Friday, December 7, 2007

The very definition of "relaxation"

Sometimes Buster likes to nap on the back of the sofa. It doesn't look all that comfortable, but he appears to like it.

Cayla is holding one of the cavy pups at left. Notice the wishbone-shaped white on his back. (Cayla says this one is a boy.)

Cayla says this one (below) is a girl. If she's right, the pups are the same sex of the parent they resemble. The pups have more color, though, where the parents are more white.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday :-)

to the brand-new members of our family: two cavy pups. (Aka guinea pig pups)

There are two, and they mimic the coloring of their parents: one is reddish-brown and white and the other is reddish-brown, white and black. Pumpkin, the adult male, may have earned himself a new name - Doofus. We separated him from the adult female (Cayla calls her Mercedes Cow and I call her Mama) and the pups in the hope that we could prevent an immediate pregnancy. He whined, whistled in distress and generally made such a nuisance of himself, we had to put him back with the rest of his family.

He immediately began trying for a second litter, so to speak. Mama would have none of that and I had to take him out after a few minutes. Cayla and I worked on the cage and got it to be bigger and safe enough for the moment. I had made the base from the largest under-bed storage box I could find, and the wire cubes were on the inside. They are on the outside now, and tied at junctions with yarn. For now. I want to get the cable ties for more security.

Part of the problem with the storage box is that it's not the right width to work with the cubes. I had to bend two of them. The important thing is that they have more room and it's safer for the pups - they can go right through the spaces in the wire cubes.

Oh, and we have switched - for now at least - from regular bedding to fleece fabric. We had some remnants we were going to use for projects, but have cut them into pieces to use on the floor of the cage. I'm not sure how long that will last. I have seen where other people do this, so I'm not the only one.

Anyway, I'm tired and need to try to get some sleep.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The cavies

I took the cavies (guinea pigs) outside Monday afternoon. It was nearly the last nice day temperature-wise that we will be having until spring. I left the female in the box but took the male out and fashioned a harness out of yarn. He didn't try to escape, just huddled down in the grass for awhile. Then he figured out that he was huddled on grass and started munching.

The female's name is Mercedes Cow. Don't ask. I have no idea how Cayla came up with that name. I just call her "Momma" because she's going to be one. I didn't put her in the grass this time, just had the whole box in the yard.

The male's name is Pumpkin. I can at least understand the logic of that. I'm usually slightly bothered by red-eyed animals, but somehow his eyes don't bother me. I love this picture. He was feeling a bit more adventuresome, sniffing around and so on. He's checking me out - or at least checking out the camera.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This past week

It's been surprisingly peaceful. Kent returned on Oct. 20. He had been e-mailing me and I decided to see how it goes. He's been back a week and we haven't had any arguments. He even went to church last week, although he wasn't feeling well this morning and he and Amanda stayed home.

He brought back two guinea pigs - more correctly called cavies. They are, yes, a male and female, and yes, she was already pregnant when he brought her. The family he was staying with didn't want them any more.

They are currently in a large plastic storage box with holes in the lid. During the day, if Cayla's room gets hot, I put the box on her bed and have the fan blowing on it. It cools it off without directly blowing on the box. We're planning to get a cage this week somehow. I am going on a trip to Omaha - work-related - and might try to visit a pet store there. The options here are pretty limited.

I'm considering going with a cubes and coroplast-type cage. We can build it ourselves and design what we want. I'm not sure where I can get the Coroplast, though.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I don't wanna go to work
I gotta go to work
I don't wanna go to work

'Nuff said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Because I am the Mom song

I got the link to this video on a forum I frequent. I watched it and when it was done, said "That was awesome!" Big smiles still.

Edited to add: That was Anita Renfroe, BTW.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A strange day

It's been an up-and-down day. I've basically been on the go since 6 a.m. and even missed my usual morning (making up for staying up too late) nap.

Cayla had to be at school at 7 a.m. to catch a ride for a field trip. We nearly missed it - she got in the last van. Some of the vehicles were pulling out as we approached. I think they could have handled that a little better - here comes another kid for the trip, let's leave so we don't have to take another one. ???

Amanda and I went to McDonald's to get an Egg McMuffin and hash browns for Mom, and hash browns for Amanda, then headed over to Mom's. We waited there until about 7:45 a.m. and then took Amanda to school. I told Mom that I wanted to drop the snow tires off at our storage space (I'm driving a car that belongs to someone else, might be able to buy it, but there were snow tires in the trunk taking up all the space). After dropping off the snow tires, we headed over to my work so I could pick up my check.

When I left, a co-worker was taking a plastic barrel of old papers out. I asked him if those were headed for the trash. Yep. So I ended up with two stacks of discarded newspapers that will help Tonya B. pack stuff to move. I wouldn't have been in the right place at the right time - or had room in the trunk - if I hadn't removed those snow tires.

I took Mom to the radiology department for a chest X-ray ordered by her physician's assistant. She had an appointment on Wednesday, mentioned shortness of breath and an appointment at the Heart Clinic next Tuesday, but the P.A. decided not to wait. So, Mom had to get the chest X-ray this morning.

After the hospital, we went to Wal-Mart. Mom stayed in the car and I got a few items. Toilet paper - we were on nearly our last roll. Something for lunch for each of us. Two small sampler boxes of Russell Stover candy for Mom. Then I took her home. I remembered before I left town that I needed to put gas in the car, so I filled it up.

I went home and ate, relaxed for a bit, then changed and went to work. Work was like the weirdest. I restarted my Mac and all I could get was a screen that told me I needed to restart my Mac. In four languages: English, French, German and Japanese. Molseed confirmed the Japanese. I had to use another computer for a couple of hours until Rex could fix it.

I worked on the Sunday Lifestyle section until 3:30 p.m., when I left to pick up Cayla. They didn't get back from the field trip until 4:15 or 4:20 p.m. Cayla and I went to Wal-Mart to get stuff for supper and I took her home. Since I was so late, I didn't take time to eat, just dropped her off and went back to work.

