A Day and a Half to Go

And please, God, let everything be not too screwed up when I get back.

Outside consultant is on it, we have great communication, but I still live in fear that I’ve forgotten some random thing I didn’t pass on to them. We had a last call today, and they promised to keep everything rolling and hand it all back to me neatly when I get back. I’ve put the word out for the last two weeks that I’m going to be vanishing, but shall return. It’s all so weird. Forgive my deliberate vagueness about the details, but I do want to keep some distance between my work life and here.

Yesterday a guy called me about a thing, and I had a moment of Huh? and then was able to retrieve the status of the thing and hand it off to outside consultant to follow up on, because it’ll happen while I’m “gone.”

Late this afternoon another guy called me about another thing, and I sent an email to the county and copied him in, and I hope it smoothed some confusion about a thing I wasn’t involved in directly. This is not a job with a fixed, limited list of projects, and is far more like the development world I came from (where I made way more money). I get calls about all sorts of things that aren’t on my project lists. I have learned a lot in this role in the last year and a half or so, and I’m finally hitting my stride, where I (usually) know the answer, or who to ask about what.

My supervisor at the place where I work that doesn’t pay me (contracting is weird) said I’m getting a new title because I’d maxed out the range for my old title, which I decoded to mean I should watch for a raise from the people who pay me. He can’t see the split between what he put in for my role to the contracting company and what I’ll get from that company. So that’s wonderful news, seriously, but also deeply weird. If I don’t see a new title and a new pay rate in my new contract, I need to reach out to him. I’ve never had less control over my working life than in this situation. But still, a raise? Yay!

But pray for me, light a candle, whatever. Bless Her Heart was really eager to take on ONE task: again, can’t be specific, sorry. We were on a call today where we got the information about that task, because I asked: we needed a date when a thing was going to happen. She IMed me after the call to ask what the date was. SHE WAS ON THE CALL!! She’d been happy to take on this task! She didn’t pay enough attention to write down the date we’d been waiting to confirm, AFTER saying she’d handle it. I fucking give up. I need to disconnect her from this process somehow, she’s just more work.

It’s sheer dumb luck that the date was confirmed before I am forced out for 30 days so I could initiate the next step, but hey, if they didn’t want shit like this to happen, they could’ve made me an employee, or given me a competent minion.

Friday afternoon, I am outta there. I need a damn break.

Last Week Of Work Before the Big Month Off.

Dear God, I’m so ready. Maybe I can win the lottery before the end of August?

I have three Disney park reservations lined up; I did change the lineup because I’m not that all about Magic Kingdom. Heresy, I know, but I’m sure I’ll get there more than once in the next few months. Epcot Food and Wine is open already. They extended the season this year, so it opened in July and will close in I think November with barely a break to swap decor to roll into the holiday stuff, so I’ll hit that twice in one week, weather permitting.

Yes, yes, I am totally aware that the Delta variant is here and Florida is in freefall because our governor is a fucking moron who apparently thinks he still has a political future based on ignoring science and taking active measures to MAKE his constituents sick. People outside FL may not realize that he “won” last time by a teeny tiny less than half of one percent margin in a recount, so okie-dokie hon, that sounds like a solid strategy for reelection. Bless Your Heart.

I cannot even begin to express my rage about him, so all we can do here is try to live our lives around his bizarre combination of incompetence and fascism.

I’m fully vaccinated and absolutely will wear a mask in crowded spaces, but I’m really not planning to do much indoors at Disney, so I’m not overly concerned. I had been back in the parks before vaccines were available, taking precautions. It was no big deal, nobody passed out from wearing a mask. I will continue to be careful. I know every breakthrough case in a vaccinated person is being reported in the media, but the calmer voices still say the risk is very low if you are fully vaccinated, just be sensible and take precautions. I will.

