A Tribute to Jack

Dogs are just the most amazing creatures! They enter your heart just by wagging their tails, or jumping up and down in pure excitement just because you entered the room. Dogs, unlike cats, seem to love you no matter what. Much as I love my cat, she’s very stingy with her affection and I’ve rarely met a dog that was stingy at all.

Today I got the saddest news: my “nephew” dog, Jack, died yesterday. It wasn’t a long illness, thank goodness, but still it’s difficult to think of this world without his smiling face (Yes, dogs do smile!) and loving attitude.

Jack

My sister-in-law, nephew and niece brought him home as a puppy about 10 years ago. Part terrier and part Pomeranian, he was such a lovely dog who loved people. When they lived on their farm, he had the run of the place. He played with the barn cats and explored the huge yard. During the winter months, he loved to play in the snow. It was so funny to watch him as he’d stick his nose into the snow and push it around. Jack was a gentleman too! When he needed to go outside to do his business, he would go to the door and jiggle the bell hanging on the door-knob so someone would know to let him out. Once he finished, he would quietly sit on the stoop outside the door, waiting to come back in.

He loved to play with his toys and he enjoyed getting dressed up! Yes, Jack had his own Halloween costumes as well as some other sweats and things to keep him warm! Jack was such a friendly little soul. You couldn’t meet him and not want to take him home with you. We’re all going to miss him so much!

Sadly,
Karen

Long time, no writing…

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last wrote a post to this blog. I’ve been dealing with lots of health issues, both mine and my dad’s. Dad has had a hip replaced and carpel tunnel surgery since I last wrote. He’s doing well though. Being able to walk without the immense pain has made such a difference in his attitude. He’s getting around much better now, thank goodness.

As for me, I’ve been working with my gastroenterologist to control my gastric reflux issues which caused some horrible esophageal erosions. Two weeks of very strong antibiotics seems to have cleared that up and I’ve been trying to change my diet to help out as well. Ugh. Not fun. My doctors are still trying to figure out why my iron count is so low. No luck there yet, but I have hope that we’ll get this figured out at some point.

After my periodontal surgery last year, I’ve been doing very well dentally. The bone seems to be reforming well and my gums are in good shape. Now we’ve started getting my teeth where they need to be so I have braces. We need to get my bite back in line, as well as straightening my teeth which moved around a lot apparently. It’s so weird having braces at my age. I now have three dentists: my regular dentist, a periodontist, and an orthodontist! They’re all really wonderful, explaining things well and letting me know all the options for treatment.

So I’m making progress on some of my health issues, but there’s still my stress issues which seem to be getting worse as time goes on. Some of it is work-related; a lot more is just stuff in my head that isn’t getting resolved. Therapy does help! It really does. The problem is that I believe I’m getting close to some things that I’ve pushed so far back in my mind that I’m now fighting incredibly hard to avoid pulling them out.

The last year at work has been full of change, huge projects, and frustration. It’s really been exhausting! Between a massive weeding project and replacing/updating the media collection, I’ve worked on setting up contract cataloging with OCLC, discarded tons of items, reclassified media from locally constructed number to LC classification, cataloged DVDs until my head hurt, and cleaned up database issues relating to all of the previous. The frustration has been that it’s all come at once. There’s not enough time in the day to get it all done and I feel like I’ve fallen so far behind that I’ll never catch up.

The Library is also going through reorganization and relocation. I served on the organizational design committee which recommended a new structure for the organization. Now that the Dean has chosen a new structure based on our recommendations, I’m serving on the transition team to set up a timeline and implementation plan for the restructuring, On top of that, which has stressed out a lot of folks I work with, we’re doing some renovations to the building and moving the non-public departments off the 1st floor to make room for the ‘Learning Commons’ area. It’s kind of exciting, but I anticipate delays that will make things very messy for the upcoming Fall semester… ugh! At least cataloging will be moving to the second floor and not the basement! Yay!

Guess I’ll stop for now. More later!
Karen

Post-surgery notes

I had periodontal surgery today and it wasn’t too bad. It really helps having perfect confidence in my doctor. I went into it all with only a little bit of nervousness, mostly the nerves regarding anesthetic. Hate anesthetic. Hate how I feel afterwards, but it was okay. It mostly just relaxed me to a point that I *almost* enjoyed laying back and listening to the doctor and his assistant chatting and actually contributed to the chat myself.