More weird stuff. Phone calls: one guy wanted to know if the NASCAR picks was still on the Web site because he's been doing it for a long time but he can't find it now. I'm guessing that it was dropped when we went to the new Web site or it's on a different page or something. I don't know (or care much) because I'm not interested. Another phone call: Somebody didn't get his Freeman Journal (this was around 6:30 p.m. - long after the office closes there). I suggested that he call tomorrow during the day, and in the future call by 4:30 p.m. to be sure to get someone in the office. The weird thing is that the Webster City number (Freeman Journal) went to The Messenger phone system. That can't be right.

Oh, yeah. When I got back from taking Cayla home, my PC monitor was just black. I restarted and it went through the scandisk stuff, but went back to black. I told Rex about it, but when he went over there, it was fine. Go figure. I decided that the Twilight Zone must have relocated over my desk. Rex suggested it's been there for some time (thanks a lot!). Whatever.

After work, I did some more shopping, including a purchase that I didn't want to make but figured is kind of necessary. I knew I had to buy minutes for my Tracfone, but how much? I couldn't remember how much I needed to get a certain number of bonus minutes (200 to get 50). I decided on the 200-minute card for $40 because it was $10 more than the 120-minute card, so an extra 80 minutes for $10.

When I got home and went to the Tracfone Web site to enter the code, I got 450 minutes total: the 200 I bought, the bonus 50 I expected and a bonus 200 I didn't expect. I think they might have done this before - it seems familiar now that I think about it. But anyway, I've got 7 hours and 30 minutes of talk-time now for the price of 3 hours and 20 minutes. That was a nice surprise.

Now, tomorrow ... I need to do laundry, go to work early if possible, pick up the girls (or just Cayla) to spend the night at Donna's, and I don't know what else. I wanted to help Tonya with the packing and stuff, but if I don't do laundry, I won't have anything clean to wear to work. Oh, unless I do the "wear my Sunday clothes because I didn't have time to wash" thing. That might actually work.

Anyway, I should try to get off the computer and go to bed. After all, I missed my nap today. ;-)

Monday, October 8, 2007

freaky dreams

I may have mentioned that I take a nap in the morning on weekdays. I get home from work late, have a hard time just going to sleep and so I stay up late. I have to get up early - 6 a.m. - to get the girls off to school. I stay up til 8 and usually go back to bed for a couple of hours. And I dream.

Friday morning I dreamed that Kent came back from Kentucky - where he swore he was going to live, leaving us here with no vehicle. Well, in my dream, he came back and took the girls out of school for the day and he was on the computer. Then someone from American Family showed up with two checks made out to Kent and me, as compensation for the Escort, which was wrecked Oct. 28 of last year. Kent insisted that all the money was his because it was "his" car, so he took the checks and left as I hollered after him, "good luck signing my name to the checks!"

This morning, my dream started off really weird. There was possibly a TV show or something. I wasn't quite in the action. There were four people living in a house: an older guy; an older woman who was possibly the housekeeper or something, not a relative; and two young adult males, probably 20-22 years old. One of the young guys was really into fires and the other was obsessed with water. Someone sent the fire guy a fire horse. It looked like a real horse with white coloring and black socks, but the fire guy was going to light it and watch it burn.

Then the older guy brought home two things: one was supposed to be a cat fryer, only it wasn't really, but I wasn't going to watch whatever it was, and the other was a cat aquarium. That was a C-shaped aquarium with a background. The cat can get into the middle part and watch the fish from inside, like a capital D. The water guy really liked that.

At some point here, I dreamed that I woke up on the sofa and Kent was already at home, on the computer. I didn't think that odd at first, but suddenly realized that he wasn't supposed to be there.

Then I had to return the van I'm currently driving and someone was going to give me a stove, so I had to go to our storage space (which in my dream looked totally different). I found a desktop computer at the storage space with a note from Kent saying it was a gift from someone. I got a text message from the person he's staying with saying that Kent took a laptop and accessories when he left. But this was a desktop, so I didn't know what to do. My cell phone is a prepaid Tracfone and I've got less than 20 minutes, so I was trying to find out without using too many minutes up. Then I looked out and saw Kent across the street. I tried to get an explanation from him but I think that was the point where I woke up.

So, those are a few of my freaky dreams lately. I think the part about the people living in the house could be worked into a story, possibly. I signed up for NaNoWriMo again, so I've got to start planning. Nov. 1 comes very quickly.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

So, he left. Now what?

It's been in the works for some time. Kent decided he "had" to leave, to move to Kentucky. He planned to stay with a family down there. He "had" to have the truck, our only vehicle, because "how am I supposed to get around?" (Ummm, that would really apply to me, since we live outside Fort Dodge and I've got to get to work, church, grocery stores, etc.)

So, he left Thursday evening. He drove down, knowing that I had a borrowed vehicle I can't keep for more than a few days (that was a very lucky break, at that). He arrived Friday and e-mailed me that he was there.

He e-mailed me Saturday that he wants to come back and I'm to wire him $150 when I get my next check.

Excuse me?

I have suggested that I can pick up an application for him to Section 8 housing or an apartment building that is for elderly and disabled people. I do not want to live with him again, and I don't feel obligated to do so. I think that by basically abandoning us he has lost any rights to live with us. Even if he "changed his mind" right away.

So, that's where we're at right now. I've got to go make something for the potluck between conference sessions, and get the girls up to go to church. I would stay home and catch at least one session online, but there is someone I have to talk to there today.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

About the car situation

We've had only one vehicle since about the end of May or sometime in June. He picked it out and paid for it, and also put in a stereo that cost $466 (the truck cost $425). The stereo purchase was after he assured me many times that he would buy me a car with his last "bonus" check from Social Security. This is the check that they send in installments every six months to cover the time between his application for disability and the time they started sending monthly checks.

This is the time period when I was paying ALL the bills with no money coming in from him whatsoever.

