Thursday, November 24, 2016


You have a fresh mouth.

Must be jelly, 'cause jam don't shake like that.

Can't believe that peanut farmer is going to be President.

We don't think that you are getting the right things out of college and are thinking of not letting you go back.

We don't see that your relationship is going to work out.

I can't believe you voted for him.

I can't stand looking at him.  Never mind HER.

Someone should just shoot him.

Gays are disgusting.

Interracial marriage is disgusting.


Only one of these things has been said by me.

All of 'em, on the other hand, have been said by people I love.  This is why I struggle now - hate/disdain/contempt are being poured on in abundance while peace has to fight to  be recognized.

Shouldn't it be the other fucking way around?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I just...can't.

It's November 12, 2016.

We have a new President, it would appear.

This is not a President to shout about from the rooftops, no.  This is one to mealy-mouth from the sewers, as that is where the new President's attitudes seem to be.

Meet them where they are, right?

When they go low (how low can they go?), we go high (how high do we have to be?).

It's four days after what I regard to be one of the worst days of our country's history, and I'm still not over what happened.  Forty years ago I bemoaned Carter becoming President, but I'm older and wiser now.  I make my own mind up, based on what I believe is right and good.

I believe this: Love is good.  Tolerance is good.  Understanding is good.  Intelligence is good.  Benevolence is good.  Insight is good.  Planning is good.  Strategy is good.  Listening is good.  Working toward a common improvement of our lot as humans is good.  Caring is good.  KINDNESS is good.

This time, the US didn't elect what I believe is good.

Plenty of people did though.

It's baffling.  Disturbing.  Unsettling, distressing, upsetting.

This will take me  a while to process and accept.  I'll go high, and try to envision us in the US as a people united behind our presumptive new president, but don't think I won't choke on the notion more than a many number of times.

Didn't think we had it in us to elect a truly reprehensible example of a civil servant (he's not (a civil servant, that is)) to office, but it appears that's what we've done.

Even though she got more votes.

And he said the election was rigged.

Fetch me my mouth guard, I'll be grinding my teeth for the next little while y'all.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More from the "Letters from Lyn" series

I'm really enjoying re-living the past through letters, so thought I'd share this one too.  I'm glad to have had such a faithful correspondent in the "pre-Facebook" (or internet, for that matter.  Pre-cell phones too) era.

This one is from 12 May 1981, or about a week after we finished our first year in college.  It's written on mint-green paper and has a matching envelope.  It's printed in blue ink in Lyn's distinctive handwriting.  It pre-dates the previous Lyn letter by a little, and answers some questions that were raised by the first one...

Goes like this:


Me, nearly 19, in my freshman dorm room.
The shirt says 'Musicians do it with Rhythm.'  Classy.

I had all these things to send to you, so I thought I would get them off to you before they piled up.

I have to run...

Always running errands and doing work around the house!

So far, vacation has been okay.  Nothing spectacular, though.  The wedding was really nice - the weather was very warm and I wore my new dress.  Jack and them liked it.  Afterwards, I went to Tim's 4th B-Day party.  He was really cute; so excited over everything.

The baby is adorable - he lungs are certainly healthy now - you should hear her cry!  I kept the three of them Sunday so Bettilu could go to church and see Pete being baptized.

Monday I went job hunting - I start Thursday!  There's a new fast-food type restaurant opening up called Bojangle's.  It should open w/in the next 2 weeks.  Thursday I go for orientation+ I begin training next week.  I'll be a day-shift cashier starting at $3.45 an hour.  Also - I'll be working Christmas + next summer at the Baptist Book Store.  I'm pretty will situated - extremely lucky too.   There are people practically crying for a jon.

I talked to David C. today  He's going to take me to the VCU weight room every once in a while so I can keep up this summer!

The pictures all came out really cute.  I thought you would like these.  I found the post card when I was cleaning my room.  Thought you would like to show Mom.  The other picture of you and Chris is really good, but I'm sending it to Chris.  The one is funnier.  The one's of Matt and me are good as is the one of me + Sam + the one of Chris that you took.

Tonight I'm taking Tom to a small family get together.  My Aunt Mary is having everyone over for desert (sic).  All of the little ones will be there (my second cousins, etc.)

Well, dinner's almost ready, so I'd better run.  Write soon,

Love ya, Lyn

P.S. - I really miss all you guys - I'm not used to being by myself!


There's a note on the envelope that she had a date with Jack that night.  I sure wish I could remember who Jack was.  No memory of him at all.

It cost 18 cents to mail this letter 35 years ago.

Minimum wage in 1981 was $3.35, so Lyn was hauling it in at 10 cents more than that an hour.

Tim is now 39 years old.

The Chris mentioned in this letter is not the 'perfect hair' Chris from the last one.  This Chris did have perfect hair, yes, but was a HS wrestler and a year older than me.  Good kisser.  ;)

I was my younger son's age when I received this letter (almost 19), and much thinner than I am now.  Had more hair and fewer wrinkles, more nerve and less sense.  What a journey!

Tiff out.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Unread for more than 30 years

In keeping with the previous post, I shall now transcribe a letter I received more than 30 years ago (Good Grief - 1984) that it appears I had never read.  The seal was perfect, and I had no idea what was inside.

