Friday, March 29, 2013

Attack of the spambots.

It's possible my blog has a better spam filter than most, but I've not yet felt a need to enable comment moderation or the supremely annoying word verification that sometimes makes me skip commenting on a post rather than try to decipher the squiggly letters and numbers. It's not that I don't get my share of spam, it's just that the filter catches most of it and the rest I mark as spam in the dashboard to help Blogger learn what to weed out. But I do read them in my email, and they are often comical. Like when my post called "Stretched a little thin," about feeling emotionally wrung out, elicited spam about diet tips.  Or the post on baking bread that pulled in a comment that included, "I think you should write more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but typically folks don't discuss these subjects." Because, you know, bread-making is such a secret activity!

The comments offer effusive, if not grammatically correct, compliments. One told me, "If someone wishes expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building then I recommend him/her to visit this weblog. Keep up the fastidious work." Indeed, I'm widely know as the fastidious blogger. Or the weirdly time-warping comment, "Lucky me I found your site by accident, and I am surprised why this accident did not took place in advance." My favorite may have been the praise of my "remarkable writing" on a post with only photos and not a single word. At times, the writing is downright incomprehensible: "Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to grasp a lot as approximately this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something. I feel that you simply could do with a few percent to pressure the message house a little bit, but instead of that, that is wonderful blog." Um, okay. I'll get right on that.

One spambot told me "You ought to be part of a contest for the highest quality websites on the internet! I am going to highly recommend this website!" Of course, the "finger arthritis" remedies he was linking to must have prevented that, because I have yet to receive my award. Does anyone actually click on the links for the things they sell?  I hope not.

And then there's was today's gem: "Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you're a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back later in life." Later in life? Perhaps after he retires? And what was Mr. Spam offering? An "ejaculation trainer." Perhaps I'm naive, but all this time I was under the impression that it wasn't one of those things men had to learn how to do. Maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention? Or maybe women are the ejaculation trainers.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

I don't seem to be happy about this.

You know what that is? It's snow. On March 25th. Not just after Southern Spring has started (around the first of March), but even after the official start of Spring. Yeah, yeah, nothing is sticking. But it's been flurrying all day long and it's freaking chilly. Not that it's stopping my son or his friends who came over this afternoon. It's their Spring break and they are running around outside, hooded sweatshirts their only concession to the cold. But oddly, although even a hint of snow usually causes people to cancel their appointments in droves, on the off-chance that they might encounter a snowflake on the road, all 8 of my scheduled patients showed up. It's like they all said, "Hell, it's almost April, we'll just pretend this isn't happening."
Sometimes when my son has his friends over, the little boy next door will tell me with great concern, "The teenagers are in the woods again." Like the Mongol hordes have arrived. I always assure him, "Sweetie, they're just kids, they won't hurt you." But they are loud and man-sized and to a 5-year-old they are both alarming and intriguing. He follows them around, running back to safety when they notice him. I find this amusing - my son and his buddies are actually a gentle lot. They may look fierce with their camo and machetes, but these same boys greet me with shy smiles when they arrive and make a point of thanking me for allowing them to come over. I'm happy to have them around. But you know what I'd be even happier about? Spring. I want it back, dammit.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Remember memes?

I used to do these question memes all the time on my old blog, back when people would tag you and then you'd tag others. After a while I refused to tag people, but I still occasionally am taken with a meme. In fact, I have one dealing with where I'm from that I've not forgotten about but need to dig up photos for. At any rate, this one was on Stephanie's blog and I decided to take a crack at it. If these seven questions speak to you, feel free to make them your own.
1. What were you doing ten years ago?
In March, 2003 I was working at the community mental health center and rapidly reaching the end of my rope with the increasing micro-management of clinicians by non-clinical staff. By this point, my then-husband and I were making plans to leave and set up a private practice. We took a little of our banked leave time to take our kids to Costa Rica, a little more to scout office locations and buy the furniture, and by August we had taken all our patients with us and were in business.

2. What five things are on your to-do list? I don't know about this one. There are plenty of things I want to do and likely will do that involve relationships, travel, and so on. But more mundanely:
* Get some seeds started for my vegetable garden. Yes, I vowed not to grow one this year, but when Spring starts rolling around I can't help myself.
* Scrape and re-paint the window sills in the living room and dining room. And while I'm at it, curse the former owners for using an oil-based paint.
* Grocery shop before the pack of boys my son has invited over descend on my house tomorrow. Pizza. I need to get pizza.
* Finish some paperwork I brought home. It's endless.
* Mow the yard. My neighbors are putting me to shame.

