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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things I Love About My New Job

I could follow up with things I hate about my new job, but Elder Brother says I've earned my masters' in complaining and its time to focus on the positive. Here goes: 

-The exercise. I'm enjoying the walk. Maybe that will change when winter arrives, but maybe not. Once I can fly up those stairs without losing my breath, I plan to add hand weights.

-The elevated metabolism. Probably due to the exercise, but I'm finding myself "feeling" warmer overall  than I have in years. This in an environment where I seem to be parked under an air vent. It's a miracle!

-The scenery. I'm enjoying the variety of people and places I encounter on a regular basis. This may change once I'm actively taking phone calls but I'm going to stay positive. People are the spice of life.

-The food. People are people and where they gather, they feed. Good thing I'm getting all that new exercise. We've had Oreos, cupcakes and a chocolate bundt cake in the last 3 weeks.

-The change. This is the most surprising to me, but I'm enjoying all the differences of my new job from the old one. Not better, just different. In a good way. So far.

Sorry, Elder Brother. Couldn't resist the qualifier.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sad Little Turtle in a Sad Little Swamp

Ah, the quandaries of the fiction writer. Read about a couple of mine over at

I finished the short story last night. I'm rather pleased with it, if I do say so myself. 
I'll have to say so myself; no one else has read it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Schedule

I'm loving my new job, but the new schedule is wreaking a bit of havoc.

Getting to work takes twice as long, so I'm leaving earlier and getting home later. It's still a much shorter commute than most people experience, I'm sure. Hence, less time for blogging and
commenting during the day. My lunch hour is two-thirds travel and one third making sure the dog gets her stretch time and the cats get their lunch. Not enough time to get on the computer anymore.

On the plus side, I've added five 20 minute workouts to my week of walking and stair climbing to get to and from my car. That's great! So great, in fact, I may elect to stay in the upper levels of the parking garage for the health benefits rather than moving down as lower spaces open.

Non-work-related noise is vermoot at work, so I'm cut off from my normal news sources. I'll have to listen to recordings at home or learn what an MP3 player is and then get one so I can listen in the car and on my breaks. This affects not only my current event knowledge but impacts writing and reading time, too.

I'm not too worked up about shake-up. Part of the reason for the job was embracing change. These are changes, and for the most part, they've been good.

Work seems to be going well, too. I'm learning new skills and hopefully making life a bit easier for my coworkers.

Had a silly moment yesterday. Most of the office was in a training meeting, and I tried to help answer phones only to realize I didn't know how to answer the phone. I could hear it ringing, but I couldn't make my phone connect with the line and, of course, the one person who could have told me how was already on the phone helping a customer. I got trained as soon as she got off the phone.

God is easing me into everything, and I'm grateful for that.

I'm hoping to adjust quickly and get back into a regular blogging schedule. They might be short posts, but I need the outlet. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wardrobe Issues

I need different light bulbs. All of mine burn yellow, which does not help when deciding if socks are black or blue. This morning's wardrobe depends on a correct answer to that question.

Shoes remain my stumbling block. I'll need to buy some more for the new job, but I'm waiting until my first paycheck. Between the crown, the one month of self-paid health insurance until the new job insurance kicks in and my car insurance payment (which just happened to fall in this month), I'm a bit squeezed. Thanks to Dave Ramsey, the emergency fund has kicked in, but that's no reason to push it. My feet will have to muddle through.

Besides, I hate shoe shopping. I hate most shopping, but shoes rank right up there with jeans. No matter what time of day I go, the shoes fit in the store and never really fit again. The styles are, naturally, horrible. I don't wear open-toed shoes, so the current sandel/flipflop trend is right out, leaving slim pickings. I don't do 5 inch heels or giant embellishments or tiny straps around the ankle guaranteed to break bones at the first misstep. Now that I'm walking two blocks and six flights of stairs four times a day, I can't afford that nonsense in the physical sense even if I liked it in the emotional sense, which I don't.

If nursing shoes came in brown, black and navy, I'd be set.

Except I wouldn't. I do like to look a little more put together than that. Not much, granted, but my days of sneakers with skirts mostly ended in high school. However, my bad hips and knees mean I need more support than the average shoe today provides and that catapults my shoe foraging into the specialty stores with specialty prices. I'll just have to be very careful.

