Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Find a Reason for Thanksgiving

Hmmm...What's the weather doing now? I'm glad you asked. It snowed yesterday and the white stuff decided to stick around, albeit in brief patches on the leafy and frozen ground. And it's certainly cold out there as you must have figured. I wonder what could possibly be coming next?

All kidding aside, or perhaps might be wondering what's been happening with me and why I haven't been writing anything at all? Well I guess I could answer by saying that it's not that I haven't wanted to write, but that I can't seem to decide what angle to come from when I write.

Lately I've been thinking that maybe my blog is just a bit too lighthearted and silly and that I should perhaps instead be dedicating my writing to something more intellectual and serious. The Election Fever would have been a prime topic prior to Nov. 4 as would the Economic Fiasco. But I don't know the reason why I didn't write something about it as it was all everyone could talk about then and is talking about now - I just couldn't think of anything pertinent to say. And really, does one opinion matter, especially mine?

The reason I say this is that it just seems as if the only thing that makes the world go around is money and that's all world leaders and decision makers care about anyway. Money-Power-Greed-Corruption. What is best for the people doesn't seem to matter, nor any plan that is logical, fair and sensible. Perhaps that's what I'm really grieved about.

So today, this morning, trying to put all my feelings and thoughts aside, I had originally decided to simply put up a post to say, "Happy Thanksgiving" to my Readers, though by now you may be few and far between. The holiday greeting now comes in strange contrast to what this post has become.

How can we be "happy" in times like these? It's a valid concern. I guess I don't know what to say except for we should just try to find some happiness somehow, and for one day try to push what's unpleasant aside and know that there is always at least one positive thing in life that we can be thankful for. It's just a matter of looking a little closer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Has Arrived

You always know you're boring when all you can think to write about is the weather, that's the first sign of mediocrity, and I'm falling into this category, unfortunately! Last week, as many of us know, was the first day of Autumn, but here in sunny Michigan we had a week of above-average temperatures - it was up in the 80s almost every day. This week is another story. Our temps have fallen and the nights are down in the 50s. Some of the trees are changing color and the leaves are lining the sidewalks and streets, but what was the first indicator, for me, that Fall had arrived?

The dog is sleeping on the couch again.

Most of the time Raaf the dog sleeps on the floor and he normally behaves himself at night. Some mornings I get up to find that he's had an "accident" next to the back door - I have to wonder why, as I always put him out before I go to bed. I think if they made a pill for overactive bladder syndrome for dogs that I should get him some because he can never seem to hold it for very long.

This morning, woken by a strange dream, I was up really early, like before five, and came downstairs. Usually, Raaf is there to greet me, wagging his tail, but this am there wasn't a panting dog-swishing tail to be heard. After some investigation, I found him, curled in a ball on the couch and looking as guilty as he could. I put him down and then directed him to his dog bed. You know, those padded, pillow-type things that they sell in the stores for dogs? Well we all know what those are for, but Raaf doesn't seem to remember. I told him, "Raaf, this is your bed, right here," and patted it. He climbed in obediently and is still there, snoring contentedly.

Now I know that the Fall/Winter battle has officially begun: When I have to fight with the dog over where he sleeps at night. Another indicator of Fall? I turned the furnace on yesterday, but dialed down to 60 degrees just in case it gets that cold in the house at night. The furnace didn't come on last night, but every thing's eventual!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Daze

Here it's halfway through July and I haven't been blogging a thing! What kind of writer/blogger am I anyway? And overwhelmed one, perhaps? Seems like I've been running like a chicken with my head cut off since the last day of skool and I still haven't caught up. With that in mind I think I shall dedicate one post on updates, that is, if anyone's reading my blog anymore!

Let's see...

Kiddies - Been keeping them busy, going here and going there with things like the library, playing/walking/swimming, the beach, playdates, some crafts and visiting friends/relatives. Trying to keep them away from too much computer and too much TV. Trying to read every day to complete pledges for the summer reading program at local library. They have been rebelling frequently and moan and groan over simple things like going to the store! When does skool begin?

House - The market is sooo slooow. I do feel relieved that it's not only our house, it's all over. Of course, if we drop the price to $1.98 then the house will sell tomorrow. I don't think we're going to lower the price that much (although that's what buyers are expecting - greedy buggers) and we're going to keep trying to sell.