3. What are five snacks you enjoy? 
* Dry red wine. Wine is a snack, right?
* Kalamata olives and cheese with crackers.
* Chocolate. Currently Cadbury mini-eggs, which I wait eagerly for each year.
* Popcorn. I have an air-popper and I like it drizzled with olive oil and a little salt.
* Sushi. I know that doesn't sound like a snack, but I sometimes buy a little tray of sushi rolls at the Fresh Market. And I remember an old insanely extravagant boyfriend saying he wanted to get a "snack" before a show we were going to see, and it ended up being a bunch of nigiri and a bottle of wine. A recent sushi story: A friend of mine doesn't like the squishier sorts of seafood, so he'd ordered a tempura roll at the sushi restaurant. After he'd eaten a couple of pieces, he said, "I wonder what the orange things are?" I told him they were fish eggs. He said, "Oh. Uh. Hmm. Okaaaay." He did NOT seem pleased to discover he was happily eating fish eggs! I told him he could call it roe if that would help.
4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire.
The usual first - pay off my mortgage, put aside enough to get the kids through college. Travel some. And sock money away so that I could afford to alter my practice in a way that would allow me to see anyone who needed it, regardless of ability to pay. I do that already as much as I can, but wouldn't it be great not have to worry about an income? Still, I'm not going to start buying lottery tickets.

5. Name some places you have lived.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Mississippi, Georgia, Switzerland, Virginia, Tennessee. 

6. Name some bad habits that you have. I'm going with habits/personality traits. Because anyone who knew me in the old days of blogging knows that I never leave a meme unaltered:
I have a wicked sweet tooth. I am a bit of a doter, and this gets me in trouble. I can worry like nobody's business. And at other times I can throw caution to the wind and be utterly heedless. I can be both slothful and fully engaged in hard physical work. I am deeply spiritual and an atheist. I have a hair-trigger anger and a well of patience that borders on the insane. Although I don't believe in astrology, I may be the classic Libra. ("And maybe it's because I'm a Libra, I say balance, balance, balance." Ani DiFranco)

7. Name some jobs you have had. I can name them all, actually:
As a young kid, I baby-sat, raked pine straw, and washed cars for money. (I also worked my ass off on the farm where we lived, but I didn't get paid for that!) Once I had my own wheels, I worked at fast food places and also had some full-time summer baby-sitting gigs. I did work-study as an office assistant in college, in the Sociology department. After I graduated, I worked in the company my father worked for, putting a filing system at a Naval office in DC onto a Lotus spreadsheet. In grad school, I was a research assistant for a Deception project and also a Foster Care project. I was also a teaching assistant for intro psych and intro social psych classes. In between grad schools, I worked as a help session teacher at a residential school for emotionally disturbed kids, a research assistant for an organizational behavior professor in the business school, and worked weekends answering the crisis line at a psychiatric hospital. Internship in my field is a paid position, so I'll count it. Well, poverty-level salary, but still. On internship, I did psychological evaluations, and saw patients at the community mental health center's family clinic, the psychiatric hospital's adolescent, adult and substance abuse programs, the psychiatry department's clinic, and the VA hospital and nursing home. And finally, out with a license, I worked in a couple of group private practices, doing therapy and psychological assessments and neuropsychological evaluations. After that, I had various roles at the community mental health center - I ran the Alcohol and Drug Abuse program, was the Operations Director for the main office and of course saw patients. Off and on, I've taught psychology and child development classes at two local colleges as an adjunct professor. And for the last ten years I've been a psychologist in my own private practice where I see patients full-time and also act as the office manager. Huh. Suddenly I feel the need for a nap.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vernal Equinox

After a weekend where I was even able to keep the windows open all night, we have a low in the 20's predicted tonight. I ran out this afternoon to do an emergency harvest of my daffodils and hyacinths. Looking ahead, I see we'll be in the 60's again by week's end. The weather in this part of the country is remarkably variable this time of year, so I get out as much as I can when the warmth hits. But the heat is back on in the house today. Normally, in the cold season I keep my thermostat at 66-68 when I'm home during the day and, because my younger son and I are both nighttime human furnaces, drop it to 54 when we sleep. When the thermostat is set higher, my body was practically radiates heat. I can almost see a shimmer above my skin. How someone can stand to be fully covered in a blanket, I don't know. But you won't hear me complaining because it's the first day of Spring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time for warmer-weather clothes.

