Musings From The Edge

"Not all those who wander are lost" - J.R.R Tolkien

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why do you blog?

I was reading one of my blog regulars and they had a link posted to a survey that asked why people blogged. I wish I could remember which blog had the link, but here is the website.

I was surprised over how difficult that simple question was to answer. There are many reasons why I started blogging but I think the biggest reason is that writing is a good way to give voice to those thoughts and emotions that are rolling around in my head. Granted, I could keep a journal, and I have kept journals in the past, but through blogging I have an easier time reaching out to see if anyone is in the same boat as I am. And in that same token, I hope others can draw from my experiences and know that they are not alone. I also blog to share my silly experiences and the interesting people that I meet. I blog to improve my writing and as a way to get those creative juices flowing.

I enjoy reading blogs as much as I enjoy writing. I'm particularly interested in those people that write about their career experiences. I especially enjoy those blogs written by teachers, doctors, therapists/psychiatrists and other people who have a lot of interaction with the public because the general public can generate a lot of interesting material. I'm actually looking for blogs written by military men and women, policemen and firemen and if anyone can help me there, send me a comment or an email of those blogs that you read!

So...why do YOU blog? And which type of blogs do you enjoy reading? Are there some blogs out there that you just love and want to share? Leave a comment!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Thank You

Just wanted to say thanks to you for your kind words and sharing your experiences. Your comments reminded me that I'm not alone with this depression thing and depression seems to be pretty good at isolating you from the world out there, making you feel like you're alone.

I enjoy good quotes and affirmations and I recently came across these. I recite these often in my mind when I'm having a bad day or a bad moment.

"I am more than these feelings"

and

"I breathe, therefore I am. Breathe deep, you'll get there."

I'm up to the 150mg of Effexor and have adjusted fine to the medication though it appears to be disrupting my sleep. I wake up often at night. In the last few days I've been taking the medicine in the morning instead of in the afternoon and the last 2 nights that seems to have helped some. I'll give it a few more weeks before I call the doc.

On a lighter note, I did some volunteering at the nature centers this past week. On Saturday (the 20th) I gave a Winter Tree ID presentation. I had 6 people sign up and only 3 showed up to the class. That was fine with me. The small number of people eased my nervousness and gave me a chance to really interact with the students. (well, 2 adults and one adolescent, but they were there to learn!)

The twig ID class was a bit out of my comfort zone. Identifying trees by their twigs is challenging and the dichotomous keys sometimes make the process all the more difficult. I went over "twig anatomy" and discussed other terms before handing out twigs for my students to identify with the key. I got the twigs from a kit and the answers were already typed up...thank goodness because I'm not sure I would have been able to correctly id some of those twigs! After spending an hour identifying twigs, I took everyone on a short walk outside the nature center to identify some of the trees. I think I learned as much as the students did on this excursion. One of my students was a retired entomologist who was comfortable with dichotomous keys and he gave me some great pointers in working with these maddening little booklets.

On Tuesday I spent the day out at the other nature center leading small groups of first graders on walks. Their focus was on "habitat". What components made a habitat and who or what lived in a habitat. My first group of kids were kinda wild and the one little boy had food on his brain. While walking in the woods we came across evidence of a squirrel burying nuts in the ground after discussing why the squirrel would bury the nuts, I asked what other foods the squirrel might eat to which the boy promptly said "Pizza!" His response to just about every question I asked was "pizza". (ie - What do you suppose coyotes eat? Pizza! What is out here on the prairie that would deem it a habitat? Pizza! etc)

It had snowed overnight and there were some great animal tracks on the ground. I took along an animal tracks ID card and had the kids try to identify the tracks that we came across. In my second group of first graders, I had a little girl who was convinced that every big track or blob of exposed ground were black bear prints. And subsequently, she answered almost all of my questions with "black bear". What animals live out here on the prairie? Black bears! Which animals would use the trees for shelter? Black bears! I repeatedly told her there were no black bears in the city or even the state, but she stubbornly persisted with her concern of bears lurking in the woods. Oiye.

I'm off this weekend. Whoo-hoo! I don't get weekends off very often...of course my weekend hours aren't bad, I'm home before 6pm but it's still nice to have a Saturday and Sunday free to lounge around in my jammies and be with my hubby.

