Friday, October 17, 2014

Catching a Bug and Catching Up

I’m angrily getting over a miserable cold.  I’m angry because I think I know where I picked up the nasty, germy bug.  
It most assuredly happened the last time I was there.
As I was bending down to tie my shoe, I  heard it.  It was a wretched sound.   My head shot up.  I had to know where that awful noise was coming from.  And there she was, sitting all alone, down in the pit of the very lanes that I would be bowling on, practically right in front of me.
It was not a polite, “I’ve got a little tickle in my throat” cough, cough.  It wasn’t a watery eyes, sneezy, “The goldenrod is terrible this year, isn’t it?” allergy, cough, cough.
In fact, I can’t even classify it as a cough.  The woman was hacking.  She was deep down gurgling, whole body shaking,  hacking.
And I? I was terrified.
I pointed her out to my team mate.  “Do you hear her?” I asked.  “What is she doing here?” I wanted to know.
Okay, so there is this ritual at bowling.  I don’t know if it is a standard world wide practice.  But in our league, whenever a bowler makes a spare or a strike, she gives a hand tap, high five to members of her team and also to the bowlers on the opposing team. Apparently, it’s a way to graciously pass on good luck to the other bowlers.
I told my teammate Diane that I most certainly would not be touching anyone’s hand that day.
And I didn’t.  Well, except for that one time.  I got caught up in my own excitement.  The excitement of making a turkey.  Three strikes in a row.   It does’t happen very often for me.
So, as I walked back through the roaring, cheering crowd,  after my third strike in a row, my turkey strike, how could I deny the others a hand tap, high five?
I couldn’t.  I didn’t.
Two days later, there I was.  A coughing, sneezing, sniffling, sore throat, achey NyQuil ad.
So, again I ask the question.  Why was that woman out in public?  Why was she not home in bed?

Floor update.
We’ve decided to replace the whole floor.  Not just the kitchen, but all of the hardwood floor throughout  the house. We also decided to go with a lighter wood.  The dark Brazilian cherry is beautiful, but it’s tough to keep clean.  Especially, with a Rico dog,
To go along with this news, there is a cautionary tale to tell.
When Lou (the guy who came out to give us an estimate) told us what the square footage measurements were, we immediately realized that they did not match up with the measurements from the last time we had the floor installed.
In a phone conversation, Ross brought this to the attention of Dominic, the owner of the flooring business who would be doing the job.  Dominic off handily chalked it up the necessity of having to add in a 10% waste factor.
Ross, who taught Math for 30+ years, knew that a 10% waste factor could not possibly add up to needing an extra 200 more square feet.  He had a strong suspicion that Lou made an arithmetic calculation error.
I think that Ross is probably the best arbitrator and negotiator in the world.  No, really he is.
He simply told Dominic that he wanted to give him our business.  “Especially,” he said,  “since you did such a fine job for us last time.”
He asked Dominic if he would personally come out to do another measurement.
“It would put my mind at ease,” he said.
How could Dom say no?  He couldn’t.  He didn’t.
What is it that they say?  Measure twice.  Cut once.
As it turned out, after Dom did the second measurement, the square footage was 200 square feet less than what Lou came up with.  That translated into $1800.
We went into the store the next day.  Lou was there.  He apologized.  He showed us where he made the mistake.  When he measured the hallway leading into the bedroom he forgot a decimal point.  Instead of 24.5 square feet, he wrote down 245 square feet.
Buyer be “A ware”.

I exaggerated a little about the reaction to my Turkey.   hehehe

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life Under A Rock Wrapped in my Raspberry Scarf

Lucky you, those of you who have been living under a rock.  Your quiet domicile has protected you from the barrage of pings emitted from the electro universe.  You are peacefully unaware of Ebola hysteria, Isis madness, and  the child predator, Enterovirus D68, just to name a few.
I’m seriously considering finding my own rock.  Or, perhaps John Denver’s Rocky Mountain high would provide a nice respite.

In other news from my own little corner of the “world is going to hell in a hand basket”, I’ve fallen behind in my “Beginning Writer’s Workshop”.   I have no excuse, but laziness.

Today, I woke up so darn early.  5:00 this morning.  I tried to force myself to stay in bed, close my eyes and go back to sleep.  Couldn’t do it.   It’s a Tuesday thing.  I have bowling in the morning and bereavement group in the afternoon.  Maybe I should go Under a Rock house hunting instead.