If you are reading this and still not willing to get vaccinated, just fuck off. Seriously, I just don’t know what to say, and I’m not ready to hold anybody’s hand and coax them to be rational adults. There are good people out there working to get the “reluctant” vaccinated, convincing one dumbass at a time, but I am not that person. I am the person who is ready for public shaming of the unvaccinated:

Unless your ACTUAL doctor told you to your face that the vaccines are not okay for you for actual medical reasons, ( and that’s a very small portion of the population) just get your goddamn plague rat ass vaccinated. You aren’t just gambling your own life, you’re risking infecting people who can’t get vaccinated. Including, right now, everybody under 12. The un-vaccinated are the reason we have the Delta variant, and we still have fucking morons refusing because they watch Fox and get their news from Facebook groups and are just willfully, aggressively ignorant. I am done with these shitheads. Nicer, more patient souls than me can do the coaxing. I’m just sick of this shit. You are putting my grandchildren at risk, and I have no patience or understanding left.

(On a related note: Fox News should be drowned in litigation for spreading lies, day in and day out. They are backpedaling like crazy now, but too little too late.)

France is doing it right. Make getting the damn vaccine mandatory to be out in public. We have been at this for over a year, and we are still looking at it backward. If you don’t want the vaccine, that is totally your right. I hope you can work from home and get groceries delivered and arrange homeschooling for your kids, because the rest of us are ready to get our lives back and you are preventing this.

So, now that this rant is out of the way: I am taking my first real time off in three years, (contractor life) other than when I had the flu for about 5 days a couple of years ago. That was most definitely not a vacation. I can’t afford to travel, not that this is a good idea anyway. Ain’t no way I’m getting on a plane right now. So, yeah, visiting the NC grandkids won’t be happening even if I could afford it, because the South is a cesspool right now.

But I have a lot to do, besides going to Disney as much as possible, reservations and weather permitting. I am going to tackle the Purge. I’m going to go through my closets, the garage, all my random shit and the stuff that belonged to my mother that is just taking up space. No more “But I spent good money on that!” “But that’s my mother’s crystal!” She didn’t even use that shit. It just took up space.

I’m not entirely un-sentimental; family photos and my grandfather’s war medals (he was a WWI hero) and my mother’s junior high stuff from her hope chest are totally worth keeping. I’ve always been afraid she’d haunt me if I got rid of her hope chest, but I think if I kept the important contents I might be spared. I do have to figure out how to get into the slide out drawer at the bottom; I haven’t been able to find the tiny key for it. I have no idea what’s in there. Maybe it’ll be a huge envelope of money. Yeah, nope.

Two Week Countdown

To my surprise (unpaid) month off.

A month without pay will be okay. My emergency fund has plenty, no worries there. I can’t afford to travel, but between Disney and purging clutter and making stuff and other things, I think I’ll be able to fill my time.

I’m feeling better about work because my supervisor totally gets it, and our outside firm is going to step up for the month and try to catch all the random shit that comes my way on the daily. We do have to work out some logistical stuff, but Bless Her Heart isn’t totally useless, she just got thrust into her role. Outside firm also gets this, because they would like to have a call with me to figure out what else they need to know. So we will try to do all of this without hurting any feelings, and I’ll come back to the same situation I left, God willing. Nothing majorly screwed up will be good enough.

As I tell them, if I win the lottery while I’m “unemployed,” it’s been great knowing y’all and good luck!

We are IN

For the Wine & Dine 5k on November 5th.

Good, that’ll give me time to get in shape for it. And by “in shape” I mean able to at least fake the pace I claimed I could do for a quarter of a mile. One of the dirty little secrets of this 5K is proof of time is on the honor system. I’m glad my daughter had done Disney races before and was hip to that, because I’d hate to have been stuck behind the many, many people slower than I am who lied like rugs about their pace. We last did the Princess 5k in 2018. That wasn’t my last 5k, just my last Disney race. I was signed up for the Star Wars 5k when everything stopped in 2020 and it was canceled.

The 5k is by no means a competitive race for 90% of the particpants. There are serious runners who run it to win. They will finish before our corral starts. It’s mostly a mad, happy mob of people in costumes or at least fun t-shirts, lighted Mickey ears, fairy wings, tutus, walking, jogging, sometimes running, music, laughter, greeting the dawn in a theme park. It really is a blast.

Signing up was a thing. You log in to or create your runDisney account, wait to get the click to register message, and the wait time was over an hour.

