Friday, June 24, 2011

Random Blog Thoughts

I was searching for a suitable topic to write about today.  Something funny and entertaining to kick off the weekend.  Unfortunately, I find myself easily distracted and have difficulty focusing on just one topic.  According to an excellent blog post by Jennifer Crusie (When is she NOT excellent?), this is cognitive disinhibition and it's common among creative people  Now that's a topic I could have blogged on, but Jenny already did and she explains it better than I ever could.

Oh!  A cat just chased a gecko by my office. 

Anyway, rather than settle on one topic, I decided to embrace the random, "Oh look, something shiny" aspect of my mental process and rattle off some things.

My friends and I have discovered a game app for iPhone called Hanging With Friends.  You compete against a friend in the old game of Hangman.  You put up a word and the friend has half a dozen chances to guess the letters and, ultimately, the word.  Fun, right?  I'm always up for a little word game competition.  There's a twist to the colorful graphics in this game, however.  Each player picks a cartoon kid icon to represent her.  Each icon starts out with a bouquet of balloons gripped in his/her cartoony hand.  The scene shows the two player icons hovering in the sky, held aloft by their balloons over a flowing river of lava.  The volcano is belching smoke behind them!

Everytime a player does not successfully solve a word, he/she loses a balloon and falls closer to the lava.  Fun and sadistic, right?

The facial expressions of the players are priceless as they guess their letters.  They smile, they look surprised and, eventually, terrified that they aren't going to solve the word.  The game is free.  I recommend it to anyone who really likes high stakes hangman.

My room remodel is finished.  Well, at least the construction part.  Walls, ceiling, windows, floor, doors -- everything gorgeous, gleaming and new.  I've been living in the guest bedroom with my clothes overflowing the closet onto the twin bed in which I'm not sleeping.  Tonight I get to start moving clothes into the bigger, new closet with the closet organization system. 

I ordered the new bed, night table and chest yesterday.  Good news -- no sales tax or shipping charges.  Not-so-good news -- it won't arrive until late August-first week in September. I'm considering buying the new mattress and box spring locally and making up the bed on the floor, just so I can move myself out of the twin bed.  It's a good lesson in patience.  Besides, it took me 9 years to finally remodel the room at all.  I can wait a few more weeks.

Hey, we've almost gotten through an entire week and no politican has had to confess to having an affair, sexting, or any other scandal involving thinking with the wrong head.  Was Congress on summer break?

Did anybody watch the Daytime Emmy Awards?  The way that soap operas keep getting cancelled, this is one award show nobody will have to worry about running long.

My favorite new show is The Voice competition on NBC.  I won't be able to watch next week and I've already set up the DVR to record.  The premise was that the producers searched the country to find really talented singers in bar bands, country fairs, recording studios, you name it.  They brought them to L.A. to audition in front of four established stars who would each pick 8 singers for their team - Cee Lo Green (The Forget You song or the F**k You song, depending on which version you've heard; Adam Levine of Maroon Five; Christina Aguilera of Christina Aguilera fame; and country star Blake Shelton.  The four coaches listened to each singer with their backs to them so they couldn't see them perform, just listen. 

There was a phenomenal roster of talent auditioning for this shot and none of the freaky people that slip into the American Idol auditions wearing feather suits or shrieking like maddened peacocks.  Gradually, members of each team have been eliminated and now it's down to one from each star's team singing for the win next week.  I'd like to see all of the last eight get contracts.  They're all terrific.  I really liked the coaching/mentoring relationships.  I get the feeling the stars really care about their team members and want to help them succeed.

Hilariously funny writer/sportscaster/blogging phenom Ken Levine asked on his random thoughts blog post a few days ago which coach we'd like to send home.  I voted for booting show host Carson Daly.  He's boring, repetitive and as stiff as a frozen fence post. 

