Friday, November 30, 2012

Progressively regressing...

I excitedly picked up my new glasses the other day - two pairs of new frames with progressive lenses. As soon as I put them on, I felt like my head was swirling in water. No matter how I tipped my head I couldn't find a clear, comfortable view. The optician told me to tip my chin down... I tipped it until it was practically on my chest finding the most normal (but not really clear) view and spent the next 36 hours walking around with the "Angry Librarian" look (according to my husband) on my face. The damned things make me cross-eyed and nauseous. After 36 hours of wearing them, the headache was so crushing that I had to switch back to my old glasses. Switching back made my eyes cross while trying to re-adjust but it's better than with the progressive lenses!

Asking around I learned that it took one of my friends two weeks to adjust to her progressive lenses. Another said it took a month. A third said she's been wearing them for 15 years and they still don't feel natural to her and that you just learn how to tilt your head to find a clear point of view and deal with the blur.

I'm not so sure of what I'm going to do to stop the "Trombone Syndrome" of trying to find just the right distance to read/see certain things but I know one thing... I'm not going to wear progressive lenses!

Tomorrow's project is going back to the store and either getting my money back or getting new lenses in each pair - one for distance and one for reading.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Half Undone...

We are preparing to leave for a quick Thanksgiving getaway and I can't seem to get myself in order. I just looked around and inventoried the half-finished jobs that I apparently walked away from over the past 24 hours.

  • Laundry - I started it when my husband told me that the items he wanted to pack were "somewhere in the dirty laundry" which means I have to wash it all... and I just can't seem to get through it all even though there are only four loads. I fell asleep earlier this afternoon and woke with a start realizing that I still had three loads to go. We are leaving in three hours - I think - with effort - I can finish the last two loads. Maybe. (Sorry Mom, your son in-law might be at the table in his dress shirt and underwear.)
  • Dogs - I started the lengthy process of packing for the dogs' - food, food supplements, beds, leashes, treats, toys etc and apparently quit when I realized that we are out of dog food in the bin and the new bag is still riding around in my husband's truck. Apparently I couldn't move on from there as I just tripped over the half-collected pile in the dining room.
  • Baking items - I promised to make chocolate pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake cobbler for the two meals that we will be attending on Thanksgiving. I was PLANNING to bake at least the pies last night but realized while pulling out the ingredients (which I always do now that I've gotten caught half-way through a recipe and realized I was missing a key ingredient) when I realized I was... missing a key ingredient. Therefore there is a plastic tub with half of the ingredients for both recipes in it... and the other 1/4 left to gather.
  • Dishwasher - Seriously... How does a person only half-finish emptying a dishwasher? I just noticed that I left two glasses on the top shelf and the silverware basket full. 

Oh jeez... the phone rang and I even walked away from writing a blog post about walking away... Sad. Time to turn off the phone, turn on the music, and get things ... Look! A bird!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Married to the Thin Blue Line...

I should begin by saying that my husband is not a policeman in a "big city". He does not confront gang violence, drug rings, or homicides on a daily basis. But he is a policeman nonetheless and he faces plenty of unknowns and "big city crime" even in the picturesque "drinking village with a fishing problem" where he works.

I always knew that he would end up in some type of emergency response career. When we were kids in grade school, he would burst through the doors to recess wailing like a siren. It was his calling. He detoured for a split second in college but quickly realized that architecture was not for him. He had a singular focus – something I have long envied – to become a cop and then to become the best cop he could be.

When we reunited in our 30’s, it did not surprise me that he had become a police officer. I wouldn't have had the opportunity for surprise even if I had wanted it as his mother updated me about his doings every time I saw her in the store where she worked. “A got married.” “A has a baby.” “A is a police officer.”  (and the one that should have clicked before it did...) "A got divorced." I thought I knew all I needed to know about him but was pleasantly surprised at who he had grown into during our 20 year absence from each other’s lives. But that is another story.

Our reunion, to the relief of our mothers, was swift and solid. During an early conversation between our homes – his on Cape Cod, mine in Vermont – he talked about his career choice with passion. He loved his job. He loved everything about it and never regretted for a moment the path he had chosen. I knew that he would never leave his chosen career for any reason and I admired that. I found comfort in his stalwart commitment to it.