I had two laptops on my desk today, and I was watching the sign-up countdown on my wee MacBook while doing work on the work computer. Then I got IN, and could register, and had a few minutes of drama – because I had done runDisney races before, I had an account and my basic info, including my gender was saved to the account..

It had saved my gender, but would not let me pick a shirt, or let me finish registration until I had picked the goddamn shirt!! I didn’t get a drop down to select a shirt, and I didn’t know what was wrong. So my daughter, who registered separately, finished her registration while I was still cursing and trying to finish mine.

After I de-selected and re-selected my gender 3 or 4 times, it finally registered that I was female and let me pick a goddamn women’s shirt size. By then I think my blood pressure was near stroking out. And I’m doing all of this with half my brain listening to a project call on the other computer. (Remember: This is fun, this is fun, this is fun….) But I got in, and I have my confirmation!!

So, we are both set for getting up at O-Dark-Thirty (seriously, like, 3:30 am?) to get our asses down to Disney to do the race at 5 a.m. We didn’t register the Dancer for this one. She is not at her best pre-dawn. Neither are we, but last time I had travel cups of coffee for the drive, and we got more coffee there. It’s worth it. Our last race together was in 2018, and it was SO much fun. If The Dancer swears she can get dressed and sleep in the car on the way, I’ll register her for the Princess in 2022. My goal is to do all the 5Ks this year.

Mid-Year Health Reset.

The last six-ish months were really not good, Chez Bossydog. Sophie started to have more intestinal issues months ago, and morning walks stopped and were exchanged for veterinary and janitorial duties.

Since this year began, I usually had animal care stuff to do before logging in to a morning meeting, so even 15 minutes of morning yoga, let alone a 30 minute walk, just wasn’t in the cards. Working from home was just like the office, but without the commute and with frequent grossness. I’m grateful that I was able to do it, and be here for Sophie to the end. The end would have come months ago if I hadn’t been able to manage the meds and special foods and the constant cleanup and the vet visits and getting up in the night. I was able to give her every chance to get better, and I’m grateful I got to try. But it did take a toll on my own health.

My diet changed because damn, the situation was depressing and I was tired! I was already buying and cooking chicken for Sophie’s special diet, and it was just easier to use the chicken breasts I was already buying to supplement her diet for my own meals, instead of sticking to the plant based meals that I know really do work best for me. From there it was a short slide back into more processed foods and the mindless convenience of the Standard American Diet.

So, little time for exercise, my plant based diet was an extra burden, lots of stress at work and at home, which led to too much wine in the evenings to be able to fall asleep, then get up at 5:30 and do it all over again. Then I badly sprained my damn ankle, and it still twinges now and then.

My ankle is MUCH MUCH better, but I still feel it a bit now and then, like a mild bruise, mostly because I didn’t seriously follow up with the exercises to help it flex and get stronger, and I need to focus on that if I’m going to walk 20k+ steps at Disney a few times a week.

All in all, it wasn’t a good time, to put it mildly. I still have the COVID lbs. to deal with, on top of the 10 that I was already trying to lose before this started. I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe, I gave all my money to the vets and Chewy.com. (So not kidding about that.)

Chewy is an awesome company btw. The other day I found a full, unopened $50 pack of heartworm meds I’d bought for Sophie back in April. So I called Chewy to ask if I could return it. The very nice woman looked up my order and said, “I’m crediting the price back to your card, and you can donate it to a shelter. I am so sorry about Sophie.” The shelter where I adopted Ellie will be getting small beds, her leftover prescription food, and the heartworm meds.

So now I have plans for August, plans that will require a lot of walking in the Florida heat, and I know I’m not ready for that shit. I need to train for it, because Grandma’s been sitting on her ass in the air conditioning way too much for the last year and a half.

AND registration opens on Tuesday morning for the Wine & Dine 5k. My daughter and I are going to do it (assuming it doesn’t fill up in the first minute after registration opens). I have a personal goal of doing all the 5k races this year. The runDisney races are wildly popular for a reason. They are an absolute blast. I haven’t been able to do one since 2018. I had been signed up for the Star Wars race in 2020 that was canceled.