But the checks that cover that time period are "his" money. So he can spend it however he wants.

His part of the bills since he started getting disability was mainly the rent. He paid it in May, not for June or July, paid it in August and not for September. He'll get a check this coming week, but he's not putting anything toward household bills because he needs the money for his trip.

I offered to buy him a Greyhound ticket if he would leave the truck, but he doesn't want to take his computer on Greyhound and "I need to get around when I'm down there" (in Kentucky).

Well, I need to get around up here in Iowa.

I live about 8 miles from work. (more or less, I'd have to check the exact mileage)

He's also got some grand plans for when he gets down there, thinking he'll be able to save up for a house (not sure if he means to buy or rent) and he'll be able to buy a brand-new pickup with money from a lawsuit he plans to file against the government. More on that later. Maybe.

Anyway, I'm not sorry to see him go, but the girls will miss him, I think. Unless he completely alienates them by continuing in the way he is going. But, I'm most worried about being able to get to work and so on.

What kind of man ...

leaves his family and takes their only vehicle?

Long story, short answer: Kent. He's leaving Wednesday.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Viral marketing

Apparently I'm susceptible to it. Case in point: "The Seeker." The movie trailer came on TV, I checked the Web site, and now I've registered to try the quest. It does look like an interesting story, and Christoper Eccleston plays the Rider. 'Nuff said.

Hanging out at Wal-Mart on a Saturday night

I went to Wal-Mart tonight after work. There were several young people hanging out at the entrance and one young lady looked at me as I walked in and said, "Have you ever been a hooker? Cause you look like you could be a hooker."

I just kept walking.

I'm not sure where she got that idea. I know a little bit about crocheting, but I'm not very good at all. I can do latch hook, but I don't have any equipment or a kit and haven't done that since my late teens.

I guess it's too much to ask that a person who hangs out at the entrance of Wal-Mart on a Saturday night would be very discerning about my crafty talents.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A game of cat and mouse

I was nearly asleep. Asleep, really, but lightly enough that a noise woke me up. I opened my eyes to see Buster walk by with a mouse in his mouth.

So, I got up. Our policy is to get the mice away from the cats. We don't know if the mice have diseases, plus although Buster might like a little mousy snack, he sometimes leaves bits behind. Like a mouse head.

Which reminds me of a Kliban cat poem:

"Love to eat them mousies,
mousies what I love to eat.
Bite they little heads off,
Nibble on they tiny feet."

Anyway, it's not just the possibility of disease and the chance of stepping on a discarded mouse head, it's also about the cat-and-mouse game. You know the one, where the cat catches the mouse, walks around with it in his mouth, tosses it up in the air and chases it again? In other words, he plays with his food.

I just want to go to sleep. Which I can't do while the cat-and-mouse game is being played. So I turned on the light and tried to coax Buster outside where I could get the mouse away from him and release it into the wild (or our front yard).

No luck. This went on for about 10-15 minutes before I woke up Amanda. She's the only one with the nerve to take the mouse directly out of Buster's mouth (using a plastic grocery bag). He dropped and lost the mouse as soon as he saw her coming. Now he's prowling around disturbing stuff trying to find his mouse again. Yippee.

Now he'll probably come up and want to be all lovey with me. Which I'm not in the mood for since he was just playing with a mouse.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Traders vid - Grant - Code Monkey

Well, I've got a MySpace and a Facebook account, but haven't done much with them. So, I'm fooling around in Facebook and playing with Shoebox and trying to get a video into my Shoebox, but still not sure how to do it.

The video I picked was on Jessica's MySpace - "Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton, from scenes from the movie "Traders." It's my favorite fan video of that song, and besides being one of my favorite JoCo songs, it makes me want to see the show.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Iowa Straw Poll

Yes, we're going to the Straw Poll. I'm a registered Democrat and Kent isn't registered to vote at all, but that doesn't matter. We're going, we'll vote for our candidate and we'll see the sights.

I wonder who we'll see there ...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Even the sky is crying

It was sprinkling earlier - a foretaste of what would come. Kent is at the laundromat and I was on the computer for only a few minutes when Amanda whispered in my ear "hamster."

I looked over, saw no movement. I got up and stood next to the aquarium. It was true - Hammy is dead. It looks like she got stuck under her wheel and tried to get out of the aquarium. Her face is all scraped.

I told Cayla to come outside with me. I knew if I told her inside, she would look. I'd like to spare her the sight of Hammy's scraped face.

She asked if something was wrong and I nodded. "Hammy," I said, and she began to cry.

We're fixing a box now with pretty flowered fabric. We have lace to tie the box up. I will try to place Hammy in there before Cayla sees ... on her side so her face won't show.

It is the first time one of our pets has died, so it is Cayla's first, closest grief.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mixed blessings

Well, I didn't have to drive the death trap today, and won't for a few more days, probably. I broke my glasses this morning.

I was wiping water off my glasses when the frame broke next to the nose piece. The top of the frame is connected to the bow with a screw, so it wants to revolve. This doesn't help keep the lens in at all. Super glue is less than helpful.

So, a new pair of glasses is in my near future. I'm currently wearing my old pair, which is also broken but in a way that allows me to function. I do have a headache from wearing my current glasses with only one lens and trying to cook, though.

What a lovely day. ;-)

The death trap

Have you ever unlocked and jumped into a moving vehicle? I have.

Yesterday, I parked in The Messenger parking lot. I slammed the door and started walking around the Blazer. The Blazer started rolling backwards. I got my key, put it in the lock, turned it, opened the door and jumped in. By this time, the truck was in the middle of the parking lot.

I turned it on and turned it around to park facing the street. There's a curb there, and the truck didn't have a chance to start rolling.

Kent says he'll get it fixed. I still want my own car.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This is going on your permanent record, young man!

Or,how to truly burn your bridges at work.

We have a limited pool of paginators at work. I've been there nearly six years. Jean was there, quit for about a year and came back. And there's Kid.