In the meanwhile, my wardrobe will focus on black and brown, because those are the shoes I have.

Wow, I haven't been this materialistically self-focused in a post in a while. I must be feeling better.

I'd like to take a sentence and complain about those little slipper socks supposedly made to wear with normal shoes instead of hose. Do those actually work for anyone? They stay on my foot for about one hour. Then they ride down my heel and scrunch up under my arch and annoy me the rest of the day. Is it really better than wearing hose? Yes, it is, but not by much. I guess I just need longer trouser socks.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting My Dragons in a Row

One of the beauties of a massive life disruption, like a new job, is a massive discharge of personal energy. So many new things happening spurs on other changes. I must make decisions about stuff previously decided, but I have a chance to look with a new eye, if I take advantage of it.

There's no reason not to evaluate my life choices on a regular basis. I just don't do it. Part of my problem of being too comfortable.

Well, I'm taking advantage of all the uproar to get my dragons in a row. Being dragons, they won't stay in a row, but it's a start.

I've never asked so many questions about insurance and investments. I've made phone calls. I've sent emails. I've looked stuff up online. I've sorted piles into files and analyzed data.

In short, I'm feeling quite grown up at the moment.

Through it all, I've asked God for wisdom when making choices about the life He owns, the life I previously considered "mine." It's not my life. I gave it to Him a long time ago. I just forgot.

He expects good stewardship of the resources He's loaned me. I want to do well by Him.

But I'm learning, every day, He's the one ultimately responsible for me. Whatever happens to me, it's His business. I belong to Him.

This isn't an excuse for bad behavior with the the shrugged, "God will take care of me." No, it's the realization that control is illusion. Only God is in control. I will rest in that fact and find peace.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How A New Job Is Like Farmville

A new player is drawn into the game with positive feedback, easily achievable goals and instant rewards. A new employee (if the employer is worth anything) experiences positive feedback (we're so glad you're here), easily achievable goals (you'll be watching a training film today) and instant rewards (why don't you take a break while I finish this?).

Somewhere around level 23, the FV player notices things aren't quite so peachy positive. Rewards are fewer and farther between. Mastery takes longer. Sometimes leveling up gets you nothing except one level closer to your goal of a level where you can plant or buy something you want.

A new employee cycles through "new" to "trained." This doesn't necessarily mean the employee is ready for any challenge. Generally, it means she has a lot of information she can use and a supervisor close by if she gets too befuddled. Depending on the job, it takes a little time to reach this stage, but it generally begins two to four weeks after hire. The glow wears off as "doing your job" replaces "good job." This can be a point of discouragement for a new employee, just like it is for a new player.

However, in FV, the real play begins around level 50. If you can slog through the Dead Zone, you'll rediscover your joy in the game and settle in for the long haul.

For the new employee, this happens, too. A season or four illustrate the general expectations of the work. Some things will change; some remain constant. Competence will increase, although so might a sense of boredom. Mastery of the skill allows for more time between practice sessions. Other positives include a better sense of coworkers and work environment. The pluses and minuses become more obvious. If pluses are greater, the employee continues in the job, satisfied. If minuses are greater, the employee looks for employment elsewhere, just like the disillusioned FV player seeks satisfaction in another game.

This is day two of my new job. Everything is shiny and new, but FV teaches me to expect a Dead Zone ahead. FV also teaches me that Dead Zone is neither endless nor useless. It is the time of tempering, where skills are polished and mettle tested. Without it, I cannot gain the higher levels I wish to reach.

Until I get there, though, I'm going to enjoy the easy stuff. 

New Job, New Shoes, No Worries

Did you know I started a new job? I'll tell you about it over at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens - a chick flick?

I hoped I would enjoy this movie from the first preview. Daniel Craig? Check. Harrison Ford? Check. Yes, it could be B or worse, but those two stars have a pretty good track record for picking winners.
Aliens attacking a small town in the Old West? Check. Olivia Wilde? Who cares? I stopped watching House when she joined. I assumed she was more window-dressing for the men-folk, as if they would need it with all the explosions and bullets.

Learning Jon Favreau directed edged my expectations up a notch. I tend to like his projects. Sitting in the theater and seeing Clancy Brown listed in the credits was buttercream frosting.

