Monthly Archives: December 2010

2011, Ready to Roll

Making a public statement of resolutions takes a certain amount of backbone. In 2010, a good friend of mine publicly posted hers for a certain amount of accountability. She posted semi-regular updates on her progress in her notes on Facebook, and I followed them with interest. I find strength in her courage to let the whole world know her business like that, so I decided this year to go ahead and set my own measurable resolutions down for public consumption–be they viewed with admiration, ridicule or scorn. (You can keep the last two to yourself, but are free to admire me publicly if so moved.)

First off, she only listed three resolutions. Each had a definable goal and number attached to it without the cheating of nebulous language. Specifics! It wasn’t a laundry list of every conceivable thing that she wanted to achieve throughout the year. So, I’ll take that as a guideline. I’m going to put forth a couple of achievable resolutions that are both personal and professional in nature.

So, here goes…In 2011, I do hereby resolve:
1: Reach my goal weight. I’ve spent years dilly dallying around with weight loss. I’ve gotten close, but have always stopped shy of dropping those last few (twenty or so) pounds. While I won’t tell YOU the number, I have written it down on a piece of paper and have discussed it with my doctor. The thing is, I feel great. My blood sugars have come down with Metformin and Byetta, and I’ve been exercising like a fiend. I haven’t started sweating or feeling tired during Dance Central games when Bill is panting away. I’m more fit than anyone else in my household. It’s awesome. But, those pounds are, apparently, still affecting my blood sugars in unhealthy and unwanted ways. This year, I’ll get to that goal, and I’ll do it sooner than later.

2: Submit at least three short stories for publication.
Yes. I write. I write A LOT of words–usually on the order of 2,000 words a day. But you haven’t read much beyond my blog posts and my Facebook posts. So, where are these mysterious little buggers? All on my computer, safe and away from the prying, critiquing eyes of anyone. It might be a surprise to you that I’m terribly shy when it comes to actually sharing my work. I have a writing group that used to see my work regularly and give me healthy critique. I’ve been loathe to send out my work to the wider world. The agent who asked for “the whole work” of the novel I was working on was actively encouraging and urged me to keep working, so I know, at some level, I’ve got a future in this. I’m just lazy as hell when it comes to editing and re-writing–and that’s where all the work is.

3: Actively help and support my writing group. Our fantastic organizer and glue of the group until September moved to Japan for a year, and we’re just not really organized at the moment. No one has stepped in to really push meeting times and places. We’ve got plans to start meeting again, but I’ve hardly responded to any emails recently. My plate has been full, and I need to intentionally make room for this group of people. It’s a group of thoughtful, good writers. I don’t want it to fall apart after all this time.

4. Read all of my book group books. From beginning to end. I’ve managed to get started on the last few, but haven’t finished all of them. It’s not that I don’t like reading, it’s just that I’ve been letting those go to the last moment and not having time to read them. I’ve delved into the History of Venice and other books that compose research for writing projects. Reading for “fun” has been lower on my priority list.

I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead. The third on the list is the hardest to put any numbers to, but the others can be moved to a list with definite check-boxes. I’m not sure how often I’ll be updating my resolutions, but maybe every couple of months. I’ll certainly be blogging about some of the things I’m doing that are in support of these goals.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, safe and healthy 2011!

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Water Woes Redux

Looking up our driveway.

I’ll start by referencing my previous post for brevity’s sake. The little addendum to the story about the laundry room flood is this: We recently discovered the radiator in our bathroom was not heating up. It was confusing even to the radiator repair guy who came out. He finally convinced us the only way for him to figure out what was blocking the radiator would be to cut a hole in the ceiling in the library; yes, the very ceiling we finally had patched and repainted just six months ago. After cutting the holes, the repairman explained that the little radiator we had removed from the laundry room was on the same loop as the one in the bathroom. Whoever removed that radiator had simply capped it off and not known that two radiators were on the same loop. To repair this, he had to access the tubes of the deleted radiator which required cutting holes in the laundry room walls. Now the radiator in the bathroom is working again, but I have two holes in the library ceiling and one in the laundry room to fix. (At least my towels are warm!)

The road next to our house.


And now to add another to the list of things related to the wet. I realize this picture isn’t quite as dramatic as the actual event itself, but the little crevice there formed by gravel is actually on the order of eight inches deep. The gravel that was in the driveway was washed into the street by one of our recent major storms a couple of weeks ago. When I left the house around 9am to head to church that morning, there was a very active stream wooshing down hill. I called Bill with an urgent, “the driveway’s being washed away” and went blithely to church. He spent the next two hours digging diversionary trenches and clearing clogged drains while it continued to rain. This was on December 12th, the day of the company holiday party. It was raining hard enough that the two hours spent outside was enough to drench him completely even through the brand new better-than-gortex coat we’d just purchased at REI and to soak through to the iPhone in his pocket. (Rice saved it.)

The water is almost meeting in the middle....

The other road to our place was closed off with water over the road way, or so I thought. And, on the way home, the only other road to our house (picture to the right) was very nearly closed off to do water over the roadway. Later that day, the power went off. We found out later there was a landslide across the road south of us that took out a pretty sizable chunk of land and trees. Everything worked out in the end, and our power was back on by the next morning. The driveway has been filled in with new gravel and the drains are all set to move water away from the middle of the driveway during the next storm.

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Calendars; just art on the wall.