Or, rather, there was Kid.

Kid got another job. His last night at work was Thursday. It didn't occur to me or anyone else that he might take advantage of it being his last night to pull a rather nasty prank.

Kid did, among other pages, the comics page Thursday night. He printed out a proof sheet and I copy edited it. It looked fine. Jesse, who was in charge Thursday night, saw the page and told Kid to send it. Apparently, he then made some modifications to the page.

I didn't find out until I was at work Friday afternoon and Kelli asked me to come into the office. She kept saying, "you're not in trouble." Then our publisher came in and Kelli explained what happened.

Kid bolded certain letters in a "syndicated column" to spell out a message: "Carol is a fat stupid bitch." In case you were wondering, I'm the only Carol in the newsroom, and as far as I know, the only Carol at work. So, yeah, that would be me.

So, here's how I feel about this:

Kid, you have burned your bridges. If you ever want to get a job at this paper again, I'm sure it won't be in the lifetime of anyone who works in this newsroom. I know that you think your new job is so wonderful and everything, but do you think it will last the rest of your life? Do you think it will last if your new employer gets wind of what you did?

I had to tell my kids what happened. They are upset. My husband is upset, which is saying a lot. I feel sorry for you, but especially sorry for your kids. I can only hope you are raising them better than you were raised, but I doubt it. This wasn't a very "Christian" thing to do.

Not only have you burned your bridgeS at The Messenger, but you risk every job you apply for where you will have to list The Messenger as a job reference. When asked, "would you hire this man again?" what do you think the answer will be?

This wasn't just a simple prank. You tampered with a publication. This won't go away when people toss their papers. This newspaper gets copied to microfilm and archived. People will be able to go to the library 100 years from now and see this.

The head of the company that owns The Messenger knows what you did. It isn't just me, just the people in the newsroom, just our publisher - you ticked off a lot of people.

I wonder what your new employer will do if they find out about this incident. I don't think I would trust a new employee who is liable to go off like this. What will you do if they correct you there? Make changes to the ads you are doing?

Because the only thing that I can think that I did to you to tick you off is to do my job. My job is to look at the pages and make sure there aren't any errors and everything is correct style-wise and so on. Apparently, this displeases you to the point where you would pull such a juvenile prank. Well, I'm sorry. When you have a job, part of the job is to do the job right. If you didn't make mistakes (which everyone does, it's part of being human), I wouldn't correct you. So just grow up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It's a funny, funny world

The other night, I put an AP story in the paper that told about how the Kellogg company is reformulating some of their food to be more healthy or changing marketing for food aimed at the 12-and-under crowd. Then I went to Wal-Mart after work and saw this:

Way to go, Kellogg's!

I was going through the drive-thru at KFC/Taco Bell on Saturday behind this vehicle:

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't it be prudent in the case that your canoe is longer than the back end of your little pickup to perhaps put it on top? When I was a teenager and Dad would take us canoeing, we would put the canoe on top of the pickup or the car - not in the trunk of the car or back of the pickup.

And to top it off, they've got a little grill and a bunch of other crap in there. It's just sad.

And, last but not least, the weekend special at the Otho Convenience Store. No, you aren't reading this wrong, it's exactly what it says: Cheeseburger Eggroll. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Truly, a mixed bag

That was yesterday. The morning was pretty quiet, but then the mail came. Kent was waiting for the mailman already, and soon he came back across the street. My check had arrived. There was also an unexpected letter with a monetary gift from a semi-anonymous source. We know who it is, but they haven't given us their address since they moved, so we can't write to them.

So, we all went into town and I cashed the check and money order. Kent got some of the money so he could buy his Chantix refill. He restarted on that today. I kept out money for this month and next month rent. I called our landlord to let him know that Kent would have the money. We did a little grocery shopping and Kent took me to work.

That was the good part. Now for the rest of the story.

Shortly after I got to work, all the servers went down. I mean every last server that we store stuff on. Our IT guy is on vacation, so we were relying on our webmaster (not trained in networking) and a guy from Creative Services (I don't know his networking abilities). Finally, they got the servers back.

Unfortunately, at about the same time the servers returned to service, our AP server went down. However, we didn't realize this for about 3 hours. I was covering the obit desk and copyediting local stuff. I also took a half-hour supper break during that time. It was around 8 p.m. that we figured it out.

So, we called the webmaster at home and he came in. He really didn't know what to do, but kept trying various things. We called the AP and asked for stuff to be resent, which they did, but we didn't get it. Finally, I called the AP tech people and had them talk to the webmaster directly. Soon after, things started working again.

Unfortunately (again), this was after 10 p.m. The news side is supposed to be done by 10:30 p.m. We were nowhere near done. The other paginator (Kid) got his pages done and left. I still had my two pages to finish, and for some reason my computer wasn't communicating with the printer. I tried sending the obits page four times. Finally, we tried it from another computer and that worked. So, I had to send the region page from another computer.

This was also the third time that our new temporary editor was working, so she was trying to do pages 1A and 3A. I helped her finish them and we finally got them sent around 11:37 p.m. The printing plant called to say we would have to resend 1A, but then they called again to say it was okay. *shrug* Whatever. I fixed one thing that I saw and resent it anyway, because I would be leaving as soon as Kent came to get me.

This isn't even the end of the story. During the evening, the sports photographer said that CU was down. I tried to log in, and could, but she said she could log in but not do anything. I didn't have time to pursue that, so I dropped it. Webmaster D says that the Powers That Be are revamping the software and it's going to be down off and on.

He also asked me to be sure to try to update the Web site. I have it set as my home page in IE on my Mac. I clicked on the Home button, and it didn't load, didn't load, didn't load. Finally, my Mac froze and I had to restart. I would say that was proof the site was down.

I finally left at midnight.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wheels again, for awhile

Monday evening, while I was at work, Kent bought a 1986 Chevy S10 Blazer for about $400. It runs, a bit rough, and has a few quirks. I guess for $400, we should be happy with what we have.