Job/s - Nothin' honey. My freelance work has slowed to a crawl because of summer and kids at home. Hopefully it will be picking up again in September. And there's not much out there anyway. When I do see a great job it either requires loads of experience that I don't have yet or I see an okay job for which I have too much experience. I haven't been able to find a happy medium!

Anything else I'm forgetting? Not really. Life in the summer seems to slow down, although my days are always busy with caring for my family. I still try to make an effort at my various organizing projects - striving to keep on keeping on. Oh, and I really should get back to my flowerbeds, but, quite honestly, just have been feeling lazy about doing backbreaking labor under the scorching sun! (hee-hee what a slacker) We are planning on taking a small family vacation and then it will be time for the kids to go back to skool.

Wow! Life can't get any more exciting than this!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Skool's Out for Summer

Today is the first official day of summer vacation.

And what's happening at Merry's house?

We have been watching movies all morning! First it was daughter's movie, something about Part II of Little Orphan Annie, and then son's movie, Space Jam. I missed LOA, but tuned in for Space Jam, and have to say it was pretty good and funny. I look at it this way, if I didn't watch many movies ten years ago because I had little babies, then I get to watch them all now because I have big kids.

So, what's next on the day's agenda?

The Mother of all Projects ... CLEAN THE KIDS' BEDROOMS!

That's one project that's at the tippy-top on my list of Personal Favorite Things To Do. (yuck!) But upon Impending Doom of Death by toys, stuffed animals, clothes, books, shoes and you-name-it, all of which could topple onto my children at any moment, I must clean their rooms. After all, I do love them, even if it's just a little bit, especially now that's it's Officially Summer Vacation and I am facing three months of hard time and being driven into Swirling Vortex after Swirling Vortex of Confusion by them... The least I can do is clean their rooms. (hehe)

So, after I finish blogging this, checking my email, watching the Newz at Newn, making lunch, oh, almost forgot, letting the dog inside, talking on the phone and, uh, doing whatever else I possibly can do other than cleaning the rooms, I will go upstairs directly, with the kids, and begin!

Sounds like a plan doesn't it?

I thought you'd agree with me.

So, other than the Bedrooms Project, what am I planning to do with these kids all summer long?

I have absolutely no clue.

<< Suffering from a lack of ideas, Super Mom declares an Emergency Brainstorming Session where she draws up a Plan of Action to SAVE SUMMER!

Hooray for Super Mom! [Cheers and Applause]

To be continued... >>

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Merry-Merry, Quite Contrary, Where Have You Been?

Gosh, is it spring yet!?! It doesn't exactly feel like it around here. (I think I'm obsessing on this topic - Spring.) It's been colder than average during the months of April and May. One good thing, it has stopped snowing. Everything's green out there. I still haven't planted any annuals, but have been working on the flower beds. Have even been doing some painting.

I guess I've been preoccupied with the house as it's on the market right now, and thing's aren't going so well in that department. Could be crazy that we decided to try and sell, with all the real estate problems happening across the country, but we are. And it's not that we don't "love" our house, it's just that we're finally ready for a change. I've been ready for a change for the past five years or so. (That's code for I'm sick and tired of trying to clean and maintain this rat trap.) If you detect a sneer in my writing, you guessed right. I've been so busy "doing" that I haven't had time for much else, including blogging.

I was thinking about my blog yesterday, saying, "Man, I really have to get back on top of it. Write some quirky, funny posts." The truth is that I haven't been feeling very quirky or funny lately. I blame my house for my lack of animo.

We put it on the market in March, and I've been cleaning, decluttering and painting ever since. Like, I wonder, does it ever end? Seems like the more I clean, declutter and paint that the worse it gets. How much junk and disorder can one family have? (That's a cry for help disguised as a question.) And we haven't even touched the garage. We've replaced two windows, too. And have been hacking, chopping and weeding in the yard. Thrown away loads... Given away tons... And it never ends!

Over the past two months, we've had two official showings. Just two! What's up with that? I ask. The Realtors are convinced that our price is too high. Perhaps it is, I'm not sure. One thing for sure is that all the fliers in the box out front have been flying away (pun intended). That must count for something. Last Sunday we had an open house, so the week prior was the week from hell. We worked our butts off. I can say that I worked double time, as I'm here at home all day and would fill my day with a mental check list and then work on gettin' er done. Consequently, every night I was passing out on the sofa between eight and nine from exhaustion. Last weekend was no different, I was truly drained.