It seems like the biannual closet shift rolls around faster all the time. The cold-to-warm shift is the one that makes me happy. I love packing away sweaters and hats and gloves and bringing out short-sleeves. My closet is set up so that half is more readily accessible and I swap everything from one side to the other as the seasons begin to shift. I always take the opportunity to cull out things I haven't worn and drop them off to donate them. And then I watch the forecast and wait. I've been running in a tank top and skort for at least a month now, and haven't worn a coat to work all week. In fact, I had the windows open day and night through the weekend because it was so warm.  Oh, I know - it's a little early for sundresses. But I'm ready! Goodbye boots, hello sandals. Turn, turn, turn.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Working in the green for St. Patrick's Day.

Now that's what I'm talking about! Highs in the mid-70's,  sunny and clear, a light breeze. This is the spring weather I've been waiting for. The joy of stepping out my front door and being greeted with the sweet scent of hyacinths.
Of course, spring also means yard work, but I love that, too. I have been clearing dead leaves from the flower beds and dumping them by the tub-full into the woods or on the side of the road to be picked up by the city. This morning, the little boys next door helped haul tubs of leaves up the driveway after I lopped the dead stalks of the Japanese false bamboo that has to be cut to the ground each year so that it can re-grow. It's an insanely invasive plant put in by the equally insane former home-owners, but I deal with it as best as I can to keep it from consuming the yards of both myself and my neighbors.
As I worked, the kids peppered me with questions: "What is that flower?" ("Those are crocuses.") "What about these little ones?" ("Those are called grape hyacinth.") "What about this little flower that I just picked?" ("That's the bud of a Bradford pear flower. And now it's dead. Please don't pick them. And while we're on the subject, please don't ever again pull the red berries off my nandina bushes. Got it?") "Okay. And what about those Easter flowers?" ("Those are daffodils.") And so on.
I spent all of Saturday evening clearing out the bed by the far driveway. Soon the azaleas will bud out and the lilies of the valley and the hostas will emerge. I worked in short-sleeves until seven that evening. It was glorious.
Today was mostly spent in the tiered bed by the first driveway. I dug up wild onions, removed a million dead leaves, and even uprooted some dandelions.
In the front bed, the bell-like flowers of the pierris are out, and the candytuft surved the snow and continues to bloom.
Yes, my back is a little sore from all the work. But so worth it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apparently I'm some sort of mutant.

So I'm four weeks into a six week intro yoga class. I let my instructor know on the first day that I have carpal tunnel issues and needed modifications for anything that normally calls for pressure on the wrists. No downward dog for me, I do a dolphin pose. Planks on my forearms rather than my hands. And so on. I'm working on it, learning to balance, strengthening my pitiful core muscles. And anything that involves my super tight hamstrings, I have problems with. But I hope to improve that, too. However, other things seem to be easier for me. I became aware of that when we did the child's pose, which basically involves kneeling and then lying over your thighs with your arms stretched out ahead of you on the floor. As our instructor talked about breathing and deepening into the pose, I got confused. I looked around to see some people had space between their rears and their legs.  Me, I was like a rag doll, fully collapsed onto my legs, face on the floor. I could sleep like that. 

But I realized I was constructed differently than most people when we learned this (image found on the web) - the malasana or garland pose.  It is basically a squat with your heels flat on the floor and hip-width apart, toes pointing out on a diagonal. You bring your torso forward to press your arms against the inside of your knees, with your hands in a prayer position.  The idea is to have your chest open and back straight. Go ahead, try it. I did, and then looked around the room. After trying a couple of adjustments, I said, "Um... is my butt supposed to be touching the floor? I don't think I'm doing this right." The instructor suggested I open my chest more to make sure my back wasn't rounded. Done. Butt still touching the floor. Now everyone was looking at me from their own squat. One woman says, "You know, I think you're longer here (gesturing from hip to knee) compared to here (knee to ankle) than everyone else." The instructor leaned forward to study me saying, "Oh, interesting. That's really interesting." While the rest of the class nodded. I said, "Okay, good to know I'm a freak of nature.  Moving on."  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Your comments can lead me down strange alleyways in my mind.

