Monday, December 27, 2021

My Grief Journey, 2020 (Pt.2)

April 2020:

I'm back at home; with Covid-19 paranoia running rampant, Mom is sequestered inside the assisted living facility; we moved her in March 1st and twelve days later, she wasn't allowed out (which proved to be a blessing; we were able to move things out of the house much faster!), and then by the 22nd, the entire state went on lock down, and 'shelter in place' went into effect.  I returned to work March 31st.

July 17, 2020:
House is officially sold!  Very bittersweet day, but the new owner has a grandchild who is THRILLED with the swing set and climbing tower in the back yard!  All I have to do is pay off the final electric bill.  I hope they cherish the house the way we do.

July 31, 2020:
Cumberland Pointe is allowing visitation!  Since Mom's birthday is Aug 1st, I scheduled an hour appointment for today, and another one for tomorrow.  Mom looks good; just a bit 'shaggy', since I've not been able to 'spring' her to go get her hair done.

Aug 1, 2020:
Had an enjoyable visit; took her a dozen yellow roses and a balloon, plus a cinnamon roll from Christo's.  Wendy called in, so Mom got to talk to us both, and we sang her happy birthday.  Wendy had also sent a dozen yellow roses, so Mom felt very pampered and not alone.  I also spent an hour outside her window, talking to her on the phone.  Tried to make an appointment for tomorrow, but all booked up.  Will try to make this a monthly event.

Sept 19, 2020:
Arrived late, due to son K's blackbelt test, and collected friend Angela, who was here from ND, visitng her new grandchild, and went to dinner at Texas Road House, to celebrate Adopted Daughter Reagan's 29th birthday.  Then we headed to the Eagles for karaoke.  Returned Angie to Rossville at 1am.

Sept 20, 2020:
Watched L&O: SVU until it was time to order Mom's ribeye sandwich from Walt's.  Spent 45 minutes outside her window, chatting on the phone before it was time for our face-to-face.  Had an even better time once inside, and at the end, I realized the nurse had her back turned, so gave Mom a side hug really fast, and kissed her head, forgetting I had the damn mask on!  Then went back to Walt's and ordered my pizza, then took it back to the room and watched more SVU and Big Brother All Stars:)  

Sept 21, 2020:
Stopped by Mom's room briefly before heading out of town.  Will return Oct 19th and Nov 20th.

Oct 18-20:
Did some grocery shopping for Mom (pads, kleenex, Immodium, candy) and went to storage to find her clothes (found the Christmas ones!) and her nebulizer on Sunday, then had a face-to-face on Mon, plus checked out the roses both Wendy and I had sent.  Took her a Subway sandwich; she's craving fast food!  Tues, showed off my haircut before I left for home.

Nov 10:
Mom wanted me to come up today and take her to the drs...but when I arrived, her appt had been cancelled.  I rented a larger storage unit, plus went to Walmart for her (she needed an alarm clock and more pads).  Had a Face-to-Face, in which I realized that as of 11pm tonight, it has been a year since I last heard 
Dad's voice.  Then I left and went to the Medical Supply place to see about a chair, and found one for $2663.  I'll return the weekend of the 20th, and hopefully move everything from the 5x15 into the 10x10 unit.

Nov 20:
Shared an enjoyable hour with Mom, then checked into motel.  Unfortunately, the medical supply place isn't open on Sat, so will have to return Monday.

Nov 21-22:
While waiting for the family to arrive, I began dragging things out of the storage unit and separating into piles.  3 hours and 4 truckloads later, it was transferred into the larger unit, and I took a few things to Goodwill.  Sara and Co. decided to spend the night, so after a trip for them to see her, we checked her into the motel, and Alex and I went to the pool.  A little boy told her she was beautiful and that he loved her!  Convinced A to get out of pool and go eat, and went to Olive Garden.  P and S got food poisoning later; we all pooled, then went upstairs.

I left at 7 am on Sunday and drove to work.

Nov 23:  Left at 10; met Rita for lunch at Arni's (350 S), then took Mom's pizza and salad to her.  Picked up the blank check and the vaporizer she didn't want, and went to Drayer Medical Supply to order her chair.  Then went to Walmart to return her items, and was on the road by 5:30.  Arrived home around 8:30. 

Dec 20th:
Left at 10:30; dropped off Christmas tree and cookies and RS candy; picked up mom's CC and 4 boxes.  Took 3 of the boxes to storage; went to Menards for Will's present (weighted blanket), then to Walmart for Mom's pads and some other odds and ends.  Delivered the CC and the pads to mom, then went to her window and spoke for 30 mins.  Checked into motel at 5, then met Rita, Brian and Cookie for dinner at Red Lobster.  Went back to motel and showered, then watched TSO show and SVU.  Left on 21st at 9:30 am.

March 21st:
Had broken my arm in Feb, and had to return for follow up, and thought only 'essential caretakers' were allowed in Mom's ROOM for up to two hours, but Mom called, wanting to know if I could come up a day early, to help her finish getting the room ready for the couch/chair swap.  I did....and discovered that 2 people can be in there as long as we want!  Reagan met me at the room, and when I finally hugged Mom....I burst into tears.  It felt so good to have a full body hug, not just a quick side hug on the sly.

We took two carts' worth to storage and brought back her Easter wreath.  On Monday, her chair was delivered; D and W arrived and W was so happy to hug and kiss his Grandma!  We all went out to lunch (yes, she can also LEAVE!), so took her to Walt's Other Pub on the south side, so she could surprise Diane, her favorite server!  My BFF Rita and her daughter Kaitlynn were also there, and Mom picked up everyone's check:  "This is the 1st time I've been out in a YEAR.....let me do this!"

After lunch, I realized it was going longer than I'd expected, so D and W took Mom back while R and K took me to the dr's appt.  I'm healing nicely, and "Your body is good at throwing stitches!"  D picked me up and W said goodbye to G'ma, then they went home.  In the meantime, I'd gotten ahold of Steph, Mom's hairdresser, and made an appt for her on Tues.  I called in for Tues, and did some errands for Mom (Walmart, final payment on chair, and attempting to get another key made for storage-didn't work.  Had to swap out the locks and give her the extra key).  I swapped out the end table by the desk and the filing cabinet, then went through the items on the shelves by the window, which was mainly empty boxes.  But we DID find Great-Grandma's items and went through some of them before it was time to leave.  We got beautified, then had an early dinner at Panera.  Returned Mom to the facility, and I left the next morning.  I return again next month:)

April 13th:
Sara and I drove up to take Mom to her drs appt.  Brought her a pizza from Arni's, then she dressed and we left.  I went in with Mom while S waited in the car.  Afterward, we went to O'Charley's for dinner, then we took Mom home.  I gathered up her Easter stuff and we took it to storage, then drove home.  My mother has swallowed the 'Dr. F' kool-aid, asking me repeatedly to get vaccinated.  Ummm, no.  There have been too many side-effects after the second shot, and now they're saying we may have to have a third?  Plus, the J&J one has been pulled, due to people getting blood clots.  I'll wait til more research is done, or I'm forced:  Vaccinated, or fired.  I'll get it IF my job is in jeopardy.
April 26-27:
Spent the lunch hour with Mom, hanging up her clothing and swapping out the hangers, then FOUND her summer clothes in a tote bag in the closet!  Swapped out some of her heavy winter items for the lighter ones.  Charged up her laptop, and spoke to Mr. Dick, and watched Mom write cards.  I left for my dr's appt at 2:30, then checked into motel and had dinner with Rita at Hu Hot.  The next day, Mom went to PT while I cleaned out over a years' worth of emails, and showed her how to log on.  She and I then went to lunch at Christo's and mailed her cards.  Took her up Happy Hollow Road, so she could see her favorite redbuds, then we stopped by the Silver Dipper for ice cream.  Took a crate and a box of Christmas cards to the car; I'll put them in storage next time I'm up.  Then met Brian C for dinner at Nobel Romans before returning to the motel room.  Left early on the 28th.

May :
Took Mom to the dentist, then ate a late lunch/early dinner at Olive Garden.  Returned her to CP, then I checked into my room.  The next day, I took her to get our hair done, then lunch at Subway.  Took her back to CP while I went shopping for her, then we finished the day at Red Lobster.  Left for home the next morning.

June 27-29:  
Took Alex with me; she curled up in G'ma's lap for a solid 5 minutes!  Picked up Pizza Hut for dinner, then left and checked into hotel.  Monday, dropped off van at Prime, then they shuttled me over to Avis to pick up rental, an Acadia! After figuring out how to fold down the back seats and even put the thing in gear, grabbed b'fast at BK (pancakes for A; my usual), then took G'ma to dentist, then to Cracker Barrel, where we met Rita and her dad, and Kris and Megan.  Mom was thrilled to see Kris!  I drove Mom and A back to CP, then went to my appointment.  Got discharged; he was happy with my x-ray and progress!  Called Rita to meet me at Avis, and reluctantly turned in my rental.  R drove me back to Prime, where I picked up my van.  Drove back to CP, where I picked up KFC for Mom, then met Reagan at BW3.  She took A swimming while I shopped for Mom.  Tues, checked out of hotel and went through BK for me, then Starbucks (A:  Mocha Frappe with x-tra caramel; Vanilla latte for me, and 2 Birthday cake pops).  Picked up Mom and went to have her hair done, and A got a few inches cut from hers.  Picked up McDs, then took her through the post office drop box, then back to CP.  Left Lafayette at 1:45 and called my boss to let them know I'd be there around 5-ish.  Made it back by 5:30, due to two heavy rain pockets.

