Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us

Happy Birthday to Ruth and Charlie Barshaw, who were both born on May 23.

I feel sorry for Ruth, because her sister Kathy was born a year and a day later, on May 24, and for years they shared a birthday party (one of those combination for convenience things big families tend to do.)

When she was finally on her own at college, she had to meet me, who hogged her birthday celebration again. She may have had a year or two without birthday interferance between going to MSU and meeting and marrying me, but that's just not enough.

So, when I turned 60 last year I resolved to have no more birthdays. While everyone is celebrating my birthday on FB, I am secretly staying 60 from now on.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Positive Developments

Today Ruth and I went to see "Tomorrowland." I saw a real positive review of it by Tom Long in The Detroit News, and when I checked the Free Press, it also said good things (3 out of 4 stars).

With Emily gone to Mackinac Island with the Marching Band (her very last high school field trip) we were free to go to the 3 pm Imax showing, where there were two other couples and us.

Nice comfy reclining seats, a bag of popcorn and raspberry iced tea, and we sat through more than two hours of Brad Bird creating another filmic cartoon. And while it was overlong and hit the optimism note with a sledgehammer, it had to female protagonists (and a grizzled but earnest George Clooney) and it was another in a stream of "Think Positive" messages.

So here's where I think positive about my life. Emily begins her summer vacation now, so I don't need to rise at 6:30, but I plan to. I plan to resume my Hapkido warm-up and exercise routine, and I plan to walk the dogs around the block more often, but at least once a day.

I intend to start working on the yard. David Grimes put a big dent in it today, cutting and weed-whacking the overgrown grass, but there's still plenty for me to trim with my hand mower and bagger. I plan to weed the circle out front that's got Ann's donated irises, and add more bulb like flowers for next year, and clean out the front gardens.

I plan to clean out the garage, recycling all the metal and cans I've collected. If I can get the yard squared away and the garage, we'd be halfway there for Emily's graduation party on June 14.

Plus, I'd be making positive progress in reducing the size of my gut. I've wrecked at least three pairs of pants trying to get them to close around the bulge, but if I work more and eat less, I hope to suck it back in.

So, then, I could resume writing again. It'd be sweet if I could get into the daily writing routine I was in six years ago. No reason I can't, and it would be good for everyone involved, including the whole world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrate What's Rght

Today is May 20, and Emily, our youngest, turns 18. That alone is reason to celebrate, and I'm preparing to bake her some Ghiradelli brownies. (She said that one of her favorite birthday treats is brownies and vanilla ice cream, so I also bought her two little pints of fancy vanilla ice cream.

I also celebrate having my computer back. As i hoped, it was something small and stupid. I told everyone I'd checked the power cord (but I really hadn't). Still, until Tuesday morning, the monitor was getting power. And then it wasn't.

So, for two days I sat and moped in front of the computer, sometimes touching the keyboard in a forgetful moment, sometimes touching it in the superstitious hope that it somehow miraculoously was cured.

Joe came and brought a pile of tools and baby Nick on Tuesday afternoon. The problem, he quickly discovered, was that the cord had pulled out of the transformer on the monitor power line. Duh.

What he and I discovered, as far as Mozilla was concerned, was that it was, indeed, running slow. Why? Who know. But the easy answer was to use Google Chrome as my browser, so second problem solved.

As for the dishwasher? Called Dick's Appliance Repair, and his son said he'd come Monday between 3 and 4 pm. Then I took Ruth (she went reluctantly) to the Redi_Care in Mason (we went to Mason because it was a Sparrow affiliate, because we'd been there before with good results, and I don't know what other reason.)

They were closed for a long lunch until 1:15 pm, and when we were still in the waiting room at 2:05, I left to pick up Emily. I was late picking her up, and it occurred to me that the repairman would be at our house while I was retrieving Ruth. Emily took care of it.

So Ruth had a large cyst dug out of her chest, and we came home to find the repairman gone (Emily kept calling him a plumber in texts). The note Em took said that the control panel was defective, and would cost $150 for the part. The whole repair would cost about $400. Emily added that the repairman didn't think the repair was worth it, considering the age of the machine.

I called and got Dick, and asked him to have his son call sometime, mostly so I could ask him his recommendations on dishwasher brands and features.

But, as i hand-washed the dishes in the sink, I accidentally bumped the dishwasher door, and it beeped. I pushed start, and it started. Emily said that when he opened up the front panel, some loose parts fell out. I suspect that he put them back where they belonged.

I haven't heard anything from the repairman, going on two days, now. What I think: he fixed our machine at no charge. No guarantee how long it'll last, and the understanding is that, eventually, it'll need to be replaced. But I like to think, after 3 successful washes, that it's good until we can afford a new one.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Everything going kaput

Actually, it's not everything. Mostly the dishwasher and Mozilla Firefox.