This is it, though I will not revel the sender.  It was a guy, who I don't recall having a relationship with, but we were obviously friends...and it's written on lined paper with a rainbow in the upper left corner, in very neat handwriting.  So, yeah, maybe not a relationship (IYKWIM).



Dear Tiff (ed note: he used my actual last name, obviously)

Hi babe; how's life at old JMU?  I figured I better write you soon or you might think I forgot you.  Well believe me I haven't forgotten you and I really miss you a lot.  How's classes coming along so far?  I haven't found a job yet and my car still isn't fixed but it's coming along.  All they have to do is get my new bumpers on and she'll be ready to roll.  How 'bout them Dukes winning two in a row.  I hear the Convo was really rockin' for the Navy game and the Electric Zoo was back in full force.  I wish things were that exciting around here!  So how's your new dorm?  Say hi to your new and old roomie for me.

I know it's kind of late to bring this up now, but I just got the Christmas card you sent me before I left school.  It was beautiful and I'd like to thank you for it.  Thank you!  I didn't read it until I got back home and it really did cheer me up a lot.  I really miss JMU and I hate myself for screwing up the way  I did.  There's just two things to say.  I really do appreciate the card and the way you treat me, you have to be the best damn friend a guy could ask for and I don't know what I'd do without you and secondly I love you!  Thanks for always being there for me and if you ever need anything you konw I'll always be there for you, you just write or call or drop by you're always welcome!  Thanks for being such a great friend.  Hope you have a great year, son't study too hard and hopefully I'll see you soon.  Tell everybody I said hello and I'll see them soon.

Love always,


Y'all -I have no idea or memory of what went down, but it must have been big.  Dude didn't come back to school.  Screwed up somehow and didn't come back.  We were friends, and I've forgotten all about this.

I'm so glad I kept the letters, so that at some point the past might be put back together.  Or not, but at least I know that at one point I was good to this person and he loved me for it.

Maybe I wasn't as big a screwup back then as I thought I was.  A voice from the past tells me this might indeed have been the case.

Tiff out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In which I transcribe a letter received in June 1981 from Lyn Hovatter

Y'all.  We have been rearranging things in the house (ie, clutter), and I have uneartherd so many jewels from my past.  College yearbook photos, stuffed animals, greeting cards, and LETTERS.  Remember letters?  


Like this one, from my still-buddy Lyn, quoted in full:


June 16


Well I have lots to tell you!

First of all, the "trial" was today...and...we waited for 1 hr. 45 mins, got up on the stand, waited for Officer Wade to get there, and the, they said "Thank you for helping us catch the real vandals, you're dismissed!"  Just like that, The whole case dismissed!  I has pretty happy.

Anyway, KD was fun - very hot, but fun.  Flintstone Follies hadn't opened yet, they were still in rehearsal w/opening yesterday.  Chris was really funny.  I went looking for him & gave him your greetings.  He invited us to a complete  run-through of the show.  We went back and Beth and I got used.  This guy jumped off the stage, grabbed us and made us go up and dance during the audience participation number.  I had to dance with Lem B (Remember?  from Madisonians).  I had a blast. Chris has lots of solos and he even gets to walk in the audience and serenade the ladies w/ 'Breakin' up is hard to do.'  He is super.  His voice is perfectly suited for that.  Scott Babcock plays drums for that show too.  Chris says that his outfit is hot pink.  I'll be it looks good though.  Oh!  He got something done to his hair - it's still perfect, but ti's short and wavy - I think it's a perm.

Anyway...I'm at work - 2-11`, then 6 a.m. tomorrow.  Yeah!  Herb is manager in charge tonight - he's a trip!

I'm on break,  I have to go back in 5 mins and I probably won't finish this until tomorrow.

Jack was really cute - he called this a.m. before I left for court and told me not to bed nervous.  Then he calle fomr work, when I got home to find the 'verdict.'  He also promised to help me celebrate my B-day on Sat. evening.  Beth will too, I'm sure.

Amy and Liz gave me strawberry everything!  Shampoo, bubble bath, candy, gum, lipgloss, air freshener for the car, etc...It was hilarious, but I love it.

Sam called and may come down the weekend of the 27th.  I hope so, that'll be fun.

Herb just came by and I thought he was going to yell at me for writing this on his time.  Instead he said 'Tell Kerry I think she's really cute!" (watch Kerry' head swell!)  I told him you said he was too, when you were here.  Too bad he's married, eh?

I wrote Audrey today and caught her up on everything.

Well, I gotta go - write soon and tell Mom, Dad, Kirk, and David hello!

Love ya,


Lyn?  I have no idea who Herb is.

Or Jack.

The rest of y'all I remember.

We'd known one another almost one whole year by thins point.

We've been friends now for almost 35.

God we're old.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Things and stuff.

This is going to be creaky as sheeyit.

I've forgotten how to write in long sentences, all strung together, with a common thought to bind them one to another.

Many things are to blame, but the focus right now is on Facebook, and how easy it's made it to 'connect' with people we either know, want to know, or don't know at all and just clicked' friend' in a moment of stalkery/drunkenness/enthusiasm/evil.