July 27th:
Drove up and brought Mom a yellow rose, a cinnamon bun from Christo's, and a vanilla shake.  She loved the books (CG), though she pointed out a typo.  OOPS!!  I went grocery shopping for her, then picked her up and met BJC at Texas Rdhouse.  Had a wonderful dinner, and celebrated both their birthdays...B's the 29th and Mom's the 1st.  B even got on the saddle!  After returning Mom to CP, drove to Rita's house and crashed at her house.  Watched the Olympic team finals, then got up the next morning and drove home, stopping briefly at Erica's house.

Sept 3rd:
Had conference call with W, Mom, and ML.  Turns out Mom is still in good shape; W called me in a panic two weeks ago, convinced Mom needs to move in with me in 2 years.  Turns out, the only thing that really needs to happen is we need to invest the $54-64K in one of two mutual earns 1.5%, while the other is a little more risky at 2.5%.  Now, I just need her to calm down about the stuff in the storage.  I went up on the 1st and got some items I didn't want disappear, like the kiddie desk, the Snow White furniture, a few books, and some knick-knacks and family history stuff.  Now I just need to figure out where to put it.  W texted earlier if I wanted the lamp by Mom's bed, the decorative one I have a love-hate relationship with....I hated to dust the thing, but it's pretty!  She plans to take Mom to storage tomorrow to start sifting through stuff; the last time I left W alone with Mom, the stuff I wanted disappeared.  The only things I couldn't pull out were the VHS tapes in the back corner near the Hummel cabinet (mine) and the two skinny bookcases (mine).   I'm going up Wed the 8th and staying through the morning of the 10th.  Hopefully she won't piss me off between now and then.  I really have no desire to drive up in the morning and be late to work M-T.

Sept 8th:
Arrived in town, and had my windshield chip fixed.  Met Mom at CP with Ann and Bob Mead.  W arrived and we went to Walt's Other Pub for late lunch/early dinner.  W left around 3:15 for her CV test, and I took Mom back to CP.  W and I went on an Arby's/Silver Dipper run and talked about plans for Thurs.  I drove to Rita's and spent a disappointing night, being overrun by her dogs.

Sept 9th:
After a rough night, I decided to take the $100 D put in my account and get a cheap motel, so checked into the Motel 6 (note to self....don't EVER stay here again!  My shower is broken; no towels; holes in floor and bedspread), then went to Mom's.  We went to storage and culled through some boxes, then went to lunch at Culvers.  I went with Mom back to CP and we cleared off her part of her desk, then changed clothes and drove to Covington to the Beef House.

Sept 10th:
W and I had a conference call with Sara, about how to reduce Mom's paper addiction, and came up with a plan. I checked out of the motel and showed the desk clerk/manager?? the photos of the deplorable conditions of room 211, and he was clearly appalled, and had no idea.  He ended up comping me a room for the next year.  We'll see if I have to use it.

We then took Mom to her eye dr's appt, and I tried to help W download an app so she can get back into Canada on Sat (her CV test came back neg, thank god!), and after trial and error, and figuring out how to change her Apple ID PW, she discovered her phone's too old for the app.  She called United Airlines and found out she can print out the form.  So instead of being rational (we could all go to lunch, drop Mom at CP, I could head south, and she could go to the library), she insisted it had to be done RIGHT NOW, and left for the library.  I tried to run Mom through Arby's, but the line was long, and her tummy was upset, so I dropped her off and headed home.  She's anticipating being home for Chelsea's wedding May 15th.

Another thing:  Mom's lost G'ma's diamond watch and wedding band.

Sept 21st:
Went up and took Mom to cardiology appt, then to get her glasses, and I went to the candy store for some caramel corn (dark side) and 3 delicious truffles:  Maple Buttercream, Mint Buttercream, and Irish Coffee. We reported the jewelry missing.  As I was driving back, Mom texted; jewelry was found!  It was on her round table by her chair.

Oct 23rd:
Took K, J, B, and A up to surprise Mom and take her to her eye dr; she's still seeing double.  Sent K in to get her, and she was very happy to see him!  Her Zinger blew a tire, so she's using a regular wheelchair, and having him along to help load/unload was a godsend.  While Mom was at the eye dr, the rest of us went to the candy store and got some truffles, caramel corn, and some marshmallow treats for A.  Then we went to Pepe's, where S (who had driven up the night before to see Reagan) joined us.  Afterward, she and A went shopping while the rest of us took Mom back to CP.  K and B stayed with her while J and I went to Walmart for her.  Left around 5, and followed S to Reagan's house until 7.  Went through Arby's, then drove home.  After we passed Sullivan, A got sick in the backseat, and had to stop at Carlisle to clean her up.  Got home around 10:30.  

I have to return Nov 5th to take Mom back to eye dr again.

Nov 5th:
Took Mom to the eye dr, who gave her another full examination.  Her new lenses should arrive in the next two weeks, so will have to return again soon.  After a quick trip into the candy shop for truffles and caramel corn, we had lunch at Arnis (both had Jr salads, so we could be out by 1).  Then went to see Stephanie to get beautified, and drove to Walmart to do some shopping for Mom:  Pads, water, magnesium, kettle chips, and Tylenol Arthritis.  Took her back to her room and put everything away, then wheeled her down to the dining room and left.  Took myself to Chipotle for dinner.  Got home around 10pm; I'd left around 7:30am, so it was long day!

Dec 8th:
Mom was supposed to have her hair done, but Steph's mom died unexpectedly, so I picked up her X-mas decorations and took them to her. Put away her clothes, and she was thrilled when I pulled out her X-mas sweaters! Went to Cracker Barrel for an early dinner, then took her back to the facility and put her Halloween decorations in my car.  Checked into the Quality Inn ($64 with discount, making it $76 for the night) and went to Walmart for her. 

Thursday, I met up with Brian Morris, his wife, and a friend of theirs for b'fast at CB, then went to O'Rears bakery for springerly cookies, and to Payless for a fruitcake.  Returned Mom's Halloween/T-Day decorations to storage, then delivered everything.  Mom was tired, so didn't decorate, but did go through a few things on her table. Left at 5 after pushing her down to the dining room.

My Grief Journey: The Day My World Changed Forever

Wed Nov 20, 2019:
(phone rings)
Me (cheerful):  Hi Mom!
Mom:  Hi honey....I'm so sorry to have to tell you this.....your dad passed away this morning.
Me (in shock):  WHAT?  Noooooooo......
I stood up and went into my bedroom as Mom recounts how she found Dad slumped in the garage, called 9-1-1, and discovered he'd been gone for at least 3-4 hours.

We both cry on the phone, with me trying to choke out the words to D.  We hang up, and my brain kicks into gear.

Step 1:  Call work.  Check.
Step 2:  Call K and S.  Check.
Step 3:  Start planning what to pack, so I can leave ASAP, to go be with my mother.

My sister calls.  "What are we going to do?"
Me:  "I'm going up tonight.  I'll have to (move in) stay up there for a while."
W:  "Can you do that?  Is that wise?"
Me:  "She can't take care of herself!  She needs someone with her!"
W:  "Fair enough."

Kids begin arriving home; plans are being formed; my sense of humor kicks in.
"You know what this means, don't you?  ROAD TRIP to Colorado this summer!"
(Dad wanted cremated, then his ashes sprinkled over the Continental Divide and RMNP)

D drives me up that evening.  Can't remember if W, S, and A went along or not.  I THINK they did.  Members of Mom's Small Group Bible Study were there, sorting things, pulling out needed paperwork, doing laundry, organizing food.

Thurs Nov 21:
Errand Day
Discovered Dad's breakfast sandwich in the microwave, and also discovered I was not able to open the garage door!  I ended up carefully pushing Mom out the front door, in order to get her into the van. Mom and I went to the funeral home and picked out the Memory package (guest book, pamphlets, keepsake bookmarks), as well as deciding to write the obituary once W arrives.  Found a picture of Dad smiling to use for photo.  Once home, sent out a frantic call to W's friend SA to come out and see what was wrong with the garage door.  Discovered the emergency lever had been activated; S reversed it and we were able to open and close it again!  Spent the rest of the day fielding phone calls and accepting flower and food deliveries.  I left around 9 to pick up W at the airport, and was successful in doing so.  We stayed up until 3am talking before going to bed.