21 days until my 30 day break begins, 25 days until Disney blockout ends. My 21 day plan is simple, because I really am starting from nearly zero: at least 15 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of meditation every morning, plus a daily 30 minute walk. Clean up my diet. Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

21 days of just doing that much will be taking more steps to get healthy than I’ve managed in the first six months of this year. It’s a start.

Birthday Do-over and the Last Unhealthy Hurrah.

(This post has languished in my drafts folder for days, but it actually is a good lead-in to why I need a health reset.)

Monday ,6/28, was my birthday, and of course it turned out to be exceptionally awful. I was very grateful for a do-over day. Weeks ago my daughter had made a 6/29 reservation for Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs. We ate lunch there, and it was just what I needed.

(I still think the name of the restaurant is weird and awkward. We generally refer to it as Art Smith’s, because that dropped “g” affectation is like sandpaper on my nerves.)

It was our first time actually dining there. We’d grabbed “to go” fried chicken sandwiches at the bar a couple of years ago, in the Before Times, and talked about them for days. We swore we had to go back for a real sit down meal. Then COVID happened and we never made it back to actually dine there, so I asked for that for my birthday. It truly lived up to our expectations. The food, the friendly and efficient service, everything was just delicious and casual and so relaxing.

My granddaughter was introduced to fried green tomatoes. She was very skeptical about the idea and made a face, then complained that the appetizer we’d ordered to share was too small.

The restaurant comped us a huge slice of Hummingbird Cake for my birthday, and we also tried the Shine Cake.

Hard to show scale, but that’s not a dainty dessert plate. Desserts are definitely shareable.

Of the two, I’d go with the Shine Cake. It’s a rich, buttery bundt cake soaked with moonshine syrup and a glaze that I suspect contained more shine. It reminded me of a rum cake I used to make for the holidays, though I doubt Chef Art’s started with a box of cake mix. Maybe it did, he seems like a practical man.

The Hummingbird Cake was delicious too, but really, really sweet. Banana bread with pineapple chunks and rich frosting is the best way I can describe it. I liked it, but I definitely preferred the buttery rich cake with the booze cutting the sweetness, it’s utterly decadent.

Portions are very generous, my daughter and granddaughter split the fried chicken platter and added a side of the amazing mac and cheese, and had enough leftovers to take home, along with half of each slice of cake. We were stuffed, and I had to walk off the effect of a single moonshine margarita, which I had sipped carefully.

Disney Springs is about 45 minutes from my house, so it’s not the kind of place I’ll visit on a whim. This is a good thing, because if this restaurant was any closer I’d be in trouble.

I’m SO incredibly grateful it’s FRIDAY.

Damn, what a week. “Short weeks” are the worst, IMHO.

I’m still annoyed that I have to take my 30 days off during freaking AUGUST, the worst month (actually, storm-threat-wise, September is worse, but August is terrible too). But as I said, I’m getting excited about doing a Disney immersion month, come hell (heat) or high water (daily storms). Fingers crossed that I can keep the park reservations lined up to make it happen. I have IDEAS.

I need the 30 days off, seriously. I am stabby. I’m fantasizing about an (unpaid) month off, and Thank GAWD there will be Adult Supervision via the outside firm I work with; they will be looped in and should be able to keep things under control.

Because my place-where-I-work supervisor and my “helper” and I had a call today, and I think he gets it: We are in a Southern Situation called Bless Her Heart. She’s sweet, earnest, willing, but hasn’t learned a single damn thing about what we do in a year and a half. Bless Her Heart, she can’t be left to “manage” this for a month. And I know she doesn’t want to be left; she’s smart enough to know what she doesn’t know, and she’s been put in a position she’s just not qualified to do.

It’s not in her skill set, and she never should have been put into this situation. I don’t think my supervisor knows what to do about it either; he didn’t put here in this role. Long story, but if I ever see the guy who arranged this without asking me again, he’d better run like hell.

She has been on project calls for over a year now, and Bless Her Heart, she has learned NOTHING. She seems to think all I do is update a tracking spreadsheet for stuff she doesn’t really understand. She’s been “helping” with that and today I discovered she had two projects crossed on the spreadsheet I’d carefully labeled. I spotted it, undid it. Didn’t bring it up with her because I don’t have patience for the dithery defensiveness that follows. Again, this is not her fault, she shouldn’t have been assigned to this, but she’s not confident enough to say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I have no problem doing that, because pretending to understand never, ever ends well.