Speaking of singers, why is it that that some people who couldn't carry a tune with both hands and a tote bag, don't realize how bad they sound?  Not everyone who sings badly is tone deaf; some just don't have the chops, so what's the deal?  Across the water from where I live are some very enthusiastic folks.  They like to have dance parties outside of their little house and frequently throw in some karaoke.  The one woman is so horrible she sounds like a squawking peacock, bellowing moose, and screaming cat all rolled into one.  When she lets loose on her high volume rendition of Funky Town, she's so bad that she could be used as an instrument of torture in a combat zone.

Last night, I really, really craved ice cream.  I don't have any in the house, but I could easily have obtained it with a ride to the corner store that would have taken less than a minute.  However, that would have necessitated me locating my bra, putting it back on, and actually leaving the house, getting into the car and driving.  I ate watermelon instead.  I'm not sure if big boobs just saved me from gaining a pound, or if I should further develop the idea as a new diet.  I can see it as a headline on a supermarket rag tabloid:  "Sloth Leads to Better Food Choices".

Has anyone laughed yet?  Chuckled?  Smiled wryly?  Beuhler?  Beuhler?

Back to the bedroom, which reminds me that I really need to clean around the rest of the house now that it isn't constantly filling up with construction-related dust faster than I can wield a Swiffer.  I have solemnly pledged that, when I have completely refurnished my bedroom, I will never again let it get cluttered and dusty.  I'm determined, I tell you.  Determined!  There are only two obstacles to the plan.  I'm a pack rat and I hate to clean.  Three obstacles, if you factor in the aforementioned sloth.  I must stick to my determination!  (Picture me waving a vacuum cleaner like a flag in battle.)

No big plans for this weekend, other than that cleaning, moving of clothing and a few other things.  The season premiere of True Blood is Sunday.  I'm looking forward to the show.  Let's see what happens between the vampires, witches, faeries, shape-shifters, and other fine creatures of Bon Temps.  Are you a Trubie?

I will not obsess over my e-book sales.  I will not obsess over my e-book sales.  I will not obsess over my e-book sales.  I will not obess over my e-book sales.  If I keep typing this, I can't go over and see if I've sold any more copies of All Keyed Up or Key of Sea on Amazon,, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, Kobo, or Diesel.  I will not obsess over my e-book sales.  In the meantime, you can read an excerpt of my books at my website.  I will not obsess . . .

Edited to ad:  In honor of summer and beach reads, for one week only, All Keyed Up is just 99 cents for Kindle and Nook!  Check out an excerpt here!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Lesson Learned and Today's Application

I started to write a full memorial post about my father in honor of Father's Day.  Dad was my hero, and decades after his death, he remains a major influence on my life and my thinking.  I was musing over 20 things that I learned from him, intending that list to be the center of the blog post, but I kept focusing on one lesson in particular. 

Dad taught us and, more importantly, showed us that a person's class is not measured by that person's wealth, or lack thereof.   Don't look at a rich person and assume that he's classy or better than the other person who works to make ends meet.  Dad believed that how you conducted your life and how you treated other people was the true measure.  He was living proof -- a man of substance, integrity and class whose roots lay in the humble home of immigrants -- factory workers, manual laborers, people who worked hard to support themselves and their family. 

This lesson has resonated for me a various times.  I've seen really rich guys act like entitled, privileged jerks, using their money to bully waiters in restaurants and gas station attendants.  I've seen others who hoped they'd have enough to make their next mortgage payment go out of their way to help people struggling on the side of the road.

Very recently, the lesson hit home again.  In the last few years we've seen the heads of major corporations seek government handouts, lay off thousands of workers, and cut deals to reduce their corporate debt -- but then the people in charge still took their million dollar bonuses and flew around in private jets on lavish trips.  How many jobs could be saved or debts honored if these people, already worth millions, had turned down those bonuses and invested them back into their corporations?

In the last couple of weeks, I heard about a much smaller corporation where the senior management team members already make far less than their peers at other corporations in the same industry.  These managers know that their staff works super hard, often holding down second or third jobs.  The bosses aren't wealthy and they all have bills to pay, but they decided that they wanted to do what they could to provide better raises for their staff this year, so they opted to not take any raises for themselves.  They're doing without an increase in order to help their staff do a little better.