Fri Nov 22:
Brainstormed about the obituary, and wrote the 1st draft.  Went over it several times during the day, as we remembered other things which needed to be included.  Pastor David came out to the house to talk to us.

Sat Nov 23:
Friends arrive, as well as my family, and Uncle George! Took K to the funeral home, so he could see the body bag and have his closure with his grandfather. Discovered the septic was backing up; found an angel to come out and fix the issue.  My sister stayed with him, following him around outside as he found the fingers and the box, and snaked several drains to remove the blockage.  Despite the noise (it sounded as if the entire house was going to collapse!), Mom was able to enjoy her visit with Uncle George, and arranged for a payment for the septic on Monday.

Sun Nov 24:
I'll admit to waking up weepy, compounded by finding a tube of Bryllcream on the bathroom shelf.  Watched church on my laptop, and discovered Pastor Rob was praying/talking about Dad!  We finalized the obit, and went over to the funeral home to deliver it, after one last run-through.  Went over to church to talk over the service with Pastor Rob, only to discover our signals had gotten crossed, and he'd driven out to the house!  We used the time to sketch out preliminary ideas for Dad's service, and I felt as if my input wasn't getting heard.  Rather than make a scene, I simply went along with it, then vented to Mom privately after W went to bed.....or so I thought.

She came out and caught part of it, then went off the deep end, yelling at me, calling C to change her ticket to Thurs.  The three of us hashed it out, with me feeling like a heel, but at the same time, managed to shut her up by telling her I didn't appreciate her treating me like one of her clients.  I apologized to Mom for the scene, but also informed my sister that 1) I was tired and 2) most of what I was saying was off the top of my head and I probably wasn't going to remember most of it anyway.  I was just venting my feelings of feeling shut out, emotional, and very irrational at the moment.  I also mentioned the fact that back in 1995, W had 'shushed' me several times during G'ma's service, so I felt I had to hold in my emotions when I was around her, so I wouldn't embarrass her again.  W didn't remember that, and apologized for her juvenile behavior back then; we were free to mourn however we wanted.

Mon Nov 25:
Funeral home phoned to say cremation was complete, and everything would be ready for the service on Tuesday.  K, S, and A arrived.  We took Dad's theological books to the church and set them up, as well as the 'memory board' we'd put together.

Tues Nov 26:
Beautiful service and luncheon!  My SIL arrived with D and W, Erica was there....Uncles Bill and Ed...and several friends!  Steve and Heather H, Jerry and Louise B....and even Brian C showed up, which meant more to me than he'll ever know!

A few other 'testy' moments came back at the house, when it was revealed S resented being 'voluntold' to pick up the deli trays at the store, and my SIL was 'fuming' because I let W push Mom up and down the aisle at church.  What she hadn't seen was the fact I pushed mom down to the luncheon, and fixed her food for her.  I didn't care who pushed Mom around, or sat by her....because MY family was there, while HERS wasn't!  So I was perfectly fine with W sitting beside Mom!  D talked her 'down from the ledge', and all was well again.

Later that evening, A entertained us as we laughed, sang 'Dad' songs to YouTube, and she danced around.

Wed Nov 27:
Really not sure what we did.....

Thurs Nov 28 Thanksgiving Day:
Had a very subdued day.  We cooked the turkey and just relaxed.  I packed a bag to return home and work the next four days.

Fri-Sun, Nov 29-31:
I worked Black Friday Weekend, and discovered A's concert was to be Monday the 1st.  I was scheduled to work, but managed to get Khadija to cover for me so I could go.  Talked to HR about filing the paperwork for my leave, and discovered I could be left off the schedule for 8 weeks.

Friday Dec 5:
Drove home via rental car, sending W into a panic when I didn't get away as early as planned.  I actually passed them on 231, beating them to Cumberland Pt for our appointment, which calmed her down.  We toured two rooms, then figured out which one would be in Mom's budget.  Returned my car, then went back to the house and packed an overnight bag.  Drove to Indy and checked into the Holiday Inn, since W had to be at the airport at 4am to catch her flight.

Sat Dec 6:
Woke up to a 5 page letter from W, 'micromanaging' detailing everything I needed to do in the next month or so.  I held onto my temper and eye-rolled as I read it, then me being me, decided to send her a daily 'report'.  I don't think she actually caught onto the fact I was making fun of her....but that's okay.  She deals with grief her way, I'll deal with it my own way.

Mom and I drove to Terre Haute and celebrated K's birthday at GC, in compliance with W's decree that 'Mom was finished paying for everyone!'

Sun Dec 7-Jan 23, 2020
Mom and I decorated the house; tried to follow her 'normal' schedule, but the temperatures dropped; snow fell for one day; I was getting stressed, due to not being able to get Mom out of the house, or doing it and being cold and irritable.  Thankfully, a neighbor took his snowblower and cleared our driveway and car, but I deeply resented having to drive in the cold and snow, and actually got mad at my dad for forcing me to do something I didn't want to mess with!  The family came up for Christmas, but once again, it was a subdued affair.  If it hadn't been for A and Wm, I think we might have skipped it altogether.

One of Mom's friends offered to go pick up W from the airport, and due to the weather, I accepted his offer, then tagged along.  I soon realized I should have just driven myself when 1) he was late and 2) his driving scared me!  When we arrived, he looked up her flight info and discovered her flight was delayed an hour.  Instead of letting me out, CS decided to go sit in the 'Cell phone lot'....then find the bathroom and get a drink.  The 2nd time, we checked, I was just about to get out of the car when W called, then located us.  The trip back was harrowing; W kept him engaged (so he could stay awake??) while I navigated and prayed the entire time we'd make it back safely!  Again, Mom, W and I stayed up until 3am.

Fri Jan 24, 2020:
Not entirely sure what we did all day, other than talk, but W took us out to Red Lobster for dinner (my late birthday dinner).  Think we also grocery-shopped after dropping Mom back at home.

Sat Jan 25-31st:
I returned home and met with my boss(es) about my projected return date.  Discovered I am missed by Sandy, Aggie, Cindy, MK, Marci, Sacred, Mel, Kem, and Darren:)  Cassie, not so much, lol, or the others who had been hired on right before I left.  Spent the week dealing with family issues, working on the sample chapter book, and getting it formatted. Went to karaoke on Thurs and sang Uptown Funk, F'n Perfect, and I Believe by Lauren Dailes.  My karaoke buds were happy to see me:)  Drove back the next day and was there by noon. Discovered the 'time line' had been moved up; Mom was going to move March 2nd.  W showed me her 'cabinet', where everything she needed shipped was housed.  I was very upset to learn she was taking custody of the Axyl Rose yearbook; I wanted it!  Compromised by taking pictures of 'his' page, and took custody of his 8th grade track pic.  Mom wanted to take us out to dinner, so we went to Mountain Jacks for an early Valentine's Day dinner, that W paid for.  Since we had to leave at 4am, I crawled into bed with my clothes on for a four hour nap.

Sat Feb 1, 2020:
Drove W to the airport with only one mishap....I had to swerve to avoid missing a concrete center barrier, which freaked her out, but there wasn't any traffic around us; I was tired and had overcompensated.  Dropped her off, put gas in the van, grabbed a sweet tea and two candy bars, and drove home for more sleep.

Sun Feb 2-5th:
Enjoyed the Super Bowl, even though I missed most of the 3rd quarter by taking Mom's friend Cathy C home.  Took a load to Goodwill, then spent the next several days finalizing my 'Starter Collection' cover.  Went to Indy on the 5th to meet D, and after his machine check and Cardio check, enjoyed Cracker Barrel for dinner, then left my truck there and went to Noblesville for both our appointments.  Accidentally 'hijacked' D's appt, since I was showing D my foot when Dr. S walked in!  I do NOT have diabetes, and he didn't think it was cancer, so he referred me to a wound care center AND called in a script for my thyroid meds.  After we left, the snow was falling, so met Kris at CB to give her the pics I'd printed off, and after D gassed me up, drove home SLOWLY.  Flurries in Indy; freezing rain in Whitestown; slush at Frankfort.  Then I pulled onto 625 and not only fish-tailed, but nearly hit two deer.

I was EXPECTING Mom to have been picked up for lunch, then brought back to the house for packing party.  What happened was, I had neglected to remind everyone her house key was on the table by the door.  As a result, she called me at noon to tell me she was locked out, and was being taken back to CP.  I called HER, but didn't get any answer.  When I arrived back home, I called her again, and found out that yes, everyone had been informed, and I would defrost the van and come get her.  Took me an hour.  I even texted B to see if I could bribe HIM to do it.....he was at the Purdue game.  Traitor.  Anyway, I took the long way to CP and successfully got her home.  Just pissed me off, because I'd sacrificed two hours of sleep in order to label all the cabinets in the kitchen.  Oh well....

Feb 6-7:
Cancelled all appointments and spent two days going through Dad's DVDs and packing them up. W and K arrived; found out W is severely depressed.

