I want to thank you quite earnestly for validating my decision to leave the USA. When I was preparing to move in early July, I called the Dixon office to find out how to pay my final bill. The woman with whom I spoke (I do so regret not being able to remember her name) was, in addition to singularly unhelpful, a bit rude. I never received the final bill. Now I receive a late notice with a threat to send my $12.60 bill to a collection agency. I do my best to pay my bills on time and of course I paid immediately. In the case of a water company, where we have no choice of provider, customer service is perhaps not as important as it is to us in our small nursery business. But just in case anyone in your company cares, I am more than a little dissatisfied. Farewell. I know I will.
10:06 am: busy year
It's amazing sometimes how much we can deal with... Since I last posted, I got married and taught a first-/second- combination class in which students came and went with alarming frequency (15 students either came or left during the year). My mom had a stroke at the end of February that left her physically pretty much the same but with an interesting form of dementia. Consequently, I am now in charge of both her care and her finances. And finally, as a result of my changing districts and the interesting financial situation, I am now unemployed.
The Mom situation is the most challenging to deal with. I have an amazing friend, L, who has done more than I could have ever hoped to help! Mom lived with her for five weeks in March and April, which was so much easier for Mom... Even now that Mom is in an assisted living center for memory care, L continues to help, taking her to doctor appointments, talking things through with me to figure out how to best advocate for Mom, talking to Mom on the phone, and taking Mom out from time to time. L is the angel whose efforts keep Mom more comfortable and keep me saner (not sane, exactly, but saner).
So here I am in Costa Rica again. We still don't have our marriage certificate (the paperwork that allows folks to marry doesn't serve like the analogous marriage license in the US), so we haven't applied for G's visa. Maybe the certificate will come through while I'm here... G and I work in the greenhouse nearly every day, where the chrysanthemum crop is getting ready for Mother's Day, August 15 in Costa Rica. G is still working out his sales techniques -- it's a learning process.
All in all, things are what they are. That being said, I'm really happy. I have faith that everything will work out -- I just can't see how right now. So I'll keep looking for a job, L and I will keep working to figure out the best way to help Mom, G will keep running the nursery business, and we'll keep checking on the marriage certificate.
Here's a photo of the view from the road leading to the greenhouse.
Right now there's a break in the rain and I need to hang laundry to dry...
03:36 pm: Naming
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games; -- TS Eliot
This is Artemis, named for the Greek goddess of the hunt. I cannot say I named her, rather that she chose her own name, or at the very least, showed me who she was. She came to me as a tiny, ravenous kitten. And though I believed I was quite resolute in my conviction that I could not host another cat, it was obvious that she was even more resolute in her conviction that I would ultimately give in. Of course she was right; I became not only her host, but her devoted human. Cats, of course, have no masters.
From the beginning, it was obvious that this tenacious little kitten was a hunter. I am quite convinced, and sadly so I must say, that it was she who was responsible for the disappearance of the swallow family from my front porch before I was able to bell her. So Artemis she is, and perhaps was, from the very beginning.
01:30 pm: Comment on Efficiency
Somehow the local public radio station is a place I would expect to find efficient personnel. Yesterday afternoon, however, I was faced with a situation that forced me to admit that even the politically correct world can have its flaws.
Back in the spring, my credit card company arbitrarily change my account, sending me a new card with a different expiration date. No problem. Most of the folks with whom I do business have websites with software that catches the change in expiration date and prompts for a new one. Not so with the Public radio folks. The "member data coordinator" sent a letter telling me they couldn't process my payment. Naturally, being a loyal public radio supporter, I called the number listed in the letter. I left a message on the answering machine that responded with all of the details, including my telephone number should he need any other information. Since I didn't hear from the guy, I figured I'd taken care of it.
When the next (identical) letter arrived, I was annoyed. Assuming the telephone wasn't the proper medium for obtaining results, I tried the e-mail approach. Once again, I left a message with all the details, including a telephone number where somebody could reach me in case they had any questions. Sounds great right? Really being responsible here, right?