October 2001

I like calendars. Whenever I go into a store at this time of year, I can’t help but stop and look at them. Puppies, kittens, horses, Mucha,Degas, Renoir, Vargas, and the list could go on for way longer than you are willing to read. The thing is, every year there are umpteen calendars put together by various companies and sold just before the end of year. I can only guess how many are sold as holiday gifts. And, I like them. The only problem with them is that I no longer use them. I’m more than a little glued to my electronic calendar–I keep it in my pocket except for when it’s charging, and it’s always at hand. My daily, sometimes hour-by-hour guide to my life, is now completely electronic, and I rely on it more than I care to admit. When I was using a calendar on a daily basis, I don’t think I needed it as much. The very act of writing something in pen on a piece of paper helped to seal it into my mind at a deeper level than typing it into the iphone does. When I got a cell phone, my ability to remember people’s telephone numbers disappeared mostly because I no longer needed to remember them. The same thing has happened with my ability to remember dates. If I add the date to the iphone, it syncs nicely with my outlook calendar, but I still have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing day to day without looking at the electronic reminder. I cleaned out the basement a little bit recently and threw away a bunch of old calendars that I decided I no longer needed. Or at least, I think I threw them out, but I can’t quite remember if I just thought about tossing them or if I actually did it. I wanted to find the calendar I used while going through invitro-fertilization because I know it was crazy with appointments and marked up. All I could find was the calendar from 2001. Not sure why I saved that of all the various years I had, though I suspect it’s because it’s the “Mucha” calendar I drooled over for a while before getting it. (Might have been a gift, but, alas, I forget.) The handwriting on my calendars was never really meant to be shared, and yes, I can read and even understand some of the cryptic comments or notes. The picture of the pumpkin is certainly code for “pumpkin party,” but even the amateur sleuth can figure that bit out.

Three Years of Empty Art...

Just last week I was going through the pile of mail on my desk by the door where I have a calendar hanging on the wall. I looked up and noticed that I have three calendars hanging on the same peg, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The oldest has a couple of entries and the two newer ones are entirely blank. The 2009 calendar was still set on July. Here it was, December 2010, and I hadn’t even thought to really
look at the dates hanging right above my head. I have my eye on a calendar that I thought was pretty at Whole Foods. Maybe I’ll pick it up, on sale, if it’s still around after the new year rolls in. It’s just sort of makes me sad to think I’ll buy it knowing full well that I’ll probably never make a mark on it.

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Tonic Water; Clever Little Poison

Whole Foods Tonic Water

I was leaving Whole Foods today when I noticed a woman pushing a cart with just three six packs of Whole Foods Tonic water. I have to admit the bright purple packaging is sort of festive, but I doubt that the purchase was motivated by the color. As I pondered the reasons someone might make a trip to that store just to buy Tonic Water, a number of options started to pop up in my over-active imagination.

By the time I was home, I was ready to do a google search on Tonic Water. It turns out that a few years ago, the FDA decided to take Quinine tablets off the market for treating leg cramps. People have resorted to drinking Tonic Water for leg cramps at night as a natural treatment of the condition. The FDA, however, had removed it as a treatment after it was proven that Quinine can be quite trigger a rare but extremely serious blood disorder that can be fatal.

So, there’s a possible why. I had already formulated a short story on the way home about why the woman might be purchasing 18 cans of Tonic water and nothing else. Actually, two or three different rationales brought up two or three different little plots. After reading that the quinine in Tonic Water could also cause similar effects to the tablet form, I came up with another murder mystery plot to add to my growing collection of food related murder mystery ideas. I’d like to eventually bring them all together as either a short story collection or flesh out into a series of mystery novels. Here’s another to add to the growing pile.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Vroom, Vroom

I'm afraid to try to get that thing in the garage.

Almost exactly a month ago, I got rear-ended on the freeway. I was literally stopped behind traffic, the car behind me stopped and the car behind him made for a double whammy. It turns out that there was actually some damage to my bumper, though I didn’t see it until today when the insurance adjuster showed it to me in bright light. Granted, it didn’t appear to be much, and it seems as though the internal safety parts of my little Mazda 5 are fine. But, since I was already at the car repair shop, and a seemingly small scratch can lead to chipping, flaking and eventual ugliness, I decided to go ahead and get the bumper fixed at the insured’s expense.

Here’s the sort of fun part–the rental car. When I found out that they might not be done before Friday’s carpool, I insisted on a car that could carry me and my charges. The ONLY thing their rental company they work with had was this Jeep Commander. Or whatever it is. It is…big. It’s as big as or bigger than the Ford F-150. And the visibility is worse than other car I have ever driven or owned. I can’t see anything to the right side of me and hardly anything over the top of the farthest back seats. The huge side mirrors only help a bit, and I find that aspect very frustrating.

The only thing is…there’s a certain guilty pleasure in driving such a humongous vehicle. When I switched to my Mazda 5 three years ago, it was primarily to save on gas. Not just the expense of purchasing gas, but the greater expense of simply USING gas. I looked at the Highlander as an option, but the mileage wasn’t any better than the Mazda and it cost nearly twice as much. So, I bought the cheaper, smaller, fuel efficient vehicle that suited my needs. I regularly have six people in the car, and it was really a great option.

The Jeep has a few positives going for it. I feel completely safe in that thing. I mean, it’s so huge that I could probably plow over anything in the road and be just fine. It’s sort of like driving an armored vehicle. It’s amazingly comfortable, too. Both my daughter and I are thinking that it’s sort of cushy and plush in a manly sort of way. Add to that the fact that you don’t hear the asphalt crunching away at sixty miles an hour, and it’s a pretty nice ride.

It’s not, in any way, a car I would choose to purchase. But, I have to admit there’s a tiny part of me that’s enjoying the ride.

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