Thursday, April 28, 2011


There's nothing quite like being half-naked in front of strangers, I always say. Heck, some of the best parties I attended in my callow youth practically demanded partial nudity, and that was before the bonfires got going!

Today, however, there were no bonfires or mysterious substances being passed around on mirrors or in glass smoking apparati. No, there was only me, Marti the nurse, a treadmill, and an ultrasound. And oh yes, for a few moments there was a doctor.

Sexy, no?

Answer: No.

--> Not my cartoon, I'm sorry to say.

When you're in spitting distance of 50 years old, and the tests that you're about to undergo require you to strip to the waist, attach several electrodes, don a paper jacket, and THEN walk on a treadmill until your eyeballs beat to the rhythm of your heart, after which (and, to be honest, BEFORE which), your boobular region is smeared with blue goo and a cold cold wand is pressed up into your ribs while you're asked to just 'not breathe for a minute,' there's practically nothing that hollers out 'take my photo and seethe with envy! for I am fierce and to be adored!,' now is there?

Again, no.

But, when one has had periods of crazy-heart, by which I mean freaking messed-up heartbeats, for a period of months, one does tend to mention that to one's doctor, who assumes a concerned attitude and begins to talk about such things as 'electrocardiogram' and 'stress test' and 'low-dose aspirin regimen, just in case.'

And so, for the past month, I've been silently freaking the f*ck out about what was going to happen today. Because of COURSE my occasional skipped hearbeats meant I'd had a heart attack, and was a walking time bomb for having 'the big one' that could at any moment drop me on the floor like a cartoon piano, all busted and useless. Naturally I was a candidate for keeling over suddenly and with all the grace of a newborn foal, because hey, I'm special and would only GET big events of LifeChangingProportion, right?

Turns out, after being poked and ultrasounded and staring at pictures of MY OWN HEART BEATING, and marveling at the mitral valve's cute lil' fluttery flapping, and then sweating out an 8-minute regimen of stress on the treadmill, which ENDED with a nice 3 minute walk at 3.2 miles per hour on a 14% incline, thankyouverymuch, and then more staring at my mightily beating heart while trying to hold my frelling breath so they could get a nice shot,

That heart in my chest? Is normal.


Skipped beats and thudly restarts are, it was communicated, perfectly normal. In fact, people who have skipped beats Every Other Heartbeat are commonly not medicated, as it's not dangerous, just 'very unsettling.' My puny 1 or 2 a day? Chicken feed. Or worse, mouse feed. Nothing to worry about.

I'm normal.

Never mind that I could plainly see the skipped beats on the monitors, that I could see the proof of some wonky electrical work going on in there; the main fact is that overall I'm maintaining a good beat, with no disturbing prolongations of any of the major waves, dang ain't that mitral valve cute, and the ventricles are working harder on exertion than at rest (as it should be!), which pretty much means there ain't no clogging going on or other alarming things happening, so, normal.

Of course, the full report isn't coming out for a couple of days, so I can still hold out hope for some rare oddity to be inhabiting my chest, but you know what? Where the basics of my plumbing are concerned, I'm perfectly happy to be normal. All the oddness can happen in my mind, where it probably won't hurt anyone for a long long time. Me included.

And so today was good.

Hope yours was too. Tiff out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Four years ago 27 April fell on a Friday.

So I wrote this. Not because it was the 27th, but because it was a Friday, and I used to mock news headlines on Fridays. That was pretty fun. I should maybe do that again sometime.


Five years ago 27 April fell on a Thursday, and I wrote this. Some things, like my ability to whine, do not change much from year to year it appears.


In other news, NAY has been around for more than 5 years. Dang.

This is post 1289.

In the beginning I wrote almost every day, the words poured forth as though from a mountain spring, fresh and crisp. Ideas overflowed, spilling over with exuberance and glee, and sometimes with insight or humor. In this blog there are stories and fiction and poetry and stupidity and cussing and complaining, it is a mirror of what is going on in my life or what interests me or what I made for dinner last night.