During the first years that we were together, we still lived in different states. I didn't really get the full introduction to being the girlfriend/fiancĂ©e/wife of a cop until a year after we were married. My short visits weren't enough to really help me fully understand what I was marrying into.

What does the partner of a cop marry into? Simply put, they marry into a life that is not their own. It is a schedule that is dictated by moods, moons, money, and seniority. It is a life that is not easy on marriages or children or extended family.

I consider myself to be lucky as I have always been pretty independent. I have learned to travel alone, attend social gatherings alone, and be the sole representative from our union at family and other events. Having been unmarried until my late 30’s, I had developed those skills quite solidly. A year after we were married, we finally moved in together (another story) and it took a while to begin to realize just how handy those skills would be in my marriage.

For several years (and more often than not to this day) we arrived at locations in two different vehicles because we came from two different places. For several years we left events and went back to two different places. In fact, we landed at the Manchester, NH airport after our honeymoon and while he headed south to go back to work, I headed north. Odd? Yes. Necessary at the time? Definitely.

We are beginning of our seventh year of marriage and it is only in the past two years that I have fully come to realize how beholden I am to the schedule of a police officer. Each year we forecast his holiday schedule just after the changing of shifts on October 1 and figure out when we will squeeze in celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas – often early or late in the day around his schedule – sometimes on a completely different day from the rest of the world. Sometimes the stars line up so that he has Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. Most often he has to work at least one of them and fairly often he gets stuck working both. Each year we invite people to come visit us for New Year’s Eve as he always has to work – no exceptions. 

Holidays are relatively easy to plan for – you adjust and bend and it becomes the norm after a while. It’s the other 362 days of the year that are harder to adjust for most of the time. Three months after forecasting the holiday schedule we start all over again trying to figure out what the next quarter will bring with the next shift change on the horizon knowing that now he might work midnight shift or evening shift or swing shift. (Luckily the more senior he is, the more control he has over this choice... usually.)

More than once have we had plans to meet for dinner or at an event and the call comes that he has been held over because they arrested a drunk driver 10 minutes before shift change. Or he is stuck because they have to transport a prisoner to the county jail or the hospital and he can’t leave until the escorting officer returns. Or that his day has been so crazy busy that he needs to stay late and finish all of the paperwork.

More than once I have had to drop back and punt – rearrange the schedule so I can pick up my step-son or call our hosts or dinner companions to beg off or make a new plan. Most of the time, I don’t mind. It’s okay because he is really committed to his job. He loves it. He is well-liked, he is highly respected for the excellent job that he does, and more importantly he truly enjoys what he does.

Does that always help me keep my cool when I've done 100% of the parenting-laundry-cleaning-shopping etc for the past month because his schedule has been so crazy? No. I am ashamed to admit that I occasionally get hazy about how hard he is working and only focus on how much more work I have to do around the house. I usually talk myself straight before I dump those irrational thoughts on him but occasionally he has to put up with me until the anvil drops on my head and I wake up. Luckily he’s a very patient man.

Being the wife of a cop means that even at 5:30am or 11pm when you don’t even want to be conscious, you wake up enough to kiss him, hug him, look him in the eye to tell him that you love him and send him on his way with two words, “Be safe” to which he responds (or you can’t go back to sleep), “Always”. 

Being the wife of a cop means that he might leave at 6:30am and not be home until 1:30am the next morning if he's pulling a double shift. It means dinner alone, dog-walking alone, shopping alone, movies alone. It means figuring out how to entertain yourself at a moment's notice.

Being the wife of a cop means that you make a lot of the decisions about your home life on your own or manage these conversations between dispatches or via text message. It means giving up the notion that you are ever going to have a "normal" family evening every night.

Being the wife of a cop means that in order to stretch his salary, you have to put up with last minute overtime shifts or traffic details that he can’t turn down - Not because someone is forcing him but because he never knows when the next overtime opportunity might come and the money always comes in handy. And with the overtime shift comes the odd sleeping schedule – getting home at 6pm, going to sleep by 7pm, showering at 10:30pm and leaving for work at 11pm. And the odd eating schedule - making dinner for him at 11pm so he can eat it at 5am. And being a cop's wife means that you have to listen to people tell you how "over paid" cops are when they see their year-end salaries in the annual report. It means exercising  restraint and keeping yourself from launching into this list of everything cops and their families sacrifice for their "huge salaries" at the top of your lungs.

