Category Archives: miscellaneous

Time for a Pity Party

I was introduced to the concept of a Pamper Party some years ago, when our daughter was a teenager, and decided to throw herself one. It was interesting to watch her

I was introduced to the concept of a Pamper Party some years ago, when our daughter was a teenager, and decided to throw herself one. it was interesting to watch her going through the activities. She felt good about herself afterwards.

I don’t expect that a Pity Party will produce the same results, but I’m ready to throw one for myself. What’s so bad that I’m ready to hold a pity party? Perhaps nothing, at least nothing of monumental significance. But it seems that too many things are not going right right now. Major projects aren’t getting done. Minor projects aren’t even getting started. And I have no desire to write right now. Haven’t written anything except this blog for over a month.

My latest publication, When Death Changes Life, doesn’t count as writing. That was just boxing up short stories that were already written and re-publishing them as a short book. Since it didn’t include any new writing, it wasn’t writing.

So, what’s so terrible that I need a pity party? I’ll just use the dishwasher as an example. That’s clearly a first world problem, but it’s a problem nevertheless. It started going out some months ago. I didn’t catch it before it started doing damage to the ceiling in the basement. Finally I had our plumber come to verify where the damage was, and he confirmed it was the dishwasher. That was in late August or early September. Back in 2012 we put in a new refrigerator that we got at Lowe’s. I looked, and saw they had a matching dishwasher. But it’s noise level is higher than what’s currently available. I could live with that, but I need buy-in from my wife. So far I don’t have it. So we need to go to Lowe’s to see what’s available. Or, any other place that sells dishwashers.

I told Lynda I wanted to get this done this weekend, that I wanted us to go together to Lowe’s either Saturday or Sunday to decide on what to get: the matching one or a quieter one. She said fine. Saturday morning was full of work inside and outside the house. Then came the Wal-Mart run, which I made alone. That brought us to sometime after 4, maybe closer to 5 p.m. I still had to study my lesson for Life Group, and I was dead tired, so I didn’t ask to go to Lowe’s. Sunday was Life Group and church (I went alone), followed by lunch and a quick nap. At lunch we learned that Lynda’s mom was totally out of her insulin. She took the last pen from the box in the fridge and didn’t tell us. Since we don’t normally go looking for her insulin, we didn’t know until she had to take it for her meal and found the problem.

So, I called the pharmacy. It turned out the prescription wasn’t refillable without a doctor’s consent, which of course we wouldn’t get on a Sunday. So I spoke to someone at the pharmacy about an emergency fill, and they said they would. It would be ready by 2:00. I decided to wait until 3:00 to go, after my nap. When I got there it wasn’t ready, them saying they were waiting on the doctor’s authorization. So, I went through the whole emergency thing again, and finally got the prescription. I looked for a new jar-opener pad (ours being close to disintegrated, and me not remembering to get one on my normal Wal-Mart trips) but couldn’t find one. So I bought a package of Reese’s cups and went home.

By then it was 4:00 p.m. I still had supper to fix, and had planned a meal with a lot of fixing. I started that at 4:45 p.m. and was on my feet till 6:45. During that time I washed a boatload of dishes (because, of course, we don’t have a working dishwasher), cleaned some dead stuff out of the fridge, and threw the garbage into the woods. We ate dinner. My new main dish turned out very nice.

By that time, I was more tired than I had been on Saturday. I decided not to bring up a visit to Lowe’s, and my wife didn’t bring it up. So we didn’t go. One of my main goals for the weekend was unfulfilled, and was no closer to fulfillment. The wife has headaches all the time. I’m not sure she will ever want to go, nor will she want to leave the decision up to me.

Well, the pity party should be over, except much more has happened of late.

  • Despite having 26 items for sale, with a new item added, I have zero book sales in October. Zero. Obviously I’m not writing the kind of things people want to buy. I can’t see my way clear to spend the time needed to learn the tasks necessary to place advertisements, so my writing sales seem to be at a standstill.
  • I can’t write with all these things hanging over me.
  • We are no closer to replacing either of our ancient vehicles than we were two months ago when we decided to do so.
  • Once the dishwasher is repaired, I’ll have to see about getting the ceiling in The Dungeon fixed.
  • I found it very difficult to prepare for the Life Group lesson I taught yesterday; hence I don’t believe I taught a good one. I don’t think I teach next week (though who knows, since I never hear from my co-teacher before Friday evening, sometimes not till Saturday evening, when I receive a text “whose week is it to teach).
  • For the last two weekends/weeks I guess I’ve way over eaten. My weight have ballooned, and six months (or more) of weight loss is wiped out. I don’t know if I have the strength to do it again.

Okay, pity party over. I probably shouldn’t have written any of this. I do so knowing almost no one will see it. Or maybe it really will be no one.