Have a good weekend everyone! I'll be around to read your blogs!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

3rd Week

I've been on the antidepressant Effexor for 3 weeks now. The doctor gave me a bunch of samples at my last visit and told me to gradually increase my dose up to 150mg. Right now I'm at 75mg. I forgot how hard antidepressants are on my stomach. The first week was the worst and I was at the lowest dose of 37.5 mg. I decided to continue this dose for an additional week to help my stomach adjust. Next week I will start taking the recommended dose of 150mg.

I don't feel better, but I know it will take a few more weeks before I notice any differences in my emotions. I still find it difficult to socialize with friends and family. I don't want to go out...I just want to be left alone and I've been stuck in a muck of self pity this week. I've been struggling with this round of depression for over 2 years now and I'm wondering what more I need to do to get through it. I've done therapy, support groups and the medication. What more do I need to do? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do differently? That's the kind of thing that has been going through my mind.

But it's not all bad. I reconnected with an old friend a few days ago and it was so good to talk to her. One of the nature centers I volunteer at has asked me to take photographs for a field guide they will be creating. There is another photography project that I may be involved in, but it's too soon yet to get excited about it.

The skies are gray, but the sun is peaking through the clouds. I just wish it would hurry and clear up already.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday 13


Thirteen Things about Chickadee


1) As some of you know, I work in a small retail store where we get a lot of regulars. I have a difficult time remembering names but I can remember things like the customer’s hobbies, the names of their pets or what merchandise they buy when they come into the store. What is up with that? Why can I remember details of their lives, but not their names?

2) I must confess that I am a Matlock rerun watcher. Hubby knows that I love the show and often teases me about it, especially when I get angry with someone or annoyed over some injustice. He will grin at me and say “You better get Matlock on the case.”

3) Hubby also gets a kick out of the fact that I watch the Andy Griffith show. When he sees the sitcom on the television he makes it a point to ask me what hilarious misunderstandings are occurring in Mayberry.

4) To those World of Warcraft Players in the group – The Burning Crusades is here! Did you buy your copy? I’ve been spending waaay too much time on the game since the expansion came out on Tuesday.

5) Hubby went to the gaming store at midnight to pick our Burning Crusades copies up. He said there were only about 25 people in the store.

6) As mentioned in Friday’s entry, I did an outdoor event on Thursday (Eagle Days) that was cold and windy. Well, I did another outdoor event (Eagle Days part 2) on Sunday and it was even COLDER and windy. It was overcast and 32 degrees…not sure what the wind chill was that day and I’m not sure I want to know!

7) And while doing Thursday’s outdoor event, several of the volunteers’ cars needed to be moved to a different parking lot. Given that we were standing on the middle of a bridge with a bunch of kids (see the previous entry) we had to rely on someone else to move our cars. I was a little embarrassed about the state of my car. Let’s just say the interior of my car is a trough short of a pigsty. Oh well.

8) I wore my neck gaiter for the first time on Thursday. When I pulled the thing over my nose I felt like I was suffocating myself so I had to gradually get used to having it over my nose. I also steamed up my glasses when I had the thing over my nose.

9) There was a panhandler on the street corner yesterday in the freezing cold. Why of all days would someone be out on the street selling candy? I have a big pet peeve with panhandlers. I feel like they’re pushy and running some scam as they try to sell you candy or ask for money for some charity. They’re usually dressed in street clothes and not wearing an official shirt or other insignia of the charitable organization. Even worse are the kids that are on the street corners trying to raise money for their schools. I wish panhandling were illegal in my city.

10) I hooked up via telephone with an old friend that I haven’t talked to in a few years. It was wonderful to talk to her again. I vow this time to keep in closer contact with her.

11) My brain is such a blank right now with this 13…I’m having a difficult time coming up with 13 things today.

12) Here’s an odd question about bread. Do you eat the heels of the bread, or throw them out? I don’t like the heels of the bread but my husband will eat them.

13) Please continue to keep my friend’s husband in your thoughts. He’s over in Iraq and their platoon had lost almost a dozen members over Xmas week. Let’s keep our thoughts focused on his safety and well-being.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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Friday, January 12, 2007

I Survived Eagle Days 2007



I helped with an Eagle Days event for our nature center yesterday. We host this event every year and the extravaganza lasts 5 days. Wednesday through Friday are devoted to school groups and the event is open to the public on the weekend.