I'm concerned that it won't continue to run for long, though. One of the quirks is that it jerks or shudders when switching gears. Since that's what Donna's van was doing before the transmission went out, I'm afraid it's a bad sign.

I still haven't received my loan check - although the mail hasn't arrived yet today and there's still hope.

I guess that's enough whining for today. Tomorrow is the Blanden's 75th anniversary celebration. Cayla really wants to go, and I really want to take her. I also want to go to the Cemetery Walk, but we'll have to see.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Update on car situation ... again

So, last week Donna came up with the name of a guy who would buy my car for junk - he's going to part it out. So, I sold it for $50 - thinking it's better than trying to fix something that could cost more than the car is worth. He also bought Donna's van, because the transmission went out.

On Saturday, Kent sold his car for $300 - way less than his original asking price, but better than nothing. The guys were looking at the car when Donna brought me back from Frontier Days so I could get ready for work. She drove me to work then, and we went out the road that leads to Highway 169. Guess what we saw? Yep, Kent's former car, sitting on the side of the road with the hood up. We had advertised it for sale with a bad transmission, he reminded them that the transmission was bad - it would pop out of gear. They drove it anyway. Guess it's their problem now.

So, we officially have no cars. Kent's supposed to look at one tonight - the guy is going to drive out from Manson. I'm not thrilled about having a gas guzzler-type vehicle, but I guess it would be better than nothing. I do have a great support system for getting rides - so far, but I can't rely on my sister and friend forever. There's that whole "wearing our your welcome" bit.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Web site

I had been considering this before, but since my cousin Becky contacted me, I decided to go ahead and do it. I created a family Web site at for: "This site is for the descendants of William and Lydia Burrell, who moved from Wisconsin to Webster County, Iowa, in 1880. This is also for the collateral lines - descendants of people who married into the family."

The site is here. I'm the only administrator so far, and I have it set that I have to add members. But if you fit in that category, please sign up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sold my car ...

for $50. The guy who bought it is going to part it out. He bought Donna's van for $50, too.

The mail hasn't come yet, so I don't know if my check will be here today. I've got to have my own vehicle and soon.

Now I have to get ready to go to work. Yippee.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Okay, enough whining

I had planned to post some thanks tonight, and when I got home and checked my e-mail I found something even more exciting to be thankful for.

So, we'll start with the original thanks. My sister, Donna, picked me up today and brought me - and my laundry - into town. My niece Jessica loaned me money to get some food and stuff. Donna let me do my laundry at her house and hang out there until it was time to take me to work. I also got to take a shower at her place.

Advance thanks: My friend Tanya, who will take me to work tomorrow. Donna will take me home.

And the exciting news: My cousin Becky, who found my blog and contacted me by e-mail. I haven't seen her or talked to her in years, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

If Blogger had one of those mood thingys, mine would be a smiling face.

So, how was your day?

So far, weird. Kent got all upset last night. A couple of things he had a point about, but the others he's just being unreasonable. I got a call from work and had to walk a photographer through the steps for uploading photos to The Messenger's CU site. I went step-by-step and it took awhile. Apparently Kent had walked by me and said "I want my computer" but I didn't hear him. So he was pouting about that and a couple other things I did wrong.

This morning he was still sulking until he found out that Donna was coming out to get me and would bring him a pack of cigarettes. Then he got - I was going to say cheerful - civilized. At least he wasn't biting my head off. He's going to have to restart the Chantix when we get the money - and go for the whole three months' supply.

So, Donna came out to bring me into town. I'm doing laundry at her place and she or Suzanna will take me to work. Suzanna will take me home tonight. Tomorrow, Tanya Brown will take me to work. I don't know how I'm getting home, unless Donna is off.

I hope my check comes tomorrow. I'm thinking of getting the car fixed. That will mean having it towed into town so that I don't cause more damage, and hoping that the engine block isn't cracked. If the car is fixable and costs less than $800, I'll have some left for bills and stuff. I want a small freezer - they cost about $150 at Menards and they'll deliver for $35 or so. I know we want to move back into town, but until we get rid of a bunch of crap and move stuff we want to keep into storage (which I am behind paying for), we can't even start looking.

School is out on Thursday, so at least I'll be able to sleep in the mornings. That's one bright point to look forward to.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kent's random babble ...

is what you hear when he's on pain meds/muscle relaxers. Sometimes he gets overtired or something and then he dozes off at the computer and is somewhat incoherent when he talks.

Like right now.

He just asked "how's the water outside?" I think he means is the grass too wet to go get the paper. But I'm sort of concerned, so Amanda is staying home even though she hasn't gone to church much lately. He needs somebody here to call 911 if he does something stupid.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I've been fighting about the worst headache of my life all day today. I hadn't had a Dr Pepper since yesterday morning, and caffeine withdrawal is the pits. I woke up in pain and couldn't get back to sleep. Cayla finally went to the convenience store and got me one. I feel a little better now - at least I don't think I'm going to throw up now.

Going into town to hit the library and run to the pharmacy for Mom, plus one more stop. I hate being broke. Kent wants cigarettes again after not smoking for two months - he only took one month's worth of Chantix, and the effect is wearing off. I've got less than half a tank of gas in Donna's van (I've put $54 in gas in the van since May 18 - 8 days ago), my check didn't come yet (loan against my 401(k) money) and there's no mail on Monday. So, I'm hoping to get $20 on a loan against Kent's stereo and buy some food for the next couple of days. I just hope that check comes Tuesday.

His dad called last night with a little family update. He's visiting the oldest son in California. I don't have anybody's address any more - not even his dad's after they moved last year. But I guess Kent has his phone number now, so we can go from there.

Well, I've got to go - I still have to work later. I've got tons of stuff to copy edit and other things to do, so I can't even call in sick.

It just keeps getting better. I was driving into town (Donna's van, remember) and the van wouldn't get out of first gear. I turned around and headed home. Just great. She'll take me to work, but I'm not sure how I'm getting home. Or to church tomorrow.