A few months ago our refrigerator leaked and puddled onto our beautiful Brazilian cherry hardwood kitchen floor.  We had the floor installed throughout the house about six years ago.  At the time of the install, the floor people suggested that we buy an extra box of wood,  just in case we needed a repair.
The leak has caused the boards around the fridge to buckle and blacken.
Last week, we called Dennis. He owns the store that we bought the floor from. He sent Louie over to assess the damage.   I thought they would be able to rip out the problem and replace the bad boards with the spares we have in the garage.
Louie came in, looked and shook his head.  Not the smiley “everything is going to be all right” up and down shake.  Rather,  it was the foreboding “tsk, tsk, we’ve done all we can, there is no cure” side to side shake.
Our house has that open floor plan.  So the living room flows into the kitchen which flows into the dining room which flows back into the living room, which flows into the foyer and down the hallway.
“The best we can do,” said Louie,“is take out the kitchen floor, replace it with new boards.”
“Then we install molding at the living room and dining room entrances where the old floor meets the new floor,” he said.
“Of course, that is if we can even get that same wood,” he said.
“And even if they still manufacture that same exact floor, the dye lot probably won’t match, “ he added.
I shook my head up and down.  Not the “I’m so glad you’re telling me this” shake.  Rather, it was the “numb, I’m putting my fingers in my ears and saying la, la, la, I can’t hear you” shake.

An Under a Rock house probably doesn’t have Brazilian cherry hardwood floors or leaky refrigerators, for that matter.

By the way, instead of working on assignment #4 of my Beginning Writer’s Workshop,  “Try Out Different Points of View”, I was doing this:

Feather and Fan Scarf
Valley Yarns Northampton Raspberry Heather
 The pattern is a free Ravelry download by Rae Blackledge.  It can be found here.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Lighted Candle

So, I’ve completed Lesson 3 of my “Beginning Writer’s Workshop” class (found on the ed2go website).  The objective of that lesson was to “Get acquainted with the variety of forms available to the creative writer.

When I was thinking about signing up for the course,  I was somewhat apprehensive.
As I read through the instructor’s description of the course, this sentence is what convinced me that this class was exactly what I was looking for:

“This exciting, hands-on course for the creative writing novice is filled with challenging exercises, expert advice, and plenty of direct support and encouragement.

Although it was scary for me to think that “plenty” would not only be reading my assignments, but also making comments, I was hopeful that they, the “plenty”, would also be  providing plenty of constructive feedback.
My initial impression was that we would be a small group.  I also thought that the group, along with the instructor and the instructor’s assistants would be reading and commenting on everyone’s assignments.

So, this is the way it really is.  The class has 300 participants.  There is a short quiz and a writing assignment at the end of each lesson.   In order to have the assignment read, it has to be submitted to the discussion area.  The discussion area is in a forum format.
Unless otherwise noted, the instructor or one of her assistants will read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The students can also read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The first lesson’s assignment was:

This is what I submitted:

I did receive a comment on my first assignment.

Although it was not quite specific, it was certainly encouraging.

I was determined to be an active member of the class.  I promised myself that I would read and comment on each and every one of those 300 assignments.

After plugging through the first 50 or so, I knew that there was no way I would be able to read and comment on all of them.  Heck, I could not even manage to read all of them.

Since the default sort of the forum is by date created, I quickly realized that those who were among the first to submit their assignments were the ones whose pieces would most likely be read.

By the time I submitted mine it fell somewhere in the middle of the list.

What I found interesting about the 50 or so introductions that I did have the chance to read was that most of the writers wanted to achieve their life long dream of having a piece of work published.

This is not something that I am aiming for.

So far, I have to say, the lessons have been helpful and I am learning new information about writing and I’m gaining knowledge.

The title of Lesson 2 is “On Detail and Description”.   I learned several things.

  1.  Be specific instead of vague.   
  2. A major virtue of a well-written vivid description is that the reader will stop seeing words on a page and mentally experience the thing, person or place I am describing.
  3. When I am describing something I care about, ideas will naturally tend to emerge. 
  4. By selecting details that show how a person is feeling is the most effective way to communicate emotion. 
  5. Be as honest as you can when writing description. 
I found this to be an eye-opening lesson.   I realized that when I write my blog, I depend heavily on photos instead of words.

The assignment for lesson 2 was:

I found this to be a difficult, yet rewarding challenge.  It was fascinating to intently concentrate on an object and realize that I was able to notice such fine detail that I would not ordinarily have seen nor appreciated.