Feb 8-14:
Had to make an emergency trip home to get my Teen some help, then learned later one appointment wasn't kept.  He did have a positive experience at 2nd appointment, so there's hope!  Discovered Kirk Douglass died, and so did Evan Twitty, a local celeb.  Spent a quiet V-day with Mom.  Was distressed to learn our long-time pizza delivery man, Tinker, passed away.

Feb 15-21:
With all the bad news lately, decided to set up my new turntable and start playing the LPs:)  Began with Saturday Night Fever and worked my way to Cher, Shaun Cassidy, and some childhood faves:)  Top news of the week:  Indiana Beach will be closed.  Monticello, In and surrounding community is in mourning.

Feb 22-28:
Went to karaoke and did an Olivia Newton-John night.  Sang Let Me Be There, Please Mr Please, and If You Love Me Let Me Know.  Also did Will You Be There by Heart.  Went to BoilerCon and hung out with Brian Morris for three hours:)  My copies of Starter Collection arrived:)

Feb 29-March 8th:
D, K,J, and W arrived; D and I picked up my BIL at the airport.  On the 29th, S and A arrived, and we began the HUGE task of unloading the den.  Around 3:30. Erica and Faunia arrived, and the 11 of us went to dinner at Outback, to celebrate W's 16th birthday.  Was sooooo good to see E and F!  March 1st, we discovered K had left with the storage unit keys, so E's house was the drop-off/pick up point.  The 2nd, Helping Hands arrived to move Mom's furniture to CP.  Think we ate lunch at Walt's, then returned home so Mom could go through more stuff.  3rd:  I picked up Mom and took her to Social Security, to get her deposit switched.  Had Arni's for dinner.  4th:  Picked up Mom and went 1st to Grindstone Charley's for lunch, then dropped her off and went on a liquor box run.  I cooked chicken and Chris cooked the pork chops.  Went to karaoke and sang Come To My Window, Keep On Loving You, Listen To Your Heart, I Will Be, and Independence Day.  5th:  C and S picked up Mom, since realtor was coming to the house.  Discovered later that Mom's checkbook was missing....she'd written my check, then hadn't put her book in the purse.  After we took her home that evening, after a delicious meal at Olive Garden, we discovered it wasn't in her room.  I nearly had a meltdown, but C 'talked me off the ledge'. S had already left for home, since she had a drs appointment on the 6th.  6th:  Took Mom's TV and radio to her, plus made copies of the two photos.  Ordered waaaayyy too much Chinese food, but went to bed early, since had to get up at 4:30.  7th:  Drove C to airport, then returned home and worked on my closet, finding Teddy; discovered W's dog was also in there, and some of the formal dresses W and I had worn.  Had dinner with Mom, but I was so tired, had to come home and go to bed.  8th:  Managed to get Mom's dresser and 'cube' into her closet, and tried to hook up her TV.  Also put some books on her shelves.

Mar 9-15:
"The Best Laid Plans...."  I went over and emptied 8 more boxes, placing all her knick-knack 'pretties' on the kitchenette shelves, and more books on her shelves.  Cathy C came over with a pizza.  On Tues the 10th, Mom's friend Alice (they went to church camp and A named her daughter 'Sally') arrived, and had a good chat.  New guidelines were going to be imposed, due to the Corona virus, and everyone was going to be checked at the main entrance.  Well, on Wed, I discovered NO VISITORS were allowed, not even family, so had to wait for Mom to be brought out.  Took her to lunch and bought some of her Tena pads, then went on to Fackleman's for Bible Study.  Afterward, Mom needed to potty again, and her Zinger was running low on battery, so took her back to C-pt.  1st she couldn't find the charger, then the battery died before she arrived at the front.  Discovered doors were going to be locked at 6pm; it was already nearly 5.  I was already over the day, so told Mom to stay there, and we'd do more on the 12th.  I did find a Mother-of-the-groom dress at Davis Bridal, so after faxing my 'documentation' to Lowe's HR, I tried on the dress again and had my picture taken in it (I'd forgotten to take my phone in with me on the 10th).  Mom said she'd pay half the $220, and D agreed to pay the other half.

Mar 16-24:
Coronavirus hits US....President declares Pandemic, and Indiana closes all schools, bars, and restaurants.  We can only get food through the drive-through or carry out, and people have lost their minds.  Toilet paper, Kleenex, cleaning supplies, meat, and chicken, as well as medicine, have been ransacked and being hoarded.  Stores are limiting quantities and store hours.

Family arrived on 21st; we boxed items and donated a load; sent a load to storage; took a few items to G'ma, and then filled D's truck, S's Jeep, and the van to be brought home.  Signed Dad's truck over to Patrick and he hauled a load off to be sold.

I spent Sunday on the couch, watching an SVU marathon and decompressing.  Went over to Lowes and discovered my job is still available (thank you Steve!).

Monday the 23rd, S and I returned and finished emptying the den, Mom's room, and my old room.  Governor announced Indiana was going on a 2 week state-wide lock down, so made the decision to spend the night.  I put out the call; Kristin and Steve graciously allowed us to sleep in Alec's room.  Got up on the 24th and emptied the storage room, the bathrooms, and took another load to G'ma; Wendy's things to storage; and another load to donation.

Loaded up the van with all the 'loose' stuff, and have three piles in the garage:  a) Everything which comes home; b) G'ma's things; and c) Donation.  Left a pile in the living room to be sent to the transfer station, as well as 4 empty storage containers in W's old room; Dad's bed in the master bedroom; and his desk and gun cabinet in the den.  Also left an extensive note explaining what needed to be hauled off and what needed to stay.  Dave the realtor put a lockbox on the front door; I called him and gave the instructions for the alarm code.  Also made arrangements for Mom's mail and newspapers to be picked up by a neighbor for the next two weeks.

April 2nd:
Realtor called; he and Jerry had loaded up the wood stand in the back yard, then went into the house to check what was left, and had forgotten the code to the alarm system.  I told him how to shut if off, so he did.  'Morty' is still behind the shed.  Quarantine is now until the end of the month, so I won't be able to go up until May 1st.

UPDATE:  Real estate is considered 'essential', so it IS okay for us to travel up to finish cleaning out the garage and 'rescue' Morty.  Mom is insistent about this, plus wants more of her plastic boxes and the pouch with the Canadian currency and D and R's silver dollars.

Good news is, Mom's Retirement funds are now being deposited in the correct account!  I should be able to contact the bank to close the other account, after I transfer the funds.

April 6th:
After repeated calls from my sis, Mom, and the realtor, I decided to make an emergency trip north.  S went with me, and we took the donation stuff to GW, then a load to G'ma, including a trip through Payless for pads, snack items, and Easter candy.  Returned back to house and loaded up the van with what we could....mainly the boxed and 'loose' items.  Got slightly emotional as we watched Dave and Jerry break apart Dad's desk, the entertainment center, and the final shelf.  All that's left is the cabinets in W's old room and I think the safe cabinet.  D is going to see if GW will take the Craftmatic bed.  S dragged Morty Moose into the garage.  Arrived home around 9:30.

April 9th:
Chris texted me; I got fed up with D and forced the issue by calling K and asking if he'd be willing to help me and S finish up.

April 10th:
Woke up to a meme on FB that absolutely brought on a grief session.  Went to work anyway and discovered I hadn't been paid for last week, which brought on more tears.  Swallowed my emotion and clocked in (finally!), then just had one bad experience after another.  I really should have stayed home today.....

April 11th:
Went north with a U-Haul trailer and packed up everything in the garage that we could.  Delivered a load to Mom, then went to CVS for her.  Arrived home at 9 pm.

April 12th (Easter Sunday):
Unpacked the van, U-Haul, and truck; called Mom when we sat down to dinner.  Got a text later that she'd broken a tooth.

April 19th:
Was told the painters were finished, and it looked good!  Stanley Steamer will clean carpets on the 20th, and the house cleaners will clean the bathrooms, the kitchen, and all windows on Wed.  Looking as if we should have the house on the market by next week:)

April 20th:  
Mom asked me to call, and when I did, she said she'd come to the conclusion that some of her stuff needed to go to storage.  Problem is, I have the key.  Talked to S and decided to go up on the 22nd to get the desk so we can put some of Mom's stuff in storage.  Not sure if we're getting the bookshelf or not; depends on who goes with us, the weather, and what vehicle we take.

April 21st:
Something alarming happened.  Realtor called, wanting to know where the bag with the house info/files were.  Told him on the counter by the fridge; he claims it's not there.  WTH???  Hoping Jerry didn't take it and trash it.....will find out tomorrow, when S and I go up.

April 22nd:
Arrived; went to the house and everything is painted WHITE!  Even the bright red bathroom, my blue bedroom, and W's pink one.  White. tote.  Reaaaally hoping J didn't trash it.  The safe cabinet and bed are still in garage.