Being the wife of a cop in a relatively small town doesn't give you the luxury of knowing that he will be coming home that night. Tonight might be the night that some drunk driver hits him while he is standing on the side of the road making a routine traffic stop. Today might be the day that the mentally unstable person decides to end it all and wants to take a cop with him. Today might be the day that just about anything can happen and the man that you love, the one you pledged to love forever, the one who swore to protect and serve is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being the wife of a cop means really listening to him when you express your concerns about his safety and he explains all of the ways he is trained and vigilant about avoiding all of those situations. It means trusting that he knows how to protect himself. But being a policeman's wife means aching when you hear the news of an officer killed in the line of duty knowing that somewhere someone is getting the call you hope and pray you will never get.

Being the wife of a cop means being flexible, able to rebound, independent, supportive, a good listener, and a bit of a politician.

Being the wife of a cop is not easy. But being the wife of a man that you are proud of in every way sure makes it a lot easier!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-Election Hangover...

I don't sort through mass amounts of coded information or misinformation well and therefore campaigns of any kind overwhelm me. The recent Presidential election was no exception. There is so much being thrown at us that it is impossible to decipher what is fact, fiction, fantasy, reality, rhetoric, promise, lies, smokescreen, and bullshit. It's absurd at best and smothering at worst.

Seeing trash camouflaged as campaign signs on the road adds to my mental clutter by increasing my anxiety about where all of those plastic pieces of rubbish will end up. Are they recyclable? How many of them were printed? Are they even effective? The sheer volume of them does nothing to lure me into believing that one candidate is better than the other and I can't honestly see how it would do that for anyone else.

And then there's the mudslinging that comes with campaigns. It doesn't just happen between candidates or their representatives. It happens on a personal level too. Right up until the moment that I filled in the bubble on my ballot, I hadn't truly made up my mind about who I thought would do a better job as President of the United States. Each actually has something to offer... and each has drawbacks as well. That's my downfall - I see the good in everyone. I had to boil it down to key issues that affect me personally and that is how I made my decision this year. I usually think more globally but that's the method I chose this time around.

Am I convinced that I voted "the right way"? No. Did I do what I thought was right at the time? Yes. But opening up my Facebook last night as the results were coming in, I saw so many comments about "Obama won. Moving to Canada." or about how stupid the American public is for voting Mr. Obama in for a second term that I'm nauseated. Apparently so were many of my good friends which made me feel better.

Some responded to the polarizing comments with long, well-worded essays about tolerance and diversity being the backbone of this country. Others wrote short statements saying that if someone was going to berate them and call them stupid for how they cast their vote, they were no longer welcome as friends and simply "unfriended" the offenders. And one posted the image on the left with no words of her own but it spoke volumes to me.

I won't unfriend people for having a different opinion than I do but I will stick with my policy that how I vote and why I've made a certain choice is not open for discussion.

With that, I hope that the next four years move this country in a positive direction. I have always been taught to respect the position of President even if you may not agree with who is keeping the seat warm for the time-being.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Diary of a Dog-ma - The Terrierist

Front row: Glacier
Back row: Brody
Holding leashes: Husband
Our "new-ish" rescue dog Glacier has gained a reputation in our house which has earned her the perfect nickname - The Terrierist. We don't really know what mix of breeds she is (and we aren't about to pay to have a DNA test done) but our best guess includes: Yellow Labrador Retriever (basic body structure, coat, head shape), Bassett Hound (length of body and profound use of nose at ALL times), and Terrier (curled tail and small prey drive that makes all other things in the world irrelevant to her). We suppose there maaaaay be some Rockhead Beaver Hound (a made up breed for one of those breeds that insurance companies won't cover) or other variations in her but we don't really care.