It's all so easy.

And, well, predictable.

A friend (hiddenmahala, go read her now) has started blogging again, and it's like a breath of fresh mountain air sweeping through a musty valley of ennui, I have to tell you.  She has words, they're good words, possibly the best words, and she will and does use them better than anybody else.

However, I too have words, and feel like using them, so...


It's a beautiful evening in the 27587.  Cool, clear, bright still in the late afternoon sun (it's 6:30 as I write this; we won't see dark for at least another 2 hours).  The windows are open, birds are mingling voice, wind is shushing around the grown-in leaves on the trees.  Traffic noise is minimal, and for some strange reason nobody is mowing their yard right now.  It's peaceful, is what it is.

The day has been fitful, at once productive but not nearly as much as it could have been.  I've yet to absorb the 'text on nature' photo memes that exhort to make every day count, go conquer the world, be breathtaking before breakfast, etc.  I just don't have that kind of life life anymore.  Making every day count to me now means making note of the small things, like waking up, and peeing when I want, and being in love, and having something tasty for lunch while living in a home I can afford in a body that doesn't hurt most of the time that can pick up a book, whenever, and read.  Making every day count doesn't mean I have to DO anything, now, it means that what is present in this day, counts.

Even if I spend 80% of it in my pajamas, it still counts.


My desk is in our bedroom.  It's three steps from bed to work.  The desk is positioned so I can look out our bedroom window into the back garden, where nothing is planted.

The squirrels and birds don't seem to mind.  They are busy out there every day, pulling worms from the soil or hopping picket-top to picket-top (birds the former, squirrels the latter).  Every so often a flitter of activity catches my eye, and I must look out to see what tiny bit of miracle is there, doing their thing.  It's wonderful, to have that window.

After I had my second son, by c-section, I was confined to the hospital for 5 days (4 nights).  I was not allowed to go outside, so I wandered the halls in search of a vantage point that would get me the widest views, the sunniest spot, the vista I longed for, that sense of space.  I would wheel my baby boy in his bassinet with me, because I had gotten in trouble once for carrying him around the halls, the nerve of me.  Seeing the world was a connection, a necessity, to keep staying present with what was happening, even if it was something as mundane as a car pulling into the parking lot, a child's voice, a sailboat coming into the marina.

A window to look out of is important.  Appreciation for what is present in it is important too.

Gitchu to a window, and see what you've not noticed before.


Like I said, I'm rusty at this.  I'd hate to go on too long, and I think this is long enough.

I'll be back soon.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

10 minutes or less

Poems don't have to rhyme anymore
But in fact if they do
They're not really poems
As we see them

Lypmherics, perhaps
and exhaustion of the
limbic store
A place for amusement



They don't rhyme
and they're not prose

What purpose then,
the poem?
What shunt of mind
 where is the bevel

Why write it.

At all.


Friday, March 04, 2016

And then I got a hole in my face to keep from getting a potentially bigger hole in my face someday

I have posted before about my experiences with skin issues.  10 years ago I used Efudex for the first time to banish any proto-cancers from my face, which worked....kinda.  I was really hoping to get good and pizza-faced from the treatment, but was not to have all that gratifying of an experience, instead suffering with tons of tiny ITCHY spots to deal with that were also painful.  It was a good thing my dermatologist told me to only do half my face at once - otherwise I would probably have clawed all my skin off to lessen the pain.

Apparently, though, the Efudex didn't get rid of all the issues, and I wound up having some actinic keratoses and other curious things frozen off my face, after which time the Derm said 'You know what?  Eff this individual freezing-off business, let's blast you with high-intensity light after pretreating your skin with dangerous chemicals so as to make your teeny-weeny possibly almost cancer-face bloom in a fury of growth that is unsustainable and thus short-lived, eh?'  

And I said yes.

So, we did that.

But only after I had my first surgery to get rid of a basal cell carcinoma on mah fayse.  Because it needed to go, and short of pouring a glug of concentrated hydrochloric acid onto the tumor, only surgery would get it out for sure.

We did the surgery, I started booking in derm appointments every 6 months instead of yearly, and occasionally got things scraped or frozen off, no biggie.

OK, those two 'shave biopsies' we did last year still itch from time to time, and they're never going to look pretty now that they're scarred over, but there wasn't anything bad lurking in there and they're on my back so  I can't see them so...they're largely forgotten about.

Then, a couple of months ago at a regular ol' derm visit, another biopsy was done of a spot on my nose.  I tut-tutted the notion of this being ANOTHER BCC, because hadn't all those other treatments pretty much eliminated the chance of another one developing?

"Well no, just not as MANY" said my dermatologist.

And thus and appointment was made for mo' Mohs.  On my nose.  

Mohs surgery requires a numbing agent (1% lidocaine with a lil' epinephrine to stop bleeding) to be injected into the surgical area.  Which, in this case, was MY NOSE.  NEEDLES IN MY NOSE!  I nearly cried from anxiety.  I hate needles.  Especially in MY NOSE.