Went to Mom's and picked up her boxes and handed her the tax forms to sign.  She wrote the check to the accountants, and handed me two checks to deposit.  We went first to storage and put the roll top desk in the van, and rearranged the storage unit a bit more.  Then mailed the TDS equipment back, and deposited the checks, as well as dropped off the tax forms and check back to accountant.  Went back to Mom and S showed her how to use her computer, then we left.  Stopped at Panda Express for S, then to Popeye's for D.  I ate chicken tenders.  Stopped at the truck stop to top off the tank and get some candy, and came home.

April 24th:
Mom's house is on the market!  Mom texted she'd signed the papers listing it for $134,900.  Said that the neighbor who mowed the lawn and his g/f had spent an hour with Dave on Thurs in the house and talking.  I'm slightly uneasy about that; they both struck W and I as sketchy and rather unreliable.  We'd like whomever buys the house to take care of it, and love it as much as we do.  Really
praying the right buyer comes along.

April 26th:
Offer was made; counter offer accepted!  The new buyers are going through USDA, so house has to be inspected to see if it meets USDA requirements.

May 1st:
Inspection Report:  Mold in attic; needs another vent.  Soffit on porch needs replaced, as well as support post.

May 22nd:
Buyer lost job, but gained new one.  Closing pushed back to July 3rd, so can show lenders proof of employment income.

I don't remember the exact date, but received a phone call from realtor:  According to USDA regulation code, our well is too close to the septic system, DESPITE the county being okay with it AND the water testing okay.  Cost:  $5500 to drill new well and cap the old one.

I was furious, and said 'no, there HAS to be a grandfather clause SOMEWHERE.'  Mom agreed, and the next day, she told the realtor no, she was not putting any more $$ into the house.  Find a new buyer.

The day it went back on the market, Dave had 6 potential buyers, and one even offered $145K for it 'as is'.  SOLD!  Closing is set for July 23rd.

July 13:
Dave texted me and asked if I could be there Friday the 17th at noon.  I said yes, then spent the next two days finding someone to cover my shift!  Gracie said she would, and Tasha approved it.

July 17th:
Sara and I left at 7am; had breakfast at BK in Sullivan, gassed up at Loves, and was in West Lafayette by 10:30.  Mailed the train to Mr. D, then went to see Mom.  She wasn't able to go with us to the closing, due to intestinal issues, but she handed over the credit card and the pertinent info we might need.  Drove to Arby's for a bathroom break and to get another drink, then to Columbia Title and had to wait on the buyer, who showed up around 12:30.  He seems like a nice guy; single dad with a 23 y/o daughter and 3 month old grandson.  He works nights at WWS, a feeder company for SIA. and loves the area, the swingset and climbing tower, and the layout of the house.  I only slightly teared up when I congratulated him and told him I hoped he loved it as much as we do.  Signed the papers and was told to return in an hour or so for the check. It saddens me to know that a smoker has bought our house.  Maybe he'll smoke outside???

Some of my author friends were in town, so we drove over to 9 Irish Brothers on SR 38 and met them for lunch.  I wasn't hungry, so only had Irish Cream Cheesecake, but Sara ate a BLT.  After parting ways, S and I returned to CT and collected the check, then I called Merrill Lynch to see if they were in the office.  They weren't, but we set up a meeting for when I return in 2 weeks.  I then drove downtown to Chase, to close out Mom's secondary account.  Then, I tried to go get my blood drawn, but discovered you have to make an appointment now; they're not accepting walk ins.  Went to Walgreens to use the bathroom and to buy S some Advil, then went to the West Side Walt's for dinner.  I had a flatbread pizza; S had a chocolate brownie dessert.  Ordered Mom's Ribeye sandwich and took it to her.  Drove to Crawfordsville for another pit stop and large tea before heading home.

Mom told us Dave had called; apparently someone broke into the house and cut a hole in the ceiling; another one in a wall; put a padlock on the shed out back; and did something to the garage.  Dave's going to investigate and find out what happened.

Discovered gas in Covington was $2.15, so stopped to top off the tank.  Arrived home around 9:30.

July 18th:
W called; apparently the new homeowner tried to drop off a load at his new home and discovered the damage.  I texted John Ricks, who's on the Sheriff's Dept, who told me it was no longer our concern.  Later that night, Mom called again and said she went ahead and filed a police report, and an insurance claim.

July 19th:
W called; apparently the 'break in' was actually the BANK, because Mom was behind on the line of credit aka 2nd mortgage, so the bank 'secured the property'.  Geez.....

July 20th:
I called both State Farm and Merrill Lynch; the damage is going to cost around $750 to fix, so with Mom's $1K deductible, we don't need to pursue the claim.  ML is going to send me a mailing label to overnight the check.

July 21st:
Managed to download the form to sign, but the mailing label won't cooperate.

July 22nd:
Mailing label cooperates; I'll send everything on Thurs.

July 23rd:
Faxed the form to ML and the cancellation form to Fidelity Life Insurance (I have to die in an accident, so we decided not to keep paying on this policy!), then overnighted the check to ML.

July 24th:
ML called; check arrived safely.  Mom called; her room phone has no dial tone, and isn't ringing.  The one by the bed has a dial tone, but not ringing.  Strange.....

July 28th:
CP called; Mom has degenerative discs in her neck; is in pain.  Had X-ray and is on Flexerill....which is apparently causing hallucinations.  First she insisted that I was there, and the entire family had a party in her room.  Then later, when asked about her neck X-ray, she said she'd seen Sheila Klinker and didn't understand why S didn't stop to talk to her.  They did get her phone working again, which is good.  I need to let her know I'll be up there on the 31st.

Life In Lumber, Y3, W 39

 Day 160:  $5,555 (and 89 cents!)

Today was the shift from Hell.  Things started off great when I clocked in and was sent to LG!  Thought I'd only be there for less than an hour, but Patty was held up at the drs office, and at 5:15, HC M finally closed down LG so I could relieve Bill in Lumber!  Got a shock when I messaged a friend 'MC and HNY' and got a selfie from them at the beach!  Rang up one customer and spoke to three.

Once back in Lumber, I gathered the paperwork and consolidated the trash....then things went downhill.  Customer A handed me an order detail, and it wasn't until after I'd scanned the entire cart that I realized NOTHING had rung up.  So did it again...with same results.  Then skipped the detail and things went fine.  Went to total it out and it wouldn't do it.  Tried to switch it to 'CW', but it refused.  Called Flooring and Josh tried to help, but an emergency arose, so he had to get off.  Tried it again, and it worked, and they left.

Was sent to lunch at 6:15. and when I returned, Customer B used their LCC to pay, but it declined.  Took off the gift cards....still declined.  She got someone on the phone who swore there was ample funds.  In the meantime, I rang up two more customers on the next register, and two more on #2.  They said they had a PIN for the card; I looked at Kristen and said, "There's no PIN on the LCC."  She took them to CS to figure it out.  In the meantime, I had to stay close to the door, since they had a forklift full of insulation, and the man had wanted Loader AM to put it on his trailer, but he said no, he had to wait for the receipt.  ASM M came down and told me their story about a fraud alert tied to the GCs was full of crap...AM moved the insulation toward the register, and the customers left, empty-handed.  I closed the door and spotted AM back to aisle 18.

Customer C needed an approval code at 8:50...and Customer D neglected to tell me to tab down to the 3rd name, and his VA discount didn't take.  HC M had to come down and do the refund/rebill.  Didn't start taking returns back to Electrical, Ladders, and Flooring until 9:20!  Clocked out at 9:40 and went to BW3 for my birthday wings. 

I hope tomorrow is better....I did manage to muck out under the mats, but only got #2 and 3 sanitized.

Outfit:  Blue Manning jersey, white tunic, new dark jeggings, blue snowflake socks, blue check mask

Day 161:  $3,939 (and 99 cents!)

Arrived; teased HC M...'Do you want me to go to LG for an hour?"  Things were slow, so did my LU and AP4Me, and helped ring up customers.  Loader J had brought cupcakes; slightly dry, but the frosting was amazing!!  Did the soda count, and when B left, did the other prelim duties. 

Took my break at 6:20 and when I returned, began sweeping.  Turned on the Dastardly Dingos Podcast at 7:30 while I sanitized and filled the soda cooler, plus sanitized the counters.  The ONLY issue we had tonight was a customer paid for 12 containers of Gorilla Glue construction adhesive, but we only had 10 on hand.  This happened as I was heading to break; Kenzie tried to refund 2 containers, but the system wouldn't let her, and she sent him to CS.  Found out later the entire order had to be refunded and rebilled.  I only had 2 o/r; one for a vanity and the other for a can of paint.  Loader AW had already dumped the trash earlier in the day, so after we locked the doors and rang up one more customer, I took the trash down to the hopper and after AW brought in the concrete and set the safety pallets, I put up my vest.  Clocked out at 9:20.

Outfit:  Black/white striped shirt, new dark jeggings, character X-mas socks, starry night mask.

Day 162:  $10,999 (and 37 cents!  Tried to talk someone into buying a candy bar...)