When Sunday came, we were ready though. Of course, there were last minute things, like all my painting tools and drop cloths getting shoved in the dishwasher. That was a classic move if I do say. The thought of someone checking out the dishwasher and the look on their face when they did so had us in stitches. "What kind of people are they, washing tools?" Oh well, let them look. Much to our chagrin only three families came through during the open house, with the second family being the Previous Homeowners.

For whatever unknown, sick-twisted (perhaps pre-planned, perhaps not) reason they decided to take a tour down memory lane of their old home. Basically it sounds like they monopolized the time of my realtor, leading the realtor to miss conversing with the potential "real" buyer who slipped in and out as this transpired, as they shared all their happy-happy joy-joy stories of the happy-happy joy-joy days when they lived in their happy-happy joy-joy home. But the creme de la creme of their rapturous reunion was when they spied the old painting in the basement.

Let me give you some back story. When we bought the house The Painting was hanging on a wall in the basement. It is a simple painting, a borderline primitive/realistic (albeit two-dimensional) still life. It has its grace, though, and being a former fine artist I liked it from the first. Anyway, it's been hanging on the same nail on the same wall in the basement for the past twelve years. The important part of this equation is that because The Painting was left in the house and because twelve years have elapsed, The Painting now belongs to me. (Possession, my dears, is nine-tenths of the law, as my Dear Old Dad always used to tell me.)

Well, to make this long story longer, PHO comes upstairs, painting in hand, surprising the realtor, to exclaim, "I finally found the long-lost painting that my dear dead relative painted for me years and years ago that I thought I had lost during the move!" What's my realtor to do? I bet they felt between a rock and a hard place to say the least. PHO plunks the painting down on the counter and leaves a note, explaining all this and requesting to have The Painting back again.

WHAT?!? When I heard this from the realtor at the end of the open house - It got my dander up to no end. Who does this person think they are coming into my home and touching my things like that? There's so many holes in this whole thing. Number one, if the painting was so precious WHY WOULD YOU FORGET IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Number two, If you noticed that the painting was missing WHY WOULDN'T YOU RETURN TO YOUR PREVIOUS HOME, KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND ASK FOR IT BACK RIGHT AWAY? Jeez, I'm not a complete hard ass. If PHO were to have contacted me within a couple of days or the first week, heck even the first month, after moving I would have gladly given them the painting, but TWELVE YEARS LATER! Give me a break! The Painting was obviously not so precious to them after all now was it. (I think I'm foaming at the mouth after this rant, better end it.)

Needless to say, the open house was a complete flop. All that hard work for nothing - We were expecting more people and a potential offer. We were hopeful. With hopes dashed (nearly to pieces) we're wondering what's the next move... We haven't decided yet, but I assume we will keep on and drop our price and see what comes next.

So, that's where Merry's been for the past two months, contrarily lost in the house from hades, contrarily plugging along, contrarily getting things done, and just as contrarily contrary as usual. Whew!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Is It Really Spring?

Ah, the First Day of Spring, but is it really Spring? I have to wonder, as the next day it snowed again! We had been doing pretty good around here - all the snow had melted away, well, almost all of it, except for that patch that was persistently clinging to the ground next to the garage.

When I put the dog out that Friday morning, what did I see? Poor Robin-Redbreast perched in my backyard tree, feathers puffed up and shuddering in an effort to stay warm. I believe that Robin must have been just as excited as I was for the coming of warmer weather and had flown directly to Michigan in anticipation of the event. But Robin's plans had run amok, and it looked like it was frozen to the tree branch.

Fortunately, the fresh covering of snow didn't last and soon melted away. The days have warmed up since and, yesterday, I saw Robin swooping over the front lawn, possibly looking for a frozen worm to eat. I'm sure it was just as glad as I was that things are looking brighter and the winter weather is finally going to end - I mean, it has to end eventually, doesn't it?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Blues

Just a few days ago the Weatherman announced that this February was an official record breaker - we have seen the snowiest February EVER! I knew I wasn't getting crazier! We have had one heck-of-a-lot of snow around here. Storm after storm and it kept snowing, until today...

The latest storm just missed West Michigan, cruised across the midwest, hitting the states south, and is now pounding the eastern seaboard with ice and snow and rain. In the meantime, we're predicted to have delightfully sunny weather and temps in the upper 20s for the entire weekend.