Writing This As I Go

I don’t know if I wrote in this blog before that I’ve been sick of late. Sometime around September 20 I began coming down with a cold. It never hit me hard, and was never a head cold. It was a chest cold. I suppose it could have been bronchitis, but I never seemed to run a fever. While the cold was never deep, it sure lingered. All the coughing I did wore me out. We had the trip to Oklahoma City the last weekend in September to October 1, and the cold seemed better.

The next week, however, it came back again. I lost another day of work, worked some short days, and seemed to be better. However, the weekend of Oct 6-8 I was still coughing hard, and a little too much. I rested that weekend. Didn’t work around the house, didn’t go to church. I read and slept, slept and read, watched television. I did go to Wal-Mart for a grocery and medicine run, but that was about it. I didn’t even write a blog post for last Monday (which I normally do on Sunday), and so missed a blogging day for the first time in a while.

Monday I went to work, coughing much, much less than I had been. I got even better day by day as the week progressed. This past weekend I was able to follow a normal weekend schedule. I’m working on all eight cylinders.

So what am I up to, and what’s on my mind, and what will I do next? Yesterday I finally published When Death Changes Life to Amazon Kindle. Today I’ll try to add it to Smashwords, and tomorrow or Wednesday get the print book up. I’m feeling more confident with both interior formatting (which is 98% done) and cover creation, so I don’t think there will be a big lag with the print book.

Then, I need to work on one of three writing projects: either the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, or the second Gutter Chronicles, or the next Sharon Williams stories. I wrote about that recently. Other plans have been running through my brain, and I may be changing up what I do after these three.

I’ve also been thinking about premonitions. I’ve had a fair number of them in my life, and almost all of them have come true. I don’t want to catalogue them here, but some of them have been amazing. One was recently, something concerning our church, which turned out to be almost 100% true. I’ve come to the point of wondering why I get these. Is God alerting me in advance of things that are yet to come? Or is something else going on.

I think I wrote some not to long ago about genealogy discoveries I’ve made recently, specifically finding/confirming who my maternal grandfather was, and making contact with other, previously-unknown family members. That took quite a bit of time in late-August and early-September. It’s still on-going. I’ve made contact with almost all my new half-first cousins. I’m not trying to figure out how we can all keep in contact with each other, and get to know each other better.

And, of course, that leads me to much work to do finding out more about ancestors I previously knew nothing about.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time to begin to prepare for the holidays. The kids will be coming for Christmas this year, not Thanksgiving. So we will have much work to do to get the house in shape and decorated. We’ve actually begun some of that, dealing with piles of clutter.

I have more random thoughts to write, but the workday is upon me. I’ll end this. On my to-do list this week is to develop a list of blog posts to facilitate being on-time and

Returning to Carnage

This last weekend we were in Oklahoma City, to celebrate the first birthday of our youngest grandchild, and to babysit the four grandchildren (plus two others) one evening while their parents were at a fund-raiser for R.O.C. ministries. We did a four-day weekend instead of three. I intended to write a post this morning about our weekend.

Instead, I come to work, plug in the new laptop computer I have for my work station, and open some websites, all according to my routine. And I see the terrible news about the shooting in Las Vegas. As I finalize this post, 58 are dead and at least 515 are in area hospitals with injuries.

I simply don’t know what to say. How tragic that this should happen in our nation, that one individual, be he sick, deranged, hostile, angry, or whatever, should be able to take the lives of 50 people in a matter of minutes, and injure at least 200 more.

Oh God, I pray for our nation. Move upon us to come to our senses. Give us hope for the future, because hope will prevent us from doing things such as this shooting. May we turn to You to make it happen.

The Ecology on the Lot Next Door

We have a rock yard, with two maples and one oak, and with forest on three sides. Leaf removal is never-ending for two months in the fall.
We have a rock yard, with two maples and one oak, and with forest on three sides. Leaf removal is never-ending for two months in the fall.

We live in a mostly forested area. The hills of Bella Vista, they tell us, were once cleared to allow for cattle grazing. However, once the land was bought up for residential properties (seen as a retirement community), the forest came back. If a lot is vacant, the forest will soon take over.

The part of Bella Vista I live in is mostly unbuilt. The hills are steep; building is expensive; the space between lots, back to back, is enormous. Hence, even if every lot were built on, the forest would be in the gullies behind. From our back lot line to the back lot line on the other side of the gully is probably 800 feet. No one’s built on those lots yet, so we look out our back deck onto endless forest and hills.

That big oak has been down for around 10 years. Too big to saw for wood, it rots away in it's ecology.
That big oak has been down for around 10 years. Too big to saw for wood, it rots away in it’s ecology.