Arrived and since we didn't hardly have any traffic, decided to take the returns back to tools, Lighting, Paint, and Hardware.  Then did my LU and logged in.

Cust. A paid with a check, but it was made out for the wrong amount; ASM N came down and authorized it, and told me to give them back change.

Cust B had wire that was supposed to be $1.12/foot, but rang up $1.18.  G gave me and o/r.

Cust C had a propane exchange....but HC C was tied up at the CS, on the phone to IT, so had to call G to go do it.

Ben came down before 5 to send me to break; I protested it was too early.  Finally was sent at 7:40! 

Custs D and E arrived at 6:30, but were still in Plumbing when I finished my break at 7:55!  They finally showed up in my lane as the store was closing at 9.

I DID get the soda count done, and the floor swept, and the registers sanitized.

Took the trash to the hopper and then returned an item to Electrical before putting up my vest.

Outfit:  Maroon shirt, new dark jeggings, blue check mask

Day 163:  $$5246

Arrived and told Darrin not to forget Marci's present (socks), then headed down.  Things were rather slow, so started soda count, and then Alicia told me about the cart full of soda someone had left.  I called HC who told me to please put it up.  I filled our coolers, then took it down to to Receiving, where Darla informed me she'd spent the morning organizing it, and to please put things where they went, and to not just leave the cart!  So I did....then noticed there was Red Bull, so filled the cart and took it back....only to discover someone else had already filled it!  So back to Receiving again....and when I returned, A was logging out.  

Discovered there had been a bruhah between Pro L and new Pro S...and S went to SM S to report it.  L was asked about it....HR is now 'investigating'....L was told he's being transferred to HW....but he later quit.  Pro J was present, but not paying attention; no idea if Pro C was around when it happened.  

Was sent to break at 5:25, and when I returned, consolidated trash, gathered paperwork, and did my LU, getting all of them correct!

Customer A had discounted millwork; rang up all and called for o/r, then realized I'd rung up the first 5 wrong.  HC C had to refund/rebill.

Customer B dropped a bag, and I tried to make a joke by asking if it tried to defect....they didn't get it.

Customer C arrived with a countertop on top of their cart; had to have them take it off and set it on another cart so I could ring up everything underneath.

Got smiles when I'd tell my 'regulars' I'd 'see them next year', since I'm off tomorrow, NYE.

We actually closed up on time, then Loader AW brought in the concrete and put the safety pallets on top; I took the trash down and two items to RTM.  Put up my vest and clocked out at 9:25.

Outfit:  Black/gray leopard stripe, new dark jeggings, starry night mask.

Day 164:  Happy New Year!  Rare Saturday  $10,023

Arrived; discovered there were three of us assigned; Mgr N arrived and swapped out Jill and Cindy.  I took the returns back from the previous day, then helped Marilyn load the soda coolers.  Brought in carts when necessary; it rained ALL day long!  Did my LU, then took my break after C took hers....and an intestinal issue hit....once at 11:15 and another at 11:30 (fortunately, I'd only reached the break room!), and a third time at 12:30.  C went to lunch, and I was busy for an hour, needing two Code 3s and an o/r for a discounted door.  When C returned, Harley and I went to McA's, where the last of my intestinal issue finished its last gasp.  

When I returned, I brought in carts; said hi to friend and fellow author NR; tried to help a customer find a finish nail gun, and got a snippy customer when I tried to ring him up AND page for of his items was accidentally rung up twice.

"Just what I want....check out, then have to go to CS for a refund."

"I'm so sorry, sir, but I'm not able to process refunds.  Have a Happy New Year!"

Things slowed a bit, so we gathered the trash and swept the floor.....and brought in more carts. Mgr J asked me to take down the balloons, so I did.  Mgr G asked me to take down the Pro table.  C took her final break; I took mine at 5, and when I returned, we sanitized the registers and attempted to get all our customers out of the store before 6, which we did.  I ended up taking one final bag of trash to Receiving while C walked HC C up front.  Put up my vest and we all clocked out around 6:30.

Outfit:  White lacy shirt; new faded jeggings, blue 'bling' mask. 

                                                        Happy New Year!!

Day 165:  Rare Sunday  $12,280 (and 8 cents!)

Arrived and hopped on #2 as Jill took her 1st break.  When she returned (I wasn't that busy), I did my LU, then stayed on #2.  I took my break at 12:30, and returned a door to Millwork.  When J went to lunch at 1, I checked my sales; $2600.  Got slammed while she was gone, and Loader Cam helped out before HC H came down to help.  When J returned, things slowed a little, and I checked my sales; $6000+!  I went to lunch at 3 with Lee, and we went to Subway.  When I returned, we were fairly steady, and J took her 2nd break at 4:30.  I took mine an hour later, then we gathered the trash and filled the bags.  After J left at 6, I hopped over to #1, and started sweeping.  Things really slowed at 7, and was able to muck out under all the mats and sweep the horseshoe and the 1st 3 bays of aisles 19 and 20. 

Loader Cam left at 5, b/c he was running into o/t, so we didn't have a lumber associate, since AW had called in.  Really only had maybe 3 customers that last hour, but did have 2 people walk in at five til eight, but turned around and walked out five minutes later.  Locked the doors, and was figuring out where the returns went when HC M cleaned out my register.  Took an item back to H/W, then two to the clearance rack.  Took the trash to the hopper and put up my vest.

Was none too pleased to learn that Bill had been 'promoted' to Pro Cashier with a set schedule!  I asked Mrg N (very respectfully!) to schedule me two days off in a row, and he explained we were down 7 cashiers!  I told him to call me in when he's short; I'd do it.

Clocked out at 8:20.

Outfit:  Home Grown sweatshirt, Mom tee, faded jeggings, blue sparkle mask

Monday, December 20, 2021

Life In Lumber Y3, W38

 Day 156:  $3,232

Arrived to find subs, chips, brownies, and cookies in the training room!  Ate a 6" ham and cheese and took the chips and a brownie to lumber after dropping off Pam's Secret Santa gift bag (vanilla candle, blueberry candle, Mixed Bag and Bridges, OG GC and AZ GC, and pink wine cooler).  Was busy for 1st 90 minutes, then things slowed down.  Did my LU and AP4Me, and at break, tried to help Loader AW find a customer's lumber, but realized we were out of the 2x8x14s. Took a pit stop and grabbed another 6" ham and cheese and a cookie and took it to Lumber.  Ate; started sweeping.  Sanitized the registers, gathered the trash and paperwork, and locked the doors at 9.

Outfit:  Christmas sweater, new faded jeggings, starry night mask

Day 157:  $4,137

Arrived and bought Tide, bleach and three GCs.  Arrived and began ringing up customers; Bill left, and so did the crowd.  Did the soda count and prelim duties.....then started my LU and the crowd came in.  Finally finished LU, and took my 15 min break.  When I came back, swept the floor, mucked out under all the mats, and began the closing duties.  Had to call HC A twice; one for an o/r, and a question about flooring discount.  Locked the doors at 9 after putting away the soda.  Loader AM had an issue with a safety pallet; it completely fell apart.  Fortunately, ASM J was in the area, so we didn't have to wait long for her at arrive.  

Returned items to Tools, Hardware, and Aisle 1.  Clocked out at 9:35.

Outfit:  Santa shirt with the funky sleeves, black tunic, new faded jeggings, Monet mask

Tomorrow:  Off to the TSO concert in Indpls!

Day 158:  $5625

Arrived; helped with the line. Got slammed after B left at 5; was thanked for my 'efficiency' when I hopped over to the next register to ring up a credit card order while waiting for an o/r.  Gave a Christmas Card to ASM N and the HCs, and taped one to Steve's door, both expressing appreciation and thanking them for all they do.

Went to break at 7:35, but got sidetracked in Electrical, helping a customer looking for a double light socket, so took a '20-minute' break. Then gathered the trash, swept, and sanitized.  Clocked out at 9:20.

Went to karaoke, but left at 11, after getting sick in the bathroom.  Not sure if I'm coming down with something or if it was Misty's cigarette.

Outfit:  Snowflake shirt, black tunic, Monet mask

Day 159:  Rare Sunday $10,121

Was hit with the stomach flu Thursday night, so ended up having to call in sick on Christmas Eve.  Spent Christmas on the couch in recovery mode, but otherwise had a good Christmas with the kids.

Arrived today, not feeling that great, and had to sit down a few times, but otherwise powered through.  Customer A complimented me; told me that even though it was his 2nd trip in, he got to talk to a "beautiful girl".  Customer B joked with me about grandchildren who wanted to show off new skill for one set of grandparents, but not the other, lol!  Saw Seth West and discovered he and his g/f are expecting!

A weird thing happened; apparently when I rang up a customer's water heater, it didn't ring up????  He called in to say he hadn't been charged....but I remember asking him if he wanted the LPP, ringing it and the hoses AND the hardware up, then walking around to total him out and CANCELLING the LPP!  It wouldn't have asked for an LPP if I hadn't rung it up, so?????   HC A came down to let me know what had happened and asked me to be more careful.  It just puzzled me, and I even asked her later if she made sure it was my sales ID, and she said yes.  So we're not sure how it happened....but at least the customer was honest enough to call back in!