I am beside myself. "Is it really safe to go out?" I wonder. Now I know how the groundhog must feel from year to year as he contemplates sticking his head out of his burrow. As I look out the window, it is delightfully sunny out there and looks like it will chalk up to be quite a day. But one can never be too careful...

And here I have been hatching plans on how to counteract the bad weather and it looks like it was all for nothing. Just like in the movies where the Native peoples use a shaman to call down the rain during a drought, I have been contemplating performing a ritualistic sacrifice to get the snow to stop falling... Does anyone out there know where I can find a goundhog? It seemed like a good idea - offer up the groundhog and Spring will be just around the corner - okay, I admit, it must have been the Cabin Fever talking...

Just two days ago, it was snowing so much that I had to keep shoveling the walks everytime I went out. I had a lot of errands to run and, after the third time, I finally gave up. As I went to grab the shovel handle for the fourth round of shoveling in a matter of a few hours, I felt the horrible pangs of mental anguish. I threw my hands up and cursed, something like, "I'll never go shoveling again!" (Well, this is only paraphrasing and sounds much more like what Scarlet O'Hara would say, but what I said was something close.) And I didn't shovel anymore that day. We just waded through the snow from the back door to the car doors and from the car doors to the back door, and, as far as I know, it's still there as I write this.

There's no escaping from the fluffy white stuff. It's no wonder I have the Winter Blues.

Like I said before, to combat them, I have been trying to clean the house. I'm not sure what's more fun, going utterly nutz or cleaning. You tell me. But I have been able to accomplish some strange things like clean under my bed and organize the gift wrap bin. Hmmm, perhaps a good old fashioned drinking game would be better suited to my needs? Up and Down the River, anyone? Forget it! I'm too old and too responsible for that now... Hence all the house cleaning.

Today I am debating. What to do? Stay inside and clean something? or Go down to the Y for a swim or go sledding at the park? But, it is a glorious day out there and the sunlight seems to beckon as it glistens across the snow... Decisions, decisions.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cabin Fever

Once again we were hit by a storm. Saturday night a "clipper system" rolled into the Great Lakes, dumping several inches of snow. That wasn't the bad part. The system was followed by an Arctic cold front, which dropped the temperatures down into the single digits, and accompanied by 20 to 30 mph winds, which dropped the wind chills into the below zeros.

We had gone to our friends' house for dinner on Saturday night and the drive back to our home was nothing less than treacherous. The roads were slick with ice. Visibility was difficult in the white-out conditions. The traffic crawled along and there had been numerous slide-offs. Just beyond our exit on the highway was a multi-car accident, so, thankfully for us, we didn't have to negotiate around the pile-up through that dangerous spot. We made it safely.

Sunday morning, what ho? Snowed in again. Hundreds of churches had canceled Sunday service. Authorities recommended avoiding driving unless absolutely necessary. It kept snowing and the winds howled, rattling the windows and doors. Even though I turned up the thermostat, the house felt like a walk-in refrigerator. The kids were complaining for the cold and the dog refused to go outside. On the news was reported a 30 car crash on one of the major highways. No one had to tell me to stay home.

I have to admit that, even for a die-hard Michigander like myself, I am getting restless. There's lots of things one can do to stay busy - watch a movie, play games, work on a project, etc. Those are all grand suggestions on how to be entertained and pass the time, but what did I opt to do? I cleaned house.

As you may or may not know, I happen to be the Queen of Domestic Dilemmas and the Princess of Procrastination, so when I opt to "clean" anything you could pretty much chalk it up to the end of the world or an invasion of aliens (you pick). That's how cooped up I felt on Sunday. None of the traditional pasttimes appealed to me. Because of this, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that I am suffering from a mild case of Cabin Fever.

I decided the best way to combat my symptoms was to retreat to a part of the house which is particularly neglected - the second floor. There I dueled with dust bunnies, tackled the trash, and swabbed the decks. I conquered the clothes piles, tussled with toys, and battled the books. A few hours of my time later and things were shaping up nicely.

Next I went into the basement, empty baskets in hand. I had to finish some laundry and also thought I'd see what else I could accomplish. Of course, there were clothes in the drier waiting to be folded and stacks of clean clothes on top of the machine. I took care of both and started a load to wash. As I stood there, revved with adreniline, rocking on my heels, I spied it... Mount Ironing.