Got home to find the sink piled with dishes. Not such a surprise, as Emily, while she cleans like a dirt devil, doesn't do dishes.

So, I put away the clean dishes, rinsed and scrubbed the dirty dishes and then...Nothing.  Can't get the touch control panel to do anything but show a blue light for draining and a red light for drying. After investigating some You Tube videos that don't really touch on the subject, I've decided to bring in aa appliance repairman tomorrow. Maybe he can help get the dishes cleaner so I don't have to scrub them as much.

My Mozilla is slow, but it occurs to me to just delete it and download another one. More troubling, my monitor sometimes turns off and then doesn't come back to life when I tap keys. Joe's going to visit Tuesday on his day off to investigate.

So, really, hardly anything is going kaput. We just watched an inspiring video with EB called "Celebration of what's right in the world." It is full of the most life-affirming and positive messages you can't even imagine. So, shame on me for even pretending to have a dark view of my life.

On top of that, the weekend was fantastic, and if there were five things I'd like to redo (mostly getting artwork back to the attendees) there are five hundred things that I will cherish in my memory. Chief among those, to hang with EB Lewis and co-run this thing with Ruth.

Life is good. Don't worry about the old car, the dirty dishes and the slow computer. Revel in Life and Love and your chance to write.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

School daze

Couldn't resist with the cheezy title. Ruth and I are working our last school visit of the school year today. We've completed three sessions with Attwood Elementary, the grade school for all four of our kids, and now a Grades 4-5-6 building.

Sharon Pease, who was a new first grade teacher when I volunteered to do centers for Joey's class, now is the principal of the school. That was my first taste of school visits, and it gave me a keen appreciation for the teachers who thrived in that chaos five days a week.

I rest at home between the daytime and evening sessions, and we get to hang out with Emily, the senior in Everett High School who just played her last high school tennis match this morning. Emily has one week left of school, and she's getting excited about her prom tomorrow.

Me, I'm trying to stay abreast of the last-minute details of the EB Lewis one-day conference, "The Hook of the Book" on Saturday, May 16. Ruth seems to be taking over the final preparations, especially the scheduling of the illustrator portfolio reviews. EB said he wanted to do as many portfolio reviews as possible, that he didn't want any breaks between them, and that he wanted to give everyone 20 minutes. But, there are only so many free hours in that Saturday, so Ruth is trying to schedule willing artists on either Friday evening or Sunday morning.

Got to go answer an email with a phone call. At last, something for me to do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dreaming of Meijer

Another restless night. I thought I was done dreaming of work, specifically work at Meijer, where I spent 24 years as a manager.

When I lost my job (that's another post) six years ago, I spent many. many nights dreaming that I was back at work at some version of a job. Sometimes I was sneaking in, sometimes I had been accepted back, always I wondered whether I had punched in.

But I had, I thought, grown past that, and hadn't had those types of dreams recently. But, whether it's the anxiety over the upcoming "Hook of the Book" conference on Saturday, or the anxiety of my almost seamless cloak of procrastination, or just something I ate, the dream was back again.

And once it comes back, I can spend hours in the middle of the night going over and over all of the minute details of what went wrong, and where I failed.

But, I am here where I need to be. Our finances are shaky (sometimes downright frightening). We're nursing a 10 year old car through 250,000 miles, and Emily is looking to go to college, and we have to put up $14,000 for her first year. Still, I am where I need to be, poised on the Next Step.

Ruth posted on FaceBook today about my new YA writing project (not exactly new. I started it in the fall). She is happy with the writing that she's seen, and the story bones that I've described, and she wished to cheer me on as I took a nap. That, to  her, is my Next Step.

So here's the anxiety part: I know I can write. I owed my online critique group a "May offering," so I broke down and wrote one in 3 days, a chapter where Mitch meets the bad guy. And I got a "Wow!" and a "the best writing of yours I've ever seen."

My writing hero is Loren D. Estleman, not because he's an excellent writer (which he is) but because he's a prolific writer (more than 70 novels.) He writes every day.

That's who I need to be. It'll solve all my problems, because if I write every day, I'll finish drafts and start submitting and eventually sell my books.

And I'll, hopefully, stop having my job dreams. Because I'll be living my dream.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Back again at Blogging

It's been years since my last post. But now I find out I have to make cookies (despite a pending storm) for Emily's tennis match.

Ruth says we can send the cookies on Thursday, when we have an all-day school visit to Attwood, so it won't be a waste.

I am also preparing for a Saturday conference with E.B. Lewis (Ruth is co-hosting) and there's this question of "What will all the writers do?" I'm kinda in charge of that.

So, it's enough to have figured out how to get back into the blog (Google Chrome and Chazwords at blogspot) and post something. I hope to be a more frequent contributor.