Living With A Tim Taylor

Photo by dailyinventionI always enjoyed the Home Improvement show. Partly because I was an engineer dealing with other engineers. And partly because I related to both Tim and his wife – more power, and dealing with the consequences of more power.

We’ve had a couple of Tim Taylor-esque moments after living in this house. The first was the deck. The house didn’t come with a deck, so my husband designed – and built – a 20 foot square deck on the back of the house. Even after putting out the grill and patio set, we could have roller-skated on the thing. (Now half of it has been converted to a screened porch, and we still have ample room both in the porch and on the remaining deck space).

The second incident was the Christmas tree. Moving from the condo, we brought our 4 foot tree. Which looked pitiful in the two story great room. So my husband bought a pre-lit tree – 16 feet of pre-lit tree. Not only did it come home in the SUV, but some of the boxes were on top. And the hatch to the attic was too small to get the tree through, so he ended up building a shelf on top of the garage to hold the tree.

This year we had another “more power” moment. My husband, noting the prices of televisions, convinced me to upgrade from our 48 inch set. He reasoned that the two story great room could handle a 60 inch set, and I agreed. But after an out-of-stock incident, we brought home a 70 inch. And when that one was broken, it escalated to a 75 inch. This set didn’t cost much more than the 60 inch, but I am now dealing with two feet more on the hypotenuse of television. This thing is so big that television shows like MASH look like stage sets. You can see the fur details while playing Animal Crossing. And you can read the subtitles from the other side of the house. Football looks like you are on the field.

I’m embarrassed by the excess, even as thinking it is pretty cool. And while I might tease my husband about being a Tim Taylor, I still secretly enjoy being in on it.

Photo by dailyinvention


Garden Leftovers

I am very grateful that my gardening neighbors, knowing that I am inept when it comes to growing things, use me as the place to dump their excess produce.

I get all the goodies without the certain knowledge that once again, I have killed dozens of defenseless plants in my quest to have fresh produce.

Embracing Neurodiversity

Photo by Yuchao.LIt’s interesting – even though I went through an intensive teacher training program, spent a year in the classroom and hold a teaching license, I was still not aware of many forms of neurodiversity.

Dyslexia is one of the ones that is most commonly talked about, and I knew that any student in my classroom would probably need spoken word accommodations.

But even as a math teacher, I didn’t know a bit about the other types of neurodiversity around numbers. I’m talking specifically of dyscalculia. This can range from being unable to grasp basic math concepts to being unable to understand space to switching numbers around.

But here’s the thing: in high school math, it is assumed that a learning disability is already diagnosed if it is there. That’s not necessarily the case.

And I know this because I have come to realize that I am dyscalculic.

I had trouble with math facts. My mother will tell you proudly of the hours she worked with flashcards with me. I can recite math facts, but I can’t estimate a group of manipulatives.

Geometry made no sense to me. In fact, my high school geometry teacher told me outright that I probably shouldn’t bother with any more math. It still makes no sense, and was the hardest part of my Praxis exam.

I have no spatial sense. I can’t pack a suitcase or size a leftover container.

And here is the big one…the one I have been compensating for all my life: I transpose numbers. It’s not that I am being careless. I literally see them in a different order when I look at them. When I blink, they are in a different spot.

If I have to write down the numbers from a written sheet, chances are I will transpose something. It doesn’t happen if someone reads digits to me (but does if they say “three thousand five hundred eighty two” instead of “three five eight two”)

I even told my students to watch for it as I wrote things on the board.

I am good at math, in spite of all these things. I love the logic, the steps, the intricacies. But I still struggle with it at a fundamental level.

Yes, I learned how to compensate. When I copy something down, I do the copy, look away, then check again. If I am writing on paper, I will line my numbers up underneath the ones I am copying from. I always do every math problem twice to make sure I get the same answer. I use formulas in spreadsheets to avoid having to retype numbers.

It’s been interesting learning this about myself. I don’t think it will affect my future, but I will still have to compensate. I still will pile all my clothes into a pile before selecting an appropriate size bag to pack them in. I will still have other people put away leftovers or at the least validate that I have picked the correct-sized table. And I will still use my programming knowledge to avoid the simplest of issues.

And it explains so much about certain struggles in my life.