But I lived through it, the cutting, the cauterizing, and then the three subsequent hours I had to wait until I was scheduled to arrive at a plastic surgeon's office to 'do the closure.'  Guess the Doc who did the cutting thought the 'defect' was too significant for her to handle.  Whatever, sister.  Hand off the fancy work to someone else now that you're done hacking at my face.

You know what happens within 4-6 hours of administration of injectable anesthetic?  It starts to wear off!!   That's right!  You get to experience 1) pain and 2) more shots in the schnozz to deaden the new pain that is to be introduced once the plastic surgeon starts stitching!   

But, you know what hadn't fully happened to me in the time I had to wait?  The 'wearing off' effect, so that when the new doc started in with the needle I was instantly thankful to the heaven above that my bod was clearing the first round slowly.   Sweet relief!

The upshot is that I now have 7 stitches on the right side of my nose where a hole used to be that took the place of what was a cancerous growth, and that's OK.  The cancerous growth could have been MUCH larger, the Mohs could have gone on much longer, and the repair could have involved flaps of skin being moved around on my mid-facial region.  I'm too old to be to vain, and if surrendering some vanity (like, for example, getting to walk around with this big ol' blood-soaked dressing on my mug for the next 5 days) means I get to live knowing that at least ONE fewer issue will crop up to do me in, then I'm cool with that.

I don't kid myself that it's the last removal I'll ever have, or that it's the last skin issue that will ever happen.  Too much damage has been done for that.  Oh, and just to be sure we continue to catch things in time, I now have to go to the dermatologist every FOUR months.

She must have her eye on a new boat or something.

Tiff out.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Death and boiled eggs

It seems like 2016 has inaugurated a wave of death, both for the famous and infamous. I have touched on this before (oh, Alan!).  This week alone has seen the passing of Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia, reality show 'star' Big Ang, and novelist and famed hermit Harper Lee.  

Was there some kind of death lottery, and 2016 won?

I just Googled 'who died this week' and wouldn't you know, a website ( popped up that tracks all of this stuff, categorizes it, and links to obituaries for each person who is of some prespecified level of notoriety.  It's morbidly amusing, really, to scroll through the week's victims to see who is recognizeable and who is less so.  Punky Brewster's stepdad, for example, fits the latter category for me, while Boutros Boutros Ghali certainly slots into the former.  

Every life has its dash, is what I get out of this.


Anyhow, let us not dwell on sadness and the inviolate principles of mortality!  Let us instead turn our attention to one of the biggest personal victories of my recent history, which is this:


See, I have been trying out different methods of cooking 'the perfect HB egg' for a while. Perfect means a firm white, creamy yolk, no green ring around the yolk, and it must peel cleanly without any gross membrane adherence issues.

Certain famous cooks have touted the 'boil then soak' method (start cold, bring to a boil, turn off heat and let the eggs soak for 15 minutes followed by a plunge into an ice bath).  Sounds elegant, but I'm here to tell you that those things don't peel worth a damn.  A DAMN!  Fully half the whites are lost to membrane adherence, and the resulting egg is not smooth and globulously luxurious, but rather pitted and pockmarked and sadly downtrodden.  Who wants to eat a downtrodden egg?  NOBODY, that's who.

Therefore, a little research was done into egg-boiling methods, and the the message is this: 'boil then soak' is the the absolute wrongest way ever invented to make a hard-boiled egg that peels correctly.  This method actually makes the shell stick to the egg!  WHA????  What kind of cruel joke is THAT, Martha?  

If the doyenne of all things domestic has got it wrong, one might ask how on earth SHOULD one cook an egg to hard-boiled delicious perfection?

The answer is to start the eggs warm (low simmer), bring the water to a boil, turn heat back to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let 'em sit for 5 more minutes (or until you're done cleaning the stove, which was my timing).  Decant thenceforth to a large amount of ice water, and let 'em sit for at least half an hour.  

The result?  Shells that come off as easily as a satin slip on date night, my friends, with a tender white and creamy soft yolk.  Oh yes indeed, quite perfect.  Sweet meaningful success.

Scoff not at my cheer! These are my victories.  These are my triumphs!  I need not conquer lands or peoples - vanquishing the troublesome issues of egg-boiling is enough for me!!

Huzzah!  Huzzah!

Tiff out.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Got my Vitamin D

If I win the lotto...
Today was a lovely Saturday, at least thus far.  It might still be ruined by a chunk of airplane ice crashing through the roof and blasting me on the head, but so far I have few complaints.

Started out by going down to the main Lifepointe Church site and slinging (OK, pitchforking) a bunch of heavy wet mulch around to start the effort of covering the whole allotted acre of the new Community Garden with organic material.  I know, right?  Me and pitchforks - the jokes write themselves!  

Anyhowdle, the work needed to be done and because I think this is a fantastic idea and a very positive thing to do, I volunteered to be part of the garden team.  Hey,  I can sling some mulch.  For 90 minutes.  Then  I quit.  I can't slave my whole LIFE for other people, for goodness sake.  Whatever effort I put into it, I know the Good Lord Above knows my heart was in it for at least 3 hours.  Plus which, I wasn't the first one to quit, so HA.