After nearly 3.5 hours in the chair with two tooth extractions, a lot of scraping, a lot of sutures, some bone rebuilding, and so on, it was home to an afternoon of vicodin and amoxicillin and a long nap. I feel a lot better now. A little bit of pain and swelling, but nothing significant. Yep, it was okay.

After my nap, I emailed a progress report to family and my friends at work, called my dad and let him know how it went, and ate a little dinner. I’m on soft foods for a while. The sutures come out next week. I think the worst of all this is that I can’t brush my teeth until the sutures come out. All I can do is rinse and use a special mouthwash until then. Ugh. But it’s only a week so I guess I’ll survive.

I’m so grateful to my friend Frank who got me to my appointment this morning and came back to drive me home. He kept me calm and entertained on the way there and back. We also picked up my prescriptions before he ensured that I was home and settled for the afternoon. Thanks Frank!

So that’s one health issue out of the way. Follow-ups will be a breeze with the periodontist, and once everything is healed up and we’re certain the bone is growing back then back to the orthodontist for some additional work. Still working on getting my blood pressure down and my latest medication seems to be working for that. Yay! Now just need to figure out what is causing my iron deficiency. Whew! Getting older sucks. Between the arthritis and all the other problems, some days my body feels like it’s 100, while my mind is still around 25!

Guess that’s it for now! Take care-
Karen

Dewey Decimal System…

Okay, I found this great quiz for finding out where I fall in the Dewey Decimal System! They provide 3 different DDC sections based on my answers and here are the results:

Karen Anne Plummer’s Dewey Decimal Section:
068 Organizations in other geographic areas
Karen Anne Plummer = 1185414456213358 = 118+541+445+621+335+8 = 2068

Class:
000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Contains:
Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You’re working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Karen Anne Plummer’s Dewey Decimal Section:
474 [Unassigned]
Karen Anne Plummer’s birthday: 5/18/1956 = 518+1956 = 2474

Class:
400 Language

Contains:
Linguistics and language books.

What it says about you:
You value communication, even with people who are different from you. You like trying new things don’t mind being exposed to unfamiliar territory. You get bored with routines that never change.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Karen Anne Plummer’s Dewey Decimal Section:
941 British Isles

Class:
900 History & Geography

Contains:
Travel, biographies, ancient history, and histories of continents.

What it says about you:
You’re connected to your past and value the things that have happened to you. You’ve had some conflicted times in your life, but they’ve brought you to where you are today and you don’t ignore it.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

I really think the third one is the closest to my personality, but they’re all fun! Try it out and let me know your results.

Enjoy!
Karen

Update

Well, if Fall was all about my dad and his health concerns, Spring is all about my health concerns. After a couple of years of being frustrated with my family doctor, I finally got into research mode and found a new doctor in late fall. I really like my new doctor. She’s very patient and seems to look at everything more holistically — she looks at the big picture, instead of just dealing with patching up symptoms. Anyway, my first visit with her was okay. We talked about a lot of my concerns, including my near-terror of doctors, but I didn’t do the things she asked and kept putting off my second visit until the end of February.

February came and I had to go back or not get refills on my prescriptions. Ugh. Guess blackmail does work… it got me into her office and probably good that it did. My blood pressure was extremely high which was very scary. We talked about all of my medications and unfortunately, some of my meds have the side-effect of raising my blood pressure so it was time to get all my meds on track. We decided to start with changing my allergy/sinus medication, largely because it included a strong decongestant. I was in the process of getting a horrible sinus cold at the time so instead of stopping the old medication, I continued taking it for another week (when I ran out and my cold was mostly cleared up). Now I’m using a spray (Nasonex) and it seems to be doing pretty well.

I had to have some blood work done in the meantime and the results were that I have an iron deficiency and anemia on top of the high blood pressure. That led to some further blood work to figure out the cause of the deficiency. Hopefully will have the results of those tests and possible course of action this coming Friday when I see the doctor again. The anemia is both a scary thing and something of a relief–many of the depression symptoms I’ve suffered in increasing volume lately may actually be symptoms of anemia. It will be interesting to see what happens once we begin treating this.

