If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

I grew up being trained like Thumper from “Bambi” – if you can’t saying something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. Or something like that.
So…after depositions from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., most of which were video, no lunch, attorneys who know they talk too fast, blah, blah, blah, I have nothing nice to say.

And unlike my daughter, who gets actually quite irritated with me if I suggest she’s tired when she gets grumpy and cranky, I have no problem stating :
I AM TIRED!!!!! This could be because I fell asleep at a decent hour, only to be awakened minutes later by the Hordes of Hell cavorting in my back yard – okay, it was actually our kitty Myla, soundling like she was in a battle for her very soul. And after I got her safely back in the house, that was it – no more sleep for me until I finally gave it another try at 2:00 a.m. I was just on the verge of falling asleep again, when I realized I hadn’t put the garbage cans out. And the garbage truck comes so early…And I’d missed it last week. Shoes back on, garbage cans out, me back to bed. Up at 7:00 a.m., and then to work.

I AM TIRED!!!! Did I mention that?

Good night.

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Just Enough to be Dangerous (Caution: Contains occasional disturbing verbiage)

I never planned to be a court reporter, at least not until I was grown and had children. I had thought about being a nurse as a little girl, an opera singer as a big one, and a wife and mother until my marriage was clearly dying. Actually, I think it probably was DOA – dead on arrival.

But circumstances being what they were, in September of ’92 I began court reporting school, I passed my state certification in April of 1995, I graduated in May of 1995, and I began work in June of 1995.

Some reporters love their work. I describe my feelings as “I hate it less now than I used to.” There are, actually, days when I do love my job, but that usually involves lots of attorneys (only two of whom ever speak, of course) all of whom order the transcript, and nice, slow testimony for hours and hours – all of which translates into easy money.

Too often the reality is excited, nervous deponents and young attorneys who haven’t learned to suck up to the court reporter by speaking slow enough that the reporter can UNDERSTAND what they’re saying, let alone have time to actually write it down. I love the “senior” attorneys who still address me as “Madam Court Reporter” and who are careful to make a good record, who provide me with spellings of odd names, who don’t say “It’s important that only one of us speak at a time” and then proceed to interrupt every answer with another question at about 3000 words per minute..

But what I do enjoy about my job is the education I get. It’s made me a little dangerous. Or maybe a little potentially obnoxious. For example, I know a lot about the things doctors look for to suggest that a patient isn’t being completely honest about their injuries. I don’t know enough about Waddell signs to know how to manipulate them; I just know enough to realize that it’s probably not a good idea for me to fake injuries or be a malingerer.

I know way too much about various common medical ailments and injuries to blindly listen to a doctor, with my eyes wide, who’s telling me that “No, there is no anatomical or organic cause for your pain; let’s send you for pain management” and blithely head down the road to Dr. Dealswithpain.

When I worked in Yakima, I did quite a number of Spanish/English interpreted depositions. I will never claim to speak Spanish, but I got to where I knew just enough to sometimes catch myself writing the deponent’s answer before it was translated into English. I wore out my “erase” key a lot that way.

I’ve learned about construction, engineering, wind farms, medicine, vocational rehabilitiation, physical therapy, massage therapy, and why it’s not good to hang your wife up with an electrical cord and light a fire so you can cut her up into pieces with a chainsaw and burn the body parts.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t coach your little boy to lie under oath, especially not about his sister who died a horrific death. That still haunts me.

A couple of weeks ago I learned all I will ever want to know about cardioelectrophysiology. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t enter the field. Surprisingly, I was familiar with all the words themselves, if not their meaning within this particular context.

But as of this week, should I ever need to be anesthetized (again), I have now learned the following: The anesthesiologist will be checking to determine my Mallampati classification and my thyromental distance. I know the various ways I can be knocked out (none of them include acts of domestic violence, oddly enough) and I know the various ways of ventilating a patient. I know that I do NOT want a cricothyrotomy. Just let me breathe through the air holes in my head, okay? I have it on great authority that they are in great supply.

In short (or long), dont’ try to tell me about your neighbor’s refusal to move his fence line two feet to the right, because I’ll probably tell you that I have no sympathy for you, that I have far more sympathy for the “poor” woman who could only get the beautiful classic car in the divorce by agreeing to give her soon-to-be-ex custody of their son. Divorce can be SO trying, can’t it…

The Joys of Being Cheap – Uh, I Mean Thrifty

I was raised on thrift stores, long before it was ever cool to shop at them. It wasn’t always as fruitful back then as it is today; in fact, I suspect it rarely was. I’d have to ask my parents, as they did most of the thrift shopping, of course. I don’t think there was the selection 40 years ago that there is today. Virtually everything I and my daughter wear today comes from a thrift store, with a few logical exceptions (ahem).

I’m writing this in exercise wear which I did buy retail because in my “plentiful” size, it’s still not so easy to find used. I can only speculate why that is. But that’s a subject for another day.

But my beloved wool sweater, the only thing that keeps me warm these days, is a thrift store blessing. I bought it not to wear, but to give to my sister Carrie for a felted wool quilt she plans to make. And plans. And plans…  But once I put it on, that was it; Carrie, find your own wool. This one’s a keeper. I probably paid about $3 for it. Maybe. I’ve looked online, even on eBay, for others similar to it, and I could never bring myself to pay the retail prices. My parents brainwashed – uh, taught me well.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of Christmas shopping at the big downtown Seattle Goodwill. I’m not going to claim that I walked to school uphill both ways in the snow, but I am going to claim that Christmas doesn’t have to be a retail nightmare. Or, rather, a financial nightmare. I loved shopping at Goodwill as a child for Christmas gifts, and I still do.