The Terrierist has gotten her name honestly. She's like the sweet little old woman you'd never expect to be plotting some evil plan - she's just too angelic-looking to even consider that as a possibility. But make no mistake, after baking cookies for the church bake sale, she's headed back to the hidden room in her basement to fine-tune the plan. That's Glacier. She will be sound asleep (AKA plotting with eyes closed) on the couch snoring one minute (I've really got to get a good video of this - it's incredible how loud she is for her size!) and the next she will stroll by nonchalantly, grab Brody's rear leg to test if he's up for a wrestling match, and then walk into the dining room and pee on the floor. Mind you... she has been outside within the last hour (Opportunity #1 to do her business properly), she has walked right by me (Opportunity #2 to indicate a need to go outside and do her business properly) and strode past the door (Opportunity #3!) but she has ignored those opportunities and moved right onto Action Plan A which includes peeing in nearly the exact same spot in the middle of the dining room floor each time. (I really can't be too mad because she's only done it three times [once in the middle of the night and twice while I was sitting in the living room five feet from her] but when she does do it, it just seems so deliberate.)

The Terrierist likes to keep us guessing as to how she will strike next... like a few weeks ago when we had begun to trust that she wasn't going to chew anything so we started letting her stay outside of her crate in the dining room with Brody when we weren't home - She did this successfully for at least a week with no nonsense... then I came home one day and she had nibbled two pork chop sized holes in the slipcover (that my dear friend had made for us!) on one of the two arm chairs in the dining room.

And for today's strike, she hit where it hurts... Last year I found the most perfect pair of purple "warmies". (Warmies are the socks that my husband strongly dislikes because they can't go in the dryer and must be hung on the drying rack over the stove. Warmies can be wool, alpaca fiber, or a blend of fibers that will shrink and/or break down in the dryer.) This particular pair of socks were just the right length, thickness, and had just the right amount of stretch to be comfortable and stay up. They were perfect.

We have finally started having some real fall weather and I pulled out the warmies last week. I often go to sleep with socks on and slip them off after I warm up. If I'm conscious enough, I'll toss them in the general direction of the laundry hamper and then get them the rest of the way in the morning.

Saturday was chilly so I wore my perfect purple warmies... and tossed them toward the hamper somewhere around 2am (or maybe it was 1am - I don't know - the clocks changed and that always throws me for a loop for a few days). At 3:30am Sunday morning I had someone call out sick from work for a 7am shift so I had to get up very early and spend the next several hours in my office trying to cover that shift and a few others that had also come open throughout the morning.

When I finally came down to the kitchen, my husband said "I have some bad news. The Terrierist struck again" as he held up one of my perfect purple warmies displaying the completely chewed off toe area. I was not a happy Dog-ma and turned, with sock in hand, toward to offender now lying peacefully in her bed on the kitchen floor. "Naughty!" I said as I presented her with the sock. She nosed it and turned away like I'd offered her liver - okay... that's me that hates liver... - substitute liver with whatever grosses out a dog... which judging from her rolling in deer doo at Grandpa's farm last week, isn't much, and that sums up her reaction.

I brought her attention back to the sock and said again "Naughty! This is MINE. NO chewing. No! Naughty!" I then put the sock on the floor next to her bed... and she spent the next 35 minutes resting her chin on it before I threw it away.

She is the "run silent, run deep" type of Terrierist as she tends to begin to lull you into believing that her puppy nonsense is behind her when !WHAM! she slams you with the cold hard truth that she CAN and WILL do whatever she wants if and when the feeling moves her. yay. That's small and all lower case in order to emphasize my enthusiasm for this phenomenon. I have none. This does not thrill me.

When we brought Brody home he chewed up his bed in his crate twice then, just to see what would happen, we tried him out in the house for an hour then two hours, then all day... and he was an angel! He's never been in a crate since then (except when he would sneak into Glacier's crate to steal the peanut butter-filled Kong she had ignored while busying herself with the prime order of the day... chewing her way out of the crate instead of occupying herself with the tasty "busy treat".)

Brody has always been a perfect gentleman in the house - no peeing, no chewing, no garbage, no... no... wait a minute! He's NOT perfect! I just remembered when I bought chocolate covered Halva for my nephews for Christmas and Brody stole it out of a shopping bag and ate it... on our bed... smearing chocolate alllllll over our handmade quilt - I won't describe what it looked like when he was done but I was happy it smelled like chocolate when I approached...

Okay... I feel better about this. Glacier's got room to grow! YAY!