So, the good news is that (1) My blood pressure has been coming down steadily since I switched medications. It’s still a little high, but not scary-high any more; and (2) My exhaustion, headaches, and other problems may be due to anemia rather than depression. Of course, where there’s good news, there has to be a balance of potential bad news and that happened at the dentist’s last week. I hadn’t been to the dentist in a while (part of my doctor-phobia) but had a loose front tooth and needed to get a checkup so I researched dentists and found a highly recommended one that was accepting new patients. After 18 x-rays and a lot of poking and prodding, the dentist told me that the bone surrounding my teeth is degenerating. I’m seeing a periodontal specialist in a couple of weeks to see if we can rebuild the bone or do something else to save my teeth. This just terrifies me! I don’t want to loose the rest of my teeth!

So I’ve spent some time in research mode, learning more about high blood pressure, iron deficiency, anemia, and periodontal diseases and trying to figure out what I can do on my own and what questions I need to be asking at my doctor visits. I’ve cut back on my caffeine in a big way (sigh, I miss Starbucks!) and have been trying to eat more vegetables and fruits instead of so much junk food. The diet aspect is always the most difficult thing for me. Always has been since I was a kid.

I’ve been resting a lot and trying to do some relaxing things to lower my stress levels. Work is still stressful so I’m looking at what I can do to level that out a bit more too. The upcoming week will be more restful than usual… it’s Spring Break at the University of Akron, so fewer students, no fighting for decent parking spaces, and a few days to kick back without as much pressure. Too bad Break isn’t two weeks long! I’m looking forward to Summer this year more than ever and dreading Fall!

I guess that’s it for now.

Have a great week!
Karen

Not Dead Yet…

It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote in here. Sorry for the delay. Real life has been more difficult and writing has been the last thing on my daily agenda… I’ve had to force myself to record a few simple things in my private journal.

I honestly thought things were getting a bit better last March: I eliminated a lot of commitments that were exhausting me physically and emotionally, simplified so many things in my life, put myself on a strict budget (finances and time), got out a bit more, took a pottery class to do something creative, knitted a few scarves, did some reading, and got back to basics on a lot of things. It worked for a while. I thought I was turning things around.

Then it was Fall and things started getting tense again. My poor dad fell and ended up in the emergency room which scared the crap out of me. His injuries weren’t too bad, all things considered. He was bruised badly, had some stitches in his forehead, and messed up his right shoulder to the point that he couldn’t move it. That problem took us to surgery a few weeks later to try to repair three ripped muscles and get some movement back in that shoulder. The results weren’t terrific. The damage was too great and he’s going to have limited functionality in that shoulder from now on. It was a long process and I spent a lot of time in doctor’s offices with him, trying to keep a positive outlook for both of us. He was down about it all, not so much from the pain, but the frustration of losing some more mobility. He’s doing okay now, still limited in functionality, but at least he’s able to get around on his own which makes him happier. He’s back into his routine and that’s good for all of us.

After he got back into his routine, I worked on getting back to mine. Work has been exceptionally hectic this academic year and I’m on a bunch of very active committees. One big project has been reassessment of the video collection in our Media Lending Department. We’re replacing a lot of VHS tapes with DVDs and weeding through the collection, getting rid of some old items that have never circulated or are too outdated for use. A lot of the work has fallen into my lap and my office looks like a Blockbuster warehouse right now. It’s been overwhelming. Lots to do and no time to do it all.

I struggled through the holidays just wishing they were over. Somehow, they seemed to get me down more than ever this year. I really did have fun Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there was just this feeling of dread in the back of my mind and I was very happy when it was all over. I’ve gone back and forth from being okay to being very depressed since the beginning of November. Can’t seem to shake it or figure out what’s triggered it all this time.

I’ve been working with my therapist, as usual, and it does help most of the time. The last visit wasn’t as helpful. Got into some stuff I wasn’t ready to deal with and have been binge eating like crazy lately. I had gotten that under a bit of control, but the last two weeks have been bad.

So to sum up the last few months: work has been overwhelming, dad’s health has been a big concern, I’ve had two bouts of the flu, more than a few migraines, and been fighting depressive episodes. On top of that, I’m so damn tired of winter! This winter has been very snowy and very cold and I just want it all to stop. I’d like to see sunshine, grass, green leaves on the trees, and NO SNOW, RAIN, ICE, or SLUSH! I’m tired of being cold!

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my poor, sad little life. Hope yours is going better than mine!