The third letter arrived the following month. By this time, I was pretty pissed off. Still, as a loyal listener and supporter of public radio I was determined to make it right. It just happened that there was a fund drive going on at the same time. So I went to the website and resubscribed. But something strange happened there as well: when I hit the send button, a message came back saying that my information couldn't be processed. Just to make sure it wasn't me, I tried again. The same thing happened. For some reason I checked my e-mail and found a message there thanking me for my contribution. A bit later there was another message, thanking me for my contribution. So I guess it was a lie -- my information had indeed been processed. I wrote another e-mail, explaining that situation, and asking them to make sure I was subscribing only once. No problem. I received a very kind e-mail from a different person at the station (not the "member data coordinator") saying that she would make certain I had only one account. Great! I was confident that would take care of it.
Imagine my... surprise? chagrin? disbelief? when I found yet another letter waiting for me in the mail that had collected during my vacation. I knew I had to bring out the big guns, so I decided to do the nearly unthinkable: send an actual piece of mail! I addressed a letter to the "member data coordinator" who had sent me all of the letters. Once again, I described in my situation in detail, including a telephone number where I could be reached should he have any need for further information. Now in the World According to DJ, sending snail mail is serious business indeed. It seems so solid, so difficult to ignore. Or so I thought.
By the time the fifth letter arrived, I was completely exasperated! It was yesterday: the end of a long, hard week of teaching first and second graders. In the classroom, I work very hard to make my instructions clear, which is pretty challenging when working with little kids. But I figure it shouldn't be that difficult to communicate with the adults in my life, right? I'm afraid the message I left for the "member data coordinator" was somewhat less than polite. I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I do remember something like, "you'd think you guys would make it easier to make a donation to my public radio station!" I calmed down a bit and made another phone call to someone else at the station. Of course I got the message machine, where I dutifully left all of the information, including a phone number where I could be reached, if they had any questions...
08:15 pm: Learning Curve
Here I sit, with my brand-new MacSpeech program. It's definitely a different experience to compose this way! I just loaded the program late this afternoon, and I guess it's going to take awhile to learn how to use it effectively. It also has some glitches I haven't figured out yet. Still and all, my arm is much happier, which actually makes me feel kind of old...
This amazing technological upgrade was precipitated unexpectedly after a visit to my doctor to treat a case of tendinitis that I'm sure was brought on by the work I did on my masters thesis. The doc assented to giving me a cortisone injection, but sternly cautioned me that if I didn't change my lifestyle, the injury was just going to come back. She offered to show me her voice recognition software and I was pretty impressed with how accurate it was!
So here's hoping technology will assist me in healing... ;-) What the heck, it's pretty fun!
10:00 am: Doughnut Memories
NPR has a doughnut expert as a guest today, so everyone is blogging about doughnut memories. I wrote about one, but I'm remembering another, when my mom, my dad, and I used to walk toward the "Greasy Spoon," the name my dad gave to the restaurant we visited occasionally. A sign near the restaurant read, "Do-nuts." I was probably about seven years old, so I'd only been reading for about a year, and I would read the sign out loud, pronouncing "do," which always brought a chuckle to all of us.
But I digress. This is a more recent, darker episode...
I have never been a big doughnut fan, which probably explains why my favorite doughnut memory is actually (to me) horrific! Eight years ago, we threw a party for two staff members who were retiring from the school where I worked. As a thank-you gift, these generous ladies brought doughnuts for everyone on the staff. From my classroom, across a small courtyard, I smelled the greasy sweetness. During recess I went to investigate: I had never seen so many doughnuts in one place, outside of a doughnut shop, of course – there must have been a gross, (a particularly descriptive term, given its other meaning), of doughnuts: glazed and frosted, French egg and old-fashioned, cinnamon twist and jelly-filled. I turned and left, not even remotely tempted. I remember exactly what I was wearing – a sleeveless “t-shirt” dress – because what happened at the end of the day was so astonishing: as I got in my car to drive home, I could still smell doughnuts! I sniffed my dress and, sure enough, it was impregnated with that same greasy-sweet smell. I confess that, before that time, I had occasionally succumbed to doughnut temptation. But since that fateful day, nor doughnut nor relative of such has ever touched my lips!