The pitchforking had failed to work up a sweat, so I did the next best thing and convinced Mason to come with me to wash the stank-ass living room rug at the local car washateria.  I bought him lunch at Smithfield's first - ooo, remind me that I need to write a sternly-worded letter about the counter 'help' and how it really wasn't (eg - my half-and-half tea wasn't and the Sprite Mason ordered [loud and clear] didn't make it to the first order so like a dunce I went ahead and PAID for it when really it should have been comped.  C'mon, soda's cheap!) - so there was a nice carrot for him to chew on.  Literally.

The carwash blaster hose was working great on the 'add bubbles!' setting but not so great on 'now, RINSE!' so we had to haul the soapy wet rug home (all 150 pounds of it, at this point) and hang it over the deck rail to rinse it, and EW.  EW EW EW.  Such filth and yuck was embedded in that thing.  Gaggitty.  This thing was in our HOUSE two days ago, until some cat peed on it (that's what it smelled like, anyhow) and the whole house stunk and we chucked it outside until the sun decided to come out (today) so we could wash it then let it dry outdoors after washing.  But wow - the rinse water was opaque to start, and a shade of brown that Mason described as 'burnt ochre' which I think is about right.  Gross, no?  Yes.  But it's over now, and once the sun bakes it tomorrow it should be a-OK to put back in the house.  Fingers crossed!

So, yeah, the Man and I then decided to go visit the airplane and look for some missing documents (any excuse!), which was great because it's been a sunny day and I need my vitamin D plus which there were skydivers galore and a glider/tow plane were doing lots of ups and downs and various were aircraft zipping about (WARBIRD SIGHTING!).  It was a good time, even IF we didn't find what we were looking for, because Gerritt was able to make some fixes to the plane in glorious weather and I was amused by all the shiny things (SUN!) at a place I really like (an airport?  Yup - that one's a pretty good place to hang out on a good day to fly).

Then, once home, I took a long hot shower.  'Twas marvelous, but I'm pretty sure we need to look into getting a tankless water heater, because I could have used another 20 minutes just hanging out in scalding water.  That, or we need a hot tub.  Either / or.  But at least one.

And look - it's only just 6 p.m.  So much more can happen, but you won't read about it here, in this post.  Because I'm just about done, and the future can't tell itself.

Tiff happily out.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A swing and three misses.

Just a little more Time, God?  No, Alan.  Well, how 'bout we get get the Cos up here instead?  Alan, he's not coming here; it has to be you.  Dammit!  Quite the opposite, really.
Someone else won the $1.5 BILLION dollar Powerball last night, it appears.

Strike one.

Spent the night in bad dreams, like the following:

  • New job
  • at FOX NEWS
  • have sleep at the office even though home is 30 minutes away
  • Skirt and heels, me
  • Elevator that doesn't work, to the point where pressure gauges and pulleys push out from the walls as the cab descends, and those aboard know what to do with them
  • Finding out there's a Home Depot in 'the returns department' that's staffed by hundreds of people
  • Being asked out by a (female) high school classmate
  • Thinking I needed to update my banking info so FOX can deposit my check in MY bank, not theirs
  • Too many bananas on vacation
  • And one attic scene I won't go into except that it involves a stationary bike.
  • Oh, and LOTS of stair in the building, to the point that if you THINK you are on level 1.7 you might actually be on Level 6, and finding the right set of stair or elevator to take you to the correct level 2 involves former colleagues, French doctors, a Boy Scout Leader, a terrible rainstorm, and the ability to, as previously mentioned, run in heels and a skirt.

Strike two.

And then, as the acidic black topping on the nightmare pie, frigging Alan Rickman dies.

Yes, my boyfriend Alan Rickman.

That smooth-talking Brit, that strutter of stage, that actor of films, that wig-wearing Snape.  Oh, Alan.

Say 'hey' to Bowie, Lemmy, and (if she's in the same neighborhood) Natalie for us, would you?  They all must be about as confused as you are, though you all had to know you were leaving.

Strike three.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Dog ate my glasses

That's an Aston Martin.  His dog ate it.
One of life's lessons about having a dog is that THEY EAT THINGS.

Precious things, garbage, clothing, paper, sticks, anything.  Some dogs eat furniture too, but so far with Wern we've not had that problem.  He stops at 'precious things' and calls it a day.

What is a precious thing, might you ask?

Anything that is on the kitchen table or other 'off limits' (in our minds) area to which he does not have express access.  I know, I know, he's a DOG and as such if a cat happens to knock a precious thing off the table (or other off limits area) the thing then becomes perfectly acceptable to chew on, and, usually, to destroy.

As is what happened to my computer glasses several weeks ago.

Yes, I have glasses to wear when I'm using the computer.  How very middle-aged of me, I know.

See (heh), I don't need glasses to read, because my left eye is nearsighted.   I don't need glasses to drive, because my right eye is farsighted.  I DO need glasses to clearly see my computer, because it sits in the perfect middle-distance at which neither of my eyes sees very well at all.   Left eye is still winning, but Rightie is making a valiant effort to superimpose a fuzzy double-image of the screen, which isn't as helpful as one might imagine, but who am I to tell Rightie to lay off and quit working?