Now, I usually have good intentions, telling myself, "I'll do 15 minutes of ironing a day and will have it done in no time." Since I am a resident of the Land of Procrastination and Denial, what I really do upon seeing the pile is cringe, avert my eyes, and walk past as fast as I can. The truth is that I never make time to iron because I HATE IRONING! But yesterday, what did I do? I forced myself to start digging through the clean clothes until I uncovered the ironing board and plugged in the iron. The embarassing part of all of this was that I was finding summer clothes in the ironing pile and clothes that my children have actually grown out of!

Some people would have hated their flaws more and spiraled into deeper self-loathing, "I'm such a loser because I haven't ironed since last year!" but not me. I forgave myself for my flaws and faced them, "Who cares?" I said, and put in an hour's worth of ironing. I have to say I made quite a bit of progress. Don't worry, I didn't try to tackle Mount Ironing in one day. I worked for a while and then called it good. Outside the wind was howling still and the world was a blustery one as seen from my window. The kids were excited about the possiblity of NO SKOOL the next day. We had dinner and then watched two of my kids' favorite Sunday shows - America's Funniest Home Videos and Extreme Home Makeover - and then it was time for bed. I felt better for having accomplished some things that day, but inside I was secretly dreading the possibility of being imprisoned by the weather for a second day in a row... Chalk it up to Cabin Fever!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Snow Days

It's February, in case you hadn't noticed yet, and I'm already sick-and-tired of the main staple of Michigan in winter - the snow.

Oh sure, when December rolls around, I feel excited for the first snowfall - heck, I even used to record it on the calendar, "First Snow." Such an important event around these parts that it ranks right up with "First Robin." But, by the time February comes, I've had it.

How can I describe the drudgery of snow for someone who hasn't experienced it? When you look out the window all you see is the world covered by a blanket of white. The eaves and roofs are studded with icicles. The steps and sidewalks are snow-covered and icy. Each time it snows, you have to shovel a path. And, on top of it all, it's cold outside.

After year after year and winter after winter of this, I'm almost to the point where I don't know if I can stand it anymore. But, not everyone in my household feels the same way. My children love the snow, and especially snow days.

On Wednesday a giant storm swept up through the Great Lakes and we were under a winter storm warning, predicted to get 6 to 12 inches of the fluffy white stuff. Wednesday morning it was calm, so the schools were open, much to my children's chagrin. By noon it began to come down and fell steadily all afternoon and into the evening.

At six on Thursday morning, as I peered out one bleary eye at the TV to read all the closings and delays, I saw that my children's school was included in the listings. I gratefully reset the alarm and went back to sleep, an extra hour does wonders. The kids got up later, between eight and nine, and daughter and son were thrilled to find out they could stay home.

We spent a pleasant day together. They found things to amuse themselves with during the morning hours - watched a movie, played computer games, read books - and in the afternoon we worked on homework, school projects, and addressed Valentine cards for next week's party. We got everything caught up and done for school. It was a productive day.

It was as I prepared lunch, that I commented to my son how glad I was that it had stopped snowing. What did he say?

"Not me," he said, "I wish it would snow and snow and snow so that school would be closed forever!" He said this with entirely too much gusto for my taste, leaving me speechless. Just the thought of the quantity of snow his proposed scenario would require left me dumbstruck. When I recovered sufficiently, I could only think up a lame reply, "It could never snow that much!"

"Oh, man!" he exclaimed, "I don't want to go to school tomorrow!" While he may not have wanted to, Mommy wanted him to, and was glad to find that this morning no ticker was running across the bottom of the television screen.

As I blog this and look out the window, ruminating on my inner grumblings about the Michigan weather, there is only one thing that keeps me going and keeps me here in my home state - It's the thought that Spring is only weeks away.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Washing Machine Blues

If your automatic washing machine's instruction manual says to be sure to "remove the cotter pins," take my advice and be sure to.

Have you ever thought you were doing everything right and later realize you hadn't done anything right at all and had one of those head-smacking "DUH!" moments? Well I have, and it was just yesterday...

For the past several weeks, well months perhaps, my washing machine had been making some strange sounds - some clanking, clunking, and chugging sounds to be exact. And since I love to live in the surreal reality of Denial, I heartily did my best to ignore it. As the days went by I noticed that every time I put a load in the washer I winced, cringed, or otherwise jammed my fingers in my ears and singsonged, "I can't hear you! La!La!La!" as I skipped away as fast as I could.