You tell me which management team shows true class.  Scratch that.  I already know.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

To Do or Not To Do

That is the question.  Whether tis nobler in the mind to attack the list of chores, or to take aim against obligations and go sit out on the porch reading instead.

Pretty much any weekend that I'm at home, I have a "to do" list in my head of things I really should accomplish around the house.  I wish I could say the list was only filled with items like "get a facial", "go fishing", "swim", "play with dogs", or "meet up with friends for dinner".  Unfortunately, there are always the less interesting tasks like "clean", "do laundry", "file the stack of papers you let pile up", "organize the office", etc.

I know there are people who say that they love to clean.  I challenge that statement.  How can someone truly love scrubbing, polishing, mopping, vaccuming, dusting, and so on?  I don't care how much Snow White smiled and whistled while she worked.  Behind that animated glow, she had to be thinking, "I'm only whistling so I don't cuss out these freaking messy dwarves who oughta be able to keep their own cottage clean."  Besides, she had squirrels and birds to help.  So far, Nat and Pyxi only contribute to the mess.

I believe that people who claim they love to clean really mean that they love having a clean house.  Now that I'm on board with.  I love it when everything's neat, there's no dog hair or dirt on the floors, the furniture gleams, the windows sparkle, and the house smells all fresh.  I just need squirrels and blue birds to do the work for me.

As posted earlier, I'm in the middle of a bedroom remodel.  Everything besides furniture that used to be in my master bedroom, including me, is now crowded into my spare bedroom, with even more stuff in the office/storage room.  As far as I'm concerned, this gives me a pass on having things perfectly arranged.  I've at least managed neat stacks of clothes on the other twin bed, but even so, it's all I can do to keep the bed I'm sleeping in clear. 

The work is almost done and I'm close to selecting the new furniture, so I should be able to move back into the master bedroom in a couple of weeks.  I can't wait.  It's going to be beautiful.  Before then, however, I need to deal with the aftermath of some of the construction.  There is a fine coating of dust in the room and, in particular the adjoining bathroom. I was still using the bathroom every morning and, unfortunately, I didn't have any warning before the contractor sanded the beautiful wood trim he installed around the doorways and windows.  So that dust is also on bottles, jars, tubes and the other items we usually crowd onto a bathroom vanity.

The task of cleaning the bathroom is tops on my weekend To Do list.  There's no way to pussyfoot about the project.  It calls for drastic strategy.  I have a bag at ready into which I'm sweeping everything currently sitting on the vanity or hanging out on the shelves in the shower.  The floor mats will go directly into the washing machine.  With the decks cleared, I can swab and scrub away.  A good rinse and dry of all the items and then I can restore everything to rights.

Don't I make it all sound easy?  At heart it is, but you'd think it was a task of Sisyphean proportions the way that I'm stalling.  "I have a headache.  I don't feel good."  "It's beautiful outside!"  "It's Sunday, I wanna do the crossword puzzle first."  "Blah blah complain complain complain."  How bad is it that I decided to blog about this as another form of stalling?

Suddenly, cleaning the bathroom has moved up to the top of the Not to Do list.  Now I have to negotiate with my slothful side.  Behind door number one is my back porch with the view of the harbor and a comfortable chair where I could finish reading the paper and do the crossword puzzle.  Behind dismantled door number two is the dust bowl bathroom.  Let's make a deal!  Clean the frigging bathroom and, as a reward, I will let myself linger on the porch for as long as I want.

There.  Decided.  Now to put words into action.  Yes, I'm off to clean the bathroom.  Huzzah! 

In the meantime, here's a new photo of the bedroom, freshly painted in a gorgeous shade of Pure Periwinkle with the handcut red oak trim around the windows.  Love, love, love the color and how everything is coming along!

Have a great day, everyone, not matter what you choose to do or not do!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Suggestion to Elected Officials - Keep It In Your Pants

Yet another elected official stood before a microphone tonight and tendered a tearful confession.  He admitted that he had indeed done what he'd previously denied.  He apologized to the world and of course, most of all, to his wife.

