Lessons I haven’t learned

About twenty years ago, I hurt my foot somehow.  When I went to the doctor’s office to have it checked, the receptionist who sat behind an open counter that was at least four feet high asked me, “Where’s the injury.”

To the amazement of the office staff,  I swung my foot up, rested it on the counter, pointed, and said, “My right foot.”

You know, that counter may have ben higher.  Maybe even five or six feet.

When I broke my toe a week ago, I discovered I can’t do that anymore.   Knowing I had to soak my foot, I put ice and water in the bathroom sink and attempted the same move at a much lower level.   I’m lucky I didn’t cause myself serious injury.   To the accompaniment of  many creaking joints and a fet grunts and screams, I was able to shove my foot into the water but worried the entire time I’d never be able to get it out again.

Lesson:   One cannot do everything one did twenty years ago.  However, I also know that one can do things that one couldn’t do twenty years ago such as publishing ten books.

This morning, I stubbed my broken toe.   Ouch!

Lesson:   people with broken toes should wear shoes.  However, I don’t like shoes and love to go barefoot which suggests more pain.

What lessons have you been taught that you refuse to accept?

Did aliens set my listening choices?

I don’t know why but I seem to attract weirdness, odd events, strange actions.

Last week, I took my Mazda to the dealer’s for its yearly check up.   When I got the car back, I drove off and turned the radio on, expecting my normal NPR programming.  Static.  I punched a button to change the station to my NPR music station.    More static.  I tried my country station and my oldies station.  I have only four stations saved because I’m old and I know what I like.  Yes, static on both of those.

So I hit some other buttons and discovered the only stations that had been saved were Christian music.   I have nothing against Christian music but it appeared after my tastes were set and it’s not the music of my choice.

My thought is that the mechanic working on my car noticed the stations I had saved and thought I must be a godless commie because I listen to NPR and decided to save my soul by adding five Christian stations to the dial.

Perhaps I’m paranoid.  I’ve been known to be.  However the change seems a little suspicious to me.   I deleted the stations someone set for me and found three of my favorite four.   Sadly, I can’t find the NPR music but, hey, I don’t drive that much anymore and I can always listen to Garrison Keeler CDs.

Next week, I’ll blog about the little girl I found standing completely alone in front of my apartment.  Another weird event.  And, sorry, no pictures.  My iMax won’t let me add any.

Why in the world did I ever keep that?

imagesAs I sort and toss and pack, I wonder, “Has that always looked so bad?”   Yesterday, this thought came because of the breadbox which I’ve had for probably twenty years.    It’s dirty and just plain ugly.  Yes, I could wash it but ugly can’t be fixed.    Also, I no longer eat much bread, certainly not enough to take up a few feet of counter space.   George did.  He liked different flavors of bread.  But not me.  It’s in the back of the car to take to Goodwill in case they believe it’s salvageable.

Perhaps finding old stuff that has gradually become unsightly is a way of telling us, “Hey, you’re getting old” or nagging us, “Time to move on.”

Many years ago, we were attempting to sell our house.  We’d had the sofa for a long time and knew the fabric underneath and concealing the springs had torn and brushed against the carpet.  Probably a cat had enjoyed pulling herself along with that.   For whatever reason, the dangling cloth didn’t bother us.   It DID bother the real estate agent.  As soon as he walked in, he said, “Get rid of that sofa.”   I asked, “Won’t the room look odd without it?”  He said, “Not as bad as it does now.”

And perhaps that’s a positive outcome of a move: we can get rid of the stuff that shows wear, that reminds us time is passing but also reminds us for a few minutes of good memories.

The horror of another move

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21984494I’m one of the most disorganized people you’ll ever meet, probably due to my dyslexia.  Of course, I blame everything on my dyslexia, even allergies and bad hair days.

However, most people don’t know that I am sadly clipboardorganizationally handicapped because years ago–in high school but I’m not going to tell you how long that was–I forced organization on myself by using color codes and clips and folders of neon hues and clipboards and file cabinets and, most recently, baskets.