Also on the weird things....Kenzie had a customer who had an older card, but it couldn't be read.  She tried running it as a phone refused.  I tried told me 'invalid'.  So we sent him up to CS to figure it out...he wanted his 10% discount on that card instead of the 5% on the new one.  So who knows??

After K returned from lunch, I took my first break,then went to lunch after her 2nd break.  Went to McA's and ate Chicken and Dumplings and Chicken Caesar Salad.  When I returned, K left. amd as soon as I got a free moment, I did the soda count and consolidated the trash.  Took my 2nd break at 6, and went up front to get our battery charger we'd ordered, and paid for the Drano.  When I returned, I started the closing duties and swept the floor. AND found an item left at Reg #2 by Brandon W's customer.

Loader J told me I was the only closing Lumber cashiers who swept the walkway.  Told him that's how I'd been trained 3 years ago, and I'd started helping the loaders by sweeping out the first 3 bays of aisles 19 and 20....when I'm not getting scolded, ha ha!

Loader AW took the trash and when he returned, I put up my vest and clocked out.

Outfit:  Home For The Holidays sweatshirt, new faded jeggings, shark mask

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

What Makes A Successful Show?

 Got Brian K's newletter today and it posed the question, What makes a successful show? 


Meeting new people/contacts

Hanging out with friends

Treated well by organizers?


When I first began doing signings, a successful signing meant I sold at least 2-4 books.  After being picked up by the publisher and being in digital, success changed to IF I sold any on Amazon, but I wouldn't know for 3 months.  Therefore, success meant talking to a lot of people and handing out swag and cards, and networking.  In 2013, when my work was available in print again, success meant selling 4-5 books, and I could joke I could now pay for dinner.

In 2019, I branched out into conventions, and sales began to rise.  I was thrilled when sales meant a tank of gas was covered.  At times, I'd even paid for my table.

2020 just sucked, due to the lockdown.

2021 has blown all expectations out of the water.  Sales are not only covering booth fees, but for some venues, gas and even my lodging for one night.  I was particularly thrilled that at the Christmas show, I made all my booth fee back.  Of course, I promptly spent it on Christmas presents for my family!

Meeting New People/Contacts:

Back in 2010, desperate for extra income, I set up every week at our Farmer's Market, since the spouse was on medical leave, and we were living on unemployment. The local city leaders took note of my efforts, plus the fact friends had decided to open a used bookstore, and invited us to be the Grand Marshalls of the annual Christmas Parade (I found out later my friends only did it because I was so excited.), but we were also joined by two other established authors and three other new ones.  Needless to say, the city leaders' interest in us didn't last long, but it was meeting a certain author who began sharing writing conventions and book signing info with me.

One such contact led me to Columbus, In, where I met several other authors whom I was thrilled to talk to and pick their brains and friend them on FB.  A year later, one sent me an invitation to be a vendor at the Indpls Christmas Gift and Hobby Show, and I was able to afford one slot.  Only sold one book (I was still primarily in digital), but had such a great time, I made it a priority to do at least two slots the following year....then worked up to four.  Sales not only increased, but I was soon getting repeat customers, eager to see what was new, or what they had missed.  So up until 2020, I knew I was spending a lot of $$ on my booth fee and only making maybe only one day/slot or even half my fee back, but I didn't care.  I love being at that show; I love seeing 'what's new' by way of clothing items and meeting people.

Hanging Out With Friends:

Hands down, THIS is why I do some shows.  

Recently, a colleague asked me why I go to Louisville every year, because 1) the cost has gone up; 2) the hotel cost has increased; and 3) sales are not that good.  Quite frankly, it's seeing friends I only see at that convention.

A) It keeps improving.  The first time I did the Con, I think I only sold 1 book, but I sat on 3 panels and enjoyed myself.  The next year, it had moved to a new venue, and our table was in the very back, and we didn't get a lot of traffic, but still managed to sell some.  I was on 9 panels that time and realized it was too many.  I cut down on the 3rd year, but signed up for the special signing slot and sold more that way.  Last year, it moved to another venue, and offered a 'Creative Alley' instead of just the vendor room, and got a LOT more traffic in the hallway than I did the previous years, plus my sales doubled from 2019

B) The convention keeps getting better, and attracting more guests.  I don't know if the Con turns 10 this year or not, but at the rate of improvement.....why give up 'just because sales are low'?  I LIKE the people I'm with; I LIKE the comraderie; I LIKE the support I feel....yeah, I'm not giving up just yet.

Also in 2019, I met someone who encouraged me to attend Comic Conventions.  I never in my life thought a romance/fiction author would do well....but I have!  Yes, the first year I did a few events, the sales were mixed (ranging from 2 to 10 books sold), but friendship makes it all worth it.  We go to dinner, we cross-promote, and we share info.  

This past year, the show I sold the least at was a tiny show that was not very well attended, and I only sold one book.  But I was thrilled to note I'd sold 20 books at one convention (Superman) and 30 at the State Fair.  Was this due to readers being forced to take a year off from meeting authors, or just a fluke?  I guess I'll find out next year....

Organizational Treatment:

Here's where things get a little sticky.

I have been attending one particular Reader Event where the first time I did it, a friend was there, and we had a great time.  I returned this past year, but she didn't, and while I have a couple of acquaintances who were there, I was very disappointed they didn't invite me to dinner with them, even though we ate at the same restaurant.  I had taken my time packing up my table because of the long hike to my car, and having to make two trips, so imagine my shock as I was entering the establishment to see them exiting, greeting me by name, and telling me, "Have you ever eaten here before?  It's amazing; you're gonna love it!"

Even the night before, I'd bitten the bullet and stayed at the same hotel as everyone else, and when I went down for drinks and dinner, a) no one made room for me at the table until someone finally nudged another person to scoot over and b) my comments were acknowledged, but further conversation was not directed AT me, if this makes any sense.  I just felt excluded all around.  So why am I going back for a third time?

-My children's book will be out

-I LOVE the venue

-I want to ride a particular ride that was closed this year

-I would like to eat at the same restaurant as I did this year, because it was SO GOOD, and we don't have one in our area.  Is that a good enough reason?  Plus, maybe take a friend or even a child along....

Every other venue I've been to, the organizers/promoters do a fantastic job of labeling your booth space; they provide you with water and snacks and a 'swag bag'; sometimes they even have people to come around and offer to either watch your table or go get your food.

UPDATE:  Due to rising gas prices, I'll be skipping 2022 ($4-5/gallon)

Final Thoughts:

Yes, the craft fairs and Farmer's Market were a good place to start.  I met readers, and was thrilled to know people were enjoying my books.  It was a way to make contacts, and to branch out from my tiny community.  But as I said, sales were mixed.  I'd sell 2-4 and maybe make my booth space back.  The Cons and Reader Events are a little more expensive, but sales have been good, plus I get to hang out with good friends and meet new contacts.  One day, I'd like to be able to travel beyond the states I currently travel to (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee), and meet more readers and authors.

Success means something different to everyone, and I know some people will not agree with some points.  But you can't always measure it in dollars and cents.

2019 was an experiment; 2021 was a learning experience.  I'm hoping to revamp my table set-up for 2022, and that the upcoming children's book will do well.  I'm also hoping to finally get one of my unfinished wips written and published this year.  I've not put out a full-length novel of my own since last year, and I'm long overdue.

I also realize I'm getting older, and probably only have 15-20 years until health issues stop me.  Right now, the part-time job is paying for all my trips, and I'm trying to squirrel back as much as I can.  My goal for 2022 is to stay out of the hospital, so I can get out of my current medical debt!  Breaking my arm and having my gall bladder out this past year was NOT on the agenda, ha ha!  Thankfully, insurance has helped, as had the financial assistance payment plans. But 2022 also marks the year my youngest turns 18 and his SSI runs out.  We are about to lose $1200/year; his last payout is January.  And since it is normally used for the truck payment and medical see where I'm going with it..  

But I have faith it will work out.  God has been very good to us the past two years, and it will continue.

Just keep the faith.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Life In Lumber Y3, W37

 Day 150:  $5,086

Arrived early and knocked out my LU then clocked in.  Began ringing up customers as soon as I arrived, and we were fairly slow for the 1st hour. Did the soda count, but soda wasn't pulled....did some of the other prelim duties.  When B left, the crowd arrived, briefly.  Managed to get my AP4Me done, and was sent to lunch at 6:30.  When I returned, I began sweeping and sanitizing.  Was actually done by 8:30, then rang up my last two customers at 8:55.  Locked the doors at 9, and after Loader C took the trash, took my loading tickets and tax exempts to the front.  HC A cleaned me out at 9:05.  Clocked out at 9:20.