And I loved it. Yes, I could pick it apart for all the plot inconsistencies, doctrinal differences and sappy just-desserts-for-everybody-ness of it, but I won't. 'Cause I liked it. Daniel Craig deserves an Oscar just for his accent.

The funny thing is, I'm getting the impression the women viewers may like it more than the men. Does that make sense? It has the iconic male necessities for a popular movie, but most of the guys I talk put on their grimaces and make noises that sound like corny and cheesy and unrealistic.

Really? Aliens attacking a small town in the Old West is unrealistic? And giant robots with a secret base on the moon is a day in the life?

Since this is my blog, here's my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

The big box office draws nowadays are men behaving like emotionally stunted 10 year olds. The Hangover I and II ring any bells? Movies whose names didn't register because I couldn't fathom the sheer immaturity involved in just the previews. And it's migrating over the girls, too, as Bridesmaids showed.

Cowboys and Aliens shows men being responsible men. Men risking their lives to save their families. That's why today's men don't like it. Today's men haven't been taught that sense of responsibility because today's women think men are unnecessary except as sperm donors. Since today's women are currently running the world, they may be right.

It's too bad. I learned I prefer my men tough and stubbly and ready to shoot or stab or punch their way out of situations, especially situations involving ruthless, locust-like aliens. Judging by the female audience response, I'm not alone in my preference.

So, let's stop feminizing our men, shall we, ladies? Let them spit and scratch and stab things in the eye. We'll need that when the aliens come back in the sequel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Crown

Turtles have terrible teeth. Why wouldn't we? We aren't supposed to have teeth.

I've gotten fillings almost as long as I've had teeth. I think all my baby teeth were filled, until they fell out, and most of my adult teeth have had some kind of work.

It's not for lack of hygiene, either. I brush. I floss (how many can say that honestly?). I stay away from sugary drinks. Except chocolate almond milk. Love the stuff. I get cleanings twice a year. The current theory is high fever at 3 months rotted my teeth bones. Could also be they were never meant to be used 24/7.

For the record, I've always had good dentists. My blood pressure drops when I go there because that's the one place I know I get a warning before anyone does anything that could be painful. Where else on earth does that hold true?

Anyhoo, I finally got a cavity that needed more than a filling. I wanted to ignore it, but the twinges and the temperature sensitivity got to me. I brought it up at my last check-up and heard that dreaded word: crown

That word isn't as dreaded as the hyphenated root-canal, but it's close. Mostly because I didn't know what it was.

To make a crown, your dentist files down the existing tooth and then glues a fake tooth or crown over it. It takes two visits - a long one to file the tooth down and make an impression and a shorter visit 3 weeks later to put the new crown on.

Lots of people have crowns. Lots of people groan and wince when you tell them you're getting one.
I don't know why.

I just finished my first visit, and it was ridiculously simple. For me, anyway. I just had to lie there and relax.

Half my face is numb, so I won't know how truly painful it was for another couple of hours, but at the moment, I'd say it was among the easier fillings I've had, including the last filling done on that same tooth before we figured out it was time for a crown. That filling involved a numbing shot in my jaw that gave me cold sweats after I figured out exactly how that shot had been administered. Sometimes I wish my brain didn't work so hard to solve certain problems.

Even better, this temporary crown shouldn't interfere with my night guard, which means I'll have a much better 3 weeks than I expected.

The kicker? My tooth coloring is A1.

I'd expect nothing less.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pray for America

Despite a few misgivings on my part, August 6 has arrived before Jesus' return. God willing, thousands of Christians will gather in Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX to fast and pray for our nation today. Thousands more will gather in churches or homes around the country to join them in Spirit if not in body.

We should be praying for our nation daily, but this public reminder and reaffirmation of the God in whom we trust, according to our currency, is miraculous to me.

God is the foundation of America. Not as a theocracy, but as the guiding Light of men and women devoted to Him, doing their best to do His will daily. 

George Washington, in his farewell address to the nation, said our Constitution is designed for a moral and religious people, and is wholly unsuited to govern any other. Without God, we have no basis for moral behavior. Only the Lawgiver, who demonstrates both justice and mercy in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, gives meaning and order to life.