Second only to disipline, what I hated most about teaching school was having to organize.   I usually had at least three preparation, sometimes as many as six  which meant all those sets of worksheets.   Keeping where each separate worksheet I had for each class–well, my brain was tangled by the end of the day.  I’m surprised I made it for so long.

For years, I used totes, just like Gussie Milton in my Butternut Creek toteseries:  one for school, one for church, one or two more for different groups I belonged to.  I just grabbed one as I headed out the door.

My church friends JoAnne and Ro came over last week to help pack.  For the last ten years I’ve used plastic baskets and woven baskets to keep things straight at home.   When baskets2JoAnne entered my study, she said, “I didn’t think there was anyone in the world who had more baskets than I do.”    I must have fifty or more of all sizes and shapes.   They are color coded:  purple baskets in my Kansas State study, yellow and orange baskets in the room divider in the hall which match the shower curtain in the hall bathroom,  red and blue baskets on top of the kitchen shelves because they’re pretty,  woven brown baskets in the dining/living room, and cheap white plastic baskets in the closets.

I hasten to add, I’m not compulsive.  I’m dyslexic and have not a pilessmidgen of the neatness gene.   Such handicaps require desperate measures so I don’t end upliving beneath piles of  receipts, old manuscripts, unfolded laundry, and cat toys.

How do you organize yourself?  I’d love to learn a new way.  And, if you need some, I have lots of baskets I can give you.  Just pick them up before I move.

 

All I can tell you. . .

. . .is that I’m back from San Antonio and the conference of the Romance River walkWriters of America.   It is an absolutely overwhelming and exhausting experience:  2,000 writers meeting together to network, chat, learn, meet and mingle–and some to party.   Okay, most to party.

The conference, from Wednesday to Saturday of last week, is like a space station filled with the friendliest, most helpful people you’ll ever meet, circling in our own universe.  Yes, 95% of those who attend are women so whole lot of talking going on.

Wednesday evening was the literacy signing.  Published authors sit at book and pentables filling a ballroom.  At five-thirty, the doors are opened and crowds rush in to buy and have their books signed by the writer.  The books are donated by publishing companies.  This year, $58,000 was made, all of which goes to literacy: creating readers by selling books.  I have to say this is, for me, an amazing experience and, every year, I’m so proud to be seated there and signing among all the amazing writers gathered.

Saturday evening is the awards presentation, a huge gala during which the best among published and unpublished novels and writers are honored.

In between, we attend workshops and meeting editors and do other signings and wear ourselves out greeting old friends and . . . and I’m so tired I can’t even think of anything exciting to write in my blog.

I’ll do better next week.  I promise!

 

Writers of the world. . . meet me in San Antonio

toenailsI got a pedicure Thursday and now look down at bright coral toenails that don’t look a bit like mine.   During that hour of pampering, I discovered my feet are a great deal more ticklish than I’d realized.   Everyone in the shop was laughing with me because–for a few minutes–I couldn’t stop.

Why did I have this, only my second pedicure?  Because I’m leaving for RWA  2014the national conference of Romance Writers of America today where I’ll join 2,000 of my best friends in San Antonio.  Probably half the writers in Texas and many from the rest of the US plus members from Canada and Europe and Australia and other places will gather there for days of networking, workshops, greeting old friends and making more.  I’ll be participating in two signings, several parties and will be “doing” breakfast and dinners with friends I’ve known through RWA for fifteen years or more.  What rwa book signingfun!

When I went to my first RWA conference in 1995, I entered the ballroom for the book signing.  Saw rows of tables, hundreds of writer with their books stacked in front of them  and hoards of readers  wandering through.  At that time, I vowed, “I’m going to be here someday.”  Six years later, I was.   After ten books, it’s still fun.

I’ve rested up for this and have nap time scheduled so I won’t wear out before I have to drive home, but I’m ready!   Just have to pack, take the kitties to the spa, and take off!

Hope you all have a wonderful week.  Hope to see some of you in San Antonio.