It doesn't help that my eyes see things in slightly different colors, either.  The left one transmits more in the ruddy range, while Rightie is cool blue, in general.

Do you not wish you were me right now, with the wonkiness?  3D movies are out of the question, if you must know.

I've been working at the computer (it's what I do) for the past few weeks without my glasses, and I can't say it's been a terrific experience.  Lots of squinting and embiggening going on, some of which is of course because I am old, but the remainder is because I simply can't see as well as I ought to at that distance.  Curiously, my eyesight is not getting any better from the daily workouts, and the fact must be faced - it's time to get the peepers peeped at and things brought to rights.

I should probably thank Wern for eating the last pair, his ingestion of my fancy polycarbonate no-frame titanium-templed specs was done from a place of LOVE to save me from continued use of the scratched-up lenses.  I know.  Dogs are good like that.  They take care of us.  Even if it means I get to shell out another 400 clams for the exam and glasses.

That money's coming out of his 'treats and toys' budget, but don't tell him that.  It'll be a long and lonely two weeks until that deficit is made up.

Tiff out. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The little black book

In the time I've spent as a professional person working a responsible job, I have mostly had to rely on lists and whiteboard and things of that nature to ensure I'm covering all the bases to which I've been assigned.  Keeping stuff like that solely in my head simply doesn't work, and the embarrassment of saying 'Oh dear I forgot to do that' when someone's tapping the ol' manila folder on the edge of my desk just isn't a place I want to be or a shame I want to experience any more.

Thus, lists.

Now that I'm not in cublicleland, there's no whiteboard for me to layout my timelines upon, no flexible repository for my progress against goals.  No, there's none of that.  Instead, I am becoming reliant on the little black book, a real page-turner that all too often says the same thing on Page B as it did on Page A, with some small tweak to indicate that progress had been made against goals.

Every day I write down what I understand my daily goals to be, and every NEXT day I review them, rewrite the ones I didn't get to, check my calendar to be doubly sure I'm not missing anything (I usually am), and start all over again.

For the past 3 days I've had the same top 2 tasks to do, so I assigned them a DUE DATE today, and thus they will get done.  Due dates are my self-imposed hell, but they motivate me to perform when I would allow many a thing to languish until somebody hollered for it (my past work-life balanced depended on this).  However, the new job has a much more insidious master: THE DATABASE.

If you are late initiating a task, the DB will let you know. When a date is approaching for action, the DB will tell you, then tell you again if you didn't respond appropriately the first time.  The DB will tell you when a task is coming up and when it's gone screaming past you, only to be viewable in the rear-view mirror of regret.

In other words - the DB rules the calendar.

Thus, my notebook is refreshed every day with things I need to do to keep ahead of the DB, to keep that ol' head above water while learning to swim in the deep end.  The DB is like a terrible coach, pulling a student under to teach them how to float.

But I shall win this, and the DB will not drown me.

My little black notebook says so.

Do you have an organizational system that works for you?  Our household chores are updated daily on a whiteboard, which works for the family as a whole, but these individual work goals must travel with me...and I don't have a smartphone.

OK then, with this dull entry over, it's

Tiff out (to go do items A and B, then C, and possibly D before it's time to pack it all in for the day).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Back to school time!

The younger kiddo had to go back to UNC at Chapel Hill yesterday afternoon, because classes started today and what better time to get back to campus than before classes actually start?

I thought so too.

It's not a bad drive at about 40 miles door to door, which makes it a nice afternoon's jaunt there and back with hardly any stress.  Colin accompanied us, which was great, for there were many things to tote up to the fourth floor and it would have been many multiples of trips with just Mason and me.  Shoot, just the 75 bucks worth of dorm food we'd purchased yesterday afternoon would have been at least 2 trips by itself!

'Twas a gorgeous afternoon to boot, with temps in the mid-50's and a beautiful sunny sky, so after we unloaded we ambled across campus to have a late lunch/early dinner at Spanky's.  On our way there we'd stopped at the school store (massive), and I purchased a car magnet that's a simple representation of The Old Well, 'THE' campus landmark.  I'd toyed with 'Carolina Mom' magnet, but that's just too shouty for me, and I dig simplicity.  It's pretty, and I like it.  

While we were at lunch, I snapped what turns out to be a very very fuzzy pic of the kids, but I'm putting it here because I LOVE their smiles, and it's kind of a celebration to see Mason's teeth after 2+ years in braces.  They've grown up so nicely, and I'm proud of them to absolute bits.

Colin has pretty much adopted the campus as his own too, and visits whenever he can.  I do think he misses not having had the 4-year experience, but his brother is happy to share and Colin will have adventure of his own, perhaps sooner rather than later.  

Even thought they're strapping young men now, I am still amazed at how they grow and develop and change almost daily - it's a miracle to watch them mature and a blessing to be able to do so.  Plus which, they're both seriously funny, so even if they weren't QUITE so awesome, they'd still have that going for them.

One proud mama Tiff, out.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Swinging the boom

Hi guyz!!  I see you!
Hey, let's just get this out of the way, OK?

If anyone has a cure for sudden gushing nosebleeds, I'd sure appreciate it.

