Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pondering the Right Choice...

I am so notorious for over scheduling myself for too many on-line courses.  I had done it again, but I sat and thought for awhile about the right thing to do this time.  I have signed up for this Python course through out the year and there was always something coming up where I just could not keep up.  This time, I let the beginning of the course get away from me, so I am behind, again.

Last weekend, I realized there was no way I could get the homework done.  I had thought to just give up again - why not?  I keep doing the same thing over and over.  It was then that I said - Okay - so you do not get the first few homeworks done on time.  You are taking this course in "audit" mode.  You are not paying for it and whatever grade you do get won't hurt any GPA you may have.  Why not just stick it out and learn what you can?  

So, I dropped the Apache Spark course.  Seemed like there was a prerequisite that I needed to take, so I figured, there was not much loss there.  The College Algebra course is self-paced, so I have a year to complete that.  I usually go back to that with a fresh mind and complete 20-40 lessons at a time.  So, I am trying to stick it out in this Python course and learn something.  I won't give up.  I may take it again in the fall when the course is offered for Python 3.5, rather than Python 2.7.  

The point for me is to stick to it and not give up.  Seems to be the one thing I do so much.  I work on my weight and such, then give up when the situation is not perfect or doing what I expect.  I have a hard time sticking to it.  I just have to really apply myself and not be so hard on myself when there set backs.  That is to happen - nothing rarely works as the "happy path."

I need to realize - nothing is perfect in the world.  Nothing just happens as planned - there are always things that get in the way.  However, I need to continue focusing on what I want to get done and keep trying.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Unnerving End of the Weekend...

Last Sunday, I took Bo and Chloe to be boarded at Chloe's vet's office.  The place is opened 24 hours a day and I felt comfortable with both dogs being there.  My feelings were that if anything were to happen, someone would be there to assist.  It is a HUGE sense of comfort for me.

On Wednesday evening, I drove over to pick both dogs up and take them home.  I paid for having them boarded by both dogs throwing a fit in the car and my having to stop in not so nice areas of DFW for them to potty.  Chloe, at the time, seemed to really be pissy about the situation.

Before going to dinner on Thursday evening, I noticed that Chloe seemed to have some tummy trouble.  I gave her an extra Cerenia pill to see if that might help.  Next day, she seemed a bit better, but by the evening, she was still having some issues.

Yesterday, she was no better.  In fact, after I returned from getting breakfast, Chloe was trying to tell me something really important.  After I put everything down, I was not sure where she was, so I headed down the stairs.  There she was, pooping.  And it was not very firm at all.

I grabbed the Clorox wipes, baby wipes, and a trash bag.  I cleaned up Chloe quickly, then cleaned up the tile floor.  I told Chloe I was not upset and where she had done this was perfectly fine - in fact, easier to clean up than even in the grass.  I headed her back outside for another round of upset tummy.  I felt awful for her, so I tried to give her another Cerenia pill and went to lie down with her.  

Around 1:30 PM, she needed back out and the situation was no better.  I figured I had about 2-3 hours between poop sessions, so I could make it to her vet's office to get her some better meds.  So, off to her vet's we all went.

I was blessed with the fact that both dogs slept on the way to the vet's office and on the way back.  Believe me, it is a long trip to take - about an hour drive - and I hate having to exit in BFE to figure out where to let them go to the bathroom.

Seems that maybe the boarding stressed Chloe out too much.  She got some meds and while I was there, I asked for a refill on the Cerenia.  Once I got everyone home, I gave Chloe her meds, then we all went to rest on the bed.

All of that activity did nothing for my left foot, but I tried to baby it as much as I could when I got home.  Right now, the heel hurts, so I figure I popped the plantar fasciitis tendon.  Not always pleasant, however, thankful my back is not hurting.  There is another blessing.

Chloe appears to be doing better today.  I am happy about that.  I may not be able to board the dogs again after this incident.  I hate it when she gets stressed out.  Bo, on the other hand, he is always a happy little camper.  So, he is fine.

I did not manage to get much done Thursday, Friday, or yesterday.  I hope to get a few things done around the apartment today.  Mainly, I have to do some grocery shopping, which my foot is not going to care for much at all.  However, it must be done.  I think I will pick up something for lunch on my way back home.  Today, I will make out my "to do" plan for the week.  I have scheduled for an extra long weekend - taking this Friday and next Tuesday off from work.  Perhaps, I can get more done this way.  Praying for little to no back pain!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Beginning of My 50's Decade...

I am now officially 50 years old.

It is a number that is easy to say, but difficult to swallow.  I have been on this earth for 50 years.  It seems like such a long time, but yet, not so long.  So much has happened and way too quickly.