On our street, only four lots out of about 28 have been built on. South of us are three empty lots before the next house. North of us is one lot before another house. Across from us…well, there are no houses on the other side of the street at all. So we are surrounded by forest.

On the lot north of us, about 50 feet from our lot line, a large tree fell over about 10 years ago, a tree maybe 60 inches in caliper (20 inches diameter). I should say that the whole area has mostly second growth forests due to the prior clearing. Or, maybe it’s just how the soil is. It’s very thin topsoil due to the steepness of the slopes. Rocky. Not the type of soil you did in to plant a tree. So the trees grow easily, but never develop strong roots. The average life of a tree in these parts is probably 20 to 30 years. Then, a good windstorm will knock it over, and the saplings will grow and take it’s place. This is what happens all around us, and the woods are littered with deadfall, typically trees not even 8-inches diameter.

But, occasionally, a tree will be able to take root and live to a good age. We have a few older ones, especially along the route the old county road followed before the developer moved in. This old tree lived to well over 60 years, I reckon. But when it fell, it left a crater behind—not from the impact of falling, but from where the roots had been. A hole maybe four feet deep and eight feet across, on the slope, with the tree roots and soil between them up in the air.

The root crater is already hard to see, being filled with leaves—not naturally filled, but deliberately filled, by me.
The root crater is already hard to see, being filled with leaves—not naturally filled, but deliberately filled, by me.

So what will happen to this small tree crater in a world without human activity? Rainwater will collect in it, reducing the run-off down the slope, reducing erosion. Slowly the dirt will detach from the roots and fall to the ground, making a sort of dam on the downhill side, where the tree fell. This will further reduce run-off. Forest animals will have a source of water as the area dries between rains. The crater will be a leaf catcher, and slowly fill in. The tree trunk will rot away, giving habitat for snakes, bugs, even smaller bugs, and who knows what. With that large of a trunk, it will be around a long time. In the crater and near the downed trunk will be a good place for new trees to get their start.  One last thing: The hole in the leaf canopy left by the tree has resulted in more light getting through to the forest floor, and much more underbrush is growing in this area.

But, enter mankind—me. My first thought when the tree fell was: Firewood! However, sawing a 20-inch oak trunk is no fun, even if you had a chainsaw. Plus, I don’t have a wood fireplace and hence have no place to burn, except maybe in a fire pit, which I don’t have at present. So, I let the trunk stay. When a new neighbor moved to the house on the other side of the lot, several years after it had fallen, he asked me if I had any claim on the tree, because he would sure like to cut it up. I told him it was his, but he never has.

The thing I am doing, however, is disposing of leaves in the crater. We have two maples and one oak in our front yard, and thus have many leaves to take care of in the fall. I blow them downhill until the piles are too large to blow, at which time I pick them up and move them to the woods. A few years back my wife suggested we not just dump them right next to the yard, but move them aways into the woods to reduce the chance they’ll blow right back on us. This sounded like work to me, but not a bad idea, so the leaves go off into the woods: about 150 feet on the lot to the south, or 50 feet on the lot to the north, right to where the downed tree is.

For the last four years I’ve been taking the leaves to the crater and dumping them in it. One Saturday I’ll fill the crater to overflowing. The next Saturday they will have settled under their own weight, and I’ll fill it to overflowing again. Week after week, for two months, I fill the crater. Now, after four years of this, the crater is pretty much gone, filled in by man, accelerating the natural process. At the height of leaf removal season, the crater is so filled I dump lots of leaves right around it, on the underbrush. Once I started doing this, the underbrush doesn’t grow as much as it did for a few years, having less access to sunlight.

Obviously, I’m causing the crater to fill in faster than natural processes would. Those leaves are being converted to new soil, year after year. This year, or perhaps next, I will declare the crater filled. No more water catching. No more water source for forest critters between rains. Less underbrush creating root structure to hold the soil in place.

In other words, my leaf depositing is speeding up natural processes. It seems to me I’m not doing anything worse than that. The forest will be essentially unchanged years from now when I lay down my leaf blower and rake. A few critters may have to look elsewhere for water. Thus their contribution to the local ecology will be reduced. We’ll see less deer and chipmunks.

All in all, this aging environmentalist doesn’t really see a problem with his ecology-changing activities. I hope I’m not overlooking something. Maybe someday, I’ll figure out how to make a book or story about this.

Lazy on Labor Day

Yes, it’s true. I’ve had a very lazy weekend. We’ve been watching television and reading. We dog-sat for our neighbors, so I did a fair amount of walking with the little fellow. I did almost no writing, save for a page or two of manuscript in my family memoir. Yesterday was church. Though they cancelled life groups for the day, I didn’t get the memo, and so prepared to teach and came on time. About eight other people didn’t get the memo either, so we had a combined class.