There are many who say the personal blog is dead, and to that I reply "up yours, hater." Even though many people who used to write don't write anymore, or write so infrequently that a new post by them becomes something truly special, there are still personal bloggers out there who do as I do and just....write. No purpose other than to capture something of this world and the time I'm having in it, for no other reason than to get it down before it's forgotten and gone.

And even if the post happens to be about other posts and how I feel about writing them, then that's OK too because that is, in fact, what's on my mind.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the Corporate Bonding Session that's happening right now, and which, as it turns out, is kind of fun.

Shhhh, don't let anyone know I said that!

Tiff out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

who's right?

Lately I've been interested in facial symmetry.

Actually, I've been fascinated by facial symmetry for a long time. And optical illusions, of which facial symmetry experiments are sort of a part.

So, I did my own. Took a pic a week ago or so as part of the dreaded group experience that shall take place tomorrow, and it's about as much of a full head shot as I've had n a while, so, I messed with it.

First off, the 'me' me.

Now, the doubled-up right half (my right half, that is):

Then, the doubled-up left half:

I now know what my evil side is. That right side is ready to kick your as and eat your shoes for supper. The left half wants to bake some bread and practice perfecting the faux-hawk she's got going on, and maybe go pet some goats because it's soothing.

Also, 2Left faces needs a nap. Those bags are disturbing, and put the years on.

Having never gone through this exercise before, I'm surprised at how very uneven my features are, even down to the fact that my jawline is utterly different from the right to the left. Skinny face right, fat face left. And the eyes - big one right, little one left. Snarling mouth right, happy mouth left.

It's....weird. And fascinating, in an all-too-revealing way.


And, if you're interested in doing this too, all it takes is a little Powerpoint action, a little Paint conversion, and you're in biz. It's fun, and you might just find your hidden alter-ego hidden in one doubled half of your face.

With that, Tiff out.

But WHICH Tiff?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Losing Power

You don't want to hear about my dinner, do you?

Or how I thought I was getting sick today because it felt like someone was jabbing a super-sharp pencil into my left ear.

Or how, when I breathed in through my nose, the resulting sinus sear was enough to bring a strong woman to her knees in pain, even stronger than being left by the Only Man She'll Ever Love or 'The One That Got Away.' When a deep breath makes you cringe, it's highly likely that you'd rather be dumped by Mr Perfect than take even one more breath.

Welcome to my Monday.

Topped off with swollen glandules and a dab of a fever, I was rocking the walking dead thing for about an hour.

And then, about 30 minutes after the first bourbon, it all cleared up.

Good medicine. Gooooood.


And so here is a picture of the Easter eggs we made Saturday.

Happy Monday. Let's keep fingers crossed the Tuesday is twice as good for half the price.

I'mma go for one more dose of medicine before falling into bed with a hot water bottle and a copy of whatever Terry Pratchett book tickles me.

Yep, I'm one hand-sign away from rock stardom. Tiff out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Things about stuff

Cats do not enjoy skink tails once the tail is separated from the skink. Apparently, the whole lifelessness thing really pulls their taffy.


At which point cats will leave the skink tail on the laundry room floor while they play with the remaining part of the skink (the part that still moves!), in the bathroom, going all 'hide and seek' with it under the bath mat.


It pays to be very aware of what's under your bathmat when there's a cat staring intently at it.

Sometimes there might be a skink.


Dying modems are particularly annoying creatures. Getting a new one is a pleasure that only the supremely frustrated can appreciate. 60 whole minutes without the signal dying? PRICELESS!!


Car salesmen do NOT like to be walked out on, no matter how many times you tell them you have to leave.

Yeah buddy, I'll just BET someone else is going to want this 6 year old Grand Caravan with the ratty carpet and the slightly grotty seats. Yep - it's been sitting on the lot for 2 months, and tonight's THE NIGHT that a thundering herd of folks are going to descend on your lot looking for that particular diamond in the rough.

Cut me a chilly cold break, dude(s) and dudette.

And if it should come to pass that in the 3 hours we needed to absent ourselves from your place of business someone does come in and buy that van out from under us? Then, OK. It's not like this is our dream car or anything. Because seriously? A Grand Caravan? With over 130K miles on it? It's a PEOPLE HAULER, not a status symbol, and for the next 4 years that's my driving life.

