Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 assessment

It's a sunny and unseasonably warm day.  I thought it would be an inspiring kind of day, perfect for life assessment.  But first, I decided to jog outdoors.  The weather has been so frigidly cold and icy during recent weeks that I had been using my indoor treadmill.  I prefer jogging outdoors, or so I thought.  There were hoards of people in the park outside of my house.  Since it's winter, the bushes and trees are barren, and there is no way to avoid being seen.  I did not want to be looked at today, and I was angry, so much that I shortened my jog considerably.

The main topic which comes to my mind when thinking of the year 2010 is, of course, the death of my sister.  In fact, I can hardly think of anything else.  When 2010 began, I did not know her days were numbered.  She had cancer but it was thought to have been in remission.  I was fortunate to have been able to visit her in Boston several times in 2010.  I will never forget her gaunt figure standing at the door of her apartment, watching me being driven away from my final visit with her.  Standing there, watching people leave, was not something she did.  It was out of character.  I knew that she "knew", and now I "knew".   Would I have done or said anything differently had I known before I left?

Things were pretty dramatic at work as well.  In my field, there are many, many more qualified applicants than there are jobs, and the few jobs that exist are disappearing due to economic conditions and changing social priorities.  Things definitely went south at my workplace, and I was politically involved making the changes happen, even though it meant severe pay cuts.  Over the past few months we've all tried to adjust to the changes, and it has been challenging if not profoundly depressing.  I have to remind myself that I'm lucky to have ever been employed at all in this outrageously competitive field.

The Child is 13 and has been very busy distancing himself from me.  Over the past year I have mourned our past relationship, including the long ago phase when he begged me to marry him.  I have begun preparing myself for the time just around the corner when he will leave home.  (Last night, though, I was ready for that to happen.  He vomited all over the bathroom and I had to clean it up.)

I had an interesting dream last night.  I very rarely remember my dreams, and when I do they seem to be disturbing ones, like the one last month in which my car was broken into and dismantled.  But last night's dream was heavenly.  I was busy working 2 jobs, both of which are in my field (which is actually going to be true next week) but I was also actively seeking a new house.  My realtor played one of the leading roles in this dream; in fact, I was in his house for part of the dream.  There were several gorgeous houses in my coveted neighborhood which I was considering buying.  It was a very happy dream.

Maybe it was a 2011 premonition, hard though it is to believe.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Betty is back AGAIN

I admit that it's harder to blog now because one of my favorite blogging buddies has quit blogging and doesn't read my blog anymore.  Bloggers like to have an audience. 

Anyway, I've decided to try to post regularly, even if I don't have much to say.  Lately I have felt that I don't have enough time to do everything (or anything).  My house has become chaotic again and everything seems more or less out of control.  It's baffling, because there's no apparent reason.

It's safe to say that whirlingbetty is in a state of lack of clarity.

For now, I will write about my Irish ancestors.  An ex-boyfriend is now visiting Ireland, and although we had been out of contact for over a year, I suddenly called him and left a message out of the blue last week.  In response, he sent me an email, saying he had just decided that day to call me, and right after that he checked his stateside messages and found out I had just called him.  He is now in the land of my ancestors - the exact part of Ireland, the desolate, lonely, hauntingly beautiful northern Atlantic coast, from which my dear Gram emigrated as a teenager.

This is what I wrote to the ex-boyfriend:

You are near where my relatives, the Conways (originally from Normandy) who lived in Co. Sligo, Mayo and Donegal.  I believe they owned land in Mayo.  My great-grandmother was Mary O'Donnell Conway (born in Co. Mayo and married to John Conway).  There is a big tombstone in Carrownteane Cemetary, in the village of the same name, in the township of Dromard, Co. Sligo.  My great-grandmother is buried there along with her son Anthony.  She died of a broken heart the day after he died of stomach cancer.  Let me know if you happen upon their tombstone which my gram helped pay for even though she had emigrated.