10:01 am: A Tribute to the Web
On Friday morning, the brand-new laptop I purchased from an online auction company arrived in the original packaging. It fired right up and went online without a hitch, alleviating my lingering nervousness which caused me to wonder if it had "fallen off the truck" or something like that. But there were no sirens or red lights, only slick new programs that led me through the setup process and tried to lure me into purchasing services that I didn't need.
It still amazes me how much is possible online! I did all the shopping online, including comparing prices, systems, other software, etc. I even got software in Spanish to make things easier for my Tico family. When I discovered that the rooting compound I bought for the nursery was a class three hazardous substance, I was able to email the TSA to find out if I could pack it in my checked baggage and they referred me to the DOT site that had the specific information about shipping (I'd already found the site by way of the company that sold the rooting compound).
For people who live in third-world countries, the Web is an unparalleled resource. G has done much of the research for his burgeoning nursery business online, learning much more than he would have otherwise been able in a very short time. He has the advantage of having DSL available to him at his sister's house, but even the Internet cafes are pretty inexpensive, even by local standards.
It's worth all the time I invested all those years ago to learn how to use the newest (then primitive) electronic resources. It's hard for me to recall exactly what we did before the Web, but I'm sure I still haven't imagined how much will be possible in the future.
12:25 pm: Mouse
The mouse is still here. You have to respect a being who can evade capture for so long in a house with two cats. As the cats are proven mousers, this mouse is *bien chingon*. It is apparently living behind my refrigerator, a cause for some concern, as there is undoubtedly insulation at risk there... I hate setting mouse traps! I wish we could just have a talk. I'd be willing to negotiate a mutually-beneficial settlement, as long as it involved Mouse living outside somewhere. But hey -- I'd happily make a food contribution. Until such time as Mouse makes a food contribution to the local raptor population, that is. I suppose I'm going to have to do the responsible thing and move the traps. Grrrr.
04:16 pm: The Cleaning and Organizing of Space
It has been nearly a week since class ended and my house is still a disaster area. Even with the prospect of having guests on Saturday, I find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. I have good excuses: the let down at the end of the school year, the accumulated exhaustion after nearly two months of sleeping 5 hours a night at most...
What amazes me is how some people can stay so focused! My friend, L, helped me today and watching her is a wonder - she is so purposeful, so efficient! By contrast, I am the embodiment of ADD. The mouse in the kitchen didn't help matters, either. We spent at least an hour emptying drawers and cabinets and scrubbing them with bleach solution. I still need to finish washing everything that was inside the drawers and cabinets. Ah well, a testament to the power of the little mouse.
Little by little. It will be good to have some more order in my life...
10:59 am: Back again
Unbelievable that it's been more than a year! Debido a la tesis que me ha ocupado tanto tiempo...
Nearly ten months of abuse by sixth- and seventh-graders have taken their toll. I still have faith that there was a reason for making the choice to work with them, even if it was only to do the research I did. But it shows in the lines on my face, it makes itself known in the ache of my heart. The magic of teaching is like seeing a Blue morpho in the selva -- glittering and bright for a few moments, only to disappear into the unknown.
Now on to the business of making my space habitable again. No photo could possibly do it justice -- suffice to say there is NO ONE i would allow to enter at this moment. Perhaps after a few hours... or a few days...
Still, things are looking up: commencement, party, job interview, jury duty, and finally, at the end of the month, off to Tiquicia again...