So be it.

Plus which, that sexy cassette player can't be that big a selling point.


Yep - Tinkerbell will, as of about 8:30 tonight, be on her way to the auto auction. In the past 5+ years I've put 150K miles on her and had many adventures, including hitting a deer! She's been a good car, but is, once again, at the point that she's bound to need another major surgery soon, and if I'm going to bleed money it may well be on the devil I don't know that also has third-row seating.

Because with 2 kids who already have 34-inch inseams, it's all about the leg room, baby.


And now I need to go clean out the Tink, as she's hauling a metric crapload of junk, which I'm sure the nice people at the dealership do not want.

Pretty sure they didn't factor in my Goodwill donations, extra plastic bags, random toys, and the travel mug from our church into the trade-in value.

Though the pile of CDs might , just MIGHT, have been a selling point.


I might cry a little when we leave her at the lot tonight though. She's stuffed full of memories. Deserves a tear or two, don't you think?

Tiff out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I raised my literal hand too fast after being pushed over the edge

Imagine, if you will, a company sponsored’ fun function.’ If you’ve had many a year of life in the corporate world, you will recognize the dread that ‘fun functions’ can strike in the hearts of hermits like me. It begins with immediate avoidance behavior, plans to schedule multiple doctor’s visits for the day in question, the possible brewing of something terribly infectious for the date on which your colleagues will be glorifying in free hotdogs and silly games, or perhaps a minor car accident to incapacitate you with a touch of whiplash. If you are me, you do all these things within a few moments of reading any announcement of corporate ‘fun functions’ (unless they involve amusement parks, because hey, ROLLER COASTERS!) as fun functions rarely are and usually involve things like 'participation' and 'small talk.'


Well, spring is here and, just like tulips, the inevitable announcement popped up a few days ago - There Shall Bee A Springe Flinge and All Are Invited! What’s more, in addition to Fyne Faire Food There Shall Bee Games, so Forme Y’all Some Teams and Sign Up for Randome Bits of Merriment!

Forsooth! All the MORE reason for me to catch the plague by then! Games AND teams? What ho! A chance for Publick Embarrassment – sign me out and verily so!

But, it’s not to be that easy, for my boss’s boss is apparently of rather the exact opposite mindset and indicated his interest in forming a team for the merry-making, and even came up with a pretty good name for whoever wanted to sign up to play along. “So what, Tiff!” I can hear you saying “Just don’t sign up! Who cares if other people in your group get involved? You can still be the curmudgeon in the corner, the hermit in her hideaway!”

Not so fast there, sparky. You see, there are only 6 people in our group at the moment. That’s right, 6. The team is of 4 people. One person won’t even be here that day, and another instantly volunteered themselves out. With a fair amount of chiding, it turns out at me and my boss, another manager, and the boo’s boss will be on a team.

A team styled on Star Wars. A team that wants to make tee shirts of stars wars characters with our faces on it. To wear while engaging in jollility and acts of skill.

If there was pointed stick jousting? I’d totally sign up, because dang. Kill.Me.Now. You just KNOW there are going to be pictures of the participants, and I’ll be there with my fat ol’ face and neck sweating out Minute to Win It games in a tee shirt bedecked with ‘original’ Star Wars characters, one of whom (you guessed it, freaking Leia) will have my mug photoshopped on, and I’m supposed to look happy about this!


Now y’all should know I love me some star wars, but sadly there was no chance of me getting the Lando Calrissian or Admiral Akbar part. Crap – were there any other women at ALL in Parts IV-VI? Any, that is, with speaking parts and not just draped around Jabba’s fat ass in devoted supplication? Seriously – there are no good promo pictures with Aunt Baroo, and she didn’t do much of note except get blasted to a simmering chunk of char after raising a Dark Lord’s offspring, now did she?

So, Leia. At lea st it’s just on a freaking tee shirt and we don’t actually have to DRESS the part. Me and the Cinnabon hairdo would not make a good team.

I’m not making too much of this, am I? Also, is it OK to get sloshed before a corporate ‘Fun Day’ in order to oh, say, ENJOY it? Because I’m pretty sure I can find someplace with a 2-for-1 margarita special that would serve up delicious helpings of sang-froid to assist the Queste del Fun.