Today we went to two auto dealerships, looking at newer used cars. We are ready to trade in my truck for a late-model van. That will become Lynda’s vehicle, and I’ll drive the old van until it wears out. We saw some nice cars. Just too early to pull the trigger today.

Back to routine tomorrow. I’m ready for it.

Things Useless and Distracting

I was a senior in high school when this eclipse happened. The map says I was in 98% eclipse. I don't remember it as being particularly special.
I was a senior in high school when this eclipse happened. The map says I was in 98% eclipse. I don’t remember it as being particularly special.

The last four to five days have been much taken up with things that I found distracting, and, to some extent, useless.

Oh, I’ve had some important things in my life. Such as work around the house and yard on Saturday. Such as the weekly Wal-Mart run on Saturday. Such as church yesterday, including teaching adult Life Group. I spent a little time on the checkbook, and am pretty well caught up on that (though not on budgeting). Beyond that, truly meaningful things accomplished recently are few and far between.

I view the eclipse that will take place today as something similar. Big deal. We will be at about 92% eclipsed. Based on eclipses I remember from 1970 and 1979, that’s not really enough to get excited about. The amount of sunlight is lessened, and the sky looks eerie. But it doesn’t really get dark. I suspect you have to be at 99% for it to be really dark, to really see the disc of the moon covering the sun.

Our maximum eclipse is at 1:12 p.m. I’ll take my usual noon walk between 12:30 and 1:00. So I’ll be walking as the shadow is getting larger. I might glance up for a quick look just before I go inside. But, anything more? No. It’s just not worth it. One more thing useless and distracting.

Working Through “Things”

It’s been a bad few days, with computer problems, people problems, etc. Spent all yesterday evening trying to work through the computer problems, so I didn’t write a blog post for today.

Nor can I do it this morning. Not a real post. I’ll work through this stuff, and hopefully, by Monday, I’ll be back with a real blog post.

A Whole Lot To Do

Well, I just finished the typical busy weekend. Yard work wasn’t too bad. I cleared the last of the leaves away from the backyard. With grandkids to visit soon, I wanted one less place for snakes to hide. Next weekend I’ll take the leaf blower and clear the stragglers out. In the front yard I sprayed for weeds, and picked up sticks. That’s a never-ending task, as the three large trees in the front yard like to keep me busy.

We made the usual shopping run. My wife came too this week, as she’s wanting to do some new things in the kitchen and wanted to make sure the grocery cart was properly filled. She also bought some herbs to plant, and some larger tomato plants. That will be work for this week.

The waterline in our street was leaking, we noticed when we came back from the store. I could see that it had already been reported (based on markings on the pavement). The repair crew was there in an hour or two, tried the simple repair, which didn’t work, so had to shut the water off. We were without it for five hours, as it turned out to be a very bad line break. It was around 9 in the evening when we got it back. I spent the afternoon doing a lot of filing of financial papers, including culling some old files. The evening was mainly straightening some things up inside, and reading. Thus ended a full day.

Sunday was Life Group (I didn’t have to teach) and church. After lunch I walked 5K, in just over an hour. I felt okay about that, given the hills in our area. That afternoon, Lynda and I went to a couple of stores for some clothes purchases ahead of vacation. I found what I needed, but she didn’t. In the evening I got the checkbook entries up to date (still have to add it), but otherwise mainly read. It was a good way to wind down.

So here it is, Monday morning. Rather than have a sense of accomplishment for what I got done this weekend, I have a feeling of dread of all I have to do today and over the next couple of days. Here’s a partial list:

  • Lab work at the doctor’s office this morning
  • Call in prescriptions
  • Pay company credit card bill
  • Call the IRS about the letter I received from them this weekend, a non-so-good letter
  • Pay the last bill from my procedure in January
  • Double-check on our reservations for Branson, since I’ve never received the confirming e-mail
  • Plant the herbs; figure out a place for the tomatoes
  • Begin the many little things in the house needed to be done before guests come next weekend
  • Get by the store (probably tomorrow) to pick up the prescriptions along with diabetic supplies
  • Order the one item I couldn’t find at the store, and hope it comes within a week, which is when I need it by

That’s enough on the to-do list. I need to get a few of them done before I think through everything that needs to be done. Needless to say, writing is on hold for a while. I’m ready to do the next round of edits in Documenting America: Civil War Edition, but will wait a couple of days to do that. Plus, it’s out with a beta reader, and I’ll want to incorporate his comments when I next work on it. I won’t be messing with stock trading much this week, and maybe not next week either. I won’t be working on much else, writing-wise. The main pages on my website are in desperate need of an overhaul, but I don’t see me getting to that for about a month.

Life is busy. I guess that’s good, though I’d go for a little less busy right now, if I could.