Someday I must visit that place.  I can see it vividly in my mind; it seems to be part of my nature.  I wish Gram had been able to talk about it.  Although she was very open about everything else (we even shared Playgirl magazines when I was a teen) she would not talk about Ireland.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

betty is back

Weekend Fun: Squirrel in Toilet (VIDEO)I
I'm not sure what kind of animal this is, but I think it's cute.  This photo accompanied an online article about a woman in Oklahoma who found a squirrel in her toilet and called 911.  I've always liked squirrels.

The neighbors and the people who frequent the park in front of my house undoubtedly take note of the fact that I feed squirrels.  Since I have the misfortune of living in a very uptight neighborhood, I reckon the neighbors are appalled.  One of them actually gathered the courage to confront me a couple of years ago.  He wanted to know why I would want to attract rodents to my house.  Since they were enjoying their shelled peanuts outdoors, not in my living room, I wasn't sure what he meant.  Did he really think that I was responsible for the presence of squirrels in the area?  Really?  Who knew that I possessed god-like powers to create and distribute wildlife??  

I was born liking animals.  When I was around 8 years old, my parents came home from an after-dinner walk one evening bearing a dream-come-true for a child of my ilk: a BABY SQUIRREL!  I cannot describe the ecstasy I experienced as I researched squirrel nourishment and began mothering the dear animal.  I used a medicine dropper to nurse the baby and even managed to get some slow-cooked steel-cut oatmeal into him.  Rascal was indescribably cute and nothing pleased me more than contributing to his sustenance.  

As is so often the case, ecstasy morphed into devastation.  Early one evening the doorbell rang.  I was busy feeding Rascal, so I ignored it.  A few moments later, my father appeared with a neighbor boy, Phillip, a hapless child who was not particularly favored among local kids.  My father spoke some of the most awful words I ever heard:  "Phillip says that this squirrel is his.  It fell out of the tree in front of his house and it had escaped when I found it.  You have to give him back his squirrel."    

To this day I remember the look on that squirrel's face as he was taken out of my hands by my father and handed to Phillip.  So I never got over squirrels.  I will always have a soft spot for them.  And if the neighbors don't like it, well....

Last summer I had a major victory.  I got one of the squirrels to eat out of my hand.  (Those of you who know squirrels at all will realize how unusual that is.  Chipmunks are so greedy and bold that they easily approach humans for handouts, but not squirrels.) 
You would expect a squirrel to take the treat like an untrained dog- with a quick, grabbing gesture, borderline dangerous.  Nope.  The squirrel was gentle as could be, once she managed to talk her reluctant body into inching close enough to me.  She calmly took the nut in her mouth and settled down to eat it gratefully - ecstasy for both of us.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had enjoyed an augmentation of my at-home wildlife viewing.  Five times over the past few days I have seen deer outside of my house.  Mind you, I live within city limits of the 15th largest U.S. city.  Deer are not expected visitors in my neighborhood, although I do live on a park with a wooded ravine.

This morning it's snowing heavily.  I would not have seen the deer running past my window if my dog, perched in his window seat, had not begun barking ferociously.  Predictably, a large, very fast dog OFF-LEASH was in hot pursuit.  

It bothers me to no end that this city lacks a leash law, unlike every other U.S. city that I know of.  The off-leash dogs are a constant presence around my house because I live on a park which is extremely popular among dog fanatics.  The dogs have terrorized and bitten my son and killed our beloved Chihuahua.  They chase squirrels, birds, chipmunks, ground hogs and now deer.  

I still like dogs, as evidenced by the fact that I own one.  However, I am less than thrilled with the dog OWNERS around here, who somehow justify owning dogs which they think require acres of free space to run in, at the expense of people and wildlife trying to enjoy the park (or their own residence in my case).  I think that those dog owners are out of touch with reality.  If they really do own dogs which require that amount of freedom and exercise, then the owners are irresponsible to be harboring the dogs within city limits.  

Someday this city might wake up and enact a leash law.   Then what will those dog owners do?!  (I can tell you what they'll do.  They'll keep on doing what they're now doing, knowing full well that the city's police force is stretched too thin to deal with off-leash dogs!)