Eagle Days is held out at the Chain of Rocks Bridge, an old narrow bridge that spans across the Mississippi River. The bridge is a historic landmark and a great place to view Missouri's wintering population of Bald Eagles.

Last year I participated in the weekend portion of Eagle Days but this year was the first year that I helped with the school groups and this event was well organized. A different school group came out every hour and their stay lasted about 45 minutes. The incoming students were treated to a presentation that included a live bald eagle before the kids were divided into 2 groups. One group played an Eagle Jeopardy game and the other group came across the bridge to look for eagles through the spotting scopes manned by the volunteers. I was one of the volunteers manning the spotting scopes.

The weather and the kids provided an unforgettable experience. The weatherman was predicting strong winds but mild temperatures. (Well, mild for this time of the year) I knew that there was always a bit of wind on that bridge and that temperatures tend to run a bit cooler by the river so I dressed up. I put on long underwear, wool socks, a turtle neck with my warmest sweater before I piled on 3 coats and my neck gaiter. I could not turn my head and could barely move my arms, but I was warm! Other volunteers came equally prepared. Many wore varying degrees of coats, overalls and hats. One volunteer went so far as to gear up in her ski suit and ski mittens.

And it was windy. Very, very, VERY windy. I was not prepared for the intensity of the wind. I think many people were surprised at the strength of the wind. It was nonstop and so gusty at times that you had to hold on to the spotting scopes and brace yourself to keep everything (and yourself) from blowing over. We laughed and moaned over the cool, windy weather and joked that we needed T-shirts or buttons that said "I survived Eagle Days 2007".

The kids that came to the event appeared to be middle to lower class and were also an eye-opening experience. Some of the students had threadbare jackets and wore no hats or gloves and ill-fitting clothes. And while standing up on the step stools to look through the spotting scopes, the kids would open their mouths in concentration, providing a revealing glimpse at their teeth. I was surprised at the number of kids that had broken teeth, yellowed teeth, gingivitis or severe plaque buildup.

The eagles were sparse but mostly reliable. We had one eagle standing on a sandbar and another eagle perched on a wood drift, each hoping to snag a passing fish. There was only one period of time when all of our eagles flew off, leaving us volunteers to find creative ways for the kids to get excited about standing on top of a bridge amidst the howling wind and cold temperatures with no eagles in sight. I was fortunate enough to find a Great Blue Heron standing at the edge of the river. One of the other volunteers focused on a a paddleboat and had the kids try to read the name of the boat through the spotting scope and yet another volunteer had the kids look for eagles with the spotting scope.

The event ended at lunchtime and the nature center fed us BBQ sammiches, pork and beans, coleslaw, mac n cheese and cookies. They also gave us a little backpack in appreciation for our hardwork.

My friend and co-volunteer took that picture of me on the bridge. She posted the picture on our volunteer website and typed the caption "Could be worse. I could be in Anarctica"

Well...it WAS cold and windy.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Seed Tussle

There are a few challenges to my job and these challenges are typical in many retail settings: making a sales pitch to the customer, dealing with a difficult customer, answering odd questions and figuring out merchandise returns. However, there is one daily challenge that is not found in all small retail shops. We carry a variety of seed mixes in 15, 20 and 50 pound bags and it is the store's policy to carry all seed bags to the customer's car. No exceptions, end of story.

This may seem simple enough of a task to accomplish, but it can be difficult at times. The women customers are usually cooperative and generally do not protest when I grab their birdseed and head for the door. The men however, are a different story.

Taking seed out for a male customer takes a degree of outwitting, outsmarting and quick reflexes. I'm already thinking ahead as the male customer approaches the register and my plan usually involves practically jumping over the counter to reach the seed before he has placed his change or receipt in his wallet. By the time he has a chance to react, I'm already at the front door with the bag slung over my shoulder. (We keep the birdseed by the front door)

The next phase in the game involves wit. At this point the man protests that I have the bag and I'll laugh and say things like :

"I need to walk off the Moo-Latte that I had for lunch"

or

"It's such a beautiful day outside that I need a breath of fresh air."