My headache is still there, just not as bad as this morning. Just give it time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Name that kitty

So ... we got a new kitten last week - on May 15, actually. He's still small, though he was old enough to leave his mother. He was an outdoors cat at the Johns' in Webster City. Debbie mentioned that she had kittens to give away and Donna decided she must have one (to go with the other 7 cats she already has). I had been thinking about getting another cat recently - although I was thinking of getting an older cat at the shelter. But, I decided to tag along with Donna.

So, we went to WC and Donna picked the black kitten with white paws and white under his chin. I took the last kitten - sort of a tabby but more marbled than striped. He also has white paws and a white belly and white under his chin.

But we haven't named him yet. I suggested Nebula, because our other cat is Comet and I thought that astronomical names would be cool. I can't remember what other names we've considered over the past few days. Amanda wants to name him Vicious because he attacks things, but I don't think he's trying to be mean - he's just being a kitten. With razor-sharp claws, BTW.

My latest suggestion is Cuidado. It means caution in Spanish. I checked at to find words in Spanish or German that mean caution or warning, and this seems like the best choice.

But we're still open to suggestions ... any ideas?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Car update

So, I'm driving my sister's van in the short term. I'm waiting for a check - I took out a loan against my 401(k). Kent is in the hospital - he had surgery on his left knee. He had had a partial knee replacement done but yesterday it was redone to a full knee replacement. He swears "never again!"

Until the check comes, we're broke. I'm taking something to the pawn shop to get gas money so I don't run out of gas today or tomorrow. Which is really sad, because we have two disabled vehicles with full tanks of gas sitting in the driveway, but I don't know how to siphon the gas out.

Life is good, isn't it? *insert ironic smiley here*

Friday, May 18, 2007

The ups and downs

Okay, yeah, I need to (well, should) blog more often. Mainly so that my blog posts won't be as sad and rambling as this one.

Friday, I got to go on a field trip with Cayla. Took lots of photos, had a good time.

Saturday, worked. I'm sure there was more to the day, but right now I'm drawing a blank.

Sunday - Mother's Day. Went to church, taught my lesson, went home. Worked for Jean, who called in sick.

Monday, worked.

Tuesday, off. Didn't get anything done at home. Went to Relief Society, then went to Webster City with Donna to pick up a kitten from the Johns family. He's tabby-colored, but looks more marbled than striped. Comet seems to hate him - she hisses and growls most of the time when she sees him.

Wednesday, off. Didn't take Amanda to church because she didn't have anything to wear. Forgot I was supposed to bring something to church, but I guess that will have to wait.

Thursday, payday. Cashed check, got a prepaid credit card to pay Kent's speeding ticket online. Paid to get car insurance reinstated. Went to lunch, dropped in at Mom's with sodas and the $5 I owed her. Kent dropped me at work and went home.

He called me later to say the car was overheating. I had been wanting to check to see if I could borrow some money from my 401(k), so I asked our HR person. She checked, and I can. But Kent would have to sign papers, too. So, I called him and asked him to come in and do that. The car overheated, so after he signed the papers, he headed over to our mechanic.

It may be the head gasket - and we're looking at $300 and up for repairs. I don't have a choice - I must have a car. Living outside town can be nice and peaceful, but limits transportation options - bicycling is definitely out, and walking would plain take too long.

So, we need money. I'm inclined to look for another car, since this is such a major issue and the car has some minor problems that should also be addressed. For one thing - okay, not a mechanical issue - is that it's a two-door car. Very inconvenient.

So, now we come down to the issue. I need money. I'll get about $1,000 in the near future, but in the meantime, I've got to get to work. So, I'm asking for gifts of money. Anyone who wants to donate can send to me through PayPal (at) yahoo dot com. In other words, you should know my name (look in the address bar) and my PayPal account is based on that e-mail address.

I realize that probably about the only person who reads this is my mom, so don't worry Mom, I'm not asking you for money. I just am desperate enough to beg for money from people who don't even know I'm begging. But what the hey, it's worth a shot.

Now I've got to put some cold food in the fridge, check the listings and go to bed. I can feel a headache coming on.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In touch with history

Saturday was an interesting day. Cayla and I visited three quilt shops and the playground in Humboldt. I went to work and Kent took Cayla home.

Sandy went to Vincent and took pictures. There's a photo gallery on the Messenger Web site.

The circus poster for Ringling Bros. Greatest Show on Earth was put on the side of the grocery store in Vincent in August 1910. It advertised that the circus would be in Fort Dodge on Saturday, Aug. 27. I did some research to find out what year.

Checking a perpetual calendar, I found that Aug. 27 was a Saturday in the following years: 1853 (too early, Fort Dodge not yet founded), 1859, 1870, 1881, 1887, 1898, 1910, 1921. (More, but the clothing styles indicated late 19th century, early 20th century.)

The Ringling Bros. circus merged with Barnum & Bailey in 1919. This poster only mentioned Ringling Bros.

I looked up "Cottrell-Powells" online and only found one mention - that said they performed in 1910. Sandy told me later that the copyright notices on the posters had 1909 and 1910 dates.

I went upstairs to the room where the old Messengers are kept and found the book that included August 1910. I found ads for the circus. The ads listed things like how many horses (650) and how many performers (375 - 300 from Europe). They also said that the horses of Albert Schuman would be there - performing for the first time in America. The horses are shown in the poster. So this narrowed the date down to the year 1910.

That is the same year and month that my mom's dad was born. He was 8 days old the day the circus came to town.

The posters are peeling off with every breeze. One rain will probably finish them off completely. My grandpa died in 1981. Life is ephemeral, but sometimes the connections are grand.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

People who live in glass houses shouldn't ...

Amanda, Cayla and I were making up new endings.

... take showers
... nail pictures to the walls.
... make babies.
... be nudists.
... go to the bathroom.
... sing a high C.
... light fires.