Someone commented on a previous post about how I seem to meet a lot of men. And it's true I've had a what-the-hell attitude and I often go out just to have something to do.  But I started thinking about it - how many had I met? I started to write out a list of everyone I'd gone out with since I'd been divorced. I'm including even single dates - be it dinner or a cup of coffee, that never amounted to anything. But while some names of people I'd only met once came back easily, others I couldn't do any better than "the conceited-for-no-discernable-reason pilot," or "the quiet-talking architect," "the pathologist who bristled when I mentioned that I was a pacifist," or even just "that dreadfully boring guy." (Which lead me into a tangential train of thought about coding all my actual relationships by profession - the engineer, the astrophysicist, the bank president, the cop, and so on.) Anyway - even the ones whose names I couldn't immediately bring to mind, I could still remember even if we only met briefly.

Like the guy I met for coffee, who started telling me the plot of some movie in excruciating detail, including this bit:
Him: "It had Jack Niklaus..."
Me: "Umm..."
Him: "and that guy who was the vagabond in Titanic?"
Me: "Leonardo DiCaprio?"
Him: "Yeah, yeah, Leonardo da Vinci."
And then went on to continue mis-saying the names. Unless there really was a movie that starred a PGA champion and a Renaissance artist.

Or the dinner date who I met on a snowy night who helpfully scraped ice off my car windshield for me with his credit card.

Or the lunch date whose gay vibe was so strong I had a hard time not saying, "Are you absolutely certain you're not gay?"

Or the dinner date who spent part of the time drawing cartoons of fellow diners for me and who I knew the instant I laid eyes on him that there was no chance I'd see him a second time.  

Or the morning coffee date who was remarkably unable to hear my many assurances that not only did I not want to go out with him again, that I did not want to maintain any sort of contact at all.

Or the dinner date who admitted that although he'd claimed his divorce was just a formality at that point, he was actually still waiting for his ex to serve papers on him.

I am not counting the guys I talked to but ultimately decided not to meet at all.  Like the guy who in the midst of a benign email conversation about hiking wrote, "I bet you would enjoy being tied to the bed and having control taken from you." Thanks for the heads up, ya freak. Honestly. Why would you not wait until you'd at least met before you broached the topic of sex?

So, adding up just the men I actually met, there were only 35.  Not so many over the course of six years. But boy, some of those were NOT worth leaving the house for, except possibly for the story.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A little easy Friday quiz.

According to this little chart,  I am especially concerned about crumbs in bed. Which is funny, because my response to one of Laura's Choose and Defend Wednesday questions about a month ago, I said I was voting for a picnic over breakfast in bed because I don't like crumbs in the bed!

But there are exceptions. When I had my last surgery and was on some pretty serious activity restrictions imposed by my surgeon, my boyfriend at the time spent the night with me and we agreed it would be best if we actually wore clothes. That night, he dressed chastely in flannel pj pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. When he walked into the room, I was wearing undies and a camisole.  He slapped his hand over his eyes and said, "Oh my God, don't let me see you like that!" And in one of those D'oh-in-hindsight moments, I said, "What? All the important parts are covered." So, probably also being stalked by a homicidal maniac.

What's your style say about you?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dogs on Parade.

In addition to the radio show last Saturday, there was also a big Mardi Gras-themed dog event going on downtown. I just caught the tail end of it. (snort)
This pair actually came in for the show, and one howled a little right as the singers were wrapping up. Caught up in the spirit, I guess.
There is something long-suffering about this poodle.  I'm pretty sure it's thinking, "Dear God in Heaven, not the silly pink fairy outfit again. Who am I, Tinkerbell?"
Now that's traveling in style. When I'm old, I want someone to decorate a wheelchair in purple and green, give me some flashy jewelry to wear and take me on a stroll.  I'm going to be working on my expression of regal disdain so I'll be ready when the time comes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Some days I'm glad to just be inside.

We got the weirdest snow yesterday. Small styrofoam-like pellets that were blowing in nearly sideways. And it was cold. I wanted spring, not this. Now I'm huddled in waiting for the promised warm-up next weekend.
But a friend had told me his band was playing the noon show on Saturday, so I gritted my teeth against the snow and went downtown. This show is free to the public, every noon except Sundays. Mostly folk, Americana, bluegrass. Sometimes local bands, sometimes people who are touring. Usually two acts, half an hour each. It's such a small venue that it has the feel almost of a house party.