Take care,
Karen

In my next life, I want to be a cat…

When you stop to think about it, cats really have it good. I’ve been watching my cat Grace for the last few days and her life is so simple. The biggest decision she seems to have each day is deciding where she’s going to take a nap: “Hmmm, the stool with the afghan on it is nice and warm, but scrunching up in all the blankets on the bed is so warm and comforting. Maybe I could lay on the floor where the sun is coming in the sliding doors… the sun would feel good on a cold day like today. Almost forgot that warm place near the heating vent… so many choices!”

As I’m writing, Grace is curled up on the footstool with the afghan my grandmother made so long ago. It’s become her favorite place to sleep and I’m no longer allowed to use the afghan myself. She’s really possessive about it. It’s her’s, not mine. My grandmother would probably appreciate that. She had a fondness for cats too.

The simple life of the common (or uncommon) house cat really appeals to me. Sleeping, eating, playing, bathing, visiting the litter box, and occasionally allowing her human to interact with her… what a great life! She’s so totally in control Nothing much happens to mess her life up. She doesn’t much like other people so visitors cause her some anxiety as do loud noises like thunderstorms, but visitors and thunderstorms don’t happen often so her life is generally one of peace and contentment. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Do cats get depressed? Somehow I don’t believe they do. Grace seems to have three moods: content, curious, and anxious. The anxious times usually involve strange people in or around her home or loud noises like the snow plow in the parking lot or the men shoveling snow and ice from the walkway or thunderstorms. Grace is curious about everything. She has to sniff or touch just about everything she sees. Mostly, I think she’s just the most contented soul that I know. I envy that contentedness. It’s something that’s generally missing from my life.

I was diagnosed with chronic depression almost 12 years ago and my therapist at the time felt that I had suffered from this since at least my early teens. Chronic depression isn’t something a person sheds after a few therapy sessions and a course of anti-depressants. It’s a long-term, on-going journey. The journey involves grief, anger, sadness, anxiety, confusion… all those emotions, phobias, and insecurities I’ve spent years hiding deep inside have to be acknowledged, understood, and ultimately accepted as part of who I am. It’s a painful process. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

It’s difficult to give up coping mechanisms that have gotten me through life to this point. It’s difficult to look at issues that I’ve essentially forgotten because they were hidden so deep. Sometimes the process is too painful and I shut down again. That’s a lot of what’s been happening to me in the last few months. I must be getting close to something my subconscious doesn’t want to deal with it. In the past, I would just completely shut down and never get to whatever the issue was. Now I’m just filled with anxiety and this nagging feeling of something being wrong. I’m simultaneously fighting to avoid dealing with whatever it is and wanting to get it dealt with and out of the way. That’s progress, I suppose. It’s not a comfortable feeling and it makes it difficult to get through day-to-day life sometimes, but it is still a sort of progress.

So, while I try my best to get through all this, I look at my cat and envy the ease and comfort of her life. And, of course, I appreciate her being in my life too. She’s such a comfort. She loves and accepts me just as I am. She’s always there for me no matter what. She doesn’t get mad if I don’t say anything to her for hours at a time and she’s happy to listen while I ramble on late at night. Grace helps keep me grounded.

Take care,
Karen

It’s Been Awhile…

To anyone who actually bothers to read this thing, I do apologize. I had great intentions of writing on a more regular basis but I’ve been going through something of a depressive phase lately and writing in my blog has been a very low priority. At some point soon, I’ll try to put something together here and let people know what’s going on with me.

Take care,
Karen

Knitting and Stress

I have been in such a wonderful mood for the last few days! There are so many contributing factors to my current lack of overwhelming stress:

  • Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.
  • Starbucks has pumpkin scones!
  • My friends are terrific people and we’ve all been laughing a lot lately.
  • The weather has been amazing! Sunny, cool but not cold — just lovely fall weather and fall is my favorite season. I love any excuse to wear hoodies and sweaters!
  • Knitting is my new obsession — I had such a great time in class Saturday and working on the project (a basketweave patterned scarf) has been so relaxing.
  • I finally have time to just sit back and do some reading for fun again. I’m reading a series of novels based on the TV show Torchwood which is my current favorite program on television [BBC America, Saturdays at 8PM and 9PM and Tuesdays at 8 PM]
  • Sleeping… I’m getting at least six hours of sleep a night which is wonderful after a few weeks of no sleep, 2 hours of sleep or sleeping way too much.
  • Work is going pretty well. Without the conference planning committee stuff I’ve got time to focus on my job again and most of the time I really do enjoy my job.
  • We decorated popcorn balls for Halloween at work! David brought in all the goodies and we had a great time decorating with vanilla icing and all sorts of candies. It was hilarious.