If the gentleman vigorously protests, I'll tell him that carrying the seed is a service we provide our customers and if the boss is out of earshot, I'll tell him with a smile that I will get in trouble if I do not take his seed to the car (And believe me, I will!) and he wouldn't want to get me in trouble, would he? At this point though we're already outside so the man will usually grumble and comply.

I know that it's probably a macho thing and the men aren't comfortable with a woman, or anyone really, taking their seed out to their car but it makes my job difficult when they say "no". It's not a personal issue, it's my job. Please stop fighting me and let me do my job. It's just a bag of seed. No more tussling!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Regulars

We had a high number of regular customers enter the store yesterday. I like the regular customers. There's a certain degree of comfort in seeing a familiar face and you get a glimpse into their everyday lives everytime they walk through the door. Some come in once a week, others maybe only once every 6-8 weeks. Most of these customers are elderly but there are a few young ones in the cast of characters. You dread some of the regulars that come through the door, but some are quite entertaining.

For example, Mr. W came in yesterday. He's an older man that is hilarious and his routine is like clockwork. He usually enters the store with a smile on his face before he starts bemoaning the fact that he has to feed "those birds" and complains about all the money he spends on birdseed and the only gratitude he gets from his feathered friends is the poop on his car. Then he launches into the squirrels. The squirrels live high on the hog at his bird feeders and he swears to the lord above that some of the squirrels are as big as he is. He has quite the comedy act.

Mrs. K also came in yesterday and she is another entertaining customer. Well, her dog is the entertaining one. Mrs. K runs her errands with her dog in tow. Sasha is a young basset hound mix that is enthusiastic about life. She likes to jump on people to lick their faces in greeting and she enjoys romping around the store. She's not a destructive dog by any means, just young. Mrs. K gets so annoyed with Sasha sometimes. When Sasha jumps on one of us or pulls Mrs. K through the store, she will roar "Sasha!" in exasperation. A few weeks ago Mrs. K came in grumbling under breath. When I asked where Sasha was, she replied that Sasha was still in the car because she was in trouble. Evidently Sasha had found a bag of candy that Mrs. K had just purchased and had eaten some of the sweets during the trip to our store. Needless to say, Sasha was in big trouble.

Mr. S also came in yesterday. Mr. S is a little old man that loves feeding the ducks and geese at his church. He and his wife are volunteer groundskeepers at the church. His wife tends the plants and he feeds the birds. He comes in at least twice a month to buy cracked corn for the birds and usually gives us a comic strip on the way out. I'm afraid that Mr. S's hold on reality is slipping. He launches into his story about being a volunteer at the church and feeding the ducks in the exact same way every time he comes into the store, as if he has never seen you before (when you've waited on him just about every other time he has come in) and when he pays, he pulls everything out of his wallet and looks at it all in indecision. Then he will leave something important on the counter, like a credit card or social security card and you have to make sure to give him that card as he's walking away. He is a sweet man, but it is hard to watch him slowly deteriorate.

Mr. and Mrs. D also came in yesterday. They are fairly new to the regular cast. They have been buying the pet food that we have recently added to the store. They have a pair of Boston Terriers that are a hoot. The dogs also came into the store.

Some of these customers have interesting lives. One regular customers include a woman who is a serious birder that travels all over the world in search of that bird she has yet to put on her life list. Another lady is a nun who lives and works at a children's home and yet another is a woman who works at the local Petsmart and fosters cats in her home. There's the woman from the South that is a high school swim teacher. She's a hoot. I love it when she comes in the store.

Some of the customers are currently experiencing trials in their lives. There's the married couple that comes in every now and then where the wife is in the beginning stages of Alzheimers, or the woman who had a stroke last spring and is just now getting out and around. Or the heartbreaking case of the woman who has ovarian cancer and is having to repeat her chemo. I haven't seen her in awhile. There's also the woman who comes into the store a lot that has a disabled husband at home.

Working in retail may drive me nuts but that's one of the perks of the job...meeting and getting to know everyday strangers.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thursday 13


Thirteen Things about CHICKADEE


1) Happy New Year everyone! The 1st 13 of the year…I’ll get things started and tell you how hubby and I spent our New Years Eve. I was lucky enough to get the day off. So we sat in our pajamas all day and played World of Warcraft.