Friday, when I went down to take a load out, lo and behold, the clothes were sopping wet and soapy. Of course I fiddled with the machine and set the dial to "spin," forcing myself to believe that the power had gone out, hence the reason why the clothes hadn't finished washing. Ah, the Power of Denial!

Instead of the usual mystery sounds emanating from the machine, I heard the overwrought sounds of the motor as it struggled to kick into gear, replaced by a horrid buzzing, and then, nothing at all. The washer had finally given up the ghost.

"Aw, great!" I muttered. "What else can go wrong?"

Most decidedly, I was being very unfair. My poor old washer had given me twelve faithful years of service - it hadn't failed me once. How could I complain? At the time, I think I had a reason to grumble as in the span of a few months the dryer had died, the furnace blower had clunked out, and the car had needed several repairs and new tires... I just couldn't help myself but wonder, "What could possibly break next?"

I had to rinse and wring out the clothes by hand and this pleasant task forced me to remember the good old days when I worked as a turn-of-the-19th-Century washer woman. I picked up the phone and direct dialed my hubby.

"We're buying a new washer this weekend!" I threatened.

He had a more practical approach. "Let's see if we can fix it first," he said.

I reluctantly agreed. After all, we're not millionaires and if we could save a few hundred bucks by doing a homeowner repair, why not?

On Saturday, after consulting with a few friends, we replaced the belt, but even with the new belt we found that the problem was the motor, it just couldn't do it anymore. We ended up buying a new washing machine online - the mate to the dryer we had purchased a few months before - and we picked it up on Sunday morning.

It was a pain hauling the old machine out to the curb and bringing in the new one, well, I wouldn't know as hubby and a friend were the ones who did the heavy-work, but they sweat and swore a lot, so I suppose it was difficult. After the new machine was installed, we did our best to get it level, and then, thrill of my day, I would be the first one to try it!

By this time, hubby had wanted to go out for a bit. I didn't mind. I was going to wash skool clothes and get the kids ready for bed, no big deal. What happened when he was gone? I heard the worst rumbling I had ever listened to in my life. At first I thought it was a snow plow. The dog barked ferociously. Then I thought it was an earth quake, but those are few and far between in this area of the country. And then I knew what it was...the washer.

I ran down the stairs to find the washer "walking" all over the place, most specifically "spinning" and ready to rip the hoses from the pipes. Needless to say, my first thought was that the machine wasn't leveled properly, so I spent the next hour or so fiddling with that and trying to finish only the necessary laundry.

At the time I didn't think too much about it and decided that I'd take care of the machine later. When I returned to the machine in preparation to wash I started from zero, re-leveling the machine from square one and liberally referring to the instruction manual. I washed some more clothes but, when it came time for the final spin, was still having troubles.

I was covered with lint and spider webs and my knees were aching from lifting and tugging at the machine, to say I was a little bit upset was an understatement. I had been over and over the instructions and could find nothing in the troubleshooting that was helpful. There was a brief mention of washer walk, but nothing more.

I called my hubby to complain and he promised that we would fix the problem as soon as he came home from work.

After dinner and dishes we went downstairs to try again. He leveled the washer from zero and we put a load to wash. The Walking Washer Syndrome persisted and we didn't know what to do. Call the manufacturer? Return it to the appliance store? Beat it with a monkey wrench? We didn't know.

Finally, with a flood light at hand and the instruction manual, we propped up the machine and looked underneath, feeling the undercarriage with our hands to see if something was amiss. Then I saw it.

A long silver pin attached to a plastic strap in which the electrical plug had come encased.

What did the manual say? "Make sure the cotter pins have been removed," and nothing more.

I gave the strap a hearty tug and pulled it out. We put the washer on its feet, checked for level, and commenced to spinning the last load of clothes.

What happened?

The machine worked perfectly. Actually, it worked like a dream.

If that wasn't the biggest "DUH!" moment, I don't know what was.

Freelance Writer, Extraordinaire

Just as in the 1994 release of "Little Women" starring Winona Ryder, I, too, can exclaim as Jo did when she discovers that she has sold one of her stories, "I'm an author!"

Yes, it's true. I was given a freelance assignment and the piece was published in a local magazine. And, while it's not like "The Lost Duke of Gloster," it is something I've written and now my name is out there for people to see. Even though it took quite a while for me to become published for pay, it has happened and I couldn't be more pleased.