Photo by Yuchao.L

The Auto Light Switch

Photo by Melinda Young StuartWe have a pantry with a door, and consequently it has a light. We keep the trash can in there because we have three animals, all of whom are too curious and tempted by the things inside.

We keep the door closed, but that means when my hands are full of wet garbage, I have to lever open the door with my elbow and hope I can see well enough to get everything in the garbage can. Or I can use my garbage-filled hands to turn on the switch. (Ick) I was constantly having to wipe down the switch.

A few weeks ago I asked my husband to install a motion activated light. A trip to the hardware store and a bit of electrical work, and I have an automatic light in the pantry.

I cannot believe I have lived so long without one.

I don’t have to worry about not being able to see things on the shelves or get everything into the trash can.

Every time I go into the pantry I tell myself how wonderful it is. And so now you know too.

Photo by Melinda Young Stuart

Why I Love Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Photo by epredator

A new gaming device was released in 2019 called the Nintendo Switch. My daughter was keen on this device because it allowed you to play on the device or it could be played on the television. When Nintendo announced Animal Crossing was coming to the Switch, I felt I had to get on board.

I played Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS, but it wasn’t engaging. You could decorate your house, visit the animals, and that was pretty much it. If you didn’t get your layout right out of the gate, well, too bad.

I like Animal Crossing because it doesn’t require much hand-eye coordination nor quick reaction time. I prefer games that allow me to take my time.

Animal Crossing New Horizons dropped at the beginning of the COVID shutdown. My daughter and husband had gone to great lengths to get the Animal Crossing-themed Nintendo Switch right before the shut down, and the game itself came about two weeks later.

I was enthralled. It’s now been two years and I am still avidly playing the game.

I can pick my focus: building an island through terra-forming and moving things around; farming fruits and vegetables; fishing for fish/sharkes and catching insects; and decorating my house and the island. With the release of Happy Home Paradise, I get a vacation area that I can do the same things as well.

I’m currently working on my 3rd home island revamp. I’m pleased with the way the landscaping is going so far, and I’m looking forward to keeping this going.

It’s been a good game for someone who never considered herself a gamer.

Photo by epredator

Why Samwise Was The True Hero

Photo by cobaltfishWe recently re-watched the Lord of the Rings. There was a discussion about who the heroes were. Was it Aragorn? Was it Gandalf? Was it the Ents?

I believe that the hero of Lord of the Rings was Samwise. The gardener.

He went along on the journey. He’s the one who carried the food and cooking pots. He’s the one who carried the backpack while Frodo carried the ring.

And when he couldn’t do any more, he carried Frodo.

It’s often the people in the support roles who make it possible for the others to do what needs to be done.

Photo by cobaltfish

Battling Plantar Fasciitis

Photo by Brian GaeddertIt began when I was in my 20s. I woke up one morning, stepped out of bed and felt like someone was blow torching my left heel.
I went to the doctor. He said, “Achilles tendonitis. Don’t go barefoot or you’ll have ongoing issues.” He put me in a walking cast.

After a car accident where I needed physical therapy, they did an assessment of my ankle, decided that I needed to work on stretching it out so I didn’t have another flare up. 6 weeks of PT. The therapist said “Don’t go barefoot or you’ll have a flare up.”

During a year of insanity I taught high school. I never sat down while I was teaching. I walked concrete floors, and developed a burning sensation in my left heel. I finally went to the doctor. He said “Plantar fasciitis.” He gave me some insoles, a splint and said “Don’t go barefoot or it will come back.”

So now I’ve been working from home for almost two years. We, as a family don’t wear shoes in the house.

Do you see where this is going? Because honestly, I didn’t.

So now I have flare ups in both feet. Because I went barefoot.

The answer? I wear slippers with arch supports in the house, and shoes with arch supports outside the house.

I no longer go barefoot.

Photo by Brian Gaeddert

Scaling Back

I’ve been regularly posting content on this blog since February of 2003. That’s over 18 years.

It’s become a habit, and one that I am starting to stress about.

I don’t know why I’m stressing. I write this blog for myself, and if other people read it, I hope they get something from it.

But I don’t want it to become something that I am drilling my brains for a topic whenever I have to post – even if that is just twice a month.

So I’ve decided to back off a bit. I’m dropping the quote posts, and I will only commit to doing one post a month. That seems do-able to me.