 

The definition of insanity . . .

noisy neighbor 2Some of you may remember my postings on Facebook nearly a year ago about the new and very noisy neighbors upstairs.  We lived in this apartment for six years with no problem with the family upstairs.    A few months after George died, that family left and the cacophonous family with enormous horse feet moved in above us.  For a few months, I joked about this on FB.  Then, working with the manager of the complex, I thought the problem was solved.  I even took them cupcakes to thank the two boys (ages seven and nine, probably) for being so cooperative.   I even signed a lease for another year because I’d thought the problem was sloved and I’ve always heard, “Don’t make a big decision like moving within a year of the death of a husband.”

The noise started again exactly two days after the lease took effects:  a kickball game with the two sons and their very large cousin.    I complained, the parents told the manager they paid rent and could do whatever they wanted in their apartment.  Other tenants told me they referred to me as “the ** * * * downstairs.”

I didn’t believe I could leave.   The cost of breaking the lease and moving was more than I could afford.   Also, my health wasn’t good enough for me to consider moving.  Moving is my least, least, least favorite thing in the world other than people who put nuts in fudge.

In May, the management moved the family to another apartment. Peace, blessed peace, reigned for three weeks.  Then another family moved in with a sweet little girl and an eleven-year-old boy who has springs on his feet, a living, constantly in motion pogo stick.   This time, I addressed the problem immediately.   On the second evening of broomcontinuous thud, bang, thump,  I pounded on the ceiling with a broom–a signal the preceding family ignored.   Within seconds, I heard a knock on the door.  It was the father, a young, tall and muscular young man.

First, he lied to me, said they were all watching a movie when I pounded on the ceiling.  Yes,  I pound on the ceiling because I’m attempting to build my upper-body strength.   Then the husband attempted to intimidate me.  He leaned over me, obviously much stronger and healthier than I.   He said he liked his kids to be rowdy and didn’t care about me.  Then he said, “If you think there’s a lot of noise now . . . ”  He stopped and glared at me.  I took that as a threat that I’d better shut up or he’d join in the running and jumping.

definition of insanity 2I was hysterical, a little crazy.  Went into my apartment and shook.  Then, I experienced enlightenment.   “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Those people upstairs were never going to be quiet.  Never.   They wouldn’t change but I could.

The next day I started looking for a place in an independent living center.  My criteria were   1)  pet friendly   2)  swimming pool    3) Cat-tree affordable.

The next week, I found one.   I’ll be going from a three-bedroom apartment (or, as our friend Ron always said, “A one-bedroom, two-study apartment”) to a one bedroom with heated pool and accepting of the cats.    The Salvation Army is going to haul of some furniture off in August and friends are coming to help sort and pack and carry to Goodwill or the dumpster.   I move in early September.  Yes, it will cost.    I’ve blogged on the fact that I’m very, very cheap and paying to break the lease is painful.  However, I decided my mental/physical  health and my ability to write come first.  It’s difficult to be creative when there’s a kid overhead wearing cement blocks on his feet and doing jumping jacks.

One of the best parts:  the apartment is only three minutes from church.

That’s what I’ve been doing for two weeks:  making changes and writing novels.   I’m happy and optimistic.

Any experiences you’d like to share about your neighbors?  I hope they are all good.

Vanity, thy name is Jane

strawberry blondI was a strawberry blonde for twenty years and loved it.  People called me the redhead and I loved that as well.   However, a few years after I passed forty, I decided it was time to go back to my real color, whatever that was.  I’d had boring light brown hair before I became a redhead.  My thought was I needed to know what my real color was now and how much gray I had and I should do this while I still looked pretty good.  I figured the older I got, the more I might fight old lady with red hairlooking old, the more I might want to cling to my red hair and rapidly vanishing youth.  Didn’t want to become one of those elderly women with pink hair and heavily rouged cheeks who wore white go-go boots.

I figured my hair had darkened over the years so I bought a box of dark brown hair dye and, over the weekend, went back to brown.

The reaction was funny.  If you know thirteen-year-olds, you’ll understand this.  When I walked into my eighth-grade Spanish class, the students didn’t look at my face.  Their mouths dropped open and their eyes were riveted to my hair for the entire fifty minutes.  Usually noisy and chatty, they were silent–aghast or horrified.