Good grief, I sniff too hard and epistaxis happens.  Forget blowing my nose.  I might as well just shove a teaspoon of Vaseline up there to moisturize that left nostril, or get a home wood-burning kit to cauterize whatever stupid little blood vessel is up there that insists on being a delicate flower and bursting forth in freshsets of crimson each time it feels just a lil' put upon.

Because, really.  ONE sniff?

This is the same nostril that just offered up sample of A+ gore at a review meeting 18 months ago or so, when I was so stressed out I looked at a sudden horrific nosebleed as a welcome respite from the stupidity that was happening in the room.  Oh, sure, I had to RUN out of the room with my hand cupped under my nose, hoping I wouldn't stain the conference room carpet, but at that time I was secretly hoping for some moderately-concerning ailment to take me out of that team for....6 months of so, so the nosebleed was a promising start.

Now?  I'm done with it.

Where's the dang Vaseline?


I feel like it's important to note that when the first thing your kids want to eat as a snack is kielbasa and sauerkraut, that somehow you've passed the ultimate parenting test and they're going to be fine in the big bad world.

They even passed up hummus.

Watch me pat myself on the back.


Oh, and one more thing.  When I came on board at the new job I was asked be a sort of process improvement expert/value adder type person.

As in 'let's go ahead and figure out why the company has you aboard.'

The last few months I've been observing and experiencing and training and figuring out where the chinks and gaps and thick rubbery blankets of onerous busy work are stored, and yesterday I released my findings upon my group.

Glorious day!

I really did kind of go with both barrels about how SUCK this job is and the hundred ways it could be better and had suggestions and drawbacks identified and notes outlined about possible co-groups that would need to be actioned to effect the proposed changes, and I GAVE A TIMELINE by which I thought all the issues noted could be addressed.

Yeah, I gave it to 'em good.

I even wrote a nice 3-paragraph preamble on the history of the effort, why the report was written, my observations about the group as it is and where I think it could go....all in corporate-speak.

An effort of which I am MOST proud.

Aaaaand, my boss wants to talk 1:1 with me about it next week.  I ain't skeered.  I did what she asked, I have my stump speech ready, and I am fully prepared to action the living SHIT out of my plan, coworkers agree with my findings and want a way to dig out from under the BS into the glorious light of relevance.

I am, in fact, their beacon in the darkness.  

Feels dang good.


Tiff out.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Everyone has a bad day now and again

Yesterday, I embroiled y'all in a tale of high anxiety and hot tempers.  Oh, it was saucy and vicious, allright, what with all the CATS and death wishes.

I felt pretty good about my righteous indignation, I did.

Until she called back.


She was having a bad day, and really likes us as neighbors, and wanted to apologize for being so touchy, etc etc blahblahblah.

NOW where am I going to put all my rage, HUH?


It's nearly 7 p.m., and I signed off of work half an hour ago.  My first meeting tomorrow is in 11.5 hours.  Yep - 7 a.m.

I'll be signing off at 3, just you watch me.


Question for all you pet owners out there: do you have your furry buddies in bed with you at night, or do they sleep elsewhere?

Wern sleeps on a dog bed next to our bed at night, the cats sleep in the house if they're indoors for the night.

Some folks though are firmly in the crate arena, and others are just as staunchly in the 'let's all crawl in bed together' zone.

Our system works for us, bcs I KNOW the animals aren't fully shed of fleas and dirt, so what makes you welcome them to bed or safely tuck them into their own little dens for the night?

Inquiring minds want to know.


Blogger is losing it's mind.  When I start to write a post the font is so small I can barely read it, and that's at the 'normal' setting (about 8-point font, if I'm any guesser).  When I switch it to 'large' font, things BALLOON up to something around 20-point font, and there's no in-between size.

Neither of which has anything to do at all with how the font appears on the post, of course.  Can't have things making sense all willy-nilly.

Are you a fan of the larger font?  I think I am, and if this site was in mobile device layout, I'm sure that's how it would be.  One giant picture at the top, and nothing but big beefy font scrolling allaway down.


Tip to the Wise: Keebler 'Flip Sides' Pretzel Cracker are a poor, poor imitation of Pretzel Crisps.

Do not be fooled.


Tiff out.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I have some things to work on

For the past few months, we have been working on re-siding the house, choosing to clad in in vinyl by ourselves, with occasional help here and there.

And by 'ourselves,' I mean G is doing 99% of the work.  I just hold stuff.

Because both he and I are employed full-time, and even if I wasn't I would have precious little idea how to put the stuff up if it came to tricky bits (but I'm learning, ever so slowly), it mean that the work is done on nights and weekends.  You know, about the same time as the lawn mower/blower brigade strikes up the band.

One little thing G likes to do when doing outside work is set up the music system to play some tunes while he's banging nails and trimming siding.  The music is not on a boombox, but rather on part of his band's PA system, which CAN put out a mighty voice when called upon, but doesn't in the neighborhood because, well, folks don't always WANT to Andreas Van Vollenweider while they're doing their leaf blowing.

