see them very often. For the last seven years or so it has been an average of once or twice a year.  I have always been amazed by the people that have lived their entire life in one place, that have all their family including grandparents, cousins, etc. etc all close by. My family has never had that, and it has worked for us. We’ve always been very, very spread out, and while at times we wish things were different, the fact is we like it this way.

Ok, I could have more to say, but dinner is done, and I’ve got both seasons of Lost on DVD. I’ll post more later this week.

C

It’s only Tuesday, and I’m already ready for the weekend

All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.

It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.”

So, it’s been a week of sleeping with the damnable machine, and while I still can’t bring myself to say I like it, I do have to admit that it is having a positive effect. I am definitely sleeping better than I have in a very long time. It’s strange, but until I started sleeping better, I didn’t realize just how badly I was sleeping.

In other news I’m really excited about going to Crown List this weekend. To begin with, I’ve never been to this particular site. Add to that the fact that I always enjoy Kingdom events, and the fact that there is a particularly good group of fighters in the list, and it promises to be a good weekend. If everything goes right, we should be on the road by 2:45 PM on Friday, which should put us on site about 9:00 PM that evening. Drop off the Royal trailer at the site and then head back into Minden for the night (didn’t get bed space),  and back on site early Saturday morning.

Now all I have to do is survive the rest of the week. That should be a challenge.

C.

Sunday Morning.

Much to my surprise, I find myself awake before noon today. I certainly didn’t plan to be. In fact I had planned to sleep until at least noon, if not later. Apparently the universe had other plans for me.

Since my last post on Tuesday I’ve been adjusting learning to sleep with  CPAP machine. I can’t bring myself to say I like the damn thing, but I do have to admit it is having an effect, a positive effect. I am waking up during the night less, and I am definitely sleeping better than I have in years. It’s strange, but I had not realized how badly I was sleeping. I knew I was waking up two to three times a night, and I knew I tossed and turned a lot while sleeping, but I didn’t realize just how much that was affecting me. In just the few nights I’ve been amazed at the change in how I feel. It does take me a bit longer to actually fall asleep when I first go to bed, but once I do, I sleep the sleep of the dead.

In other news I had an absolutely wonderful day at Quest For The Holy Pail 3 yesterderay. I’ve been to all three of these events, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself all three times. Rookshaven works hard, and they put on a very good event. The tournament, which was won by Caedmon, was entertaining to watch. The hours between the end of the tournament and court seemed to fly by. I spent a lot of time doing what I always do: talking to lots of people, and enjoying doing so.

Soon it was time to prepare for Court, and that was a different experience. Since Linnet was not at this event she had asked me to be in charge of organizing the entourage for the day. With our entourage team that was not any problem, these folks are a real joy to work with. What was different was that for the first time I was involved in the court prep: checking the troll records to make sure people were on site, find a scribe to make sure the scrolls had the proper names on them (Thanks Jane) , pulling regaila, etc. etc. This was a small court, with only a about eight pieces of business, but I was amazed at how complicated the whole process was. Court itself was very entertaining; Their Majesties really put on an entraining show at court.

The feast was very good, particularly the meat kabobs. I also enjoyed the soup. The Lemon Water that Kat The Strange brought was also good. Different, but good. The fact that the kitchen staff had to deal with horrendous problems with the site all day long just made the feast all the more impressive. For most of the day the kitchen appliances didn’t have any power. At one point they lost water pressure. With all those problems they still turned out a great feast on time, with no delays. A very impressive feat, folks.

C