I've entered contests and worked on fiction and poetry pieces since 1999 and, while I've won a few of these contests, I have never had anyone purchase something I've written. It's a good feeling, and a strange one, too. There's something about looking in a real magazine and seeing the article that you took such pains to write and, despite looking it over with a critical eye, when your name is in the credit you realize, "Wow! This is mine, this is me, I wrote this!"

The thing about magazine writing is that, technically, the article isn't mine anymore - they bought exclusive rights - but, it's mine in the sense that I wrote it and the editor did make some changes for consistency in style and space limitations, but it's still mine. Now I have a real "clip" to add to my credits and another entry for my writer's resume. Cool!

The next step for me? My dream would be to find a part- or full-time paying writer's job, but a goal can be to begin and continue as a freelance writer; either way I'd still be the happiest Real Writer around!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Holidays Are Over

Where does the time go between Thanksgiving and the New Year? They say time flies when you're having fun, and I ask, Are we having fun yet? It was all a blur for me and now it's over. But I guess I'm not too sad. While preparing the house for Christmas has its nostalgia, it certainly is tiring. And I'm not even including the presents and the food and the partying!

We have loads of decorations and, with kids in the house, we can't get away with not putting them all up. So, every nook and cranny had a decoration - swags of greenery over the doorways, strings of lights, candles, various nativity scenes, lots of Christmas tree decorations, door hangers, and window decals - you name it, we've got it. Well, one thing we didn't put out was the giant inflatable snow bear...I cleverly forgot to unpack it this year! (tee-hee) All in all, we decorated for a day straight and then had to maneuver around it for several weeks.

The kids helped me decorate the Christmas tree, of course. I handed over the ornaments and they hung them. Each and every one. And since they are restricted by height, the decorations were clumped around the middle and bottom of the tree. Mom had to do some rearranging. And I'm forgetting to mention that I absolutely can't dispose of any previously crafted item - children have memories like elephants. "Mom, where's that paper advent ring I made in preschool? How come we can't put that out too?" I have an entire box dedicated to these treasures of Christmases Past. It takes some fast thinking to fire off reasons why we can't put them on display.

Like every year the present wrapping takes place two days before Christmas. By the time I got the kids to go to bed and go to sleep, it was eleven o'clock, and then mom and dad had to spend an hour up to our elbows in wrapping paper. To top it off is the cat. Scotty, my Scottish-Persian Sailor Cat, is fascinated by anything and everything rustley and crinkly, so his favorite part of Christmas is the bows and plastic shrink wrap. As I put the finishing touches on each present - name tag and bow - he was waiting patiently in the wings. I'd place a present under the tree and, when I'd turn my back, he'd pounce.

After he ripped off the fourth or fifth bow, clamped in his mouth like a prize mouse, he bounded into the dining room to devour it. I snatched the bow away and hubby replaced it with a smidge of scotch tape stuck to Scotty's ear. If you have a cat you know that they hate to have their ears messed with. Boy was Scotty mad! He sat in the corner and pouted for a while, ear flicking furiously because of the tape. He finally pawed it free and, thankfully, left us alone and we finished the wrapping.

The next two days went by too quickly, but we managed to pull it together by the afternoon of Christmas Eve day; went to church and then got everything ready for our guests. We had a great time, lots of friends and family came to eat, drink, and be merry (hey, there's only one of me, but you've got to want to try!) and pass the time together. The nice part is that even though many of our friends don't have family living in Michigan, we made them feel like they were a part of our family.

Christmas morning was nice, even though we slept until ten (perhaps a world record in a house with kids). The children seemed pleased with their presents and spent the rest of the day playing and enjoying and us relaxing and recovering.

The days between Christmas and New Year were full - I would have to say that this year was very nice and we truly enjoyed ourselves with all the get-togethers and gatherings. Before we knew it, New Year was upon us, and then it was time to take down the decorations and return them to their respective bags and boxes to guard in the attic until next December.

One thing is certain, it seems if I don't blog about things as they happen, when I do have time to muse on them I can't seem to remember their pertinence, if they had any to begin with. Not that Christmas doesn't have pertinence, but that there are many things that happen in our lives that do and if we don't make note of them, the fine details slip away. But I won't cry over what is done and gone, only look forward to more Christmases to come. And it is on that note that I am glad that January has begun.