Even considering all of those factors, right now knitting has to be the highest rated. I don’t know what it is about knitting. Maybe it’s the need to concentrate on counting stitches which doesn’t allow for an deep thinking. Maybe it’s the whole creative process, watching a ball of yarn become a scarf is something akin to magical. Maybe it’s a combination of the texture of the yarn (wool) and the feel of the bamboo needles. Maybe it’s just that I’m in a crafty mood. I don’t know what it is but it’s just so very relaxing and comforting. Hmmmm, I should have paid more attention when my grandmother taught me to knit all those years ago.

I think I hear my knitting calling out to me… gotta get back to the fun!

Take care,
Karen

ALAO 2007 Conference in Retrospect

ALAO, the Academic Library Association of Ohio, just finished up it’s annual conference on Friday. This year’s conference was 1.5 days long instead of the usual 1 day and was packed with programming. As a conference planning committee member, I helped select the programs, worked on the website, and did whatever else I could to help my fellow conference planners.

Planning a conference is a big job, with all its’ attendant frustrations and quite a lot of satisfaction along the way. The Planning Committee members are the key to the conference. Our meetings were filled with humor and quite a lot of food, but the humor is what got us through it all. The people who volunteer to serve as conference planners come into the job with all sorts of expectations and ideas and sometimes, without a clue as well. The newbies are quickly brought up to speed. They bring questions and ideas that the longer-term members don’t always see. The combination of experience and naivety combine to develop new ways of doing things and create a unique conference experience along the way.

I spent this year’s conference behind the registration desk, which I’ve found is the best place to be. Since everyone has to check in at the registration desk, I get to see them all. I was so excited to find that the “Thomas Marker” on one of the name tags was Tom Marker who used to work at ENC with me. It was just so cool to talk with him again and find that he’s still involved with libraries as he’s at OSU’s Health Sciences Library. I got to connect with Laura Kinner from University of Toledo too — Laura and I were in library school together and worked on a group project for our research methods class all those years ago. Back then, she meant to be an archivist and I meant to be a public library reference librarian. Now we’re both in academic libraries working in Tech Services!

I got to chat with many old friends and met a number of new people too. That’s the best part of the conference for me: networking, making contacts with people all over the state. One of the things I really appreciate about ALAO are the connections with other librarians. Between OhioLINK and ALAO, I seem to know at least one librarian at every academic institution in the state, if not more. That’s so cool! How many other professional organizations can boast that kind of networking?

The awards announcements at lunch were great too. I was so proud to find that Betsy Blankenship from OSU-Marion was named the Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award winner this year! Congratulations Betsy! She certainly deserves this recognition. She has such a strong commitment to ALAO and has served in many capacities over the years. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, experience, and humor have contributed to ALAO’s success.

When it’s all said and done, there will be complaints about the conference. There always are. I’ve acknowledged to myself that we can’t please everyone so that will not be a surprise in the end. Overall though, the conference seemed to be a success. People commented positively on many of the presentations and on the poster sessions, the vendors seemed to have a number of visitors, we caught some of the glitches before they became huge problems, and the committee members basically did their respective jobs and things went off without many problems. We had a lot of laughs, shared a lot of frustrations, and got through it all. Yay for us!

I’ve spent the weekend decompressing! I think I’ve caught up on my sleep, did some fun reading, watched Torchwood on BBC America and a few movies from AMC’s Monster Fest, and took my first knitting class at Miss Chickpea’s Funky Fibers in Hudson, OH. I want to learn how to knit sweaters at some point. My grandmother Plummer taught me how to knit when I was a little girl but I never took to it really. I didn’t have the patience to do it then and I preferred crocheting which my grandmother Morris taught me. I can crochet up a storm, but knitting has always been a little beyond me. Lately I’ve been knitting scarfs and really want to learn more, hence the classes. Lori is taking the class too so this is really going to be a fun thing. I’m looking forward to the next class.

Guess that’s it. Now that ALAO is over, I’m going to try to write in here more regularly, but who knows if that will work?

Take care,
Karen