Y’all rock this Monday. Tiff the Grouchy Out.

Friday, April 15, 2011

second verse, same as the first

It's a windows-open kind of evening here at the Tiny House. Doors open as well, which the pets love because then they can come and go as they please. Thus far this year the great outdoors is reasonably insect pest free, so having the back door flung open isn't such a liability as it would be, oh, 2 weeks from now when I expect the mosquito population will increase logarithmically over a period of just days, making it impossible to enjoy spending time outside without generous applications of insecticidal poisons on the ol' dermis, and maybe not even then.

For now, I'll take when we're given, weather wise. These are the days it pays to live in the NC piedmont. There are , like, 4 of them a year. Nothing to do but bask 'em up!


We are in receipt of a brand-new custom-made kitchen table here at the TH. Y'all? I am officially a grownup. CUSTOM FURNITURE? Get the frack outta here!

It does help that a friend is a furniture maker, and that he needed an infusion of cash, quick. Having connections is a goooood thing where custom furniture-making is concerned, I've discovered. We asked him to make us a Mission-style table with 2 leaves, in a nice bourbon-colored finish, and he went nuts, creating a thing of beauty. The grain on the top alone is like rivers of lush chocolate coursing over a landscape of rich dark leather. GORGEOUS!!!

I probably should take pictures, but in the 3 days it's been here it's already been covered up with a tablecloth and heaped up with crap. That's sort of sinful, but the tablecloth is serving to keep the top as pristine as possible, and the piles of stuff simply can't be helped. It's a table, and even a work of art like this has a purpose. Which is to heap things on, clearly.

So, for those of you keeping score for The Great Kitchen Remodel, all's we have to do now (and by 'we' you know I mean Biff) is to trim the place out and fix up a few paint oopsies (which, OK, I can do), and we're DONE! Oh wait, and put the shee-shee back on the walls - I think people call that 'decorating' (which I need to do and quit being lazy). But then! Done!

Oh wait again. We still have to make the stained-glass inserts for the buffet cabinets.


Anybody got a spare 3 or 12 hours to come over and help us get done? I'll let you look at our new table iff'n ya do.


Speaking of getting things done - my Mom's coming down next Friday for Easter weekend.

I started cleaning today.



One last thing. Saw a flatbed truck yesterday taking a car someplace. I think probably to the body shop, as the passenger side of this car was riddled with BULLET HOLES. What in the corn-fried Hades happened there, do you think?

And what, might you surmise, does the inside smell like? I can't imagine there'd be much sphincter control happening while being shot at. Probably not going to get much for it at the auto auction.


With that, I'm out. There's pizza dough to make! Peace!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

breaking up is hard to do

Recently I've been cooking for two.

NOT EATING FOR TWO, cooking for two. Two families, once a week. One of those families is mine, one is a family that is busy helping one of their own recover from major surgery.

I volunteered to provide one meal a week for them, and have done for 3 weeks straight.

Yesterday, that family broke up with me.

The 'thanks so much for all you've done but a bunch of other people have signed up to help us out now and you've been great' message came and I have to admit I felt a little....dumped, being as how I'd told the family in question I was planning on cooking for them once a week through April and they said 'OK that sounds great - you're great!' and now? Rug Pulled. Out.

I know they're releasing me from a burden.

I know they're thinking of me and being kind.

However, I can't help but feel like the loser weirdo kid who was fun while everyone else was on summer vacation but now it's back to school and because the cool kids are back I don't get as much as a handwave in the hallway.

Wouldn't you?


Bonus - we ate their chili tonight for dinner. Heh.


I'm on a mission to kill all the weeds in the front yard. This is bg news, as there are mostly weeds in the front yard. However, I figure 20 minutes a day with e spade and determination will oust the unwelcome guest from the lawn of dichondra we're hoping to establish, and in a few years I won't have to do much except dab at the rogues bits of weed with Roundup and go recover on the porch with a nice double shot of Maker's Mark.