Here’s my
 “Lighted Candle”
The vintage brass candleholder is the type that might have been carried by the Lady of the house to light the way up the darkened hallway, guiding her to her chamber. The curved handle is crafted into a floral shape with a loop to fit a thumb and forefinger. A white candle sits in the center of the flower. The square base was apparently designed with molded sides so that it would accommodate a box of matches or perhaps a few trinkets.  Presently it holds two pieces of gray, flat smooth lake rock along with a couple of chunks of weathered coral.  The candle has been lit before and is now half of its original size.  Although it is white, there are streaks of red running down the sides.  I am curious about why that is and find myself distracted trying to figure out how that happened.  The wax has pooled at the top but is not dripping down the sides yet.   The triangular flame appears to be dimensional.  When first lit, the flame quietly bounced up and down in a slightly rhythmic way and seemed to be floating above the blackened wick.  I had an urge to run my finger through it.    Now that it has been burning for a while, the wick has tilted and it’s end is hotly glowing red.   The urge to run my finger through it has wisely disappeared.  

I received only one comment.  It was from the instructor.
This comment was specific and again encouraging. I would have liked more suggestions from her about how to improve it, though. 

I did read several of the other submissions.  I found it interesting that we each described the details of the flame in similar words.  

Going into lesson 4 - “Try Out Different Points of View”, I have realistically concluded that I have to approach the rest of the course differently.  Instead of expecting and looking forward to “plenty” of feedback,  I have decided to concentrate more on what I am learning from each of the lessons.   
Because after all,this is what I wrote in assignment number 1,  What I expect from this class is to learn new means and methods which will enhance my writing experience.”  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Time It Will Be Different?

Yesterday I went to a Bereavement Group meeting.  The group actually had their first session last Tuesday.   I thought about going.  Then I thought about not going.  Then I thought I should go.  Then I thought I probably shouldn’t go.  Then I started doing laundry and then the dog needed to go for a walk.  Then the View came on and then it was lunch time.  And then it was 2:00 and it was too late to go.
During the first few months of my grief, I did try a couple of these types of support systems.   I  went to the first meeting of each of them.  The seating arrangement was the same. We sat in a circle facing one another.  I felt as though I were a slice of “of grief pie".   We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart.    I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.  
I recall that I was so intent on silently rehearsing what I would say when it was my turn to speak,  that I’m sure I was only half listening to each of the other slices relate their stories.
Even though my ears were somewhat distracted by my own thoughts, my eyes would automatically shift to a new tone of voice.   My head would nod in a sympathetic and understanding way.
I don’t remember the specifics of their stories.  The images of their pain come back to me in flashes of twisted and scrunched up tissue covered eyes.
After each of these meetings, I would become somewhat defensive.  How dare those people make me cry.  What did any one of them say that could possibly ever make me want to come back and do that again?
It’s been nearly three years since Joe passed away.  Actually it has been two years, nine months and 19 days.
As I said, yesterday I went to my first meeting of this new group.   Since I was not there for the first meeting, the facilitator took me aside for a pre-meeting conversation.
She has a kind face and soft voice.    As I told her my story,  I found myself crying the hard tears of a new loss.   She asked me, “Do you know what we do here?”  I was puzzled.  Of course I knew, we would all sit in the “grief pie” circle and cry.  But of course I didn’t say that.  She followed up with , “What do you expect to get from this?”
I stumbled over my answer.  I told her that I supposed I expected comfort and support.
She explained to me that this place was indeed a place to come for comfort and support.  More importantly, though, it was to be a safe place where we were expected to not only explore but share our feelings.  Then she said the thing that I think I needed to hear.  “You are here to work on you own grief, not the grief of others.” She asked me if I thought I would be able to do that.  Then she asked me if I wanted to join the group.  I said yes.
The meeting started with us all sitting in a circle.  We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart.  I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don’t Quit My Day Job?

On a whim I signed up for and paid $99 for an online course.  The name of the class is Beginning Writer’s Workshop in I found through the ed2go website.
I’ve taken two writing classes in my life.  One was “Creative Writing” and the other was “Writing for Business”.   Both of those were oh so long ago.
The class started yesterday with an optional pretest.

Of course, I took the pre-test.  I must admit most of the questions were common sense.  
There were a few more “technical” questions as they related to what I call the formalities of writing. 
There are many writing terms that I am not familiar with.  But even with my lack of  “formal writing” training, I scored okay on the pre-test. 

One of the reasons I impulsively decided to take the course was to learn how a writer writes.  What does the process entail?  Does a writer’s mind work differently than a non-writer? 
I have always been fascinated when I hear authors talk about the characters they have created.  They speak about them in a Dr. Frankensteinien way.   
Do they have a more heightened imagination than non writers?

When I write, I am basically putting my thoughts into written words.  

Pre-test Question No. 1:

So, I have been hesitating to delve into Lesson No. 1.  I am afraid.  Perhaps I’m afraid that I will find out that I am a better knitter than I am a writer. 

My latest completed project. An afghan with 289 individual granny squares sewn together.