What's your favorite ending to this saying? (Keep it as clean as what's already here, please.)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Home again

Doesn't that say it all? I was away from home from about Wednesday noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. I slept on Mom's recliner one night and on a foam fold out chair. Trust me, it wasn't very comfortable. Kent managed to drive into town Saturday and brought Cayla to spend the night at Mom's. I didn't drive home because I would have had to drive back to town to go to work and it just wasn't worth it.

Today, however, was a different story. I went home on P59 and it was nearly completely cleared off. There was one car in the ditch, but Cayla told me she had seen it yesterday. I was able to drive 55 nearly the whole way to Coalville.

Driving through the woods, I noticed the trees are overloaded with heavy, wet snow. Some trees have cracked under the strain.

And, oh joy, I get to work tomorrow again.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Carol's rules for safe driving in severe winter weather

My motto (for driving) is: I drive like an old lady so I can be one.

Some rules occurred to me as I was driving to work today and others came to me because of things I heard in the newsroom - especially over the police scanner.

1) Make sure you need to go out. If you don't need to go out, then don't. If you must go out, make sure you know where you are going and why. Don't make extra trips.

2) Realize that the roads are slick and you can't stop on a dime. Give yourself leeway by slowing down before you get to the intersection. Also, you can't just start driving. Ease into it a little bit, or you will fishtail. If you have a car next to you, you could hit it if you aren't careful.

3) Be careful and assume that everyone else on the road isn't. Act like they are either first-time drivers who don't know what they are doing or that they are actively trying to kill you with their cars. Stay away from the other drivers.

4) Drive slowly with wipers going (if it's still snowing) and your lights on. Even if it's daytime. Having your lights on helps other drivers see you and hopefully avoid you.

5) If you are driving and get stuck, stay with your car unless it's falling into a river or something. Don't get out and start walking to your destination, especially if you are in the country. Don't make law enforcement start looking for you between Moorland and Rockwell City, for example. (About 18 miles between the two?)

6) If school is out and businesses are closing, don't get into your little two-door car and head for the mall. Stay home. (See rule No. 1.)

7) The usual: Have a winter survival kit in your car, a shovel, etc. We only have one shovel and I left it at home, thinking that maybe my family might need it. I could always go to Wal-Mart and get one before going to stay the night at Mom's, right? Wrong. They closed Wal-Mart. They closed Wal-Mart.

I'll be going to bed now. It's been an interesting (rough) day and I think tomorrow promises more of the same. I'll be sleeping in a recliner for the second night in a row and I left my prescription ibuprofen at home. I haven't seen my kids since yesterday and don't know if I will be able to go home tomorrow. But, I've got a place to stay, food to eat, and I'm safe and mostly warm. So I shouldn't complain. But I can, because unlike Sandy, I didn't give up complaining for Lent.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

One-two whammy

It's not just an ice storm, it's not just a snow storm, it's two storms in one! (remember the old Certs commercials?)

It started with an ice storm. That began around midnight Friday with rain, freezing rain and sleet. Around 4 p.m. Saturday, it started to snow. I had gone to work Saturday (after chipping 1/4 inch of ice off my windows). I slept at Mom's apartment last night. I didn't want to risk trying to drive home in the dark. I've driven home in snow storms before, but not after an ice storm.

Church was canceled - we knew that yesterday. A TV station in Des Moines had 664 closings and delays reported just before I began this blog entry. We haven't received our Sunday paper yet - it's after 11 a.m. I'm not mad about that, because I know how bad it is.

I work at the paper, and the editor on desk last night had to leave early last night. Her neighbor works for the county and told her that the county road crews were ordered to be off the roads by 7 p.m. Her county had run out of road salt and sand.

So, I called the office this morning just before 8:30 and found out that the trucks delivering the papers had just left the printing plant 20 miles away to bring papers into Fort Dodge, where they will be distributed to the carriers.

More than 150,000 people in Iowa lost electricity because of the storm, and some will be without power for days. We didn't lost power, for which I'm very thankful. I would have driven home and brought the girls back to Mom's apartment or Donna's house if we didn't have power at home. I'm glad I didn't have to do that.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Surgery surprise

Warning: a bit gross

We got an unpleasant surprise Thursday morning. After thinking Mom would come home this weekend, we found out that she would have surgery instead.

I called my dad's house Thursday morning after Mom told me about the surgery. Michele answered, and I told her about Mom's condition and asked her to put Mom's name on the prayer rolls at the Nauvoo Temple. Michele has a health issue in her own family - a great niece who is gravely ill. So she's already called the temple once this week for someone. Michele was very reassuring and comforting.

I stopped by in the morning before I picked up my check. Mom wrote checks to pay her rent and cable bill, and her tithing (which I will pay for her on Sunday). We talked about the surgery and possible outcomes. Mom said she's sure that when she dies, Donna and I will be able to sort through her stuff without causing problems for each other. I hope so. I did tell her that I'm not ready to let her go yet and she said she's not ready to go. But she's praying "Thy will be done."

The surgeon cut away some infected flesh and the wound is packed so it can drain. I got to see Mom this evening after she was out of surgery/recovery. I walked in her room while two nurses (or a nurse and student) were taking her BP with a machine. Mom was complaining bitterly. ;) She said they were torturing her. I said, "good, then you won't miss me when I'm not here."

I got to stay with her awhile before I headed back to work.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Life is fun ...

Mom's still in the hospital. Her infection isn't cleared up yet, and because of the IV her leg is swollen to twice its normal size. We're not sure when she will get out.

I took the girls to see her Sunday after church. Later in the afternoon, Cayla complained that she didn't feel good. She got a slight fever, and around 1:30 a.m. she threw up a little. So, I planned for her to not go to school and set my alarm for 10 a.m., thinking, it's good to sleep in once in awhile.