It's a good thing we live in a second-rate neighborhood. That big ol' pile I of weeds uprooted tonight can sit in the middle of the 'lawn' until next 'clippin's day' and we won't suffer much for it at the tongues of those who live near us. Here's to neighbors with worse yards than mine and those folks on the corner with a backyard full of scattered crap.

We look positively regal by comparison.

Tiff out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Probably ought to get off of this chair

An encouraging news article I just read from the fine folks (gents?) at Men's Health magazine is that because I am an office worker who sits (and types! and thinks!) for a living, I am at 54% greater risk of having a heart attack than someone who does not sit for a living.

Fitness level doesn't matter, smoking status doesn't matter, a bunch of other risk factors don't matter - if you're a sitter you're more likely to be clutching at your chest sooner than someone who has a more active job.

After finding out this information, most of the fine people (men?) at Men's Health now stand up all day at work.

All. Day.

Emails, meetings, work-work , they're paying attention at attention. They're preventing heart disease while whiling away the hours upright. Being erect, apparently, is better for your cardiac health forecast than being all wet-noodle chair slouchy, and you can take THAT to the organ bank.

Thankfully, with a few life alterations, we who sit for a living can creep back toward relative vigor by following a few lifestyle alterations - 1) stand up twice an hour for at least a minute, 2) instead of typing out long emails go TALK to the person, 3) blah blah that's all I remember.

Keep in mind, would you, as I type this I'm sitting in the same chair I've been in for the past 8 hours, practically MELDED into the fabric of the new awesome kitchen chairs of much comfort. That's right - still sitting. However, by my count I've stood up about 20 times in the last 8 hours, to let cats in, let the dog out, let the cats out, throw out recycling, get coffee, get something to eat, put away dishes, and general puttering about the kitchen. Getting out of the seat then is covered, but as the travels have been restricted to 'what can I do in my kitchen' with a dash of 'let's see if we can make it all the way out to the front porch,' what I've done today doesn't yet = exercise.

But still, it's a start, right? The standing?

Of course, as someone who sports a lovely set of varicose and spider veins in my legs (sexee! woohoo!), standing for long periods of time is right out. A happy balance must be struck - but because I don't know the optimum ratio of sittin' and standin', there's every chance that soon I will be like a little ol' jumping bean, up and down and up and down. Up for health! Down for health! Up for health! Down for health! Confusing! But, if plan holds, all the up and down will result in quads of steel and a chance at not keeling over sooner than is absolutely necessary.

OK - quads of extruded PVC. Steel is setting the goal a little too high in that regard, but I'll settle for nothing less than significantly reduced keeling as a result of this new lifestyle.


(FYI - I took this yesterday. ACTION SHOT!)

One other thought: there's NOTHING better than attending a minor-league baseball game on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon.


Not even if your team gets utterly creamed in the first few innings and by the 7th you're thinking of many other things you could be doing. No, not even then, because those other things don't involve a stuffed catfish on an ATV or nearly colliding with the first baseman who is trying to snag the foul tip that popped up and came down right in front of your seats, or the bright sun bring up the first crop of this season's freckles, and those other things CERTAINLY don't involve ballpark food.

Which, guess how much one slice of pizza, one soft pretzel, 2 sodas, and a bottle of water costs at the ballpark?

If you said 17 dollars, YOU WIN!

Doesn't matter. It's worth the price for the atmosphere, to hear the crack o' the bat, to watch the foul tips and pop flies, to see the ONE great play your team made right there in person (nice double-play, BTW guys!), and to soak up a sunny Sunday afternoon with 2 kids who normally have their faces planted in electronics. 3 hours, a little sunburn, and time to hang out are truly priceless.

Gee - I wonder how much season tickets are?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

steel-belted mysteries and the tao of routing

So, this came up in a conversation with Biff last night:

Are you living at odds with your goals?

Oooooh, yeah. That's a question it hurts to answer.

After careful introspection, I have decided to answer this question but instead of giving the whole truth, I will simply answer 'Sometimes, yeah.' Sometimes I do live at odds with my goals. Especially when those goals include the mundane and craptastic, like taking out garbage or doing laundry or sweeping the floor for the umpty-millionth time. Things that undo themselves almost as fast as you can do them up are frustrating kinds of goals to achieve, aren’t they?