My original plans for celebrating my 50th birthday was to fly out to Las Vegas and spend a few days there.  In February this year, I realized with my back and knee, that was probably insane.  I amended my plans to going to Shreveport.  Others suggested either WinStar or Choctaw in Oklahoma as they were closer for travel.  Also, there were other benefits as others had special deals with WinStar, like two free nights.  In the long run, it was cheaper to go to WinStar in Oklahoma, so we went there.

My father used his two night free stay card for me and his partner used her card for the two of them to stay the night.  My friend, Laurie, used hers to get a room as well, so we all got to stay for free - generally speaking.  All had to pay for a "Resort fee" in case anyone used the pool.  I did not bring my bathing suit and the others were deterred by the sheer number of kids there.  (The only thing at WinStar for families is the pool, so I cannot understand why so many families were there.  That is another discussion on its own.)

After we checked into our rooms, got settled, I gave my father his Father's Day presents.  Once that was done, we proceeded down to the casino.  I had brought the cash jar money I had saved for a year with me to use.  Everyone started playing on the slot machines.  I would play cards, but I do not feel I am very good at playing card games.  I need more practice.  Not sure if on-line would help or not, but it is something I feel I have a bit of an advantage over slot machines.  However, slot machines it was.

I went to play on a similar machine that my friend, Arnold, had played on last month.  He had gotten up to $700 - maybe I would be that lucky.  This machine, however, was on the main floor of the casino, not the high roller room.  Still, it was a $1 machine.  My friend, Laurie, was concerned that I would bet the maximum, which I knew I would not do.  Nine dollars out of the $23 I had put in was insane.  I used a $3 bet.  What happened next was simply a blur because it all happened so quickly.

My phone rang from another friend and I tried to answer it.  For whatever reason, the call dropped.  I remember hitting the "Spin" button, then the call got through to the other person.  I was only talking with my friend for a few seconds, then all hell broke loose.

I realized that the machine had given me some free spins, so I was watching that.  The next thing I knew, my friend, Laurie, was telling me "You won!"  I was confused and did not understand what I won.  I stopped for a moment to look at the machine - I had won $4757.  

I quickly hung up the phone and just stared in awe of the machine.  I had never won that much money in my entire life.  In New Orleans in 2012, I had won $240 and was ecstatic over that.  However - THIS was $4700!  Wow!

Now, the funny thing.  Before I left my room, I asked Laurie if I needed my license.  I had already put my purse and other precious items into the safe.  She told me that I might need it if I won.  I laughed and said, I doubted that - my luck - I would break even.  Laurie laughed and said "Well, you might actually win by leaving it here."

Well, she was right.  I won and I had to run back to the hotel room to retrieve my driver's license.  My father and his partner had just gotten over to the machine when I returned with my driver's license.  I think my father thought I had only won $47, but the surprise on his face after he realized I won $4700 was priceless.  Even his girlfriend was surprised.  

It took awhile, but once they got my information for tax purposes, a gentleman counted out the $4757 in cash.  Now, I understood Arnold's situation when he won his $4500.  Luckily, I just had to take the phone out of my wristlet and put the money there and the phone in my pocket.  I carried the money with me until after dinner.  At that time, I was able to place the money into the safe and would not touch it.

Before meeting everyone for some cake, I sat down for a few minutes and thought of how thankful I was for the windfall.  If I was smart, I would simply put this into my savings account and count my blessings and realize how grateful I was for this happening to me.

For the rest of the trip, I won and lost money playing the slot machines.  Overall, I had a really great time just spending time away from work and keeping my mind off of my other troubles.  My back, unfortunately, was a huge pain.  I was thankful that we had only gone to WinStar and not Shreveport or Las Vegas.  I do not think my back could have handled that much activity.

My hope that this win is the start of a better things to come during my 50's decade.  I was driving to meet another friend for dinner the other night and heard a song from the 80's.  It made me reflect on where my life is right now.  I am nowhere near what I had hoped for in my life, but I am thankful for the people and the lessons learned on this path.  Maybe those ideals were too much in the first place.  Right now, the things I want more than anything is to feel better, have a healthy life, live each day fully, and be proud of who I am.  I have to quit living in the past - things that did not happen were never meant to be.  If they are meant to be, it will happen.  I just have to have faith in God's plan and take everything one day at a time.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rest in Peace, My Dearest Friend...