I began shopping for Olivia’s gifts back in July, and while not all of them were used, many were. And she doesn’t care. The tradition continues! There are some “tween” books that she loves, and at about $14 each new, I’d need an inhaler to revive myself from the sticker shock. But I found them online used (modern-day electronic thrift shopping, you know). With shipping: About $4 each. The American Girl Doll I bought her was new, but the clothes I made for it – well, I made them. And I used fabrics I’d bought at – yes, a thrift store. About 30 cents per outfit.

For Christmas I got my sister and her family an ice cream maker just like mine (which they had been coveting, I know). Retail: about $80-$90. eBay, used one time only (so they say, and it certainly looks like it), with shipping: About $50. Still a chunk of change, but I guess my family’s worth it.

I have this addiction to thrift stores. They call my name. In my line of work, I do a fair amount of traveling, and sometimes I have time to kill before a job. So I have my favorite stores plugged into my GPS, and when I find myself with spare time, I’ll run in, even if it’s only a few minutes that I have free.

Friday I had some time after a job, so I decided to check out a nearby Salvation Army. I came out with, among other things, several circular knitting needles (I’ve been knitting wool gloves to match my beloved sweater) and an HP toner cartridge for my printer.

Now, it’s always a crap shoot when it comes to certain items. I mean, the knitting needles are clearly usable; no need to plug them in or download them or anything. Fortunately, the copy of “Where in the World Is Carmen SanDiego” software that was 50 cents works perfectly, and Olivia and I are happily learning geography as we chase villians around the country.

But the ink cartridge was a gamble. I had no idea if it was used, broken, dried out, whatever. The $9 price tag was a little higher than I usually like to pay for the unknown. But mine had been screaming for weeks at me “TONER LOW, TONER LOW!!!!” Okay, it didn’t scream it – it didn’t even speak it quietly (I don’t know if printer technology has advanced that far or not, quite frankly), but it did calmly display it (once, and without the caps or the exclamation marks), so I took a chance.

I am happy to report that as of this morning, my $9 brand-new, never used original HP cartridge is happily printing beautiful pages for me – via the HP LaserJet 4 printer that I got a few years ago at, yes, a Goodwill – for a whopping $8.

Life is good when you’re cheap and it doesn’t take much to excite you 🙂

A (Slightly Irreverent) Tribute to Two Friends

I have two friends who have never met each other and, sadly, will never meet (at least not in this life). I met Mary more than twenty years ago, and she passed away last fall at the age of 45. We shared a wicked sense of humor and a pasionate love of music. We wrote music together and we wrote limericks that had us laughing pretty hard at times. I could talk to Mary about anything and everything, and I will miss her forever.

Vanessa I met a year ago at a time when I was struggling with life, to say the least. She was “between lives,” I like to call it, although not in the reincarnation sense. Just looking to change the direction her life was going. She spent Christmas with us, stayed for a month or two, and left Yakima to start a new life  in Wenatchee, where she still lives today.

Mary and Vanessa would have loved each other. Both extremely bright women, both hilariously funny, both very gay-friendly (Vanessa is a lesbian, and Mary considered herself bisexual). I love them both like sisters.

So this morning, when I was catching up on Facebook posts from the past couple of days, I noticed that Vanessa had posted the fact that “Pepsi” and “Hep-C” rhyme. Indeed they do. I immediately thought about what Mary and I could have done with this.

So in tribute to Mary and Vanessa, here is my offering this morning:

Vanessa, who had narcolepsy
Kept falling asleep in her Pepsi.
You don’t shoot it, it’s true,
But it’s legal to do,
And it sure beats a bad case of Hep-C

I wanted to be a farm girl, NOT a pioneer!

So I didn’t really want to be a real farm girl either, at least not in the most functional sense. I don’t really live on a real farm either – it’s just an acre. And I refuse to plant vegetables, because I’d simply kill them. Not execution-style, because that’s a deliberate act, but someone could make a good case for negligent homicide, emphasis on “negligent.”

As for farm animals, we have a dog and a cat, the cat keeps the mice at bay, at least, and during the summer I enjoyed watching bunnies hopping to and fro in my yard. A large owl even spent a couple of moments in my yard. That’s about the extent to which I wish to dabble in animal husbandry (never mind a reluctance to dabble in human “husbandry” ever again).

So although I don’t exactly have a farm in the most complete sense, I do get to enjoy the pleasures of country living: beautiful scenery, helpful neighbors, driving along quiet country roads, birdsong.

And, apparently, pumping water from the spout outside because my wretched indoor water lines are all frozen and I have NO INDOOR WATER!!! Hence the comment about being a pioneer. Olivia is my watergirl. She fills the bucket three or four times from the outside pump and brings it in and pours it into the toilet tank. We have restrictive rules about when flushing is allowed. You may speculate on your own about what those rules are.

This water is potable, thank goodness, but I confess that the idea of boiling pots of water on the stove for washing dishes and sponge baths holds no appeal for me. God forbid I should actually have to boil it on a wood fire.  It’s bad enough on my gas range. And I’m not having to carry it from a river.  Yeah, I’d suck at pioneering.

Yesterday morning, not having any water in the house and it being so blasted cold outside and avoiding the outdoors at all costs, I will admit to brushing my teeth with a can of diet root beer. I did drink some of it first, just so you know.

Friday is payday. My first call Monday morning will be to “The Insulation Guy” and get a bid/estimate for insulating my newly installed water lines. I guess I didn’t realize when “The Plumbing Guy” told me about insulating them so they wouldn’t freeze that he actually MEANT THEY WOULD FREEZE. I suppose I thought it was one of those “you’ll save money on your heating bill” kind of things.

Well, at least when I do it, I’ll definitely save money on my diet root beer bill.