Mea culpa this, you guys.  Please answer my bi-partsan question.  Are you truly sorry for what you did, or just terribly, terribly sorry that you got caught?

When you campaign for office, you want us to trust you to lead, to govern, to honor the laws of our country.  You position yourselves as strong men of integrity, guardians of truth, justice and the American way.  You champion family values.  In recent years, you've opined on the sanctity of  marriage and weighed in on who can and who can't marry.

The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.  - Andre Glide, winner of 1947 Nobel Prize for literature.

Somewhere along the line we find out that you A) Fathered a child with a household employee and kept him a secret for over a decade; B) Had an affair, fathered a child, and convinced someone else to claim fatherhood for the goal of not upsetting your terminally ill wife; C) Diddled an intern in your Administration and lied repeatedly about it; C) Hired hookers; D) Sexted with a number of different women, took and sent nude photos of yourself, thus expanding the meaning of junk mail; or E) Did some other inappropriate thing that we just haven't heard of.  Yet.

Was the orgasm, the cheap thrill, the power trip, worth hurting your family, shredding your reputation, and grinding whatever small bit of integrity you possessed into the mud?  When you got your seat in the governor's mansion or the White House or the Congress, did your ego swell so much that there was no room left in your brain for even a scintilla of common sense or decency?

You're all adults.  Surely by this time you should have learned that the penis is good for peeing and sex. Under no circumstances should it be used for thinking or decision making of any kind!

Yes, I know you're only human and that's okay.  Just remember that being human doesn't give you a free pass to be a cheating, lying, asshat.  Apologizing and taking responsibility for your actions don't impress us as much if they only come after the story breaks on the evening news.

Elected officials, please, surprise us in a good way.  Don't do something you'll regret, have to apologize for, or watch go viral on YouTube.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Room for Improvement

A few short weeks ago, in addition to packing for a week's cruise in Alaska, followed immediately by a business-related conference, I was also frantically emptying out my bedroom of everything.  Yes,  this was not merely a long-overdue de-cluttering, but a total clean-out to the bare walls.  After many years of talking about it, I finally commited to remodeling my room.

I was excited, even though this called for a ton of work.  First the clothes.  Oh my goodness, the clothes!  One closet full of shirts, shorts and sandals used for work.  One closet with pants, capris, blouses, tops and, yes, additional shoes, for when I'm not at work.  One dresser with six drawers -- bras, panties, t-shirts for going out on the boat, hanging around the house, doing stuff not covered by the clothes in the closets.

You'd think that a woman who lives alone would have plenty of closet space, right?  Particularly in a three bedroom house.  That's great in theory until you take into account that I also have dresses, skirts, and various ensembles that I wear to writers' meetings, conferences, and other occasions that call for more "dressed-up" attire.  Those outfits fill the closet in one bedroom at least half two thirds of the way.  The third closet?   Umm, well, you know sometimes I go to places where it's cold so I actually need a couple of winter jackets and then there are a few costume gowns and, and...

Okay, the point is that I did not have scads of available closet space just waiting for me to move in clothes from the bedroom.

After clothes, I needed to find room for extra books.  Do you know that in the last 18 months, I have sorted through, packed up and given away at least NINE big boxes of books??  Mass market paperbacks, trade paperbacks, hard covers -- I thought I was ruthless but the fact is, I still own hundreds of books.  I long over reached maximum capacity on my bookshelves and began storing the overflow in bags, containers and anything that would keep the towers of reading material from toppling over.  I sorted through yet again, packed up two more big cardboard boxes and toted them to the local library.  The rest I, uh, incorporated into some boxes of previously sorted through books that are in the third bedroom which is also my office/storage room. 

Assorted items that filled nighstand drawers or were arrayed on top of the dresser and bookcase fit nicely in a single box that I could store on a shelf in another bedroom.  The bag with my snorkel gear and fins, some stuff for dog park fundraisers, bed linens and sundry other things went wherever I could find room.  The whole "finding room" thing got a little more complicated the longer I worked.  I wouldn't have had any problem at all except that I needed to leave a bed free in the spare bedroom so that I had a place to sleep.