2) Then we had a dinner of appetizers that consisted of pizza, crab rangoon, lemongrass chicken rolls and curry chicken potstickers. Then we watched the Wallace and Grommit movie “The Curse of the Wererabbit”. I’m new to the Wallace and Grommit scene but I loved the movie. I gotta say that while Wallace may have the brains, Grommit definitely has the common sense of the pair. He quickly became my favorite. His expressions and reactions to Wallace’s quips and (mis)adventures were priceless.

3) On New Years Day we had brunch at the casino. I’m not a casino type girl. I find a lot of the flash in a casino unnecessary and well, stupid. There was a fountain in the casino’s lobby and I commented that it was a waste of water. Hubby said that the water was recycled and nothing was going to waste. I argued that even though the fountain was recycling the water, it was frivolous because the water wasn’t doing anything useful and should have been put to better use. Leave the water for drinking or sustaining plant and animal life. I guess that’s the hippie in me coming out.

4) We also had an interesting conversation over brunch concerning my wedding ring. Hubby noticed that I was wearing only my engagement ring and not my wedding ring. I sheepishly told him that I misplaced the ring. I went on to tell him that the only times I took the ring off was when I took a shower or I went to bed. I took the ring off at night because my hands seem to swell at night and the ring feels tight and I take it off when I shower because it seems to get loose and I’m worried it will fall off. Apparently my comment amused him.

“So your ring is both too tight and too loose.” He said with a grin.

Shut up. I know how dumb that sounds, but it’s true! LOL.

5) Now that the holidays are over, I like to see how long the Christmas lights stay up in the front yards. Last year I saw lights all the way up to the 2nd week in Feburary.


6) I’m going to talk about my little friend Ryan again. Last night he gave me the next Magic Tree House book to read. I noticed that he’s a close talker, especially when he gets excited. He was animatedly talking about the characters in the books and the plot and he was just inches from my face, moving closer and closer to me as he talked.

7) I’m going to complain about cream cheese. I have issues with cream cheese. I can never seem to get it soft enough when a recipe calls for “softened” cream cheese. I leave it sit out for awhile, but it never seems to be soft enough. Then when I mix it with other ingredients, the cream cheese doesn’t get evenly distributed and there are globs of it in the mixture it is in. So frustrating!

8) Tuesday at work was inventory day. Ugh. In between waiting on customers (thankfully it was a slow day) I counted over 500 greeting cards, 200 individual necklace strands. (Zulugrass – it’s so pretty!) countless books, knicknacks and birdfeeders. I also had to tally up the dollar amount of unused gift cards. That was the worst!

9) Monday I told Hubby that I had to start writing up my 13 and he thought that was cheating. He thinks I should write my Thursday 13 on Thursday as suggested in the meme title. I usually start thinking about my 13 on Sunday and add to it a little each day and post it Wednesday night. (I’m usually still writing it on Wednesday) How do you write your 13 and where do you draw inspiration?

10) Our kitten Olivia is on to another phase in her young life. She enjoys jumping on the fishtank and drinking and playing with the water. There’s a cover over the tank, but there’s a narrow spot on top that’s not covered (where the bubbler etc goes in) It’s so frustrating to continually reprimand her for her naughtiness. No matter what method we use, she still jumps up on tank. There’s some miscommunication somewhere along the line. She doesn’t understand the that “NO” means “NO” and we don’t understand that she MUST jump up and play with the water and scare the fish…it’s a feline hunter’s instincts after all.

11) Sometimes I play this game called “Who get the last word?”. I do this both at work and when shopping. For example while at work, I pay attention to who gets the last word in when I’m helping someone to their car with a big bag of birdseed.
“Okay, you’re all set. You have a good day.” I say

“You too.” The customer says

“Thank you. I will.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Bye.” I say.

“Bye.” The customer says.

It doesn’t usually drag out like that, but you get the idea. I rarely win the last word game.

12) I have an idiosycrancy with locked doors in that I lock them and then don’t remember that I locked the door. This gets to be a problem, especially when I’m laying in bed awake at night, fretting as I’m trying to remember if I locked the door at work. Once when housesitting for someone, I couldn’t remember if I locked the door when I left so I turned around and went back to check. It’s one of those quirks that makes me colorful.

13) I received a thank you note from my friend’s husband in Iraq. I sent him a Xmas care package last month. He included a picture of his group. It was nice to get that note and picture from him. Please continue to keep him in your thoughts.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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