Outfit:  Blue waffle shirt, dark jeggings, Monet mask

Day 151:  $7,281

Arrived; began ringing up customers and chatting with B.  Thought I saw T walk in, but if he did, he didn't check out through Pro. After B left, swept and did the prelim duties. Went to break at 6:45, and when I returned, mucked out from under all the mats and saw one of my favorite customers.

Mgr N asked me to work Thursday 10-7, and I agreed. 

After gathering the trash and sweeping the 1st three bays of #20 and the 'horsehoe', I sanitized the registers, and rang up my final 3 customers.  At one point, after 5pm. the registers acted as if they were frozen, but within 5 mins, they were working normally again.  

After Loader AM took the trash, I waited and when he returned, locked the doors while HC A cleaned me out.  Clocked out at 9:25.

Outfit:  Red l/s shirt, black striped poncho, dark jeggings, Monet mask

Day 152:  $5,271

Arrived; started to do the soda count, then was told it was already done.  Brought in carts and ate candy while ringing up customers until B left.  Did the prelim duties, and took my break at 6:15.  When I came back, began sweeping and trying to make everything look good.  Got Loader AW to clean under Registers 2 and 3, to get all the dirt cleaned up, and he did a great job.  At 8, began sanitzing the registers and the counters.

HC C came down to clean me out, then Loader AW took out the trash and ran out of propane.  Had to wait until they got him going again before I could return some needle-nosed pliers to Tools and put up my vest.  I'd done my LU and checked my schedule through Jan 6th.

Outfit:  Red/gold gauze shirt, dark jeggings, Tools mask

Day 153:  $1440

Arrived and discovered I'd be in LG from 10-7. Relieved Val, and remembered how to work the new system.  Had only two customers the first two hours, then one after that.  It was pouring down rain, and had several people walk in, but only those 3 actually came through my line.  Went to lunch at 2 and ate my Chicken Pesto Mac, and when I returned, had five more customers.  Took my final break at 5, then had ZERO customers until HC C cleaned me out at 7:15.  Went to Lumber and covered a pit stop, then bought my two flip lid totes and a GC for my Secret Santa.

Outfit:  Red/black santa shirt, black tunic, dark jeggings, outer space mask.

Day 154:  $2697

Arrived at 4:30, since I'd gone to Mike Williams (church choir) funeral.  Was busy for an hour, then started the prelim duties.  Went to break at 6, and when I returned, things had slowed down, so I did my LU and started addressing and signing the rest of my Christmas cards, and ringing up the stray customer who wandered down.  At 7:30, started sweeping and gathering the trash, and an hour later, sanitized the registers. 

My Secret Santa spoiled me!  Bottle of Purple Toad Red Wine; a soft (so soft!), white teddy bear wearing a black and silver bow tie and santa hat; a pink wine tumbler (small); two candles, one vanilla and one Warm Apple Pie; Dove milk chocolates, Reeses Santas, and Snicker bars. 

Had two sketchy guys milling around; they checked out up front, and Loader AM checked their receipt and said it looked legit, but ASM M thought there was some theft going on.

Outfit:  Black baby cable-knit sweater, red polo shirt, new dark jeggings, Starry Night mask

Day 155:  Rare Saturday  $13,445

Arrived; sent Kenzie to break.  Was fairly steady the entire 1st half of my shift. Was snacking on the white chocolate crunch, and after my 1st break, took my coat and book to lumber with me.  Around 2:30, felt a horrible gas pain, followed by the 'get-to-the-bathroom-asap' urge.  Turned off my light, shed my vest, and told Jill.  Made it just in time...and then the same thing hit an hour later, only J was gone so had Loader C take over.  Was sent to lunch at 4, and went to McA's.  When I returned, took over for Alicia, and did the soda count, and started the prelim duties.  Things settled down around 6, and was able to sweep.  Took my 2nd break at 7 and had another slight intestinal issue, but not too bad.  Took my coat and book back to my locker. 

Put the soda away and sanitized the registers, and locked the doors at 9.

Outfit:  Red snowflake sweater, new faded jeggings, outer space mask

Friday, December 10, 2021

December Goals

Is it just me, or did November go by in a blink of an eye?  I guess spending a week in the hospital will do that to a person.....

-Lose 5 lbs Came home from hospital at 233:) 11/24:  228:)  12/3:  226!!

-Promo materials for ICGAHS Check!

-Do well at ICGAHS

                11/10: Sold 5:)

                11/11: Sold 5:)

                11/12 (all day): Sold 20:)

                11/13(all day):Sold 16:)  Grand Total:  46!!!

-De-Flea House Check!

-Rip up DRM carpet Fumigation took care of it:)

-Have fun interview with Ryan 11/6 Check!  Was very fun and relaxing!

-Have relaxing Thanksgiving Check!

-Do well at NaNoWriMo Didn't even make 10K, but LIFE happened.

Health Update: After returning from ICGAHS, I went to the ER with a strange pain/pressure in my belly.  Turned out to be pancreatitis, caused by gall stones.  Gall bladder was camera-shy at first, but eventually agreed to be found on an ultrasound, then my liver decided to get into the act and throw up some numbers, so had to have an MRI.  Gall bladder was evicted from my body on Thurs Nov 18th.  I'm not to drink any alcohol until my birthday.

Books Read:  9

           Print:  8

           E-Book:  1

Karaoke Songs Added:  0, due to karaoke malfunction and my being gone.

Upcoming Events:

-Writer's Block Author Fair (Dec) Franklin Park Mall, Toledo, OH $90-full table Pd 11/5 CANCELLED, due to transportation issues.  Hopefully next year???

2022 Events:

-Saluki Con (Jan 15-16, 2022) Carbondale, Il $70 Pd 10/22/21

-SI Comic Con (April 2, 2022) Benton, Il Pd 9/18/21

-Indy ComiCon (Easter weekend) Indpls, In 

-Weekend With The Authors (May 13-15, 2022) Nashville, TN Pd 2021; may need to cancel, due to cousin's wedding on 14th....depends on if Mom wants to go.

-Quad Con (June 4, 2022) Peoria, Il

-Superman Celebration (June 9-12th, 2022) Metropolis, Il 

-Wild Deadwood Reads (June 16-18th, 2022) Deadwood, SD 10-3pm Cost:  $160 (full table) 

-Heroes For Kids (June 17th) Perrysville, Mo

-Imaginarium Convention (July 8-10, 2022) Louisville, KY $110 Pd 9/15

-Royal Readers (Aug 6th) Mall of America $110 Pd 9/16/21

-State Fair

-Daviess Co Wine and Art Fair

-Penned Con, St, Louis, Mo

-First City Music Festival

-Cil-Con Mattoon, Il Pd $100 10/21/21

-Non-Con Middletown, OH

-Collector's Carnival and Crafts (Oct 29th) Princeton, In

-Indpls Christmas Gift and Hobby Show (Nov) Indpls State Fairgrounds $100 Pd 11/26 (Bal:  $250)

-Writer's Block Author Fair Toledo, Oh

December Goals:

-Do well at Writer's Block Author Fair Cancelled, due to transportation issue.  D's truck needs new starter or battery.

-Lose 5 lbs (starting 228)

-Pay down debt

-Wrap presents Check!

-Bake cookies

     12/11:  10 Doz Choc chip

    12/19:  3.10 Doz Oatmeal Raisin

-Mail books 12/21:  Check!

-Enjoy my birthday Slept in; baked cookies; drank wine; ate at Texas Roadhouse, then saw the X-mas lights:)

-Enjoy the TSO concert It was AWESOME!!!!

-Have relaxing Christmas Check!  Stomach flu hit Christmas Eve, so didn't do a whole lot.

December Reading Schedule:

Amazing Tales From Indiana-Fred D. Cavinder Excellent!
The Stars Shine Down-Sidney Sheldon Enjoyed this re-read!
My View From Here- Dave Sattler Very funny!!!
Lighter Lafayette- DS Again, VERY funny!


Hers To Obey-Brynn Paulin RR!  I enjoyed reading Francesca's story, though I had mixed feelings.  Justin seemed torn between the way he was raised vs his feelings toward F, and it bothered me how he seemed to dole out the punishment too long.  I fully expected to find F being a Domme instead of a sub, but it really did fit the way she was raised, and her inner conflict felt so REAL.  Still, I would have liked a tiny loophole resolved; however, it was brought to my attention the version I bought was unfinished, and I still have to download the final chapter.

The Duke and the Spitfire-Jessie Cleaver DRR!  Excellent story!  Also downloaded her novella and it was also a night 'bow' on the series, so now I want to read the rest of the series!

Karaoke Songs:
12/9 Out of town
12/16:  Celebrated my birthday by singing songs I've already sung.

Tender Is The Night-Jackson Brown DNH
Thank You-Alanis Morissette Good:)
Say Say Say-Paul McCartney DNH

Thank You-Dido Good:)
Same Old Lang Syne-Dan Foglegburg Good:)
Eight Days A Week-Beatles Good:)