My friends said, “You had such beautiful hair.  Why did you dye it brown?”   I was amazed they believed my hair was natural.  For goodness sakes, I have brown eyes!  And there were times that I didn’t get around to coloring it and had half-an-inch of roots showing.  I’d thought everyone knew I wasn’t a natural redhead.

When I became a brunette, I had a little gray which relieved the dark brown my hair had become.   LIttle by little, of course, I got more gray and less brown.   Recently, I’ve felt very washed out because my skin is so pale–perfect for a redhead–and my hair is so white.  I tried bronzer and rouge and darker makeup but none of that helped.

Some people look good with gray hair.  I don’t.George Clooney

I decided to change my hair color, only a little and just around my face .  Truly didn’t want to become a brunette.  People might notice.   I found a temporary hair color that came in what looked like a large mascara wand.  Perfect.  Yesterday I opened the package and brushed the dark brown on the gray around my face, not too much. Merely enough so I didn’t look washed out.  Looked pretty good.

A few hours later, I reached up to touch my hair.   It was hard and had dried in clumps.   When I removed my hand, my fingers were brown.   I rubbed my hair with a Kleenex.  It turned brown.  I ran into the bathroom to look at my hair which had turned a garish russet color.  I no longer looked washed out.  I looked as slutty (hope this word doesn’t offend you but I couldn’t think of another way to say it)  as a woman my age can.   I immediately took a shower and watched the water turn brown.

Fortunately, it all came out.  I do not believe I will try this again.

Have you made any mistakes due to vanity?  I’d love to know.

 

 

Odd things people believe

red houseI watch HGTV shows a lot, especially programs about people looking for a new house.   Several things people have said amaze me because I never realized people thought this way.

1)  THE BATHROOM  In a few shows, people looking through oddly flipped homes find a bathroom next to the kitchen and say with great disgust, “A bathroom next to the kitchen.  That’s horrible.”   Now, I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world but there is nothing in my bathroom–other than the litter box which I keep very clean–that has disgusting stuff in it.  According to these people, disease emanates from a bathroom and will infect anything prepared in the kitchen, leaving venom and disease on every dish of food.   If that is so, why would having it down the hall from the kitchen make any bathroomdifference?  That miasma of infection would just drift down the hall and–bammo–right into the kitchen and the food.  Might even attack whoever is in the living room and whatever is on the dining room table first.

In another show, a woman said, “I don’t like the toilet next to the shower.” Does she not know which is which?   Did no one teach her how to use a toilet properly or how to get into the shower?

Perhaps there should be no toilets in houses because they’re obviously the source of every illness known to a family.

In addition, I’m very proud of myself.    As mentioned earlier, I’ve never considered myself to be a great housekeeper but my bathrooms are so clean I have no worries about a plague.

2.    A woman looked around the master bedroom of a house she was touring and said, “There’s no place to get dressed.  I don’t like to dress get dressedin the same place I sleep.”   What?   I’ve never lived any place where I didn’t dress where we slept unless it was in of those houses where I kept my clothes in a closet in the guest room.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog:  we aren’t all alike.  We have different outlooks and backgrounds and educations and lifestyles and . . . pretty much everythings.    Yes, there are many beliefs and feelings that united us but we’ve approached those through different paths.  Can’t we accept that people and cultures are different and start from there?  I’d never force anyone to live in a house that has a bathroom off the kitchen although I’ve known friends who’ve survived that okay.   But shouldn’t we be able to start with a fact–people like indoor plumbing–and go from there?    We can discuss topics like why people like having bathrooms and where they should be and what’s the problem with a bathroom near the kitchen without calling each other unclean or doo-doo heads.   We learn from each other.  We hear different ideas and can bounce them around in our brains and toss the conversation back and forth without infuriating each other.

The fact that we don’t all think the same is a joy of diversity. I learn from you.   I hope you learn from me and we accept and change or understand why our opinion is the right one for me but not for you.  Sadly, we don’t.  The fact that we refuse to listen to the other person is a loss to all.  The fact that instead of discussing, we call each other names must make George and Ben and John and those who faced great danger to start this nation to sob.