About twenty years ago, I met my friend, Vickie, on a USENET news group called  A news group filled with people in the DFW area who were either single, divorced, and even married.  For the most part, the group would chide one another, discuss major topics going on in the world, and generally get along.  It was a clique of people, but the discussions were always interesting.  Most revolved around a woman named, Erica.  I will admit, sometimes, we were not always nice to new people.  There are never any excuses for being rude and those were times I regret.

Erica started the initial get together at a Starbucks in 1998, but it was Vickie who found our gathering hole at a place called, Pockets.  There were pool tables, decent food, and plenty of good times.  It was a monthly thing we did and my mother actually approved of my going - it got me out of the house. 

I got to know Vickie and really liked her.  She had so many tales to tell about her life.  Her nickname was CAT - at the time, she was part of a cat/kitten rescue called Kittens, Inc.  She was helping her friend, Mary Nell, with the rescue and was always rescuing any cat she saw roaming around the streets.

During the time I knew Vickie, she spent a lot of time writing with her friend, Bruce.  I remember the several times we would plan to have dinner together and she would talk about getting together with Bruce to work on her novel.  I am not sure if she ever got a book published or not, but she had several that she had in the works.

Her life was dedicated to helping others and was always there to defend her friends.  She also had her staunch feelings regarding getting things right.  I believe many CEOs of various companies knew her well.  She never hesitated to go straight to the higher authority.

At one point, Vickie had a rather new procedure done to help her lose weight.  She went from over 300 lbs down to 165, which worked with her height and bone structure.  She kept wanting me to have the same surgery, but you know me, if I do not need to be cut on, I would rather not.  My luck, I probably would end up with something worse happening.

In 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a double mastectomy done and endured several months of chemo treatments.  When she lost her hair, memories of what my mother had gone through flashed before me.  This time, she beat the cancer...or so we thought.

After spending an evening with Random Cathy in Bishop Arts, I had just realized that one of the diamond earrings I had was missing from my ear lobe.  I was a mess because I had gotten them from money my mother gave to me in 2009 to buy them.  She wanted me to have the 1 ct diamond studs for my birthday and after my mother's issues the month of June, she had forgotten my birthday.  It was her way of making up for that.

That night, as I was driving home, I called Vickie.  She had gone into the hospital with a lot of pain.  She told me that if God had meant for me to have that earring, I would find it.  Shortly after that, she told me that the cancer had returned - it was in her bones and her liver.  The same feeling came over me when my own mother had told me that she had cancer that last time.  I knew this was it.  I cried on the way home.  Once I had gotten home, I had gone into the bathroom and as I looked at the bathtub, there was my earring.  I cried again - what would I do without Vickie?  

I tried to keep up with Vickie throughout the year.  We would go out to eat often and talk about what she needed to get done before the end.  We both knew it was going to happen, but if the medications given to her were working, she would have an extra 2 to 3 years.

What kept her going was her undying drive to save animals - dogs, cats, and what have you.  She spent a good bit of her time left making sure cats were saved from kill shelters and transported to either good homes or rescues/sanctuaries.  She never wanted to see another animal put down simply because no one picked it at the shelter.

I wish I could have done more for her over the years.  I did try.  I remember taking her an old fashioned Southern New Year's Day dinner when she was in the hospital.  She was so hungry and I wanted to make sure that year she had the best of luck.  I will never forget the look on her face when I bought her a Wii.  She had wanted one for so long, but there was always something.  It was her birthday and I surprised her with the gaming system and a copy of her favorite - Zelda.

I found out yesterday that my dear friend had passed onto the next plane.  My last conversation with her had only been two weeks prior to her death.  I knew that the end was coming, but I had hope that she would be around a bit longer.  Her life was pretty much where she wanted it to be - all of the cats had been placed.  Her dogs would be well cared for at a dog sanctuary in California with the request that if someone wanted to adopt one of them, both dogs were to be adopted together - the dogs were brother and sister.  At this age, I would not want them separated, either.

I cried that my dear friend was gone.  I am grateful that she is no longer any pain or having to suffer.  I will miss that genuine friendship - she never wanted anything other than a contribution for the rescue, no matter how small.  

My hope is that when she reached the bridge, she was greeted with all of the animals that got there before her and help her cross over.  She is with the people she loved, like Mary Nell, who was her friend and had passed away many years ago.  Mary had helped Vickie financially and gave her the house that she had been living when Mary passed away.  

Maybe she will be able to visit with my own mother - I know Vickie had always wished she could have met her.  Who knows?

I am grateful to have known this wonderfully crazy and committed woman.  She was an inspiration and a great confidante for me.  I will miss her terribly.  I hope when my time comes, she will be one of the people I meet.

Rest in Peace, Vickie!  You deserve it!