Like, for example, I recently paid off my car via a lovely telephone conversation with a representative of the bank that initiated the loan 3 years ago. Why, a few minutes on the phone was all that was needed for her to merrily chirp ‘well, that does it – you’ve paid off your loan! Congratulations!’

Sounds easy, right? Sounds like I was living toward my goals, right? That I was taking the reins of responsibility and whipping the horse of progress into a full-on gallop toward a GOAL! Well, I'm here to tell you that it wasn't so much as gallop as a crawl, my a one-legged sloth. For those few minutes of congratulatory talk and achievement of they payoff, I waited 3 months. Three MONTHS to make the call, to pay off the damn car, to relieve myself of financial burden. Three months of procrastinating and excuse-making. Three months of living at odds with my goals.

It felt so good to have it over and done with – I felt like an adult, facing up to my responsibilities! Finally, some progress toward financial freedom! Woot-woot!

And then I got an email:

Dear Tiff – you are late with your car payment this month. No, we don’t know why the electronic automatic fund transfer isn’t working anymore like it has for the past 3 years, all we know is you owe us 148.72 like, yesterday. Make it snappy, sister!

WHAT? The loan outfit wants a payment on a loan I PAID OFF a month ago? They’re telling me my moment of living to my goals was a sham? How could this BE? So I did the only thing that’s meet and right so to do in this circumstance: I wrote an angry letter. I explained just what went down on 04 Mar of this year, how I was CONGRATULATED by a very nice customer service rep, how I actually have the title to my car in hand which indicated to me that the payment went through, that I’m pretty sure it’s not my problem that the payment was somehow borked and no, I don’t feel like I should be paying an y interest on that loan I was told I’d paid off, thanks for asking.

And I got an email BACK! Saying ‘well shoot, we’re sorry, but dang if it ain’t your bank that reversed payment almost immediately on this here charge and please hand over that there payment to us, thankee kindly and take it up with the folks on your end.

This being an adult is hard WORK, people. Consistently hard work.

So I called the credit union at which I bank. I asked, almost nicely, why they reversed the charge. The helpful customer service rep searched my account for the transaction, and….found nothing at all to indicate that my loan company ever touched the account for the amount in question on the date in question. NOTHING! It’s like those few hard-fought-for minutes on the phone with the congratulatory lady that occurred on 04 March while I was standing on the back deck were a figment of my imagination. Poof! Moments of my life utterly erased into the void of eBanking!

Except – I have the title, and a nice note from the loan initiator once again congratulating me on the recent payoff of my loan, and aren’t I a good little citizen for doing that.

Folks, this begs a question - Because i have the title and the nice letter, can’t I just count that as put-paid and skip the rest of the financial drama, or am I really going to have to go back to the bank with a request to please provide me with some kind of tracking information that they use when doing those types of payoff transactions that the nice girl at the credit union can use to find out if in fact the loan people really even tried to take the money out of that account (which I distinctly recall specifying them that they should do)?

I think the title and nice letter should, in fact, count as put-paid, because at this point? I AM HAVING TO DO ALL THE LEGWORK, and I don’t even know what I’m asking for! Something about not finding the ACH transaction code and could I maybe find out a trace# the bank uses and ohmygosh could I maybe also figure out if this is an FDIC-insured agency that also happens to require terminal employee loyalty by completely effing up all important end-of-loan transactions so that the bank keeps getting their interest payment and their customers can’t access a chance to improve their credit scores?

But let’s remember – it wasn’t the bank farking things up. Oh no - they're happy I paid off my loan! It was the CREDIT UNION. It seems they don’t want me to pay off the loan. They don’t want my money to leave their coffers. They DENIED me the ability to get out of debt on my own terms and are now asking me to please provide them information that might turn the key in the lock of their mysterious systems that would free up MY MONEY.

Shit man. I’mma just go get a payoff quote and MAIL the bank a damn check.

And then? Wait for it to get lost in the mail, so that I can continue living at odds with my goals, but this time, as I'm clearly becoming more adept at facing responsibility, I'll be living at odds with my goals through no fault of my own.

It just seems easier that way.

Tiff out.