She demonstrated it on our call multiple times today, Bless Her Heart, and thank GAWD my supervisor gets it and he’s calling in adult supervision while I’m gone. Before I took this position it was apparently a hot mess nobody wanted. I still don’t want it, but it’s far less of a hot mess now, people are really happy with how it’s running, and I don’t want to have to untangle a fresh hot mess when I return.

But while I’m on my break, I’m going to put all of that out of my mind and go full immersion on my Disney project, because I’d like to turn that into a retirement gig, and the sooner I can retire, the better. Damn, I’m tired.

So, Let’s Have a Tropical Storm!

Fingers crossed the power stays on. I have Post Irma Stress Disorder after spending a week without power in 2017, but so far Elsa isn’t expected to turn this far inland. Of course, Irma wasn’t supposed to either. Yeah, we’ll see. Depending on the path of the storm, I may get pulled into “storm duty” at work, which I actually wouldn’t mind.

The vet’s office called to say that Sophie was back with them, and I could pick her up anytime “at the drive through” (they have a drive up window for picking up medications). I was so startled I laughed and said, “That just sounded so weird,” and the tech laughed too. Then I blinked tears for a few seconds. Her ashes will be next to Murphy’s on the tall chest. I think I’ll leave her safe and dry at the vet’s office until Elsa passes.

I’ll check in on the other side.

Normal Life

Thank you all so much. The kind words about Sophie meant a lot. I’ve been typing on these here interwebs for a long time and sometimes it just feels like I’m talking to myself. It helped so much to know that others cared about her too.

I miss my sweet, funny, bouncy, healthy Sophie. I don’t miss the version of her I lived with for the last year. You know how you don’t always realize you’re in hell, because you’re just responding to the situation day by day, and doing your best and trying to fix it, and then when it’s over you look back and wonder how the hell you did that for so long? I am there. I was so focused on getting through the days and finding a way to make her better, I never stepped back to think about how utterly awful life was.

I realized this when I woke up on Tuesday after sleeping a solid 8 hours, because there were no middle of the night noises or horrible stenches at 2 am. We are all sleeping in. Gidget and Ellie are sleeping on the bed together. Sleeping on the bed with me is possibly Gidget’s favorite thing ever.

It feels so strange – THIS is how normal people live! I’d actually forgotten.

She’s Gone.

I have no doubt in my mind it was the right decision. The last 48 hours made that so clear. I’ve been awake since 1 a.m. She paced all night, making sad little groaning noises, explosive diarrhea at 2 am, 8 am, 11 am, didn’t eat, just drank water, had diarrhea, and stood “staring” into nothing. Whatever had been plaguing her turned much worse over the last week, and there was no fixing it.

She was unsteady on her feet today, totally detached, staring into space. She fell over while I tried to walk her this morning, she couldn’t navigate walking in the grass. She was going downhill by the hour, literally.

We went to the vet late this afternoon and the very nice young vet (I realized today that she’s pregnant!) said it was time, we were out of reasonable options, and the unreasonable options, like hauling her up to UF Vet School for more testing, didn’t guarantee results. Sophie really was too weak and miserable to put through another fishing expedition. She really was past caring in the last few days.

I’m sad, but it was not entirely unexpected. We’ve been in a living hell of explosive diarrhea and medications and trying everything we could think of for the last several months. Nothing worked.

She was the sweetest, funniest, most original little character. She loved to watch TV (her favorite musical was Hairspray, favorite drama Downton Abbey). She also loved prescription drug commercials, she figured out that they frequently featured happy patients romping with their dogs, and she learned to recognize the music and the announcer voice of those ads. She’d stop what she was doing and run to the TV.

When I came home from work she’d greet me with a stuffed toy for a few minutes of fetch to welcome me home. She loved squirrel watching and Goldfish crackers. The last year of her illness left her a shadow of her former self, and the last three months or so were just brutal. I prolonged her life longer than I probably should have, and God knows I spent too much money trying, but I don’t regret it.

I have no doubt Murphy was waiting for her.