OK, nor might they want to hear 21 Pilots, Gunship, OKGo, worship music, Arthur Lyman, the Sugarcubes, Steve Taylor, Gorrillaz, or anything else he might have on the bulging iPad of musical chairs.

Bottom line, we try to keep the music at a sane level (G's definition, it's HIS job site), and pointed at the work, not the neighbors.

Saturday he worked all day on the house.  It HAS TO BE DONE, y'all.  Cold is coming on. After 3+ months of work (most of it prep work, putting up actual siding is the icing), he's working when there's light, if it's after 9 a.m.  Rock stars need their rest.

Segue to last night - a phone call.

He's out on the deck grilling chicken, so I don't hear any of the conversation.  What I do get is the rundown after, which goes something like this:

Neighbor lady:  Do you hear that music?

G: No, no I don't.
Neighbor: Well it sounds a lot like the music you were blasting all day Saturday when I was trying to sleep because I need to sleep during the day because I'm taking care of CATS all night long and that's when I sleep!  
G:  Well, please call me next time if it's bothering you.
Neighbor: What was that you were playing, RAP?
G: It was all kinds of stuff.
Neighbor: Well you know I'm sick and the daytime is the only time I can sleep because I have all these CATS to take care of at nighttime so the daytime is the only time I can sleep.
G: OK, thanks for letting me know.
Neighbor: you KNOW I have all these CATS to take care of. 
G: OK, thanks for letting me know.

To which I said something REALLY really uncharitable, like 'hurry up and die already, old lady,' and then felt kind of bad, but then didn't, and for that I am a terrible person and remarkably unChristian in my cheek-turning abilities.  BUT LORD HAVE MERCY!  You know why she couldn't call G to ask him to turn down the music so she could rest?

"Well I couldn't get out of bed."

If you're THAT tired....

But I won't say it.  I won't.  I'll think it, and I'll invent a thousand ways one could perish of aural abuse, but I will not SAY it.  Whoops! Just added one - so One thousand and ONE ways to assault a certain Fire Marshall Bill-lookin' neighbor with noise, noise, noise, NOISE!!

Sayyyy, I wonder if her landscapers get the same treatment?  I don't see THEM mowing between dusk and dawn. Maybe she just stuffs another pack of smokes down her neck and puffs aways the offense, until such time as every last blade of grass is (quietly) picked up and they slink off in their electric truck with the fur-covered tires, leaving her to bask in sepulchural splendor, until the horrible neighbors and their Devil RAP MUSIC start up at 10 a.m.!

Forgive me, Lord, for the vivid imagination you blessed me with sometimes is used for evil and not for good.  AND I ENJOY IT.

Until next time,

Tiff out.

PS - but really, am I way off base on this one?  Feel free to tell me how to curb my irrational rage, because I'm all ears.

Monday, January 04, 2016

January. so time for the monthly post.

Actually, I plan to do better than that this year.  Right, OK, it's a refrain heard before, but you know what?  Facebook is getting old and stupid in so many ways, and I can put here what  I wouldn't put there either because it's 1) too boring even for Facebook, b) too boring, even for Facebook, or iii) too get the idea.

Aren't you looking forward, therefore, to reading this blog in 2016?  I'm all a-shiver with the thought of the thrills and spills and chills yet to be on offer here.


Speaking of chills - it snowed for the first time here today.  Minor, tiny-baby flurries, but SNOW, nonetheless.

December was warm and WET, and though that would sound sexy in certain contexts, when you're talking Christmas, you really shouldn't be talking all sexy anyhow so it better be at least COLD.  Santa doesn't care for sexy weather at Christmas, it makes his beard itch and his stomach sweat under that vast swath of belt he's got going on around his midsection.

And as we all know, moist belly-buttons are very sulky belly-buttons.

So yay snow!  I don't even really mind the cold, if it means (and it does!) that the backyard will harden up a little and we won't have dogfoot mud being spread all over the dang house.  And the mosquitoes will go away.  And the spiders will die.

Seriously, y'all.  A week ago we had the dang A/C on.  It was ridiculous.  And wonderful, too, a little.  But mostly ridiculous, on account of all that mud.


We celebrated out 7th wedding anniversary yesterday.  To celebrate, we both took naps, then went to see 'The Force Awakens' at the 'we're practically teenagers!' hour of 6:50 p.m.  Woohoo!!

That was after I gave him socks as a gift, which is TOTALLY APPROPRIATE as the traditional gifts for ol' #7 are either made of wool or copper.  His socks are made of wool.  SMARTWool, even, so I expect by summer his toes will be able to do calculus, which would be a real help to me because I never learned it and might someday need to know something along the calculusy line.  He gifted me with a copper mailbin for my desk (hooray!  no more slidey piles of mail!) and some earrings that 'may contain copper' or might not, but they're pretty and I love them.

But not as much as I love him.  It's really easy to do when you like someone too.


More soon - I have to go write the 'what's wrong with this job' report for my new boss.  It's just the kind of thing I like to do, and because I'm locked out of all pertinent systems while the trickle-down from my recent NT ID name change occurs, it's about the only thing I CAN do.

My one problem: how to type while rubbing my hands together, all Snidely Whiplash fashion.  Heh-heh-heh.

Tiff out.