Cayla came to me at 7:30 and said she was developing spots. Yep, she's got chicken pox. I called: her school to say she won't be there this week, the nurses' station on Mom's floor to explain that I brought a contagious child to the hospital on Sunday, the three people who visited Mom when we did (one is a superintendent at a school district, one works in a lab and one is a school teacher), a couple - the wife is pregnant and might have been exposed, the mom of the three young children Cayla played with at church, and one of the people who supervises the children's Sunday school program. Whew! My dialing finger is tired. ;-)

I had an amusing time looking up information on chicken pox (Monday) morning, too. One site has home remedies. Two people voted for applying breast milk to the spots (sorry, we're all out! Youngest child is 11.). One person suggested eating lots of pudding and applying Mountain Dew to the spots. I would think that would make you sticky. ...

In the morning, I'll need to call Cayla's school to see if I can get her books so she can work on stuff while she's at home. I think the poor kid is actually looking forward to doing homework.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another fall

Mom fell yesterday outside her apartment - in the snow that wasn't cleared from the sidewalk. She had fallen on Jan. 28, also outside, and scraped her knee that time. The scrape is infected, and I took her to the doctor's office yesterday to be seen. The doctor told her to take antibiotics, and if the infection didn't clear up, she would end up in the hospital.

Well, I took her home, let her out of the car and parked the car. I got out to help her get to her apartment, but I didn't see her. She had fallen. So, I called 911. After the last time, I knew I wouldn't be able to help her up on my own. She went to the ER, and after discussion with the doctor, they decided to admit her. Nothing is broken, but she's in a lot of pain and the infection needs to be taken
care of.

So, she could be in overnight or for a couple of days. I went to work last night for about 5 hours, so I'll try to get in 3 hours today to make up the difference. I'm not sure if I will go to the Valentine's dinner tonight at church - I might visit Mom instead, if she's still in the hospital. I kind of hope she'll be in for a couple of days, to help her get better.

After the last fall, her leg got swollen and turned purple. I really think she needs to have more care after that.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A change of perspective

So, it's Sunday evening and I'm sort of watching America's Funniest Home Videos. This show has the ability to get me laughing until I cry. But not tonight.

They showed a montage of people falling. They cut to the audience laughing. I'm not even cracking a smile.

You see, Mom fell today, on the sidewalk outside her apartment. She was about six feet or so away from her door. I was waiting in the car for her and Cayla, looking at the Sunday paper. I glanced up and there Mom was, on her knees.

I ran out of the car, leaving it running, and ran to her. Cayla and I couldn't get her up on her feet. A man who was there to visit someone else in the apartment complex came over to help. We still couldn't get her up. I called 911 while Cayla brought out a folding chair and the stranger and Cayla got her into the chair while I was on the phone.

The EMTs came, then the ambulance from Trinity. They checked her out, then took her to the hospital because we wanted a more thorough exam (including X-rays, since Mom has had two knee replacements). Cayla changed into jeans (she had spent the night) and we went to church, so I could drop off my lesson manual and stuff for Sharing Time. Then, we drove through McDonald's for Egg McMuffins and went to the hospital.

We stayed there for a couple of hours, until Mom could leave. The doctor said the X-rays didn't show anything wrong, but they will have a radiologist check them, as well. I took Mom home and Cayla stayed with her. Kent is on his way to pick her up.

I took a nap this afternoon, but I'm still exhausted. It's been too much excitement. I could probably go to sleep now (7 p.m.) and sleep til morning, if I didn't have stuff to do for tomorrow.

But, you can see why watching people fall wouldn't be funny for me tonight. It's too close to home.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's my birthday ...

No presents in sight, but that's okay. I don't have to deal with selfish husband today. He hasn't called, so apparently the significance of the day has passed him by. Whatever ... I mean, we have been married 24 years, but it's nearly over. Still, it would be a courtesy.

Anyway, on to better things. I got information in the mail yesterday from Iowa Central about the graphics technology program. I think that would be helpful in my work at the paper. I am a copy editor now, but it would be good to have the extra skills/abilities to create graphics.

I think Cayla has church tonight and I know that Amanda does, so we'll be going. I've got $15, so we'll go out for supper beforehand. I should do laundry. I should find my genealogy stuff. I've got a whole list of things I should be doing. What I want to do is play the Sims2, but I'm not sure where the CD is. I don't have it installed on this computer yet.

Maybe I should try hooking up the dryer belt since Kent couldn't do it. Then I wouldn't have to go to the laundromat to dry clothes. Or I should look for a divorce lawyer ...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What I learned today, or check your phone bill carefully ...

It's a long, involved story, but the short version is Kent is in another state, staying with the family of a woman he met over the Internet. He plans to stay there, come back every month for his disability check and generally leave us on our own. Whatever ...

He's run up horrendous phone bills - hundreds of dollars over the past few months. In November, when I went to pay the bill, I was going to freeze the long distance. However, I saw that they had a plan that had basic phone services with a few extras like call waiting and voice mail, high-speed Internet, [B]unlimited long distance[/B] and a Dell computer. It was cheaper than what I was already paying for phone service and high-speed Internet, so I signed up. I got my first complete bill since the signup today and was billed for all the phone calls. So, I called my phone company.

The customer service rep was very helpful. He looked back and found when I signed up. The person who put my new service into the computer didn't cancel my old service, so I got billed the higher amount. He corrected that. He also found something I hadn't noticed on my bill - I was being billed by two companies: The Billing Resource and Enhanced Services Billing. He gave me numbers for both of those and I called to cancel the service.

The first company was actually billing for another company: Nationwide Voice Messaging. Apparently Kent signed up on a marketing Web site for $1,000 worth of grocery coupons and this 800 service that sends voice mails to his e-mail address. I got him blocked - he can't sign up again. Both companies said that the service was canceled, both said they issued credits to my account. They also both said it takes 1-2 billing cycles to be complete, so I will need to keep an eye on my bill.

So, although I feel kind of silly for not going over my phone bill line by line (I would just look at the long-distance portion and complain to Kent), it looks like this will be resolved to my satisfaction.