The furniture was the least of my problems.  I put out a call to the entire staff where I worked that said, "Bedroom furniture, old but useable, free to a good home."  Four co-workers were interested and a young couple came over the weekend before my trip and carted it away.

All this work pretty much leaves a clean slate.  with the exception of Mom installing new wall-to-wall carpeting at some point 15 or more years ago, and adding a ceiling fan, virtually nothing had been done to update or improve the room cosmetically since my folks bought the house in 1978.  Even the furniture came with the house!   The walls sported old paneling.  The ceiling had these odd swirly-patterened tiles.  The windows were old jalousy style which don't do well with my outdoor Bahama style awnings/shutters. 

My instructions for the contractor were to rip everything out, check and replace the insulation, and rebuild the walls.  Upgrade the wiring.  Put in new windows.  Put up sheetrock on the ceiling.  Convert the two small closets into one large one, and get a new door.  Install new flooring.  Paint the walls and ceiling and hang a new fan, etc. etc.  Out with the old, prepare for the new.

The timing was great, I figured.  I trust the man with the key to my house so he could work during the two weeks that I, and also my dogs, were out of the house!  He got pretty much all of the really dirty work accomplished.  I wish I'd taken pictures of the empty room before he started work, so you could really appreciate the changes a long the way, but I was too frazzled getting ready for the trip.  I took shots last weekend after I got home.  You can't really tell, but it's a decent size room -- 14' X 12', not counting the extra area where the closets are as well as the door to the master bath.

The view of the room as I stand in the doorway.

Looking back at the door and the area where the closets are located along with the door to the master bath.
Walls, windows, ceiling, etc. all done!  Since then, he has also cut and installed all of the trim around the doorways and windows, using a lovely red oak.  The flooring will be a good wood laminate with a complementary red oak look. 

I'm going for a coastal/seashore cottage decor.  I want pretty and nice, but comfortable.  I'm not one for an ultra formal bedroom.  I want to walk into my room and feel like I can instantly relax.  My job this week was to decide on a paint color.  After much consideration of paint chips, I narrowed my choices to two and painted the colors on one wall to see what they looked like in different lighting situations.  Anybody who knows me will not be the least surprised that I'm going with a deep periwinkle.  Not quite blue, not really purple, but something that's a little of both of my favorite colors.  I still like the other paint, too, something called Romantic Isle.  We're going to use that in that dressing/closet area. 

Pretty soon I have to pick out furniture, window treatments and accessories like lamps and stuff.   I really want the finished decor to be beautiful, so I've enlisted some help.  One of my former co-workers now has her own interior decorating business.  I've hired her for a long distance consultation.  I've sent her the room measurements, photographs and paint swatch.  We've discussed my likes and dislikes for colors in fabrics and she knows what I'm looking for in that seashore style.  I'm eager to see her suggestions for furniture, and everything else.

It's sort of strange but here I am in my 50s and this is the first time that I've ever really decorated a bedroom for myself -- other than picking out a bedspread and curtains.  When I was a kid, my folks picked out the furniture for my bedroom -- sort of an homage to French provincial.  When my grandparents moved in with us, they took over my room and I moved to a spare room with older, sort of provincial style furnishings.  that bedroom set moved with me after college when I got my first appointment.  It moved back home with me 15 years later.  When I relocated to the Keys, I finally said goodbye to that furniture but took over the set that was already here. 

Now, after decades, everything is going to be new, chosen by me to fit my personal preference, style and taste.  I can't wait to see what it turns out to be.  It isn't a new beginning.  Instead, it feels as if I'm opening up something inside to create a sanctuary -- a beautiful new atmosphere where I can release my tensions, restore my body, brain and spirit, and dream my dreams.

Stay tuned for more pictures as we make progress. 

Have you created your bedroom?  What does your personal space say about you?

One last picture for you.  A few blog posts ago, I talked about the glassblowing adventure in Skagway.  Well, my lovely glass ornament has arrived.  It's going to be integrated into the bedroom.  Must be why I picked purple and aqua as the colors.