Meaning and order are two things dramatically missing from today's culture.
Lord Jesus, forgive us our sins. Turn our hearts away from idle pursuits and back to You. Convince our hands and feet and checkbooks to follow our renewed hearts. The heat we feel now is nothing compared to the agony of eternity without your love and mercy. Do not forget us in your anger. Be merciful to us, O God of mercy. Delay judgment one more time as we humble ourselves before you and turn from our wicked ways. 
Keep the faith, brothers and sisters. God is faithful.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God's Covering

Yesterday was ridiculously busy.

My first day of vacation before I leave my old job for good should have been a play day. That's what I expected when I asked for it several weeks ago.

Instead, I got to help plan Grandma Turtle's memorial service (I'll need to pick another Scripture verse. The one I wanted was met with near-boos by those whose experience with Grandma differed from mine). I accepted a feline house guest, which brings the tally to 7 cats, one dog for the next few weeks for those who can count. I filled out paperwork for my new job. I went to a visitation for another dear friend who's taken The Long Step.

That's a lot for a turtle.

Add to it my emotional parting from work the night before (my last official day), my inability to reach Mom in the morning, which led to such confusion when she showed up to drive us to the church that I LEFT MY FRONT DOOR WIDE OPEN for about 3 hours, and the emotional freak out when I got home and discovered the open door.

God must have stationed an angel to guard that opening because every cat was in the house and no one had burglarized me. I have no other explanation. I couldn't have invited disaster more openly if I'd run an ad in the paper.

That's how yesterday went. No matter what obstacle arose, God smoothed it down. What could have been one of the worst days of my life became a day for praise.

Believe me, I praised. I'm praising Him for today's rain, too, and for whatever else He has planned.

I'm sure it will be better than I expect.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grandma Turtle

My second publication. The shorter version made the paper. This one is listed on the Penwell Gabel website, but I like it better.

Esther Georgia Tolbert, 98, passed away July 26, 2011 at Rolling Hills Retirement Community. Esther was born to John Murrison of Scotland and Alice Kriner Murrison in Chapman, KS on November 1, 1912 as the youngest of eight children.

She married Arthur I. Tolbert on May 21, 1937. They ran a dairy farm until retiring. She never learned to drive a car, but she drove a tractor when Art needed help harvesting. As well as rearing three children and a nephew, she also raised chickens, a crow, a lamb, two coyotes and a litter of skunks. She could outrun any calf born on the farm. And she did it all wearing a dress and with her hair styled.

She loved flowers and displayed the offerings her husband brought her daily from his flower garden. She was known for digging up a plant and plopping it into a pot to keep. They always grew. She kept a sprig of Jacob’s Coat in a vase on her kitchen table.

Esther was a member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church until they moved into town. Then she joined Oakland United Methodist Church, where she attended and served until crippling arthritis made travel impossible. She preferred the King James Bible, and thought other versions “read like stories.”

She was an excellent cook and hostess at family gatherings, where chocolate pie and lime Kool-Aid were staples, even when, in later years, the main meal was catered by KFC.

She loved to read and kept the Topeka Library busy bringing her romances and mysteries to the end. She branched out into one fantasy book, written by a granddaughter. Esther also loved to give and receive greeting cards and took great care in selecting them for special occasions. Although arthritis made it hard to write, she always signed birthday and Christmas cards for her family and friends.

Esther was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Art, who died October 11, 2007, her son James I. Tolbert of Topeka, KS, her nephew Carl Sisson, and two grandsons, Cory Tolbert of Topeka, KS and Damon Gjovig of Overland Park, KS. Survivors include her daughter Lois Gjovig and her husband Jon, her son Robert Tolbert and his wife Diane, her daughter-in-law Sammy Tolbert Peck, seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and numerous friends and relatives.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m., Monday, August 8, 2011 at the Oakland United Methodist Church, 801 NE Chester, Topeka, 66616. Interment will follow at Penwell-Gabel Cemetery, Topeka. Mrs. Tolbert will lie in state after 1 p.m., Sunday, August 7, 2011 at the Penwell-Gabel Parker-Price Chapel, 245 NW Independence Ave, Topeka, where the family will receive friends from 4 to5 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Oakland United Methodist Church. To leave a special message for the family online, please visit www.PenwellGabelTopeka.com.