As an incentive to get through the six weeks and complete the course, I intend to record my progress  on my blog.  
I wonder if I can get extra credit for that?  hehehe

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pshaw…Bish Bash Falls - A Local Legend?

Our Little Jaunt
Part I

We are on a little get-a-way.  Actually we were not really trying to get away.  I would say it’s more of a desire for a change of scenery.
So, yesterday, we left the Jersey shore area and headed up to the mountains.

We had to cross over the GW bridge first to get out of NJ.

After the bridge, there was no traffic and the rest of the 4-1/2 drive was pleasant.  

The change of scenery that we were looking for was immediate.   We left behind yellow sand and blue sea to  travel along green, hilly and curvy roads.

The meadows are softly lavender, and wildly golden.

Spotty emerging dabs of orange, and red are beginning to peek through.

Red barns and white silos complete our picturesque drive.

We debated over our lodging.  I have a hard time picking.   Well, that’s because when I go to check out each of the travel websites, the first thing I do is look at what kind of rating former travelers have given the places.  Let me be more specific.  The first thing I really do is read the “poor” ratings first.   
I mean I can generally tell when the negative comments are not pertinent.  
For instance, one woman complained that her son woke up the first morning with a few bites.  Of course she claimed that they were from bed bugs.  Interesting that not one of the other 500 comments mentioned anything about having a buggy stay.  So, I ignore those kinds of comments.
I do pay attention to complaints about cleanliness, outdated accommodations and rude staff.

There are many quaint B&B’s here.  There are also vintage throw back roadside motels.  Actually some of the motels got excellent reviews.

I decided, though, to go with the tried and true Marriott.  I am pretty happy with a comfy bed, reliable  WIFI and a flat screen TV. 

We will check out the other accommodations, though.  I would rather judge those for myself in person.

Yesterday, we tried to find Bish Bash Falls.  We were told by a couple of the locals that it is a pretty spot.  A must see, we were told.  In fact one of the waitresses at the luncheonette gave us, “better” directions than “your GPS.”

We were told that the falls were only 15-20 minutes from town.   After driving for 45 minutes we decided that the legendary Bish Bash falls are just that.  A local legend.

Anyway, today is a rainy day.  I’ve been up since six waiting patiently for Ross to wake up.

Well, time for breakfast.  It’s complimentary with Marriott, you know.

We’ll see what the day will bring. 

To Be Continued.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

When I am 100 and You are 104-1/2

August 31, 2014

I’ve heard many people claim that once they get to that middle stage of their life, they feel more accepting and comfortable with who they are.
I’m not sure I understand what “they” mean by that.  And to be perfectly frank, I don’t believe a word of it.
Well, okay, perhaps it is true for some people.
Personally, I’m not one of those.
Mid-life crisis?  It’s hokey.  Really.  The life expectancy in the US is approximately 79 years.
So half of that would be about 40 years old.   When I look back at myself at age 40, I am quite certain that I wasn’t thinking that I was in the middle of my life or in crisis.
Oh sure, I was raising children, trying to make ends meet, riding that roller coaster, but I was far too busy to be introspective.
If memory serves me, I don’t recall contemplating how wonderful the next half of my life would be.
Yes, when I look back at myself at age 40, I realize I had no idea about life.
Which brings me to this point in my life.  67/79=84.5.  Or nearly 85% of completion.
I can’t even come up with a catchy, fun phrase for that number.   Sorry, but “almost over”,or  “the end is near” are the first things that pop into my mind.
Ross gets upset with me when I mention that.
“Come on,” he’ll say, “We could live to be 100, you know.”
My reaction and response is, “Oh please.”
Anyway, Now that I am an 85 per-center, I do have time to be introspective.
Sometimes staying in the present is much too humdrum and boring.
I shockingly have come to the conclusion that somewhere along the way I may have lost my imagination.  I wonder, “What happened to my stories?”
My body does a fine job of reminding me that I am “not as young as I used to be.”  I can no longer eat the foods that I love.  Although I have started to wear a FitBit, I don’t feel very fit. That is probably the hardest to accept.
I can count my blessings.  I can be regretful.
I can wish I would have and wonder if it is still possible.
I can long for the good old days and be fearful about what might be coming next.
I can be sad for all that I’ve lost and be wondrous about all that I’ve found.
At my age, I have come face to face with the biggest boundary of all.
So, Ross when you are 104-1/2 and I am 100, will we look back at when we were young sixty and seventy somethings and realize once again that we knew nothing.
Will we finally be able to say we are comfortable with who we are?

So I came across a couple of pictures of myself over the past four years.  As I looked at these photos, I have come to the conclusion that what I am really in the middle of is a schizophrenic hair style crisis.

Warning...some of these photos may have been touched up or air brushed.